Articles on this Page
- 10/18/19--08:26: _How to have a susta...
- 10/18/19--09:11: _Can you tell the di...
- 10/18/19--09:31: _Home once belonging...
- 10/18/19--10:02: _Marks & Spencer lau...
- 10/18/19--10:17: _Want to become an i...
- 10/19/19--00:30: _Strong Women: ‘I lo...
- 10/19/19--01:00: _A decade of casual ...
- 10/19/19--01:04: _The complicated rel...
- 10/19/19--01:24: _Couple wows the int...
- 10/19/19--01:44: _What is retinol and...
- 10/19/19--02:45: _Student hasn’t boug...
- 10/19/19--03:24: _Can you spot the pe...
- 10/19/19--04:04: _Son sends mum weddi...
- 10/19/19--04:24: _The out-of-hours em...
- 10/19/19--06:13: _Ikea is hosting a C...
- 10/19/19--07:02: _Dad leaves the room...
- 10/19/19--08:16: _What I Own: Jade, a...
- 10/19/19--08:57: _Avoid Moroccan tour...
- 10/19/19--09:23: _Mum creates incredi...
- 10/20/19--01:30: _Thanks to 50 Cent a...
- 10/18/19--08:26: How to have a sustainable Halloween
- 10/18/19--09:11: Can you tell the difference between the common cold and the flu?
- 10/18/19--10:17: Want to become an influencer? There’s now a uni degree for it
- 10/19/19--01:00: A decade of casual sex has shown me what true love really is
- 10/19/19--01:04: The complicated relationship between depression and your sleep
- 10/19/19--01:44: What is retinol and how should you use it in your skincare routine?
- 10/19/19--09:23: Mum creates incredible Batman bedroom for just £66
- 10/20/19--01:30: Thanks to 50 Cent and the gym, I’ve learned to love my scars
Halloween is great for many reasons – you can dress up in spooky outfits, eat lots of treats (or knock on door to get freebies) and there are spooky parties all over town.
There’s one particularly scary aspect of the holiday that many people don’t consider: how it affects the environment.
It’s a valid concern. Just today, a new study of 19 major retailers revealed how much plastic can really be found in Halloween costumes.
According to environmental charity Hubbub and The Fairyland Trust, a nature charity, 83% of materials in 324 clothing lines are made from oil-based plastic – that’s the equivalent of 83 million plastic bottles.
The problem only gets bigger when we consider other plastic items that we buy especially for Halloween, such as decorations, cups and cutlery for house parties, plastic wrappers on sweet treats and the overflow of pumpkins (which will never get eaten).
It’s enough to give anyone eco-anxiety, but there are ways to have a sustainable Halloween.
Make your own costumes or swap with friends
Let’s start with the biggest problem: the costumes.
A lot of people will invest in a new outfit every year and variety is the spice of life, but rather than buying one from the shop, take a look around your house and see if there’s anything you can use to make your own costume.
It’ll not only be better for the environment, but you’ll also save money.
If you’re not great with a sewing machine or a glue gun, round up your mates and host a ‘swap’ party. This way, you get rid of Halloween costumes that you don’t want and, hopefully, score a free outfit from someone else.
Share your Halloween makeup kits
Most Halloween makeup kits include more than one colour or item.
So, if you’re going as a skeleton and don’t need the red paint on the palette, why not give it to your mate, who is dressing as the devil?
Get ready together and share your Halloween goods, including fake blood.
Buy one big pack, instead of a lot of small ones, because as much as you tell yourself that you’ll ‘save it for next year’, it’ll most likely end up in the bin the morning after.
Get pick-n-mix for trick-or-treaters
One of the biggest joys of Halloween is the treat-or-treat round in the neighbourhood.
Most supermarkets sell extra large tubs of sweets for the occasion, but this can often involve a lot of excess plastic.
Instead of getting that huge bag of sweets, filled with smaller bags of sweets, buy pick-n-mix that you can choose yourself.
You could also bring your own tub, and ask the store if they’d be OK with you using that instead of their paper or plastic bags.
Also, check the ingredients of the sweets and consider buying non-GMO products where possible.
Recycle your pumpkin
After they’ve created their masterpiece, most people will throw out the pumpkin pulp – don’t.
You can use it to make soups, pies and other culinary delights.
Don’t fancy eating this particular orange vegetable? Make yourself a face mask instead.
As for the pumpkin, don’t just chuck it in with your regular trash – put it into a compost bin.
Alternatively, if you have a garden, you can bury it. We’re not being morbid for the sake of Halloween; according to Recycle Nation, the pumpkin pieces will break down and ‘enrich the soil’.
Also, if live near a farmer’s market, you could potentially reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing local produce.
If you’re having a party, make it sustainable
Odds are that if the host encourages guests to be sustainable, they will.
Give away a prize for the most environmentally-friendly outfit, buy biodegradable cups and plates (if you really need them) and make your own decorations.
If you’re using lights, try to source those that are better for the environment and recycle any batteries responsibly once they run out.
You could even ask your friends to walk or cycle to your house, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Having said that, if they are drinking or going home on their at the end of the evening, tell them to leave their bike overnight and take a cab instead.
Halloween doesn’t need to be a wasteful holiday.
Just make some small changes – it could make a big difference.
The sharp rise in coughing, sneezing and wheezing around the office can only mean one thing – cold and flu season has arrived.
Can you tell the difference between the two?
Both are hugely inconvenient and leave you feeling rough as hell, but there are some key things that set the seasonal infections apart.
If you’re reaching for the tissues over the coming months, here’s how to figure out which one you have.
What is the difference between a common cold and the flu?
Both the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses – albeit completely different ones – and they are also both respiratory infections.
The best way to tell them apart is to take a closer look at the symptoms.
A common cold usually leaves you feeling run down for a few days, whereas the flu has the potential to knock you out for a number of weeks.
There’s a risk that the flu develops into more serious health problems, such as pneumonia and though it’s unlikely, it can even result in hospitalisation.
Another key difference is how quickly symptoms set in.
If you feel yourself slowly starting to get ill, it’s likely you’ve been taken down by the common cold. The flu, on the other hand, can strike suddenly and symptoms are also usually more severe and last considerably longer.
What is the common cold and what are the symptoms?
Unless you’re a supernatural being, it’s likely you’ve had the common cold at least once in your lifetime. Some unlucky folk get it every year.
It’s thought that more than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold, but according to the Mayo Clinic ‘rhinoviruses are the most common culprit’.
Common colds also very easy to catch, as the virus can spread via the air or direct contact with someone else who has it (and by sharing items that they use).
There are a number of different symptoms that can signal a common cold.
An initial sore throat can be an indicator, followed by a runny nose or nasal congestion, as well as a cough by day four or five. An individual may also experience a mild fever – but this is more common in children, rather than adults.
Muscle aches, headaches and a loss in taste or smell can also occur.
Basically if you’re feeling run down over winter, it’s likely you have a cold.
Pay the doctor a visit if you get a high fever and if the fever lasts longer than five days, or if you find yourself short of breath.
Additionally, the NHS recommends to see your GP if the cold lasts longer than three weeks.
What is the flu and what are the symptoms?
As we’ve mentioned, flu symptoms are very similar to those of a cold, but come on much faster.
If you have a cold, you can usually get up and carry on with your everyday routine – despite feeling awful – but those with the flu are so exhausted that they are often unable to get out of bed. Headaches and achy muscles also tend to be much worse.
Additional symptoms can include an upset stomach and nausea, as well as a fever. If you have the flu, your body temperature will usually be 38C or above.
