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

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    ) Sunoa, Amon, Christina and Melea Browning after Amon retired. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, have been able to retire early after adopting an incredibly strict financial lifestyle - having saved over $2 MILLION! A mom and dad have retired early after saving over two million dollars in just eight years. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, put aside the seven-figure sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and choosing canny investments. Although the couple, who were both civil servants, do not want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives. The pair even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The parents of Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, to enjoy a life of leisure in Lisbon, Portugal.
    Amon and Christina have been able to retire in their forties after saving for eight years (Picture: Our Rich Journey /SWNS.COM)

    In need of some inspiration for your saving?

    Take a look at parents Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, who’ve been able to retire early after saving two million dollars (around £1.5million) in the space of eight years.

    How did they do it? With a seriously strict budget and plenty of side hustles.

    While the couple, who both worked as civil servants, don’t want to reveal the exact figure they saved, they say they now have enough to mean they’ll never work another day in their lives.

    That’s great news for their children, Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, who now get to spend a load of time with their parents.

    The family has now moved from San Francisco to Lisbon, Portugal to live a life of leisure. Anyone else jealous?

    Amon, who brought home $98,000 a year as an urban planner, and Christina, who earned $70,000 as a federal attorney, insisted that almost anybody can retire early if they follow their example and join the Financial Independence Retire Early movement, known as FIRE.

    Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, have been able to retire early after adopting an incredibly strict financial lifestyle - having saved over $2 MILLION! A mom and dad have retired early after saving over two million dollars in just eight years. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, put aside the seven-figure sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and choosing canny investments. Although the couple, who were both civil servants, do not want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives. The pair even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The parents of Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, to enjoy a life of leisure in Lisbon, Portugal.
    They saved money through flipping houses, working as Uber and Lyft drivers, and moving to Japan to live rent-free for three years (Picture: Our Rich Journey /SWNS.COM)

    Christina said: ‘The FIRE journey is all about saving money, making money and investing that money.

    ‘But before you do all that, you have to believe that you can do it. It’s about your mindset.’

    Amon realised he wanted to retire early when he received an award for ten years service at work in 2011.

    He said: ‘That was a life changing moment. You can work for so many years and all you get to show for it is a piece of paper.

    ‘I really wanted more out of life than this.

    ‘The idea of working another 30 years in a cubicle and missing out on life was crazy to me.’

    Christina and Amon worked together to create FIRE, which now has thousands of followers working to put away enough money to ditch the world of work.

    *** EMBARGOED UNTIL OCTOBER 25, 3PM EDT/ 8PM BST *** (L- R) Sunoa, Amon, Christina and Melea Browning. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, have been able to retire early after adopting an incredibly strict financial lifestyle - having saved over $2 MILLION! A mom and dad have retired early after saving over two million dollars in just eight years. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, put aside the seven-figure sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and choosing canny investments. Although the couple, who were both civil servants, do not want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives. The pair even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The parents of Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, to enjoy a life of leisure in Lisbon, Portugal.
    Theyre now able to spend more time with their children, Sunoa and Melea (Picture: Our Rich Journey /SWNS.COM)

    They gave themselves a ten-year plan to become financially independent and able to retire by 2021.

    In 2013 they began flipping homes, buying their first fixer-upper in the San Francisco area by putting just 3% of the property price down, which was $17,000.

    They lived in the home while they did it up, sold it, and then did the same thing again with two more properties, allowing them to gain over $400,000 in profit.

    The couple also sold spare possessions on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and signed up to become Uber and Lyft – they say they earned $26,000 without ever having to pick up any passengers.

    Amon said: ‘For a period we drove for Uber and Lyft in the San Francisco bay area.

    ‘For us, it was all about the hack. The companies were giving $40 an hour just to turn on the app.

    ‘We would literally get no rides but we’d still get the sign-up bonus.

    ‘I think we made $26,000 just on this Uber and Lyft hack, not driving at all.’

    All the extra money went into low-cost index funds.

    Amon Browing on his last day of work. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, have been able to retire early after adopting an incredibly strict financial lifestyle - having saved over $2 MILLION! A mom and dad have retired early after saving over two million dollars in just eight years. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, put aside the seven-figure sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and choosing canny investments. Although the couple, who were both civil servants, do not want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives. The pair even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The parents of Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, to enjoy a life of leisure in Lisbon, Portugal.
    Amon Browing on his last day of work (Picture: Our Rich Journey /SWNS.COM)

    Amon said: ‘You start off with investing all your tax advantage accounts – the ones you have at work, your retirement funds.

    ‘In our 401k, we invested in an index fund that tracked the stock markets, we weren’t dabbling in individual stocks.

    ‘The return on the stock market is historically eight to 10% so we just plowed our extra money into the index funds.’

    The family made some lifestyle changes, too, including trading in a BMW for an $800 minivan

    They also made changes in their lifestyle including trading in their brand new BMW SUV for an $800 minivan. But the parents made sure that throughout their scrimping and saving, the family was still able to have fun.

    Each year Amon and Christina used sign up bonuses on credit cards to pay for a big holiday, heading on vacations to Thailand, Hawaii, and Singapore.

     Amon, Sunoa, Melea and Christina Browning in Singapore. September 2018. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, have been able to retire early after adopting an incredibly strict financial lifestyle - having saved over $2 MILLION! A mom and dad have retired early after saving over two million dollars in just eight years. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, put aside the seven-figure sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and choosing canny investments. Although the couple, who were both civil servants, do not want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives. The pair even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The parents of Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, to enjoy a life of leisure in Lisbon, Portugal.
    The family want to prioritise adventure (Picture: Our Rich Journey /SWNS.COM)

    The couple are sharing their story to show other parents that they can save enough money to retire early.

    Amon said: ‘When people say that children are expensive – you make children expensive if you are trying to give them the world.

    ‘People will go broke for their children but they won’t become rich for them.

    ‘We’ve seen people overspend on toys and activities. But we never found our children to be expensive. We have a minimalist mindset.

    ‘We didn’t give out gifts at Christmas but we went on trips.

    ‘Our girls can remember that they were in Paris on Christmas Day or in Singapore or in Thailand.’

    Melea, Christina, Sunoa and Amon Browning in Portugal. December 2018. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, have been able to retire early after adopting an incredibly strict financial lifestyle - having saved over $2 MILLION! A mom and dad have retired early after saving over two million dollars in just eight years. Christina, 41, and Amon Browning, 39, put aside the seven-figure sum by cutting expenses, flipping homes, picking up side hustles and choosing canny investments. Although the couple, who were both civil servants, do not want to reveal the exact figure they saved, it is large enough to mean they will never work another day in their lives. The pair even became Uber and Lyft drivers to earn extra cash and sold any spare belongings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. The parents of Sunoa, 13, and Melea, 11, have moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA, to enjoy a life of leisure in Lisbon, Portugal.
    They went on one big holiday a year using signup bonuses from credit cards (Picture: Our Rich Journey /SWNS.COM)

    In 2016 their savings got a boost when the couple moved to Japan with work, where they lived rent-free. This allowed them to save 70% of their income and invest it for three years.

    Following that time, the couple hit their goal of financial independence two years earlier than expected. They were able to retire in July this year, then moved to Portugal because of its weather, education, health care, and the low cost of living.

    The family’s outgoings are now around $4,500 a month.

    Amon and Christina now spend their days with their children, taking Portuguese classes, traveling around Europe and focussing on their physical fitness, with Christina swimming and Amon playing basketball.

    They also focus on their Youtube channel, Our Rich Journey, where they share their tips and tricks on achieving FIRE.

    Amon said: ‘We just took 40 hours a week back.

    ‘We are so busy every single day.

    ‘What type of life is it commuting to work every day and sitting at your desk?

    ‘I can organize my own life and my own day now.

    ‘What is most important is that we are not tired at the end of the day when we meet our children.

    ‘We have the energy to keep up with them.’

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

    MORE: Girl designs Christmas cards to raise money for accessible room for disabled brother

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


    Couple with an incredibly strict financial lifestyle have saved over $2 MILLION!Couple with an incredibly strict financial lifestyle have saved over $2 MILLION!

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    There’s a new product to help you get over your dating hang-ups. (Picture: Getty)

    It was a simpler time when we only had ghosting to worry about.

    Since the term gained traction in 2015, we’ve had the pleasure of discovering more dating trends that sound like they’ve been named in a millennial lab. V-lationshipping, kittenfishing and orbiting, we’re looking at you.

    Despite all the unique new ways to treat a lover, ghosting still lurks and it still hurts. Whether you’re the ghost – sometimes there’s really no easy way to tell someone that you find their BO or political ideologies offensive – or you’re on the receiving end.

    As our dictionaries of dating terminology have evolved, we’d like to think our dating survival kits have too.

    Erotic products company Bijoux Indiscrets has released a ‘ghosting remedy’ clitoral balm for £8.60.

    Tin of clitoral balm
    Introducing Bijoux Indiscrets’ ‘ghosting remedy’ clitoral balm. (Picture: Bijoux Indiscrets)

    ‘In the swipe era, well trained fingers are for more than just dating apps. Apply a small amount directly to the clitoris and massage gently. You’ll start to feel its warming effect in a matter of seconds,’ the product listing reads.

    ‘You’ll forget their name faster than you can delete their number.’

    The product is said to make the clitoral area more sensitive ‘in a matter of seconds’ thanks to natural ingredients including sweet almond oil, shea butter, and of course, coconut oil. (Seriously, what doesn’t coconut oil do?)

    To use, simply use your finger to swipe the 6ml tin, and then apply it to your clitoris. Oh, and you can even use it with your sex toys.

    The company notes that it should take 30 minutes or less to achieve the desired effect, but it ‘varies from person to person’.

    Bijoux Indiscrets stocks a range of sensual toys and accessories for women, designed by women. The Spanish company was founded in 2006 in a bid to break down the taboos surrounding female sexuality and bring alternative products to an industry that was male-oriented at the time.

    They’ve also made a name selling ‘better than your ex’ vibrators and a line of sex cosmetics including ‘nip gloss’ and oral sex lip balm.

