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- 11/04/19--09:36: _Vans goes green wit...
- 11/04/19--09:50: _The best Christmas ...
- 11/04/19--10:30: _Why do we have fire...
- 11/04/19--16:01: _Pret releases its C...
- 11/04/19--22:14: _Everything you need...
- 11/05/19--00:29: _Woman transforms £3...
- 11/05/19--01:02: _Londoner becomes wo...
- 11/05/19--01:14: _What I Rent: Carys ...
- 11/05/19--02:12: _Couple toast their ...
- 11/05/19--02:30: _Lorde’s right – we ...
- 11/05/19--02:58: _Woman taunted for ‘...
- 11/05/19--03:08: _You can get free fo...
- 11/05/19--03:24: _When should you put...
- 11/05/19--03:40: _The UK’s weirdest w...
- 11/05/19--03:50: _Pets at Home is sel...
- 11/05/19--04:01: _The UK’s ‘smartest’...
- 11/05/19--04:57: _Dog who’s learning ...
- 11/05/19--05:06: _Martial arts teache...
- 11/05/19--05:09: _Fish and chip shop ...
- 11/05/19--05:28: _Customers rave abou...
- 11/04/19--09:36: Vans goes green with a Save Our Planet collection
- 11/04/19--09:50: The best Christmas hampers for 2019
- 11/04/19--10:30: Why do we have fireworks on Bonfire Night?
- 11/05/19--02:12: Couple toast their marriage with Mr and Mrs bongs on wedding day
- 11/05/19--02:30: Lorde’s right – we shouldn’t work when our pets die
- 11/05/19--02:58: Woman taunted for ‘melted yoghurt’ legs learns to love her body
- 11/05/19--03:08: You can get free food at Nando’s this month
- 11/05/19--03:24: When should you put up your Christmas decorations and tree?
- 11/05/19--04:01: The UK’s ‘smartest’ baby names revealed
- When I go to the shop, I write a list and I stick to it. I won’t buy anything that isn’t on the list because it stops me buying unhealthy snacks.
- Sometimes, like when I’m watching a movie, for example, I do crave something sweet but I satisfy it with fruit like melon. I can chop it up into pieces and snack on it like I would popcorn to help reduce those cravings.
- I made simple swaps that I didn’t really notice like switching my full-fat milk for semi-skimmed and then I switched it for almond milk.
- I still have a treat day at the weekend where I can have something I have been craving, like some pizza. Once I’ve had it, I just tell myself that’s it and I go back to my normal healthier routine.
- 11/05/19--05:09: Fish and chip shop sells fried Quality Street sweets
- Toffee Finger
- The Purple One
- Chocolate Caramel Brownie
- Strawberry Delight
- Toffee Penny
- Orange Crème
- The Green Triangle
- Orange Chocolate Crunch
- Milk Choc Block
- Caramel Swirl
- Coconut Eclair
- 11/05/19--05:28: Customers rave about Home Bargains’ new £3 Christmas Eve boxes
- Christmas story book
- Letter from Santa
- Door hook
- Cookies (for Santa or your little one)
We’ve all been trying to do our bit for the environment recently, but one footwear brand has gone the extra mile.
Vans has just released a Save Our Planet footwear collection, following in the footsteps of other fashion companies shining a spotlight on the environment.
Famous for its footwear, it makes sense that the collection features a range of high-top and regular trainers.
Every piece showcases a world map – be it in colour or in black and white – and has the slogan ‘Save Our Planet’ printed on it in a graffiti style.
The range might be shoe-heavy, but there’s also clothing and accessories.
Choose from a cap, puffer coat, bumbag, backpack and a variety of t-shirts – each with their own unique design.
Prices start at £37 for a backpack, and go to £70 for shoes or just over £100 for the puffer coat.
Currently, the US website has more items in the collection than the UK site – so it’s worth checking both to see the products in all their eco-friendly glory.
The streetwear brand has said it will donate up to £160,000 of the proceeds to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii – a foundation that works to tackle coastal pollution – but this isn’t the first time the brand has launched a collection for charity.
Last month, Vans released a Breast Cancer Awareness range and gave some of the proceeds to London-based charity CoppaFeel.
The retailer seems to be a fan of launching themed collections, too.
Earlier this year, Vans dropped Harry Potter trainers and shoes inspired by the artwork of legendary artist Frida Kahlo.
vans save the planet collection
Christmas is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get your festive treats in order.