Certain people are at a higher risk of getting flu complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infections, which can lead to hospitalisation. Some cases can tragically result in death.
For this reason, it’s important to know if you’re in a high-risk group, such as adults aged 65 and over, pregnant women, young children, people with asthma, people who are HIV-positive, people with cancer, people with diabetes and children with neurological conditions.
How to prevent yourself from getting a cold or the flu
When it comes to the common cold, there’s one word that goes a very long way: hygiene.
A cold virus enters the body through the mouth, eyes or nose and can spread through water droplets in the air when a person talks, coughs or blows their nose.
Of course, you can’t help it if someone sneezes in front of you on the bus, but staying as hygienic as possible can pay off.
If you take public transport to work , be sure to wash your hands in warm soapy water after your journey or keep a hand sanitiser close by. The same goes if you work in an office.
You should also avoid sharing cutlery, drinks and towels with anyone who is likely to have an infection.
If you have the early stages of a cold, be sure to discard any used tissues to prevent contamination, and if you’re at high risk of developing the flu, get a vaccine jab for free at the NHS. The jab offers greater protection from various strains of the flu.
Should you get ill, do your best to rest and avoid going into work (so you don’t spread the virus).
Illustration of a man about to sneeze
The former home of J.R.R Tolkien is on the market for £4.5million.
The author lived in the the six-bedroom home with his family from 1930 to 1947 – the same time period during which he wrote The Hobbit.
He is believed to have written the novel in the drawing room of the large detached house, and began working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy here, too.
The house on Northmoor Road in Oxford is adorned with a blue plaque, which states ‘J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of Lord Of The Rings, Lived here 1930-1947’.
The property has an asking price of £4,575,000 – and an estate agent has described it as ‘an important part of Oxford’s history’.
Tolkien’s family first lived at number 22 but he later acquired the lease of the house next door, which boasts a larder, breakfast room and six bedrooms.
The home was purchased by a private buyer in 2004 for more than £1.5 million.
Despite having no special architectural qualities, it was given a Grade II-listed status shortly afterwards on the basis of Tolkien’s importance.
Oxfordshire estate agents Breckon & Breckon said it was ‘situated on a generous plot within a leafy central north Oxford suburb’.
It is described as ‘substantial’, covering ‘over two floors providing almost 4,000 sq ft of accommodation’.
J.R.R Tolkien died in 1973 but the popularity of his works remains undimmed, with Amazon Studios recently announcing a Lord of the Rings television series.
Forget chocolate for Christmas – Marks & Spencer has launched a new advent calendar and it’s filled to the brim with jewellery.
The calendar, which is beautifully decorated in a navy and metallic silver star design, is also pretty affordable considering its contents.
For just £19.50, you can treat yourself to a new piece of bling for 12 days (that’s about £1.62 per day).
So, what’s hidden behind the doors?
There are 10 pairs of earrings, including hoops and charms, crystal moons and stars, as well as two necklaces with star pendants in both gold and silver.
Each piece of jewellery is made from M&S’s patented Skin Kind metal, which has been endorsed by the British Skin Foundation.
The advent calendar is in stores now, and we’d recommend buying one as soon as possible as it’s likely they’ll sell out fast.
If you’ve got a little more money to spend, you could try out Holland & Barrett’s new natural beauty advent calendar, which costs £35 and holds £146 worth of goodies.
The 25 Days of Natural Beauty advent calendar includes items such as the Fruu Lip Balm, Dr Organic Aloe Micellar Water, a lavender sleep mask, rose body wash, essential oil and even coconut toothpaste.
It’s an absolute must-have for fans of natural beauty products.
Marks & Spencer has just launched a super affordable jewellery advent calendar
If any of your older relatives have told you to get off Instagram and get back to school, we have good news.
An Italian university is now offering a degree in becoming a social media influencer.
Online institution eCampus has created a three-year programme geared to equip students with the technical skills needed to gain traction on social media.
It might sound a little far-fetched, but considering there’s a range of degrees for seemingly niche disciplines like puppetry, handbags and yachting, it’s not a huge stretch for people to want to study an area that is relevant and lucrative.
According to a recent study by Rakuten Marketing, UK marketers allocate 40% of their budget to influencer campaigns and 49% of global consumers engage with influencer marketing to discover new brands and products, so there’s plenty of opportunities to be had.
Unsurprisingly, some of the degree modules sound pretty fun – there’s language philosophy, TV history, intercultural communication, and fashion psychology.
The online institution might not be one of the most well-known for higher learning, but perhaps it will be the first of many to offer education in this field.
Even so, it’s a risky move to launch a programme meant to prepare young people for a career path that isn’t exactly concrete, particularly when Italy’s youth unemployment rate is one of the highest in Europe at 27.1%.
In related news, eCampus recently forged connections with one of the biggest influencers in the business.
The university appointed football star Cristiano Ronaldo as its new ambassador.
He doesn’t seem to be able to turn down an endorsement deal, having promoted products such as custom-made Cristiano blankets, Egyptian steel, and a muscle stimulation product that apparently will give you six-pack abs.
In his new gig, Cristiano has teamed up with the university to fund 36 student grants.
Fancy becoming an influencer? This is – potentially – your chance.
Multi-ethnic female bloggers photographing food on table at cafe
Victoria Lysaght has lived with alopecia since she was nine years old and finally lost all of her hair in her mid 30s.
‘I remember looking in the mirror sobbing, wondering how I could ever be me without my hair,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘I was teased and bullied at school. My hair grew back in time for high school but unfortunately the damage to my self-esteem had already been done.
‘I lost all of it by my 30s and, as a result, I went through life making mistakes and poor decisions, often giving away my power and allowing others to treat me badly.’
But now the 41-year-old is on a mission to spread self-love and positivity. Starting with herself.
‘I realised how much I had allowed my alopecia to effect my self-esteem over the years and just how much my lack of self-love had negatively impacted my entire life,’ says Victoria.
‘So, I made a decision there and then to focus on the positives of my condition, to celebrate who I was, to remind myself of my strengths and give myself a dose of well over-due self-love.
‘It was like a light going on, my life immediately began to change for the better and the happier and more confident I became.’
Six months ago, Victoria, who works as an illustrator, had a chance encounter with an incredible woman who changed the course of Victoria’s life.
‘It was a normal, rainy Manchester morning and I received a message from a bubbly, energetic lady inquiring about booking one of my “Wonderful Me” doodle workshops.
‘The lady turned out to be the female founder of a women’s running club called Solemother. Curiosity got the better of me, so I signed myself up to the group on Facebook – more to be nosey than to actually run!’
But there was something about the club that struck a chord with Victoria, and she knew she had to give it a try.
‘It didn’t take me long to realise this was a very special running club,’ she explains. ‘Everyone was welcome, whatever your ability or circumstance, and everyone was treated equally.
‘But the main thing that struck me was the supportive, non-competitive vibe.
‘Women were sharing their achievements to inspire and motivate each other and instead of competing, they were cheering each other on, offering nothing but love, respect and admiration for each other.’
But there was one small problem – Victoria didn’t feel at all confident with her running abilities. She had been a strong runner when she was younger, but losing her hair sapped her of her confidence.
‘When I lost my hair in my thirties, my enthusiasm for running had disappeared along with it,’ she says. ‘Running with a wig was hot and uncomfortable, so I had given in to my condition and avoided any exercise that made me too sweaty.’
Despite her reservations, Victoria felt inspired by reading the stories of other women in the group – so she signed up, dusted off her trainers and started running again.