    You can order your ghosting balm online.

    Dating terms and trends, defined

    Blue-stalling: When two people are dating and acting like a couple, but one person in the partnership states they're unready for any sort of label or commitment (despite acting in a different manner).

    Breadcrumbing: Leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ of interest – random noncommittal messages and notifications that seem to lead on forever, but don’t actually end up taking you anywhere worthwhile Breadcrumbing is all about piquing someone’s interest without the payoff of a date or a relationship.

    Caspering: Being a friendly ghost - meaning yes, you ghost, but you offer an explanation beforehand. Caspering is all about being a nice human being with common decency. A novel idea.

    Catfish: Someone who uses a fake identity to lure dates online.

    Clearing: Clearing season happens in January. It’s when we’re so miserable thanks to Christmas being over, the cold weather, and general seasonal dreariness, that we will hook up with anyone just so we don’t feel completely unattractive. You might bang an ex, or give that creepy guy who you don’t really fancy a chance, or put up with truly awful sex just so you can feel human touch. It’s a tough time. Stay strong.

    Cloutlighting: Cloutlighting is the combo of gaslighting and chasing social media clout. Someone will bait the person they’re dating on camera with the intention of getting them upset or angry, or making them look stupid, then share the video for everyone to laugh at.

    Cockfishing: Also known as catcocking. When someone sending dick pics uses photo editing software or other methods to change the look of their penis, usually making it look bigger than it really is.

    Cuffing season: The chilly autumn and winter months when you are struck by a desire to be coupled up, or cuffed.

    Firedooring: Being firedoored is when the access is entirely on one side, so you're always waiting for them to call or text and your efforts are shot down.

    Fishing: When someone will send out messages to a bunch of people to see who’d be interested in hooking up, wait to see who responds, then take their pick of who they want to get with. It’s called fishing because the fisher loads up on bait, waits for one fish to bite, then ignores all the others.

    Flashpanner: Someone who’s addicted to that warm, fuzzy, and exciting start bit of a relationship, but can’t handle the hard bits that might come after – such as having to make a firm commitment, or meeting their parents, or posting an Instagram photo with them captioned as ‘this one’.

    Freckling: Freckling is when someone pops into your dating life when the weather’s nice… and then vanishes once it’s a little chillier.

    Gatsbying: To post a video, picture or selfie to public social media purely for a love interest to see it.

    Ghosting: Cutting off all communication without explanation.

    Grande-ing: Being grateful, rather than resentful, for your exes, just like Ariana Grande.

    Hatfishing: When someone who looks better when wearing a hat has pics on their dating profile that exclusively show them wearing hats.

    Kittenfishing: Using images that are of you, but are flattering to a point that it might be deceptive. So using really old or heavily edited photos, for example. Kittenfishes can also wildly exaggerate their height, age, interests, or accomplishments.

    Lovebombing: Showering someone with attention, gifts, gestures of affection, and promises for your future relationship, only to distract them from your not-so-great bits. In extreme cases this can form the basis for an abusive relationship.

    Microcheating: Cheating without physically crossing the line. So stuff like emotional cheating, sexting, confiding in someone other than your partner, that sort of thing.

    Mountaineering: Reaching for people who might be out of your league, or reaching for the absolute top of the mountain.

    Obligaswiping: The act of endlessly swiping on dating apps and flirt-chatting away with no legitimate intention of meeting up, so you can tell yourself you're doing *something* to put yourself out there.

    Orbiting: The act of watching someone's Instagram stories or liking their tweets or generally staying in their 'orbit' after a breakup.

    Paperclipping: When someone sporadically pops up to remind you of their existence, to prevent you from ever fully moving on.

    Preating: Pre-cheating - laying the groundwork and putting out feelers for cheating, by sending flirty messages or getting closer to a work crush.

    Prowling: Going hot and cold when it comes to expressing romantic interest.

    R-bombing: Not responding to your messages but reading them all, so you see the 'delivered' and 'read' signs and feel like throwing your phone across the room.

    Scroogeing: Dumping someone right before Christmas so you don't have to buy them a present.

    Shadowing: Posing with a hot friend in all your dating app photos, knowing people will assume you're the attractive one and will be too polite to ask.

    Shaveducking: Feeling deeply confused over whether you're really attracted to a person or if they just have great facial hair.

    Sneating:When you go on dates just for a free meal.

    Stashing: The act of hiding someone you're dating from your friends, family, and social media.

    Submarineing: When someone ghosts, then suddenly returns and acts like nothing happened.

    V-lationshipping:When someone you used to date reappears just around Valentine's Day, usually out of loneliness and desperation.

    You-turning: Falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind and dip.

    Zombieing: Ghosting then returning from the dead. Different from submarineing because at least a zombie will acknowledge their distance.

     

    MORE: A guide to the worst modern dating trends

    MORE: Falling for a polyamorous man changed what I thought love was

    MORE: Why you should ‘date’ rescue dogs before you decide to take them home


    New 'ghosting balm' to help you get over MIA loversNew 'ghosting balm' to help you get over MIA lovers

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    The pink gin calendar
    This calendar looks amazing (Picture: Debenhams)

    Debenhams is selling a Gordon’s pink gin advent calendar, and we officially cannot wait for Christmas.

    The calendar includes 23 strawberry cream chocolates, and one 50ml bottle of Premium Pink Distilled Gin to open up on Christmas Eve.

    Of course, a teeny bottle of gin for every day of December would be great, but strawberry chocolates will do, too.

    The product description reads: ‘Countdown to Christmas with Gordon’s and this indulgent Advent calendar.

    ‘Enjoy a strawberry cream dark chocolate fondant every day until Christmas eve when a mini Gordon’s Premium Pink Distilled Gin bottle is unveiled for a perfect celebration! The perfect adult Advent calendar to celebrate the Christmas countdown.’

    The calendar has been so popular so far that it’s actually already sold out online – so if you want to get your hands on one you’ll have to go into the store.

    Unsurprisingly, the reviews have been five stars so far, with one person calling the calendar great value for money and adding: ‘bought for myself and my sister, she will be as happy as me’.

    We’re sure she will.

    Gordon's pink gin
    It also comes with a bottle of gin (Picture: Debenhams)

    If you’re not into pink gin, the store is also selling a Tanqueray gin advent calendar for £13.

    The calendar includes a 50ml bottle of Tanqueray London Dry gin, and 23 white chocolate gin truffles – which contain alcohol and are made with fresh cream, white chocolate and London Dry Gin.

    Our mouths are watering.

    To buy the calendar, you must be over 18 – so make sure you have some ID with you at the door when it gets delivered.

    MORE: Coffee lovers assemble as Nespresso launches its first-ever advent calendar

    MORE: There’s now an advent calendar that lets you donate to a good cause every day


    PRC_92257169PRC_92257169

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    Lush conveyor belt in stores
    Take your pick (Picture: Lush)

    We’re easily swayed by a gimmick, especially when it comes to Lush.

    And so now that Lush has announced the launch of magical cosmetic conveyor belts, we feel entirely justified in going for a massive bath bomb spree.

    Here’s the deal. Alongside all the usual Christmassy joy Lush brings this time of year, the brand is also launching three Christmas concept stores in Liverpool, Birmingham, and on London’s Oxford Street.

    Inside those concept stores will be big conveyor belts packed with limited edition festive treats, all free of plastic packaging.

    If you’ve ever been to Yo! Sushi, you’ll know the drill. Picture one of those moving arrays with bath bombs instead of salmon rolls and you’ll get it. You’ll also want to climb aboard, because that’s how everyone feels when presented with a conveyor belt, and have one of your own in a dream bathroom, so you can select the perfect bathing product for each session in the tub.

    Lush vending machine with bath bombs
    Like Yo! Sushi, but with bath bombs (Picture: Lush)

    Alongside being a massive gimmick, the conveyor belts are serving a purpose.

    All of the products on the belts don’t have any packaging, so if you pick one up you’ll need to skip the plastic and opt to have the item wrapped in a Lush Knot Wrap – a reusable alternative to traditional wrapping paper that’s made from organic cotton or recycled bottles.

    Plus, it looks cool, and we reckon you could kill a few hours just watching the sparkly products move by.

    The biggest conveyor belt is 14 metres long and has 106 Christmas bath products on revolve, so you’ll have loads to choose from.

    Enjoy getting hooked and buying far more bath bombs than you planned.

    MORE: There’s a clitoral ‘ghosting balm’ to help you get over your MIA lovers

    MORE: The top trending Halloween costumes for 2019


    Lush Conveyor Belt -413fLush Conveyor Belt -413f

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    The colostomy bag dress
    Angela made the dress out of colostomy bags (Picture: Kerry Elsworth/Mercury Press)

    A bowel cancer survivor who felt embarrassed by her colostomy bag has used hundreds of the pouches to make a wedding dress, in a bid to end the taboos surrounding them.

    Angela Elders, 56, from Bolton-le-sands, was told she was just imagining things and ‘too young’ for cancer when she suspected she might have the same disease as her mother five years ago.

    But after two years of stomach pains and unexplained bowel movement changes, the married mum-of-two was diagnosed with stage three cancer in 2014 and was fitted with a colostomy bag for a year – leaving her so embarrassed she struggled to leave the house.

    The gran-of-one is now in remission and has had her stoma reversed, but was left determined to break the stigma around the illness – so set about designing a dress by pulling apart and sewing together the bags in various sizes.

    Angela, a former textiles teacher, even roped in married daughter Natasha, 30, to wear the stunning frock and hopes a bride will wear the dress one day.

    She said: ‘People don’t really talk about bowel cancer, they are very open about other cancers but not this because it’s considered embarrassing.

    The colostomy dress
    Isn’t it amazing? (Picture: Kerry Elsworth/Mercury Press)

    ‘People have asked me “what’s a colostomy bag?” – they have never seen one before or know how it’s used.

    ‘I decided I wanted to make a dress from them, and turn them into something beautiful.

