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

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    Whether you love fireworks or hate them, we can all agree that they’re pretty bloomin’ loud.

    And that doesn’t bode well for our beloved pets. But there are other animals who may be harmed by the annual shenanigans.

    Bonfire Night is not only scary to our cats and doggos, but fireworks and bonfires can put hedgehogs in danger.

    Which is why the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and Facebook have collaborated to launch a film urging Brits to check their bonfires for hedgehogs ahead of 5 November.

    The film highlights the harm posed by bonfires to the already declining population which, according to The UK Mammal Society and Natural England, is estimated to be 522,000.

    That’s two-thirds lower than in 1995.

    The film also encourages people to take care when building and lighting their bonfire this year.

    With thousands of hedgehogs at risk of being burned, the BHPS is urging people to build bonfires on the day that they are due to be lit rather than a few days prior (so hedgehogs don’t stumble into it).

    The organisation is also asking people to use a broom to lift the base of the pile to check for hibernating hedgehogs before lighting it up.

    How to hedgehog-proof your bonfire

    Avoid building your bonfire in advance
    It’s tempting to kick off the preparations early, adding more to the pile as the week goes by. But  this will look very tempting to a hedgehog, so where possible build your bonfire on the day you  plan to light it.

    Ensure the bonfire is based on clear ground, avoiding leaves (where hedgehogs could be lurking underneath)

    Fence it off
    Hedgehogs are good climbers, and you need to make it difficult for them to creep inside.

    Broom your bonfire
    Even the most attentive bonfire-crafter should check for hedgehogs and other animals before lighting. They’ll most likely be nestled in the centre and bottom of the bonfire, so grab a broom and gently lift each wooden section with a pole or broom, using a torch to make sure you can see.  Listen for a hissing sound, as they’ll make this noise when disturbed.

    Give them time
    Light the fire from one side only so that hedgehogs can escape from at least one direction if they’re still inside

    Hedgehog numbers are already declining rapidly and the charity believes Bonfire Night could be the most treacherous time of all, with thousands at risk.

    Hedgehog among leaves
    Watch out for these guys (Picture: Vladimir Smirnov)

    ‘It’s a great tragedy that hedgehog lives are still lost on Bonfire Night, especially as it is so quick and easy to take steps to avoid it,’ said Fay Vass, Chief Executive of the BHPS.

    ‘We are so proud of the community of hedgehog fans that come together on Facebook and we hope that we can help to engage and educate even more people on how to keep hedgehogs safe this winter.’

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

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

    Autumn in Shchelykovo Village, Kostroma RegionAutumn in Shchelykovo Village, Kostroma Region

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    Grass leaves in jars
    Beat the winter blues with florals (Picture: Carly Rogers Flowers/Rii Schroer)

    If you’ve ever popped into a florist to buy someone flowers, chances are you’ve said something along the lines of ‘aren’t they beautiful’ or ‘they smell so nice’ with a giant big smile on your face.

    There’s a reason for that smiley face: flowers are proven to make you happy.

    From boosting mood to lowering stress, several studies over the years have found that flowers can help improve your mental health by triggering happy brain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and the love hormone, oxytocin.

    Colour therapists, AKA chromatherapists, also argue that different colours correspond with different vibrations throughout the body. If things are a little off chemically, the science says that everything can be treated by exposing your eyes to colourful stimuli.

    In other words, the brighter the floral, the happier the person.

    A recent behavioral study conducted by Rutgers University in the US found that flowers were linked to overall life satisfaction.

    Nature, according to the researchers, provides us with a ‘simple way to improve emotional health’. The presence of flowers in particular triggers all sorts of happy emotions, from shape to scent, that promotes positive social interactions.

    ‘What’s most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way,’ says Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher on the study.

    In a nutshell, the 10-month study show that flowers are natural and healthful moderators of moods. Those part of the trial reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving a bunch of flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and even life satisfaction.

    ‘Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy,” said Dr. Haviland-Jones. ‘Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being.’

    This is nothing new though. For thousands of years, there is written evidence that ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Chinese civilisations all used to gift flowers to communicate their feelings – a sentiment will still continue today during holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Mothering Sunday.

    Years later, botanist and horticulturist Luther Burbank famously proclaimed:

    ‘Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.’

    He was arguably ahead of his time.

    If you, or someone you know is feeling low, stressed, or anxious, especially with winter looming, our advice is simple: treat yourself to the most gorgeous flowers out there.

    For inspiration, we’ve asked some of London’s top florists on which mixes are best to beat the winter blues. Spoiler: they’re all bloomin’ beautiful.

    Andrea Bassoli of McQueens Flowers 

    Love-lies-bleeding are my suggestion to brighten up these cold and rainy das.

    What an amazing name you Brits found for my favourite seasonal flowers but they are also known as Red Amaranth.

    They are easy to dry and long lasting, with a deep red colour and rich scent, bringing a touch of autumn into your house for months on end.

    An alert for birds owners though : make sure that your parrot is not flying anywhere near them because they love to eat these very tasty blooms.

    Man with large flowers
    Andrea of McQueens Flowers with a bung of Red Amaranth. Picture Credit: Rowan Spray

    Carly Rogers of Carly Rogers Flowers

    As we say goodbye to the blousy peonies and roses of summer and head into winter, I love to use all sorts of seasonal grasses to brighten up the mood.

    At first, they appear understated, but if you look closer, they burst with personality and add neutral textures to any space. Whether you’re using them en mass or as very on-trend single stems arranged in bottles, they strike that balance of being minimalist but also full of warmth and detail.

    From pampas to fountain grass, blend all sorts of grasses together to bring a natural wild garden feel into your home. They are also extremely long lasting, low maintenance and can also be dried for further longevity.

    Pampas grass plants also used to signal that you were swingers back in the 1970s. A fact that always make me smile.

    Florist holdings designer grass
    Carly Rogers of Carly Rogers with her grass mix. Picture Credit: Carly Rogers Flowers/Rii Schroer

    Neill Strain of Neill Strain Floral Couture

    My recommendation is unquestionably orchids, in particular Phalaenopsis orchids for their fabulously cheerful hues that will brighten even the deepest winter blues.

    Go for bright pinks and purples, yellows and oranges or translucent white. We’ve created some stunning orchid planters (some rare and new varieties) of scented Phalaenopsis, all packaged in a beautiful container.

    The butterfly shape, the exquisite patterns, the luxury and opulence of these magnificent flowers bring happiness to the beholder with every mesmerising gaze.

    Man holding orchids
    Neill Strain with his stunning rare orchids. Picture Credit: Neil Strain Floral Couture

    Louise Bermingham of Wild Things Flowers, Mayfair

    Teddy bear coat, darling roses and rosa corallo rose hips and dried bracken – that’s my choice.

    Look for simple flowers with a large sprinkle of beauty and something really difficult to forage. The more wild, the better.

    When you find yourself in the car twitching at the junction when a perfect teasel or fern waves at you seductively you know you’re finished… you will return at your peril to harvest said beauty.

    Look for a boggy ditch (think of it as an adventure) because such artful simplicity is worth scrambling for.

    Once the flowers begin to wilt, cut and float them in fresh water in a low wide bowl – maybe on the door step with floating candles for your winter dinner guests  to enjoy.

    Woman holding flowers
    Louise of Wild Things Flowers with her earthy wild mix. Picture Credit: Wild Things Flowers

    Dawid ‘Princess’ Pierwola and Elias Kouyialis of Princess & KO

    In October and November, we are always on the hunt for autumnal hydrangeas. Rusty wine reds and earthy greens tinged with blue, these floral pompons remind you of a summer just gone.

    Arrange five heads in a tall vase for an impact, making sure to cut two inches into their stems first so they can drink plenty of water.The best thing about autumnal hydrangea is that they look even better when left to dry.

    Two men holding flowers
    Dawid and Elias with bunches of autumnal hydrangeas. Picture Credit: Princess & KO

    Renee of Wild at Heart 

    I’m so drawn to the juicy, rich, berry tones of this season, chocolate cosmos are my absolute favourite flower – and they smell like chocolate too! We design with fragrance in mind because beautifully scented flowers can instantly boost your mood, especially in the winter months.

    Mixing darker tones with slightly brighter hues creates a striking contrast. Make a bouquet last by cutting the stems regularly on a 45 degree angle to encourage water absorption and re-fresh the water every other day. Longer lasting flowers mean a long-lasting smile.

    Woman holding bouquet of flowers
    Renee of Wild at Heart holding a glorious bouquet of chocolate cosmos. Picture Credit: Wild at Heart

    Cyrill Tronchet of Cyrill Tronchet Florist

    Chrysanthemums for one of my favourite flowers of the season: they are big, bright and just delicious to look at.