‘It felt so good,’ she says. ‘I could feel a huge improvement in my mental health. I often suffer with stress and anxiety and struggle to relax, but I would come back from a run feeling uplifted and in such a positive place. It has become my meditation.’
In what Victoria calls a ‘moment of madness’, she found herself signing up for the Manchester Half Marathon.
‘The furthest I had ever run was 10k, so a half marathon was a huge jump for me – I was pretty scared.
‘Once I started training for the event, I soon realised that if I was going to complete the race, the wig had to go.
‘So during, one of my morning runs around my local town, I ditched the wig and ran bald for the last 5k. It felt amazing.
‘It was much cooler, much more comfortable and because I was being brave enough to show the world the real me, I felt hugely empowered.’
From then on, there was no looking back for Victoria, and wig-free runs became the norm. She felt incredible being able to embrace her appearance without any embarrassment or shame.
‘I not only received support from the ladies in the club, but from the whole community,’ she says.
‘People helped me reach my sponsorship target in just 24 hours after I shared a photo of myself on Facebook after my first bald run.
‘I received so many comments from others to say how I’d helped to inspire them to be themselves which made me feel so happy.’
Victoria was even more delighted when she received a letter from the Trafford Sports Awards to say she had been nominated for the Changing Lifestyle Award – which she went on to win.
‘When I went up to accept my award, I knew I had to be brave and accept the award as the “real me” so I threw my wig on the table in front of everyone, and marched up to the front!
‘It felt incredible! I now go on to represent Trafford in The Greater Manchester Final on 15 November.’
Earlier this month, Victoria completed the Manchester Half Marathon in 2 hours 20 minutes – completely bald and with the biggest smile on her face.
‘I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve achieved, but the true satisfaction comes from inspiring others.’
Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in the world of sport and fitness.
A Sport England study found that 40% of women were avoiding physical activity due to a fear of judgement.
But, contrary to the limited images we so often see, women of any age, size, race or ability can be active and enjoy sport and fitness.
We hope that by normalising diverse depictions of women who are fit, strong and love their bodies, we will empower all women to shed their self-consciousness when it comes to getting active.
Each week we talk to women who are redefining what it means to be strong and achieving incredible things.
As a journalist who specialises in matters of the heart – and the bedroom – friends frequently ask me for advice on relationship and sex issues.
On the latter, I have more experience than the average woman. I’m 30 and have slept with over 100 men and had six relationships, three of which were long-term.
I’ve been told by some people that my (healthy) sexual appetite somehow makes me less worthy of love. When I was younger, I believed them – and even referred to myself as the ‘type of woman’ men wanted to sleep with, but not date. Thankfully, now I’m older, I understand what utter bulls**t that is.
If anything, my vast experience has taught me a lot about true love and what I want from a partner.
In my early 20s, I would ‘fall’ for pretty much any man I had sex with. I confused temporary affection and drunken one-night stand cuddles with love, because I hadn’t yet experienced the real earth-shattering kind that makes you feel safe, secure and cared for.
A great casual shag was also like a drug. It gave me an amazing high, but if I did it for the wrong reasons – validation, for instance – I suffered through a post-sex comedown soon after.
Being a hopeless romantic at heart (something I hate to admit) also meant I kept trying to make it work with men I wasn’t all that interested in. Like Danny*, a former colleague with whom I had a brief fling years ago. He was a d*ck – which is ironic considering he had a very small penis – and the sex was average, but I spent months pining over him because I wanted our connection to mean more than it did.
Or Jay*, who I dated for five months, despite the fact I knew we weren’t compatible. We had nothing in common, he lived in a different city and he also had children – which wasn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but slightly awkward, given I don’t want kids.
I confused temporary affection and drunken one-night stand cuddles with love, because I hadn’t yet experienced the real earth-shattering kind that makes you feel safe, secure and cared for.
Everything changed when I was 24 and met a man who loved me so deeply and intensely that I finally understood what I’d been missing out on. Many of the men from my past didn’t care about who I was or what I had to say, and here was a man who loved my mind more than my body.
It was the first time in my life I felt truly safe. He became my best friend during that time and I knew that he would be there for me no matter what.
Unfortunately the relationship didn’t work out, but it had a snowball effect. As I got older, my antipathy towards casual partners only intensified.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with f***ing around if that’s your jam but the appeal has worn thin for me over the years.
A few months ago I decided to put it to the test. I jumped onto Tinder and within 10 minutes had organised a ‘cuddle and wine’ date with a man who lived around the corner from my flat.
The moment he walked in, I could tell exactly how this would play out. He kissed me and moved onto the sofa where he instructed me to ‘come closer’, while I kept trying to have a conversation with him. What a fool I was, for thinking we might actually talk for a few minutes before taking our clothes off.
Throughout the 15 minutes we spent together (yes, really), all I could think was how I wished he would give me some intellectual stimulation, and how the fact he didn’t want to get to know my amazing mind was off-putting. We didn’t have sex, but fooled around (I still wanted to get something from my experiment and an orgasm is always fun).
It was completely consensual but the experience cemented what I’d suspected for some time – that, for me, casual sex without mutual respect and some degree of intellectual interest isn’t fun anymore – and it isn’t what I’m looking for.
The idea of taking a guy home from a bar or organising a night of Netflix and Chill through a dating app, not knowing if he’ll be good (or last through the performance long enough to give me an orgasm) now fills me with boredom.
Having lots of sexual partners has taught me that I’m comfortable with who I am and unwilling to compromise on how I should be treated. And in turn, that has revealed what true love really means for me: meeting my equal, a person who stimulates my mind and body and, above all, respects me.
Make no mistake, sex still ranks very high on my list of requirements, but not because I’m dying for someone to get me off. I can do that on my own.
Sex is a way to connect with someone you love on a different level. It’s by no means everything but I’ve realised that sharing my bed, and my heart, with someone who isn’t bothered about anything beyond my vagina isn’t a turn-on anymore.
I’m not saying that casual sex is off the table forever – my urge to get freaky is still very much alive, and I wouldn’t deny myself if that’s what I choose in the future.
But right now I want more. So, when I go on a date and the other person inevitably asks what I’m ‘looking for’ – to which, by the way, there is no good answer – I try my best to tell the truth: love.
Write for Love, Or Something Like It
Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Illo req for Ella- Love Or Something Like It: Allie on giving up casual sex for love (copy card)
Depression and sleep have a complex relationship. Often, said relationship is very all-or-nothing, with the sufferer either finding their sleep insufferably broken and disturbed, or finding that they’re compelled to sleep for 17 hours a day.
It can be a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, as the majority of people with depression will experience sleep disorders, but also a very high percentage of those with sleep disorders are depressed.
Is one an after-effect of the other? Do they come hand in hand? Is it possible to have one without the other?
For a lot of people (including me), further investigation into disordered sleeping can be the first step on a path to a diagnosis of depression.
When I was waking up at 3.45am every day, a quick Google (on my phone – not a great way to get back to sleep) suggested that I might be depressed and that disrupted sleep can often be a symptom.
Equally, a list of search results for ‘can’t stop sleeping all day’ suggest the same diagnosis – but how can one illness have two totally opposite side effects?
It’s because depression is a tricksy little bitch that doesn’t play by anyone’s rules.
Dr Jane Woyka, Principal GP at Harrow Health Care Centre, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘For some, depression can lead to severe insomnia, where patients struggle to sleep or find that they are very restless waking often with a lack of REM sleep, which is important for recovery.