    ‘I got in touch with a company which sent me a load of them, but as I started talking more and more about it, people began donating their old colostomy bags that they don’t use anymore.

    ‘Every time I’ve asked someone “what do you think it’s made of?’ they guess tent material or recycled items, but when I tell them it’s colostomy bags their jaws hit the floor, they can’t believe it.

    ‘I’d love someone to wear it for their wedding, it’s very unusual and I could alter it to meet someones particular wants or needs.

    ‘When Natasha put it on it, she said it felt like it was her wedding all over again.’

    Following six months of chemotherapy, Angela underwent surgery to have her colostomy bag removed for good in October 2015, but the impact it had on her life inspired her to use her degree in fashion design to bring about change.

    After attending the 2018 Lancaster Slow Fashion show, which celebrates recycled garments, the former textiles teacher decided to start collecting more than 100 of the medical pouches to create a ball gown for this year’s show.

    ANgela and her daughter
    Angela’s daughter wore the dress (Picture: Kerry Elsworth/Mercury Press)

    Drawing up and stitching the entire dress by hand, it took Angela two hours a day for a week to work the difficult material into the gown she had envisaged by pinning varying sized bags onto a handmade satin corset and sewing them together.

    At the event on Saturday 19 October, the dress was modelled by her daughter, Natasha, 30, but now the creative cancer survivor has even vowed to rent out the dress to help raise awareness, and hopes that a celebrity colostomy bag wearer may volunteer to give the garment another day out.

    Angela said: ‘Making the dress took me much longer to make than I thought because they are quite a difficult material to work with.

    ‘At one point I had pinned all the bags down and I took them over to the sewing machine and they all just started flying everywhere.

    ‘After the show people were coming up and asking me if it was really made out of colostomy bags and asking if they could touch it, they were amazed by how beautiful it looked.

    ‘I’d love to see a celebrity come forward and admit they have had a colostomy bag and volunteer to wear the dress to help us raise awareness, it looks lovely on.’

    Though Angela has now been in remission for over four years, she says she still understands what other people with bowel cancer are going through, and wants to do anything she can to help.

    The dress
    The dress features over 100 bags (Picture: Kerry Elsworth/Mercury Press)

    As well as renting out the dress, Angela now also offers seamstress advice to other colostomy bag wearers so that they can have their clothes adapted if they need to.

    Angela said: ‘Before I was diagnosed, I kept going back to the doctor because I really didn’t feel good and I asked if it could be bowel cancer because my mother had it, but they just kept saying I was too young.

    ‘Eventually my family insisted that I go back and I pushed them to conduct a proper test, and I’m glad I did because they told me I had stage three bowel cancer and only a few months later they were able to remove the whole tumour.

    ‘I was fitted with a colostomy bag and I was so embarrassed. My mum had one but she had kept it very private.

    ‘I used to live in my jeans and all of a sudden I couldn’t wear them. I had to start altering my clothes just to make them fit again

    ‘I had a few accidents with my colostomy bag so whenever you go out with friends or go shopping you’re worried about it and you’re thinking about where the nearest toilet is.

    ‘You wonder whether you should go out and you totally lose your confidence.

    ‘I was so relieved when they told me that they had successfully reversed my stoma, but I can still understand what people go through.’

    MORE: Debenhams launches Gordon’s pink gin advent calendar with strawberry chocolates

    MORE: There’s a clitoral ‘ghosting balm’ to help you get over your MIA lovers


    Colostomy bag wedding dressColostomy bag wedding dress

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    A dog and a cat sit on top of carved Halloween pumpkins
    Not all pets will be keen on your Halloween inspired snacks (Picture: Getty)

    Carving a pumpkin is a tried and true Halloween tradition in the UK now but once you’ve finished digging out the center of your orange squash, what do you do with all the seeds inside?

    Pumpkin seeds are recognised by the World Health Organization as a good source of the mineral zinc and they also contain Vitamin E, magnesium and other minerals, making them a great healthy snack for humans.

    Are they as good for our pets? Or are they tricks instead of treats?

    Can dogs eat pumpkin seeds?

    According to Animal Wellness Magazine, pumpkins seeds are some of a variety of seeds that can be shared with your dog along with sunflower, sesame and chia seeds amongst others.

    They advise that as well as helping with worms, pumpkins seeds could actually have other benefits for your pooch too: ‘Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid cucurbitin, which paralyzes and helps eliminate worms from the digestive tract.’

    ‘Studies have shown that adding pumpkin seeds to the daily diet helps reduce inflammatory response due to conditions like arthritis, and helps prevent calcium oxalate stone formation.’

    Chocolate Labrador Dog with Pumpkins on House Deck
    The flesh of the pumpkin and the seeds, if cooked, should be fine for your ddog, but double check with your vet if you’re not sure (Picture: Getty)

    Dogs can also have pumpkin flesh as it is full of fiber, but just make sure not to feed your pet the stem, skin or pulp of the pumpkin – as this might give them an upset stomach and make them unwell – and make sure you serve the flesh or seeds cooked but plain for the same reason. No need for spices or seasoning here!

    Although dogs are largely carnivores, the RSPCA say that some omnivorous foods, like pumpkin, are ok: ‘Don’t be scared to bulk out your dog’s meal with cooked pumpkin or raw grated carrot. Many dogs lack enough fibre in their diet, and the addition of cooked pumpkin or grated carrot can improve their bowel health.’

    Can cats eat pumpkin seeds?

    Much like dogs, pumpkin can have an array of health benefits for cats too, but this is more about the flesh of the pumpkin than the seeds.

    Pumpkin can be cut into chunks and steamed before being given to a cat. If your feline is unfussy enough to eat it, then Vetted Pet Care say that it could be: ‘great for your cat’s digestive system, for preventing constipation, and even stopping diarrhea.’

    Side View Of Black Cat Playing With Pumpkin At Window Sill
    Cats aren’t so sure about pumpkin as a snack (Picture: Getty)

    The RSPCA advises: ‘Cats may also be offered a small amount of finely-cut vegetable matter. It is important to remember that cats are ‘obligate carnivores’, which means they require meat in their diet, so their nutritional needs cannot be met by a vegetarian diet.’

    There are very few official guidelines on cats and pumpkins seeds, so to be safe, avoid letting your cat eat the seeds and only give them a very small amount of pumpkin flesh if you’re really keen to get them eating some autumnal veg this Halloween.

    Roasted pumpkin seeds on a window sill, surrounded by organic tomatoes.
    Pumpkin seeds can be given to gerbils as a treat. (Picture: Getty)

    Can other pets eat pumpkin seeds?

    Owners of gerbils can give their pet pumpkin seeds as a healthy treat instead of fattier seeds such as sunflower seeds.

    If you have a Chinchilla as a pet however, the RSPCA advises that you: ‘Avoid nuts and seeds as these are high in fat’ so this includes pumpkin seeds. The same goes for pets like Guinea Pigs, who the RSPCA say also cannot have gains, nuts or seeds.

    Always double check with your vet before introducing new foods or snacks into your pets diet.

    MORE: What to do with pumpkin seeds after your Halloween carving

    MORE: The weird and crazy snacks Victoria Beckham and her kids enjoy – from grilled pumpkin seeds to vinegar at breakfast


    Pomeranian Dog And Cat On Jack O Lanterns For HalloweenPomeranian Dog And Cat On Jack O Lanterns For Halloween

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    Hayley showing off her tummy
    Hayley is now embracing her body (Picture: MDWfeatures / Hayley Garnet)

    After years of ‘drowning in hatred’ over her body, a mum-of-three is finally embracing herseelf, and is posting pictures of her loose skin online to inspire others.

    Hayley Garnett, a 31-year-old office manager and photographer from Columbia, Missouri, always knew she wanted to be a mum but before she fell pregnant with her first child Archer, now five, she struggled with an eating disorder and would spend hours in the gym every day and would restrict her food intake.

    Hayley struggled to get pregnant because her cycle became irregular.

    However, after getting pregnant and giving birth to her son, everything changed. Though she was self-conscious about her scars and her weight, she no longer obsessed over the gym and restricted her food.

    Hayley later gave birth to twins, Ruby and Ramona, two, and Hayley finally felt at peace with her body as she realised that her family and husband Cody, 32, were what made her happy.

    The mum now feels proud of her body and what it has given her, and she’s even started sharing photos of her postpartum body to Instagram with her loose skin on display.

    Hayley hopes to be an inspiration to other mums to show them that they are not defined by their imperfections and can be comfortable in their own skin.

    Hayley showing off her belly
    She struggled to come to terms with her loose skin (Picture: MDWfeatures / Hayley Garnet)

    Hayley said: ‘Before I became a mother, I actually struggled with an eating disorder. I would spend hours in the gym and starve myself for days on end. I truly felt like I was drowning in hatred for my body.

    ‘I only expected to have one or two kids maximum, but my second pregnancy was a huge surprise – twin girls.

    ‘After having my son almost six years ago I just felt so much different about my body after he was born. I was self-conscious of the scars and the weight, but I didn’t revert back to eating disorder mode – it didn’t feel important.

    ‘Once I had my twin girls, I really felt even freer because I had realised what makes me truly happy and content in life, being grateful for the health and happiness of my kids and husband.

    ‘Not only does my body look much different but it feels so different too. I actually struggle with diastasis recti (abdominal separation) and an umbilical hernia which both make life a bit difficult. Pelvic floor physical therapy is also something I try to advocate for because it really helps women to heal after pregnancy and birth.

    Hayley posing
    She now loves the skin she’s in (Picture: MDWfeatures / Hayley Garnet)

    ‘I am so proud of my body. I’m also frustrated by the limitations, but I am so amazed by everything my body has done to carry, birth and nurse my children. I am a petite woman who carried twin girls until 37-and-a-half weeks – I feel like a warrior.

    ‘I got the idea to share my postpartum body back in November of 2017 right after I had my twin girls. I felt like the more I shared my truth, the less shame I would feel – and it worked.’

    Hayley shares her body positive pictures on Instagram and is often inundated with messages of love and support from other mums from all over the world.

