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

older | 1 | .... | 1809 | 1810 | (Page 1811) | 1812 | 1813 | .... | 1851 | newer

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    On the left, a pic of Coleen Rooney, on the right a pic of a university student wearing a sign that says 'It's......Rebekah Vardy's account'
    The outfit has made a splash online (Picture: Splash/maya0813/Reddit)

    A student from Liverpool decided to make her own outfit for a fancy dress party and took her inspiration from recent celebrity headlines.

    The result? A nod to the WAG drama between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney.

    If you haven’t had a chance to catch up on the situation, here’s a quick breakdown: Coleen has accused Rebekah of leaking stories about her to the press and took to social media to share this news. She wrote a lengthy message in her Notes app, with the final sentence revealing the culprit: ‘It’s……….Rebekah Vardy’s account’.

    Days after this incident, student Maya had a lightbulb moment while trying to figure out what to wear for a party for the Athletic Union in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, and the look has since gone viral.

    The student wore snakeskin top and leather skirt, and topped the outfit off by hanging a piece of cardboard in front of her chest, with the now infamous phrase ‘It’s……..Rebekah Vardy’s account’.

    She later uploaded the pic to Reddit with the caption ‘My half a**ed fancy dress turned out to be pretty popular last night’.

    The post has since racked up hundreds of comments, but it appears to have made its way to other social media sites too.

    Maya wearing her Rebekah Vardy costume in Liverpool
    Maya wore the outfit to a fancy dress party in Liverpool (Picture: maya0813/Reddit)

    ‘You were on everybody’s Snapchat story that I knew, love it,’ wrote one person.

    Someone else said: ‘It’s hilarious, regardless if you care about WAG drama or not.’

    Meanwhile, some people questioned the ‘warpaint’ (orange lines) on Maya’s cheeks.

    One person said: ‘Is this an early Halloween costume and you are a zombie version of Colleen Rooney? Or is it bad lighting/a filter?’

    ‘What are you actually dressed as though?,’ asked someone else.

    ‘Coleen Rooney’s tweet? The orange warpaint is confusing me.’

    Maya went on to reply by saying: ‘Don’t have a clue tbh was a last minute costume! People tended to call me Coleen all night so I went with that.

    ‘Don’t quite remember how I got the warpaint.’

    The two celebs are having an all-out war on social media, so it kind of makes sense, when you think about it.


    Rebekah Vardy costumeRebekah Vardy costume

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    Bin men pose with couple's lost engagement ring
    This married couple were delighted when two binmen found their lost engagement ring (Picture: PA)

    Losing a ring is probably one of the biggest fears for engaged and married folks. After all, they’re hard to replace due to their sentimental value and usually, they’re quite pricey too.

    One woman was absolutely distraught after she accidentally binned her ring during a clear out.

    Jo Carter from Monmouthshire, south-east Wales, was used to keeping her £3,000 engagement ring in an old candle in the bathroom.

    But when she had a massive tidy, she disastrously threw the candle out.

    The 36-year-old burst in to tears and confided in husband Craig Carter, 38, who alerted the Five Lane Household Waste and Recycling Centre.

    The next day, two workers, named as Rhys and Darren, had to rummage through hundreds of bags of waste to find the missing ring.

    Being the supportive husband he is, Craig was there to help the bin men identify the right one.

    Once Craig spotted a familiar black bag, Rhys and Darren ripped it open and lo and behold – a shiny band with lots of sentimental value was inside.

    Hero binmen sifted through hundreds of black bags to find a ?3,000 engagement ring thrown out by mistake. Wife Jo Carter, 35, only realised her precious diamond ring was missing in the rubbish after the refuse lorry had done its regular collection. Her husband Craig, 36, dashed to the dump to tell workers of their ring dilemma - and pleaded for help. Pictured here is the ring that was found. ? WALES NEWS SERVICE
    The ring in question (Picture: Wales news service)

    Jo was delighted with the outcome and the help of the bin men who searched for 45 minutes.

    She said: ‘It has huge sentimental value and is also very expensive and not insured.

    ‘My husband Craig went to the tip and two amazing human beings trawled through hundreds of bags to find it. Their kindness and good hearts have had me in tears.

    ‘I thank them from the bottom of my heart. What a community we live in. Thank you to Rhys and Darren.’

    Monmouthshire Councillor Jane Pratt said: ‘I am exceptionally proud of our staff at our Five Lanes Household Waste and Recycling Centre for helping bring a happy ending to this story.

    ‘This is an excellent example of our staff going above and beyond to help our community. Well done!’

    Let’s hope Jo has a new safekeeping place.

    MORE: Bride is savagely mocked for engagement ring that looks like ‘a squirt of mayo’

    MORE: Influencer couple who had a seven-day long proposal mocked for engagement ring

    MORE: Bride-to-be shamed for unusual engagement ring that looks like a ‘jewel encrusted speculum’


    PRC_89843661PRC_89843661

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    Oatly icecream
    We don’t care if it’s raining and dark – we want ice cream (Pictures: Getty/Oatly)

    October might not be the best time to be thinking about frozen desserts – it’s soup season, to be honest. But, for this, we might just have to make an exception.

    Oatly – famed for their, creamy, delicious oat-based milk alternative – is launching an ice cream, and we are hyped about it.

    The new vegan treat will arrive in Tesco stores from 30 October, and we can’t wait to get our hands on a tub.

    Oatly chocolate fudge ice cream
    Delicious and good for the planet – bonus (Picture: Oatly)

    The flavours sound great as well.

    Chocolate Fudge, Hazelnut Swirl and Salted Caramel are the three flavours you’ll be able to try later this month – and each product is made from oats, not a sniff of dairy anywhere.

    But don’t worry, they might be plant-based, but these puddings aren’t too virtuous. They’re full of luxurious little extras that make them seriously delicious – because if you don’t want to indulge, why bother eating ice cream in the first place?

    The products include salty caramel sauce, candied hazelnuts, fudge bites made from oat drink and UTZ-certified cocoa.

    Hazelnut Swirl Oatly ice cream
    No dairy. None (Picture: Oatly)

    ‘We’re excited to see our much-anticipated Oatly Ice Creams finally hit UK freezers,’ says Ishen Paran, General Manager at Oatly UK.

    ‘The three unashamedly indulgent flavours broaden our UK product range from Oat drinks, to sweet treats that pack a flavour punch.

    ‘We’re grateful for the nationwide support from Tesco and can’t wait to see how Oatly fans react. We’re committed to providing new ways to easily make the switch from dairy to oat and protect the planet in the process.’

    You’ll find the three Oatly ice cream flavours exclusively in selected Tesco stores across the country and each tub will cost you £4.50.

    MORE: Student trolls WAG drama with homemade outfit for fancy dress party

    MORE: Eris the dog has become famous on Instagram for having a nose longer than a ruler

    MORE: Woman roasted online for wearing white to a wedding and posing with the bouquet


    Oatly is launching an oat milk ice cream and it sounds amazingOatly is launching an oat milk ice cream and it sounds amazing

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    The baby koala
    The little koala has an arm cast (Picture: Zoos Victoria)

    A tiny koala has been nursed back to health with her very own cast after injuring her arm by falling from a tree.

    Heartbreakingly, her mother didn’t survive the fall, with her injuries being so severe that the vet made the decision to euthanise her.

    However, the baby koala was rescued and the vets have done everything they can to make her healthy again.

    The baby was rescued and brought to the vets of Werribee Zoo, when her chances of survival seemed slim.

    The baby koala
    Just look at the adorable little thing! (Picture: Zoos Victoria)

    Werribee Vet Nurse Jess Rice told Bored Panda: ‘It was really touch and go when she was brought to us.

    ‘She was just at the stage where she would have been starting to poke her head out of mum’s pouch. Joeys that size don’t have a good survival rate in care.’

    An X-ray of the koala showed that she had a fractured arm, and so she was given an adorable cast and she was looked after very closely.

    Jess with the koala
    We’re in love… (Picture: Zoos Victoria)

    Since, she has recovered her strength and has put on some weight and has even been released back to a specialist wildlife carer.

    Jess said: ‘It will be more than a year before she’s old enough to be released into the wild, so she needs to be with a carer with the resources to take care of her for that long.’

    The baby koala
    She’s now doing much better (Picture: Zoos Victoria)

    Since being re-released, the baby koala’s story has been shared on Facebook alongside some adorable photos, and people have been commenting to say how happy they are that she’s all better.

    One person said: ‘That little cast would fit approximately one name on it’.

    Another said: ‘Sweet little teddy bear’.

    MORE: Family sets world record for growing largest avocado

    MORE: Fashion Nova is selling sexy Toy Story costumes for Halloween and there goes your childhood


    Koala with an arm castKoala with an arm cast

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    Christopher Rimmer and Viktorija Vakulenko
    Christopher Rimmer and Viktorija Vakulenko, 34, who met on a dating app (Picture: Lee McLean / SWNS)

    Christopher Rimmer and Viktorija Vakulenko, both 34, met on Christian Dating for Free.

    After just one month of talking online, Viktorija, who is originally from Latvia, travelled to the UK for work and met Chris in his hometown of Southport, Merseyside.

    The pair discussed the idea of marriage on their first date and despite feeling an instant connection, abstained from having sex. One month later, Chris popped the question on Southport Pier where the couple had enjoyed one of their first dates.