    Common bunches come in yellow, orange and pink and many others and can last up to 15 days. Unbeknown to many, chrysanthemums also symbolise optimism and joy, so they are the perfect choice to brighten up a dark and dreary day.

    To keep you and them glowing, just cut the stems every three days and regularly change the water.

    Man holding a bunch of flowers
    Cyrill Tronchet of Cyrill Tronche London Florist with his choice of chrysanthemums. Picture Credit: Cyrill Tronchet

    How to care for your flowers

    Cut the stems at an angle and trim the flower stems and add fresh room temperature water daily.

    When you go to bed put the flowers in a cold porch or a larder.

    Continuously prune your florals by removing all the dead leaves below the water line. Not only does it make the whole thing look prettier, but it also keeps bacteria from growing and killing your bunch.

    For those with roses, shave off the outer most petals to ensure maximum bloom.

    Avoid placing your bunch in direct sunlight. You run the risk of destroying its petals. Opt for a shady corner instead.

    Do not place your florals near fruit. When your average banana etc ripens, it releases ever so small amounts of ethylene gas which can actually prove perilous to your bouquet.

    MORE: How to prepare your plants for cold weather

    MORE: The best houseplants for your bedroom to help you sleep

    MORE: Plants are now being prescribed to help people with anxiety and depression

    Carly Rogers Flowers12 October 2019Photographer: Rii SchroerCarly Rogers Flowers12 October 2019Photographer: Rii Schroer

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    Jessica showing her children the Mum Cave and with her partner and three children
    Jessica created the ‘mum cave’ for just £17 (Picture: SWNS)

    Mum-of-three Jessica Pool felt she was the only member of the family without her own space for some quiet time.

    Her kids had their bedrooms and partner Matthew had his shed.

    After suffering from postnatal depression, she wanted somewhere she could relax and take some time out if she needed to.

    The 25-year-old decided to clear out the coats and toys under the stairs and for just £17, she turned it into her ‘mum cave’, complete with reading nook, calming candles and mood lighting.

    Jessica from Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, said: ‘I decided to make it because it was just a dumping ground and I got fed up with sorting it out all the time.

    ‘I thought it would be somewhere for the children to go but then I thought no – they have their bedrooms.

    ‘Sometimes us mums need somewhere we can escape to and still be near the children to look after them.

    Jessica Pool's cupboard under the stairs, prior to becoming the 'Mum Cave'
    Jessica’s cupboard under the stairs, before (Picture: Jessica Pool /SWNS)

    ‘Sometimes I’ll go take myself away for five minutes to give myself some space.

    ‘Children take themselves away when they need a break and this is somewhere I can go.

    ‘You hear about man caves and toy rooms, but I’d never heard of a mum cave.

    ‘I suffer from postnatal depression and I felt like I needed somewhere I could take myself without inflicting my mood on the children and then I can come out and be mummy again.’

    Jessica, who lives with her partner, Matthew, a civil engineer, and their three children Madison, five, Charlie, three, and Oliver, nine weeks, said the space is a phone-free area with no distractions – just a place where she can sit and think.

    She managed to create the space in just two hours.

    Jessica Pool in the Mum Cave
    Jessica likes to read a book inside (Picture: Jake McPherson / SWNS)

    She added: ‘I took all rubbish to the tip, spent two hours painting, and spent about £17 on it – on paint and shelves, the rest of the stuff is from around the house.

    ‘It’s improved my quality of life drastically, today if I’ve felt a bit annoyed I’ll go in there.

    ‘I’ve explained to my children that it’s my space.

    ‘I’ve told them they can go in there, but it’s more for me than them.

    ‘They are pretty understanding, there’s nothing in there for them to do.

    ‘It’s a non-electronic cupboard so I don’t take my phone in there, I go in there for headspace and to recharge.’

    MORE: Florists say these flowers can help beat the winter blues

    MORE: How do you know if you’re in a ‘debt crisis’?

    A young mum who needed some time to herself converted her understairs cupboard and creates the world\'s first MUM cave.A young mum who needed some time to herself converted her understairs cupboard and creates the world\'s first MUM cave.

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    Woman with sunken face condition
    ‘I felt anxious and scared all the time’ (Pictures: PA Real Life/Collect)

    A woman whose face began to dramatically sink on one side is having her cheek rebuilt with fat taken from her stomach.

    Kayleigh Crowther, first noticed the left-hand side of her face looking more sunken than usual, she thought she must be developing chiselled cheekbones, having recently lost some weight.

    But when the ‘sinking’ didn’t stop, the 27-year-old realised that something was wrong.

    Kayleigh says her self-esteem was shattered by the development of the condition, not helped by ignorant questions from strangers asking if she had been in an accident or had ‘cancer cut out of her face.’

    Hoping that cosmetic filler injections would restore her facial symmetry, Kayleigh went to a clinic but was turned away by a medic, who told her there was something more serious afoot.

    A long string of tests followed before she was finally diagnosed with Parry-Romberg Syndrome (PRS), a condition characterised by the progressive deterioration of the skin and tissue in one side of the face.

    Kayleigh before her fat transfer procedure (PA Real Life/Collect)
    ‘I looked it up and remember seeing all this terrifying, worst-case scenario information’ (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    But thankfully her confidence has been restored after she had a fat transfer procedure at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital in April this year.

    Kayleigh, who’s from South Yorkshire, says: ‘Before this, I was distraught. I knew that everybody else could see what I saw. It was soul-destroying to dislike myself that much – but now, I’m feeling the best I have in a long time.

    ‘It’s been a long road and there have been times where this could have easily swallowed me up, but I now know that I am Kayleigh with PRS – PRS doesn’t have me.’

    Kayleigh first began to notice her appearance changing when she was 17; she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was different, but felt she simply did not ‘look right.’

    When she was 18 and began going out clubbing with friends that she noticed on the photos that the left-hand side of her face was looking increasingly sunken.

    ‘People would say: “Haven’t you got lovely cheekbones,” – then I’d say, “It’s only on the left side, though,” she explains.

    Kayleigh around aged 18 when she first noticed her symptoms (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Kayleigh around 18 when she first noticed her symptoms (PA Real Life/Collect)

    ‘I wasn’t in any pain and wasn’t sure what exactly a doctor would be able to do for me, so I didn’t think to visit my GP.’

    In January 2014, when she was 22, Kayleigh and her partner Scott set off on the adventure of a lifetime to live in Australia.

    But as her face was becoming increasingly asymmetrical, life quickly turned into a nightmare for Kayleigh.

    ‘I’d overhear children saying things like; “Mummy, what’s happened to that lady’s face?”‘

    She was still looking for answers when she and Scott moved to New Zealand in November 2015.

    ‘I was trying really hard not to let it rule my life, but I was so unhappy,’ she recalls. ‘I was pushing myself, forcing myself to go out into the world – but inwardly, I felt anxious and scared all the time.

    ‘I was even on anti-anxiety medication. I just couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it.’

    Thankfully, in New Zealand, after tirelessly emailing plastic surgeons, she finally received a long-awaited answer.

    Kayleigh and Scott (PA Real Life/Collect)
    ‘Nobody likes to feel different, and those stares and comments can be awful’ (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    She says: ‘A plastic surgeon came back to me, saying not to quote him on it, but that he’d seen one other case of PRS in his career and it looked similar to mine.

    ‘So, I went to the doctor armed with my MRI scans and the suggestion that it could be PRS, and finally medics in New Zealand agreed that they thought that’s what I had.

    ‘I didn’t know much about it, especially as it’s so rare, but I looked it up and remember seeing all this terrifying, worst-case scenario information, like photos of really severe cases.

    ‘I remember saying to Scott that I didn’t know how I would carry on and cope if that was going to be my future. How are you supposed to keep moving forward?’

    According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, PRS, the cause of which is unknown, sees the skin and soft tissues in one half of the face – usually the left-hand side – slowly shrink.

    The initial facial changes, which tend to happen before the age of 20, usually occur around the cheek or upper jaw, and the severity varies from case to case.

    The condition appears more typically in women than men and, while exact statistics are unknown, physicians have estimated it affects between one in 250,000 and one in a million people worldwide.

    Kayleigh now, following her fat transfer procedure (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Kayleigh now, following her fat transfer procedure (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    Before Kayleigh could have an operation, visa issues meant she returned to the UK in March 2018.

    ‘While I’d been away, I’d posted photos of my travels, but I had always been in control, making sure I posed in a certain way, or took them from an angle that meant you couldn’t see how bad my face looked,’ she explains.

    ‘But coming home meant seeing friends I’d not seen for ages. I knew they’d be shocked by how different I looked, so I had to take the plunge and tell them I’d been diagnosed with PRS.

