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

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    We all know dogs are smart, but one canine put her brains to good use after finding herself locked outside in the middle of the night.

    Chika – a Labrador-cross from the US state of Georgia – was in a particularly difficult situation after a door was shut behind her.

    The pooch soon realised she was locked outside her owners’ house.

    Not to worry, Chika knew exactly what to do and her owners Robert and Angelia Fox managed to capture the whole debacle on film – thanks to their nifty doorbell camera.

    The footage shows her jumping up to sniff the doorbell before pushing it with her paw.

    The chimes of the doorbell can then be heard in the video, at which point she looks into the camera for a few seconds before jumping back down.

    Chika the Labrador-cross
    Chika the Labrador-cross (Picture: Caters)

    Suddenly, a noise in the distance distracts her, so she runs off the porch but later returns and goes back to the doorbell, when she realises her first attempt has failed.

    Chika hits it again with her paw and takes a few steps back and patiently waits to be let in.

    Her outdoor antics took place in the early hours, at 2.18am – as logged by the doorbell camera’s time display.

    Robert accidentally left Chika outside when he was locking up for the evening but thankfully, he heard the doorbell and woke up to find his pet sat on the porch.

    A relieved Chika is then welcomed back into the comfort of her home.

    Her determination certainly paid off.

    MORE: Labrador looks so proud to be sworn in as courthouse emotional support dog

    MORE: Asda has launched an entire sausage dog collection for Christmas

    MORE: Primark is selling matching festive PJs for the whole family – including the dog


    dog rings doorbell after getting locked outdog rings doorbell after getting locked out

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    Tig has loved sport and fitness for as long as she can remember, but when she tried to break into the industry she realised she didn’t have the ‘right look’.

    So, she decided to launch her own fitness space that is inclusive for diverse women and free from judgement.

    ‘As a female business owner in the fitness industry, you come up against a lot and even more so when you are a mixed-race entrepreneur,’ Tig tells Metro.co.uk.

    Tig doing a plank
    ‘I’ll create my own mouldless mould where you can be who you want to be’ (Picture: Tig/StrongHer)

    ‘It takes a lot of scrutiny, doubt and people questioning you, and there was always a part of me that didn’t understand who I was and where I fit in.

    Tig comes from a dance background, so she is used to being judged on her appearance, but she thought the fitness industry would be different.

    ‘I soon realised it was quite similar and those who were supposedly “influential”, all looked exactly the same.

    ‘I was trying to fit the mould, but again and  I was told I wasn’t “quite the right fit”.

    ‘So I thought, f*** it. I’ll create my own mouldless mould where you can be who you want to be and your personality and confidence is the only thing that matters.’

    So Tig co-created StrongHer – a women-only fitness and wellbeing platform that’s provides a safe, accessible community for women.

    It’s a space for women of all ethnicities, abilities and cultural backgrounds to find their confidence with resistance training, healthy eating and mindset training.

    Tig at a sports event
    ‘You begin to surround yourself with like-minded people who can relate to you, share your enthusiasm and your woes’ (Picture: Tig/StrongHer)

    ‘We educate, empower and enrich women to understand that nothing is impossible,’ says Tig.

    ‘By opening StrongHer spaces across the UK (the first one will open in January 2020) we aim to help every single woman realise they are limitless, and for this sense of self confidence to filter down to younger generations.’

    Tig loved sports at school. She played every day and was even captain of the netball team and competed at county level. But she never thought that a career in sport was a viable option, so she switched her focus to dance and performance while she was at university.

    ‘It was only when I began working as a receptionist at a gym when I was 25 (a solid 6-8 years of not playing sport) that I became interested in weight-training.

    ‘I was a super cardio bunny and people kept saying I should be a PT – so I did. I wanted to know how to transform my body for myself, and at this point it was for aesthetic reasons too, I wanted to be lean and step onto a stage.

    ‘But it didn’t fulfill me. It was an incredible process and taught me a lot about myself, but it wasn’t what I wanted.’

    Tig changed her motivation and now has goals that inspire her every day.

    Tig
    ‘A strong woman is a woman who isn’t afraid to fail’ (Picture: Tig/StrongHer)

    ‘I want to be strong, move better, perform better, challenge my mind and my body. I realise now that I love the feeling of progress, the feeling that I’m not able yet, but I will be able.’

    Tig is passionate about the benefits that fitness can bring to communities.She says working out in a gym can be lonely, but finding fitness friends can be an antidote to isolation.

    ‘When you begin to move your fitness regime into challenges or events, like turf games, marathons or maybe climbing – you begin to surround yourself with like-minded people who can relate to you, share your enthusiasm and your woes.

    ‘I find this really helps me to stay motivated, and it opens you up to new experiences and possibly new friends for life, which I have definitely found.

    ‘It also just makes life more exciting and challenging. I have days where nothing moves forward, there is no progress in my day-to-day life, so having fitness means that something is always accomplished.’

    Tig is honest about how difficult it is to launch a successful business and maintaining a work-life balance. She says she often feels like she has a million balls in the air.

    ‘Honestly, everything is rather difficult at the moment and so finding time to train is my salvation,’ she says. ‘It’s a lot of mental strain, I think of it like spinning plates – it’s easy to forget about yourself.

    ‘When your whole life revolves around fitness, the last thing you want to do is motivate yourself to go and workout … so having that goal to work towards allows me to take 90 mins out three times a week for myself and switch off.

    Dig doing a yoga pose
    ‘We educate, empower and enrich women to understand that nothing is impossible’ (Picture: Tig/StrongHer)

    ‘There are moments sometimes where I don’t want to talk to anyone, because things can feel overwhelming, so it’s in those moments I cherish heading into the gym or to any Olympic lifting class and letting myself focus on what my body can produce.’

    Tig knows that strength is about so much more than the physical.

    ‘A strong woman is a woman who isn’t afraid to fail, isn’t afraid to look a fool ,and isn’t afraid to not follow the crowd sometimes.

    ‘A strong woman is not perfect and will never try to be but what she will always do is push for progression.’

    She says women need to embrace their strengths and remind themselves of who they are without all the labels given to them by society.

    ‘We are not just titles… mothers, daughters, nieces, aunties,’ says Tig. ‘You and I are just ourselves.

    ‘Remembering all the incredible moments that got you to this very point, is the first step to recognising that you are resilient and strong and that there is more to you than you think!’

    Strong Women

    Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in the world of sport and fitness.

    A Sport England study found that 40% of women were avoiding physical activity due to a fear of judgement.

    But, contrary to the limited images we so often see, women of any age, size, race or ability can be active and enjoy sport and fitness.

    We hope that by normalising diverse depictions of women who are fit, strong and love their bodies, we will empower all women to shed their self-consciousness when it comes to getting active.

    Each week we talk to women who are redefining what it means to be strong and achieving incredible things.

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘I lost all my hair in my 30s – running without my wig gave me my power back’

    MORE: Strong Women: ‘Female jockeys are just as good as men’


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    An illustration of a man holding a large bag with a pound sign on it, on an orange background
    While useful when managed well, having an overdraft can become a slippery slope – and may end up costing you more in the long-run (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    When short for cash, many people turn towards an easy and accessible route to more money: getting an overdraft.

    Many banks offer the service, though there are certain restrictions in place depending on which one you go with, as well as caps on spending limits.

    Normally the cap can be discussed with a banking manager when you apply for an overdraft and – if you are seen as a reliable customer – they may offer you the option to increase it further.

    More often than not, customers will need to pay interest on the overdraft; the amount you pay differs based on which bank you’re with, what type of account you have and the sum that you want to borrow each month.

    While useful when managed well, having an overdraft can become a slippery slope – and may end up costing you more in the long-run.

    ‘Overdrafts can seem like a hassle-free option for accessing additional funds, but the reality can be very different; in some cases, unarranged overdraft fees can be more than 10 times as high as fees for payday loans,’ James Herbert, founder and CEO of Hastee, tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘As a short-term or emergency source of funds, overdrafts can be useful for some people in certain circumstances but should be to be repaid as soon as possible.

    ‘Otherwise, it can become incredibly difficult to get out and you can fall foul to the excessive charges, often forcing you further into debt in a negative spiral.’

    What to do if you’re considering getting an overdraft

    If you don’t have an overdraft but are considering getting one in the near future, do your research first to avoid any nasty surprises.

    Find out what your current bank is offering its customers and compare it against competitors. Pay attention to the EAR (equivalent annual rate) – which is the interest that you will need to pay if your account is overdrawn for a year – as well as the general interest rate.

    Having a meeting with a bank manager can be daunting, but don’t be afraid to ask them to outline exactly which fees you can expect – and to offer concrete examples.

    Additionally, look at various benefits; student discounts, cashback options when you swap banks and more.

    ‘Some banks will offer free, arranged overdrafts up to a limit; using this arranged (ideally free) amount is not necessarily a bad thing, but you must remain acutely aware of what that limit is and do everything you can to avoid going over that limit and incurring the high fees,’ James added.

    How to get out of your overdraft

    Paying off an overdraft can be difficult.

    Some people end up paying a set amount off, only to find themselves digging back into the overdraft that same month to pay off other bills or fees – and so the vicious cycle continues.

    You are not doomed: here are some practical tips on how to sort out your finances.

    Sign up for a credit card

    ‘If you’re currently within your authorised overdraft limit, consider signing up for a credit card that lets you pay off your overdraft by moving money to your current account interest-free,’ Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk, tells us.

    ‘With a 0% money transfer credit card, you can pay cash into your bank, and treat the balance that’s now on your credit card like an interest-free loan and pay it off in installments before the 0% deal ends.’

    Be vary of not swapping one debt for another – do a comparison of credit cards on sites like Moneysupermarket or Comparethemarket, and read the fine print before you commit.

    Use your savings

    Another option is to use existing savings to pay off your overdraft (if you have any).

    This might not be as appealing, as it means a chunk of money disappears in one go, but if you are not within the authorised overdraft limit – and incurring fees every month – it can be useful in the long-run.

    Keep track of your spending

    It can be scary to look back through your bank account, but having full knowledge of what you’re spending money on can also be liberating.