    The pair organised to get married in June 2019 – two months after they first met – and tied the knot at Shoreline Church, Southport, surrounded by 60 family and friends.

    Chris and Viktorija have now returned from their honeymoon in Barcelona and can’t wait to start the rest of their lives together.

    ‘The moment I saw his profile I felt a connection to him – his photos made him look open and kind,’ Viktorjia said.

    ‘I spoke to a few people on the site but after I met Chris on there I stopped my other conversations and put all my attention onto him.

    ‘He had such a strong passion for ministry and it just felt right. I knew there was something special and we went for it.’

    Viktorija joined the dating site in March 2019 after her sister encouraged her to sign up. She had only been a member for two weeks when Chris came across her profile and struck up a conversation with her.

    ‘I wasn’t sure about joining the dating site but I’d moved home after travelling in Thailand and my sister suggested it would be a good way to meet people – even just to make some friends,’ said Viktorija.

    ‘I spoke to a few people and then Chris started a conversation with me and it just felt right. To be honest I was planning to stay alone for a while – I didn’t expect to meet someone so quickly.

    ‘At the time I started applying for jobs in the UK and I planned to go over for the some interviews. It tied in together and I could also finally meet Chris.

    ‘I remember being at the airport with my mum and she could already see how happy I was, giggling on the phone to him.

    ‘I already felt like I was in love with him when we were talking online.’

    Christopher Rimmer and Viktorija Vakulenko on their wedding day
    They got married two months after meeting (Picture: Viktorija Vakulenko / SWNS)

    Viktorija moved to Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, to stay with a friend before travelling up to meet Chris first the first time over Easter weekend in April 2019.

    She said: ‘There was a postcard in my host’s house of Southport and [I] thought: “That looks so nice, what a cool place”.

    ‘It felt like there were lots of signs for us to be together and I was taking those signs as direction. I was super nervous but there were lots of sparks the moment we met at the train station.

    ‘He took me to the pier and it was such a romantic first date.

    ‘We started talking about marriage that day – we both knew that’s what we wanted. We joined that dating app because we were hoping to meet someone to have a future and because we both have the same faith.

    ‘Chris had a spare room for me to stay in that weekend and we knew nothing else romantic was going to happen. We were both prepared to wait until we got married because it felt right.’

    After their first weekend together, Viktorija started looking for work in Southport so she could be closer to Chris.

    Chris decided to pop the question on 15 May – less than four weeks after they first met face-to-face. He hatched a plan to take her to the pavilion restaurant, Southport, where they had one of their first dates and he asked staff to film the moment he popped the question.

    Christopher Rimmer and Viktorija Vakulenko walking across a bridge
    They’re very happy together (Picture: Lee McLean / SWNS)

    Viktorjia said: ‘I knew we were going to get married because we talked about it but I didn’t know when it would happen.

    ‘Chris took me to the restaurant and it was a beautiful sunset. When he asked me I was so surprised and excited – it was all perfect.’

    The couple couldn’t wait to make things official and set a date for the big day on 15 June this year.

    She said: ‘My mum and sister came over from Riga but my dad couldn’t make is so Chris’ dad offered to walk me down the aisle.

    ‘We had only just met and he said I was “perfect” for Chris – it meant so much. Everyone had a great day and although it started cloudy it got sunny.

    ‘It was a perfect day and it never felt like it was too soon, it felt like it was just the right time.

    ‘We want children and I’m looking forward to the future and for now we’re looking for a place to live and focusing on our ministry.’

    Chris, who had been on the dating site for a couple of years, recalls the moment he first came across Viktorija online.

    He said: ‘We were both on the site because we wanted to meet someone and get married, I just hadn’t met that person yet, not until I found Viktorija.

    ‘The moment I saw her pictures I thought: “Who is this girl? I have to speak to her”.

    ‘We were so similar and we both had a strong belief in our Christian faith which brought us closer together.

    ‘The moment I met her I knew we were going to get married – we wanted to get to know each other a bit and become best friends. The day I proposed I didn’t have much of a plan, I just knew I wanted to take her to the pier where we had one of our first dates.

    ‘The sunset was incredible and I knew I had to do it then.

    ‘I told the staff I was going to propose and asked them to film us. It was perfect and they helped make the day really special for us.

    After getting hitched, the pair went off to Barcelona for a honeymoon.

    Since returning, they’ve been on the hunt for a home to call their own.

    ‘Everything’s a bit up in the air at the moment, we’re looking for somewhere to live to get settled.

    ‘We’re taking each day at a time and enjoying getting to know each other more.’

    MORE: Dad’s heartwarming appeal after only two friends show up to autistic daughter’s birthday

    MORE: Rescue baby koala given the cutest little arm cast after falling from a tree


    Couple married 1 month after meeting on dating APPCouple married 1 month after meeting on dating APP

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    A person asleep on a sofa after a night out, wearing Halloween makeup
    Even scary clowns have to rest after a wild night out (Picture: Getty)

    Haven’t made plans for Halloween yet?

    Not to worry because we’ve put together a list of the best (scariest) parties happening in the capital at the end of the month.

    From an all-night rave organised by Elrow to a cursed canal cruise, there’s plenty to choose from.

    Just don’t forget to dress up in your creepiest outfits.

    Trapped in Wonderland

    Three people in Alice in Wonderland Halloween outfits including Alice, The Mad Hatter and the Queen
    (Picture: XclusiveTouch)

    Alice in Wonderland lovers, this one’s for you.

    Trapped in Wonderland is essentially a gory event version of Lewis Carroll’s children’s book.

    According to the event description, Alice, who has gone made from being locked away for years, has decided to host a party on 31 October.

    The event will be held at Indigo O2, and includes everything from confetti showers to fortune tellers and doughnut giveaways.

    Fancy dress is required, but for safety reasons, guests are not allowed to use too much fake blood.

    Ticket prices start from £13.05.

    Halloween Ball at the Mansion

    A person dressed as a Mexican ghost at The Mansion
    (Picture: The Mansion)

    You have seven hours to explore three floors, including three dance floors and an art exhibition by Y. Wildi.

    The Halloween Ball (location to be revealed) will feature plenty of party extras including fire shows, cage dancers, a clairvoyant and makeup artists to help you look your scariest.

    Keep an eye out for the mythical demon Beelzebuth, too.

    As for the live entertainment, there will be three different DJs, a saxophone player and a djembe player.

    The event takes place on 26 October and tickets are available from £24.00.

    Twisted Circus Halloween Festival

    A scary clown on stage at Twisted Circus
    (Picture: Twisted Circus)

    It’s the sixth run for this hair-raising festival.

    Head over to The Grand in Clapham Junction if you want to explore the dark side of the circus with ‘death-defying acts, crazy characters and a heart-pumping soundtrack’, as well as several shows – from body-stapling to pierced weight-lifting and the ‘bed of blades’.

    Creepy clowns also guaranteed.

    Hosted on Friday 1 November, tickets start from £14.55.

    Horroween at Elrow

    People partying during Elrow at the Drumsheds
    (Picture: Nachtschaduw)

    Organisers behind Elrow are putting together a Halloween special for 2019, dubbed ‘Horroween’.

    This all-night bash will be held at The Drumsheds, the warehouses run by Printworks near Meridian Water rail station.

    Sure, it’s a bit far to travel – but if you’re after a rave, you’ll love it.

    The event will take place on 3 November from noon until 10pm, tickets start from £39.62.

    Afrobeats Halloween Special

    People partying at a club during an Afrobeats and Brunch night
    (Picture: Afrobeats and Brunch)

    It’s all about music at the Afrobeats Halloween Special on 25 October.

    There’ll be ‘non-stop afro infused tracks’, as well as live entertainment by bongo musicians.

    That’s not all – you can also get your fortune told, watch some magic tricks or ask for a love potion from an African witch.

    Fancy dress is encouraged, but not required.

    Choose from two ticket options; a two-course meal and a welcome drink, plus free entrance to the club for £30 or just the clubbing experience from £5.

    Jägermeister’s cursed canal cruise

    How’d you fancy being trapped on a boat with creepy ghosts?

    Jägermeister has partnered with Ladies & Gentlemen to host a cursed cruise along canals in London.

    As expected, there’ll be plenty of booze on-board, such as ice cold shots to chill your veins and special cocktails, as well as a wood-burning fire to keep the cold at bay.

    The Dark Spirit, as the boat is known, will host 12 people, twice a day for two hours each trip, and includes a mysterious ride through the Victorian-designed Islington Tunnel.

    Tickets are available from £20 with two drinks as part of the package.

    Skylight’s Halloween on Ice

    People ice-skating at Skylight at Tobacco Dock
    (Picture: Skylight)

    Christmas meets Halloween at Skylight on 31 October.

    Pop on your most frightening outfit before making your way onto the rink at Tobacco Dock.

    Alternatively, cosy up to a date inside an igloo or a cosy hut, before taking part in one of several Halloween games at the venue.

    There will also be two seasonally-themed performances, as well as ‘Trick or Treat’ locations where you can nab yourself some free candy.

    It’s not quite a party, but not quite an ice-skating event, either.

    Tickets from £5.