    ‘Oh my gosh my biggest hope is to be a positive inspiration for other mums,’ she said. ‘I don’t want anyone else to feel alone. I want the stigmas to end, and for us to feel comfortable being in our skin wearing what we want and not hiding away.

    ‘The reactions I receive on social media are almost all positive. Some women love what I share but don’t feel comfortable doing so themselves, but I’m really trying to build a community for us and encourage the mainstream media to drop their notions on what makes a body worthy of love.

    ‘The most difficult part of this journey is that it isn’t a straight path to a destination. It’s not linear and there will be bumps and hurdles. There are still some days that have me frowning at myself before I remember that my worth and beauty is not defined by my flaws or “imperfections”.

    ‘You are worthy. You are beautiful. You have grown. It’s so important to work on ourselves and how we both speak and think about our bodies – we need to do this for our children – the future.’

    BEAT

    If you suspect you, a family member or friend has an eating disorder, contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or at help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk, for information and advice on the best way to get appropriate treatment

    MORE: Can cats, dogs and other pets eat pumpkin seeds?

    MORE: Woman creates amazing wedding dress out of colostomy bags to raise awareness of bowel cancer


    Mum's loose skinMum's loose skin

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    Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding
    Galadriel is the perfect companion for Gandalf (Picture: ERIN ADAMS/ CATERS NEWS)

    Have you ever seen an image as cute as the one of these two sausage dogs getting married?

    Their names are Gandalf and Galadriel and they are both beautiful and in love.

    They’re owned by Abram and Erin Adams, 40, from Visalia, California, who decided it was time for their two pooches – who are inseperable – to make their love official in the form of a wedding. Any excuse for a celebration, eh?

    It wasn’t just a quick photo opportunity, either, as the ceremony even had guests and food, and the pair were ‘married’ by the family’s cattle dog.

    Initially the couple got Gandalf, two, in 2017 but he was getting frustrated being alone, so a few months later they decided to get him a girlfriend, Galadriel, one.

    Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding
    The pair love snuggles (Picture: ERIN ADAMS/ CATERS NEWS)

    Erin, a photographer, said: ‘We felt we needed to make their relationship official, they are obviously madly in love, Gandalf will only share his food with Galadriel, not the other dogs.

    ‘He growls and protects the food from them for both himself and Galadriel.

    ‘We wanted to wait until Galadriel was full grown and Gandalf didn’t want to marry a child – he had to wait for her to be old enough to wed.’

    Fair play.

    The couple who have seven children, Sabin, 22, Andrew 20, Eli 17, Madelynn 11, Sofia 10, Isaiah 8, and Ella 6, got the pups dressed in their special wedding attire, and made some snacks for the back garden ceremony.

    The dogs had a great time, and appear to be delighted their love has been confirmed.

    Erin added: ‘When we brought Gandalf home he was so clingy and lonely we could, not leave the house without him getting worked up in a fit – so we decided to purchase him a bride. Best decision ever!

    ‘Gandalf thinks he is 10 feet tall, he is a lover, a flirt, gives the smoulder and constantly has to be touching someone for a snuggle.

    ‘He is able to do all the tricks his cattle dog fur siblings are able to do.

    ‘Galadriel, as her name, is regal, royalty, head always up, always together looking her best, she is the queen of the house, and she knows she’s gorgeous.

    ‘They love to snuggle, bark, walk, bathe, they do everything together.’

    True love really knows no species.

    MORE: Mum shares photos of her loose skin to celebrate embracing her post-partum body

    MORE: Can cats, dogs and other pets eat pumpkin seeds?


    Sausage dog weddingSausage dog wedding

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    Darren Jones after losing six stone
    Darren lost six stone and repaired his mental wellbeing Picture: Caters News)

    Darren Jones, 50, used to regularly take part in marathons and tough physical challenges all over the UK.

    But in 2015 he seriously injured his ankle, leaving him unable to exercise.

    Feeling ‘lost’ without a physical outlet, Darren turned to alcohol to ‘numb the physical and mental pain’, and stopped looking after his physical health entirely.

    At his heaviest the dad-of-two weighed 18 stone.

    Two years ago Darren realised it was time for a change. He now weighs a healthy 12st 2lb after ditching his unhealthy habits and has become a personal trainer.

    But equally importantly, Darren has learned to look after his mental wellbeing.

    He’s sharing his story to break down the silence around men’s mental health and inspire others to ask for help when they need it.

    A former obese man with a dad bod looks unrecognisable after ditching alcohol and shedding SIX stone in 12 months. Darren Jones, 50, would regularly take part in tough physical challenges and marathons across the nation but damaged his ankle in 2015 and was left unable to exercise. The dad-of-two admits he felt lost without exercise and turned to alcohol to 'numb the physical and mental pain of not being able to participate. SEE CATERS COPY.
    An injury prevented Darren from exercising (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

    Darren, from Cwmbran, Wales, said: ‘My obsessive and compulsive attitude prevented me from seeking medical attention when I first rolled my ankle in 2015.

    ‘I continued to work out every day, run up to 50 miles of a weekend or cycle 100 miles, but the following year I entered an Ironman triathlon and collapsed as my ankle couldn’t take it anymore.

    ‘I did a good job at breaking it as the three tendons were ruptured, with one also snapping – doctors advised an operation but there was a risk of minimal movement after.

    ‘I decided to nurse my ankle back to heath on my own, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

    ‘I felt completely lost without exercise and that is when the floodgates opened, and I became depressed.

    A former obese man with a dad bod looks unrecognisable after ditching alcohol and shedding SIX stone in 12 months. Darren Jones, 50, would regularly take part in tough physical challenges and marathons across the nation but damaged his ankle in 2015 and was left unable to exercise. The dad-of-two admits he felt lost without exercise and turned to alcohol to 'numb the physical and mental pain of not being able to participate. SEE CATERS COPY.
    He became depressed and tried to control his feelings with food and alcohol (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

    ‘I was suffering on the inside when I saw people exercising – I felt like people thought less of me because I could barely even run to the end of my garden.

    ‘I continued to eat 4,000 calories which I would have burned off before and turned to alcohol for comfort, at first it was a glass of red wine but that led to three bottles per night.

    ‘The weight kept piling on, and it started taking its toll on my family too as I used to be the fun dad who would take my children Sophia, seven and Ieuan, 10, swimming and play with them.

    ‘But I became too embarrassed and couldn’t take my top off as I was ashamed of my body.’

    Two years after his injury, Darren sought counselling from mental health charity Mind, which supported him on his journey to get back on track.

    He went on to book himself a sky dive and gave himself the goal of taking part in the UK Ultimate Physique competition. On 19 October he took to the stage and came sixth.

    ‘I realised I was going through a mental breakdown and decided I can’t let myself get any worse,’ said Darren.

    PIC BY CATERS NEWS (PICTURED Darren Jones after photo) A former obese man with a dad bod looks unrecognisable after ditching alcohol and shedding SIX stone in 12 months. Darren Jones, 50, would regularly take part in tough physical challenges and marathons across the nation but damaged his ankle in 2015 and was left unable to exercise. The dad-of-two admits he felt lost without exercise and turned to alcohol to 'numb the physical and mental pain of not being able to participate. SEE CATERS COPY.
    Through exercise and support from Mind, Darren feels healthier than ever (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

    ‘My wife Sarah, 44, who is an accountant, knew it was a decision I had to make for myself and she supported me every step of the way.

    ‘I first booked the sky dive because I knew you had to be 15 stone and I wanted to feel alive again by stepping out of my comfort zone.

    ‘After the sky dive, I had seven months to get into shape for a physique competition and I did it but I was mindful and listened to my body when it needed to rest.

    ‘I have been through a lot but I have become a better person, I have been on the other side but now that I am back – I want to help people.

    ‘I plan to set up a free boot camp next year for people with mental health problems so they can come and exercise but also talk.’

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding

    MORE: Mum shares photos of her loose skin to celebrate embracing her post-partum body

    MORE: Can cats, dogs and other pets eat pumpkin seeds?


    \'Dadbod\' transformation\'Dadbod\' transformation

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    When we say BDSM, you probably think of chains, whips, and all sorts of sexy stuff.

    But there’s far more to it.

    BDSM has long been recognised as an erotic practice, with more people than ever introducing aspects of bondage, domination, sadism and masochism into their sexual pursuits.

    A combination of changing sexual attitudes and greater representation in mainstream media has sparked a new curiosity surrounding the pleasures of submission.

    While BDSM has typically been categorised as a sexual preference, some professional dominants have decided to apply the key principles of control and abandon to therapeutic practice. According to these specialists, their specific brand of holistic BDSM has helped clients with a range of emotional issues from trauma to anxiety.

    London-based Lorelei set up her own business as the Divine Theratrix in September 2018 after two years working as a therapeutic counsellor. Marketing herself as a ‘loving female authority’, Lorelei uses BDSM components such as restraint and impact play (rhythmic hitting) to enable her clients to open up.

    Lorelei, 33, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The first time I introduced BDSM to a therapy session, the client progressed more in two hours than they usually would in two months of traditional counselling. Having your physical presence is so powerful.’

    Lorelei began to explore BDSM therapy after becoming frustrated by the rigid detachment she has to retain during traditional counselling sessions.

    ‘I was struggling with the barrier,’ she explains. ‘I thought “Christ if I could actually have contact with clients, I know it would make a difference to them”.’

    lorelei the bdsm therapist
    Lorelei, 33, is a BDSM therapist who became frustrated with the detachment required in more traditional treatments (Picture: Amorata Photography)

    The former lawyer became involved with BDSM while exploring her own sexuality at sex parties and was particularly drawn to the role of a dominant. Lorelei looks entirely unimposing, with a youthful, elfin face and a petite frame clothed in black trousers and a lacy black top. Despite her delicate appearance and obvious warmth, Lorelei has a certain air of command; a no-nonsense kind of confidence that one can imagine her using to great effect in her work.