From decorations to advent calendars, there’s a lot to take care of before the big day, including pre-ordering the annual Christmas hamper.
To help you choose, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best food and drink options for 2019.
From the traditional to the quirky, there’s something for everyone (and many are decently priced, too).
Fortnum & Mason, £100
Often considered the holy grail of Christmas hampers, any option from Fortnum & Mason will bring festive joy to your household.
Albeit amazing, most of the hampers are also quite expensive, which is why we’re loving this year’s Christmas Express Hamper.
At £100, it’s affordable but still contains plenty of goodies such as jars of Apricot and Strawberry Preserve – one of each – a tin of Spiced Biscuits and one of Nutcracker Biscuits, and a Christmas Spiced Butter Biscuit Chocolate Bar.
Of course, you need a cuppa to dunk your biscuit in – try Christmas Spiced Black Tea or loose leaf Ceylon Orange Pekoe. For coffee lovers, there’s a tin of Sandringham Blend included.
Savoury treats include Caramelized Onion Marmalade and Hot English Mustard.
Aldi’s Specially Selected Luxury Hamper is perfect if you want to treat yourself, but not break the bank.
Sold in a traditional wicker basket, it features a selection of sweet treats such as Milk Chocolate Honeycomb, Fudge Clotted Cream and chocolates from Moser Roth in milk, white and dark flavours.
As for the tipples, there’s something for every palate with three bottles: Australian Shiraz and Marlborough Sauvignon from the Exquisite Collection, as well as prosecco.
Petersham Nurseries, £180
Add an Italian twist to your Christmas hamper this year.
Although this one from Petersham Nurseries is technically presented in a box, not a hamper, it’s still a viable choice.
There’s a mix of sweet and savoury delights with Gooseberry Preserve and Spiced Tomato Chutney to Poppy Seed and Sea Salt Crackers, as well as Shortbread, Rosemary and Orange Chocolate Truffles and even a bottle of Zisola Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
We recommend munching on fromage from Blackwoods Cheese Company while you enjoy a glass of Villa Marcello Prosecco Millesimato Brut.
The box will set you back £180.
Have yourself a very Kentish Christmas with treats from local suppliers in this hamper from Macknade.
It costs just £50 but don’t let that fool you – the product selection is still very exciting.
Leave Christmas Cookies from Zingiberi Bakery out for Santa (or eat them yourself), sip on festive beer from Shepherd Neame or have a jolly breakfast with Macknade’s No. 1 Tea with a dollop of Local Kent Honey.
Other items include a bottle of Hendersons Spiced Cider, Whitstable Pickle Co Chutney and more.
Continuing on with the theme of Italian delicacies is the Il Massimo hamper from Carluccio’s.
It will arrive in a blue box wrapped with a white ribbon, and features delights such as apricot biscotti, chocolate clementines, traditional amaretti and the classic Milanese dish, panettone (sweet bread loaf).
You’ll also get a bottle of Prosecco Valentina, as well as a gold coin for the kids to share.
The hamper is yours for £75, which isn’t a bad price given the size of each item.
The department store is presenting a quintessentially British hamper for 2019.
It will arrive in a large wicker basket with leather straps and is filled with Fenwick’s own treats, such as biscuits, mallows and chutney.
The Fabulously Fenwick Hamper also features tipples such as house blended coffee and infused gin liqueurs.
As for the price, it’s towards the pricier (yet still semi-affordable) end at £120.
Paxton & Whitfield, £175
Cheese lovers, assemble.
Paxton & Whitfield is back with a range of new hampers for 2019 and while there are several to choose from, our favourite is The Kensington Hamper.
It comes in a wooden gift box with five cheeses on offer: Smoked Ceodre, Dorset Goat Cheese, Stilton Jar, Cheddar Pounder and Camembert de Normandie.
But that’s not all; you also get apple & chilli jelly, caramelised onion chutney, crackers, two bottles of wine and a bottle of port – and then some.
The hamper costs £175, but then again if you share the box with a friend or partner, it’s just £87.50 each.
Cannon & Cannon, £70
If traditional Christmas hampers aren’t your thing, why not go for a meatier option?
For 2019, Cannon & Cannon has created The Heroes of Craft Christmas Tin – a feast of charcuterie, cheese and wine.