    MORE: Fashion Nova is selling sexy Toy Story costumes for Halloween and there goes your childhood

    MORE: Shoppers think this Halloween latex scar looks like a ‘bloody vagina’

    MORE: The best Christmas markets for 2019 so you can get your festive trinkets


    Halloween event round-upHalloween event round-up

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    Alf and Gus on a walk
    Alf is so happy to have his new friend (Picture: Mercury Press)

    An agoraphobic sausage dog who spent the first year of his life too terrified to leave the house now has the courage to step outside – thanks to his new best friend.

    Dachshund Alf, one, had to be given up by his owners due to his unusual phobia, which made him so nervous he refused to leave the house and barked at strangers.

    But after he was rehomed with new owner Barry Groves, 60, he was introduced to Barry’s other sausage dog, three-year-old Gus. The two pooches instantly struck up an unbreakable bond.

    Now, with pal Gus by his side, Alf is brave enough to play in the garden, walk along the road with confidence and explore the fields by his house on his own.

    Alf and Gus
    Don’t they make the cutest pair?

    Retired Barry, from Leeds, said: ‘Before, Alf was so nervous, especially around traffic. Having another dog walking alongside him has made him more confident, and he will now happily cross roads and walk on pavements.

    ‘When the traffic is really heavy, he still gets a bit nervous but is less panicked knowing that Gus is with him.

    ‘We see him becoming more confident and going off and exploring on his own, but always making sure he knows where Gus is.

    ‘Gus has a new friend and it is obvious that life is better when you have a friend to play with.

    ‘When Alf was brought round for his first visit, him and Gus got on straight away and shot off into the garden.

    ‘They’re always playing together – like typical males they have the odd disagreement but nothing too serious.

    Alf and Gus
    They’re the best of friends (Picture: Mercury Press)

    ‘Gus has a friend now too – dogs work better when they’re together, especially small dogs.’

    Alf’s previous owners were forced to park their car as close to the doorway as possible if they wanted to get the terrified pup out of the house, so in July, they handed him over to Barry.

    Barry, a self-confessed ‘Labrador man’, and partner Karen, 60, who is retired, now say they wouldn’t be without the pair.

    Barry said: ‘Alf’s settled in really well. He was so nervous at first – his previous owners couldn’t even take him for a walk without putting him in the car, so they knew he was better off with another dog.

    ‘We live in the countryside so he’s a lot more comfortable.

    ‘When the traffic is really heavy he still gets nervous sometimes, but those things take time.

    ‘We’re completely sold on them. Dachshunds are great dogs. I’m a Labrador man but I wouldn’t be without them.

    ‘Alf was called Alfonso when he came to us but we had to rename him because I’m 6ft 4ins and there’s no way I was going to walk across a field shouting “Alfonso”.’

    Alf and Gus with their humans
    The family together (Picture: Mercury Press)

    Sam Compton, from the Red Foundation, a charity dedicated to rescuing Dachshunds, helped to rehome Alf.

    She said: ‘I’ve never seen a dog with agoraphobia before.

    ‘Alfonso was in a lovely home but he was really anxious, the home was in a built up area and he was too nervous to go out.

    ‘The couple started borrowing a friend’s dog as a friend for him and found he was way more confident and comfortable going out with company, but they weren’t in a position to buy a new dog.

    ‘They put his needs first and helped him find his perfect home.

    ‘A lot of people don’t know what kind of dog they’re buying, they just think dachshunds are little and cute – but they are also quite stubborn and they’re hounds so they have a high prey drive.

    ‘It causes a massive problem.

    ‘More Dachshunds are requiring homes now, and we rescue them from all sorts of situations.

    ‘We have rehomed over 120 this year and a huge number of these are down to the home not being right for the breed so research is key.’

    MORE: Couple who met on dating app marry after just two months of dating

    MORE: Dad’s heartwarming appeal after only two friends show up to autistic daughter’s birthday


    PUPPY LOVE: AGORAPHOBIC SAUSAGE DOG GETS COURAGE TO GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE ON THE WORLD - THANKS TO HIS NEW BEST FRIENDPUPPY LOVE: AGORAPHOBIC SAUSAGE DOG GETS COURAGE TO GO OUTSIDE AND TAKE ON THE WORLD - THANKS TO HIS NEW BEST FRIEND

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    Gemma Dobbing on her wedding day
    Gemma dropped eight stone to fit into her dream wedding dress (Picture: Kennedy News/Victoria Sponge Photography)

    When Gemma Dobbing found the perfect dress for her wedding, she was determined to slim down to make sure it fit on the big day.

    Gemma, 32, had put on weight in recent years following the birth of her little boy, Charlie, now three. The council worker had been so busy that her diet simply wasn’t a priority, resulting in her living off Chinese takeaways, chocolate bars, fish and chips for lunch and crisps for breakfast.

    At her heaviest, Gemma weighed 17 stone and struggled to find clothes to fit her size 22 frame.

    She decided to make a change after she discovered her weight was worsening her asthma, and was motivated to drop dress sizes when she looked at photos from her little boy’s birthday party and didn’t recognise herself.

    Having planned her wedding for September 2019, Gemma officially had a deadline to lose the weight.

    Gemma Dobbing before her weight loss journey
    At her heaviest, Gemma weighed 17 stone (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Within the space of a year, she had dropped eight stone and looked completely different, receiving audible gasps from relatives as she walked down the aisle in her dream wedding dress.

    Gemma, from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, said: ‘It’s a massive achievement. I was so happy.

    ‘When I bought my dream dress, it didn’t even fit. It didn’t close fully.

    ‘I was a size 22 and it was size 14 – but it was the dress of my dreams.

    ‘My mum said “you really shouldn’t do this” as I signed a waiver, confirming I was aware it didn’t fit when I bought it.

    Gemma Dobbing with her now-husband having a picnic lunch
    Becoming a mum meant Gemma didn’t prioritise her health and lived off takeaways and chocolate (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘We’d been storing the dress at my mother-in-law’s house for the last year, but eight weeks ago it went to the dressmaker for alterations.

    ‘I was convinced it wasn’t going to fit. I panicked.

    ‘When I put it the dress on it still didn’t fit – but this time it was too big!

    ‘We had to take four and a half inches off the waist.

    ‘I hit my target three days before the wedding on September 19. I was a size eight and weighed just 9st 3lbs. I’d finally done it.’

    Gemma Dobbing on her wedding day wearing her dream dress
    Gemma bought her size 14 wedding dress a year before the big day and used it as motivation for her weight loss (Picture: Kennedy News/Victoria Sponge Photography)

    Gemma’s partner Alan had never commented on her weight, but when she announced her plans he told her to do whatever she needed to feel good.

    But as she walked down the aisle, Alan had a tear in his eye.

    For family members who’d travelled for the wedding, the big day was the first time they had seen Gemma since her weight loss journey began – and they barely recognised her after her transformation.

    Gemma lost the weight by joining Slimming World. She knows she’ll never be cured of her asthma, but she does feel she can breathe more easily now.

    Her diet went from chips and takeaways to overnight oats with berries and healthy wraps with chicken and rice.

    It wasn’t an easy journey, but Gemma stuck to it. After just a month of following the plan she had lost half a stone.

    Gemma said: ‘I went to the first meeting and was like ‘oh my god, how do I walk through that door myself?’ But everyone was so supportive.

    Gemma Dobbing on her wedding day
    She ended up losing eight stone in total (Picture: Kennedy News/Victoria Sponge Photography)

    ‘By September 19, I’d lost half a stone and the following month we booked our wedding.

    ‘The next month I went to the bridal shop and bought a wedding dress for the following September.

    ‘It made me determined to stay on plan. I knew I wanted to fit into that dress.

    ‘It’s tough to keep going. I got bored of the same meals because I wasn’t mixing up the recipes and by December, I almost quit.

    ‘My friend Bex joined too to give me motivation and I learnt to cook from fresh.

    ‘There were points where my weight plateaued. I was trying so hard but for a few weeks I wouldn’t lose anything.

    ‘Now I plan each meal. I’ll sit down on Thursday and plan Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then on Monday I’ll plan the next three days.

    ‘It’s amazing to be able to run around with Charlie now and keep up.’

    How Gemma's diet has changed:

    A typical day in Gemma’s diet before:

    • Breakfast – chocolate bars and crisps
    • Lunch – fish and chips with bread and butter at chippy
    • Dinner – takeaway Chinese or pizza with kebab
    • Snacks – sausage rolls or crisps with sandwiches

    A typical day in Gemma’s diet now:

    • Breakfast – overnight oats and natural yoghurt and fruit
    • Lunch – Weight Watchers wrap and pizza topping with measured cheese
    • Dinner – Diet Coke chicken rice
    • Snacks – HiFi bars, fruit

    Do you have an amazing wedding or weight loss story to share? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk

    MORE: Instagram influencer accused of hijacking wedding by wearing white

    MORE: Inseparable kids who say they’ll be together forever stage fake wedding photoshoot

    MORE: Bride spends £17,000 on Disney themed wedding after husband proposes at Disney World


    bride loses eight stonebride loses eight stone

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    Dope Black Dads comp
    ‘Many of our dads find the first two years of fatherhood extremely testing and little support is given’ (Picture: Dope Black Dads)

    Becoming a dad is a monumental, life-affirming experience for many men – but it isn’t without its challenges. Particularly if you also have to deal with stigma, stereotypes and institutional bias.

