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

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    One of UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients has beautiful 'bucket list' wedding
    Vicki has found losing her hair one of the hardest things to deal with (Collect/PA Real Life)

    For Vicki Eastaugh, love really couldn’t wait.

    But, the 24-year-old isn’t simply being impulsive. She is actually one of the UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients, and got married as part of her ‘bucket list’ to now-husband Simon.

    Although Vicki has not been given a precise life expectancy, she was told seven months ago when she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer that there was nothing more doctors could do to help her.

    Vicki is one of only 31 people under 24 to be diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK – accounting for just 0.056% of the 55,000 annual cases across all age groups, according to Cancer Research UK.

    The HR auditor first found a lump in her left breast as she showered in November 2016, and has since gone through a double mastectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy and hormone repression treatment. Despite all of this, at a routine check up on 20 February this year, doctors found another lump where the cancer had been before.

    She said: ‘It grew between the skin and the silicon and saline implant, so I could feel it below the nipple.’

    That turn of events might have broken a lot of people, but for Vicki it sparked the decision to make a whole load of memories.

    And what better way to do that with her partner Simon, who she’s now been in a relationship with three years.

    One of UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients has beautiful 'bucket list' wedding
    Vicki and Simon (Collect/PA Real Life)

    The couple got together after meeting in the unlikely setting of Vicki’s nail technician mum, Helen’s, 50th H-themed fancy dress birthday party in July 2016 at Hertfordshire’s Chipperfield Cricket Club.

    Simon was having some drinks after playing cricket with pals and Vicki – dressed as a Hell’s Angel – got talking to him after her mum, in a Helen of Troy costume, played matchmaker.

    After that they bonded and started their relationship. But it wasn’t long before Vicki – just 21 at the time – first felt the lump, and found out she had breast cancer.

    ‘When I felt mine, I found a lump. I showed Simon and he told me to talk to my mum, which I did,’ said Vicki.

    Things moved swiftly, from Vicki’s diagnosis to her surgery, and a sadly unsuccessful attempt to harvest her eggs, with her hoping she could have IVF in the future and finally chemotherapy, which ended in June 2017.

    Keen for their love story to continue, and to celebrate the end of the treatment, Vicki and Simon headed off travelling around South East Asia for six months, and later settled back into their happy life back home.

    One of UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients has beautiful 'bucket list' wedding
    Vicki and Simon on her first day of chemo in 2016 (Collect/PA Real Life)

    Simon proposed on 19 March this year, with Vicki saying, ‘I’m a massive Anne Boleyn fan and he proposed in the chapel of the Tower of London where her body was buried.’

    It was the day later that the pair, from Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, were dealt the terrible blow that Vicki’s cancer had returned and was terminal.

    ‘I was convinced they had the wrong scan results. I didn’t feel any different,’ said Vicki.

    ‘In my head, when cancer has spread everywhere, you should be in pain, but I didn’t feel any – it didn’t feel real.’

    A lumpectomy at St Albans City Hospital was the next step, to remove the tumour in her left breast, before starting an ongoing course of oral chemotherapy medication, that she takes daily every three weeks – with a week off in between – to stop the cancer from spreading any further.

    An eternal optimist, rather than crumbling under the strain of her diagnosis, Vicki started making plans.

    She said: ‘I didn’t go off the rails after my diagnosis, instead I used it as a motivator to do everything that I wanted to do – as soon as possible.

    ‘I’ve even discussed having children with Simon. I know I can’t have my own biological children, but we will look at fostering or adoption down the line, but I think we need a couple of years to see how the treatment pans out first.

    ‘I also started making a short-term bucket list of things I knew I wanted to do within the year. At the top of it all was getting married, as well as owning my own horse, as I loved dressage, had won prizes and had been riding since I was eight.’

    Vicki was able to get her horse thanks to £14,000 of donations from friends and family, and the wedding planning followed.

    One of UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients has beautiful 'bucket list' wedding
    Vicki showcasing her wedding dress (Collect/PA Real Life)

    Vicki said: ‘It didn’t seem fair on Simon, not knowing how long we would have left together. But he wasn’t having any of it. He made it clear he’d stuck with me through the 2016 diagnosis and wasn’t planning on running away now.

    ‘That’s when he suggested pulling the wedding forward. In that moment I knew he was right. How could I say no to someone who loved me that much?’

    Vicki’s dream venue – the magnificent Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, Kent – was unavailable under such short notice.

    But when a family friend suggested tying the knot at Leez Priory in Chelmsford, she was lost for words.

    ‘Obviously I loved it. It was a monastery until Henry VIII had it dissolved, back when Anne Boleyn was on the scene,’ she said.

    The only day they had available was a Friday 13th, but Vicki pushed on, saying: ‘I haven’t had much good luck in this life and I just thought to myself, ‘What’s one day going to do?”

    Recalling the day she chose her wedding dress, Vicki, said she was ‘giddy with excitement.’

    She continued: ‘After being diagnosed with stage four cancer, I thought this might never be a possibility, so trying on dresses with my mum was such a special moment to share.’

    One of UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients has beautiful 'bucket list' wedding
    The couple managed to bag a venue that tied in with Vicki’s love of Anne Boleyn (Collect/PA Real Life)

    And in her stunning strapless gown, as she exchanged rings with her handsome husband on September 13 in front of 75 guests, flanked by five bridesmaids – her younger cousin and four very close friends – dressed in sky blue chiffon frocks, she looked incredible.

    Vicki, who took a month off from her cancer drugs, so she would feel great on her wedding day, said: ‘It was the most beautiful setting I could have hoped for. I could see the tower against the clear blue sky as I got ready in the morning – it was perfect.’

    Regarding their vows, Vicki confessed: ‘We stuck with traditional vows and when it came to ’til death do us part,’ it was hard not to think about the future. But I was very, very happy on my wedding day, so I didn’t let the negativity come to the surface – I pushed it away.

    ‘No one wants to walk down the aisle with a death sentence hanging over them, but that’s the thing about Simon, he makes me forget all of that. We’re completely on the same page and refuse to focus on the terrible things that could happen, instead we focus on the brilliant things that could instead.’

    The new Mrs Eastaugh – formerly Vicki Turner – had the first dance later to Pete Doherty’s For Lovers.

    ‘Lyrically, the song spoke to both of us,’ she explained. ‘There’s one particular line – ‘I’m running away with you just for today’- which really rang true.’

    Now determined to enjoy married life for a while before the next bucket list celebration, Vicki and Simon have delayed taking a honeymoon until next April, when they will jet to a luxury all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic for two weeks.

    ‘I’ve always wanted to visit the Caribbean, but I just wanted to enjoy a bit of married life first,’ she says.

    What a stunning couple, who clearly mean the world to each other. We wish them all the best.

    MORE: Mum creates genius meal planning board using lollipop sticks to make dinner decisions easier

    MORE: Why do people punish themselves for masturbating?


    One of UK?s youngest terminal breast cancer patients marries in a poignant ceremonyOne of UK?s youngest terminal breast cancer patients marries in a poignant ceremony

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    Lidl launches wine tasting in the dark experiences across the UK (Picture: Lidl)
    Lidl Chateaux Noir opens next month (Picture: Lidl)

    When it comes to choosing wine, do you actually know what you are looking for.

    Apparently 35% of people choose their wine based on the bottle and 27% choose it based on a luxury or premium label.

    To challenge British views around choosing wine, Lidl is offering a series of wine tasting in the dark pop-up events.

    And the best news is that tickets are just £4, plus a 90p booking fee, with all proceeds going to the NSPCC to help keep children in the UK safe.

    The idea is that guests focus just on the taste to determine the quality.

    The events in London, Manchester and Glasgow will feature night-vision google clad waiters and a discombobulation chamber – a candy cane striped space which throws off their senses with clever tricks of scale.

    Lidl launches wine tasting in the dark experiences across the UK (Picture: Lidl)
    The discombobulation room (Picture: Lidl)

    Once their senses are well and truly confused, they’ll enter Cellar Noir, where they will blind taste eight wines, led by Lidl’s Master of Wine Richard Bampfield

    After the tasting, they will be guided into the Salle de Noel – a festive wonderland decked out with real Christmas trees, mince pies, and a cheeseboard of snacks.

    Richard Bampfield Master of Wine said: ‘At Lidl Chateaux Noir, we want to encourage visitors to see if they can identify a wine’s quality in a completely new setting – using darkness to dispel common prejudices that come with buying wine.

    ‘This is a unique opportunity to forget everything you thought you knew about wine and come and challenge your senses with us.’

    Lidl Chateaux Noir will open on 8 and 9 November at 46 Great Titchfield Street, Soho, London – before travelling to the Deansgate Underground Arches, Manchester on 16 and 17 November, and Argyle Street Arches, Glasgow on 23 and 24 November.

    MORE: One of UK’s youngest terminal breast cancer patients has beautiful ‘bucket list’ wedding

    MORE: Primark is selling an amazing wooden Harry Potter Hogwarts Express train advent calendar for £15


    Lidl launches wine tasting in the dark experiences across the UKLidl launches wine tasting in the dark experiences across the UK

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    Khadijah Mellah riding her horse
    ‘When I’m riding, I feel like I can accomplish anything’ (Picture: Mark Cranham/focusonracing.com)

    18-year-old Khadijah Mellah, from Peckham, made British history and global headlines in August when she became the first British female Muslim jockey to win a major race.

    She took the historic victory at the Magnolia Cup, and now a new documentary will document her incredible rise to the top.

    The show, Riding a Dream, will document Khadijah’s journey from learning to ride at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton to her victory at Goodwood, including a gruelling four-month training process.

    Khadijah Mellah
    ‘I love proving people wrong when it comes to what a Muslim girl can or can’t do’ (Picture: Mark Cranham/focusonracing.com)

    Coming from an area in London with some of the highest concentrations of child poverty in the UK, horse riding was not on Khadijah’s radar growing up – but she’s delighted to have been given the opportunity to inspire others.

    ‘I love proving people wrong when it comes to what a Muslim girl can or can’t do,’ Khadijah tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘For someone like me to have won a horse race and made history for British female Muslims feels very important. I hope that other young women will see my story and be motivated and determined to achieve their goals too.’