    Make a budget and break the figures down into housing (rent, utilities etc.), necessities (food, household items), travel and finally, leisure.

    Be honest with yourself – could you make some quick lifestyle changes that would allow you to save a bit more every month, that can then go towards paying off your overdraft?

    Small things, such as shopping food and household goods in bulk to save money and changing internet or phone suppliers (or convincing them to give you a better deal) can make a massive difference.

    It’s worthwhile using cash rather than your card, Apple Pay or other methods. When the money physically leaves your hand and you see the remaining amount in the wallet, you might be less tempted to use it for frivolous purchases.

    Also, download your bank’s app so you can track your spending in real time.

    Download helpful apps

    Your banking app isn’t the only technological tool at your disposal.

    Money management and budgeting apps can be very handy, such as Money Dashboard, where you can view all your incoming and outgoing payments. So, rather than having several banking apps or trawling through statements, you can combine information from your account in one app.

    There’s also Chip, which tracks your spending habits and shows how much you can afford to save, or Squirrel, which acts somewhat like a money guardian.

    Users transfer over their funds to Squirrel, along with information of all bills that need to be paid and when, and the amount of money they want to save. The app will then ‘release’ the funds back into their current account the day before it is due to come out.

    The remaining money is earmarked for all other spending (the fun kind) and can be set up to be released weekly or monthly.

    Speak to your bank (or swap to a different one)

    ‘If you feel like you’re going to go into your overdraft, talk to your bank immediately and ask for a higher limit or an extension,’ said Deborah Vickers, channel director and personal finance expert at moneyguru.com.

    ‘You might be charged a fee, but it will be cheaper than the charges from an unarranged overdraft.’

    The same applies if you’re already in a jam; ask whether there is any way to reduce the overdraft through a tailored payment plan.

    Alternatively, change the bank altogether and choose one that has lower overdraft fees.

    Rearrange payments for existing direct debits to reduce fees

    ‘If you are in an overdraft that is charging you interest, it is important, after your pay goes in your account, to have as big a balance in your account for as long as possible,’ personal finance expert at Royal London, Becky Connor, tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Investigate moving some of your direct debits or other regular payments to the end of the month. If this can be arranged, you are effectively buying nearly a month’s worth of payment holiday.

    ‘If this pushes your payments beyond your next pay date, you may even accomplish overdraft freedom in just one month.’

    Let go of the shame

    If you feel uneasy about having racked up your overdraft to an unmanageable amount, do your best to let go of the shame or fear.

    It’s already happened, but there is plenty that can be done. Making yourself feel guilty will only paralyse you further.

    It’s far better to be proactive and dig yourself out of the debt hole, bit by bit – and then learn from your mistake.

    Debt Month

    This article is part of a month-long focus in November all about debt.

    Scary word, we know, but we're hoping if we tackle this head on we'll be able to reduce the shame around money struggles and help everyone improve their understanding of their finances.

    Throughout November we'll be publishing first-person accounts of debt, features, advice, and explainers. You can read everything from the month on the Debt Month tag.

    If you have a story to share, a topic you want us to cover, or a question that needs answering, get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

     

    MORE: Our biggest worry in life is not getting out of debt, says study

    MORE: Why we’re talking about debt this month

    MORE: Graduates say their inescapable student loan debt is a life sentence that affects their everyday decisions


    MONEY_BAGS01-28ccMONEY_BAGS01-28cc

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    I met Ann* in my first year of university. A little older, she was goofy, confident and great with boys – everything I wasn’t.

    Before long, we were inseparable. We brought each other shots while we finished late-night essays, ate Pringles in badly decorated student rooms and laughed until we cried – I even promised her she’d be my bridesmaid. I’d not known friendship like it.

    That was eight years ago and I haven’t heard from her since she broke up with me.

    There’s a special place in our hearts for our best friends and when you lose them, the void in your chest lingers, deeper and more painful than any romantic partner.

    I am all too familiar with the searing, blinding pain, the sense of betrayal that follows those break ups, but Ann filled that space.

    She became my heart. She helped me recover, let me ruin her bedsheets with mascara-tinged tears, waited at the bar with doubles when I was low.

    She wasn’t perfect. She was messy and lazy and like any healthy relationship, we had fights but we’d always end up crying, apologising profusely.

    When we moved in together in our final year I looked past her sloppiness and relished cooking together, gossiping or hyping each other up for job interviews and essays.

    This was our life now, we decided. We’d live together in the same city and ride out our 20s mere metres apart.

    Emmie Harrison
    For years afterwards, I told myself I was a terrible friend. I apologised to other friends for ‘not being there’ and scrutinised everything I could possibly have done wrong (Picture: Emmie Harrison)

    That summer, I secured my dream internship at a magazine. Ann was the person who told me to go for it. The problem? It was in my hometown – 150 miles away.

    I cried as I drafted, and redrafted, a text telling her I was leaving. I was devastated and overwhelmed to finally dive into the career I’d spent two decades dreaming about.

    She never replied.

    At home Ann locked herself in her room. I cooked for her but the food grew mouldy in the fridge. When I left my bedroom, she retreated into hers. Coming home to a flat where you’re not loved is soul-destroying and that extreme loneliness was unbearable.

    I called, texted, left her notes apologising for leaving – even though I know it was wrong to. I even considered turning down the internship.

    My sadness soon turned to anger. If the roles had been reversed, I thought, I would be fiercely proud of her – I’d help pack her bags and send her a notebook for her first day.

    Your best friend knows your deepest secrets, they’re like a soulmate or a sibling – your mirror image. When you lose them, you lose part of yourself.

    One evening I bumped into her in our sitting room when I thought she was out. She looked me in the eye and told me I was selfish, that I had treated her badly and she never wanted to speak to me again.

    I was too stunned to reply – all the speeches I’d prepared in my head vanished. It took hours to process what she’d said before I broke down in tears. The heartbreak felt familiar but it was far, far worse than I’d had with any man.

    For years afterwards, I told myself I was a terrible friend. I apologised to other friends for ‘not being there’ and scrutinised everything I could possibly have done wrong.

    But looking back, I wonder whether Ann had convinced herself that I wouldn’t get that job. Perhaps she wanted the ‘dream job’, but something stopped her from being proactive. I suspect she was jealous, and when the plans that she’d made for her life – our life – changed beyond her control, she blamed me for her flaws.

    The next – and last – time I saw her was at our graduation and the period we haven’t spoken for is now longer than our friendship.

    I blocked her on social media as I couldn’t bear to see her happy when she’d made me so miserable, but at times I check up on her.

    I know we live in the same city and that she is in her dream job, too. I’m happy for her but I still couldn’t look her in the eye if I passed her on the street.

    Emmie Harrison on her wedding day
    I’m married now and looking at the women who were my bridesmaids, who constantly surround me with pure love, made me realise that Ann never would’ve fitted in that group (Picture: Emmie Harrison)

    Once or twice I’ve considered reaching out for closure but always stopped myself. Part of me misses her – I want to tell her about all the good things that have happened to me, what I’ve achieved and learned, and that I miss how important our friendship was.

    But in all honesty, I worry that she’d belittle me again and be selfish like before.

    I’m married now and looking at the women who were my bridesmaids, who constantly surround me with pure love, made me realise that Ann never would’ve fitted in that group.

    When you lose your best friend there’s no one to talk to about that bad day, bad haircut, bad shag – but it goes deeper than that.

    Your best friend knows your deepest secrets, they’re like a soulmate or a sibling – your mirror image. When you lose them, you lose part of yourself.

    My break-up with Ann has left a lifelong scar but it’s the relationship that’s taught me the most about love.

    We need to change our perceptions of what true love is. Yes, it is sexual, it’s romantic, but it can also be platonic. I truly believe that you meet your equal in friendship terms and like any romantic relationship, to lose someone who you believed to be your soulmate is devastating.

    I understand how important it is to keep my close friends even closer, to cherish them through their good times and bad, because true love to me is about support.

    It’s about riding the rollercoaster until the very end, screaming together through the towering highs and crushing lows but still being there when it’s all over. Ann wasn’t.

    Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: Falling for a polyamorous man changed what I thought love was

    Write for Love, Or Something Like It

    Love, Or Something Like It is a new series for Metro.co.uk covering everything from mating and dating to lust and loss, exploring what true love is and how we find it in the present day.

    If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

    MORE: A decade of casual sex has shown me what true love really is

    MORE: People tell us about their worst ever friendship betrayals

    MORE: How to avoid getting jealous when your friends hang out without you


    2 NOV Love Or Something Like It: Emmie, falling out of love with my BFF2 NOV Love Or Something Like It: Emmie, falling out of love with my BFF

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    The man and dog together
    They look so happy together! (Picture: Picture: Pennsylvania SPCA Danville Center)

    An elderly, sick dog has been given his forever home by a kind stranger who walked into a shelter asking to see an old dog in need of a home.

    The man walked into the Pennyslvania SPCA Danville Center on 25 October, asking to see an elderly dog, and the center paired him with Jack, a 13-year-old dachshund mix who has dental disease, a heart murmur, and ‘typical old man lumps/bumps’.

    According to the shelter, the man simply said: ‘He’s perfect, I’ll take him. What vet do you recommend I take him to?’

    Amazingly, Jack warmed to the man immediately, and as his new owner signed the paperwork, he curled up and fell asleep on his lap.

    Yesterday, this gentleman wandered in the shelter and asked to see an old dog in need of a home. We paired him with…

    Geplaatst door Pennsylvania SPCA Danville Center op Zaterdag 26 oktober 2019

    Pictures were posted to the centre’s Facebook page, and they’ve since gone viral with more than 132,000 reactions.

    The Facebook post read: ‘This is what animal welfare is all about. Falling in love, giving second chances to those who need it most, and finding the heroes in humanity. Happy tails Jack! We couldn’t be happier for you!’

    The post also received thousands of comments from moved Facebook users.

    One person wrote: ‘This gentleman is a man after my own heart, I also adopted a senior dog. Congratulations Jack on finding your furever home.’