    ‘Thankfully they were amazingly supportive. Back home, I hit the ground running. I was so close to getting answers. I didn’t want to stop.’

    Doctors in South Yorkshire confirmed Kayleigh’s PRS diagnosis and she was referred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, where she was placed under the care of a facial surgeon.

    He instead suggested they try a fat transfer.

    ‘He was absolutely amazing. I trust him wholeheartedly,’ she says.

    ‘The fat transfer injections are less invasive, and we really had nothing to lose.’

    In April 2019, during a two-hour procedure , Kayleigh had liposuction to take fat from her stomach, which was then injected into her face by her ear and hairline.

    Kayleigh's stomach after liposuction (PA Real Life/Collect)
    Kayleigh’s stomach after liposuction (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

    Recalling the procedure, which she had on the NHS, she says: ‘I came round from the surgery and was handed a mirror. I can’t describe it – I looked symmetrical, like my old self again.

    ‘I’ve never been so happy to see my own reflection.’

    Some of the fat has since broken down, meaning Kayleigh’s face has sunk a little, but much of it has stayed, which is proof to her that the procedure was a success.

    Later this month, she will be meeting medics to see if she needs a second bout of fat injections and she hopes that, over time, she will slowly be able to have her cheek entirely rebuilt.

    ‘It’s such a rare condition that I’ve only recently been able to find other people like me via a Facebook support group,’ she adds.

    ‘I hope by sharing my story I can show others living with PRS that it doesn’t need to take over your life. You’re still you.

    ‘To everyone else out there, I’d want to say be a little kinder. Nobody likes to feel different, and those stares and comments can be awful. I was already feeling like an alien – I didn’t need people looking at me like one.’

    MORE: How do you know if you’re in a ‘debt crisis’?

    MORE: Woman transforms cupboard under the stairs into ‘mum cave’ for just £17 to give her somewhere to relax

    MORE: Florists say these flowers can help beat the winter blues

    Woman with condition that makes her face sink has fat from her stomach injected into her cheekWoman with condition that makes her face sink has fat from her stomach injected into her cheek

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    Photo taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia
    Croatia’s not all about sun, sea and amazing beaches – as we reveal

    Winter is coming and Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic, is as dazzling as ever.

    And it’s never been easier to reach thanks to an extra direct flight every week from London Gatwick with British Airways.

    Here, we reveal the delights to be had once you step off the plane.

    From superb seafood and fun-filled festivals to mesmerising museums, and buildings and streets that may seem more than a little familiar to Game of Thrones fans, there’s plenty on offer to keep you busy..

    Read on to discover the city’s winter season sensations.

    Gastronomic delights 

    Black risotto with squid
    Black risotto with squid is a must-try dish while you’re in Dubrovnik

    The seafood scene in Dubrovnik is sensational, with the fruits of the Adriatic expertly served up by the local chefs in Michelin-starred restaurants as well as busy cafes.

    One mouthwatering highlight is black risotto, so named because of its key ingredient – squid ink. The chefs here are also proud of their seafood platters and stewed mussels.

    Another must-eat Dalmatian delight is Zelena menestra, or green stew. It’s been a favourite in the area since the 15th century and – being a hearty mixture of smoked bacon, sausages, cabbage and potatoes – is the perfect comfort food for the winter season.

    Tuck in, but make room for dessert.

    Arancini – sugared orange peel – is a delicious sweet treat that’s not to missed, though some say the most popular dessert in the city is rozata, a custard pudding served with lashings of caramel.

    Dine al-fresco in a cosy restaurants close to the cathedral for splendid views, or head to the peaceful square of Jesuit Church of St Ignatius for a romantic supper.

    It’s game on for Game of Thrones fans 

    Famous filming location
    Make like a Tyrell and survey your kingdom from Trsteno Arboretum

    Huge chunks of Game of Thrones were filmed in the city, so wrap up and explore the filming locations.

    You’ll find the reality just as eye-opening as the fantasy.

    Begin by following in Cersei Lannister’s footsteps and taking the ‘Walk of Atonement’. It began on the old town’s baroque Jesuit Staircase by St Ignatius Church and continued along the charming main street, Stradun.

    Following this, gaze upon the immense Fort Minceta, which became Qarth’s House of Undying in the show.

    Next, jump on a bus for an eight-mile jaunt up the coast to the Trsteno Arboretum – a stunning botanical garden set around a cliff-edge pavilion that appeared in GoT as the Tyrells’ Red Keep garden.

    Lively festivals  

    Dubrovnik Winter Festival (12) -d362
    Dubrovnik’s Winter Festival is a magical way to get into the Christmas spirit

    Dubrovnik is transformed into a fairy-tale wonderland thanks to the magical Winter Festival (Dec-Jan), one of several world-class celebrations that maintain its reputation as the City of Festivals.

    Gaze upon picturesque streets illuminated with festive lights, sip mulled wine as you peruse the Christmas market and prepare to be mesmerised by special Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra performances.

    Visitors in February, meanwhile, can enjoy the incredible Feast of St Blaise, which takes place on the 3rd of the month and honours the city’s patron saint.

    The night before white doves are released as all the church bells ring. And on the day there’s a huge procession along Stradun, along with concerts and theatre performances.

    The feast’s origins date to the 12th century and it has been listed by UNESCO as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’.

    Walk the city walls 

    Dubrovnik bay and historic walls panoramic view, tourist destination in Dalmatia, Croatia
    Soak up some winter sun during the day by walking the city’s iconic walls

    Dubrovnik’s medieval centre is encircled by monumental forts and towering walls up to 83-feet high, lending it an air of fantasyland mystery and grandeur.

    You can walk around all 6,300 feet of them all year round for stunning views of picturesque terracotta rooftops, hidden courtyards and the shimmering Adriatic.

    Some of the most enticing panoramas materialise on the fort battlements, where the walls are loftiest.

    The two main entrances to the walls are at the Ploče Gate and the Pile Gate, with insiders saying the latter, built in 1537, is the most impressive to behold.

    Visit www.wallsofdubrovnik.com.

    Marvel at the museums 

    Outside the cloister of the Franciscan Monastery and Museum, one of the most beautiful late-Romanesque structures in Dalmatia
    Find peace and tranquility in the courtyard of the Franciscan Monastery and Museum

    There is a multitude of marvellous museums in Dubrovnik, displaying everything from arresting antiquities to mesmerising modern art.

    If it’s the latter that tickles your fancy, then make a beeline for the superb Museum of Modern Art (www.ugdubrovnik.hr, Frana Supila 23, Ploce). There are three floors, plus a sculpture terrace with amazing views, that mainly feature artists connected to Dubrovnik and the surrounding area.

    The Cultural History Museum (www.dumus.hr), meanwhile, housed in the grand 15th-century Rector’s Palace, showcases around 10,000 objects created over the past 500 years and affords visitors the chance to explore masterfully restored chambers and halls – and a dungeon.

    Yet more fascinating relics reside in the Franciscan Monastery & Museum (Poljana Paska Miličevića 4), plus a church, a library and a historic pharmacy that dates back to the 13th century and is said to be the third oldest in Europe.

    The cable car ride that’s summit special

    Aerial panoramic view of the old town of Dubrovnik with famous Cable Car on Srd mountain on a sunny day with blue sky and clouds in summer, Dalmatia, Croatia
    Take in the beauty of Dubrovnik from the skies in the famous cable car

    To ensure your Instagram holiday portfolio has all the angles covered, head to the top of Srđ hill on the cable car for a view of the city that’s truly magical.

    The summit lies at 1,350ft and from here the city looks particularly fantastical.

    What’s more, the view includes a few bonuses, such as the lush Lokrum island just off the coast and the Elaphiti Islands further out.

    Attractions at the top include a 200-year-old fort, a coin-blacksmithing shop and a restaurant (with epic views, of course).

    If you are desperate to upload lots of your summit snaps to social media without delay, worry not – the cable car has Wi-Fi.

    Visit www.dubrovnikcablecar.com.

    Drink in the wine scene 

    Romantic luxury dinner.Empty glasses and tropical sunset with sea background.Romantic evening with stunning sunset.
    Enjoy a cool glass of Pošip as the sun sets of pretty Dubrovnik

    Drinking great wine is an all-weather experience, of course, and in Dubrovnik there’s lots of great wine to drink – Croatia is home to more than 100 grape varieties and its produce is often critically acclaimed.

    Highly recommended white wines include Pošip, an indigenous grape on the nearby island of Korčula that’s turned into an elegant wine with hints of apricots and figs. And Malavasija, a honeyed, fragrant variety produced in the neighbouring Konavle region.