    Khadijah has been riding at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton every week for more than six years. She just loves being around horses and the personal challenge that riding presents.

    ‘After sitting my A Levels I moved to Newmarket to ride out in the mornings and exercise the horses with other jockeys,’ she explains. ‘To get my race riding and fitness to where it needed to be, I needed to ride as often as possible.

    ‘Riding a racehorse is quite different from riding the horses at Ebony Horse Club, racehorses are athletes so are built differently, they’re fitter and stronger than the horses I had been used to riding so I had to learn a new technique.’

    Khadijah Mellah riding her horse
    ‘For someone like me to have won a horse race and made history for British female Muslims feels very important’ (Picture: Mark Cranham/focusonracing.com)

    On top of this, Khadijah also had to complete rigorous fitness tests to make sure she was up for competing. She had regular assesments and tough training sessions to get her to where she needed to be. But she knows it was worth it.

    ‘Being able to prove that you can achieve your dreams and change perceptions is important to me, so this has been great motivation to continue making a change and inspire other women,’ says Khadijah.

    ‘When I’m riding, I feel like I can accomplish anything, and I think all young women and girls should be able to feel like that.

    ‘Riding also gives you this amazing sense of independence because you learn how to care for another being and how to be responsible. Horses are amazing, gentle animals so they can bring a lot of joy to life.’

    Ahead of the release of the documentary Khadijah had a special meeting with her hero, Egyptian runner and founder of online community Surviving Hijab, Manal Rostom.

    Like Khadijah, Manal, is using sport to break down social stereotypes and empower young women and hijab wearers to follow their dreams.

    The documentary explores the benefits that Ebony Horse Club is providing for young people in Brixton, and culminates at the Qatar Goodwood Festival as Khadijah takes her place among a field of 11 other competitors in the Magnolia Cup.

    The film, directed by Tom Bolwell and Mattia Reiniger and produced by Oli Bell and his brother Philip Bell, will be released in early autumn.

    For now, Khadijah is focusing on starting her university degree, but she wants to keep riding and hopes to one day get her jockey’s license.

    ‘I also hope I can continue to push myself to try new things, broaden my horizons and inspire other women.’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Friends tell me I’m not “black enough” but I won’t change who I am’

    MORE: Gay and bisexual South Asian men launch HIV test campaign to help diversify LGBTQ+ spaces

    MORE: Dope Black Dads: ‘Navigating fatherhood and the black British experience can be complex’


    Khadijah Mellah-09f5Khadijah Mellah-09f5

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    Couples trying to take perfect shot pouring champagne into woman's mouth
    Bride-to-be Alyssa (right) wanted to recreate the Pinterest pic on the left but it didn’t go so well (Picture: Brianna Bender/Chandler Lefever)

    Nothing will humble you like a bad expectation versus reality pic.

    One couple who wanted to recreate a perfect Pinterest image soon found out that it’s harder than it looks.

    Alyssa Snodsmith, 23, and Collin Hewett, 24, who met while studying at university in Chicago, Illinois, decided to celebrate their engagement in style.

    The couple – who have been together for three years – got engaged in August, with a wedding date set for June 2020.

    With the invites going out for the big day, the couple wanted to take a few special pictures to send out to family and friends.

    Taking to Pinterest for inspiration, Alyssa found a picture that had the perfect amount of whimsy she wanted to recreate.

    So they grabbed their photographer friend Chandler Lefever and got to work, hoping to imitate a champagne-chugging couple.

    Their muse was the work of Brianna Bender who captured another couple’s Insta-worthy shot of fizz being poured effortlessly into the woman’s mouth.

    When Alyssa and Collin tried it, however, they made a whole mess. But they saw the funny side.

    Alyssa Snodsmith Couples engagement photoshoot fail
    Let’s hope it wasn’t too cold (Picture: Chandler Lefever)

    Collin soon shared the picture on Twitter where it immediately went viral, racking up almost 500,000 likes.

    ‘So me and Alyssa took our engagement pictures yesterday,’ he wrote. ‘She found a Pinterest picture that she wanted to try and recreate…I botched it.’

    In their version of the pics, the fizz got all over Alyssa and photographer Chandler managed to snap her at the exact moment.

    He knew he struck gold as far as funny engagement pictures go but didn’t want to reveal it to the couple till he edited it.

    Once they did see it, they were thoroughly entertained.

    Man trying to feed woman champagne
    Come on Collin, her mouth is right there (Picture: Chandler Lefever)

    Collin told Metro.co.uk: ‘We love our version! It just shows who we really are! We’re always having fun and joking around and it was cool that it got captured.

    ‘Neither of us ever got annoyed or upset… thankfully. We just laughed it off and embraced the fact that nothing is ever going to be perfect!’

    Luckily, Alyssa had a second outfit at the ready so they were able to get those stunning shots in the end.

    But little did she know that the inspo couple she found on Pinterest also had a tough time getting that perfect shot.

    Photographer Brianna tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Our champagne shot wasn’t totally planned! Alex and Tammy (clients) brought a bottle and popped it open to drink on the blanket during the shoot.

    Couple's picnic with woman holding champagne bottle
    Even the inspo couple ended up spilling some (Picture: Brianna Bender)

    ‘It was kind of a spur of the moment, I yelled at Alex to pour some in her mouth. He made sure to pour nice and slow but did actually end up spilling some on Tammy.’

    Clearly champagne photoshoots are no picnic.

    MORE: Swimmer photombombs couple’s first picture as man and wife during private wedding ceremony

    MORE: Curious raccoons interrupt couple’s wedding photoshoot


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    At 19, I’m approaching the end of my ‘teen’ years.

    I’ve always found the word ‘teenager’ to be contradictory. On one hand, it’s seen as a time of freedom and self-discovery, but it’s also a period when you’re most likely to succumb to social pressures and conform to certain trends.

    Society has a fascination with youth and see being young as being happy, but being young in today’s world comes with its own issues.

    We are one of the first generations to be worse off financially than our parents.

    Austerity cuts over the past decade have seen youth services stripped bare leaving us out on the streets, 91 per cent of schools have had their per pupil funding cut, and 75 per cent of young people experiencing mental health problems aren’t receiving the treatment they need.

    Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. Labels - Teenager/ Maisie
    We are one of the first generations to be worse off financially than our parents (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    Young people, especially ones who already face additional barriers due to other forms of social prejudice will not have the same opportunity to grow as the previous generations had.

    I enjoy being politically active and voicing my opinions on a variety of issues. I’m engaged with girls’ rights and am part of the Youth Advisory Panel for the global children’s charity Plan International UK.

    At school, I had some amazing teachers who encouraged me and my peers to discuss complex issues and sought to engage us in our political future.

    Despite all of this, I’ve regularly been dismissed by adults as some kind of ‘snowflake’ and accused of being oversensitive because I’m standing up for what I believe in.

    In 2016, during the EU referendum, I was vocal about the fact that 16 and 17 year olds should get the vote, something I still feel very passionate about.

    Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. Labels - Teenager/ Maisie
    Being a teenager can be a turbulent time and being a teenage girl can be even more complex (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    But I was met with a lot of opposition, especially on social media, from adults who felt a 16-year-old didn’t have enough life experience or political knowledge to be part of these discussions. It was frustrating so many people felt that way.

    I’m encouraged to see a surge of teenage politicisation and the impact of work carried about by various teenage activists such as Greta Thunberg (who helped set up the Schools Strike 4 Climate Marches that took place all over the globe) and the students behind Our Future, Our Choice as a way of campaigning for a People’s Vote.

    As young people we’re battling to create a safe and sustainable future for us but we’re being met with hostility and people patronising us.

    I know personally that the experiences I have had with those deemed more experienced than me have been tainted by their prejudices towards my age, gender and working-class background.

    Being a teenager can be a turbulent time and being a teenage girl can be even more complex.

    Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. Labels - Teenager/ Maisie
    I enjoy being politically active and voicing my opinions on a variety of issues (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    Over a short period of six years we are expected to cope with the fact that our bodies and minds will change in ways that we’ve never experienced, while continuing to lead our ‘best life’ on social media.

    We face stigma about having a period and face unwanted attention and comments in public. For me it was being catcalled while walking to school wearing my school uniform (Plan International UK found that 35 per cent of girls had also experienced harassment while in their school uniform).

    We also sit countless exams and deal with copious amounts of stress as we’re told these are the be all and end all of your academic success (spoiler alert: they’re not).

    With all these changes and challenges, we need comprehensive education to help us navigate life as a teen, but in most schools, including mine, that was missing.

    I’m approaching my 20th birthday and while I’m ready to face the next decade as a ‘twentysomething’, a part of me will miss being a teen and how much I’ve grown over the past six years.

    I’d like to think it’s provided me with a foundation on which to build my future.

    Looking ahead to adulthood, certain milestones such as buying a house worry me, however I’m excited to continue to assert my independence and start working towards my professional future.

    You can find out more about Plan International UK here. 

    Labels

    Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

    If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

    MORE: My Label and Me: I felt like the only geek in the world, until I went to Cambridge

    MORE: My Label and Me: A complete stranger looked straight at me and called me disgusting

    MORE: My Label and Me: I’m living my best fat life


    Labels - Teenager - MaisieLabels - Teenager - Maisie

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    How I Save: Hannah is a 28-year-old senior marketing executive living in Manchester with £16,750 saved
    Hannah is a 28-year-old senior marketing executive living in Manchester with £16,750 saved (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

    Money is a pretty taboo topic.

    Asking someone how much they earn or what’s in their bank account seems pretty rude, and we’re encouraged to keep our finances shrouded in mystery. If you talk positively about your money situation, that’s considered bad form, but if you admit you’re struggling, that’s a source of shame.

    How I Save is our weekly series hoping to open up the conversation.

    Each week we chat to a different person, tracking how they spend and save their money for a week. Then we get some expert advice they (and we) can learn from.

    This time we’re chatting to Hannah (not her real name), a 28-year-old senior marketing executive living in Manchester.