‘In cases of depression as well as a lack of sleep, some patients feel a need to sleep constantly and struggle to stay awake. Insomnia and a constant feeling of sleepiness are obviously connected, so people with depression can get into odd patterns.’
Dr Woyka is keen to add that although there are a lot of medication options available to help you with any sleep dramas, medicine isn’t actually the best option.
‘There are a number of over the counter products that can be used to treat insomnia, which usually contain an anti-histamine,’ she says. ‘Phenergan is a popular choice, and Piriton is often used for hay fever and causes drowsiness.
‘For some patients stronger medication is required. However, as a GP it’s frowned upon if your patients are taking these sorts of drugs and we are advised to refer them to sleep clinics and psychiatrists to sort out the underlying issues.’
Ugh, underlying issues. You’ve said a mouthful there, doctor.
Of course, there could be any number of physical ailments that are stopping you getting your kip; you might have sleep apnea, or sleepwalk, or be someone who involuntarily pokes themselves in the eye every five minutes. However, if you have depression then it’s likely that there are other factors contributing to your sleep patterns – it’s a really good idea to talk to your GP about it.
In the meantime, though, there are small changes you can try to make to encourage your body to be ready for sleep at the time you need to be. Sleep is all about your circadian rhythm; the internal process that regulates your body clock. P
aying close attention to when you’re processing lightness and darkness can really make a difference – which means putting down your phone when you’re in bed, buddy. Honestly, how many people have text you to say they can’t sleep? Unsurprising when you have a beam of bright light and all the information in the world held ten inches away from your face, mate.
Anyway, Dr Kate Mason, a clinical psychologist, recommends tackling the following to make sure you really are giving yourself the best chance of a decent night of sleep.
Dr Kate Mason's five tips for sorting out your sleep:
Remove distractions from your bedroom, and make it only about sleep
Your bedroom should be a dedicated Zen palace of sleep. Too much noise, light or distraction can make sleep harder. So, make your room as dark as possible.”
Don’t stay in bed if you’re really not sleeping
‘Don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, if you can’t sleep get up and move to another room. Do something that limits movement like reading a book or listening to some calming music. Then, when you are ready, return to your bedroom to sleep. This way, your brain will begin to associate your bed (and bedroom) purely with sleep and not sleep problems.’
Get into a routine bedtime
Ok, this one might be less achievable with work schedules and social lives, but if sleep problems are really affecting you then this is really worth a try.
‘Research suggests that keeping a consistent bedtime is just as important as the length of time you sleep,’ says Kate. ‘Avoid naps in the day and don’t clock watch – have some self-compassion don’t tell yourself ‘I should be asleep now… I’ll only have 2,3 hrs sleep’ – this will only serve to increase your anxiety.’
Get outside (not at bedtime, though)
‘Depression wants you to stay indoors and shut the world out (and everyone in it) The though of going outside may seem like an impossible feat but fight that feeling and get outside.
‘Sunlight provides Vitamin D – a great mood enhancer. Not only that, seeing the sun frequently helps your circadian rhythms recalibrate and get back into a rhythm.
‘If you truly can’t face the outside world, at least open your curtains and let the day come to you.’
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can find a qualified local counsellor in your area with Counselling Directory. Mental health charity Mind also offer counselling services, and you can call The Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI). The NHS even have a little quiz you can take. If you can, visit your GP for further advice.
To talk about mental health in a private, judgement-free zone, join our Mentally Yours Facebook group.
Need support? Contact the Samaritans
Why offices should give workers time and space to sleep
Husband-and-wife personal training team Jozmen and Felicia Robinson have just blessed the internet with their sexy engagement photos.
While many couples might opt for something a little more low-key, like pictures of them splashing around in autumn leaves, or embracing on the beach at sunset, the Memphis-based duo has gone for something a little more, well, nude.
The two fitness-enthusiasts, who describe themselves as ‘very naked people’, can be seen posing with their kit off and pizza on.
Aside from keeping in tip-top shape, Jozmen also works as a firefighter. It’s a look he proudly slipped into another one of their steamy photographs.
He captioned the following image: ‘Can’t wait to embarrass my POTENTIAL kids by busting out this photo while their friends are around muhahaha.’
While the couple has been successful with their personal coaching company Spartan Progress, it was Jozmen’s cousin Saeed Jones – author of book How We Fight For Our Lives – who brought the beautiful images the attention they deserved with this epic appreciation tweet:
On my dad’s side of the family, I’m arguably one of the more demure cousins. My cousin Jozmen and his wife just posted this on Instagram. LOLOLOLOL. I love them so much. https://t.co/Nfl6haPaEv pic.twitter.com/AblEzclfLl
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) October 16, 2019
Well, we think pizza and nudity sounds like a pretty solid foundation to marriage.
The pizza-loving pair have been friends since 2013, when Felicia moved to Memphis, and began dating in 2017 when Jozmen asked her out.
Fast forward to September this year, and the two enjoyed a beachfront wedding in Cancun, Mexico.
Couple's pizza photoshoot
In the world of beauty, there are some strange-sounding ingredients flying around.
Retinol is one of those words frequently thrown into the mix – but knowing what it is and how to use it could make all the difference to your skin.
Perhaps you’ve already heard of it? It does have a reputation as being one of the most effective skin-plumping ingredients on the market, after all.
So here’s everything to know about the holy grail of skincare.
What is retinol and what does it do?
Simply put, retinol is an anti-aging molecule that helps with skin renewal – reducing lines, wrinkles and age spots.
It’s a derivative from Vitamin A which is used by the body to boost cell turnover and to enhance collagen production. This starts to go downhill at the age of 30.
Dr Sarah Shah, founder of the Artistry Clinic on Harley Street and Liverpool Street, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Retinol stimulates the production of new blood vessels in the skin, increasing cell turnover and improving uneven skin tones.
‘The dermis layer of the skin contains cells called fibroblasts which produce collagen. These cells start to slow down with ageing and, after the age of 30, our collagen level drops by 1-2% every year.
‘Retinol acts directly on these cells to keep them switched on and working to their best ability.’
After an individual hits their mid 30s, their cell regeneration starts to slow down.
This is where retinol helps.
It stimulates cell renewal by increasing the rate of cell division – this new cell growth leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.
But it doesn’t stop there, it can also help with acne, hyper-pigmentation, dryness, rough skin texture, blemishes and more.
What’s not to love about that?
How do you use retinol?
The number one rule of retinol is to use it at night, after cleansing. This is because Vitamin A derivatives lose their effect in the sunlight.
They also make skin more sensitive to UVA and UVB, as new cells are prone to burning. So be sure to top up with SPF when incorporating retinol into your skincare routine.
In terms of when to start using it, most people are motivated to incorporate it when they catch their first glimpses of aging – be it crow’s feet or laughter lines.
Dr Sarah says: ‘You can also start to use retinol on young skin (from your mid-twenties) as it has further benefits, such as reducing acne and inflammation and controlling the levels of oil production.’
What are the best retinol products to use?
Results won’t be apparent instantly but after consistent use for around three months or so, there should be a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s worth noting that retinol comes in different strengths – it typically starts at a low 0.1% and goes up to a high 2%. So if you’re starting out, it’s best to opt for a lower concentration and use it sparingly (a pea-sized amount) – just to see how your skin reacts to it. This is particularly important if you have sensitive skin.
Start by using it approximately two times a week and see how your skin takes to it.
Then use it like a ladder – if there’s no irritation after using a 0.5% product, slowly but surely go up to a 1%, and so on.