    Prefer red? Then set your sights on Plavac Mali, a grape grown on the region’s steepest slopes. The best areas, or appellations, for this variety are Dingač and Postup, so look out for those on the labels.

    Book your amazing holiday to Dubrovnik with British Airways ba.com/dubrovnik

    Photo taken in Dubrovnik, CroatiaPhoto taken in Dubrovnik, Croatia

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    Morrison's vegan sausage rolls
    How does it only cost £1? (Picture: Morrisons)

    Vegan sausage rolls have been big news all year.

    Ever since Greggs launched its now-iconic plant-based classic, other retailers have been jumping on the bandwagon and trying to pull in the vegan pastry-loving crowd.

    In the latest pastry wars one-upmanship, Morrisons has gone all out with a gargantuan roll that could feed an entire vegan family.

    Weighing in at a whopping 466g, the gigantic vegan roll is double the length of its competition and nearly four times the weight – and it only costs £1. We will take seven, please.

    Available from today, the Vegan Foot Long replaces Morrisons’ traditional sausage-meat with a seasoned soya mince that is blended with a mix of herbs and spices then wrapped in golden flaky pastry.

    Morrisons vegan sausage roll
    The filling is made of seasoned soya mince (Picture: Morrisons)

    Freshly baked in-store by Morrisons Market Street bakers, the massive vegan roll is available to buy hot from Morrisons Pie Counters, but it is so heavy it even needs its own tray to take away.

    The mammoth roll is the brainchild of Morrisons pie and pastry experts who wanted to go one step further following the success of their vegan ‘no sausage’ roll and vegan ‘Corn-ish’ pasty earlier this year.

    It also follows the original footlong sausage roll, which launched in 2017.

    ‘Our original foot long sausage roll caught the imagination of the nation so we’ve worked hard to make sure everyone – including vegans – can now tuck into our creation,’ says Morrisons Pie Expert, Steven Halford. ‘Sharing is optional.’

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    MORE: Florists say these flowers can help beat the winter blues

    Hull News & Pictures LtdHull News & Pictures Ltd

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    michael hill and his wife kaye found their missing wedding ring
    Michael and Kaye Hill were delighted with the discovery

    An emotional grandfather has been reunited with his wedding ring after losing it almost 40 years ago.

    Michael Hill was delighted when a treasure hunter returned his wedding band to him last Sunday.

    He lost the ring – which is engraved with the date of his wedding – almost 40 years ago, when he was mowing his lawn in Brisbane, Australia.

    The 72-year-old first thought it would turn up, but as the years went on he and his wife Kaye gave up hope.

    The couple’s children came across plumber Jual Butler on Facebook, who offered to look for lost objects in his local area. The family decided to take him up on his services.

    Michael and Kaye on their wedding day in 1970
    Michael and Kaye on their wedding day in 1970

    Jual arrived at the couple’s house with his metal detector and after more than 11 hours of searching over the course of two days he found the ring.

    The plumber spent more than six hours on the Friday searching in heavy rain, with no luck. When he returned on Sunday, he targeted a strip of lawn on the right hand side of the house and found the missing piece.

    After his metal detector went off, Jual turned over the earth and saw gold shining in front of him. He ran to get his camera before he teased the wedding band from the soil and grass.

    the wedding ring buried in the garden
    The ring was eight inches down
    the ring on top of the earth in the garden
    The long lost wedding band
    treasure hunter jual found the ring
    Jual was the man who found it

    According to Mail Online, Jual said: ‘I had a good feeling it was there.’

    ‘It was like it was calling to me.

    ‘There it was, eight inches down.’

    The discovery of the ring could not have come at a more significant time – as the couple celebrate their 50-year golden wedding anniversary in 2020.

    michael and kaye hill putting on the missing ring
    Kaye reuniting husband Michael with his ring 

    Michael said: ‘It was an emotional time.

    ‘The times I walked over that ring (without knowing it) would have been hundreds of times.’

    In the four decades the ring has been missing, Michael and Kaye have had six children and grandchildren.

    Michael added: ‘Over the years it became more of something that had to be resolved.’

    Michael offered Jual a reward for his efforts but the plumber said he could not accept.

    Sadly, the ring no longer fits on Michael’s finger, so he keeps it in a little box along with his wife’s.

    MORE: Grandad’s priceless reaction as watch he bought for £35 is worth £40,000

    MORE: Grandad becomes fastest 84-year-old in the world – after recovering from two heart attacks

    MORE: Couple who lost dream wedding in Thomas Cook collapse have big day rescued as businesses step in

    Michael Hill's lost wedding ring turned up almost 40 years laterMichael Hill's lost wedding ring turned up almost 40 years later

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    Illustration of a hand with planets, stars and moons on an astrological background in purple
    Are your energies aligning? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Finding it difficult to communicate with others at the moment? You might have Mercury retrograde to blame.

    The astrological event, which began on 31 October and will continue until 20 November, is when the planet appears to move backwards, causing all sorts of havoc in our relationships – professional and personal alike.

    Thankfully, Bumble is coming to the rescue to help us improve our connection skills until mercury is done messing with them.

    The dating app is hosting an astrology-themed singles dinner on 12 November with its in-house astrologer, Michele Knight, to teach people how the stars influence personality traits and could be key to finding a compatible lover.

    If you meet someone you fancy, hold on to them – Michele will be reading ‘energies’ throughout the evening and might re-assign your dinner company to a different seat if she feels you’re not a match.

    You can also ask her to give you a palm reading to find out what your future holds.

    The event will be held at Chez Moi in Notting Hill during a full moon – which is believed to affect human behaviour by heightening your emotions (and hopefully counter-acting any miscommunication caused by Mercury).

    Fancy letting the stars decide your romantic fate?

    To be in with a chance to get a seat at the table, you will need to download the Bumble app and ‘match’ with the venue’s profile, as well as provide details of your birthday and star sign.

    Dubious about astrology?

    Swipe your way to a regular, non-star-themed match and visit one of London’s best date night spots, instead.

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

    MORE: The hottest date night spots in London right now

    MORE: How to deal with dating someone who works out more than you

    Horoscope series for PlatformHoroscope series for Platform

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    Yves Saint Laurent Clutch bag Boots free giveaway
    You can get one of these handbags as a free gift at Boots (Picture: Getty/Boots)

    Want a handbag with a designer label but don’t quite have the savings? Well, Boots is about to launch an amazing offer where you can get a Yves Saint Laurent clutch bag for free.

    The catch is that you have to spend £100 on YSL beauty of fragrance products but if you want to stock up or if you’re looking for Christmas gifts, it might be worthwhile doing it this week.

    There are only 2,000 bags available so you need to get in quickly.

    The black box bag features the YSL logo in gold across the front and a gold chain.

    The bags will be available from 6 November until 12 November, while stocks last.

    Yves Saint Laurent Clutch bag Boots free giveaway
    The bag is available from 6 November (Picture: Boots)

    It’s part of the ‘Big Deal’ promotion and it includes a free YSL moisturiser if you buy one of the products.

    You can pick up everything from a bottle os YSL Black Opium perfume to the classic Touche Eclat.

    It’s part of their offers across the store in the build-up to the festive period.

    Fans were concerned that they had cancelled the popular 3 for 2 offer this year, where you can pick up three gift sets for the same price as two.

    But Boots told fans that they would still offer some gift sets on the 3 for 2 offer, while others would have 25% off for those who don’t want to have to buy three things.

    Some of the 25% off offers have already launched, with more coming in the next few weeks on the countdown to Christmas.

    MORE: Grandfather moved to tears after his lost wedding ring is found almost 40 years later

    MORE: Morrisons launches footlong vegan sausage roll

    Boots Yves Saint Laurent handbagsBoots Yves Saint Laurent handbags

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    Brazilian physiotherapist swimming with dolphin
    Dolphins recognise this physiotherapist who helps disabled children move (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    A physiotherapist has found a unique way to help disabled children improve their strength – by teaching them to swim with wild dolphins.

    Igor Simões Andrade, from Brazil, started the programme called ‘bototherapy’ in 2006, where he takes children with physical and mental disabilities swimming with wild pink dolphins in the Amazon river.

    Dad-of-one Igor works with kids with various conditions such as Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

    To date, he has helped more than 600 children for free.

    Many of the kids, who have lost limbs, are unable to move much at all when they start working with Igor.

    But swimming with the dolphins allows the children to mirror the mammals, helping them to improve their movement on dry land too.

    The wild pink dolphins, known as ‘botos’ are familiar with Igor and always swim towards him because of a trick he uses to attract them.

    Dolphin being touched
    Igor funds the project out of his own pocket to help disabled kids (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    ‘I have been swimming here with them for the past 15 years so the dolphins know me,’ he explains.