    How Hannah saves:

    I earn £30k a year. In my savings accounts right now I have £16,750 saved – £1,500 in a New Zealand bank account, £15,000 in a pensions-type scheme, and £250 of savings in the UK.

    I’ve saved this by hiding money from myself. I was being paid into my New Zealand bank account for a remote job and I would keep some in an inaccessible savings account.

    In the UK I’ve only saved £250 because I got paid a week ago and finally decided I needed to start saving rather than spend every last penny every month. I hope it’ll last!

    I’m saving for a deposit for a new flat. I also want to save for a cheap laptop/tablet to do some personal projects (I only have a smartphone!) and I want some savings put aside so I have some security if I lost my job or had to move back to New Zealand.

    If I have £50 left at the end of the month I’ve had a great month. I spend pretty lavishly I think, I enjoy eating out and spending time with friends and travelling. I am usually the type to think ‘I could die tomorrow, let’s have some experiences today’.

    I don’t know how much I should actually spend on things in comparison to my lifestyle. Is my spending on food outrageous? I assume it probably is, but I’ll think ‘f*** it’ and buy it anyway. I’ve never had the ‘payoff’ of saving up hard for something and finally being able to buy it. Usually, I will hire purchase or get a loan for a big spend such as new furniture or a car. I’m usually really good at paying things off – I only have £500 in debt on a low-interest credit card.

    How Hannah spends:

    Monthly expenses: 

    • £400 for rent in a three-bedroom semi-detached house share.
    • £108 for bills – electricity, water, internet, gas.
    • £60 a month for an accountant from my freelance days (almost a year ago!). I should probably stop this!
    • £12 on Youtube Premium – I use this every day, I watch A LOT of Youtube.
    • £10 on Spotify – integral.
    • £20 on a car club – I don’t have a car so I use a car club to borrow a car every month or so to go on day trips or something as simple as doing a huge haul at Ikea. It’s cheaper than hiring a car the old fashioned way.
    • £50 for a monthly tram pass
    • £20 for my monthly cell phone bill
    • £8 for my Netflix subscription
    Flying cash
    A *lot* of Hannah’s money goes on food (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    A week of spending:

    Saturday: Today my friends from out of town came to visit me in Manchester, so I knew up front that this would probably be an expensive weekend as I would take them around and show them all the sights and sounds.

    A return tram ticket into the city centre is £7, then I spend £18 on dinner at a nice place, two tacos and a margarita.

    Then I spend £8 at the Co-op on the way back because I wanted some snacks to eat while watching a movie once I got home.

    Sunday: Continued fun with my friends. We walked around the city and enjoyed various bars and shops from 11am until 11pm! I barely ever go to bars or pubs, so this was a bit of a treat.

    I was running late for brunch with my friends, so I caught an Uber into town rather than the tram – £8.

    £12 went on brunch at a nice cafe, then £16 went on a new book recommended to me by friends. I’m trying to get back into reading and this one looks great!

    I spend £31 at the pub – I paid for a round of drinks and some snacks after lots of walking. It’s one of the nice pubs in Manchester perfect for tourists, so a little expensive. They bought the next two rounds at another bar, so it all evened out.

    Then I spend £8 at an arcade bar – one soda and £5 of tokens to play some games.

    Dinner at a nice restaurant – including a couple of mocktails – comes to £25. I had to pay my friend back for the weed he bought me a week back and he prompted me to pay him. I don’t spend money on alcohol or going out partying really, so £20 on weed as my only vice lasts me a month or two.

    Monday: Back at work today so typically I’ll only spend for lunch and dinner. I don’t eat breakfast and most of the time I’ll get a coffee at work (unless I’m grumpy and need a pickmeup from Greggs or Nero!)

    Each month I’ll usually have one or two big spends planned. This month I knew I’d have to spend big on some flights, and also getting my hair dyed. I’ll then try to keep all other purchases to a minimum (other than food or hanging with friends which are generally pretty loose and I tend not to budget for).

    Also, I use Monzo, so all my purchases are rounded-up and the extra pennies/50p go into my savings account. Since 28 September this has already provided me with an extra £28 in savings.

    I spend £194 on tickets to Sweden – I’m meeting a friend in December in Stockholm and needed to buy ahead so they didn’t get too expensive. This was the cheapest possible flight I could find.

    £7 goes on lunch – I wanted something healthy today so went with a salad box from Friska then £7 at Aldi for a cheap pizza for dinner and some toiletries.

    I have chronic illnesses so I have to fill quite a few prescriptions each month. Today I pick up one of them for £9.

    Tuesday: £3 at Greggs for a grumpy breakfast. I needed that bacon and sausage with red sauce and a cheeky flat white to get through the morning.

    £6 at the local Chinese supermarket for lunch – two packets of noodles and some kimchi to last me two different lunches.

    £10 at Tesco for dinner Went full hog and got a bunch of ingredients to make tacos from scratch, including guacamole and dessert.

    Thanks to being chronically ill, I had to have a specialist appointment in Leeds. As a result I spend £68 on train tickets for me and a friend acting as a support person. Trains are expensive and being unwell is not cheap.

    Wednesday: Today I had to go to Leeds for my specialist doctor appointment which required some added expenses I don’t typically expect.

    £8 for two flat whites and a muffin – shouted my support person/BFF a coffee as it was an early morning train and I felt bad for dragging her along (but extremely grateful for her company).

    I then got an £8 Uber from Leeds station to the hospital… the wrong hospital, so that meant £6 on another Uber racing to the actual hospital I meant to go to.

    Then £6 went on another Uber from the second hospital back to the Leeds train station.

    Lunch is £9 at Pret a Manger – a sandwich, a coffee, and a cookie. I needed something quick and tasty before racing back onto the train and heading back to work in Manchester for the rest of the day.

    My hands have been super dry so I buy a £5 hand cream from The Body Shop.

    After work I was in the bathroom cleaning my piercing and the ball fell off and down the sink. Nightmare. Had to race to Claire’s Accessories (the only place open at that time) and buy a new piercing for £14 so the hole doesn’t close up. Not planned, and I was NOT happy to have to buy from Claires!

    £6 at Tesco – This was for dinner, something small and simple so I could just go to bed after a nightmarish day.

    Thursday: Lunch is £8 at Leon, where I meet up with a friend before she leaves the country.

    Then for dinner, I grab bits for a nice creamy pasta for £6. Tesco didn’t have the salmon that I wanted, so I had to go down the road to M&S to grab some for £5. Usually I don’t buy food here because it’s a bit too expensive, but it was out of stock at Tesco.

    Friday: Another grumpy morning, another Greggs breakfast to cheer me up – £3.

    £10 at a Korean restaurant. I went out for dinner with a friend to catch up. Only ordered one thing from the menu and no drinks to try and keep costs down.

    £4 at Sainsburys – on the way home after dinner I decided to treat myself because it was Friday night and get some ice cream from Sainsbury’s. Craaaazy Friday night in front of the telly with a Magnum, what a dream.

    Total spent this week: £539.

    How Hannah could save:

    We spoke to the experts over at money tracking app Cleo to find out how Hannah can save better (and what we can learn from her spending).

    Note: the advice featured is specific to one individual and doesn’t constitute financial advice, especially for a London budget. 

    Ever heard of a supermarket? Your food spend is frivolous and you know it. The munchies probably aren’t helping either.

    Main vice:

    We totted up all the food spending you got through over the week. It took us a while, but the results are in: £147. That’s £588 per month i.e. £188 more than your rent (and it’s not even listed as a bill).

    Living in the moment is zen and all, but a bit of foresight is going to make for a much more exciting financial future. We suggest you kick things off with a weekly supermarket shop.

    For anyone reading: we’re sure you’ve heard it before, but meal planning works a treat when it comes to saving. You’re unlikely to ready yourself for a solid bank balance with a plethora of ad hoc Prets.

    Where you’re going right:

    £15k in a pensions-type scheme. Love it.

    Roundups? Fantastic. We’ve also heard you can hide money from yourself using clever algorithms…

    We’re big fans of spending on experiences, so we back that flight to Sweden.

    Here’s your spending plan:

    Safe to spend: £1,200 for the monthly expenses you mentioned, plus a weekly supermarket trip and money for your healthcare needs. We’ve also factored in £10 a week for your grumpy Greggs fund, and let you keep £6 a day for your lunch (we know habits are hard to break).

    Safe to burn: £360 for the pub, meals out and the odd accidental Uber. This includes your two big spends a month, so choose carefully.

    Safe to save: £340, which means it should take you less than two months to wipe that £500 of credit card debt and get on that flat deposit.

    Bottom line:

    Contrary to the popular saying, it’s time to stop putting your money where your mouth is.

    How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing ellen.scott@metro.co.uk.

    MORE: How I Save: The British expat IT sales manager in Dubai with £314,678 saved

    MORE: How I Save: The 24-year-old blogger and consultant with £75,000 saved

    MORE: How I Save: The 28-year-old account manager spending cash on cocaine and croissants


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    Avocado trick
    No, we’re not saying bake your avos (Pictures: Facebook)

    A penchant for avocados might be the hallmark of a millennial but we can’t help it, it’s just oh so good.

    The only annoying thing is when it turns brown and ruins our dreams of smashed avo on toast.

    But one savvy mum has shared a trick she swears by and it involves freezing the stuff.

    The Australian woman, who is the founder of popular Facebook page Slow Cooker Recipes & Tips posted a picture of sliced avocados lined on a baking tray.

    She cut into the green fruit, de-seeded it and chopped it into slices, leaving it on parchment paper and then freezing it.

    Once frozen, she then takes it out and places it into freezer bags. The poster revealed that she’ll leave it out to thaw for a bit and then grab however much she needs for the day.

    And because they’re frozen, the individual slices don’t stick together and form one lumpy bit of avo.

    Good news if you’re always left with mushy brown avocado you forgot to eat.

    Some people believed the fruit will continue to ripen but the poster assured that the trick has helped her keep them green year-round.

    She wrote: ‘This is a little trick I’ve been doing with avocado’.

    ‘I heard that you can buy it frozen, but was never able to find it anywhere. So I thought, “why not freeze it myself?”. It works amazingly well.