Mild irritation, slight dryness and sun sensitivity are normal side effects but flaking, redness, and burning sensations are not normal. Some skin types – particularly those with eczema and rosacea – cannot deal with retinol.
If this is the case, fear not, there are plenty of alternative anti-aging products on the market. Don’t make your skin suffer.
When it comes to buying products, look for the percentage retinol for guidance.
The Ordinary is a great brand to start with. It has a variety of products ranging from 0.2% upwards.
Alternatively, Elizabeth Arden offers biodegradable single-use capsules (each with a shot of retinol) and the brand claims the product is 76% more potent than un-encapsulated retinol.
The Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum does what it says on the tin. It’s a high-strength product, so newbies should steer clear.
Why it's okay to put your happiness first
If you’re really struggling to carry around your reusable cup or stop buying so many things that just end up in the bin, take Ella Kim Marriott as your source of inspiration.
Ella, 20, is a university student and environmental activist. She’s also a bit of a master at living sustainably, having gone without buying new clothes for four years.
Ella also eats a plant-based diet, works at a packaging-free grocery store, and limits her flights to one a year to reduce her carbon footprint.
Basically she’s doing great at this whole protecting the earth thing, and we can all learn from her.
The student vowed to stop buying fast fashion after watching The True Cost, a documentary about the fashion industry, in 2015.
Ella, of Vancouver, Canada, said: ‘I was in grade 10 when I watched The True Cost which shows every aspect of the fast fashion industry, from working conditions in factories to the unsustainable fabrics used.
‘Billions of dollars worth of clothing end up in landfills. There are also a lot of issues around how factory workers are treated and the poor labour laws and conditions.
‘The transportation of the clothes mean that trucks and planes are used for just shipping over clothing. I wanted to stop supporting that industry.
‘I decided to take it on as a challenge for one year to see if I could go a full year without buying anything new.
‘But after that first year, I just decided to stop buying fast fashion altogether.’
Ella decided to spread word of her challenge to inspire others to get involved.
Some took part, but Ella still found herself in some awkward moments when her friends wanted to shop in Forever 21.
Rather than going to high street shops, Ella buys her clothes from second-hand stores, which she says has improved her personal style.
‘I actually grew up shopping in thrift stores as my family was low income,’ she explained. ‘The only thing that is inconvenient is if there’s one specific item that I want.
‘But the cool thing about thrift stores is that it improves your style. I think I look better now. You have to get creative. You end up with really unique pieces.
‘It completely elevates how you end up putting clothes together.’
The only clothes Ella buys new are underwear and socks, as they’re tricky to come by in thrift stores.
But even for these items, Ella makes sure to give her money to sustainable brands. Thankfully, that means they last for a long time.
She says: ‘In the four years I have been doing this, I haven’t bought a single pair of underwear.
‘People constantly think they need new things but it’s pretty hard to rip your underwear.
‘I bought period underwear so I wouldn’t have to buy feminine hygiene products anymore. I even buy swimsuits secondhand.’
If Ella is done wearing a particular item, she returns it to the thrift store for another person to enjoy, making sure to keep her clothes in good condition so they can continue to be worn.
Ella also returns clothes to thrift stores once she no longer needs them.
It’s not always easy – Ella finds it hard to resist buying artists’ merch at concerts – but the student hopes she can show other people that it’s worth trying to buy consciously.
She said: ‘Everyone has exceptions and nobody is perfect. We just have to do what we can manage.’
What do you see when you look at this watch? Simply squiggles and lines? Or something a bit more x-rated?
There appear to be two camps on a recent Mumsnet thread, where one eagle-eyed poster shared their shock at the penises and vaginas on a Swatch watch design.
The design was spotted by one user’s daughter, who promptly posted it in a conversation titled ‘Would you wear it?’
In the post, she said, ‘Darling daughter – fortunately adult – was browsing the Swatch watches site and was looking at their pages of art where you can choose a section of a design or Old Master to have as the design on your watchstrap.’
‘Great idea. Not sure about this ‘art’ design though. Would you wear it?’
Although many people laughed at the pattern, which Swatch describe on their website as ‘a cheeky project which provides fun through thumbnail sketches of handdrawn female and male privates’, some didn’t even see the privates whatsoever.
One commenter claimed ‘What am I missing? Can just see swirls and lines!’
Many others said they had to zoom in before understanding the genital nature of the design, with first impressions seeming like everything from liquorice allsorts to a ‘dotty pattern’.
There was also the issue that some people were struggling with the anatomy of it all, as one person claimed ‘I’m worried, I don’t even recognise some of the parts!’ For posterity, there’s anuses, penises, vaginas, and breasts, in all their pastel glory.
The conversation then turned to whether or not this pattern was ‘suitable’, with the general consensus being that cartoon penises really aren’t anything to worry about from a child protection point of view; particularly when they’re so indistinguishable from lines and dots.
The watch costs £97, and is part of a collaboration between Swatch and the University of Art & Design in Lausanne.
You can change the design about when ordering, offering you the chance to favour any body parts you wish for your timepiece.
Whether you’d wear it though, that’s the real question.
Can you spot the penis and vaginas drawn on this watch? Some people only see swirls and dots
Joan Newell-Brown, 59, lost her husband Harry in a car accident in 2005, just 10 months after they married.
Ever since, the anniversary of their wedding, 16 October, has been hard to get through. But thankfully each year Joan’s four sons and daughter help her get through it.
This year, on what would have been Joan and Harry’s 15th anniversary, their 25-year-old son, Joe, went a step further.
He decided to send his mum a wedding anniversary card as if it had been written by her late husband.
Joe bought an anniversary card and worked hard to make sure his words sounded like Harry, writing: ’15 years just like that! Where has the time went?
‘Happy anniversary to you darling. You know everyday I’m with you, maybe not physically but in spirit and not a day goes past that I’m not.
‘With how you have been and even in general. Just wow I married a soldier, you’re so strong and supporting even on your down days, but never worry as I’m always here with you through it all. You’re never alone!
‘Happy 15th anniversary Joan. I love you. Harry (plus the kids) xxx..’
Joe’s sister Sophie, 22, shared the card online, writing: ‘My dad passed away two months before their first wedding anniversary meaning my mum’s never received anything on their anniversary apart from us.
The post has gone viral, attracting loads of comments from people touched by the moving gesture.
Demi Grant wrote: ‘Actual sobbing, that’s the nicest thing.’
As you’d expect, Joan had an emotional reaction to the card, too.
Sophie said: ‘She was always grateful to my older brothers taking care of her. Joe tried to make the day even more special for her.
‘There’s no dry eyes in the house at the moment.
‘His writing was very similar to dad’s so that must have been very difficult for her. She was just so thankful.’
Kid sends anniversary card
About to do some work you didn’t manage to finish on Friday?
Or are you reading through a grumpy email from your boss and already mentally drafting your immediate, apologetic response?
Stop. Please, stop. We simply can’t keep going on like this. Working into our weekends and being on constant alert, escaping the office physically but never, ever mentally (not entirely), not even when we vow to do a digital detox. We can feel ourselves worrying about what horrors lurk inside our inbox.
This week a study declared that while a ban on out-of-office emails could help some people to step away from work and feel a bit calmer, for others it could prevent them from getting all their work done, causing stress.
Dr Emma Russell, of the University of Sussex Business School, said ‘[Blanket bans] would be unlikely to be welcomed by employees who prioritise work performance goals and who would prefer to attend to work outside of hours if it helps them get their tasks completed.’