    Having gained her diploma in therapeutic counselling, Lorelei was struck by the similarities between BDSM and conventional therapy. A BDSM session with her is broken down into three main parts, which are holding (establishing the power dynamic and trust), opening and then putting back together again, which could easily describe a formalised counselling session.

    But unlike standard psychoanalysis where everything is achieved through talking, Lorelei will apply physical and occasionally painful actions such as nipple tweaking or flogging to facilitate the different stages. This is always a detailed conversation about the client’s limits and session goals.

    She also holds her £200 per hour sessions in a rented dungeon while garbed in classic fetish wear, which Lorelei explains reinforces the power balance and takes clients outside of their daily reality.

    Lorelei tells us: ‘I deal with a lot of clients who have a lot of early trauma, which is incredibly difficult to shift because it’s in your primal brain, which predates any cognitive thought processes.

    ‘I know from personal experience that these feelings can be very overwhelming and they need to come out. In this setup, clients know that because I am completely in control, they can totally let go and I will be there to make sure they feel safe and feel held.

    ‘Just because I’m a dominant doesn’t mean I can’t be nurturing.’

    Because of its reliance upon specific power roles, anticipation and the relinquishing of control, BDSM is an inherently psychological practice. But how does a BDSM healer make emotional catharsis and not sexual gratification the primary goal of a session?

    New York based Aleta Cai tells us: ‘Making sure that client understand what they want to achieve through a session is key. I make it very clear that healing and self-actualisation are the primary objectives of my sessions.’

    cory rice the BDSM therapist
    Aleta Cai combines reiki with restraint (Picture: Cory Rice)

    Aleta practices what she describes as Sacred BDSM which combines new age modalities such as reiki and clairvoyance with traditional BDSM devices, including sensory deprivation and restraint. A self-described empath, Aleta explained that the BDSM template allows clients to access a deeper level of surrender.

    ‘I feel that in the West, there is a focus on psychoanalysis and probing the rational mind, which can lead to people getting stuck in their own narratives,’ Aleta says. ‘Things may be alerted to the rational mind that the body needs to process, and BDSM can facilitate that processing.’

    Born in China, Aleta moved to Los Angeles during infancy and has retained her tinkling LA inflection. However, the 29-year-old speaks in a slow, measured manner which demands full attention. After completing her degree in Psychology at NYU, Aleta worked as a professional dominatrix at a well-known BDSM dungeon for two years.

    Her transition towards Sacred BDSM began three years ago. The turning point came during a standard mummification session (this process involves being wrapped up like its Egyptian cadaver’s namesake) where Aleta introduced crystals and healing energy devices to the process.

    Aleta said: ‘I was amazed, in just 20 minutes I felt the client’s different energies being unblocked and the immense sense of release he experienced. That’s what began my journey towards introducing certain elements into my own healing work.’

    The reiki master also runs what she calls a ‘vanilla’ healing practice alongside her multiple artistic projects. Spirituality informs both practitioners’ work, with Lorelei being inspired largely by branches of matriarchal mysticism and paganism while Aleta is particularly influenced by Eastern medicine and esoteric theologies.

    Aleta says: ‘My intention is to maximise their healing through BDSM so for instance if I felt someone’s root chakra is very heavy, I would cane them repetitively until I saw a somatic relief in that chakra. If I mummify someone, I will take them into hypnosis which will allow them a deeper layer of catharsis that is not just the physicality of being wrapped up.’

    The concept of accessing a kind of heightened consciousness through BDSM makes sense scientifically as pain triggers adrenaline and endorphins which can lead to feelings of euphoria. For this to be experienced in a therapeutic and emotionally releasing manner is mostly dependent upon how the activity is framed.

    Seani Love said: ‘A lot of BDSM does involve some level of therapy anyway, because sexuality is humanity’s inherent driving force. But when you outline the BDSM experience as an emotionally healing practice, it involves all aspects of the person making the release not only psychological, but also emotional, physical and spiritual.’

    The Australian native applies a variety of disciplines to his BDSM work, including Pagan ritual and Qigong, in what he describes as a ‘hodgepodge of healing practices’.

    The former software engineer began working part-time as a Shamanic BDSM practitioner eight years ago, finally going full time in 2013. Seani now prefers the title of sex worker and has won awards for his travail, which earn him £390 for a three hour booking. However, the 49-year-old still runs sessions and workshops specializing in Conscious Kink and BDSM therapy. It was Seani who personally mentored Lorelei while she was deciding what path she would take.

    At the start of our meeting Seani seems slightly nervous; softly spoken and prone to fidgeting. As the interview gets further underway he seems to relax a little, obviously passionate about the remedial aspects of his work. When asked about his greatest achievement during his BDSM therapy career, Seani describes an intense experience with a 65-year-old client who had been rejected by his mother after being dropped on his head.

    ‘I called in a female assistant so he could experience some maternal love in his body during the session,’ Seani tells us. ‘We retraced some particular steps, used some impact play to get him out of his head and got him back to that pre-verbal stage, then invited the assistant to hold and nurture him. It was so powerful; he finally found peace with his mother from the ritual we created.’

    Seani also has a background in gestalt therapy and a level 3 diploma in counselling, but has found his particular therapeutic niche within the erotic and BDSM sphere. While he has helped many people through applied BDSM, he is quick to state that it isn’t the right path for everyone.

    ‘I think it’s important for me to say that I wouldn’t prescribe shamanic BDSM as a healing path for all people,’ he notes. ‘I would never directly recommend it, but if people are drawn to it, it’s available.’

    At first glance, BDSM therapy seems contradictory. Alleviating emotional distress with physical pain seems illogical, even detrimental. But when done skilfully, this practice enables the expression of raw emotion, without rationalisation or any holding back from the client.

    People have turned to primal scream sessions, isolation tanks and rebirthing therapy in pursuit of emotional balance and found such practices effective. With mental health conditions making up 28% of the NHS’s total burden, perhaps for some select people, an overtly physical approach could provide the release that is so desperately needed.

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: Can you ever get rid of depression?

    MORE: Do not dehumanise me. I am a disabled person and I’m not here to be your fetish


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    The £1 calendar
    The calendar costs just £1 (Picture: Poundland)

    Poundland has started selling scented candle advent calendars for just £1.

    The calendars are created by Air Wick, and feature three scents: Mulled Wine, Winter Berries and Winter Wonderland.

    The scented candle calendars are also being sold in other stores, such as B&M, for £4.99 – however Poundland seems to be the place to get them the cheapest.

    The calendar was spotted by a shopper on the Facebook group Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK, which has over one million members.

    Many other people have been commenting to say they’ve also bought the calendars – and they’ve been raving about them online.

    One person said: ‘They’re good for £1. I had this calendar last year, they only have three different scents in them though.’

    Another said: ‘They smell amazing. Wish there were more smells but for a pound you can’t grumble’.

    Someone else wrote: ‘These are great! Only three different scents in them but quite a strong smell for a tea light candle!’

    Other people have been tagging their friends, calling the calendar a ‘dream’ and saying it’s absolutely perfect for them.

    Poundland isn’t only getting ready for Christmas, though. They’re also preparing for Halloween.

    The store has recently launched a Harry Potter inspired invisibility cloak – and they’re selling it for free.

    Because, well, the cloak is invisible.

    And yes, you are essentially just getting a free hanger – but hey, we could always use extra hangers for our wardrobes, right?

    Poundland trading director Tim Bettley said: ‘We intended to trial this item last year but couldn’t find it in the distribution centre.

    ‘But now we’ve found it, we think our customers will see the value, if not the cloak.’

    MORE: Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding

    MORE: Mum shares photos of her loose skin to celebrate embracing her post-partum body


    Poundland is selling a scented candles advent calendar for ?1 and one of them smells like festive mulled winePoundland is selling a scented candles advent calendar for ?1 and one of them smells like festive mulled wine

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    London vegan junk foods
    11 delicious vegan comfort foods to try in London this winter. (Picture: Cafe Mexicana / Temple of Seitan / The Full Nelson / The Vurger Co / Yorica)

    ‘Ah, you’re a vegan. What’s it like eating rabbit food?’

    You’ve probably heard this kind of line if you’re a vegan or occasionally dwell on the plant-based side of life. It’s something that an out-of-touch uncle will bring up at a family gathering, and he’ll probably repeat it because it’s such a classic gag.

    You’ll get less of this kind of scintillating chat in London, a city where you can indulge in the full gamut of vegan dining.

    In fact, Londoners are three times more likely to order vegan comfort food than anyone else in the UK. According to Deliveroo, there’s been a 68% increase in vegan food delivery orders in London over the past six months.

    While you’re probably more inclined to order-in during these dire, chilly months, actually leaving the house might boost your mood more than festering on your couch will. So, here’s where to head for a greasy, creamy, fried, melted, oozing hug of a meal. Because Uncle Bernie, vegans love junk food too.

    For vegan mozzarella sticks…

    Unity Diner, Spitalfields

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B3xJc3TpAuc/

    Unity Diner is a one-stop-shop for vegan comfort food. Founded by vegan activist Ed Winters (Earthling Ed), they serve up indulgent mozzarella sticks created from coconut-based cheese with a herby panko coating. If you’re feasting, the hash brown fries and tofish bites are also a tasty treat.

    The non-profit diner and bar, which has just reopened at a new site in Spitalfields, directs their profits to Surge, a grassroots animal rights organisation. You’ll also be delighted to know that their diner is doggo-friendly.

    For vegan burritos…

    Club Mexicana, Shoreditch

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B28vuW_hoBn/

    As any comfort food enthusiast knows, burritos are angelic parcels of delectability. It’s a humble dish that packs sauciness, crunch, and heavy carbs into a perfectly-folded parcel, which is particularly comforting when you’re a brutally hungover wreck.

    So, kick off your seedy Sunday with Club Mexicana’s big brunch burrito, a bulky package of vegan chorizo’, tempeh bacon, triple fried potatoes, black beans, guacamole, salsa, slaw and hot sauce.