    This is exactly why Marvyn Harrison set up the Dope Black Dads podcast, almost exactly one year ago. His aim was to shine a light on the specific challenges of black, male parenthood, and to create an inclusive community for black dads.

    ‘It started on Fathers Day last year,’ Marvyn tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I had a great morning with my family and, similar to 3 pm on Christmas Day, it felt like it was over and I wanted to feel a greater connection to Fathers Day and other dads.’

    Dope Black Dads
    ‘There is a lack of space and acceptance for emotions from fathers’ (Picture: Dope Black Dads)

    Marvyn initially created a WhatsApp group called ‘Dope Black Dads’ and added 23 fathers he knew. It began as an appreciation of other fathers and soon became a source of support around the intersection of being black, male, and a parent.

    What Marvyn hopes to achieve is an attitude shift. He says that the problems facing black fathers are largely ignored by wider society.

    ‘Many fathers still struggle with access to their children,’ says Marvyn.

    ‘They also struggle with the guilt of trying to provide in an environment which can be institutionally bias and at times racist.

    ‘Parenting is still a matriarchal-normative environment. Having now become a father on two occasions, I have seen how the whole process is seen through the eyes of the mother, and also intentionally excludes fathers’ perspectives at times.’

    Marvyn says this can make it hard for dads to form connections and can result in ‘disconnected’ or ‘broken’ families.

    ‘Many of our dads find the first two years of fatherhood extremely testing and little support is given.’

    Marvyn believes that there are preconceptions about black fathers both within and outside of black communities. He says these preconceptions are connected to the perception of black men and the default roles of mothers and fathers.

    ‘There is a lack of space and acceptance for emotions from fathers,’ says Marvyn. ‘The presumption of absenteeism and the presumption of anger or aggression as a default emotion for men.

    ‘Masculinity is complex and when it intersects with someone you love more than anything (your child), whilst navigating the black British experience, results do vary. It’s unfortunate, but a truth for many of our members.

    Dope Black Dads at the House of Commons
    ‘We can really deep dive and discover things about ourselves and our brothers in real time’ (Picture: Dope Black Dads)

    ‘We want the podcast to be a bat signal to black fathers so that they join our private Facebook group, attend our monthly dad meetings, and hear the stories affecting fathers so they know they are not alone.’

    For Marvyn, creating his own platform was vital in order to give these topics the space they needed to be discussed thoroughly – he says it’s time to properly delve into the issues affecting this underrepresented group.

    ‘Our episodes on the Dope Black Podcast are a chance for us to be heard in long form,’ says Marvyn. ‘We live is a soundbite world and issues around masculinity, parenting and race are difficult to digest and explain in short segments.

    ‘We can really deep dive and discover things about ourselves and our brothers in real time. I have known some of these men for 15 years and never knew some of the things we unearth on the podcast.’

    The most popular Dope Black Dads episodes

    The most talked about and listened to episodes were about:

    Our fear of white women

    Having wives and female best friends

    Is there a war on masculinity?

    Surviving infant loss

    We have had streams of messages about baby loss and the inability for fathers to see their kids – they are passionate topics which we need to revisit soon.

    Dope Black Dads

    In the wake of the success of the podcast’s first year, a new offshoot has developed in the form of Dope Black Mums.

    ‘We passed the framework on to Nina Malone who was formerly on Britain’s Next Top Model and has gone on to be a successful business woman and now talent agent,’ explains Marvyn.

    ‘Nina took three years off to have her family and wanted a space to help support her through getting back into work and getting back to being herself.

    ‘They launched the group in Oct 2018, and the podcast in May 2019. They now run many events and meet-ups for mums and their episodes are also featured on The Dope Black Podcast.’

    One year in and Marvyn is just getting started – he has plenty of exciting projects in the pipeline.

    He has just launched the Dope Black Dads campaign with AXA Insurance UK to encourage fathers to talk about their problems, and this month he will be celebrating one year of the Dope Black Dads podcast at The House of Commons.

    MORE: Woman who shared viral sickle cell video makes desperate plea for black blood donors

    MORE: Exhibition aims to redefine what it means to be a black man

    MORE: Book series explores black British culture from Afrobeats to plantain


    Dope Black Dads compDope Black Dads comp

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    Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Carmel rents a four-bedroom house in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)

    Once again, Londoners, we are so sorry.

    Our weekly series What I Rent takes you inside people’s rented homes around the UK (and sometimes further afield) to take an honest look at the state of renting – from the one-bedroom flats in Chelsea that cost £2,230 a month to the bargain £550 a month flats in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

    This time around we’re in Clackmannanshire, in Scotland, with a house that’s so cheap it’ll make all city-dwellers feel rubbish for how much rent they pay.

    Carmel is a mum-of-two who rents a four-bedroom house in the town of Tillicoultry, for just £650 a month.

    Yes, £650 a month, total. For a proper house with four bedrooms and a garden.

    Let us weep.

    Carmel Lindsay with her dog Molly in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Rent is just £650 a month (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)

    Hi, Carmel! How much do you pay to live here?

    Rent is £650 per month, bills are £270 per month. Council tax is the biggest part of these at £177 per month. We pay as we go with a smart meter. Then it’s just the TV license and Sky.

    And what do you get for what you pay? 

    Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large kitchen/diner, a utility room, and a living room.

    Do you think you have a good deal?

    Absolutely. Our rent has never gone up since we moved in. Looking at similar properties to let now local to where we are, We would never get a house like ours for less than about £1,000 per month.

     Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    As you’ll see, Carmel is a big fan of cute quotes (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)

    Whereabouts is your home? 

    Central Scotland. It’s a village along the Hillfoots in Clackmannanshire called Tillicoultry.

    Our home is also right between Glasgow and Edinburgh so it’s an easy commute. But it’s also very rural because of the hills all around us.

    The only time I have ever been delayed on the road to work is when there are sheep or swans in my way! A bit different to being stuck in a traffic jam in a city.

    How did you find the house? 

    We will have been here for nine years next April. We found it by chance. My landlady was a work colleague and she posted on our works electronic notice board that it was available.

    The previous house we were in was not ideal (I actually hated it). So we snapped at the chance to rent it… Best move ever!

    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay with her dog Molly and cat Cookie in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Oh, and Cookie the cat and Molly the pug live here, too (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)

    Are you happy where you live? 

    I love the area. It’s right in the middle of the Ochil Hills and its a lovely village community. My landlady is amazing too and we have free reign to change whatever we want with the decor. We have made our home personal to us as a family.

    Do you feel like you have enough space?

    We do. It’s actually a really big house.

    How have you made the house feel like home?

    From day one it has always felt like our home. We put our own stamp on it. It’s more about the family in it, though, and the memories we have made. It’s been a very happy home and still is.

    And you have a new dog! Have you had to make any adjustments to the house for her?

    We thought we would but apart from her bed (which she never sleeps in… she sleeps with us) she has slotted in like a pro. She has been a dream to train. She is great for going outside in the garden. She has the run of the whole house now. We can’t imagine a time when she wasn’t a part of our wee family.

    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    This isn’t entirely true, but don’t question it (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)

    Are there any issues with the house you have to put up with?

    Absolutely none. Our landlady is amazing if anything goes wrong and gets it sorted immediately. She even sends us a lovely Christmas bouquet every year with a card addressed to the best tenants ever… Cute!

    Do you have plans to move again? 

    We are realistic in that we know a time will come when we may have to move if the landlady decides to sell the place.

    I also know we should maybe downsize as our children are living away from home now. We have three spare rooms!

    But we love living here and will stay as long as we can. We would probably look at something smaller if we had to.

    Have you thought about buying a place?

    Up until the last 10 years we always owned our own properties. During the recession we had financial difficulties and decided to sell up and rent for a while. We have never looked back.

    There is so much pressure when you own your own home… maintenance and repairs, etc.

    I bask in the fact that if anything goes wrong, I just need to make a call and it’s magically put right at no extra expense to me. We are thinking of moving back to my old home in Ireland when we retire so we may buy a small place then. But right now, renting is perfect for us.

    And when you can rent a four-bed house for £650 a month, why on earth wouldn’t you? Shall we have a look around?

    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay with her dog Molly in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Behold the garden (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    There (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Are (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Many (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Gnomes (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    And there’s the house (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay with her dog Molly in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Here’s the living room. Hi, Molly! (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    A pop of red (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Those sofas look comfy (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    There are lots of meaningful keepsakes dotted around (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Family photos (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    The downstairs bathroom (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    What a lovely kitchen (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    And a great mug choice (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    An oven glove makes it official (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    The dining area, which leads out to the garden (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Here’s Cookie in the utility room (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    One of the spare bedrooms (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Gotta have an orangutan (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    This room doubles as a study (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    And you can peek through to the next bedroom (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Now that the kids have moved out, there are three bedrooms spare (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    This one has an en suite bathroom (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    The final spare room (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay with her cat Cookie in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Carmel’s bedroom… or Cookie’s? (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    We like the accent walls in this place (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Here’s the main bathroom (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Yes, we are jealous of that tub (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    Some nice shelving (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)
    METRO ORDER. Carmel Lindsay in her house on Harviestoun Grove, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire for Metro "What I Rent". Sept 11 2019
    And finally, the toothbrush pic you ordered (Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS/metro.co.uk)

    What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property.