    Jack asleep
    Jackk went straight to sleep (Picture: Picture: Pennsylvania SPCA Danville Center)

    Another said: ‘We need to hear/see more of these stories. God bless this man and his kind, understanding heart. There is no stronger, more devoted love than that of a senior dog who has been rescued. They still have so much more life to live and love to give than you can ever imagine. They are so incredibly thankful and happy to be loved and valued again. Sometimes for the first time.’

    Someone else wrote: ‘I think it is wonderful to adopt old dogs. They give so much love. This man is a true hero!’

    We’re super happy for Jack and hope he and his new owner become the best of friends.

    MORE: Woman’s first tattoo praised by thousands on Twitter after her mum wasn’t proud of her

    MORE: Mother writes ‘lovemaking manual’ to teach her son how to have sex


    Man Adopted A 13-Year-Old Dachshund Mix Who Promptly Fell Asleep on His Lap Picture: Pennsylvania SPCA Danville Center METROGRABMan Adopted A 13-Year-Old Dachshund Mix Who Promptly Fell Asleep on His Lap Picture: Pennsylvania SPCA Danville Center METROGRAB

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    People eating Papa John's vegan pizza
    Papa John’s is currently on the hunt for a Chief Vegan Officer. (Picture: Papa John’s)

    To celebrate National Vegan Day, pizza chain Papa John’s is hiring a Chief Vegan Officer.

    It’s another unique new job that probably wouldn’t have existed five years ago. Like being a jet-setting Instagram-scout or stay-at-home pudding tester.

    The part-time gig is suited to a vegan who ‘has all the cauli-power’ and tasting prowess to help the company devise their new vegan menu for 2020.

    ‘We’re looking for someone who’s extremely passionate about food with a firm knowledge of veganism. If you think you’ve got what it takes, we’d love to hear from you,’ said Papa John’s Marketing Director, Giles Codd.

    ‘2019 has been a huge year for plant-based food and gone are the days where vegans and veggies are limited to a couple of disappointing side dishes.’

    The vegan officer will be paid a competitive salary to inform the chain of all the must-know vegan trends, reporting to the Head of Research and Development at Papa John’s.

    Papa John's vegan meal deal
    Papa John’s is also offering 50% their vegan goods for National Vegan Day. (Picture: Duncan Loughrey)

    The new staff member will be expected to work 8-10 hours a month between January – June 2020. The pay is £100-£125 per hour, so that’s about £6,000 all up.

    Applicants should have a background in food technology, with a degree in food science. They should be able to communicate their ideas effectively, have been a vegan for the last 18 months and have a knack for removing ‘an avocado stone in under 60 seconds’.

    The chosen vegan will help design vegan dishes that will appeal to both carnivores and veggie-lovers alike.

    The chain jumped on the plant-based bandwagon this year with their first vegan pizza. Today, they officially rolled out their Buffalo Cauliflower Wings.

    As part of National Vegan Day, Papa John’s is offering 50% off their vegan range this weekend.

    From Monday November 4, Papa John’s customers can also enjoy ‘Meat-free Monday’ and order meat-free pizzas for just £9.99 when a side is purchased.

    To apply, aspiring vegan officers can apply on Indeed.co.uk and LinkedIn, or send CVs to papajohns@wcommunications.co.uk along with a cover letter explaining why they’re the right fit for the role.

    MORE: How to deal with not being where you want to be in your career

    MORE: London’s 11 yummiest vegan comfort foods

    MORE: Whole Foods says fancy flours and meat-plant blends are going to be big trends in 2020


    Papa John's is hiring a 'vegan officer'Papa John's is hiring a 'vegan officer'

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    Need cheering up today? Hopefully this heartwarming video will do the trick.

    Elderly care home residents were filmed going for a spin in their wheelchairs, towed by a Shetland pony.

    Residents at Drumbrae Care Home in Edinburgh were treated to a visit from the 2ft tall therapy ponies which they were also able to have a cuddle with.

    The adorable clips show residents getting pulled along in a wheelchair by the animals, who offer soothing care through their relaxing nature.

    Pony Wilson, owned by Elaine and John Sangster who run Therapy Ponies Scotland, can be seen pulling residents along as John jogs along supporting the wheelchair.

    Fellow pony, Flicker, also kept residents company in the home’s lounge area during the visit on October 26.

    John said: ‘I had a queue of residents desperate to have a go with Wilson.

    ‘The wheelchair walks are a fun and exciting way for wheelchair users to fully interact with the ponies.’

    Pony taking woman in wheelchair for a walk
    The ponies took the elderly people around the care home (Picture: Elaine Sangster /SWNS.COM)

    The husband and wife, both 55, have owned Shetland ponies for ten years and set up their caring service to offer therapeutic visits to care homes, nursing homes, hospices and hospitals.

    Based in West Lothian, they travel all over Scotland with the cute creatures, from the Scottish Borders to as far north as Thurso and Wick in the Scottish Highlands.

    Elaine said: ‘We travel all over Scotland and just have great fun with the residents.

    ‘We go into care homes, nursing homes and hospices.

    ‘They’re immaculately clean ponies and it’s amazing to see people smiling when they see them.

    ‘It’s not just the residents that benefit from it but the staff as well.

    ‘We’ve been doing it for four years but have had miniature Shetland ponies for ten years.

    ‘We just get enquiries through word of mouth but are really busy with it.

    An OAP with a pony
    The OAPs had loads of fun (Picture: Elaine Sangster /SWNS.COM)

    ‘We go up to Aberdeen and Inverness and have been as far up as Wick and Thurso.

    ‘If someone wants to have us we’ll do our best to go.

    ‘It’s really good.’

    A spokeswoman for Drumbrae Care Home said: ‘It was lovely and very well organised.

    ‘The residents absolutely loved it.

    ‘They took time to speak to the residents and they engaged with the ponies really well.

    ‘He had them going up and down the corridors with them and they were super with the residents.’

    MORE: Burger King is adding two more vegan burgers to the menu

    MORE: Couple create hilarious movie inspired by Alien to reveal the gender of their baby


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    James McVey performing with The Vamps in 2016
    For each of the career highlights that I remember, there’s a mountain of dread that hangs underneath (Picture: Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns)

    If the average person’s career was a line graph, there would be several stand-out moments that jut up above the line.

    We all know them: the time you impressed the boss by solving something others couldn’t, the time you handed in that project you toiled over, the work social where someone drank too much.

    I won’t begin to try and convince you that my career, as a member of The Vamps, is the norm, but bear with me. Like everyone else, I’ve been lucky enough to experience especially memorable moments over the years – including releasing five top 10 singles and a number one album, and being the first band to headline London’s O2 Arena five years in a row.

    But for me, those stand-out moments were completely overshadowed by an eating disorder.

    In the thousands of interviews we’ve had since 2011, we frequently get asked if any of us have any major regrets. Typically, I tend to brush this off with something playful and hollow; something like ‘not trying to date half of LA’, or ‘forgetting to pack my toothbrush when we toured with Taylor Swift’.

    The truth? I regret running, pretending, denying that I had a problem with food. For each of those career highlights that I remember, there’s a mountain of dread that hangs underneath. The line chart is merely a series of peaks disguising a darker reality beneath the surface.

    To the public, the pictures printed in the press when we celebrated our number one album in 2016 looked like success. Champagne, posh London hotel, laughter. The Vamps boys were on top of the world.

    The Vamps celebrating their number one album
    To the public, the pictures printed in the press when we celebrated our number one album in 2016 looked like success (Picture: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage)

    Looking back now kills me, because I can finally see just how wasted that whole period was for me. I might have physically been there but my mind wasn’t – it was echoing around empty corridors in my head, questioning whether I could get to the gym later to burn off the extra alcoholic calories, or better yet, whether I could skip the celebratory dinner with the record label to shave off an extra 1000.

    I may as well have not even been in The Vamps then. I was a shell of my former self: short-tempered, bad mannered, and shallow. I was obsessed with myself, critiquing every angle in the mirror, judging my happiness on whether my arms looked toned enough on a given morning.

    Ironically, I was so transfixed on myself that I failed to register how much I was neglecting my overall wellbeing. I added ‘creatine powder’ to ‘lifting weights’ and came up with happiness as the answer. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Happiness is not obsessing over food and supplements from the moment you wake up; it’s not spending two hours a day in the gym in the hope to be accepted. It took me a long time to realise that the genuine key to happiness is accepting yourself.

    Happiness is not obsessing over food and supplements from the moment you wake up

    It took me 24 years to recognise that spiralling around a vicious cycle of food and lifting weights was never going to result in genuine satisfaction. I could always lift more and eat less, and I’d still find myself staring disappointedly staring into a mirror.

    Acknowledging the flaws in severe dieting and obsessive work-out plans was fundamental to my recovery. Sure, I can still enjoy eating healthily and going to the gym, but I have to constantly remain conscious of when that obsession begins creeping in again – which it so frequently does. 

    Ultimately, I see this issue as an addiction, and it must therefore be viewed with the appropriate seriousness.

    I realised recently that I fell into a slightly obscure category of society. Primarily, I’m a musician. However, in the wonderfully weird world of social media, I find myself approaching 2020 with approximately 3,000,000 ‘followers’. That apparently makes me influential. Like my mental health, I ignored the importance of this for years.

    Vocalising my emotions caused an immediate ripple across my social channels, spurring me to research male mental health. 

    I was shocked, particularly with the statistics around men and eating disorders. The fact that 45 per cent of men in the UK are dissatisfied with their body image and that 17 per cent of men in the UK are on an extreme diet because of this is staggering. 

    Actively addressing my own situation was the only way I was eventually able to break out of my self-perpetuating rut. Communication was the key for me, and that’s why I’m so keen to partner with TOMs and The Mix.

    Together we’re launching the Body and Soul Club, a digital community where young people can talk about healthy approaches to body image and masculinity.

    We must campaign for change, and encourage more men to air their struggles.

    More support

    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

    [/metro-fact-box]

    The Mix offers essential support for under-25s, covering a broad spectrum of issues including drug abuse, homelessness, and mental health. Get in touch with them here.

    Find out how you can get involved in the Body and Soul Club here.