    For vegan fish and chips…

    Canvas Café, Brick Lane

    https://www.instagram.com/p/By5E2IuHXRm/

    Time for the British classic with a plant-based update. Brick Lane favourite Canvas Café serves up cosiness on a plate with their tofish and chips, a meal featuring deep-fried battered tofu and nori with hand cut chips, minted mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce.

    For vegan mac ‘n cheese…

    Temple of Seitan, Hackney

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BpB2WdBBplj/

    The famed temple might be best known for its moreish array of vegan fried chicken, but you can’t go past their magical mac ‘n cheese. The little bowl of cashew sour cream and parmesan with vegan bacon bits and fresh parsley is a big W when it comes to taste, and a triple-threat when it comes to textures.

    For vegan pies…

    Young Vegans, Camden

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B1qWFE_nM1a/

    For a hand-sized bit of cosiness, Camden Market’s Young Vegans has the dish for you. Try the parmigiana pie that packs a tangy, creamy bite or the chicken katsu curry pie if you’re in the mood for a winter warmer. The pie shop also reveals their weekly specials via their cravings-summoning Instagram account.

    For vegan pizza…

    Yard Sale, Hackney

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B2J6zERheTO/

    Pizza chain Yard Sale all started with a backyard pizza oven and a few weekly supper clubs with friends. Last month, they launched their fifth London site, where locals can come to enjoy their sumptuous ‘Texas VBQ’ pizza featuring plant-based chicken nuggos, homemade BBQ sauce, guindilla chillies and vegan mayo.

    With the opening of their new Hackney branch, they also introduced new line-up of calzones, including a vegan calzone with black beans, vegan mozzarella, pink onions and smashed avo.

    For vegan burgers…

    The Vurger Co, Shoreditch

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw6uRPenUs7/

    Vegan burgers are no longer limited to supermarket patties. You know, the last-minute purchase before the Sunday BBQ. The Vurger Co aims to ‘feed the soul’ with their wicked range of vegan burgers. A highlight is the New York Melt, which includes the Beyond Meat patty heaped with double vegan cheese, gherkins and homemade burger sauce.

    For vegan waffles…

    The Full Nelson, Deptford

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B0dHR4gJU_G/

    When it comes to comfort eating, a doughy waffle is right up there. The Full Nelson’s brunch menu includes their chick’n waffles, a wild little dish of southern-fried vegan chicken, sweet waffle and maple syrup. It’s salty, it’s sweet and we think you’ll agree it’s time to eat.

    For vegan fried chicken…

    Biff’s Jack Shack, Shoreditch

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bow25FqHlYu/

    The Boxpark eatery make a (cruelty-free) killing with their junky range of jackfruit-based dishes. They pride themselves in their ‘totally filthy’ dishes including their signature jackfruit ‘chicken’ wings double dipped in a panko crumb and fried. Did we mention they’ve also got a melt-in-your-mouth vegan poutine?

    For vegan baked goods…

    Cookies and Scream, Highbury East

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bqe30Lhhgng/

    Even looking at a visual of oozing chocolate can be as comforting as devouring it. But why stop there? London bakery Cookies and Scream kicked off operations in 2010, going on to make a name for themselves with their decadent selection of vegan cookies, brownies, and donuts.

    While their original Camden Market store closed down due to a fire, they’re still serving up baked delights at their Holloway Road shop.

    For vegan ice cream…

    Yorica, Soho

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BWpT0XXl0VY/

    Last but not least, it’s one of the most uplifting, satisfying dishes out: ice cream. Vegan Society registered-store Yorica serves vegan ice cream in flavours such as double chocolate cookie, gooey vanilla and banoffee. The brand also sells soft serve, crepes, waffles and shakes which are free from all 14 major allergens, so there’s something for everyone.

    MORE: Woman makes cakes that look like fast food meals and people are mesmerised

    MORE: 10 of the best vegan-friendly London places that you can visit with your non-vegan friends

    MORE: Posh restaurants in London are increasingly becoming vegan friendly. Here’s where to go


    London's 11 yummiest vegan comfort foodsLondon's 11 yummiest vegan comfort foods

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    A pupil with a guinea pig
    Pupils are loving the guinea pigs (Picture: Warlingham School /SWNS.COM)

    A school has brought in two members of ‘staff’ to help anxious and stressed pupils.

    And no, they’re not new teachers – they’re a pair of guinea pigs.

    Guinea pigs Rita and Delilah were introduced at the start of term at Warlingham School to provide a ‘distraction from worries’ for students whose anxiety is holding them back.

    The 12-week-old fluffy pair have been a hit with pupils of all ages, and staff, at Warlingham School & Sixth Form Centre, in Warlingham, Surrey.

    Pupils aged 11 to 18 with severe anxiety can stroke the ‘friendly’ pets in dedicated learning support sessions to help improve their focus.

    The idea to trial the guinea pig therapy came after teaching assistant Helen Kurt brought her dog into school one day.

    The guinea pigs
    The guinea pigs are being used as therapy animals (Picture: Warlingham School /SWNS.COM)

    Helen, 60, said: ‘The response from some of the children was quite positive. They got quite excited, so we thought, “why don’t we trial the guinea pigs?”‘

    The teaching assistant teamed up with learning support worker Lucy Wakefield, 41, to research guinea pigs and the benefits of pet therapy.

    They presented the idea to school leaders, who were initially hesitant about having pets in a school.

    Head Paul Kinder said: ‘As a head, when you hear pets are coming into the school you immediately think twice.

    ‘But Lucy and Helen had done quite a lot of research into pet therapy and the statistical evidence soon convinced me.

    ‘I found out that pet therapy is one of the best ways of reducing stress.’

    Paul, 44, added: ‘There is a well-publicised increase in anxiety among students nationwide.

    Lucy with a guinea pig
    We think it’s a great idea (Picture: Warlingham School /SWNS.COM)

    ‘Pet therapy is just one intervention alongside many others that we are now using in response to the issue.’

    After a day getting settled into the school, the pair were introduced to pupils who queued to meet the furry pair.

    Paul added: ‘The guinea pigs were so popular initially we had to control the viewings so the students did not overwhelm them.

    ‘Things have calmed down now, but stroking the guinea pigs continues to be a really effective way of helping our most anxious pupils.’

    Lucy, who takes the pets home on the weekends, said: ‘The therapy sessions are really benefiting the pupils.

    ‘They are much happier, calmer and more able to focus.’

    After researching the animals, Lucy found out that guinea pigs are best kept in pairs because they like the company.

    She added: ‘They get on really well and are some of the most friendly guinea pigs you will find.

    ‘Rita is very relaxed. She has a funny way of looking at you. It’s like she is listening.

    ‘Delilah is a bit more inquisitive.

    ‘They both love the attention.’

    Staff at Warlingham School are now collaborating with other schools in the area to spread the benefits of the calming practice.

    Paul said: ‘We have an area heads meeting coming up, with mental health leads also attending.

    ‘We will present our experiences there to help promote the guinea pig therapy.’

    Reflecting on expanding the school’s furry team, Paul added: ‘We are definitely going to make the trial a permanent aspect of our mental health approach at the school.

    ‘In terms of numbers, I think what we have is working really well for now.

    ‘Come back to me in five years and, we might have 15 goats and a giraffe roaming around. Who knows?’

    MORE: Poundland is selling a scented candle advent calendar for just £1

    MORE: Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding


    PRC_92249070PRC_92249070

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    Dog in front of Sunday service at Brazilian church
    This sleeping doggy needs a forever home (Picture: Padre Joao Paulo Araujo Gomes)

    It’s heartbreaking to see homeless dogs wander the streets, unloved and underfed.

    In the city of Gravatá in Brazil, there are many stray dogs in need of a forever home. So, a priest has decided to invite the strays into his church and has made them a part of his service.

    Father João Paulo Araujo Gomes who is the head of the parish of Santana brings them to mass in hopes to convince families to adopt them.

    Forgotten doggos often wander into the church, hoping to meet their new owner.

    And Father João does his best to make it happen.

    The kind priest houses them at his rectory, ready to take them to Sunday service and show them off.

    The dogs take centre stage at the service so potential new owners can watch them and fall in love.

    Pooches, who sometimes fall asleep at the altar, are also down for some petting and belly rubs. If only all Sunday services included the lovable canines.

    Dog standing in front of priest
    Doggos are just attracted to Father João (Picture: Padre Joao Paulo Araujo Gomes)

    Father João explained it started when someone had offered him cookies one day.

    When he left them out in mass, they were quickly taken up by attendees. And that gave him an idea when he came across a dog kennel with 96 dogs.

    He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Then I began to bring the dogs to mass, with the same hopes of giving them away.

    Dog at church during service
    He can’t help but pet them during service (Picture: Padre Joao Paulo Araujo Gomes)

    ‘In six months, I finished this process. All dogs were adopted.

    ‘Now I work with street dogs. They sometimes come into the church looking for food and water.

    ‘During service, we speak about dogs of the street, about how to respect and protect them. The church also helps with a castration project (to limit the number of stray dogs).

    ‘We also help dogs in emergencies such as victims of violence or health problems.’

    Dog sleeping in church
    They sometimes fall asleep during mass (Picture: Padre Joao Paulo Araujo Gomes)
    Priest with dogs
    The priest even adopted three of the dogs himself (Picture: Padre Joao Paulo Araujo Gomes)

    Thanks to the selfless priest, the number of strays has decreased substantially.

    And hanging out with doggos so much, Father João couldn’t help but adopt some himself. He now has three canine friends who even share a bed with him.

    MORE: Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding

    MORE: Why you should ‘date’ rescue dogs before you decide to take them home

    MORE: Can cats, dogs and other pets eat pumpkin seeds?


    Priest brings dogs to mass so families can adopt themPriest brings dogs to mass so families can adopt them

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    Amy Norris, 23, from Southampton has postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis) (CFS/ME).

    As part of our, You Don’t Look Sick series about invisible illnesses, Amy chatted to Metro.co.uk about living with both conditions and how most people still don’t understand chronic conditions.

    PoTS is caused by an abnormal response to the autonomic nervous system, which means blood is not pulled downwards when you sit or stand up and there is a drop in blood supply to the heart and the brain. The heart rate speeds up to compensate. It causes symptoms including dizziness, feeling sick and frequent fainting spells.