    How to get involved in What I Rent

    What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

    If you fancy taking part, 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're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

    MORE: What I Rent: Dayna, £400 a month to share a two-bedroom flat in Leith, Scotland

    MORE: What I Rent: Michael and Zoë, £1,100 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Clapton, Hackney

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


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    Primark Oxford Street store.
    Goodbye in-store treks (Picture: Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images/Roberto Herrett)

    Primark has long been a trusty staple when you need cheap and cheerful clothes, furniture and other weird and wonderful things.

    But unfortunately, doing a Primark shop always meant trekking down to your local store and having to navigate through hoards of people.

    Gone are those days, as Primark merch is finally available online.

    Although the affordable retailer doesn’t allow online purchases to be made from its website, Amazon is stepping in to give you the virtual offerings.

    As long as you have Prime, you can shop through men’s and women’s clothing and nightwear by Primark’s in-store brand Atmosphere.

    Under ‘novelty and special-use’ you can find bras, socks, and all that Harry Potter merchandise you love. Yes, Friends too.

    All you have to do is search Primark on the Amazon website and rejoice at all the items available at your fingertips.

    And even better news – next day delivery is available, so you don’t have to wait around long for your packages.

    Beauty and the Beast chip mug
    Beauty and the Beast chip mug available on Amazon for a hefty £22.42 (Picture: Primark)

    The Primark Amazon collaboration comes at a handy time as you can purchase a bunch of Christmas related items.

    Baubles including the Limited Edition Mickey Mouse Minnie Mouse Christmas Tree Decorations are available to buy online. 

    Your favourite Disney staples are also being sold, including the Beauty and the Beast tea light holder, Cruella De Vil nails, Lilo & Stich decorations, a Dumbo pillow and more.

    And of course, you can get your hands on the Beauty and the Beast chip mug, albeit for £22.42.

    Featured in the Hogwarts range are Gryffindor beanies, Hedwig LED string lights, and the Potion Bottle LED Lights Sweetshop. 

    Now, the prices are slightly different as the collection is a bit more pricey than what you’d get in-store.

    But shopping from the comfort of your home has a price. And judging by how lazy most of us are, we’re probably willing to pay the extra few bucks.

    Go forth and shop away.

    MORE: When does Stacey Solomon’s Primark collection go on sale?

    MORE: Shopper calls out Primark for typo on Friends T-shirt

    MORE: Primark’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse Christmas baubles are back with new designs


    STRAPPING OFF Primark mannequin’s pyjama malfunction leaves shoppers in stitches – as women joke it’s ‘how they wake upSTRAPPING OFF Primark mannequin’s pyjama malfunction leaves shoppers in stitches – as women joke it’s ‘how they wake up

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    The Greggs Festive bake
    Fancy this? (Picture: Greggs)

    As the weather cools, we look forward to the most magical day of the year.

    No, not Christmas.

    We are, of course, talking about the launch of the Greggs Festive Bake, which this year is Thursday 7 November.

    But for some lucky pastry devotees, that day can come earlier.

    Today Greggs launches a competition to find the cities with the biggest Greggs fans. The five cities with the most votes will be granted early access to the Festive Bake, a full week before its national launch.

    To be in with a chance of getting your hungry paws on a Festive Bake before the rest of the country, entering is pretty simple.

    Just head to the dedicated competition website and vote for your city. Then ask your friends, neighbours, colleagues, and whoever else you spot in the street to do the same, as the five cities with the most votes shall reign supreme (by which we mean, they’ll get the Festive Bake early).

    festive bake from greggs
    (Picture: Greggs)

    The 20 cities in the running:

    • Basingstoke
    • Belfast
    • Bradford
    • Bristol
    • Birmingham
    • Cardiff
    • Carlisle
    • Edinburgh
    • Glasgow
    • Newcastle
    • Manchester
    • Leeds
    • Liverpool
    • London
    • Plymouth
    • Portsmouth
    • Norwich
    • Nottingham
    • Sunderland
    • Swansea

    The city with the most votes will have the Festive Bake on sale on Friday 1 November. The Greggs tour will then head to each of the four runnerup cities each day leading up to the launch.

    Oh, and there’s an extra special bonus for the biggest fan of them all.

    Greggs is also searching for people to carry an Olympic-style Festive Bake torch to signify the start of Christmas in each shop.

    Alongside that true honour, the biggest fans will also be given their own Greggs gift card worth £100, to be spent on all the Greggs their heart desires for the next 12 months.

    To enter that bit, it’s the same drill – head to the website and just make sure to fill in the box that asks: ‘Why would you be the perfect Superfan to bring the Festive Bake to your city?’

    Really sell yourself. This is important.

    Don’t panic too much if you don’t win, though.

    You’ll only have to wait a bit longer to buy a Festive Bake from your nearest Greggs. In case you haven’t enjoyed the delightful treat, a quick explainer of its contents: The Festive Bake is made from succulent pieces of chicken breast, sage and onion stuffing and sweetcure bacon in a creamy sage and cranberry sauce, all wrapped in golden puff pastry with a crunchy crumb topping. Yum.

    MORE: Primark is now available to shop online but the prices are a little different

    MORE: Bride loses eight stone in a year to fit into her dream wedding dress


    You can now buy festive bakes in IcelandYou can now buy festive bakes in Iceland

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    Picture of 'the thinnest house ever' in front of another building
    That’s one thin building (Picture: Sandra Rishani)

    Ask a sibling to get you a glass of water and they’ll remind you all the horrible things you’ve done to them in the last three months.

    Such is sibling pettiness. One man, however, took the usual back-and-forth to whole new heights.

    A man from Beirut, Lebanon, was so vexed with his brother inheriting the family land and constructing a building on it, he sabotaged the house.

    He did the only thing he could: built the thinnest house he could in front of it. And it wasn’t so they could be neighbors.

    The petty sibling did it to block his brother’s view of the sea.

    Locals in the neighbourhood have shared the well-known story of the house that was built in the 1950s after a feud between the brothers.

    The thin house, which is inhabitable albeit narrow, resulted in the original property losing value.

    And get this – he named the building Al Ba’sa, Arabic for The Grudge.

    Sea view from building
    Goodbye sea view (Picture: Sandra Rishani)

    The details of the story were shared by urban planner and architect Sandra Rishani who was asked to research a forgotten story of the capital for a book.

    She asked her dad, who shared the popular story of the brothers.

    Writing in Arab zine Jadaliyya, she wrote: ‘I spotted right in front of me a 14-metre-high edge, no wider than one metre!

    ‘I had passed it many times before, had even looked at the facade, thinking, “What an intriguing, abandoned low-rise building with a sea view.”

    ‘Mesmerised by its “fake” facade, which at first glance made the house appear wide enough to be inhabitable, I approached the concierge of the building next door to inquire further.

    Side profile of thin house
    The wider end of the building (Picture: Sandra Rishani)

    ‘“Yes, I know. It’s shocking,” he said, before I had even finished my question. “It’s a wall. But people used to live in it”.’

    The house – which he said may be the thinnest inhabitable building in the world – came to be used as a brothel before eventually being inhabited by refugees fleeing the war.

    According to Sandra’s research, the livable home ranges in depth from four metres at its widest, to sixty centimetres – the depth of a closet – at its slimmest.

    It comes equipped with two flats on each floor.

    To add further irony, the building was constructed by two brothers, Salah and Fawzi Itani.

    Thankfully they had no squabbles during construction.

    MORE: Stunt siblings walk on wire suspended over New York’s Times Square

    MORE: Amazing photographs of brothers both born with one brown eye and one blue

    MORE: Kitten trying to find help for her abandoned siblings gets her head stuck in the fence


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     Todd Read Bloss, Ruby, 6, Davina Foster, 36, holding Harry, 18 months, Michael, 15, and Saffron, 11
    The family moved to Cornwall to get closer to nature (Picture: Cornwall Live /SWNS.COM)

    A family of six have ditched London and their jobs (well, the parents have) to live off-grid in a caravan on a cliff.

    Davina Foster, 36, lives in a bubble caravan in Perranporth, Cornwall, with her partner Todd and her four children; Michael, 15, Saffron, 11, Ruby, 6, and Harry, 18 months.

    The family decided to move out of London back in March 2018 to get closer to nature, and have now set up their own business, Cligga Cliff Farm.

    Davina said: ‘My son was nine at the time and we were starting to look at secondaries and thinking about the future and the post office in Grampound came up for sale.

    ‘My other half is a builder and I was a photographer and we thought we’d buy it and convert it.

    ‘We fell in love with the idea, put our house on the market, our offer was accepted and our house went up for sale like that.’

    Five years ago, the family were living in a little house in south east London. Ruby was just born and Davina was idly scrolling through properties in Cornwall.

    They ended up renting a tiny house in Perranporth, got the kids into school and bought a derelict old miners’ cottage in Redruth.