    ‘I buy a fresh avocado, cut it in half, take the pit out and slice it. You can cut  it into chunks too,’ she said.

    ‘I lay it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze.’

    She advised only freezing for a day and then taking it out, ready to be consumed slice by slice or all at once if you’re really feeling some guac and the like.

    ‘A lot of you like avocado in smoothies,’ she continued. ‘I have been letting it thaw and using it on sandwiches or with eggs. It stays nice and green as well.’

    Others said they’d be trying the trick. One person wrote: ‘This will change my life! I bought frozen avocado and it was horrible.’

    Another chimed: ‘This is the solution to my ever squishy avocado issues’.

    We’ll definitely be giving it a try.

    MORE: Stunned family grows record-breakingly huge avocado that’s big enough to feed 20

    MORE: Woman rescues 500 abandoned avocado stones to do her bit for the environment

    MORE: Mum shares simple trick for getting rid of rust stains and water marks on kitchen knives


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    Muslim woman in headscarf teaching ballet to little kids
    Grace & Poise Academy is the ‘world’s first’ ballet school bringing the dance to the Muslim community (Picture: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Live News)

    Two women in their 20s noticed that the ballet world was woefully lacking minority dancers, particularly Muslims.

    So Royal Academy of Dance trained Maisie Alexandra Byers, 24, and psychologist Dr. Dajedah Shubib, 28, decided to open what they’re calling the first ballet school for Muslim kids.

    Grace and Poise Academy in London opened up earlier this year with hopes of turning Muslim girls into little ballerinas.

    The school offers a unique poetry syllabus instead of music to be more inclusive as some followers of the Islamic faith don’t listen to music.

    While many Muslims do listen to music, some believe that certain instruments are not permissible while others who listen say it’s the nature of some music that should be avoided (i.e obscene lyrics).

    And so the academy decided to avoid it altogether and provide a more mindful experience.

    Parents can sign their kids up to Baby Ballet classes for those aged between two to four. The Pre-Primary & Primary Ballet is for six to eight-year-olds who undergo an exam for the first time.

    And the last class is Grade 1 onwards, for nine years and above, where ballet steps become formalised.

    Muslim woman in headscarf teaching ballet to little kids
    Teacher and director Maisie (left) was a ballet dancer for the Royal Acadamy of Dance (Picture: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Live News)

    ‘We’re passionate about child development,’ explains Maisie and Sajedah to Metro.co.uk ‘We believe that this unique approach to ballet helps the child’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.

    ‘Until now ballet has been inaccessible to many Muslims and Grace and Poise aims to cater to the Community.

    ‘It also aims to provide a space to celebrate Islamic Identity and support the harmonious connection between mind body and soul.’

    Only a few months into their venture, the pair are delighted to see the reaction of the Muslim community.

    Some of their students include four-year-old Marym, Halimah aged four and Evi aged five. They dance to original poetry created by Haneen Shubib.

    The syllabus is being developed by Maisie and Sajedah to enhance the learning process so ballet training is in harmony with the child’s developmental stages.

    Grace and Poise Academy also provides outreach into Islamic schools and runs a homeschooling programme within London.

    So parents wanting their children to learn in the privacy of their homes can sign their kids up for £6 per class. Alternatively, they can attend evening classes for £8.

    Muslim woman in headscarf teaching ballet to little kids
    It’s open to girls from two to nine and upwards (Picture: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Live News)

    ‘We hope to provide opportunities for ballet to exist in different contexts,’ adds Maisie and Sajedah.

    ‘To encourage more diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility and for ballet to help strengthen the development of children that have not previously had the opportunity to explore this art form.’

    Recently Black and Asian dancers have finally got pointe shoes in their skin colour as most flats are in lighter tones. Prior to this, they’d have to spend time colouring them to in match their skin.

    Grace & Poise aren’t using the shoes at the minute but hope to as their students progress.

    ‘Currently as all of our students are beginner and pointe work requires years of precise training we don’t have any children on pointe yet.

    ‘However, for the future it seems imperative that options are made available for students.’

    Muslim woman in headscarf teaching ballet to little kids
    There’s also a homeschool programme for parents who want their kids to learn at home (Picture: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Live News)

    It is still early days for the company but they’re hopeful it can get bigger and better.

    ‘The reaction has been incredible, we are surrounded by the most supportive and loving communities who have aided us along the way,’ they continued.

    ‘Everyone is thrilled to have this opportunity and we have had many emotional conversations with mums telling us about the impact our classes have already had on their little ones and how they wish they had this opportunity as little girls themselves!’

    You can find more information on Grace and Poise on their website.

    MORE: Meet the Muslim women breaking boundaries in sports, comedy, dance, and modelling

    MORE: 18-year-old becomes first female Muslim jockey to win major race: ‘I love proving people wrong’

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘For white people, having brown babies used to represent a moral taboo’


    London, UK. 22nd Oct, 2019. World Ballet Day: Muslim Ballet School. Grace & Poise Academy. Founded in Jan 2019 by Maisie Alexandra Byers(pictured), a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance and Dr Sajedah Shabib, business director, Grace & Poise Academy is the world?s first ballet school bringing ballet to the Muslim community. Based in London, the academy offers a unique poetry syllabus (no music) with the aim of providing supportive and inclusive spaces for young ballet students allowing a mindful experience and artistic connection. Young dancers pictured: Marym 4yrs, Halimah 4yrs, Safiyyah 5London, UK. 22nd Oct, 2019. World Ballet Day: Muslim Ballet School. Grace & Poise Academy. Founded in Jan 2019 by Maisie Alexandra Byers(pictured), a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance and Dr Sajedah Shabib, business director, Grace & Poise Academy is the world?s first ballet school bringing ballet to the Muslim community. Based in London, the academy offers a unique poetry syllabus (no music) with the aim of providing supportive and inclusive spaces for young ballet students allowing a mindful experience and artistic connection. Young dancers pictured: Marym 4yrs, Halimah 4yrs, Safiyyah 5

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    A seven-year-old boy was overjoyed after he finally got to fulfill his dream of skateboarding.

    Young João Vicente, from Brazil, has cerebral palsy caused by a stroke he had when he was just two years old. But, despite his limited mobility, he has always dreamed of using a skateboard.

    So his mum Lau, got her hands on a specially adapted board that was created by a physiotherapist and psychologist through a project called Skate Anima.

    Little boy with cerebral palsy gets to try skateboarding for the first time after mum builds special frame
    The frame was created through a project called Skate Anima (Picture: _SJPeace_)

    Lau posted a video online showing her pushing João using the structure, and you can tell just how delighted he was.

    The structure surrounds João , supporting his weight and providing poles to hang on to, he stands on the centre with his feet attached to the board, allowing his mum to push the whole thing around the skate park.

    Lau pushes him across the surface of the skate park and up towards a ramp, before whizzing down the other side and tackling other obstacles in the park.

    The video ends with a beaming smile from João .

    She put the clip on Twitter, adding that João had grown up as a typical child who was curious and loved adrenaline-fuelled activities.

    She went on to say that she is pleased the project is helping to ensure that the ‘world belongs to everyone’.

    MORE: 18-year-old becomes first female Muslim jockey to win major race: ‘I love proving people wrong’

    MORE: Racism ‘shortens the lives of black people’ by triggering genes that lead to illness

    MORE: Woman who survived kidney and liver transplants becomes athletics star


    Little boy with cerebral palsy gets to try skateboarding for the first time after mum builds special frameLittle boy with cerebral palsy gets to try skateboarding for the first time after mum builds special frame

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    A woman kisses her friend
    You can’t cure your mate, that much is true, but you can seriously contribute to their happiness (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Discovering that your friend has been diagnosed with a serious illness can be a real shock and leave you feeling helpless and wondering what to do next.

    You can’t cure your mate, that much is true, but you can seriously contribute to their happiness, tolerance and resilience. Actually, you can make a real difference.

    Research suggests that people with a strong support network may be able to feel less pain and are better able to deal with their condition. People with good friends in their lives may even have an increased chance of survival.

    So far from being useless in this situation, you can really do some good – mostly just with sustained loyalty, tact and love. There are a few things worth thinking about here. Let’s go through them, shall we?

    Don’t be offended if they don’t want to see you

    Often, people with a serious condition have to live their life day to day, not knowing if they’re going to wake up to a good day or a bad day.

    Their symptoms can flare up without much notice, which can make socialising difficult to follow through on. Try to be extra flexible with your mate, don’t take it personally if they need to postpone and be open to last minute changes to plans. Learn to forgive quickly and make it really clear you understand.

    You do not want your friend adding shame or guilt to the way they feel because they are uncomfortable about bailing on something you’ve organised together.

    Give them the option to get out of dinner or brunch easily and suggest another time to hang out.

    Go for practical gestures

    It’s delightful to be emotionally supportive so do reiterate how much this person means to you – but it’s also really helpful to be pragmatic and opt for practical gestures of support.

    Ask if your friend would like you to accompany them to a doctor’s appointment or to cook them a meal if they’re not up for preparing something delicious for themselves.

    Bring them their favourite trashy magazine, take their dog for a walk, bake or turn up with a jar of pesto and a pack of tortellini. You can offer to drop things over, pick things up, do some driving or simply be on decent snack duty.

    Running a life with serious illness can be arduous – try and lighten their load a little.

    Illustration of father and daughter hugging
    Reiterating how much this person means to you is lovely, but make sure your contact is relatively constant (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Make your long term support clear

    Secretly, your friend might be living in fear that you will get bored, or impatient, or run out of empathy and eventually abandon them. Some serious illnesses are for life so try and make it clear that your companionship is too.

    Reiterating how much this person means to you is lovely, but make sure your contact is relatively constant. Be proactive and diligent about being there for them, in health and in sickness.

    Say out loud (or by text) that you care about them and show them you mean it by remaining a reliable, compassionate support in their life.

    Research their condition

    It can be difficult to explain your symptoms to someone, even if you’re close and especially if they’re in any way embarrassing.

    It’s absolutely worth doing a little research on your friend’s condition so you’re informed, and it can save them from having to give you a medical summary of what they go through.