    MORE: Yes, men get eating disorders – my brother died from his

    MORE: How can social media have a less toxic effect on our body image and mental health?

    MORE: Kids will keep developing eating disorders until we address our relationship with food

     


    Bristol Skyline Series - The VampsBristol Skyline Series - The Vamps

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    Starbucks' new toasted marshmallow hot chocolate
    Toasted marshmallow hot chocolate is coming to a Starbucks near you (Picture: Starbucks)

    Christmas 2019 is drawing every closer, and that means that festive drinks are heading to a Starbucks near you.

    With Costa having unleashed their own Christmas range earlier this week, it was only a matter of time before Starbucks followed suit, with some seriously indulgent festive offerings of their own.

    But just when can you pick up a Starbucks Christmas drink – and will it be in one of this ever-popular red cups, those ones which are so loved by customers they even have their own countdown site?

    Here’s what you need to know…

    When does Starbucks’ Christmas menu launch?

    Starbucks’ Christmas menu is due to launch in UK branches on Tuesday 5 November.

    You can expect some festive treats on the menu also, with coffees including an Egg Nog Latte as well as gingerbread latte and Toffee Nut latte.

    a picture of Starbucks' festive red cups
    It’s red cup season (Picture: Starbucks)

    This year’s iced drinks include a bunch of festive Frappuccinos, including gingerbread coffee, gingerbread cream, Toffee Nut latte and Salted Caramel Brownie.

    Alternatively, if coffee isn’t your thing you can always opt for a Salted Caramel Brownie hot chocolate – or the menu’s newest addition, Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate.

    Which frankly we cannot wait to sample.

    Will Starbucks’ red cups be returning for Christmas?

    A display of Starbucks reusable cups
    This year’s festive cups are worth getting your hands on (Picture: Starbucks)

    Would it even be Christmas without the red cups? Indeed they will be back, but the chain is also launching some limited edition reusable cups in time for the festive season.

    As well as cold cups in blue and red glitter, they’re launching a seasonal design featuring a snowy day and frost-dusted trees.

    You can also get your hands on a timeless range of re-usable festive cups, in the classic red, or if you prefer you can opt for a black cup featuring the slogan ‘Peace Love Coffee’.

    A picture of Starbucks' reusable Christmas cups in the US
    Over in the US they have these gorgeous cups on offer (Picture: Starbucks)

    Alternatively if you’re in the US they’ve also got some fabulous cups on offer this year, including the Iridescent Cold Cup, returning for a second season in Bling Platinum – and this year there’s a neon pink version too.

    There’s also the Green Confetti Tumbler – to give your drinks that extra splash of holiday cheer.

    MORE: How to order the Pumpkin Birthday Cake latte from the Starbucks secret menu


    When does Starbucks\' Christmas menu launch and will the red cups be back? [schedule Sat 5am]When does Starbucks\' Christmas menu launch and will the red cups be back? [schedule Sat 5am]

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    Natal lives in a one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    Natel lives in a one-bedroom flat in Dagenham, London (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    In our weekly series What I Own, we’re taking a look at how people bought their first homes to try to illuminate the intimidating world of massive deposits and getting a mortgage.

    Each week we’ll go inside someone’s owned property, sharing the good bits, the bad, and the actual nitty-gritty of how much buying costs and how they managed it (spoiler: a lot of people managed it by living with family members and thus not having to pay rent for a few years).

    Last week we spoke to Lauren, a 32-year-old manager with a one-bed in Sydenham.

    This time we’re nosing around the property of Natel, 28. Natel currently works as an employer engagement manager for a university, makes vegan nail polish in her spare time, and runs a property podcast with some friends after working as an estate agent for three years.

    Four years ago she put down a deposit on a one-bedroom flat in Dagenham.

    Natel in front of a mirror in her one-bedroom flat
    The deposit was £17,000 plus £2,000 in fees (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    The big question: The deposit. How much did you need to save? 

    So I ended up saving £17,000 for a deposit (which was 10% of the purchase price) and about £2,000 for fees.

    After finishing university I moved back home and started working, so I planned to put £1,000 away each month for two years. I set up a standing order so that on payday the money went straight into my savings account before I could touch it. This should have left me with £24,000 but during that time I wasn’t saving for anything in particular, so I went on quite a few holidays.

    Looking back I could have been a lot more disciplined but buying a property didn’t cross my mind until my colleague purchased one. We were similar ages and earning similar salaries, so it really brought the idea of property ownership into my mind.

    My income varied as a large part of my salary was based on commission. On a great month I could take home more than £2,000, but on occasion It would be less than £1,000.

    I didn’t have any help from parents or a partner, although luckily my mother didn’t charge me rent and travel expenses to work were covered so this made it a lot easier to save.

    What was the total cost of your home?

    The full amount was £152,000. Barking and Dagenham is definitely one of the most reasonably priced boroughs in London.

    Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. What I Own/ Natel
    She now pays £750 a month (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    What was the process of getting a mortgage like?

    For my mortgage, I chose to get a broker to do it on my behalf as I knew that banks could only offer a limited range of products. I was aware that I would have even less choice, due to my commission-based salary, than a standard buyer.

    The estate agent I worked for trained me extremely well, so I was quite confident and knowledgeable of the process. Although that definitely didn’t prepare me for the emotional roller-coaster I went through!

    Did you face any challenges?

    Just before I started university, I had fraud happen on one of my bank accounts. I admitted fault as I fell victim to an entrapment call and therefore had to close the account. I opened new accounts at the time and from my understanding everything was fine.

    I found my flat about five years later and my broker submitted a mortgage application, however it came back declined and we couldn’t understand why. My broker believed it was down to a distrust over the fraud that happened earlier. I wanted to look into it further, however raising it with the bank would have taken weeks. Which would’ve meant losing the flat.

    It was a stressful situation that really took its toll. However, my colleagues gave me great advice and lead me to another broker that sourced a new lender. Again this was difficult as some lenders won’t consider all of your commission because it’s not guaranteed. In the end I purchased the flat and later managed to resolve the issue with the bank.

    How much do you now need to pay per month?

    I re-mortgaged last year, so that brought the cost down quite significantly. The mortgage is about £420 and the bills are about £330 so £750 in total.

    natel's flat in dagenham
    Natel has been able to make the flat feel like home over the last four years (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    How did you find the flat?

    I found the flat on Zoopla. I only ever did one viewing of the flat before I purchased.

    Being an estate agent I knew I had to move quickly if this is what I wanted. I chose this flat as it was the best-conditioned flat I’d seen for the price in the area and it has a lot of natural light thanks to the dual balconies and it was a walkable distance to the station. So it was a win-win.

    Why Dagenham?

    Initially I was looking further out into Essex as they offered decent properties within my budget. However when this property came up it was relatively close to my family home so I grabbed the opportunity to stay local. I literally made an offer on the same day as I hadn’t seen anything similar in the area. Also there hadn’t been much development in the area at the time, which meant it had a lot of potential for growth in the future.

    shoes in natel's one bedroom flat in Dagenham
    You’re going to see a lot of shoes in this place (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    What did you learn about buying a place from working as a real estate agent?

    My manager and colleagues at the time were so supportive which really helped, as they passed on a lot of good advice from their own experiences, such as checking if the property was previously rented. If it was, there may be gas and electricity safety certificates that the owner may share with you, for example.

    Ultimately the most valuable lesson that I learned is to get a good solicitor, whether you’re a buyer or seller. Many deals fall apart at the legal stages and it can be costly. A property is one of the most expensive things that you will ever own so make a good investment in your solicitor. If you were facing going to jail, for example, you wouldn’t just choose the first solicitor that you found online.

    So make sure you do your research, speak to the solicitor and read reviews. Make sure that they are familiar with the area that you’re buying/selling in and the type of property. We discuss this in a lot more depth on our podcast.

    How have you made the flat feel like home?

    The first thing I did was change the wallpaper as although the flat was in good condition, it just wasn’t me.

    Obviously the first thing I purchased was a bed but over time, I changed the carpets and painted some of the rooms.

    The previous owner had left some fixtures behind such as the towel rack and massive wardrobes. I wanted to do a whole refurbishment and to get a new kitchen as I hate washing up and I really wanted a dishwasher. However my finances brought me back to reality, quickly!

    stuffed toy dog in natel's one bedroom flat
    Oh, hi doggie (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    I had to replace the fridge freezer and the washing machine as I found out they didn’t work particularly well.

    Apart from the carpets, I did most of the redecorating myself such as putting up the majority of the wallpaper and painting the rooms. I did get some help from family and friends with things like putting up the TV, putting the sofa together and getting all of the old wallpaper off.

    That reduced the cost significantly, but the wallpaper was tough to get right. I definitely wasted some money when I ripped through half a roll of paper.

    Do you feel like you have enough space?

    Yes, I have quite a lot of floor space which makes it feel quite open, the bathroom is unusually large. Although the bedroom could be a bit bigger.

    Does owning pose any problems you didn’t have when you were renting?

    Apart from during university I haven’t rented before. I guess the only downside is if something breaks, I have to fix it!

    What are your housing plans for the future? Do you want to stay in this flat forever or are you planning to move again?

    I definitely want a house in the future, but I wouldn’t want to sell my flat as there is a lot happening in the area right now. I’m in the process of looking for a BTL (Buy to Let) property. So I’ll do that first before I make any future decisions.

    Wise. Let’s take a look around. 