    The static caravans are comparative luxury for the family at Cligga Cliff Farm. A family from London have moved to a clifftop at Perranporth, Cornwall, with hopes of living an almost entirely ?off-grid? life. See SWNS story SWPLgrid. Davina Foster was eight months pregnant and living in a bubble caravan on the top of a cliff with three children when she woke in the middle of the night to find snow at the end of her bed. The family had just gone off grid and were trying to build a life on their own piece of land on the clifftop at Perranporth when the Beast from the East blasted through Cornwall. In sub zero temperatures, the family?s generator broke, they had no heating, one car battery and a broken solar panel for power and were effectively just about existing through one of the most brutal winters in history. That was March 2018. It was the cold, wet, difficult start of a journey for Davina, now 36, partner Todd, and their children Michael, 15, Saffron, 11, Ruby, 6, and Harry, 18 months, that they hope will eventually lead them to a self-sufficient, off-grid life.
    They created Cligga Cliff Farm (Picture: Cornwall Live /SWNS.COM)

    Todd worked on renovating the house while Davina, who had been a professional photographer in London, worked in Spar and the Cornish Pizza Co.

    She said: ‘We had all these bills and all this pressure.

    ‘It was not my ambition from being a successful photographer in London to working in a supermarket.

    ‘And we were beginning to get burnt out by the property thing. Todd and I were used to camping – we met working at festivals – so we rented out the house in Redruth and started to look for land.’

    Saffron, 11, relaxes in a push chair on the farm. A family from London have moved to a clifftop at Perranporth, Cornwall, with hopes of living an almost entirely ?off-grid? life. See SWNS story SWPLgrid. Davina Foster was eight months pregnant and living in a bubble caravan on the top of a cliff with three children when she woke in the middle of the night to find snow at the end of her bed. The family had just gone off grid and were trying to build a life on their own piece of land on the clifftop at Perranporth when the Beast from the East blasted through Cornwall. In sub zero temperatures, the family?s generator broke, they had no heating, one car battery and a broken solar panel for power and were effectively just about existing through one of the most brutal winters in history. That was March 2018. It was the cold, wet, difficult start of a journey for Davina, now 36, partner Todd, and their children Michael, 15, Saffron, 11, Ruby, 6, and Harry, 18 months, that they hope will eventually lead them to a self-sufficient, off-grid life.
    The family raise cows, pigs, and chickens (Picture: Cornwall Live /SWNS.COM)

    The dream bit of land finally came up in the form of a seven and three quarter acre plot right on the heritage coast path, by the cliffs.

    The sale went through and the family started working the land right away, adopting four black pigs and some chickens. At this point they had no income and were struggling to afford rent on their house in Redruth.

    Eventually they had no choice but to move out of their home and on to the land, with just a horsebox, a bell tent, and a shack Todd had built out of some pallets.

    Savina Foster, 36, with cows. A family from London have moved to a clifftop at Perranporth, Cornwall, with hopes of living an almost entirely ?off-grid? life. See SWNS story SWPLgrid. Davina Foster was eight months pregnant and living in a bubble caravan on the top of a cliff with three children when she woke in the middle of the night to find snow at the end of her bed. The family had just gone off grid and were trying to build a life on their own piece of land on the clifftop at Perranporth when the Beast from the East blasted through Cornwall. In sub zero temperatures, the family?s generator broke, they had no heating, one car battery and a broken solar panel for power and were effectively just about existing through one of the most brutal winters in history. That was March 2018. It was the cold, wet, difficult start of a journey for Davina, now 36, partner Todd, and their children Michael, 15, Saffron, 11, Ruby, 6, and Harry, 18 months, that they hope will eventually lead them to a self-sufficient, off-grid life.
    By the end of next summer they’ll be entirely self-sufficient (Picture: Cornwall Live /SWNS.COM)

    They started to offer camping in the spot, which allowed them to set up Cligga Cliff Farm, a fully-fledged farm that runs a monthly plastic-free market, selling free-range pork, eggs, and vegetables.

    The family now have cows and are starting their own micro-dairy, and plan to rear turkeys in time for Christmas.

    ‘By the end of next summer we’ll be self-sufficient,’ says Davina.

    MORE: Mum had no idea ‘funny’ tasting wine was first sign of heart attack

    MORE: A petty man built the thinnest house ever just to block his brother’s view of the sea


    PRI_89830672PRI_89830672

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    Harley Quinn, Descendants, and Chucky
    Harley Quinn, Descendants, and Chucky are all in the top 15

    Choosing what to wear for Halloween can be a nightmare.

    If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the previous month concocting ever more elaborate and high-concept outfits, before running out of money and time, then picking up a £2 pair of vampire teeth from Tesco on your way to the party.

    But to help you get ahead of the curve, Google has released ‘Frightgeist’, a list of the most-searched-for Halloween costumes. Here are the top 15. Some of them are better than others.

    I’ve added in my own personal reviews so you can ensure your Halloween costume is approved by someone on the internet who you’ve never met.

    1. IT (Pennywise the evil clown)

    I’d say I have an ‘irrational fear of evil clowns’ but, on reflection, that’s a pretty rational thing to be afraid of. Clowns are simply terrifying – evil or not – and this costume has the advantage of actually being scary – a precious rarity in the era of the slutty Halloween costume.

    It’s not my intention to slut-shame anyone: if you want to go out in the costume equivalent of a thirst-trap, bearing as much skin as is humanly possible, then you have my full and unconditional backing…on literally any other night of the year.

    Call me a fusty old traditionalist, but Halloween is about being scary, goddamnit. It’s about being spooktacular.

    2. Witch

    Now this is more like it. A time-honoured classic, it’s the kind of Halloween costume that mum used to make.

    Not only are witches scary, but there has also been a historical revisionism around the subject in recent years, with historical witches viewed as both victims of misogynistic persecution and also, in some cases, women with an empowering degree of agency.

    This has been accompanied by a trend of feminists embracing witch-craft: think of Lana del Rey putting a hex on Donald Trump. This doesn’t appear to have been effective yet.

    So going as a witch is actually pretty progressive – you could even go as far as to claim it as a radical feminist gesture. The patriarchy is shaking.

    young black dressed witch standing with broom, isolated with white background (source: Getty Caption: young black dressed witch standing with broom, isolated with white background (Source: iStockphoto)
    Season of the witch… (image:iStockphoto)

    3. Spider-Man

    Only acceptable if you’re a six-year-old child, to be honest. Grow up.

    4. Dinosaur

    This is a cute option, but dinosaurs are just dangerous enough to make it appropriately frightening. You wouldn’t want to get in a fight with a velociraptor in an Oceana smoking area, would you?

    5. Descendants

    I was really confused by this one as I thought it was referring to the 2011 film of the same name, a gently bittersweet family drama starring George Clooney – which seemed a bizarre source of inspiration for Halloween.

    As it turns out, Descendants refers to a series of Disney films about the teenage children of classic villains (Jafar, Cruella de Vil, Maleficent and the Evil Queen from Snow White) and their attempts to navigate high school.

    Who knew? Finding out about the popularity of these films was the moment I was finally forced to accept that I am no longer down with the kids.

    These villainous adolescents would make a decent costume but if you’re over the age of 18, it risks looking a little creepy. Find someone your own age to dress up as, granddad.

    6. Clown

     A cosplayer in character as Pennywise the Dancing Clown from It during MCM London Comic Con 2017 held at the ExCel on October 28, 2017 in London, England. (image:Getty Images)
    Is this… a sexy evil clown? (image Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

    Given that all clowns are evil, going as a regular clown is indistinguishable from going as an evil one. A solid costume but the only problem is: if you, personally, go out on Halloween dressed like this… how would people be able to tell the difference?

    Because you’re a clown. Get it?

    7. Fortnite

    I don’t know what Fortnite is exactly but I gather it’s a ‘video game’ of some sorts.

    If you’re a straight guy and considering dressing up as Fortnite for Halloween, why not save some time and money and simply wear a t-shirt that reads ‘I have never before felt the loving touch of a woman’?*

    *This is obviously a joke. Fortnite players are entirely able to find love.

    8. Chucky

    I used to find Chucky pretty scary until the other day, when I read this tweet:

    A solid costume, but if you step to me, I will yeet you in the bin.

    9. The 1980s

    What does this actually mean? A lot of stuff happened in the 1980s, and most of it was terrible.

    I’m sceptical of 1980s nostalgia for this reason; it was an awful decade, one which saw the miners’ strike, the AIDS crisis, the destruction of the very fabric of society from which, 30 years on, we are yet to recover.

    But the clothes were pretty funny.

    Give this one a miss, unless you’re going as zombie Thatcher, which undeniably would be pretty epic.

    10. Unicorns

    Well, unicorns aren’t remotely scary so let’s nip this twee nonsense in the bud.

    But also, in the parlance of today, ‘unicorn’ refers to a bisexual woman who has threesomes with heterosexual couples. Quite an out-there costume choice – but maybe you could pull it off?

    11. Rabbit

    Google isn’t giving any specific information about these searches so it’s hard to say exactly what kind of rabbit we’re dealing with here.

    If you want to go a straight-up, cute rabbit, might I direct you towards a little known festival called Easter? That might be a little bit more your speed.

    If you want to go as the nightmarish, apocalypse-warning rabbit from Donnie Darko, on the other hand, then I can only applaud your good taste and sophistication.

    If you want to go as a sexy Playboy Bunny, well who am I, as a man, to deny your agency? You can, and should, dress as sexily as you want.

    But if you imagine for one second that such a costume embodies the true spirit of Halloween… you’re lying to yourself, my friend.