    No need to be an expert, just some basic information is a really good idea. Don’t be too invasive with questions about their illness either – instead, go for some more general, open-ended offers to talk about it, if that’s what they’d like to do.

    Suggest low-key hangout sessions

    If your friend is in pain, exhausted, scared or exasperated by their illness, they’re probably not going to fancy any sort of high-energy social situation.

    They might not want, or even be able to go to parties, clubs or loud places.

    When you’re planning how you’ll spend your time together, think about their energy levels, their access to certain locations and their capacity to join in on what you have planned.

    You might like to make it perfectly clear that you don’t mind what you do together, even if it’s just hanging out at home with a cup of tea, in front of Netflix.

    Your friend might really appreciate having the option of some low-key hangout sessions. One-on-one time is also way less overwhelming than the dynamics and demands of a group situation.

    Learn to listen – because it’s not about you

    When your friend does want to talk about what they’re going through, practice active listening, rather than rushing to offer a cure or a solution.

    Really, properly listen to what they have to say and respond sensitively.

    Prompt them with tactful, relevant questions but don’t pry. It’s a delicate art, active listening, and so often so many of us forget to try it.

    Also, resist the temptation to make every conversation about you. It’s lovely to be compassionate but if your friend has ME or chronic fatigue, for example, and she’s talking about how tired she is, don’t tell her you know how she feels. It’s not about you and you don’t have to offer up your own experience to make her feel heard.

    Pay her the courtesy of listening to what she’s going through, acknowledging that it must be really difficult and giving her the chance to be candid about how she feels.

    As her friend, it’s probably the greatest favour you can do for her.

    MORE: Mother battling cancer gives birth to healthy ‘miracle baby’

    MORE: Incredible photoshoot showcases the honest realities of living with cancer

    MORE: Is having itchy boobs a sign of breast cancer?


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    Black to Life window 6-
    ‘There’s still a huge job to tell historical stories which have long been sidelined’ (Picture: Akinola Davies Jr)

    As part of Black History Month celebrations, moving image artist Akinola Davies Jr has created a one-off installation which subverts assumptions about British history.

    Akinola’s ‘Black to Life’ project, produced by Nuuksio Films, will be displayed in the windows at creative agency Wieden+Kennedy London, shining a spotlight on hidden historical figures and framing them as royalty and heroes of Britain.

    ‘The Black To Life series felt an important opportunity to centralise and humanise the lives of these nuanced individuals within history, because black British history is British history,’ said Akinola.

    Akinola’s previous work has provoked political and social debate, highlighting the under-representation of black British history.

    The creative’s work includes BBC documentary series Alt History, Black to Life, which inspired this installation, and a film documenting his Nigerian heritage for fashion brand Kenzo.

    Black to Life window
    Akinola also made a BBC documentary series called Alt History, Black to Life (Picture: Akinola Davies Jr)
    Black to Life window
    The project was produced by Nuuksio Films (Picture: Akinola Davies Jr)

    ‘Growing up in the UK we rarely saw black people highlighted as iconic figures in British history,’ said Abdou Cisse and Akwasi Poku from W+K London Creatives.

    ‘Even though we’re seeing a surge of black representation in mainstream media, there’s still a huge job to tell historical stories which have long been sidelined. That’s why Akinola’s project struck such a chord with us as black Brits.

    ‘Each film compelled us to help give the project the space and platform it deserved and to provide the public with a window into black British history.

    ‘Being black creatives, we’ve found that there are often not many opportunities to collaborate with people of colour in the creative industries, so it is a privilege to work with Akinola to help showcase his work.’

    Black to Life window
    ‘We rarely saw black people highlighted as iconic figures in British history’ (Picture: Akinola Davies Jr)

    Visitors can see the installation from 23-28 October at 16 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR.

    MORE: Dope Black Dads: ‘Navigating fatherhood and the black British experience can be complex’

    MORE: People are using #ShareBlackStories to celebrate Black History Month on Instagram

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Friends tell me I’m not “black enough” but I won’t change who I am’


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    Chanelle in a hospital bed
    Chanelle’s going through menopause for the second time (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    A 24-year-old woman has chosen to go through the menopause for the second time due to debilitating endometriosis.

    Chanelle Urquhart, from Hull, decided to undergo ‘chemical menopause’ – which involves being injected with hormones that stop ovulation and periods.

    She wanted to end months of horrific pain caused by endometriosis – a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow across internal organs, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

    Chanelle, a bartender, says ‘switching off’ her hormones has been completely worth it.

    She first went through the chemically induced menopause aged 22 which involved a monthly injection that switches off the menstrual cycle and puts the body into temporary menopause.

    But it took its toll on her mental health and after four months she stopped having the injection.

    But in April this year, she decided to try again as she was offered a nasal spray called Synarel which does the same thing.

    The doctors gave her this so she can stop using it every day and evening if her mental health declines again.

     Chanelles endometriosis which caused her belly to swell
    The condition caused her stomach to swell (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    ‘The pains in my stomach were constant and it felt like there was a tiny person inside my stomach who was swinging a knife around,’ she said.

    ‘Endometriosis began taking over my life.

    ‘Depression and anxiety come hand in hand with endometriosis as the pain is unbelievable and you’re constantly worrying about what is going to happen next.

    ‘It felt a bit weird going through the menopause at such a young age because it is usually older women, but it stopped my period which is a huge relief.’

    As part of the menopause, Chanelle gets hot flushes and memory loss sometimes but her iron levels are back up and she is no longer bed-bound.

    The severity of endometriosis began when Chanelle started her period age 12 but she was dismissed by doctors and says she was made to feel as though she was ‘exaggerating’.

    She was forced to take a daily cocktail of painkillers including Tramadol in a bid to reduce pain in her lower abdomen, leg and back.

     Chanelles medication in her hand
    She has to take pills to manage her pain (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    ‘I have spent most of my life going back and forth from the doctors who made me feel like I was going insane,’ she adds. ‘They said it’s “period pains” and a few have said it was an STI

    ‘The results would always come back negative and I always knew there was something wrong, but I started to think maybe they’re right and I am being a hypochondriac.’

    She was finally taken seriously when she had two laparoscopies with excision of endometriosis – a surgical procedure, enabling them to see her organs and remove what they can.

    But they discovered the endometriosis had spread to her bowel, womb, ovaries and all over the pelvic wall.

    Chanelle continued: ‘I also had blood-filled cysts in my ovaries that would burst up to once a month and I imagine the pain would be like someone pouring acid over my organs, thankfully the endometriosis has since been removed via surgery.

    ‘The induced menopause doesn’t stop my daily pain which is why I take Tramadol, but it stops my horrendous periods and stops the endometriosis from growing.

    ‘If the pain continues, I will consider a hysterectomy in the future even though it’s not a cure as endometriosis can grow on any organ, but it is an option to relieve some pain.

    ‘I am sharing my story as I feel there needs to be more awareness around this disease, so many women with these symptoms are getting fobbed off by their doctors and treated like they’re making it up.’

    MORE: A mum suffering from endometriosis will be forced into menopause at age of 30

    MORE: Endometriosis-sufferer gets head tattooed with vulvas, penises and breasts

    MORE: Woman reveals what it’s like to have two vaginas, two cervixes and two wombs


    OPTED FOR MENOPAUSE AT 20OPTED FOR MENOPAUSE AT 20

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    mum compilation pics
    Midwives said this new mum’s vaginal tears were unlike anything they’d seen in 30 years (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    A first-time mum was terrified that she was going to die after a traumatic birth that left her with life-changing injuries.

    Primary school teacher Emma Reeves from Newcastle has been experiencing excruciating daily pain ever since the birth two years ago.

    The 31-year-old suffered second-degree multi-directional tears while giving birth to her daughter Annabelle, a case that midwives said they hadn’t seen in 30 years.

    When she went into labour, Emma was rushed straight to theatre for the first of 10 surgeries she would need to recover.

    After marrying her childhood sweetheart Mark, 32, Emma had a smooth pregnancy and did not expect so many complications at birth.

    But a year after welcoming their baby girl into the world, Emma was diagnosed with a rectovaginal fistula (RVF) – an abnormal connection between the lower portion of the rectum and the vagina.

    The fistula meant Emma couldn’t go anywhere without a pillow to sit on and a five minute walk could wipe her out for days.

    She also still has flashbacks from the birth and has been treated for PTSD.

    PIC BY MERCURY PRESS (PICTURED Emma Reeves (LEFT) and her daughter Annabelle (RIGHT).) A first-time mum was left terrified she was going to DIE after a traumatic birth left her with life-changing injuries which have caused her excruciating daily pain ever since. Primary school teacher Emma Reeves, 31, from Newcastle, suffered second-degree multi-directional tears while giving birth to her baby daughter Annabelle in June 2017, and was rushed straight to theatre for the first of 10 surgeries she would need to recover. SEE MERCURY COPY.
    Emma asked midwives whether she was dying (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    ‘During labour, when it came to pushing, my legs were put in stirrups,’ explained Emma.

    ‘Mark was down the business end so unfortunately for him, he saw it happen and the look of shock on the midwives’ faces.

    ‘After Annabelle was born and the doctors were repairing the damage in the first surgery, they described the tissue down there as being like “butter” and that they were struggling to stitch it together.’

    Emma then asked midwives whether she was going to die as she genuinely believed she would.

    ‘I’m still traumatised about it. I was told over and over that they’d not seen anything like this in 30 years. I knew it was a bad situation.’

    Emma was taken away for an emergency three-hour procedure to repair the complicated tears before she was returned to a recovery ward.

    But it was a matter of hours before she was back in the operating room, after doctors noticed that Emma had developed a pelvic hematoma.

    Emma spent a week in hospital before she was well enough to go home, but even after she was discharged, the new mum was in constant pain.

    ‘It’s every mother’s nightmare being separated from your baby. You want that bonding time.’