Cue a load of managers thinking: ‘ah, yes, it’s okay to send emails out of work-time and expect a response, because doing a blanket ban could make people worry!’
This is, quite frankly, insane.
If someone is unable to get the work done during their office hours, the solution is not to welcome working all weekend or encourage them to be constantly contactable.
Either they’re not equipped to do the job, or the job’s expectations need to radically change.
If a job simply cannot be done within a nine-hour working day, that’s not an issue with workers, but with the job itself.
We’re living in a bizarre world in which it’s perfectly reasonable – and often encouraged – to place caring about work as a higher priority than our own mental wellbeing, or actually being a person rather than a worker.
Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of an email thread or I can hear people squabbling about a minor detail of their working world, I feel a desperate need to stand up and proclaim: ‘you know we’re all hurtling towards death, right? You know the earth is dying?’
Not to get too morbid, but one day you will die. Your working hours will make up a rather significant portion of your time on this mortal realm… but why should they take over the grand majority? Why are we so willing to dedicate our entire headspace to a job?
We work for a few reasons. We need money to live (and thus to do things we enjoy… although we’re often working too hard to do those things, so this reason disappears). We might be lucky enough to enjoy our jobs and find them genuinely engaging. We want a sense of fulfillment and pride. If we’re lucky, we’ve found some purpose and meaning in the work we do.
Personally, I do my job because I need money to pay for rent, so I have a comfortable place to store my candles and various skincare, and feed a small cat. I find it fun and interesting, and think if I didn’t show up to work five days a week I would quickly get very, very bored.
Also, I’ve found a purpose in what I do, which is handy because I don’t want to reproduce but I do need to know I have some greater meaning in my general existence. That’s quite important to me, otherwise I lie in bed getting philisophical and wondering why I’m even here on this earth.
For me that purpose is connecting with people and making them feel less weird and alone in the world, or lifting them up for a moment of humour or joy, or sharing the stories of brilliant people doing brilliant things.
That’s not as important as saving sick children or solving world hunger, I’m aware, but it’s what keeps me going.
But I would never sacrifice my mental wellbeing or all the other bits of my life I enjoy for the sake of fulfilling that purpose a bit more. I’m not going to run myself ragged and miss out on actually living. Why are we killing ourselves to work when the whole point of working is being able to live?
Your job might be hugely important and essential. Good for you. You should still be able to complete it within working hours and without spending every waking moment of your life thinking about it. If you can’t, you shouldn’t be contorting your life to fit around work – it’s our entire working culture that needs to change.
We need to all – bosses and CEOs especially – remember that we’re humans trying to fill our moderately short lives with some sort of meaning. We’re not just machines built for the purpose of ticking through a to-do list. We’re all trying to be happy and fulfilled and work is just one part of that – it can’t be our entire existence.
That means actually sticking to working hours rather than encouraging coming in early and staying late.
It means not going absolutely ballistic at someone when they make a mistake.
It means not making someone feel miserable day in, day out the second they turn on their work computer.
It means making flexible working the norm, so it’s easy to actually do other things that give someone’s life meaning, whether that’s raising a child, writing a book, or protesting, or to do things that make us feel good (yes, including actually being able to sleep, thanks to a working schedule that matches up to our personal sleep cycles).
Essentially, it means remembering that whatever piece of work that needs doing can wait, that there are parts of life that are more important than filing that report or replying to an email. There has to be more to life than work, and our culture needs to radically change to make those other bits possible.
When you think about big concepts of the meaning of life and the destruction of our plant, who can truly care about going to a pointless meeting or agonising over the best way to end an email?
Stop letting work seep into every bit of your life. Stop expecting people who work for you to exist only to do whatever you say.
It’s time for humanity. It’s time to stop sticking to rigid structure just because they’re ‘the way things are done’. We decide the shape of our lives and what fills them. We can change things to make them better suit our actual wants and needs.
That might mean scrapping the five-day working week, banning work emails at the weekend, accepting flexible working as the norm, or allowing people to piss off and go travelling for a year to figure out what they want. Change is scary, but when work is so all-consuming that we’re anxious that we’re not able to play catch up during our time off, it’s oh so necessary.
Given that Halloween hasn’t even happened yet, talking about anything related to Christmas is obscene – here are Metro.co.uk, we offer our sincerest apologies for doing so.
But that said, the weather (the bloody weather!) has been so unrelentingly bleak over the last month that looking ahead to Christmas seems fair enough – perhaps we all need a festive light at the end of the tunnel.
Anything to get through the endless rain, the grey skies, and that nasty cold you just can’t seem to shake; the sore throat that cuts through your dreams and wakes you in the middle of each night, leaving you fumbling in darkness for the ibuprofen you left at the side of your bed.
And maybe, just maybe, that light of the tunnel could be a Christmas buffet in Ikea.
On 13 December, the furniture chain is hosting a buffet in celebration of Santa Lucia – one of the biggest events in the Swedish calendar.
According to Ikea, the festival is used ‘to coincide with the longest night of the year, which is why it’s celebrated to this day with candlelit processions’.
In terms of the food, you can expect a variety of hearty, Swedish fare, such as boiled Christmas ham, meatballs (of course), herring, marinated salmon, potatoes, eggs, variations of cabbage, crispbread, cheese, and gingerbread.
You can also expect a candlelit procession which, it has to be said, looks a little spooky although maybe the effect will be undercut slightly by, you know, being in Ikea.
Tickets aren’t on-sale yet, but you can keep an eye out for them on the Ikea website.
ikea christmas featured-f28b
A lesson all parents must learn is that you can’t turn your back on children for even two minutes.
In that time your sweet angel will somehow managed to wreck the house, cover themselves in something gross, or paint their entire face pink.
Even pet parents need to be cautious.
If you’re lucky, you’ll learn this lesson by having your child do something naughty but ultimately harmless, – or at least easily fixed – that you can share on the internet to make everyone laugh.
Such is the case for Arron Whysall, 27.
The dad-of-two was outside in the garden fixing a fence while his fiancée was doing her hair, leaving his three-year-old daughter, Olivia, alone in the kitchen for 10 minutes.
When he returned he found Olivia grinning and smothered in yoghurt with 18 empty pots of Petit Filous on the table in front of her.
Arron asked Olivia if she had eaten all the yoghurts herself in such a small space of time, she proudly replied ‘yes’, still holding her spoon.
Arron was so stunned he couldn’t even find the words to tell his daughter off.
We can’t blame him. Downing 18 yoghurts in 10 minutes is pretty impressive.
After wiping a lot of yoghurt off Olivia’s face, Arron took a photo of the amazing eating feat and posted it on Facebook, where it ended up being shared more than 10,000 times.
Arron, of Nottingham, said: ‘She was quite pleased with herself about it. I just thought fair enough. I couldn’t even tell her off for it because it was just too funny. I was more overwhelmed than anything.
‘I couldn’t believe it. I shouted my partner down and she said “there’s no way she has eaten all of them”.
‘But I told her, “I think she has because she’s just told me she has”. It really made us laugh. She obviously really enjoys those yoghurts.
‘They aren’t massive pots but just the way she’d got them out the fridge, opened and eaten them all then was sat there still with the spoon in her hand as if to say “give me more” was so funny.’
It makes sense that Arron was stunned by Olivia’s stunt.
While he was outside working in the garden, Arron kept popping in and out of the house to check on Olivia, who was watching television in the kitchen, and her brother Oscar, six, who was on his Playstation in the living room.