    Natel in the living room of her one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    Natel in her living room (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    living room and kitchen in natel's one bedroom flat in Dagenham
    It’s right next to the kitchen (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    natel standing with her nail polishes in her one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    Look at all those nail polishes! (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. What I Own/ Natel
    They’re available online if you’re keen (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    natel's one bedroom flat in Dagenham, the kitchen
    Here’s the kitchen (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    natel in her kitchen in her one-bedroom flat in dagenham
    Yes, that is an initial mug. Everyone needs one. (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    Natel's kitchen for what i own
    We appreciate the flowers (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    kitchen in natel's one bedroom flat in Dagenham
    It’s all very neat and clean, isn’t it? (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    Natel's fridge in her one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    Gotta be honest, I wholeheartedly believe that anyone who has an inbuilt water dispenser in their fridge is fancy (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    shoes in natel's one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    Told you you’d see a lot of shoes (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    natel in her bedroom of her flat in dagenham
    Natel in her bedroom (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    natel's bedroom in her flat in Dagenham
    The feathers you keep spotting are from carnival, which Natel is always a big part of (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    natel's makeup in her one bedroom flat in Dagenham
    More excellent organisation (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. What I Own/ Natel
    (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    shoes in Natel's one bedroom flat in Dagenham
    More shoes! (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    teddy bear in natel's wardrobe in her flat in dagenham
    Hi, little bear (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    bathroom in Natel's one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    The bathroom (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)
    toothbrushes in the bathroom of natel's one-bedroom flat in Dagenham
    And finally, the photo you’ve all been waiting for (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

    How to get involved in What I Own

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

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

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

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

     

    MORE: What I Own: Jade, a 26-year-old blogger who saved a £27,000 deposit for a two-bedroom flat in Harlow

    MORE: What I Own: Vanessa, the 29-year-old photographer who paid a £5,100 deposit on a house in Belfast

    MORE: What I Own: The 48-year-old interior designer who bought a studio flat in Pimlico through Right to Buy


    What I Own/ NatelWhat I Own/ Natel

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    Christian Louboutin at Claridge's
    Christian Louboutin at Claridge’s (Picture: Claridge’s)

    The time of year has come when London’s biggest, and arguably most famous, Christmas tree is announced.

    Claridge’s, the capital’s legendary Mayfair Hotel, has this year chosen another legend to design its uber-luxe spruce: iconic shoemaker Christian Louboutin.

    A long-time guest of the hotel, the French designer will unveil his creation to the world on the morning of Thursday November 21, 2019 in Claridge’s glitzy Art Deco foyer.

    What’s it going to look like? Nobody knows, but rest assured insiders tell us it’s not going to be shaped like a giant red shoe. Ahem, why?

    Now in its tenth year, the annual Christmas tree collaboration at Claridge’s began in 2009 with John Galliano for Dior. Previous designers have included Burberry’s Christopher Bailey and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, along with the late creative director of Chanel, Karl Largerfeld.

    Last year, fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, another long term friend of the hotel, unveiled the Tree of Love inspired by Von Furstenberg’s strong belief in the power of love and the ancient traditions of the astrological world.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BqrQ1ACBMEX/

    The tree was decorated in 8,000 iridescent hand-painted silver-leafed leaves, hand-blown blue glass spheres and 150 glass hearts, along with six different silver-leafed abstract animals.

    Speaking on his collaboration with the hotel, Christian said: ‘It is an honour to be invited to design the Claridge’s Christmas Tree which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Claridge’s is one of the most magical destinations with the tree being one of the city’s highlights at Christmas. I am glad to bring a little piece of Paris to such an iconic London landmark.’

    Though the design is a tightly lipped secret, the hotel’s co-owner Paddy McKillen has said: ‘this year, we promise some extra special touches and of course a few surprises.’

    Insert guesses in the comments.

    The 2019 Claridge’s Christmas tree will be unveiled at Claridge’s on 21 November 2019. 

    MORE: FriendsFest returns to London later this year for Christmas-themed event

    MORE: Is it too early to put your Christmas tree up in November?


    Claridges Christian LaboutinClaridges Christian Laboutin

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    Fintech (financial technology) has advanced massively in recent years, with challenger banks popping up everywhere. Revolut now boasts over three million users, while Monzo around the same, and Starling 775,000.

    We’re able to send money to our friends with a press of our fingerprint, and buy from our favourite shops without so much as typing in a number.

    Finance is changing massively, which is great when it comes to the perks. After all, who doesn’t want lower card fees when travelling and less faff doing your shopping?

    When it comes down to the drawbacks, though, they often aren’t noticed until it’s too late.

    Take Klarna, for example. This is a buy-now-pay-later service partnered with over 4,000 retailers such as ASOS, Boohoo, JD Sports, and Topshop.

    It’s advertised on Instagram with the slogan ‘try before you buy’ and images of fashion-forward models wearing the latest trends. You can have your items delivered as normal but pay for them in 30 days, interest-free. You only pay for what you keep, so if you decide to return things, this amount is taken off your balance.

    You can also choose, instead, to ‘Slice it’. In this instance, you’ll again have the items delivered as normal, but this time you’ll pay back the price over a course of up to 12 months. On the Klarna website, they claim that retailers can gain a ‘58% increase in average order value for shoppers using Slice it and 30% higher conversions at checkout by shoppers using Slice it.’

    Klarna payment screen for ASOS
    What you’ll see if you choose to pay later using Klarna on ASOS (Picture: ASOS)

    Those who’ve used Klarna will be well aware that there is very little standing between you and the ‘pay later’ service. The company completes a soft search on your credit, which will leave no footprint on your credit score for future lenders, and is done to check you are who you say you are.

    Even a quick Twitter search can show that thousands of people are being hit with bills a month after their purchases that they then can’t afford.

    From young people calling the service ‘dangerous’ to ‘the devil’, the implication is clear that the ease of use of buy-now-pay-later schemes (and the ubiquity in which you’ll find them on some of the most popular shopping sites) is promoting a culture of impulse buy now, worry later.

    The phrasing of the adverts – as an easy-breezy ‘try and buy’ service – couldn’t be further from applying for a bank loan or overdraft, or even the old-school hire purchase of the past. The borrowing is rebranded as just another crutch for our increasingly busy lives, rather than stuffy old credit.

    ‘Our most popular Klarna service lets shoppers pay 30 days later and is used for flexibility rather than financial reasons, as it allows customers to try before they buy,’ Luke Griffiths, UK MD of Klarna tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Customers have up to 30 days to pay for their goods after they are shipped, with no interest or fees – ever. This means they can return the items if they’re not what they expected, without any money leaving their bank account – and prevents them from having to part with money upfront, or wait for retailers to process a refund.’

    As for the Slice it option, it’s not as easy to obtain credit. Your credit file will be subject to a ‘hard search’, which can be detrimental in the future to any other applications – including mortgages – as lenders may deem you ‘credit hungry’.

    Klarna isn’t the only company doing this. They’re joined in the industry by the likes of Clearpay, with each service partnering with different brands as an online buy-now-pay-later option. Clearpay offers no credit check, and allow borrowers to split their payment interest-free after providing 25% of the cost upfront (but with late fees for any missed payments rather than a negative stamp on your credit report).

    While Klarna and their peers can’t be held responsible for the debt that young people may find themselves in, it’s unsettling to see these offerings advertised to a young market on social media sites; the same young market that grew up scrolling through the Apple terms and conditions and clicking accept without so much of a glance.

    ‘Many retailers are now offering more flexible finance options with buy now and pay later schemes rapidly growing in popularity, particularly amongst younger consumers,’ says Andrew Johnson, an advice manager at the Money and Pensions Service.

    ‘Fuelled by the many interest-free options on offer, customers who order extra items to try out particularly like the opportunity to postpone their initial payments until they’ve decided what they’re keeping.

    ‘The growth in this area is particularly worrying because of how easy it is for borrowers to get credit, which could lead to more debt issues in future if it isn’t properly managed. The lack of detailed affordability checks may result in some borrowers failing to keep up with their repayments, resulting in additional charges and much bigger bills.

    ‘Failure to keep up with your loan commitment could negatively impact your credit report, your ability to obtain credit in the future and means the possibility of having to deal with debt recovery agencies.’

    A report by the Money Advice Trust found that 37% of under-25s in debt had no plan in place to pay back what they owed. The same study found that only 27% of people aged 18 to 25 know what their credit rating is and how it affects them.

    While companies may offer transparency and aim to help vulnerable customers, there’s a clear disconnect between the Insta-worthy advertising and the promise of ‘making payday irrelevant’, and the potential negative consequences of falling behind on payments or even simply applying for a loan (even if it’s not explicitly stated it’s a loan).

    It’s less about the fact that these lenders (Klarna, by the way, is a registered bank, and websites need a Credit Broker License to offer Slice It loans) exist – after all, they’re not that different from the catalogues our parents swore by for Christmases gone by – and more about the fact that of the millennials borrowing from them, more than one in five say they spend more than 60% of their income the day it enters their account.

    Jon Holt, Head of Financial Services at KPMG UK said: ‘With so many young people spending so much of their income on payday it’s little surprise that people are forced to rely on credit to get through the rest of the month, let alone to cover unexpected expenses, like a car breaking down.’

    Is it right to be looking to this credit-crunched generation to then be indebting themselves further for the sake of ‘frivolous’ purchases like clothes?

    Carl Scheible, Clearpay’s UK CEO, tells Metro.co.uk that, similar to Klarna, their product is about flexibility: ‘We are where our customers are. With the majority of them being Millennial and Gen Z aged, it’s important to offer these digitally native cohorts the ability to engage with us on platforms that make the most sense for their busy lives.

    Klarna denies that they specifically look for younger customers with their advertising: ‘We have a large range of retailers within our portfolio and their consumer demographics vary widely,’ claims Griffiths.

    ‘While it is the retailers’ responsibility to advertise the payment method, it is very important to us that our products are communicated to customers responsibly and accurately. We have guidelines for our merchants and partners to ensure Klarna is communicated in a clear, fair and not misleading manner.’ (NB, these adjectives are direct quote from the FCA guidelines on financial advertising on social media)

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B4IbDQflFre/

    Overdrafts are another product that is on the table as soon as you have your first legal pint. Bank staff sit at fresher’s fairs touting student overdrafts of up to £3,000 to bright-eyed teenagers who only managed last year to fit into their ‘you’ll grow into it’ school blazers. It’s a lot of responsibility.

    But as banking has changed so has this almost rite-of-passage form of debt.

    Challenger banks like the aforementioned Revolut, Monzo, and Starling are the methods du jour for Gen Z and millennial spenders and savers, with the snazzy cards visible in every Pret across the country.