    PIC BY MERCURY PRESS (PICTURED From the left Emma Reeves her daughter Annabelle and Mark Reeves.) A first-time mum was left terrified she was going to DIE after a traumatic birth left her with life-changing injuries which have caused her excruciating daily pain ever since. Primary school teacher Emma Reeves, 31, from Newcastle, suffered second-degree multi-directional tears while giving birth to her baby daughter Annabelle in June 2017, and was rushed straight to theatre for the first of 10 surgeries she would need to recover. SEE MERCURY COPY.
    Emma and husband Mark with their healthy little girl Annabelle (Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

    Despite warnings from fellow mums that she would be sore, the teacher could tell something wasn’t right, and spent hours on the internet searching for answers to why she was in such agony.

    She was also unable to have sex with her husband, who had also been left traumatised by the birth.

    Desperate to end her pain, the couple went private and pushed for more tests, which revealed that Emma had an RVF and needed a setom – a piece of surgical thread to repair the abnormal connection.

    She said: ‘My day would start with excruciating pain when I went to the toilet. The pain was crippling, it would last a few hours, sometimes all day.

    ‘Mark had to put a suit on and leave for work while I was crying out with pain.’

    The time she should’ve spent bonding with her newborn was spent being bed-bound and reserving as much energy as she could to taking care of the baby.

    ‘I felt completely in the dark, that my body had failed me, I was doomed and my active life was over.

    ‘I was worried about my marriage. I was worried if I couldn’t have sex if I couldn’t have further children.’

    Slowly over time, things began to improve, and Emma continued to look for support on the internet, eventually stumbling across the Mummy MOT – a postnatal check-up programme.

    Now, after discovering their specialist help, she is learning to manage her injuries.

    She even went swimming for the first time and does private tutoring on weekends and evenings.

    In September, the determined mum had her tenth surgery injecting steroids into her scar tissue to help with continual tightening and improving her pelvic floor.

    She added: ‘I am getting my life back. Mark and I always try to reflect over the last couple of months and look at what we’ve achieved.

    ‘We had our fifth wedding anniversary at the hotel we got married and I went swimming for the first time. I cried with happiness.’

    MORE: Incredible photo shows how bones move during childbirth

    MORE: I was traumatised by childbirth. Online forums would have prepared me

    MORE: Childbirth ‘horror stories’ on social media encourage fear of having kids, experts say


    CHILDBIRTH TEAR NEARLY KILLED MECHILDBIRTH TEAR NEARLY KILLED ME

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    Dare you not to cry at this groom surprising the bride with a kitten on their wedding day
    Look at that face! (Picture: Wild and Wonderful Photography)

    Orion Metheny and Kaylee Schmidt (now Schmidt-Metheny) pretty much have the perfect all-American love story, meeting in their teenage years at their church’s youth group.

    ‘I was 15 (almost 16) and she was 17 (almost 18),’ says Orion.

    ‘We spent a few years long distance as she went to college in Nashville, Tennessee. I graduated high school and went to college in our home town of Morgantown, West Virginia. After graduating, she moved back.

    ‘We got engaged on our four-year anniversary and dated almost 5 and a half years total before getting married.’

    The adorable couple even waited to move in together, with Orion living in the house that’s now theirs alone in the run-up to their wedding. But there was just one thing that hadn’t yet fallen into place.

    Although Kaylee was excited about spending the rest of her life with Orion, she knew would miss her parents’ cat Nala when she left the family home.

    She was desperate for a cat, but Orion had never had a pet before.

    Dare you not to cry at this groom surprising the bride with a kitten on their wedding day
    Kaylee has always been a cat lover (Picture: Wild and Wonderful Photography)

    In a now-viral post, their wedding photographer Megan O’Dell detailed what happened next. She was in on the secret the whole time, as Orion planned to get Kaylee a rescue kitten and do the big reveal on their wedding day, surprising her with a furry new family member.

    ‘While Orion wasn’t the biggest fan of indoor pets, Kaylee was an avid cat lover and couldn’t imagine leaving her family cat when she moved to her new home with Orion,’ wrote Megan.

    ‘Orion had a change of heart and went to go adopt a new kitten at the shelter to surprise her with at the wedding, because she would definitely not be expecting it!

    When the shelter turned him down because he mentioned give it as a wedding present, it was fate that two abandoned kittens were found near his home.’

    Dare you not to cry at this groom surprising the bride with a kitten on their wedding day
    Little Chloe is enjoying her forever home (Picture: Wild and Wonderful Photography)

    Orion explains: ‘Kaylee didn’t move in until after the wedding. And we are renting. So it wasn’t that we couldn’t get a kitten, but I needed to make sure that we had the best environment to bring it home to.’

    ‘If it’s something that will bring Kaylee joy and give an animal a loving home then I thought it seemed like a win-win.’

    His 92-year-old grandma Jean helped him, housing the new kitten – named Chloe – until it was time for her to go to her forever home.

    When the big reveal happened, Kaylee’s face was absolutely priceless, and even through still images you can basically hear her saying ‘do I get to keep it?!’

    EDIT: WOW!! You guys, we are totally blown away by the response of this sweet post!!!! <3Just to clear up a few…

    Geplaatst door Wild and Wonderful Photography op Maandag 21 oktober 2019

    Megan photographed the moment, capturing both Orion and Kaylee absolutely beaming – and eventually shedding a happy tear.

    They had a wonderful wedding day, and according to Orion, Chloe is ‘super playful and loves to play with her toys. But she’s also very cuddly and likes to nap while you hold her and pet her.’

    ‘We are giving Chloe all the love and attention,’ he continues.

    The new husband also wanted to clear up that the other rescue cat who was found has a loving home.

    ‘The second kitten found a home! I’d asked around if anyone had any kittens that needed homes,’ he confirmed.

    ‘A family had rescued both kittens but was only able to keep one. So that’s why I only adopted Chloe. I didn’t just leave the second kitten as people seem to be worried about. That’s not my heart to do something like that.’

    Plus, he says, ‘Chloe seems to be adjusting great by herself! So no kitties were abandoned in any way during our story!’

    Nope, just a brand new fur baby, and some absolutely cracking wedding photos.

    MORE: Mum shares trick to keep avocados green and ready to eat year-round

    MORE: How I Save: The 28-year-old senior marketing executive in Manchester with £16,750 saved


    Dare you not to cry at this groom surprising the bride with a kitten on their wedding dayDare you not to cry at this groom surprising the bride with a kitten on their wedding day

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    Someone is eager to unpack! Butcher’s is a family-run brand that puts tasty and nutritious natural ingredients at the heart of mealtimes (Picture: Butcher’s)

    We all want to see our dogs enjoying their food as much as we do.

    Without them telling us just how it tasted, how can we be confident that it was delicious, nutritious or well-suited to their dietary needs?

    Sometimes, you only need to see how happy it makes them at mealtimes, to know you’ve made the right choice for their bowl.

    So here are five reasons why Butcher’s food for dogs will be sure to get their tails wagging.

    1. Meats so lip-smackingly tasty, you know they would choose it themselves

    Excitement barely contained! Each dog has their own ‘feeding dance’ that their owners know well

    We know our dogs can’t get enough of one thing in particular… MEAT. From lean chicken to tasty turkey and hearty beef, it is what they would naturally choose to eat.

    That’s why Butcher’s food for dogs has a high meat content and why they source their meat directly from British and Irish farms they know and trust.

    Butcher’s is a family-run company passionate about creating delicious, natural, nutritious food that dogs love, so you can be sure your dog is getting a bowl full of meaty goodness every time.

    2. More flavour to savour

    Nom nom nom! Dogs are happiest with a bowl of food in front of them, but giving them a good diet can make a big difference to their overall wellbeing (Picture: Butcher’s)

    Imagine your favourite food. The dish that makes your mouth water at the mere mention of it (frying bacon, anyone?). Tripe is that food for your dog.

    As an ingredient, Tripe is packed not only with protein, vitamins and minerals but also contains omega oils that are good for the heart, coat and skin.

    Amy Lawson’s super dogs Timmy and Tazzy are clearly fans of Butcher’s

    What’s more, wet food is closer to what a dog would naturally eat, and Butcher’s wet food varieties typically contain more meat protein to carbohydrates than dry food, sealing more flavour and moisture into every tin and tray, at the same time as helping your dog stay well-hydrated.

    Not only that, but Butcher’s meals can also be easily mixed with dry food. Whether you want to go totally wet, dry only, 50/50 wet and dry or just add a delicious topping of wet food to their bowl – the choice is up to you (and your dog!)

    3. Super foods for super dogs

    Every dog loves tripe! It’s packed with high-quality protein and, calcium for strong bones (Picture: Butcher’s)

    And it’s not just the taste that’s important.

    That’s because foods balanced with essential protein, vitamins and minerals will make them as happy on the inside as they seem on the outside.

    Butcher’s caters for every growing dog’s need with super food ingredients that help maintain their energy levels for longer playtimes and improve digestion for healthy tummies.

    From liver, that is rich in iron and B-vitamins that help put a spring in your dog’s step, to chicory which contains inulin (a great source of dietary fibre) to prebiotics to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, Butcher’s range of recipes contain a whole host of super foods.

    4. Foods packed full of goodness to give dogs the best start in life

    Right from the very start, Puppy recipes like the ones specially developed by Butcher’s ensure your dogs get all of the essential vitamins and minerals every mealtime

    Butcher’s Puppy Perfect recipe has salmon oil for omega 3 and 6, prebiotics for a healthy gut, making it perfect for your little one as they develop.

    Right from the puppy stage through to their Joints & Coat recipe for adult dogs, Butcher’s caters for every growing dog’s need

    And, since every dog is different as they grow, many need a more specialist diet that takes dietary and life-stage differences as well as any intolerances into account.

    5. A happy dog on the inside, means a happy dog on the outside

    Every dog owner knows that happy on the inside, means a happy dog on the outside
    Someone can barely wait for the bowl… Wet food is not only packed with meat protein and great taste, but moisture is sealed in to help keep your dog well-hydrated (Picture: Butcher’s)

    Butcher’s nourishing food for dogs comes in a range of varieties to suit every dogs lifestyle, including ‘Lean and Tasty’ for dogs who want to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and ‘Simply Gentle’ for those with sensitive tummies, which means that picking for your pets as easy as shopping for our own allergy alternatives at the supermarket.

    The Simply Gentle range is specially made with easy to digest wholegrain rice, a great source of dietary fibre, and added pre-biotic to help support a healthy immune system.