    ‘I play with them and throw a ball for them to bring back, it’s a fun game for them and they are used to me now and always want to play.

    ‘The kids parents are very grateful.’

    It’s not just about helping them move though, Igor also uses the opportunity to teach the children about the environment.

    ‘I teach the children about the dolphins and their environment so they learn to respect them. I say, “We are going into their environment and they have been here for 15 million years”.

    ‘They are such incredible creatures, you can see how they make the children’s eyes light up, it’s really amazing.

    ‘There is a beautiful bond between the dolphins and the children, they are truly friends. Nobody forces the dolphins to be there, they are wild and play with the children on their own accord.’

    Some of the children that Igor works with have gone from being being full-time wheelchair users to taking steps unaided because of the physical benefits of the therapy, as well as the confidence swimming with dolphins brings them.

    Since he started the therapy 13 years ago, he’s helped hundreds of children with severe disabilities whose parents couldn’t afford for them to have traditional physiotherapy.

    Dolphin swimming under water
    The dolphins recognise Igor too (Picture: Caters News Agency)

    Igor, who has studied veterinary science, embarked on animal-assisted therapy after spending time with horses and dolphins.

    He added: ‘My work is based on trust, confidence and therapeutic resources, which come from physiotherapy, Rolfing (like a deep-tissue massage) and animal-assisted therapy.

    ‘When I came to the Amazon, I saw the potential to develop the project of pink dolphins therapy.’

    MORE: Dad who adopted two disabled kids creates accessible igloos so they can enjoy snow

    MORE: Bride walks down the aisle with eight disabled rescue dogs by her side

    MORE: My choice not to have kids has nothing to do with the fact I’m disabled


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    Dentist checking young boys teeth
    This dentist has been travelling around Brazil to help the poorest people with their teeth (Picture: drfeliperossi / Instagram)

    Dr Felipe Rossi is proving that not all superheroes wear capes.

    The Brazillian dentist has been working for free in Brazil, fixing the teeth of people who can’t afford treatment.

    In 2016, he went to Mozambique with an NGO called Mission Africa and it inspired him to start his own. From there, Port1sorriso was born.

    Felipe wanted to use his experience to help the most vulnerable in his own country.

    He and his team have travelled to more than 10 Brazilian states and two countries in Africa providing high-tech treatment for free.

    It started off with just two of Felipe’s friends. But now the operation is larger and gets a little help from toothbrush brand Colgate which donates some things to enable the project.

    Dentist with a child in Africa
    (Picture: drfeliperossi / Instagram)

    ‘I came back impacted with so much human misery, and decided to do something bigger using my academic background which is dentistry,’ he explains to Metro.co.uk.

    ‘We travel every month to meet the most disadvantaged people, and there are many.

    ‘In Brazil, more than 20 million people have never gone to the dentist.  This number is alarming.  And we get in there and see this lack of care.

    ‘These are the people we want to reach.’

    Today, Por1Sorriso has over 20 people on staff and lots of volunteers to make the action happen.

    Felipe adds: ‘It is everyone’s job, and I value the team. I founded and chaired, but it is everyone’s job.’

    Here are some of the amazing transformations that Felipe has done:

    Woman crying after dentist treatment
    Dr Felipe Rossi decided to help people in his own country (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Woman smiling after dentist treatment
    The Brazilian doctor set out to help poor people fix their teeth (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Woman smiling after dentist treatment
    He does all high-end treatments for free (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Woman smiling after dentist treatment
    His team started off with two friends but now has 20 people (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Woman smiling after dentist treatment
    Colgate also donates some things for the project (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Woman smiling after dentist treatment
    Felipe had the idea after travelling to Africa (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Old woman smiling after dentist treatment
    He helped people transform their teeth as part of a project called Mission Africa (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Woman smiling after dentist treatment
    The dentist then used his experience to help the people of his native Brazil (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Man smiling after dentist treatment
    People were delighted to receive the treatment (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Man smiling after dentist treatment
    All smiles after getting new teeth (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    woman smiling after dentist treatment
    Some people were moved to tears (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Man smiling after dentist treatment
    Many left feeling more confident than when they walked in (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)
    Man smiling after dentist treatment
    That smile says it all (Picture: Por1sorriso / Instagram)

    MORE: Physiotherapist helps disabled kids move by teaching them to swim with pink dolphins

    MORE: Gels for teething problems ‘full of sugar and alcohol’

    MORE: Grandma loses her false teeth, finds out the dog is wearing them

    US FEMAIL : Brazilian Dentist Travels To Treat The Teeth Of Poor People For Free And Here Are 30 TransformationsUS FEMAIL : Brazilian Dentist Travels To Treat The Teeth Of Poor People For Free And Here Are 30 Transformations

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    Steve McQueen's billboard photography project
    The project has been unveiled today (Picture: PA)

    New billboards have been unveiled across the capital featuring thousands of London schoolchildren.

    Oscar-winning film director Steve McQueen is the brains behind the project, which includes 600 billboards – with different classes of Year 3 children on them.

    The project – which aims to be a visual representation of citizenship – stretches across the capital’s 33 boroughs.

    The portraits are set to stay up for two weeks and are being showcased on roadsides, railways and at train stations.

    Steve McQueen's billboard photography project with 600 London students
    The billboards feature across all London boroughs (Picture: PA)
    A class of London students in McQueen's project
    Around 76,000 children took part (Picture: PA)

    All of the photographs will then go on display at a free exhibition at the Tate Britain, from mid-November.

    Steve McQueen – whose film 12 Years A Slave won the Best Picture Oscar in 2014 – was inspired after looking at old photographs from his primary school, Little Ealing.

    Alongside being an award-winning director, Steve is also a Turner Prize-winning artist. He said today: ‘The seeds of this project started 21 years ago with the birth of my first child, a milestone that put my own journey in perspective.

    ‘My hope is that through the billboards millions of Londoners can reflect on the past, the present and the future not only of themselves but of their city.’

    He added that he was ‘very excited that this portrait of London will be seen by so many people as part of their daily life in this great city.’

    Steve McQueen's billboards in Camden
    You might recognise some faces (Picture: PA)

    Steve originally invited all of London’s Year 3 school pupils to take part, but ended up with around 76,000 children – roughly two thirds.

    Education experts believe Year 3 represents a milestone in terms of development for children. This is thought to be a reason why the specific age group was selected.

    Steve’s outdoor exhibition is in collaboration with Artangel – a company known for producing unexpected art in unusual places.

    James Lingwood, co-director of Artangel, said: ‘Year 3 is a resounding expression of Artangel’s belief that art can be anywhere.

    ‘It’s a celebration of children and a question to the rest of us – what kind of future are we making for them?’

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    Steve McQueen school pupil portraitsSteve McQueen school pupil portraits

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    Women performing net mending work after the fishing boats return.
    Women performing net mending work after the fishing boats return (Picture: Agora/SWNS.com)

    Blue is a pretty stunning colour, right? There are many hues. From the colour of the sky to the majestic feathers of a peacock.

    And the Agora Images competition honours the incredible colour.

    The winner of the #Blue2019 competition, taking place on 21 November, will win a prize of $1,000 (£773.76).

    Taken by photographers from around the world, some of the striking images include a Verditer flycatcher in neon blue and a shoal of Barracuda in deep navy.

    Also included is a whale breaching the surface, a ‘UFO’, blue seas next to sandy beaches, and moored boats floating in the water

    The final shortlist includes 50 entrants who were chosen out of 17,554 submissions.

    Peacock posing for camera
    All the blue (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)

    A spokesperson for Agora Images said: ‘It can be easy to forget how manifold our world is when we live our everyday lives.

    ‘Taking a step back and noticing all the different people, places, and animals we live alongside with can show us just how bright the world can really be.

    ‘With the launch of #Blue, photographers were given the opportunity to interpret the contest in any way they wished, which resulted in a wide range of colourful subjects and scenic images.

    ‘Whether it is in the depths of the ocean or looking up at the night sky, each photographer presents their own version of of what #Blue means to them.’