    In terms of the lending these banks offer, it differs from company to company. Revolut doesn’t currently offer any forms of credit, while Starling offers overdrafts of up to £5,000 at a rate of 15% EAR and loans with tailored interest rates depending on eligibility and what’s already been borrowed through the overdraft facility.

    Monzo instead has a flat fee arranged overdraft. Customers have a £20 buffer, but over and above this, they’re charged 50p per day for any amount.

    Because these new banks offer genuinely helpful spending monitors and savings tools, it’s easy to assume that they’re also offering the best rates for consumers.

    For a customer to be charged up to £15.50 a month regardless of whether they’re in £30 or £1,000 of debt means that for some, this won’t be a competitive rate at all, and could eat into their cash.

    When asked about this, a Monzo spokesperson said: ‘Being transparent and communicating our products clearly is a priority at Monzo. We’ve worked with our customers to find a fee structure that is clear – and we chose the one that they favoured.

    ‘There is no charge up to £20 and one daily flat fee of 50p over that amount, with no hidden or extra fees. We do not encourage people to rely on their overdrafts and have a dedicated financial difficulties team that has been recognised as the best in the industry for helping people out of financial situations they are struggling to manage’.

    They did also share with Metro.co.uk the credit agreement shown to applicants, which addresses the fact that it is a form of credit and can negatively affect your score if not paid back.

    Monzo overdraft
    (Picture: Monzo)

    Similarly, Carl Scheible of Clearpay says: ‘Customers are empowered to spend flexibly within sensible limits. We help customers avoid debt traps and revolving interest payments. For example there are built in consumer protections which restrict an account from being used if just one payment is missed – essentially turning the credit card model on its head.’

    Each of the companies we spoke to were keen to point out that they do have systems in place to help those who fall into crisis. But the problem seems to lie with how easy it feels upon point of application to access extra cash from any of these lenders, and how ‘not-debty’ their UX-designed solutions appear on a screen. And it’s the sort of issue that isn’t easily fixed.

    The answers from the challenger banks and new lenders (although Clearpay says that they are not a credit provider) is akin to parents letting their teens drink in the house because at least then they can look after them. If young people are going to be borrowing anyway, then why not do it with them and their flat, transparent fees and friendly on-hand teams?

    Just like the exasperated dad having to clean up their 16-year-old’s vomit, though, it’s not quite as simple, and doesn’t address the fact that 71% of young people are worried about money and 83% feel they need dedicated financial lessons in schools. Alison Pask, MD of financial capability and community outreach at The London Institute of Banking & Finance, calls this age group ‘woefully unprepared for life’.

    It’s easy to spend and leave the repayments as a problem for a later version of yourself. Shopping around or sleeping on the decision is harder when you have a push notification or a big logo right there offering you an easier solution.

    Much of the temptation to overspend can be rationalised by a combination of phenomena like social media FOMO and the sense of hopelessness that comes from soundbites like ‘baby boomers were 50% more likely to own a home by the time they were 30 compared to millennials today’.

    What needs to be drummed into young people is that there is no form of debt that comes without possible repercussions. Regardless of whether it’s an influencer or an elderly lady behind a till selling you a loan – and whether you’re being called dude or dearie – the terms and conditions are there to be read and understood, not cast aside in favour of impulse spending.

    For those who are relying on credit to get by day-to-day, or those who are struggling with debt, asking for help is the next step. Contact the Money Advice Service if you’d like free, impartial debt advice.

    Debt Month

    This article is part of a month-long focus in November all about debt.

    Scary word, we know, but we're hoping if we tackle this head on we'll be able to reduce the shame around money struggles and help everyone improve their understanding of their finances.

    Throughout November we'll be publishing first-person accounts of debt, features, advice, and explainers. You can read everything from the month on the Debt Month tag.

    If you have a story to share, a topic you want us to cover, or a question that needs answering, get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

     

    MORE: Our biggest worry in life is not getting out of debt, says study

    MORE: M&S to make own-brand wines 100% vegan


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    selfridges new sweet counter
    SWEETS! (Picture: Selfridges)

    Luxury department store Selfridges has opened its brand new confectionery hall, boasting the largest vegan chocolate counter in the land.

    In addition to its cruelty-free counter, the brand new shiny space features more than 1,500 sweets and chocolates from over 40 confectionery houses across the planet.

    Leading brands include the likes of Carpo, Neuhaus, Charbonnel et Walker, Pierre Marcolini, Artisan du Chocolate, Rococo Godiva, K+M chocolate (the brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller and Italian oil producer Armando Manni) and Diggle chocolates, the London-based chocolatier who created the world’s first cheesy chocolate truffles. We’re still not too sure how we feel about those.

    Names, names, names. Indeed, but the biggest sell is the sparkly glass palace that is the vegan counter.

    Set to be the UK’s largest of its kind, The ‘Vegan Chocolatier’  will bash out 20 hand-picked options courtesy of Brighton-based house Be Chocolat by Michel Clement. Think almond praline square dipped in chocolate, truffles with pure peanut butter, praline and vegan caramel and a coconut bars with honeycomb rock dipped in dark chocolate. All very lush.

    vegan chocolate counter at Selfridges new sweets hall
    The vegan chocolate counter at Selfridges (Picture: Selfridges)

    For Christmas, 26 advent calendars will pop up along the space’s pristine walls. Split into American, classic, traditional, vegan and jelly belly, you can get your hands on everything from Venchi favourites to luxe Prestat truffles and adorable Candy Kittens.

    If that’s not enough for you, head up to the fourth floor to FAO Schwarz where you can feast on a pick ‘n’ mix train full of FAO Schweetz and 2lb Giant Gummy Bears.

    Enjoy the sugar crash, and remember, Christmas stockings are coming.

    MORE: When is the 2019 John Lewis Christmas advert out and who will sing in it?

    MORE: Is it too early to put your Christmas tree up in November?


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    (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    It cost just £78 to do up the room (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)

    Kids change their mind a lot, which means if they want something that relates to their absolute-favourite-toy-in-the-whole-wide-world, it’s probably not wise to spend a whole load of cash on it.

    That’s not to say you can’t surprise your little one on a budget, though, and this bedroom makeover might give you ideas.

    One mum shared how she transformed her child’s room for just £78, using their love of comic books as a jumping off point.

    On the group, Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks on Facebook, she told how her son had ‘very politely asked for a new bed for Christmas’, and had chosen this with his mum and dad before a week away at his grandparents.

    His parents wanted to go one better, and since they had some days off work, decided to completely revamp his room to surprise him when he came back.

    The mum and dad made the most of their local selling group, and nabbed a set of bedside tables completely free, as well as a chest of drawers that would have been consigned to a skip.

    A trip to Wilko and £78 later and the couple had everything they needed for the room.

    (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    The reclaimed drawers (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    The boy’s rock and fossil collection was displayed (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)

    The walls were covered in a comic wallpaper, with favourites like The Hulk and Thor adorning the room.

    That wallpaper was also used in a decoupage method to cover the new drawers, adding to the pop-art primary colour scheme of the whole thing.

    (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    the drawers were grey before getting the decoupage treatment (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)
    Finishing touches were added (Picture: Extreme Budget DIY & Life Hacks/Facebook)

    The boy’s room also has a cartoon duvet cover and there are matching curtains to go with it.

    Once the full thing was finished, the mum said on Facebook: ‘Can’t wait to see his face when he sees it!

    ‘I’ve been wanting to do it for ages but never felt confident until I found this page.’

    Commenters were impressed by the makeover. One said: ‘You’re the superhero here. He will love it.’

    Another added: ‘Good job, he’s going to be so surprised, bless him’.

    While we can’t confirm whether he was surprised or not, we can say that we love what this mum has done on a shoestring budget. It looks great.

    MORE: When does Starbucks’ Christmas menu launch and will the red cups be back?

    MORE: Ponies take OAPs on a ride around their care home


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    the rooftop cinema at the berkeley hotel
    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas (Picture: Maybourne Group)

    Is it even Christmas now without a rooftop cinema?

    If you’re looking for a romantic rooftop that dishes out bangin’ mugs of bottomless hot chocolate, copious amounts of champagne and richer than rich truffle laced hotdogs, The Berkeley Hotel is your new BFF.

    For those not in the know, the snug in the sky is London’s only private rustic chic rooftop cinema and features four wooden custom-made chalet inspired cabins, twinkly lights, cosy blankets and hot water bottles (to keep warm on those chilly nights) and a roster of cult Christmas classics to entertain you under the glow of the capital’s stars.

    On the playlist this year is everyone’s favourite Boxing Day guilty pleasure Home Alone, and for the adults, the amazing two hour rom com that is The Holiday. Please stand and appreciate the greatness of Cameron Diaz, now.

    the rooftop cinema at the berkeley hotel
    Snug chalet style seats and bottomless hot chocolate (Picture: Maybourne Group)

    Snacks? There are three different menus to choose from which all play homage to some of the world’s top skiing destinations.

    From Aspen there’s the truffle macaroni cheese and spiced beef hot dogs; from Gstaad cheese fondue and a truffle-topped potato rosti; and finally, a tartiflette inspired by the grand slopes of Courchevel.

    And if you have kids, they can gorge on French fries, mini burgers, brownies and cream.

    Sounds like a good night. We assure you, it is.

    To book, email wintercinema@the-berkeley.co.uk or call 0207 201 1654. The Berkeley’s Rooftop Cinema runs from Monday 4 November to 31 December 2019.

    MORE: Is it too early to put your Christmas tree up in November?

    MORE: When is the 2019 John Lewis Christmas advert out and who will sing in it?


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    Shona Dobbs in her wheelchair
    When I was younger, people loved to inform me that with the help of IVF, I could now remove the ‘faulty gene’ from any future children, because to some that was the reason for me not wanting kids (Picture: Shona Dobbs)

    From a young age, I’ve expressed to family, friends and even strangers that I don’t want children – and for as long as I’ve said that, the responses have often been the same.

    Any woman making the same decision is sure to recognise phrases such as ‘you’ll change your mind’, as well as the comments I’ve received about being too young to make such a big decision.