    With only natural ingredients that are perfect for delicate digestive systems, these special recipes still contain everything your dog needs.

    So whatever you choose, your pet could look as happy as these delighted dogs every, single mealtime.

    For more delicious recipes, visit: www.butchersdogfood.co.uk

    How do you know they’ve enjoyed it? You only need to see for yourself…

    Um, hello? Can I have some more, please?
    See how happy that pup is?

    butchers dog with bags-04cdbutchers dog with bags-04cd

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    Empty Bed with Laptop and Note Pads
    At first, being involved in sex work was kind of exciting – but as time went on, it became more draining (Picture: Getty)

    I sought out sex work when I was 20, as I came towards the end of my second year of university, because I knew I would be able to start earning money quickly.

    Unlike a regular job, that offers set shifts and pays monthly, I could work whenever I wanted and get paid straight away. Plus, I knew my potential earnings with sex work would be much higher.

    I’m far from the only one. Money advice website Save the Student released new research this week that revealed one in 25 students have tried some kind of adult work in order to help them pay bills and buy food. This is twice as many as was recorded in 2017.

    The research also showed that online platforms make it easier to get into sex work. That’s exactly how I got into it, too.

    At first, being involved in sex work (mainly escorting, webcamming, and selling photos) was kind of exciting – mostly because of the prospect of the money I could earn. But as time went on, it became more draining. It is a job, after all!

    For one thing, while with a regular job you can leave at the end of your shift, adult work is 24/7. I listed my available hours on my page on the site I worked through, but as far as I’m aware, the site is not closely regulated. I’d receive constant messages requesting meet-ups and chats or webcam sessions.

    Despite this, the work is inconsistent, as it is dependent on what kind of requests you get, what you are prepared to do, and how often you are prepared to work.

    Some clients will request more extreme videos and meet-ups, or send their requests at times of the day when you’re busy. Because of this, adult work helped with my finances in the short term, but it’s too unpredictable to be a long term solution.

    It’s not given me a large amount of spare money as I needed to use my earnings to cover my living costs, such as food, rent and bills. You do set your own rates of pay, but it is very competitive, which doesn’t give you a lot of freedom – set them too low and you seem cheap; too high, and you won’t get clients.

    After a while, I felt like I was stuck in a vicious cycle: I got into sex work because I was unhappy about money, but then the sex work was making me unhappy

    As well as the financial instability, I was always on edge in case any of my clients tried to get too involved with my personal life, or recognised me when I was not working. I was also worried that friends might see me with one of my clients.

    I only ever told a couple of my friends about what I was doing, so that they could be aware of my location, for safety reasons. I didn’t tell anyone else, because I didn’t think I would receive a positive reaction.

    I had to be so careful about what I shared, and made up a fake persona for my profile. It was like living a double life at times.

    After a while, I felt like I was stuck in a vicious cycle: I got into sex work because I was unhappy about money, but then the sex work was making me unhappy because I felt so drained all the time from keeping up two lives, and the demands from clients were getting more extreme. So, I’d stop and take a break. But then I would become worried about money again, and the cycle would continue.

    STS’s research showed that worrying about money can affect all areas of a student’s life, such as mental health and relationships. Both worrying about money and doing sex work affected my mental health and relationships, especially when I was spending a lot of time working, as I had no time to see my friends.

    In my experience, there isn’t a lot of support out there for students who are struggling for money, and I personally feel that this is rooted in the flaws in the UK’s student loans system. The way student loans are calculated is very skewed, and there should be more room for students to have their loan reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    It’s very difficult to get out of a job where you’re earning that much money, despite the personal costs

    My university gives ‘credit’ per term to students from low income families – students that receive the highest amount of student loan. This credit can be spent on university equipment, sports clubs, food and drink in the campus cafes, even items from the mini supermarket in the student union. I come from a single parent family, therefore received quite a lot of student loan, but was still about £50 under the threshold to receive this credit from my university.

    Had I received this credit from my university, I would have been able to use more of my loan and savings towards living costs, rather than turning to sex work for the extra cash. I have worked a few different part time jobs since I turned 18, but none of them compare to the money you can earn in sex work. That’s where the difficulty lies.

    To other students who are struggling with their finances, I would say it is worth having a student overdraft. Don’t be scared to use it for the things you need (but don’t get too carried away – you’ll have to pay it back at some point).

    Use Depop and eBay to sell stuff you don’t need and get the extra cash, and sign up for student deals websites to find discounts and freebies. Also, do your food shopping in the evening if possible because you can find good deals on reduced products with short dates – everything will be fine if you keep it in the fridge/freezer!

    I have taken a step back from sex work while I am on a work placement related to my degree, as I do not have the time to keep up with it on the side. It can take up as much or as little time as you allow it to, but the more time you spend on it, the more money you make. It’s difficult not to fall into that trap, and start neglecting other areas of your life.

    However, I am keeping sex work in the background. I have no doubt that I will need it for the money when I go back to university full time for my final year.

    MORE: I’m a sex worker and I’ll fight Instagram’s attempt to censor us

    MORE: As a nurse I know decriminalising sex work will improve public health

    MORE: Stormzy’s scholarships cannot come soon enough for black Cambridge students


    Empty Bed with Laptop and Note PadsEmpty Bed with Laptop and Note Pads

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    James hiking in Scotland
    James hiking in Scotland (Picture: Edward-Fitzpatrick/@eddiefitz7)

    James Forrest’s alarm went off for another day at the office.

    Another day commuting, another day sitting in front of the screen and another day far removed from the dreams of adventure he’d had as a kid.

    He’d always loved the outdoors and he knew he didn’t want to spend every day at a desk.

    So one day, after 10 years of the daily grind, James just quit it all, deciding to go on the adventure of a lifetime instead, climbing 1,001 mountains in the UK and Ireland.

    After finally completing his last climb last weekend, James says it’s completely changed his outlook on life.

    He says: ‘I love spending time outdoors and going for adventures but I accidentally fell into the trap of just living in a city and going back and forth to an office.

    ‘I wasn’t happy about the life I had created for myself and I was depressed.

    ‘Now, I’m just far happier and more content as a person. Being closer to nature is good for the soul.’

    Waking up above the clouds on Knockowen in Ireland
    Waking up above the clouds on Knockowen in Ireland (Picture: James Forrest)

    James left university and went straight into a job working in the charity sector, followed by a job in journalism.

    Although he was doing well and he was following the ‘expected path’, he knew he wasn’t happy, so in 2017, he made the huge change.

    ‘I just wanted to make a change and pursue my adventure dreams so I flipped my life upside down and made the bold choice,’ James says.

    JaResting atop the Knocknapeasta ridge in the MacGillycuddy's Reeks in Ireland
    Resting atop the Knocknapeasta ridge in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (Picture: James Forrest)

    He moved to Cockermouth in Cumbria to be closer to the mountains, started to work part-time and flexible jobs that fitted around his adventures and moved towards a more minimalist lifestyle.

    He explains: ‘I downgraded my house and car and decided to spend any extra money on adventure rather than luxuries because that’s what I really wanted to have.’

    He started off climbing all 446 mountains in England and Wales in six months but the following year he tackled all 273 mountains in Ireland in eight weeks, and finally 282 in Scotland, in six months, this year.

    James makes it to his final summit, Knocknadobar, to complete his challenge in Ireland
    James makes it to his final summit, Knocknadobar, to complete his challenge in Ireland (Picture: James Forrest)

    The actual definition of what makes a mountain is contested so James decided to pick a list from each place, leading to the list of 1,001 summits.

    He explains: ‘Two thousand feet is often cited as the required height, but not always – and there is little consensus about anything else.

    ‘To be considered a separate mountain, distinct from its surroundings, does a summit need to have a drop of 15m on all sides, or 30m, or some other arbitrary figure?

    Climbing Whin Ben route to Whiteside summit, in the Lake District
    Climbing Whin Ben route to Whiteside summit, in the Lake District (Picture: James Forrest)

    ‘And is 2,000ft the correct qualifying height, or should it be 600m, or is relative height far more important than absolute height? Many questions, few definitive answers.

    ‘Different authors have taken different stances to mountain lists over the years. I based my challenge around three of the most popular/prominent lists of mountains: the ‘Nuttalls’ in England and Wales, the ‘Vandeleur-Lynams’ in Ireland, and the ‘Munros’ in Scotland.’

    Initially, he had very limited experience but says he learnt as he went along.

    Dinnertime wild camping in the Yorkshire Dales
    Dinnertime wild camping in the Yorkshire Dales (Picture: James Forrest)

    There have been challenges along the way but he’s never looked back.

    He says: ‘I’ve faced my fair share of storms, torrential downpours and apocalyptic downpours that we can have in Britain so that’s never a particularly pleasant experience.

    ‘I’ve had a few times where I’ve thought ‘Why am I doing this?’. When I was camping in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, my tent collapsed in the middle of a night during a storm and I woke up face down in a muddy swamp.

    James and Nicola in Scotland
    James and Nicola in Scotland (Picture: Edward-Fitzpatrick/@eddiefitz7)

    ‘I’ve got lost in remote locations, been chased by cows (and even a badger one time) and I nearly stepped on a poisonous adder in the Cairngorms in Scotland.

    ‘I fell ill in Ireland after drinking unclean stream water.

    ‘But I now live the adventurous life I’ve always dreamed of – and it’s been amazing for my physical and mental health. Mountains are good for the soul.

    Hiking in the stunning mountains of Ireland
    Hiking in the stunning mountains of Ireland (Picture: James Forrest)

    ‘I love the freedom, the fresh air, the isolation, the unpredictability, the escapism – and this three-year journey has let me truly experience these joys.

    ‘I’d whole-heartedly encourage anyone to make walking and spending time in the mountains a regular part of their lives – it truly can be life-changing.’

    James completed almost every climb alone until this year when his girlfriend Nicola Hardy, 35, from Sheffield, climbed all 282 mountains in Scotland with him, including his last Munro on 19 October.