    Here are some of the entries in #Blue2019:

    The striking blue shade of this fabric is highlighted in the sunlight seeping in, Myanmar.
    The striking blue shade of this fabric is highlighted in the sunlight seeping in,taken in Myanmar (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Diezma noticed this stranger dressed in a peculiar fashion while visiting Saint John, Antigua island, so she felt obligated to ask for a photo. See SWNS copy SWCAblue: This incredible set of pictures show the world's best photos - that feature the colour BLUE. The pictures have all been entered into Agora Images competition called the World's Best Photos of #Blue2019. Taken by photographers from around the world, some of the striking images include a Verditer flycatcher in almost neon blue, and a shoal of Barracuda in deep navy.
    The photographer noticed this stranger dressed in a striking fashion while visiting Saint John, Antigua island, so she felt obligated to ask for a photo (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    The electricity of the fireworks light up the sky
    The electricity of the fireworks light up the sky (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    All of the vivid colors of the sunrise are captured in this perfect shot - Myanmar
    All of the vivid colors of the sunrise are captured in this perfect shot in Myanmar (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Whale on the coast of the Barentsevo sea.
    Photographer Borschev captured this majestic photo after sitting for over an hour on the coast of the Barentsevo sea (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Aerial shot of water in Jersey, UK
    Taken in Jersey, UK (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Boats docked, taken from aerial shot
    Taken in Spain (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Woman from a Chin family with tattoo on her face
    In an attempt to protect their daughters from being kidnapped by other tribes, Chin families started the tradition of tattooing their daughters’ faces. One of the members is pictured here (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Woman getting out of water dramatically flipping her hair over her head
    The perfect Insta shot, taken in Spain (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    Couple at tropical beach
    This tropical shot was taken in Granollers, Spain (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)
    The beautiful patterns of a fish farm in Laspezia, Italy are shown from above.
    The beautiful patterns of a fish farm in Laspezia, Italy are shown from above (Picture: Agora / SWNS.com)

    MORE: Dentist travels around Brazil treating poor people’s teeth for free

    MORE: The 2019 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards will improve your Friday

    MORE: Jaw-dropping pictures win 2019’s iPhone Photography Awards


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    Acorn lying on the ground
    Forage acorns for free anywhere you find oak trees (Picture: Getty)

    Acorns might be something traditionally left to squirrels but it turns out, if handled correctly, we can eat them too – and they’re good for you.

    The nuts of the oak tree can be found strewn across the path in the park and they are packed with potassium, iron and vitamins A and E. They’re also low in calories and contain healthy unsaturated fats.

    It is important to note that if they aren’t prepared properly, they can be dangerous to eat. They can also be toxic for pets to eat raw.

    They are filled with tannins – a type of bitter plant compounds that can be toxic in high quantities as they reduce your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from food.

    But you can remove the tannins by leaching the acorns, either soaking them in water or boiling them.

    The Woodland Trust says that cold water is best to preserve the starch so you can ground them up for flour.

    You can use the flour to make bread, pancakes and even pasta.

    You can also roast the acorns to eat as a snack or ground them after roasting to make acorn coffee.

    The Woodland Trust published advice on acorns in September as foraging for the wild nuts grows in popularity.

    Apparently they’re also incredibly popular in South Korea and the Wall Street Journal wrote last month about how animal-rights activists patrol the forests to make sure foragers leave enough for any forest creates.

    If you do want to try them, it’s important to forage sustainably to make sure there is enough left for everyone.

    According to the Guardian, acorn-foraging courses are popping up across the UK as the trend spreads.

    Course organiser Fergus Drennan said: ‘Last year, I made an acorn chocolate cake, which I loved. More commonly, I put it in bread, and I like to make tagliatelle with it.’

    How to prepare acorns so they are safe to eat

    If you plan to ground your acorns, it is best to leach them in cold water. If you’re going to keep your acorns whole, or at least chunky, you can leach them with boiling water.

    Whether you are using hot or cold water, you need to follow the method below to remove the tannins. This will make the acorns safe to eat.

    1. Shell your acorns. This can be fiddly and some claim it helps if you freeze them first, or use acorns collected in previous years.
    2. Soak the shelled acorns in hot or cold water.
    3. Once the water turns brown, drain it off and soak again in fresh hot or cold water.
    4. Repeat this process until the water is clear.

    MORE: These are the world’s best photos featuring the colour blue

    MORE: 76,000 London schoolchildren feature on billboards in new photography project


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    Lego Wooden Minifigure
    As always with Lego, it’s what you make of it that counts

    The latest limited edition Lego set isn’t your usual construction kit, but a giant wooden minifigure you customise in a very different way.

    Lego bricks are, as you may have noticed before, made out of plastic. But things didn’t start out that way. The company’s origins stretch all the way back to the 1930s, when founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen made toys out of wood.

    And that’s in part what this new 5:1 upscaled wooden minifigure is a homage to, as the company launches its new Lego Originals range of customisable toys.

    With Lego, customisable usually means using bricks to make something different but here you’re encouraged to paint and dress the minifigure with other materials, or even carve away at the wood if you want to give it a pirate’s peg leg or something equally unique.

    The minifigure does have plastic hands though, so it can interact with normal Lego and hold things, so you get the best of both worlds.

    The minifigure is just over 7” (20cm) tall and costs £109.99. It’s only available to Lego VIPs, although you can sign up to be one of those for free from the Lego website.

    The normal-sized plastic minifigure first appeared in 1978 and since then over 8,000 different figures have been released. Although of course there’s really an infinite number once you factor in all the ones that fans of all ages have made themselves.

    The wooden minifigure comes with a 28-page booklet featuring the history of the minifigure and how and why the wooden version was made, as well as some suggestions of how you can personalise the figure for yourself.

    Custom Lego Wooden Minifigure
    One of the more advanced attempts at customisation

    As always with Lego, it's what you make of it that countsAs always with Lego, it's what you make of it that counts

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    Selfie of a woman with 40HH boobs
    This woman is crowdfunding for a boob reduction (Picture: PA Real Life)

    A woman who was bullied at school for having a ‘pancake’ chest was shocked when her boobs practically grew overnight.

    Helen Christie’s breasts grew to a massive 40HH, leaving her in constant pain.

    The 26-year-old from Brighton says she suffers from social anxiety, depression, back, and neck pain, trouble sleeping and exercising.

    She said it has also affected her love life with girlfriend Verity.

    So now taking action, Helen is crowdfunding to raise the £3,000 needed for a breast reduction.

    While some women envy her for being well endowed, Helen says she’d do anything to not have big boobs.

    She is now looking to have private surgery in Prague, Czech Republic after she felt doctors in the UK did not take her seriously.

    If she raises enough money for the treatment, she hopes to go down to a B or C cup.

    Helen's breasts
    Helen says she was bullied in school for being flat-chested (Picture: PA Real Life)

    ‘I was around 16 when I suddenly grew to a C or D cup and people started commenting, saying things like “she’s grown”,’ explained Helen.

    ‘I got catcalls and it made me feel so self-conscious. It was really creepy getting that kind of attention from men, who were often a lot older than me.

    ‘I just hated the attention and hated feeling like I’d been put on the spot.’

    Over the next 10 years, Helen said her breasts continued to grow until they reached a size 40HH, forcing her to wear baggy clothes to not draw attention.

    ‘I don’t wear low cut tops anymore, because my breasts fall out of them, so I stick to baggy T-shirts which make me look even bigger,’ she said.

    Marks on Helen's shoulders
    She believes she’s got a hump on the back of her neck as a result of the weight (Picture: PA Real Life)

    Helen also had insomnia as she struggles to find a comfortable position to sleep which still lets her breathe properly.

    She added: ‘I get a really sore rash underneath my breasts and around my armpit, too, because it gets so sweaty in the crevices.

    ‘I have a curvature and a hump on the back of my neck from them pulling forwards and my head looks like it’s tilted. My posture is really bad.

    ‘There’s a constant dull ache in my back and the back of my neck and I get shooting pains up my arm, because of the position I sleep in.

    ‘My shoulders have indents in them from where the bra straps dig in.’

    Finding a well-fitted bra that’s not too expensive is also difficult. She also has the same issues with sports bras.

    ‘I can’t let them hang freely because they hurt, which has always been a problem when I’m trying to be intimate with a partner.

    ‘My confidence is so low that I never take my top off, I’ve never felt like I can get fully undressed in front of someone.’

    Her doctor has prescribed anti-depressants to help Helen deal with the depression caused by all the issues.

    Helen's breasts
    Helen is crowdfunding for a procedure in Prague (Picture: PA Real Life)

    But she realised that she wasn’t eligible for a reduction on the NHS as a way to deal with the problem, so she found the place in Prague.

    Helen added: ‘I do wonder if I was a man and had two gigantic tumours attached to my chest constricting my breathing whether I’d be eligible for surgery.

    ‘Surgery would change everything for me. I would just be free. I would be able to live a normal life. To be able to stretch my arms back without the weight of my breasts holding me back would mean so much.

    ‘I do think that people might look at the fact I’m crowdfunding and think there are more worthy causes out there but I just don’t know where else to turn.’