    All of this changed at some point though, as people became more accepting of my decision. I wish I could say it’s because we are a more accepting society when it comes to what a woman chooses to do with her life, but sadly the change in atmosphere came about for a different reason.

    So, what happened? Well, I became more visibly disabled.

    As a disabled woman, I now experience a different stigma when it comes to the topic of children, as shockingly a large number of people still believe that disabled people are not fit to be parents and, therefore, people find my choice more acceptable.

    Suddenly, it all makes sense to society. They see the wheelchair and use that as the reason for my decision, when in fact I’m just not maternal.

    When I disclose my genetic condition I find people are even more understanding – surely I wouldn’t want to pass on my condition to my child, they think.

    When I was younger, people loved to inform me that with the help of IVF I could now remove the ‘faulty gene’ from any future children, because to some that was the reason for me not wanting kids.

    Thanks to ableism, I went along with this for a while – but I know in my heart that if I did want kids I would want them exactly as they are, without modifications to make them more socially acceptable.

    However, since I became a wheelchair user, even those conversations have stopped. It’s all stopped.

    Despite how far we’ve come with disability rights, there still remains a lot of harmful ideas about disabled people and their lives, one of which being the aforementioned belief that disabled people would not make fit parents, and this plays into these reactions.

    Disabled people are seen as being unable to take care of themselves, so how on earth would they be able to take care of another human?

    This was explored in the BBC drama Don’t Take My Baby, which showcased the issue.

    I remember watching it and being shocked to my core. As a disabled person, I know that some of society believes we are less capable when it comes to parenting, but to witness the realities of this was a hard watch.

    Disabled people are seen as being unable to take care of themselves, so how on earth would they be able to take care of another human?

    I know multiple disabled parents in my own circles who are doing an incredible job, so to have my disability used as justification for my decision not to have children by other people really feels like an insult towards every disabled parent out there.

    Increased acceptance of my decision is great and I definitely don’t miss people questioning my life choices, but to have that replaced by ableism and a different type of stigma makes for an even more unsettling experience.

    Never did I believe that my choice would be accepted, but only because of my disability.

    My choice has nothing to do with my disability and genetic condition, I simply just don’t want children. I love my nephew and spending time with him is one of my favourite things to do, but my other favourite thing is handing him back afterwards.

    Growing up, everyone said that spending time around children would change my mind but it’s only solidified what I already knew – and that’s OK.

    What isn’t OK is the ableism I now receive in response to my decision and it has to stop.

    MORE: Don’t assume I have a carer just because I’m disabled

    MORE: Socialising as a disabled person can mean forking out £70 for brunch

    MORE: Hate crimes against disabled people are growing and abusers are getting away with it


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    illustration of a woman holding a baby
    What is postnatal depression actually like? (Picture: Erin Aniker)

    As footage circulates of Meghan Markle looking visibly upset while talking about being a new mother, so does conversation about postnatal depression.

    Postnatal depression (a serious type of depression that affects people after they’ve had a baby) affects up to one in ten women during the first year after their baby has been born. It’s only different to ‘regular depression’ in that the birth of a child is generally a trigger (although research has yet to conclude in any definite ‘causes’ of PND), but it’s just as grave and serious and in need of attention and treatment.

    It’s hugely common for new mothers to feel emotional – the onslaught of hormones, emotional and physical strains on your body during pregnancy and birth is enormous. If you feel overly teary, emotional and irritable after having a baby this can usually be put down to your body and mind adjusting, and lasts around two weeks. This is the ‘baby blues’. Postnatal depression is a whole different beast.

    Dr Gaya Nathan, a partner and GP at the Harrow Healthcare Centre, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Pregnancy and having a baby can take a massive toll on a person’s body and the birth itself can, in some cases, be a very traumatic experience.

    ‘Throughout pregnancy, women are bombarded with an increase in hormones that can drastically affect mood and post-birth many mothers struggle with sleep and exhaustion, which can all contribute to postnatal depression.”

    Mothers with postnatal depression often feel like they have no maternal connection to their new child, and don’t experience any positive (or negative) feelings towards their baby at all.

    Gwyneth Paltrow has shared that after the birth of her son Moses in 2006, she went through something similar. ‘At my lowest, I was a robot,’ she said. ‘I just didn’t feel anything. I had no maternal feelings for him – it was awful. I couldn’t connect, and still, when I look at pictures of him at three months old, I don’t remember that time.’

    Alanis Morissette also shared details of the huge toll postnatal took on her body and her mind, saying: ‘The degree and intensity of my post-natal depression shocked me. I am predisposed to depression, but what surprised me this time was the physical pain. I hadn’t realised the depths to which you can ache – limbs, back, torso, head, everything hurt – and it went on for 15 months.

    ‘I felt as if I was covered in tar and everything took 50 times more effort than normal. I wished I could have cried but there was no relief during that time; my version of depression is almost below crying where there is just despondency… I had various therapies and now I feel all light and springy. Thankfully, it didn’t interfere with the bond with my son, although I think that has strengthened since I got better.’

    Caption: Here's how to talk to your boss about post-natal depression Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe Fertility Series
    (Picture: Phebe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

    As it’s 2019 and we all live on the internet, there are now an array of support groups and outlets for parents to join if they’re being affected by postnatal depression in any way.

    We spoke to the wonderful Rosey who, after experiencing the debilitating effects of PND herself, now runs #PNDhour on Twitter, giving fellow sufferers an open space to share experiences and advice.

    She told us: ‘Postnatal depression to me felt endless, dark and incredibly lonely. I felt like I everything was muffled, like the world didn’t quite make sense.

    ‘There wasn’t one defining moment where I realised I had PND, it kind of crept up on me all at once, within the first few weeks after she was born.

    ‘I wasn’t enjoying being a mum, I would rather be in a different room to her except for when I was breastfeeding. I didn’t connect with her and my (now ex) partner had to take over a lot of the main caring for her.

    ‘I finally sought help when she was around eight months old, having struggled  in silence for fear of being judged as a young mother who couldn’t cope (I was 19 at the time).’

    The stigma and fear of potentially being judged as a bad mother is a huge, unnecessary weight on the minds of many PND sufferers, who’ll put off getting help because of it. As with every mental illness, the more we can talk about it the more accepted and de-stigmatised it can become.

    Dr Nathan says: ‘there are many myths about postnatal depression. One is that it is less severe than other types of depression but in fact, it’s as serious as other types of depression. In some cases, women can experience a form of psychosis that requires urgent medical help.

    ‘Another is that it is some form of temporary depression and that it will soon pass. However, postnatal depression can persist for months if left untreated and in a minority of cases, it can become a long-term problem.’

    If you think you’re going through postnatal depression, it’s important you make an appointment with a medical professional as soon as possible, and that you try and explain your situation to a loved one so that you can have some support.

    Claire Poste told us that things only started to improve for her once she’d sought help through counselling and medication.

    ‘I had both PND and postnatal anxiety but for me it felt like a disconnect from my baby – the thing I’d wanted and looked forward to for a long time,’ she told us. ‘I was so scared of being left alone with him, that he wouldn’t sleep or I wasn’t providing him with enough stimulation or feeding him enough. I think the overwhelming feeling was fear and guilt that I wasn’t feeling the way a new mum was ‘supposed’ to feel.

    ‘I begged my husband to find someone else to look after my son because I just felt like I couldn’t cope. It was a very very dark time and I felt like it would never end. It went on this way for about four months until I started to feel better following some medication and counselling.”

    Claire also told us that she had previously suffered from depression, so she ‘was really aware that it was a big possibility that I would get PND or PNA. My problems started when I was pregnant so I basically transitioned from antenatal depression to PND and PNA. So I was always aware of it, just not really able to stop it.’

    But if you’ve suffered or are suffering from depression, does that mean you’re a strong candidate to get postnatal depression, too?

    ‘Evidence would suggest that there is a definite link between depression in earlier life and post-natal depression,’ says Dr Nathan. ‘But that is not to say that if you have suffered from depression previously that you will experience post-natal depression.

    ‘It can differ drastically from person to person depending on the birth, aftercare or other factors. In some cases, there appears to be no reason at all for post-natal depression to occur.

    ‘If you have a history of depression or mental health problems or a member of your family has, tell your GP if you’re pregnant or thinking about having a baby, so that it can be carefully monitored.’

    For more information on postnatal depression and how to get help, please visit Mind’s dedicated support page.

    You can call the Association for Post Natal Illness between 10.00am and 2.00pm on: 0207 386 086

    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: What is an acupressure mat – and could it help your anxiety?


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    Well-meaning couple thought they'd rescued friend's missing cat - ended up accidentally 'stealing' someone else's
    The real Lentil has now been missing for weeks (Picture: Lauren Faulkner)

    A couple thought they’d rescued their friend’s cat – who had been missing for two weeks – but instead ended up being accused of stealing someone else’s.

    Their hilarious story has blown up on Twitter, with the passive aggressive response from the ‘stolen’ cat’s owner prompting some bemused responses.

    Lauren Faulkner and her boyfriend Charlie Allan noticed that their friend Sophie’s cat, Lentil, had potentially been spotted in an area near where they lived.

    Sophie was unable to go herself as she was at work and didn’t have her car, so Lauren and Charlie decided to step in and see if they could find Lentil. They packed blankets and a cat carrier, and were fully prepared for pet and owner to be reunited.

    Lauren told Metro.co.uk: ‘Me and my boyfriend drove round to the address Sophie had said and as soon as we got there I saw a ragdoll identical to Lentil so we just panicked assumed it was him picked him up and put him in the car.

    ‘Another male neighbour was in the car park at the time and he was like “awww I’m so glad you found him because he had heard about the missing cat” so we all just stood there having a chat.’

    Well-meaning couple thought they'd rescued friend's missing cat - ended up accidentally 'stealing' someone else's
    Lauren’s messaged to Sophie before heading off to find the pet (Picture: Lauren Faulkner)
    Well-meaning couple thought they'd rescued friend's missing cat - ended up accidentally 'stealing' someone else's
    Charlie was desperate to help their friend (Picture: Lauren Faulkner)

    That’s when things started to go awry.