    CFS is a condition that causes extreme and overwhelming fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest or sleep.

    Amy was diagnosed with CFS first when she was 13 years old as she was suffering from extreme exhaustion. 

    She was diagnosed with PoTS after she started to get new symptoms in 2013, while she was studying at college.

    Amy explains: ‘I noticed I started to feel a lot iller. My symptoms were different from CFS – I kept fainting and couldn’t walk, I kept getting breathless and I couldn’t cope with any heat. 

    ‘I was feeling sick all the time and had extremely severe dizziness. I was totally exhausted all the time. My vision kept going fuzzy or after standing or walking, it would my go black and I couldn’t see.’

    Amy Norris who has PoTS and CFS
    Amy at home (Picture: Chris Balcombe for Metro.co.uk)

    When Amy started having fainting episodes, her mum bought her a wheelchair as they realised that she would collapse when she was walking. 

    Amy says: ‘That was my biggest challenge as I was worried about what people would think of me being in a wheelchair. 

    ‘I also don’t like the motion of them – it can make you feel like your on a merry-go-round, but I’m learning to love that wheelchair and those crutches.’

    Amy was eventually diagnosed with PoTS when her grandma read an article about the condition and they realised how many of her symptoms matched.

    She was referred to a doctor specialising in the condition who carried out blood tests, tests on her heart and a tilt table test, where Amy was laid down, strapped to a table and moved up and down, while doctors monitored her heart rate and blood pressure.

    The test showed that her heart rate was very high and her blood pressure kept dropping, which was what was causing her to faint, and she was told she did have the condition. 

    Amy lying down with her cat
    Amy lying down with her cat (Picture: Amy Norris)

    She says: ‘I finally knew why I was feeling so horrible all the time, but hearing there was no cure for PoTS was something I couldn’t bear to hear. 

    ‘There have been so many days where I have cried for hours about how ill I feel. My biggest worry is being ill for the rest of my life, but somehow I just take one day at a time and try not to worry about the future.’

    Amy has been living with PoTS for six years and her parents are her full-time carers as most days she struggles to get out of bed.

    She says: ‘My life is certainly different from any other 23-year-old. It can be frustrating, infuriating, and incredibly emotional. It’s one heck of a rollercoaster. 

    ‘Having PoTS makes me totally disabled. I totally rely on crutches around the house and a wheelchair when I have to go out. Sadly I can’t get out much because of how rough I feel. I’m at home 90% of the time and if I have to go out it will mainly just be for appointments.

    After a fainting attack in the bathroom
    After a fainting attack in the bathroom (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘It takes me all morning just to get out of bed. I have to force myself to get up every day. I use a shower stool when I wash as I am no longer able to stand in the shower because of the number of times I’ve fainted. I’ve honestly lost count the number of times I’ve fainted.’

    Every day, Amy’s heart is constantly racing and when she sits or stands up, it gets faster. Often her heart rate will be 176bpm when the average heart rate is between 60 and 100.

    ‘I have constantly got horrific dizziness and vertigo,’ she says. ‘All I can feel in my head is this spinning feeling. I constantly feel sick in my stomach and I feel faint all the time.

    ‘Then there’s the lightheadedness and wooziness, which affects my eyesight making my eyes blurry.

    ‘Lying down is my most comfortable position. I can’t stand any longer then five seconds, if I did it would make me even fainter, or I would pass out. 

    Amy uses crutches around the house
    Amy uses crutches around the house (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘I have extreme exhaustion. I have to force myself to stay awake, so any little thing I do will completely wear me out even more.

    ‘I’m in constant pain. I get hundreds of migraines, stomach pain, muscular pain, back pain, leg pain, chest pain, nerve pain, joint pain, and the list goes on.

    ‘I’m constantly breathless and it feels like I can’t breathe. I always have purple feet and purple hands. This is to do with bad circulation and blood pooling.

    ‘I constantly feel boiling hot, like I have a really bad temperature. I can’t handle any heat so I won’t go anywhere near a hot bath. I hate hot radiators, and can’t handle boiling hot weather.

    ‘I also have constant gut problems and I have sensitive ears. I can’t stand any loud noises, or someone shouting, thunderstorms, basically anything loud. My eyes are sensitive too. I don’t like bright lights or flashing lights and I’m constantly disorientated. I feel like I’m in a dream land and feel like everything around me doesn’t feel real. It’s a very strange feeling. 

    Amy checking her heart rate and blood pressure
    Amy checking her heart rate and blood pressure (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘I would list all my symptoms but there are just too many. My everyday life is a constant battle but I will keep fighting till someone finds a cure.’

    Amy was prescribed medication but suffered so badly from side effects, she stopped taking it and now her condition can only be managed by lying down as much as possible to prevent her heart rate getting higher.

    Dealing with the condition has been very difficult but her parents, family and friends are a huge source of support for Amy.

    She says: ‘My parents have taken care of me day and night. They have helped me with my meals, washing, getting dressed, helping me off the floor when I’ve passed out they help me with literally everything. 

    ‘I feel I can’t ever repay my parents for everything they have done for me.

    Amy in her PoTS UK t-shirt
    Amy in her PoTS UK t-shirt (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘Coping with PoTS and CFS is something I can’t even put into words. I’ve accepted it more now that I have a long term illness but I will never stop believing and praying for a cure.’ 

    Amy has found comfort in reading about other people with the same illness, particularly through Instagram.

    She adds: ‘It made me feel less alone. For so long I thought I was the only person in the world who must feel this way but when I started reading other stories on people going through the same illness as me, I thought wow, people are going through the same thing.’

    Although her illness means she spends most of her time at home, Amy still has interests and passions that help her get through each day.

    She says: ‘I’ve been studying piano since I was 17 years old and I love photography, plant based diets, and story writing.

    Amy constantly monitors her heart rate. It sits aroun 176bpm
    Amy constantly monitors her heart rate. It sits around 176bpm (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘When I became ill I started telling stories to myself and then I thought why not try and put those stories onto paper. It’s my dream one day to have my stories published. 

    ‘I make it my goal each week just once a week to do a little something even if it’s just for five minutes. I try no matter how rough it makes me feel. 

    ‘When you’re poorly, it’s so hard to do anything, but you’re still making that big effort to try, and just from trying, that is an achievement.’

    Amy also has a strong faith and takes comfort from her belief in God.

    ‘I believe that God can take even the really bad things that happen to you and bring something amazing out of them,’ she says.

    Amy Norris in her wheelchair
    Amy gets tired quickly, even in her wheelchair (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘I keep praying and believing that God will bring something wonderful out from all of this. Being ill has brought me so much closer to God and I will be forever grateful for having a real true friendship with him.’

    Although the condition has a huge impact on her every day, Amy says most people don’t understand what it’s like to live like this.

    She explains: ‘The most frustrating thing I’ve found is how you look well and healthy, but that is not how you feel at all. 

    ‘It can be so hard to get people to understand how I’m feeling. People say things that make you think they just don’t understand my illness.

    ‘I’ve had so many people say so many annoying things to me, like “Oh you look well,” “you don’t look sick,” or “you’re looking better.” 

    Amy with her parents who are her full-time carers
    Amy with her parents who are her full-time carers (Picture: Amy Norris)

    ‘I can’t stand it when people say these things. I have to bite my tongue because I never feel like that – I always feel horrible.

    ‘I feel what people need to understand it’s not how you look and it’s not how you sound, it’s how you feel.’

    Amy posts about her conditions on Instagram and wants to raise awareness to help more people understand the reality of living with chronic illness. 

    ‘I’m very passionate about spreading the awareness of PoTS and finding a cure.

    PoTS UK has set up an awareness month this year for October. I’m so happy that they’re trying to get the awareness out there.

    ‘I’ve been taking part in the PoTS UK challenge this month, which is taking a photo every day on your social media throughout October and saying on each post how the condition affects your daily life.

    ‘I think from doing this it will help people to truly understand what it’s like to live with this every single day.’

    How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

    You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.

    If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email youdontlooksick@metro.co.uk.

    You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Crohn’s is more than just lots of trips to the toilet’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I don’t have diabetes because of my diet. It’s an autoimmune disease’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘My doctor told me to get over my chronic illness’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Stop telling me yoga, turmeric or CBD oil are going to magically cure my chronic illness’

    MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘Don’t ask me if I am better yet. Ménière’s is a long term illness, not a cold’


    AMY NORRIS \'You Don\'t Look Sick\'AMY NORRIS \'You Don\'t Look Sick\'

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    The Primark pjs for the whole family
    Coordination on point (Picture: Primark/Getty)

    With less than two months to go before the big day, it’s time to start planning all things Christmas.

    High street favourite Primark is ready for the festive season with a new range of festive PJs – offering something for the whole family.

    The retailer has gone all out this year, with snug grey and white pyjama sets, featuring a cute polar bear design.

    All of the pieces in the collection have fitted elasticated bottoms and long-sleeved grey t-shirts. But each garment has its own title – depending on your role in the household.

    Shoppers can choose from ‘Mama Bear’, ‘Papa Bear’ or ‘Little Bear’.

    The Little Bear Pj set
    There’s one for kids (Picture: Primark)
    The Papa Bear PJ set
    A set for Dads (Picture: Primark)

    But that’s not all. Primark is also selling a piece for the four-legged friend in the family.

    The range also features a coordinated dog coat, with the same grey and white design to the human clothes.

    The adorable coat includes fuzzy ears for extra cuteness – perfect for some cosy Christmassy snaps.

    the dog pyjama coat
    One for doggos too (Picture: Primark)

    With it being Primark, prices are more than reasonable. The adult sets cost just £11, whereas the child and dog sets cost £8 and £7, respectively.

    One excited shopper was quick to post the news in the Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK Facebook group.

    She said: ‘Matching Christmas pyjamas in Primark. They had other designs as well – including dog coats.’

    Her post has since received more than 2,000 comments and likes with people enthusiastic to post their thoughts.