    According to its website, the availability of breast reduction surgery on the NHS varies, depending on the eligibility criteria decided by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

    Some CCGs do not fund breast reduction surgery at all. Others will fund it selectively if someone fulfils certain criteria, such as experiencing backache, shoulder or neck pain, skin irritation, rashes and skin infections under the breasts, grooves on the shoulders from bra straps, psychological distress, such as low self-esteem or depression and an inability to exercise or play sport.

    If a GP thinks someone is eligible they can refer them to a breast or plastic surgeon for an assessment.

    MORE: Woman who injects herself to become black is now getting the world’s biggest breast implants

    MORE: Everyone is talking about this ‘life-changing’ triangle bra for big boobs

    MORE: Why do we still not have enough bikini options for big boobs?


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    Hot Topic is selling Friends themed make-up
    This is brand new information! (Picture: Hot Topic)

    A few weeks back the news broke that you can still buy the MAC lipstick Jennifer Aniston wore as Rachel Green, but now there’s even more Friends-related make-up to feast on.

    Not one but two Friends-themed products have been released by the pop culture-inspired fashion brand Hot Topic.

    The first is a rather impressive eyeshadow palette, with 12 shimmery shades to choose from.

    The detail that makes this piece extra-special is that all the shades have names relating to the hit TV sitcom.

    Titles include ‘Pivot’, ‘We Were On A Break’, ‘Regina Phalange’, ‘You’ve Been Bamboozled’ and ‘Unagi’ – alongside other famous catchphrases and episode themes.

    Friends themed make-up palette
    Oh. My. God (Picture: Hot Topic)

    The front of the palette also has the iconic black and white friends logo splashed across it. It comes in at $13.52 (around £10.46).

    Make-up lovers can also enjoy a Friends-themed brush set, to use alongside the palette.

    There are four different types in the set: a powder brush, an angled eyeshadow brush, a blending brush and a regular eyeshadow brush. Each one has black and red ombre bristles.

    Friends themed make-up brush set
    This is not a drill (Picture: Hot Topic)

    The brushes come in a faux leather black holder with the Central Perk logo on the top and the show’s name on the side. The four-piece set is priced at $19.92 – which equates to around £15.41.

    Friends fans will also find a whole host of other merchandise on Hot Topic’s website.

    Highlights include a Central Perk mug bauble, a Friends trivia coaster set, a coffee face mask and a selection of themed T-shirts.

    There’s just a small catch.

    With Hot Topic being US company, shipping to the UK costs an eye-watering £29.40.

    So die-hard fans might want to consider doing a bulk buy.

    MORE: You can still buy the MAC lipstick Jennifer Aniston wore on the set of Friends

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

    MORE: Woman with condition that makes her face sink has fat from her stomach injected into her cheek

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    Megan before and after her weight loss (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
    Megan before and after her weight loss (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Megan Lowe lost two and a half stone by eating a healthy diet and she used Instagram to document her journey.

    But she was shocked when she realised someone else had been taking her pictures and using them to try to sell slimming pills.

    The account had even blocked her so she wouldn’t find out.

    The 20-year-old was furious when she realised her photos being used by ‘nutritionist’ Jessica Reed’s Instagram page reportedly without her permission.

    The page claimed that her weight loss was down to the diet pills they sold.

    Megan was only alerted to the use of her photo after a follower came across Jessica’s page – though she herself has been blocked by the page in an apparent bid to hide it from her.

    Jessica’s page features before and after weight loss photos of different women, some of which featured comments claiming they were fake – before the comments were disabled.

    English Literature student Megan, who lives in Birmingham, claims it is ‘absolutely horrifying’ that a business would use someone else’s images to tout diet pills and is warning others to be vigilant of pills promising a quick fix.

    The pictures posted by Jessica Reed on Instagram, originally from Megan's account
    The pictures posted by Jessica Reed on Instagram, originally from Megan’s account (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Megan, who lives in Birmingham, said: ‘The thought of someone using my picture without my permission and continuing to use it to promote diet pills angered me.

    ‘The more I sat and thought about it the more concerned I became as I realised vulnerable people desperate to lose weight could come across this account and believe the things they see, not knowing she disgustingly stole my picture to promote something I did not use.

    ‘Diet pills are disgustingly damaging for both women and men wanting a quick fix to lose weight, all for the seller to gain followers and money.

    ‘I achieved my transformation through Slimming World, eating wholesome healthy food. Not through the use of unhealthy pills, which people have no idea what must go into them.

    ‘I feel my weight loss journey has been massively exploited by this page.

    ‘I had worked so, so hard for over a year to lose two and a half stone and I post my transformations to help inspire others that eating good and healthy food without having to go hungry will help you achieve the results you truly want.

    Megan's original post on Instagram
    Megan’s original post (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘They have disregarded my personal achievements all for the sake of money in their back pocket, no intention to help people whatsoever.’

    Back in February 2018, Megan was 12st 4lbs and a size 12 and she decided she wanted to lose some more weight.

    She joined Slimming World and lost over two stone. Now a size 8, Megan says that it’s not just losing weight but she now has a better relationship with food.

    Megan said: ‘I now cook lots more from scratch and actually enjoy it, I have a better relationship with food and enjoy my treats knowing I can look forward to eating food again without any guilt.

    ‘Now I’ve lost weight I’ve grown so much in confidence, I feel like I can wear anything without thinking about if I look ‘fat’ of if I’d feel comfortable in it.’

    To help her stay on track, Megan started an Instagram account, posting regular updates of her progress and pictures of her healthy meals.

    Megan said: ‘I think it’s so, so important to lose weight healthily and not through these diet pills people sell.

    ‘It’s so important for people to realise losing weight isn’t healthy through a quick fix, it takes determination and a change in lifestyle, but it can 100% be done.

    Megan after losing weight in a white dress
    Megan lost weight through Slimming World (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘There’s no secret trick or hidden talent, it’s pure determination to succeed and far better than any pill sold on these disgusting Instagram accounts which do not care for the welfare of that person, only the sum of money they’ll be receiving.

    ‘Losing weight safely is by far the best decision anyone should make, its hard if people are in a vulnerable position and lacking confidence but the consequences of taking those pills are unimaginable long term, far better to eat good and feel good in yourself.’

    Megan posted the images in question in April but they were used by Jessica Reed on October 16.

    The post read: ‘Another amazing transformation using my weight loss discovery! Read the article in my bio if you want to lose 25 lbs in a month!’

    When Megan found out, she talked about it online and she has received lots of support.

    Megan said: ‘The followers on my Instagram are so lovely and supportive, hundreds have reported the account and messaged her to take it down, all obviously without a reply.

    ‘I’m just glad I’ve managed to get this across through social media that this happens so freely and its so damaging to vulnerable people who may come across that Instagram and contribute to her wage whilst damaging their own health for the sake of a quick fix.

    ‘The fact she has had to use other people’s pictures to promote this proves it’s a lie in itself.

    ‘Do your research on any Instagram page selling these products like these because followers and transformation pictures clearly mean nothing.

    ‘These pills are not the way to lose weight and it certainly is not how I managed to lose weight. Never trust pages like these.’

    And Megan had a stern message to Jessica Reed regarding the use of her images.

    Megan said: ‘Take the page down with immediate effect and stop preying on vulnerable people for the sake of a few pounds.

    ‘Stop profiting on what is a serious issue damaging thousands of people.’

    The Jessica Reed Instagram page has been contacted for comment and we will update this article if they respond.

    MORE: You can now buy a Friends-inspired eyeshadow palette and brush set

    MORE: Woman bullied for flat chest is now crowdfunding to reduce her 40HH boobs

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    Motivational quote
    Social media has made it okay for us to show others how incredibly busy we are (Picture: Getty)

    As the 11th month of me being freelance slowly comes to an end, I’ve been pondering my first year of going it alone.

    For the most part it’s been exceptionally tedious, difficult and has taken a huge strain on my mental health.

    But logging onto Instagram tells a different story.

    Scrolling through the various ‘freelancelife’, ‘girl boss’ and ‘boss bitch’ Instagram accounts, you’re faced with content featuring people working until 3am, motivational slogans featuring corny sayings such as ‘rise and grind’ and #mondaymotivation and pretty pictures of people working in pastel pink and green Insta-cafes, sipping their matcha teas and typing on their MacBooks.

    Social media has made it okay for us to show others how incredibly busy we are.

    The popularity of carefully curated workspaces and the ever-present, humble-brag culture (showing off side-hustle success in an ostensibly modest manner) is everywhere and that’s something I’m not 100 per cent okay with.

    Steph Yeboah sat on sofa on phone
    One small way I try to combat this is by not looking at my phone first thing in the morning (Picture: Kaye Ford)

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing that our generation is able to utilise apps such as Twitter and Instagram to give audiences a peek into our day-to-day comings and goings.