When his son emerged to tell him Olivia was eating ‘a yoghurt’, Arron told Oscar not to worry as he knew Olivia could manage to open and eat the Petits Filous on her own.
But when Arron went into the kitchen just 10 minutes later to make sure Olivia hadn’t made a mess, the last thing he expected was to discover the three-year-old had eaten every single yoghurt in the fridge.
The mum and dad were worried the excessive dairy intake might upset Olivia’s tummy but the little girl was her ‘normal self’ and still managed to polish off her dinner.
Arron said: ‘She does love her snacks. She doesn’t really eat loads at dinner or tea time but if you offer her a yoghurt or fruit, she’ll always find room for it somewhere.
‘We did have to pre-warn her grandparents that Olivia had eaten 18 yoghurts and asked them to keep an eye on her but she was fine.
‘She was her normal self and ate all her tea, we couldn’t believe it.
‘She’s such a little character, she keeps us busy put it that way.
‘If there’s mischief to get up to, Olivia will be the first one there.’
Girl eats all 18 yoghurts, is quite literally me
In our weekly series What I Own we’re taking a look inside the properties people own, to get better aquainted with the process of owning a house instead of renting.
If this all sounds familiar, you’re not imagining things. What I Own is a sister series to What I Rent, which is the same idea but focusing on renting.
Both series are intended to take an honest look at the reality of housing, from the dodgy landlords and absurdly priced studio flats to how on earth people save up for a deposit.
This week we’re chatting to Jade Vanriel, a 26-year-old blogger and business owner.
Jade is a law graduate who used to work in product management and advertising. She managed to buy a house at the age of 23.
But – spoiler – like many people who buy a house, a big part of Jade being able to afford the deposit was living with her aunt, so not having to faff around with the expensive rents the average person has to face.
She still had to work hard and save even with that significant leg-up, but was able to get a mortgage on a two-bedroom flat in Harlow.
So, let’s talk the deposit. How much did you need to save?
I managed to save £27k for my deposit over seven years. While at college and uni I had multiple part-time jobs and once I finished uni I went straight into work with the intention to save most of my earnings.
And how much was the total amount of your mortgage?
It was around £200,000. I’ve owned my flat for three years now – I was 23 when I bought it
How did you find the flat?
I was constantly online looking at sites like Rightmove, Zoopla etc. I set up loads of email alerts daily and spent every Saturday going on viewings for months until I found the right flat
What was the process of getting a mortgage like? Did you feel prepared?
I did feel very prepared because I researched a lot of things, I was looking for about a year so plenty of time to ask questions and speak with my mortgage broker on anything I didn’t understand. I would say the only part I struggled with was having bidding wars and getting gazumped so many times!
And how much do you pay each month for your mortgage?
My mortgage is roughly £600 a month and I would say about £400 for household bills.
Having been born and raised in London I wanted somewhere quieter and an easy commute, so I chose Essex as it’s so easy to get to London on a day to day basis and much more affordable.
Do you feel like you have enough space in the flat?
Yes, I do for the next few years. I’ve used the second bedroom as my wardrobe and office space which I am so lucky to have.
How does owning a home feel different to renting?
I never rented before owning my home. I did live with an aunt and pay towards bills but I didn’t have a proper renting experience.
How have you made the flat feel like home?
I took my time with redecorating because I didn’t have a big budget, so many things were a DIY project like my kitchen. I only changed the cabinet doors and painted the wooden worktop grey. I documented the process on my YouTube channel and people loved it.
I didn’t have a sofa or flooring for six months until I could comfortably afford to do those things. And I only just completed my bathroom which was the most expensive room, so now the whole flat is finished!
I’ve always wanted my flat to be fresh and bright yet still cosy so I’ve added all of my favourite things everywhere like cushions, flowers, and candles
Let’s talk about your YouTube channel! You make a lot of videos about home ownership and renovations. Why do you think it’s important to share these?
I love sharing my experience and tips because I don’t feel there is enough real conversation around home ownership.
My followers come to me for advice and insight and over the past 3 years my audience has grown so much. Young people want to know more about the process and need practical ways to get onto the property ladder.
What are your future plans, home-wise?
I am aiming to buy a house soon, and I would love to hold onto this flat forever as it means so much to me.
Oh, cool. A second property. We’ll just go ahead and regret our life choices. Shall we have a look around, though?
How to get involved in What I Own
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people's properties, to take an honest look at what it's like to buy a home in the UK.
If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email email@example.com.
You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates! You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you've paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that's pretty important.
What I Own
When most people think of Morocco, they imagine mezze foods, hammam baths and busy souks filled with spices, colorful trinkets and argan oil.
In reality, the north African country has so much more to offer, if you’re willing to look beyond traditional holiday spots like Marrakech and Fez.
Off the beaten track, alongside the Atlantic Coast, you’ll find a small, quiet town known as El Jadida, which offers a far more authentic experience.
It still has influences from the days when it was a Portuguese colony, including its biggest attraction, the Citadel – a fortress, cistern and trading port – which is recognised as a NESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s still a bit rough around the edges.
After exploring the historic site, swing by one of the many markets and you’ll be equally amazed and shocked; chickens are openly slaughtered by local butchers (it’s not a pretty nor hygienic sight) while old women sell khobz (Moroccan bread) in small stalls by the street and people haggle over fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t fancy food – or the chicken situation has put you off – pop into the Souk el Hamra, an evening market where you can buy everything from rugs to leather bags (they’re everywhere), shoes and local fashion.
Just don’t be surprised if there’s no one around during prayer time; the people here trust each other, and will simply put a few chairs in front of their stall to signify that they’ve headed off to pray.
Everyone’s friendly, but do dare to haggle prices down and dress appropriately to avoid any stares (cover your chest, shoulders and knees).
El Jadida is a treat, but most travellers only come here for a day tour, before heading back to Mazagan – the luxury beach resort located just half an hour away – which is something of a small city on its own (it’s also where we stayed).
It has 11 restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, a spa, several pools and the largest casino – with excellent tequila, I might add – in Morocco. The real treat however, is the 7km stretch of private beach.
It’s so vast, it never fills up with people, especially if you come during the off-season. I walked along El Haouzia every morning during my stay, and it’s possibly one of the most serene experiences I’ve had on any trip.
Barring a few people riding horses early in the morning (also an option if you’re staying at the resort), there’s nothing but you, the sand and the ocean. Go for a morning dip, but beware of the current.
If you don’t mind a trek, walk towards the end of the strip where you can find the remnants of a ship that went aground in the late 80s.
If you’d rather lazy about on a sun lounger or grab a cocktail, there’s a restaurant and a beach club at your disposal.
I decided to skip the drinks and instead go quad biking through the sand dunes, before stopping by and saying hi to the resort’s camels (top tip: they will give you a smooch, so watch out for the drool).
Where to eat
Unfortunately, because we visited during Ramadan, there were next to no places open in El Jadida town during our visit, but La Capitainerie, located inside the fortress, has a beautiful sun-drenched terrace and is well-known for its cuisine.
As for what to eat, the answer is easy: seafood (after all, you’re on the coast) – drop into Mazagan’s Sel de Mer or beach club for a treat from the ocean.
La Cave, the french bistro, was my personal favourite. The pâté must be had, but the real treat is the wine cellar, filled to the brim with Moroccan wines – ask your waiter to choose one.
I also enjoyed a traditional Iftar – the evening meal that Muslims have at sunset during Ramadan – which included, well, pretty much everything: BBQ meats, rice, mezze, dips and two tables filled with desserts.