    James and Nicola bedding down for the night in Scotland
    James and Nicola bedding down for the night in Scotland (Picture: Edward-Fitzpatrick/@eddiefitz7)

    He says: ‘I loved hiking alone – everyday life is so busy and I love to go out by myself, turn my phone off and have some quiet, back-to-basics time.

    ‘Doing the last challenge with Nicola as a couple was challenging at times but it was lovely to have that companionship for the last one.’

    Now James has completed all the climbs but that doesn’t mean he’s going to give up on hiking.

    James Looking to Crib Goch, Snowdonia, Wale
    Looking to Crib Goch, Snowdonia, Wales (Picture: James Forrest)

    He says: ‘I’ll always want to spend more time on the mountains. Obviously, there are some great ones near me in.

    ‘There’s also loads more hills and some I could climb if I use a different classification. Completing the last Munro on Saturday wasn’t the end. I love walking and hiking and I’ve still got lots of adventures ahead.’

    James has written a book about his experiences of climbing in England and Wales called Mountain Man: 446 Mountains. Six months. One record-breaking adventure.

    You can also follow James’ adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    MORE: Woman in her 20s chooses to go for menopause for the second time because of painful endometriosis

    MORE: ‘Black to Life’ exhibition highlights black figures in British history with stunning images


    Hiking in Glencoe. Picture credit Edward Fitzpatrick. Instagram @eddiefitz7 (9)-5ecfHiking in Glencoe. Picture credit Edward Fitzpatrick. Instagram @eddiefitz7 (9)-5ecf

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    Woman using the ice cream free topping machine
    Free ice cream! (Picture: Halo Top)

    With the end of the month approaching, a trip to the cashpoint might not be your idea of fun.

    But there is a new ATM in London that gives you free ice cream toppings (to add to your free ice cream) instead of making you check your bank balance.

    To celebrate the launch of the Halo Top Platinum Series, the Bank of Halo Top has popped up in Shoreditch – but you better be quick as it finishes at 7pm today.

    You can try the new flavours – tubs of Space Candy, Monster Cookie and Triple Chocolate Cake and the sticks come in Vanilla Crunch, Salted Caramel Swirl and Cookies & Cream.

    The Bank of Halo Top for free ice cream
    Get yourself down to the Bank of Halo Top (Picture: Halo Top)

    Halo Top original ice cream featured tups that were all between 280 and 360 calories and the brand has grown in popularity since it launched so they decided to introduce the platinum range with slightly more indulgent flavours.

    Each tub in the new range contains approximately 680–690 calories for the whole thing, while the sticks are 160-180 calories.

    You can try them and the Automated Topping Machine (ATM) at the Bank of Halo Top, 14 Hanbury Str., Spitalfields, London E1 6QR until 7pm today, 24 October.

    The ice creams are available on a first-come first serve basis so get down there quickly.

    Justin Ball, President of Halo Top International. ‘We can’t wait for our UK fans to try Halo Top Platinum Series and realise that it’s just as indulgent and decadent as regular ice cream but somehow contains way less calories and sugar.’

    MORE: Man sick of daily grind and city living quits job to climb all 1,001 mountains in the UK and Ireland

    MORE: Dare you not to cry at this groom surprising the bride with a kitten on their wedding day


    Halo Top launches its decadent Platinum Series with a free ice cream giveaway at its Bank of Halo Top in London (36)-9352Halo Top launches its decadent Platinum Series with a free ice cream giveaway at its Bank of Halo Top in London (36)-9352

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    dog during bonfire night
    Poor dogs get a real fright on fireworks night (Picture: Getty)

    Bonfire Night is nearly upon us, and it won’t be long before sparklers and catherine wheels light up the night sky.

    It’s all fun and games for us humans, but fireworks and bonfires can be extremely distressing to animals, which is something you’ve probably already noticed.

    Does your canine cower under the sofa every time a bang goes off outside? Does your mutt become a maniac at every flash she sees?

    It’s no secret that most animals hate fireworks, and it’s no surprise given they don’t know what’s going on. But there are also some other reasons.

    A spokesperson for Pure Pet Food explained: ‘Animals have heightened senses and their hearing in particular is much stronger than ours. A dog’s hearing is twice as sensitive as a human’s for example, and a cat’s three times!’

    The best thing you can do is keep your pets indoors, but even this isn’t always enough to ensure they’re free from stress. Here are some more tips to make everything run a lot more smoothly for your dog:

    Before fireworks

    Microchip

    Ensuring your pet’s microchip details are up to date is important year-round, but especially so around firework season.

    Dogs and cats might panic and flee at the sound of a firework bang, so make sure that if they do run off, they’ll be able to be returned to you safely.

    You can also purchase products such as Tractive, which allow you to follow your pet’s movements by GPS if they run away.

    Water

    Top up your pet’s water bowl – dogs in particular.

    Anxious dogs pant more, meaning they get thirstier quicker.

    Walk

    Take your dog for a walk before it starts to get dark, as it might be a while before it’s safe for them to venture outside again to go to the toilet or to let off some steam.

    dog on a night time winter walk
    A walk before the fireworks get going can help (Picture: Getty)

    Security

    Although it seems like it goes without saying, make sure you shut all of the doors and windows in your home and don’t forget to draw the curtains.

    This will help to block out any flashes of light and reduce the noise level of fireworks.

    Den

    Use your dog’s favourite blankets, toys, or an unwashed item of your clothing to make them a little den in a quiet corner of your house.

    This should help them feel safer and more secure, with them knowing they have a place to go if they’re distressed.

    During fireworks

    Distract

    Switch the TV or radio on to try and distract your pet from the noise outside.

    Many owners also find that white noise sounds helps to distract their dogs. These can played via YouTube, or through a number of sleep apps.

    Let them hide

    Your pet might choose to hide under the bed or behind other furniture, but don’t even try and tempt them out, as this could cause them more stress.

    However, if they come to you for comfort, make sure you give it them.

    Act normal

    Try to act as normal, as your pet will pick up on any unusual behaviour. Be calm, happy and cheerful as this will send positive signals to your pet.

    Company

    Avoid leaving your pet alone when fireworks are going off near your house, and if you do have to leave, don’t get angry with your pet if you find they’ve been destructive or messed in the house – shouting at a frightened pet will only make them more stressed.

    MORE: There’s a bank that gives out ice cream with an ATM that dispenses free toppings

    MORE: Man sick of daily grind and city living quits job to climb all 1,001 mountains in the UK and Ireland


    Woman with dog enjoying New Year eveWoman with dog enjoying New Year eve

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    Not Every Disability is Visible
    Some of the signs used elsewhere (Picture: Crohn’s & Colitis UK)

    Amber Davies was asked by pub staff if she was dealing drugs after she came out of a disabled toilet.

    The student uses an ostomy bag because she was diagnosed with bowel condition ulcerative colitis aged 13.

    On a night out at JD Wetherspoon’s The Dragon Inn in Birmingham, she went to the disabled toilet several times, using a radar key to access it.

    But she says that the staff accused her of taking drugs or having sex in the bathroom because they didn’t understand why she was going so often, as she doesn’t look sick.

    Amber wrote an open letter to the pub chain about her experiences earlier this year, which went viral.

    And now the pub has listened to what she said, teaming up with charity Chron’s and Colitis UK to install signs in all their bathrooms reminding people that not every disability is visible.

    Student with stoma bag accused of smuggling drugs Amber Davies, 21, from Builth Wells, has a stoma after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis aged 13. From @ambersostomy/Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ambersostomy/
    Amber complained about how she was treated in a Wetherspoons pub (Picture: @ambersostomy/Instagram)

    Following the news, Amber said: ‘After speaking up about an experience I encountered using an accessible toilet in a Wetherspoons chain recently, I was overwhelmed by the support and response from the community of people with IBD, stomas and beyond.

    ‘Despite this, I was saddened by the number of people opening up and talking about similar encounters and experiences in various public places.

    ‘Although we have come a long way, this shows that we still have a distance to go with raising awareness, understanding and a profile for hidden disability.

    ‘That’s why Crohn’s & Colitis UK’s Not Every Disability is Visible campaign is so important. I am glad to see that Wetherspoons have taken action and are supporting the charity’s campaign following speaking up about the issue and I hope that they follow through with implementing their proposed changes, understanding and behaviours.

    ‘Through my social media platform, I will continue to be transparent about living with a hidden disability and a stoma also in hope that eventually, society thinks inclusively of everybody.’

    They’re the first major pub chain to sign up to the charity’s Not Every Disability is Visible campaign, which aims to stop the stigma and discrimination towards people with hidden health conditions.

    A survey found that half of people with conditions said they have felt prevented from going to restaurants (49%) and pubs (43%) because they fear discrimination.

    The hidden illness means people look fine on the outside but they suffer from frequent diarrhoea and an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Some, like Amber, also have ostomy bags, where waste is collected in a bag outside the body, and need to use the bathroom to empty the bag.

    Whilst someone may look ‘okay’ on the outside, they may crucially need to use the accessible toilets, due to symptoms such as urgent and frequent diarrhoea.

    The charity launched the campaign in April and say they have sent over 48,000 emails to the 15 largest pub and restaurant chains across the country but JD Wetherspoon leading the way as the first chain to come on board with the campaign.

    They will put signs in all bathrooms and train staff to help them better understand invisible conditions.

    The charity said over 80% of people with Crohn’s or Colitis said they feel more comfortable visiting places with the Not Every Disability is Visible signs installed, powerfully demonstrating that these signs have a real impact on people’s lives.

    Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive at Crohn’s & Colitis UK said: ‘JD Wetherspoon has made a simple but significant change in minimising the impact Crohn’s and Colitis can have on people’s lives – we know that these signs make a real difference to people living with these devastating conditions.

    ‘We are grateful to the company for joining our campaign and showing their commitment to tackling stigma and discrimination for all their customers.”

    Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: ‘We want to make sure all of our customers feel comfortable when visiting any of our pubs. We’re delighted to install these new signs that help to both increase awareness that not all disabilities are visible, and to ensure that anyone who needs to, can feel confident using our accessible toilets.’

    MORE: 9 ways to keep your dog safe and stress free on Bonfire Night

    MORE: There’s a bank that gives out ice cream with an ATM that dispenses free toppings


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