    Coordinating with your pooch seems to be a big trend this winter. Earlier this month, H&M launched a matching dog and owner jumper collection, in collaboration with designer brand Pringle of Scotland.

    MORE: Two sausage dogs make their relationship official with lavish wedding

    MORE: Can cats, dogs and other pets eat pumpkin seeds?

    MORE: Why you should ‘date’ rescue dogs before you decide to take them home


    Primark is selling festive PJs with one for your dogPrimark is selling festive PJs with one for your dog

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    Google Doodle Sylvia Plath snippet
    Today’s Google Doodle (Picture: Metro)

    Whether a fun game to ease into the day or learning about an interesting figure, like Junko Tabei, the Google Doodle is always a little treat.

    Today’s Doodle is marking the 87th birthday of tragic poet Sylvia Plath – but just who was she and when did she die?

    Here’s what you need to know…

    Who was Sylvia Plath?

    Sylvia Plath was an American poet and writer, famous for her intense and introspective writing.

    Her works were a reflection of the tumultuous life she lived, living with bouts of manic depression.

    author Sylvia Plath seated in front of a bookshelf.
    The award-winning writer would’ve turned 87 today (Picture: Bettmann)

    She committed suicide at the age of 30 in 1962.

    Her life was tragically short but her legacy has endured.

    Her poetry, including The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel and The Collected Poems, is still being taught around the world and winning her legions of fans.

    Ariel and The Collected Poems earned her a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1981.

    Younger generations might have heard of her first through her impact on modern pop culture icons, like Lana Del Rey who has cited her as an influence on her own work and who references in her a few of her song lyrics.

    Lana del Rey
    Singer Lana del Rey cites Sylvia Plath as an influence (Picture: Q Magazine)

    Her semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, was being turned into a movie by Kirsten Dunst but will now be a TV series starring Dakota Fanning.

    What is today’s Google Doodle of Sylvia Plath?

    Celebrating what would’ve been her 87th birthday today, 27 October, Google’s Doodle features a young woman writing out in a winter landscape.

    The woman could be Sylvia Plath or any of the women who she inspired to create their own art thanks to her vulnerability and unflinching openness.

    The Doodle is set on a bleak, wintry backdrop marking the fact that a lot of Plath’s work was tied to the season.

    MORE: Who is Wanda Rutkiewicz as featured in today’s Google Doodle?

    MORE: My Odd Job: Google Doodles may only last a day but they take months to create


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    Shoppers unimpressed with PLT bikini
    The set has attracted mixed views (Picture: @prettylittlething)

    We’ve all had nightmares of swimwear slipping down or sliding off but one brand has caused a storm before its bikini has even made it to the beach.

    The product in question comes from online retailer Pretty Little Thing.

    The £22 pink velvet bikini has prompted a mixed reaction from shoppers. With many people commenting on the size of the bikini, in particular.

    It’s made up of a tiny bikini top, priced at £12 and ‘toggle bikini bottoms’ for £10 – each made up of minimal material and velvet string.

    Pretty Little Thing posted a photo of the product on its Instagram, earlier this week, but some shoppers were quick to point out the apparent design flaws of the bikini.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B33snuzA9Sl/

    One user joked: ‘One move and you’re screwed.’

    While another said: ‘If she jumps it’s game over!’

    Others mentioned out how small it looked on the model.

    One said: ‘Why are too-small bikini tops a new trend?’

    @prettylittlething
    The velvet set (Picture: @prettylittlething)

    Another pointed out that the product resembled something that was more likely to be seen in the bedroom, rather than on the beach.

    They said: ‘Honestly this swimsuit is a disgrace… bikinis these days are already like wearing your lingerie.’

    Despite its size, the velvet number has attracted quite the fan base, too. Currently the post has more than 26,000 likes.

    One commented on the Instagram: ‘Love this set.’

    Another added: ‘Simply Beautiful.’

    While one user joked: ‘I could floss my teeth with that. Very nice though.’

    Metro have contacted Pretty Little Thing for a comment.

    MORE: Student says Pretty Little Thing bodysuit had pubic hair and skid marks on the crotch

    MORE: Woman shames Pretty Little Thing for bikini that can only be used for ‘poolside posing’

    MORE: Profiles with bikini pics and cuddling with dogs more likely to be successful on dating apps

     


    Pretty Little thing pink velvet bikiniPretty Little thing pink velvet bikini

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    Man holding phone
    Full stops are seen as abrupt and offensive – the punctuation equivalent of a sneer or upturned nose (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    With a flushed face and just a little steam escaping from her ears, my colleague strode towards me. ‘Have you got the hump with me?’ she screeched.

    Baffled, I glanced sideways to check if there was someone else she could be speaking to. We’d hardly seen each other that week, and had only exchanged brief emails about a forthcoming event.

    But there was no one there. ‘What’s up?’ I asked.

    ‘You didn’t put a kiss on the end of your email!’ she blustered, outraged by my rudeness and genuinely more than slightly upset. ‘So, have you got the HUMP with me?’

    I should have known. It’s not the first time I’ve been caught neglecting the basic rule of 21st Century office politics: send kisses with everything, even to people you barely know and wouldn’t be caught dead kissing in real life.

    I find the whole thing unnecessarily stressful. Here’s a thought – how about an amnesty? We all forgo (virtual) kisses for a month… and we all learn to use full stops properly while we’re at it.

    Over the years I’ve worked myself into quite a state over the whole affair. Embarrassed by my own lack of kissiness, but unwilling to capitulate, I have fallen into the ‘end with an emoji’ trap whereby any message that could fall prey to the ‘x’ gets terminated with a yellow smiley face – just so as not to offend.

    I forgot to put an ‘x’ at the end of a message to my husband last month and he came home with a bunch of flowers, fearing he was in the dog house. And my oldest friend admitted she perceived me as ‘rude’ when I omitted an ‘x’ from a few flippant exchanges.

    Full stops are seen as abrupt and offensive – the punctuation equivalent of a sneer or upturned nose.

    If you fail to punctuate a text message with at least one ‘x’, you are a pariah who fails to acknowledge the unspoken rules of civility. If you forget to insert one when signing off on an email, you might as well have handed the contract to the competition.

    In the media industry, you can’t go an hour without 17 emails ending with an ‘x’ landing in your inbox. The subjects are bland, the requests inane, often the writer is a total stranger, yet they’re all signed off with a gesture of affection reserved only for those I’m willing to share spit with.

    If somebody puts a kiss at the end of their first email, you are likely to respond with one. If you later omit the kiss, they may worry that there is a sinister reason

    Why do we do it? Behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings says the trend is down to a combination of etiquette, desire to please, and habit.

    ‘We tend to respond to people in the way they approach us – it feels polite and endears us to them, and them to us,’ she explains. ‘It establishes a bond early on in a relationship, be it personal or professional. 

    ‘If somebody puts a kiss at the end of their first email, you are likely to respond with one. If you later omit the kiss, they may worry that there is a sinister reason, rather than just assuming you were in a rush.’

    I waste time daily wondering how many kisses to use and when. It’s time consuming, confusing, and a drain on my emotions.

    And while this conundrum continues to consume me, and amuse me, when it comes to personal relationships in the workplace it can become very problematic. Send a kiss to the wrong person and you could be accused of inappropriate advances, or simply be seen as a bit ditsy – not the sort of impression one wants to create when courting a new client.

    The truth is, I just don’t want to send an empty expression of affection to someone I hardly know every time we interact. We don’t all go around kissing each other in real life, so why do it in typeface?

    I’d rather save kisses for when I mean it. For ending an affectionate note, for following my name in a card to someone I care about, or for expressing actual emotion when discussing something serious. Not for ending an email about copywriting a company’s website.

    My cross co-worker, by the way, was pacified by my lengthy explanation of why I just don’t ‘do’ kisses.

    ‘It is a bit silly,’ she conceded, before spontaneously throwing her arms around me in a big, reassuring hug.

    Over-zealous and unwanted physical gestures in public places? Don’t get me started…

    MORE: Digital detox tips: 3 quick wins for going cold turkey on tech

    MORE: What it’s like to get in trouble at work because of social media

    MORE: How to do a social media clean


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

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    Fatface Fairisle boob Christmas jumper
    The jumper has made some shoppers laugh (Picture: Fatface)

    Christmas is coming and it’s time to get the festive jumpers out.

    A Fairisle pattern is a favourite this time of year – but the knitted design on one jumper has given shoppers a bit of a giggle.

    Fatface fans on Mumsnet spotted that the pattern on one jumper looks a bit like a line of boobs with red nipples.

    The £56 Felicity Fairisle jumper from Angie Smith’s The Stylist Edit features a line of bunting but the pointy repetitive design made some users think more of breasts.

    Posting on Mumsnet, one woman said: ‘I don’t think they really thought though pattern.

    ‘Or maybe they did for the niche market of those who think knitwear isn’t complete without a line of boobs across it.’

    Other’s added their own thoughts and said they wondered how the Fatface team hadn’t spotted it.

    Fatface Fairisle boob Christmas jumper
    The jumper is £56 (Picture: Fatface)

    One said: ‘More titwear than knitwear.’

    Another added: ‘No wonder the model is biting her fingers!’

    The jumper is a cosy woolen blend fabric, with seamless raglan sleeves and on their website the design is described as a ‘snowflake yoke pattern’.

    And once the Mumsnet users spotted it, they started adding reviews to the website to let the brand know.

    Reviews were titled everything from ‘Boobs. Boobs everywhere’ to ‘Melons.’

    One review said: ‘Looks just like a row of boobs. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with that. It is a lovely jumper, just don’t be surprised if you have a few curious glances whilst out shopping or taking tea.’

    But maybe there is a market for it after all.

    One woman said: ‘Well I can see my breastfeeding consultant friend being keen on it but I wouldn’t choose it.’

    MORE: Kisses at the end of texts are an unnecessary stress and need to be banished

    MORE: Shoppers left divided over tiny Pretty Little Thing bikini


    Fat face boob jumperFat face boob jumper

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