    12. Pirate

    I’m strongly in favour of costumes like this: nothing meta, no try-hard puns, no attempts at satire or social commentary, no wry allusions to Article 50 (this isn’t Have I Got News For You, mate, it’s Halloween – so wisen up and have a bit of respect)… it’s just a good, old-fashioned pirate.

    And to that, I think we can all say: ahoy!

    13. Stranger Things

    It’s likely that the most popular Stranger Things-related costume this year will be the uniform Steve wears at Scoops Ahoy, the ice-cream parlour he’s working at. This is not scary but it’s at least visually distinct, unlike the rest of the characters who are simply wearing… clothes.  Dressing up as a child if you’re an adult is a bit weird, if you ask me.

    14. Mouse

    I can’t for the life of me think why this would be a Halloween trend in 2019. Has there been some viral meme that’s passed me by?

    Presumably not, given I spend every waking second of my life on the internet… so why?

    Whatever the reason, this is simply not a very good Halloween costume. It’s not sexy, scary, or funny… it’s nothing. And if you go dressed up as Minnie or Mickey, you risk the Disney corporation sending their henchman after you to slap you with a ‘cease and desist’, which might put a dampener on your evening.

    15. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn is a villain of sorts who first rose to prominence played by Margot Robbie in 2016’s Suicide Squad.

    The thought of someone doing a Harley Quinn costume with their boyfriend dressed as Jared Leto’s Joker is enough to chill my blood. It’s the couples costume for the kind of people who’d describe themselves as being ‘always one of the weird kids’. Scary… but not in a good way.

    If none of these float your boat, ‘Rebecca Vardy’s Instagram account’ is a sure-fire banter option. Alternatively, you could print out Colleen Rooney’s notes-app announcement and simply cellotape it to your face – laughter guaranteed!

    MORE: Mum crochets incredibly detailed Halloween costumes for her four sons

    MORE: Quiz: What should you dress up as for Halloween?

    MORE: An American Horror Story themed Halloween party is coming to London


    the twenty most googled hallowen costumesthe twenty most googled hallowen costumes

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    Winnie swimming
    Little Winnie is having swimming lessons (Picture: SWNS)

    A ‘wonky’ puppy with bowed legs is looking for her forever home after her previous owners gave her up because of her collapsing legs.

    Winnie, an 18-week-old American Bulldog, was diagnosed with a disease that stunted her development and meant her limbs couldn’t properly support her weight.

    However, she may soon be able to walk again as she’s been having swimming lessons to help her tendons develop.

    An animal support worker from the RSPCA, Kathy Butler, said: ‘When Winnie arrived she had severe knuckling on her forelimbs which left her legs collapsing under her weight.

    Winnie cuddling a toy
    Her family abandoned her because she kept collapsing (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘She thankfully wasn’t in any pain but needed urgent help.’

    A specialist referral clinic diagnosed Winnie with a developmental disease of the carpus – which is the wrist between the paw and leg.

    The disease means the ligaments or tendons do not form properly and cannot support the joint.

    Kathy said: ‘The clinic gave us a treatment plan and Winnie started hydrotherapy and physiotherapy immediately.

    ‘Hydrotherapy has transformed Winnie’s life and helped us to save money which we can now use for other animals in need.’

    Winnie swimming
    She’s now learning to swim and getting stronger every day (Picture: SWNS)

    The hydro pool where Winnie has been swimming has even agreed to provide the pup with hydrotherapy completely free of charge for as long as she needs it.

    Winnnie was dropped off at the RSPCA branch in Essex at just nine-weeks-old after her owner couldn’t deal with her collapsing legs.

    Now, she’s looking for a new home with a loving family – but it must be based in Essex.

    Kathy added: ‘We’d now really like to find Winnie a paw-fect forever home in Essex so Winnie can continue her hydro sessions at Completely K9.’

    MORE: Primark is now available to shop online but the prices are a little different

    MORE: What I Rent: Carmel, £650 a month for a four-bedroom house in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire


    Wonky puppy learning to walk by going swimmingWonky puppy learning to walk by going swimming

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    New words added to the oxford english dictionary
    Whatevs, sounds like sumfin made up by a fake news Jafaican (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    Today, the Oxford English Dictionary announced a fair few new additions to their pages.

    As they do every year, they added words that have either been invented or evolved from existing words.

    Some of them are more used than others (remember ‘youthquake’), and some will make you feel 100 years old and so out of the loop.

    You may also be surprised that some of them weren’t already in the dictionary.

    Test your knowledge with our definition quiz. Beware, though, you’ll have to really be up-to-date on your 2019 zeitgeisty terms to get a full house.

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    MORE: Winnie the ‘wonky’ bulldog is learning to walk thanks to swimming lessons

    MORE: The 15 Most Googled Halloween Costumes of 2019: Reviewed


    Whatevs added to dictionaryWhatevs added to dictionary

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    Laila and her birthmark
    Laila is having a hard time because of her birthmark (Picture: Laura McLatchie / SWNS)

    A four-year-old girl is desperate to have a birthmark removed from her face after being bullied by other children who call her ‘ugly’.

    Little Laila McLatchie said other kids and adults ‘point and laugh’ at the ulcerated hemangioma growth on her face, which she has had since birth.

    Her mum Laura McLatchie, 33, has been left ‘heartbroken’ at her young daughter getting picked on by cruel children who refuse to play with her.

    The devastated youngster has become extremely insecure and withdrawn, often asking her mum why can’t she just be ‘normal’ and look like her sister.

    A hemangioma is a collection of small blood vessels that form a lump under the skin. Their cause is not fully known.

    Hemangiomas can be superficial or deep, with a raised, red area on the surface of the skin, and a bluish swelling of abnormal blood vessels deeper in the skin.

    Laila smiling
    Laila is being bullied for her birthmark (Picture: Laura McLatchie / SWNS)

    Laura said doctors promised to remove the growth by the time Laila was four-and-a-half but the schoolgirl has now been put on another waiting list for two more years.

    Determined to get the surgery as soon as possible to stop the bullying, Laura – who runs her own laundry services business – plans to take her daughter for private surgery.

    But it’s going to cost around £3,000 for Laura to take Laila to a private clinic 140 miles away in Newcastle.

    Laura from Cumnock, East Ayrshire, said: ‘This is the largest it has ever been.

    ‘She’s being teased at school and in the street by adults and children.

    ‘People pass her in the street and point and laugh or ask questions and she really doesn’t like it.

    Laura with Laila
    She’s become very insecure and withdrawn (Picture: Laura McLatchie / SWNS)

    ‘She’s very conscious of it she doesn’t like anyone talking about it or touching it.

    ‘People point and laugh at her saying she’s ugly it’s really bothering her.

    ‘She feels she needs to explain what it is to everyone because no one wants to play with her.

    ‘My daughter is being teased at school for the “lump” as they call it.

    ‘We were told by the NHS that is a lot of cases they would perform surgery at the age of four-and-a-half.

    ‘We attended the hospital for her birthmark removal to be told she had been placed on another one to two years waiting list due to the lack of paediatricians for cosmetic surgery.

    Laila's birthmark
    She desperately wants to have the birthmark removed (Picture: Laura McLatchie / SWNS)

    ‘I have found out that I can get the same treatment much sooner on private health care in Surrey but need help.’

    In a bid to stop the bullies and ‘funny stares’ Laura has launched a fundraising drive and has so far raised £260.

    She added: ‘As a mother I cannot let her go through this for another two years.

    ‘Especially when it can be taken away.’

    MORE: Winnie the ‘wonky’ bulldog is learning to walk thanks to swimming lessons

    MORE: Family of six quit jobs and leave London to live off-grid in a caravan on a cliff


    Four-year-old Laila McLatchie from Cumnock, East Ayrshire whose mum Laura is fundraising to have a growth removed from her face because her daughter is being bullied. See SWNS story SWSCbirthmark. A four-year-old girl is desperate to have a birthmark removed from her face after being tormented by bullies who call her ?ugly?. Little Laila McLatchie said children and adults ?point and laugh? at the ulcerated hamangioma growth on her face which she has had since birth. Her mum Laura McLatchie, 33, has been left ?heartbroken? at her young daughter getting picked on by cruel children who refuse to play with her. The devastated youngster has now become extremely insecure and withdrawn, often asking her mum why can?t she just be ?normal? and look like her sister.Four-year-old Laila McLatchie from Cumnock, East Ayrshire whose mum Laura is fundraising to have a growth removed from her face because her daughter is being bullied. See SWNS story SWSCbirthmark. A four-year-old girl is desperate to have a birthmark removed from her face after being tormented by bullies who call her ?ugly?. Little Laila McLatchie said children and adults ?point and laugh? at the ulcerated hamangioma growth on her face which she has had since birth. Her mum Laura McLatchie, 33, has been left ?heartbroken? at her young daughter getting picked on by cruel children who refuse to play with her. The devastated youngster has now become extremely insecure and withdrawn, often asking her mum why can?t she just be ?normal? and look like her sister.

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    Primark's flagship store on Oxford Street
    You no longer have to go to a Primark store to buy Primark clothes – but that’s not necessarily a good thing (Picture: Getty)

    Primark has hit the headlines today after shoppers realised that, despite the store not have an e-commerce platform, it was actually possible to buy Primark clothes online.

    The affordable clothes retailer, which was founded back in 1969, has its own website where you can browse some of the clothes available to buy. However, it’s not possible to purchase the items online and customers instead must head to one of their stores to make a purchase.