The foodie delights were accompanied by music from a local band.
The resort is nothing short of magnificent, but if you’re anything like me – where luxury can soon turn into boredom – organise a day trip to nearby Casablanca.
I lucked out with my driver; we took a detour on the way so he could show me his neighbourhood, an area known as Azemmour. His street consisted of nothing more than a few beige buildings surrounded by dry ground that looked as if it was begging for a spot of rain, but go a bit further and you’ll find a 16th century fortress.
In stark contrast to the opulence of Mazagan, this was an insight into the real Morocco, and it’s also where many of the resort’s staff live.
Casablanca, I’m afraid to say, was a bitter disappointment (and not just because I found out the movie was filmed in a studio).
The city is split in two; with the Old Medina and the New Medina. There’s plenty to see, including the Royal Palace, the impressive Hassan II mosque – the largest mosque in Africa and the third largest mosque in the world, and it’s also home to one of Africa’s biggest shopping malls.
The reason for my less-than-enjoyable experience was likely due to the fact that I arrived in the day – there was nearly no one around and nothing was open (once again, Ramadan).
While we were stuck in traffic, I was also warned by my driver that it was not safe for me to walk to the Old Medina on my own and as someone who enjoys solo travels, this felt disconcerting.
I didn’t heed the warning, and though nothing happened, I felt very uncomfortable (despite the fact I was completely covered, barring the lower part of my arms, my ankles and my neck).
As a whole, Casablanca still has a lot to offer and is worth a visit, especially for the Habous Quarter, traditional hammam baths and various souks.
Personally, however, I felt relieved when we returned to the calmness and serenity of El Jadida and Mazagan.
Where to stay and how to get there
Where to stay
Most people who visit El Jadida stay at Mazagan. The resort, which is owned by Kerzner International, is well-known in the area, partly because of its impressive golf course, designed by South African golfer, Gary Player.
You don’t need to be a guest at the hotel to visit; many people come to gamble at the casino (where you can smoke inside), have dinner or visit the spa. It’s so popular you have to book it in advance.
It’s pricey, but worth it; I tried the traditional hammam massage, which involved sitting in a super hot sauna for a few minutes, before being scrubbed down head-to-toe (everything except the vagina) and lying on a slab before being rubbed and scrubbed some more. It’s actually very soothing, and your skin will look amazing afterwards.
I stayed in an ocean view room. Prices fluctuate depending on when you visit, but as an example, a week in June could cost you around over £1,400 per person for this type of room, while the Royal Suite will be up towards £10,000 or more for the same period.
How to get there
We flew with Air Maroc.
If you like to have a pre-holiday tipple on the plane, you can’t – it’s a dry flight. Thankfully, there are other options if booze is a must such as British Airways, Iberica and Air Italiano.
While undeniably impressive, they haven’t been able to beat this one in the price stakes. The ones mentioned above costed £100 and £150 respectively, and have been pipped to the post with a bargain £66 Batman room redecoration.
Sonia Sibley, 32, from Plymouth, created the incredible Batman room for her son Vinnie, four.
Sonia, who works as a cleaner, told LatestDeals.co.uk about the renovation, saying: ‘My little boy was begging for a Batman room, so as I haven’t got much money I decided to paint it myself as it would be a lot cheaper.’
‘I looked on Google for Batman rooms and realised that I could buy transfers but his wall is not great so they would never stick. So I decided to draw it!’
The inspo from Google, however, stemmed an amazing design, which was created using a £2.35 ruler and some Homebase tester pots at £5 each.
As Sonia began to draw the outline, she says sh was ‘scared at how it would turn out’.
Her hard work – done during the day when Vinny was at school with Sonia working nights – paid off, though, and the finish looks amazing.
For there, it was all about the added extras.
‘I bought the bedding and rug off eBay for £21 and got the cushions from a reuse centre for £2,’ says Sonia.
‘I then got his lamp, throw, lampshade and plant for £24 at B&M, and his clothes rack was £12 from Screwfix to put all his fancy dress items on.’
That total is actually £66.35, which is a steal given how much fun Vinny will be having in his brand new abode.
Sonia is still modest, though She says: ‘I know it’s not perfect but it was cheap and every time he now goes into his room he will always know that mummy drew his Batman and it was done with love.
‘When Vinnie first saw the room he literally lit up the room with his smile and said ‘Mummy, I love it and I love you’.’
So what’s Sonia’s top tip?.. ‘If you draw something in your mind and it looks good then go for it, as you have nothing to lose!
‘Why spend lots of money when you can do things with time and love?’
Batman room transformation
I was 14 when I was in an accidental house fire and I had to jump out of the fourth floor window, still on fire, to escape.
From there I was admitted to Chelmsford Hospital burns unit with 35 per cent third degree burns to my skin, mainly on my upper body.
I was on a life support machine for a few weeks and when I woke up I couldn’t remember a lot of what had happened. The pain was so intense that I was unable to sleep and I spent almost six months in hospital.
The burns eventually developed into scar tissue and it was then that I became self-conscious about my body – especially when exercising.
Up until that point I had loved football, trampolining and general exercise, but what stopped me from participating again was the fear of being bullied my peers.
I remember them not only mocking the bandages and pressure gloves I had to wear for medical reasons, but also bullying me over my less expensive trainers.
On top of that, I felt self conscious as my scars make me sweat a lot and the extra medical coverings like bandages didn’t help that matter.
What changed things for me was 50 Cent’s In Da Club.
Growing up as a teenager in Hackney, I was inspired by 50 Cent’s muscles and I thought the tattoos that covered his arms looked similar to the scars that covered mine.
I assumed 50 Cent was a confident man – especially as he was constantly surrounded by women in music videos – and I wanted to feel like that.
I started exercising indoors and bought myself dumbbells and a bench. While working out I would blast 50 Cent’s music to give me extra motivation.
After about six months I started to see changes in my body and started to have more energy throughout the day.
But I also started re-gaining the body confidence I had lost. In the summer I started to wear white transparent shirts, or sometimes vests, so that people could see my new muscles.
Although people would still stare, the feeling of being fit gave me an indescribable joy that kept me going.
It gave me the confidence to join a public gym in Hackney. I was a big boy and my scars did draw a lot of attention. Many would speak to me and applaud me for my bravery, while some perceived me to be a ‘bad boy’ or ‘gangster’. It earned me the nickname ‘scars.’
Either way I felt accepted, which is what I needed at the time, and I started going to the gym every day. Exercise and the gym community changed the way I felt about myself and the way I saw my body.
I understand it is normal to look at people who look differently to you, but I would urge everyone to try and avoid staring at others – or drawing your friends’ attention to look at them.
It’s something that I’ve experienced and is part of the reason it took me so long to embrace my body.
Most people living with scars are already hyper-aware of their surroundings, knowing that people could be looking at them.
If you do feel the need to know what happened to that person, maybe try and be their friend before just walking up and asking what happened.
It’s something that always makes me feel uncomfortable and like it’s the only thing the person asking can see when they look at me. I used to ask myself: ‘can’t they see that I am also a handsome man?’
I’m so grateful that I got into exercise when I did as I truly believe how you feel about yourself can determine your success in life.
I would not have achieved a first class honours degree in biomedical science or have become a motivational speaker if I had not been working on my confidence.
Now I help other people feel more comfortable with their bodies, and as a qualified social worker I also help children with low self-esteem.
I never imagined I would be able to go to the gym, let alone feel how I do now. I know that my scars make me a star.
You can find out more about Deji and his Scars2Stars initiative here.