    Lauren explained: ‘Then another neighbour came out and went “hi, excuse me that’s the wrong cat by the way”‘.

    ‘I was like “OMG WHAT”, and she was like “he’s lived here for a year just thought I’d let you know”

    Well-meaning couple thought they'd rescued friend's missing cat - ended up accidentally 'stealing' someone else's
    Charlie and NOT Lentil (Picture: Lauren Faulkner)

    ‘So then me and my boyfriend were like “should we knock on the owner’s door to apologise?” So we went over with the neighbour who told us it was the wrong cat and knocked on the door, but nobody answered.

    ‘By this time their cat was already out of my car.’

    It was all a little awkward, and Charlie ended up having to message Sophie to tell her that Lentil hadn’t actually been found. However, it was no harm, no foul.

    Or, at least it was until Lauren was sent this screenshot from a local Facebook group.

    Well-meaning couple thought they'd rescued friend's missing cat - ended up accidentally 'stealing' someone else's
    Paulina has yet to reply to Lauren about the misunderstanding (Picture: Lauren Faulkner)

    ‘I then proceeded to message her to say it was a genuine mistake, there was no malicious intent, and to explain we did come to her house to apologise but she wasn’t in,’ says Lauren, but the woman still hasn’t answered my message.

    Charlie also mentioned on Twitter that the owner of not Lentil had been taking pictures of the couple – who have a YouTube channel about their relationship – and said ‘IF WE APPEAR ON CRIME WATCH as hardened criminals do not be shocked.’

    Lauren’s tweet about the whole debacle has now racked up over 10,000 likes, with people shocked at both the whole situation and the fact it was implied they were thieves who may have stolen a child’s scooter too.

    ‘I can confirm we had nothing to do with the scooter,’ said Lauren, and adds that her and Charlie are still ‘mortified’ by the whole thing.

    Sadly Lentil is still missing, but if you do see him out and about, try not to take him away, as that might be deemed an ‘appalling and cowardly act’.

    Instead, please contact Sophie on Twitter.

    MORE: What does postnatal depression feel like and how can you get help?

    MORE: The Berkeley’s super snug rooftop cinema is coming back for Christmas


    Well-meaning couple thought they\'d rescued friend\'s missing cat - ended up accidentally \'stealing\' someone else\'sWell-meaning couple thought they\'d rescued friend\'s missing cat - ended up accidentally \'stealing\' someone else\'s

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    karli moreno and husband holding odin the cat on their wedding day
    Edgar sneakily brought Odin the two-legged cat to the venue ahead of the wedding (Picture: Kylie Bricker)

    Let it be known that pets and weddings are a wonderful combination.

    Whether it’s getting your dog to photobomb your engagement pictures, taking your rescue pups down the aisle, or hosting a kitten hour for your guests, if you add something cute and furry to your wedding day it’s bound to be a hit.

    That’s especially true when one member of the wedding party has no clue of your pet-related plans.

    When Karli Moreno was posing for the first look photos on her wedding day, she never expected her husband, Edgar, to bring out a special guest: their two-legged cat, Odin.

    Thankfully the moment was captured on camera by photographer Kylie Bricker, so we can all enjoy the true awe and love on Karli’s face when sweet Odin was thrust into her arms.

    edgar with odin in a carry case on his wedding day
    He surprised Karli, who had no idea Odin was in attendance (Picture: Kylie Bricker)

    Karli, who owns three cats (they have their own joint Instagram account), told Metro.co.uk: ‘I had joked with Eddie that the wedding wouldn’t feel complete without Odin there.

    ‘We’d been through so much together I was sad I wasn’t going to get to share the moment and get some photos with my special guy – don’t get me wrong I would have loved the other two [cats] there as well, but they would have for sure freaked out and ran away. Odin is the most laid back cat you’ll ever meet and you can take him anywhere and he does great.’

    Edgar pulled off the surprise by waking up early at the hotel where the couple were staying before the big day, rushing back home to pick up Odin, and hanging out with the kitty while he got ready.

    odin peeking out of his carry case
    The cat was brought out for the first look photos (Picture: Kylie Bricker)

    Edgar then brought Odin on the shuttle to the venue in his own carry case.

    Just as the couple had their special moment together, it was time for Edgar to reveal the secret.

    ‘He said “hey, I have a surprise for you”,’ Karli remembers. ‘This is where I broke down.

    ‘All the emotions of everything I’d gone through and how hard I’d fought to keep this guy alive came rushing back.

    karli reacting to seeing odin
    Yes, Karli was pretty pleased (Picture: Kylie Bricker)
    karli reacting to edgar surprising her with odin on the wedding day
    And surprised (Picture: Kylie Bricker)
    Cute, right? (Picture: Kylie Bricker)

    ‘He’s so much more than a cat to me, as he truly can read my mood and react accordingly to it. Eddie knew the day wouldn’t be complete without him there, so he made it happen. It was a magical moment.’

    That journey Karli mentioned about fighting hard to keep Odin alive is a long story that began two years ago, when the rescue centre where Edgar and Karli had adopted their two cats, Bear and El, posted a photo of a cat who could not use his two back legs.

    Odin used to live in a feral colony. He was shot with a BB gun and the bullet got lodged in his spine, which caused him to have myelitis – a severe inflammation of the spine that can cause paralysis.

    ‘Once I saw this photo of Odin, I knew I had to meet him,’ Karli tells us. ‘We got to the shelter and saw this big cat who couldn’t use his back legs, he had the brightest blue eyes I’d ever seen on a cat. They think he is some sort of ragdoll or siamese mix.

    Odin before his amputation
    Odin before his amputation (Picture: Karli Moreno)

    ‘He was scooting around the back room of the shelter, playing and chasing other cats like a normal cat would. I knew immediately he was mine, but my husband took more convincing.

    ‘I got home and got to work on “Odie-proofing” our house. I bought baby gates so he couldn’t go up or downstairs (yes, he can climb steps) – I bought a makeshift litter box out of a planting tray so it was easy for him to get into. And I also bought special paper litter for him, since when he sat on his butt in normal litter it created a bit of a mess.’

    Odin was brought home and started to settle in. But his myelitis continued to flare up, making it harder to stay mobile and continue with his physical therapy. At one point it flared so badly that circulation to Odin’s legs was affected, causing him to self-mutilate his back paws.

    odin the cat with bear
    Odin with Bear (Picture: Karli Moreno)

    After appointments with a neurologist, the couple put Odin on steroids and a medicine that needed administering every few hours.

    While vets said Odin would build up a tolerance, he never did. The medication made him a ‘zombie’, causing him to sleep all day and have no quality of life. Eventually the medicine just stopped working, and one night at 3am Karli woke up to give him his medicine and saw he had chewed off his toe.

    The couple were presented with two options: Amputate Odin’s back legs or euthanise him.

    Euthanisation simply wasn’t an option.

    ‘I’m so devoted to this cat,’ says Karli. ‘He could always sense my moods and any time my husband and I argue he meows so loud for us to stop, like he can sense the mood change and will scoot up and immediately beg to be picked up to calm me down. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.’

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bzbxx7QnH9t/

    With financial support from the Cat Welfare Association of Columbus, the couple went ahead with the amputation of Odin’s back legs, allowing him to come off his medication and get back to his normal self.

    He’s now able to scoot around with impressive speed, snuggle up with his parents, and play to his heart’s content.

    Karli said: ‘Not even a week after his surgery, after he was weaned off all medication, I literally saw this dude come back to life right before my eyes. He was running (scooting) and playing with the other two cats again.

    ‘The surgery was over a year ago and he has been living his best life since and honestly gets around faster and better than he did with his legs weighing him down. He climbs up the stairs, up onto the bed and does just about anything a normal cat can do. And no, he doesn’t have a wheelchair because he hates it and throws a fit if we try to put him in one.’

    Karli and Edgar had been together for three and a half years and Edgar proposed in 2018 in a gazebo behind their house. A year later, Odin just had to be involved in the big day. It was perfect.

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    Moreno | WeddingMoreno | Wedding

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    A jet ski that looks like a giant sneaker
    The new Adidas shoe has been launched in Berlin with a giant jet ski sneaker. (Picture: Overkill)

    There’s a part of you that’s always longed to ride a jet ski. To cruise along the waves of popular holiday destinations, avoiding the crowds. To spend the afternoon exploring secret coves inaccessible from the land.

    But the glamour of it all has always kept you away. Perhaps it was DJ Khaled snapchatting his experience of being stranded at sea on his jet ski, or a feed full of eternally-sunned influencers effortlessly canoodling on them.

    For years, closeted jet ski fans have been screaming, nay revving, for jet skis to become a little bit more accessible to the mortals.

    Cue the ‘sneaker-ski’: the jet ski that looks like a giant shoe.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B36pcmUHluJ/

    German sneaker and graffiti store Overkill has proven there’s no such thing as marketing overkill with its extra AF shoe launch.

    The sneaker jet ski recently tore through the Spree river and Landwehr Canal in Berlin in a bid to promote the new Adidas ZX8000 Aqua, a limited-edition release in the ZX collection. The new iteration of the 1989 classic shoe is being released as part of the brand’s 30-year anniversary of their Torsion System technology, the supportive link between the forefoot and heel.

    The popular store has essentially been an emporium for urban style since 2003, selling sneakers, streetwear and graffiti equipment.

    A giant jet ski sneaker
    Did Adidas approve this one? (Picture: Overkill)

    The shop is known for its range of sneakers – there are more than 500 in its collection – and also frequently run limited-edition shoe releases. You know, the kind of events people camp out the front of the store for.

    Overkill has more than 320,000 followers on Instagram, and it recently posted a video of the sneaker ski, clocking nearly 19,000 views.

    For all those seeking a jazzy bit of footwear, the sneaker will be released on 16 November 16 2019.

    Screw the shoe. We want that damn jet ski.

    MORE: Special edition Adidas trainers are selling for up to £65,000 on eBay

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    MORE: When does Starbucks’ Christmas menu launch and will the red cups be back?


    Adidas shoe launched in Berlin with a giant jet ski sneakerAdidas shoe launched in Berlin with a giant jet ski sneaker

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