    John Bason, finance director of Primark parent company Associated British Foods, told The Wall Street Journal in 2017 the reason why Primark don’t sell their clothes online is: ‘The cost to support home delivery can’t be supported with our price points.’

    Global e-commerce platform Amazon do now sell Primark’s clothes online – but not as part of an official partnership with the high-street store and Primark are urging their customers not to buy their clothes online.

    Why Primark doesn’t want you buying their clothes on Amazon

    After Amazon made headlines for selling Primark clothes online, Primark released a statement via their official Twitter account explaining why their customers should still shop for their ranges in store:

    ‘We do not have a commercial partnership with Amazon and any Primark products which appear on the site are being re-sold by third parties, at higher prices,’ Primark said. ‘We encourage our customers to visit us in our stores to find the best value.’

    To shop Primark online, customers simply need to type ‘Primark’ into the search bar on Amazon and the clothes they have available will appear.

    However, Amazon only sell a limited range of Primark items on their site for now, including the store’s popular Disney and Harry Potter ranges.

    But, as Primark highlighted, the pieces are more expensive, with one customer writing on Twitter that Amazon charge, ‘huge amounts for the same product’ that can be found for cheaper in store.

    MORE: Stacey Solomon’s new Primark collection has your autumn wardrobe covered

    MORE: Shopper calls out Primark for typo on Friends T-shirt


    STRAPPING OFF Primark mannequin’s pyjama malfunction leaves shoppers in stitches – as women joke it’s ‘how they wake upSTRAPPING OFF Primark mannequin’s pyjama malfunction leaves shoppers in stitches – as women joke it’s ‘how they wake up

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    Pollution is bad. We know this. But do we really know why it’s so bad?

    OK, we know some things.

    We know pollution is bad for the planet; that it’s contributing to the warming of the Earth’s surface and the melting of the ice caps. We also know it’s bad for our lungs and can cause respiratory illnesses. We know it’s even bad for our skin, clogging our pores and causing dullness and breakouts.

    But what else are air pollutants doing to our bodies?

    Well, pollution could be wreaking utter havoc on our hormones and reproductive systems. Not good news, particularly if you happen to live in a city that has been fondly nicknamed The Big Smoke.

    A new report has found that air pollution can raise the risk of a miscarriage by more than 50 per cent. The study of more than a quarter of a million pregnant women, found that living on a busy road was more dangerous to the health of their baby than smoking.

    It’s worrying, and it doesn’t only impact expectant mothers. We all have hormones, and for all of us, they play a vital role in keeping us healthy.

    The widespread lack of awareness about the effects of pollution on hormones and reproduction is definitely concerning.

    How does pollution impact our hormones?

    ‘In our bodies, we have hormone receptors on almost every kind of tissue you can imagine,’ explains Dr Shruthi Mahalingaiah, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology.

    ‘There are oestrogen receptors and progesterone receptors on many cells in the body, particularly on hormone responsive tissues such as breast tissue, bone tissues or reproductive tissues.

    ‘Historically, it has been shown that some types of pollutants can actually bind to hormone receptors. If there are other chemicals in our environment that can cross react or bind to hormone receptors, this can cause problems as your body ends up receiving the wrong signals.’

    An illustration of a man with depression
    ‘Increased exposure to the particles in the air we breathe does influence risk for menstrual irregularity’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Shruthi says that the most important thing to consider is that everything is interconnected when it comes to hormone systems and signalling. Our reproductive function is intricately linked to what we are exposed to, including pollutants.

    ‘What has been most surprising to me is realising how penetrable our reproductive systems actually are,’ says Shruthi.

    ‘I really thought that the uterus and fallopian tubes were this kind of pristine, maternal environment. And the research over time has shown that it’s really not protected. It’s not a black box.

    ‘Things that we inhale, for example, aerosolized heavy metals, metabolites of tobacco smoking like cotinine or nicotine… Some of these persistent organic pollutants are found in the fluid surrounding a developing egg.’

    In fact, a study earlier this month found carbon particles from pollution inside the placentas of pregnant women.

    Additionally, Shruthi and her team looked at air pollution exposure in the high school age range and risk of menstrual irregularity later on in life.

    ‘We found that increased exposure to the whole amount of particles in the air we breathe does seem to influence risk for menstrual irregularity later on in life,’ she says.

    ‘With that same cohort of women, we did find an increased risk of infertility, if you live closer to a major roadway. There was a 10 per cent compared to those living farther away (greater than 200 meters).’

    The effects of pollution on our hormones

    The studies show that increased exposure to pollution can cause:

    • An increased risk of infertility
    • A higher likelihood of irregular periods
    • One study found that it can raise the risk of a miscarriage by more than 50 per cent
    • Confused hormonal signals being sent around the body

    Shruthi does say that there are many important considerations when doing this type of research, and that further research is needed to know whether the findings can be replicated.

    ‘The menstrual cycle hasn’t been previously evaluated in a lot of large-scale research. I’m really excited to inspire people to use it as a marker of health and to incorporate it into research studies in the future.’

    What can we do to protect ourselves from pollution?

    If you live in a big city your options for avoiding air pollution are limited. We still have to go outside and breathe the air, no matter how gross and smoggy it gets.

    But Shruthi says that your risk is dependent on where you are in the world.

    ‘It depends on what kind of governmental structures are in place to reduce emissions or enhance water quality,’ she explains. ‘This means that someone coming from a country that’s historically tried to optimize air and water quality would receive a very different kind of recommendation from me than someone who might be using wood burning fuel in their home.’

    Thankfully there are some strategies you can use to minimise your exposure.

    ‘Try to avoid jogging during rush hour on a major roadway,’ suggests Shruthi.

    Illustration of woman running
    ‘Avoid jogging during rush hour on a major roadway’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Make sure your ventilation system in your home is appropriately maintained.

    ‘If you feel like you’ve been experiencing menstrual irregularity you should see your doctor to get a full assessment including a history, a physical hormonal assessment and recommendations.’

    Which pollutants should we aim to avoid?

    Some nasty pollutants are easier to avoid than others, but Shruthi has some words of warning about the worst culprits. She says she does her best to avoid air pollutants and pesticides.

    ‘My main concern is limiting exposure to dietary related chemicals,’ she says. ‘I try to buy organic foods and milk and reduce the chemical burden from what I eat.  Also, when I’m driving and get stalled in traffic, turning on internal circulation only, instead of getting exhaust fumes pumped right into the car, is something that’s important to me.’

    A really interesting point that Shruthi makes is about the possibly damaging effects that beauty products can have on our hormones and reproduction – particularly anti-ageing products.

    ‘A lot of the products that are on the market promote youthfulness or age defying qualities,’ says Shruthi. ‘Some of those actually can bind to oestrogen receptors to give that oestrogen-dominant look.

    ‘It’s almost like trying to recreate this very hyped-up hormonal state.

    Losing someone you love
    ‘A lot of the products that are on the market promote youthfulness or age defying qualities’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘So that’s one of the things I’m interested in learning more about, especially as cosmetics and personal care products are generally unregulated.’

    Shruthi says that since beginning her research in this area she has really started to reduce her cosmetic purchases.

    ‘It means redefining what you think of as beautiful and really considering what you need to put on your face and body.’

    What are the next steps?

    Women have been having menstrual cycles since the origin of the human species – but people are still scared to talk about it. (Hands up if you still hide your tampons up your sleeve when you go to the bathroom at work so as not to terrify the men…)

    Stigma and taboo prevents hormonal and menstrual health from being discussed more widely, and Shruthi thinks that really needs to change.

    ‘Work still needs to be done,’ she says. ‘It’s important to raise the awareness that this is a really key function and shouldn’t be hidden or shamed.’

    She says there’s also a growing awareness that the menstrual cycle is a marker of whole body health, but progress is slow.

    ‘It has been unfortunately understudied and part of that is due to a lack of recognition when it comes to the importance of the menstrual cycle as a key part of the physiology of the body,’ says Shruthi.

    ‘My main goal is to increase awareness about this as we’re introducing new chemicals and technologies into the environment that may not traditionally be included in some of our ingestion or air – like nanotechnology, or fibres that biodegrade.

    ‘How does this affect the whole ecosystem? What happens if these things get concentrated in our water supply? I’d like to have awareness about women’s reproductive health in the menstrual cycle included in those discussions, as we decide how to handle these chemicals.’

    The intricate link between hormones and pollution is just one of the topics that are going to be covered in depth by a new podcast, Hormonal, created by female health app Clue.

    The weekly podcast, hosted by author Rhea Ramjohn, will explore the different ways in which hormones impact our lives and psyches.

    Other topics will include the effects of hormones on your skin and how sexism affects your PMS symptoms.

    ‘Every single person on the planet is affected by hormones, yet relatively few of us know how they work and how they affect our perception of the world around us,’ says Ida Tin, Clue CEO.

    ‘With our podcast, we aim to share some of the knowledge we’ve accumulated through our scientific partnerships and showcase some of the leading experts within the field of endocrinology and female health.’

    MORE: Are gyms doing enough to protect members with eating disorders and exercise addiction?

    MORE: What is unconscious name bias and why is it so damaging?

    MORE: Air pollution is causing baldness and hair loss, scientists claim


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

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