    On the one hand it’s great for collecting business opportunities and displaying your portfolio of work online, but we’ve all become obsessed with work.

    In this bid to keep up with the Joneses career-wise how is this impacting our mental health?

    The World Health Organisation officially declared burnout to be an occupational phenomenon in May this year, saying it was a syndrome ‘conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’.

    Characteristics of burnout include ‘feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy’.

    Hustle culture means you can’t just work and enjoy working; you have to log an 18-hour day and post about it on Instagram

    It seems like long hours, coupled with the pressure on social media to always be working or ‘on’, is leading us to high levels of stress and anxiety.

    Here are four ways Instagram could be contributing to feelings of burnout, and how you can avoid it:

    Being constantly connected

    The way in which social media has seeped into every aspect of our lives and cores of our very beings means that people always feel the need to be constantly connected – especially those of us who are freelance or use social media as a primary way to network. This is also having a negative impact on our health.

    We’re not designed to be connected all the time, but people have become so used to it that, when we are disconnected, it’s not surprising we can get a sense of anxiety or panic we’ll miss something essential. (FOMO, anyone?).

    One small way I try to combat this is by not looking at my phone first thing in the morning and instead, use that time to meditate, stretch, make a coffee (the long way, using a French press AND coffee grinder, because one is still fancy, you know) and apply a face mask. It’s incredibly important to make time for you.

    Blurring of work-life boundaries

    Professional and personal boundaries have definitely changed a lot and there is more and more pressure to post about your work on social media, which can be draining.

    Those of us in the creative industries often treat our social media accounts as virtual CVs and feel that everything we post – including what we do in our leisure time – has to be relevant to our careers.

    For some, it is.

    But ensuring you have time that’s just yours, and yours alone, is key. Why can’t we just enjoy doing things for the sake of doing them anymore?

    Career comparison syndrome

    Constantly comparing ourselves to others is another damaging side effect of social media.

    It’s made us play the comparison game non-stop.

    We think to ourselves: ‘Why is my life not that way?’ ‘I have to work harder.’ ‘I have to stay in the office late or post that I’m working at 2am because this person just got a promotion/job brief and I haven’t had one even though I’ve been at my company for years.’

    But studies show that comparing yourself to others actually has a negative effect when it comes to achieving success.

    Ultimately, we need to focus on what we’re doing in our own lives instead of what others are doing.

    Unrealistic career expectations

    Seeing a heavily filtered version of someone else’s career has given us unrealistic expectations of what we should be achieving and by when.

    Sometimes, it’s very difficult to just focus on yourself and your own goals instead of what everyone else is doing.

    There’s a feeling of having to accomplish so much so quickly.

    Of course, everybody’s only posting their highlight reel; they’re not posting those mundane or challenging elements of their work, or the bad days when their anxiety is on edge or get the shakes from having too much coffee in order to stay alert.

    Hustle culture means you can’t just work and enjoy working; you have to log an 18-hour day and post about it on Instagram.

    The pressure to perform, the expectation you set yourself, can have devastating effects on your mental and emotional health.

    Unfollowing the accounts that are putting this unrealistic pressure on yourself will help. That’s a change that you can easily make.

    Ultimately, not having time to ourselves is contributing to the burnout so many of us are feeling – stepping away from your phone (not checking it first thing, deleting apps, turning off notifications) is incredibly essential.

    This idea of always being ‘on’, having to hustle harder and technology pushing us everywhere is impacting our psychology way more than we realise.

    As we scroll through social media we see people living perfect lives, when a lot of people – myself included – are just trying to get by.

    MORE: Burnout is officially recognised as an illness by the World Health Organisation

    MORE: Let’s ditch motivational quotes and the burnout they inspire

    MORE: Fitness burnout is real – here’s how to spot the signs

    Match Week 2 - 2-2a9fMatch Week 2 - 2-2a9f

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    Illustration of a woman holding a man's butt
    A good spanking session releases endorphins that give you pleasure (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Ever felt the urge to smack someone’s bottom in the bedroom?

    You’re not the only one – it’s one of the most common bondage activities, according to new research.

    A survey among 4,500 participants, conducted by Lovehoney, revealed that 75% of women and 66% of men like hands-on (bum) action in the sheets.

    Once upon a time, spanking was only ever talked about out loud as a punishment method for naughty children (then in a non-sexual scenario, of course) but in recent years, the stigma around the fetish has been lifted.

    If you’ve never tried spanking, know that there are various levels – from a light slap to hardcore sessions that leaves big, bright marks on the other person’s butt.

    There’s nothing wrong with either one, so long as it’s completely consensual, and we recommend talking it through with your sexual partner if you’re going towards the particularly painful end of the spectrum. To help you out, we’ve even created a useful beginner’s guide.

    While it may not have been spoken about openly until recently, spanking has been around for centuries – but why are we such fans of this particular kink?

    According to Dr Becky Spelman, a psychologist and relationship expert at We-Vibe, the reason for our appreciation is both physical and emotional.

    ‘There can be a fine line between pleasure and pain, and erotic spanking can be just on the right side of that line,’ Dr Becky Spelman, psychologist and relationship expert at We-Vibe, tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘We know from murals found in Pompeii that spanking is a sexual practice that has been popular since long-ago times.

    ‘Spanking involves the use of the palm of the hand against flesh, usually the well-padded flesh of the buttocks. It can sting but does not cause serious pain or harm.

    ‘The sensation can give rise to an adrenaline surge that can heighten emotion and sensation.

    ‘Moreover, the additional blood flow to the surface of the skin that results from a playful slap makes all of the nerve receptors in the skin more sensitive, enhancing the sensation of a caress.’

    An illustration of a pair of hands on a bum of a woman wearing lingerie
    You can use your hands or try a paddle (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Another component released in the body during this act is endorphins – also known as the happy hormone – and you’ll also see a boost in cortisol levels, which reduces feelings of stress.

    According to a study from 2009, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, this sensation can differ depending on your role in the spanking scenario.

    Out of the participants, the submissive (i.e. the one getting spanked) saw an increase in cortisol, but the dominant (the person spanking) did not.

    Sarah*, 44, likes being spanked because it calms her, and she’ll occasionally use toys to add to the impact.

    ‘The thing that I like most about being spanked is that it releases endorphins and makes me feel calm,’ she tells us.

    ‘The BDSM community talk about something called “subspace”, which is a result of this kind of activity. It’s a heightened sensual experience, which shuts down the activity in your frontal cortex.

    ‘Very helpful for overactive thinkers, like me. I also enjoy admiring my stripes and bruises the next day, if I’ve been spanked very hard (perhaps with a hairbrush or a paddle).

    ‘The dull ache reminds me of the peace I found in the moment, and so it soothes me again.’

    Beyond just being pleasurable, spanking can also be connected to memories, a psychological theory known as ‘imprinting’ (no, not in the way it’s described in the Twilight books).

    Classical conditioning is a type of behaviourism that falls within this area, and acts an automatic response to prior learning – i.e. the spanking can be linked to something you’ve experienced in the past.
    ‘It usually occurs around a particular traumatic episode, which is then stamped into the child’s psyche,’ Dr Becky explains.

    ‘One patient of mine was very young when her father spanked her for something he believed she had done wrong. Her dad reacted very angrily, and spanked her hard on her bare bottom causing a lot of shame, rather than holding on to the shame it’s common for people to later in life turn the traumatic experience into a sexual one to help cope with what they have experienced, leading to a strong emotional connection between spanning and sex, which now manifests as a spanning desire or fetish.

    ‘However this is not the only reason people have a desire to be spanked as there are several other psychological theories which state other ideas.

    ‘Spanking can also contribute to roleplay with themes of submission and dominance, which some psychologists believe may be more common in societies with hierarchical social structures.’

    Amy*, 27, relishes in the submissive element of spanking.

    ‘I like spanking (a lot), because where I’m quite loud/dominant in my everyday life, I actually much prefer feeling more submissive in the bedroom,’ she tells us.

    ‘I love being taken by surprise with a good spank and it helps that it’s usually done most frequently when I’m partaking in my favourite position (doggy!).’

    Meanwhile, Damon*, 29, is the exact opposite – he hates being spanked, but will happily administer a slap or two across someone else’s bottom.

    ‘So for me, dominance is key in bed,’ he said.

    ‘I love spanking others but I really hate getting spanked. I’ve had it done to me before but I just find it annoying, partly because I don’t have much of a bum and it just irritates me more than anything.

    ‘There’s nothing worse than being distracted when you’re really in the zone.’

    As it turns out, there is a myriad of reasons why people are keen on paddling each other’s backsides.

    The most important thing to remember is that it’s totally OK if you do – or you don’t.

    *Names have been changed

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