From Ellis cheese, described as ‘light yet robust’ to Moons Green Mushroom and Truffle Salami made in Kent, Rosie’s Bred and Butter Pickles from Wiltshire and cheese biscuits from Norton Barton Farm, there’s everything you need to have a jolly December.
Let’s not forget the bottle of Rouge du Grappin with syrah and grenâche grapes, paired perfectly with Willie’s Cacao Pure Gold.
You can pre-order it now for £70.
Virginia Hayward, £50
The Mistletoe, as it’s called, has everything you need for a magically festive evening (apart from mistletoe).
Pop open the bottle of Zonin Prosecco Brut and pour a glass for yourself, before digging into the gold-wrapped Christmas Pudding or trying some of Grandma Wild’s Mature Cheddar Mini Bites. Apparently they’re ‘perfect for sharing’ – but we’d be tempted to keep them for ourselves.
Caramel macchiato popcorn, sesame peanuts and fruit cake with sticky toffee biscuits are moreish treats on offer, too.
Save the chocolate Christmas tree from Stas Chocolatiers, drizzled with white chocolate and decorated with two stars, for the big day.
The hamper is pretty cheap, considering its contents, at just £50.
The Wolseley, £159
If luxury is what you’re after during Yuletide, you can’t go wrong with a Wolseley hamper.
There are five to choose from but we’re particularly fond of this breakfast selection.
Go to the farmer’s market and pick up fresh sourdough to go with one of the three jams, but don’t forget to nip into the supermarket for some fresh yogurt, too – you’ll need it for the granola.
Then brew a cup of English Breakfast loose leaf tea or pop out the cafetière before flipping through ‘Breakfast at The Wolseley’, a book by the late food critic, A.A. Gill. There’s also a gift card and a silver-plated caddy spoon.
The hamper is available for £159.
Vegans, we’ve included something for you, too.
This Christmas, enjoy a sugar coma with a chocolate-filled hamper from Chococo for £50.
There are nine products in total, such as the award-winning Tawny Port & Fig, Date & Cognac and Marzipan.
Other mouth-watering delights include the new Raisetrade Madagascar milc bar, which has a ‘gentle nutty cashew nut finish’ and Colombian Coffee Beans, as well as a 67% dark chocolate hand-decorated lolly with edible shimmer.
Another newbie for 2019 is the limited-edition Christmas clusters – candied orange, cardamom, roasted cocoa nibs and crushed pistachios in dark chocolate – and in keeping with the festive theme, you can also munch on dark chocolate snowmen.
Pick up a bottle of vegan red wine, and you’re sorted for December.
It’s Bonfire Night on Tuesday, which means that the night sky’s about to be lit up with fireworks across the country.
And it actually seems as though we’ve been hearing those flashes and bangs for a while now, what with Diwali last week and firework displays this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s festivities.
However there’s more to the custom of letting off fireworks than just creating pretty patterns and making a lot of noise in the process (which let’s face it, isn’t always that popular with people).
So just what are the origins of fireworks on Bonfire Night?
Here’s what you need to know…
Why do we have fireworks on Bonfire Night?
Bonfire Night marks the anniversary of the attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses Of Parliament in 1605 – and since fireworks contain gunpowder they have an obvious connection to the day’s celebrations.
The plot – known as the Gunpowder Plot – saw Fawkes and his conspirators wanting to protest against King James I and his government over the anti-Catholic laws in England, which was under Protestant rule.
They put 36 barrels of gunpowder in cellars underneath Parliament to set off an explosion – except the plot was foiled after one of the gang sent an anonymous letter to a friend who worked there warning him to stay away on that date.
Although he was not the ringleader of the Gunpowder Plot he was the one who was caught in Westminster Palace with the gunpowder all ready to go, and arrested.
Fawkes was tortured into giving up the names of his fellow conspirators, who were subsequently arrested and executed along with him.
Bonfire Night – originally known as Gunpowder Treason Day – has been celebrated on 5 November ever since, even in 1605 when Londoners were encouraged to light bonfires to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination.
When were fireworks first introduced to Bonfire Night?
Fireworks were first introduced into the celebrations in the 1650s.
It’s also traditional to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire – although the tradition of throwing a dummy on a bonfire dates back to the 13th Century, with the effigies only coming to represent Guy Fawkes after his act of treason.
Crowd watching fireworks
Christmas is less than 50 sleeps away, so it’s fitting that Pret A Manger has just released its Christmas menu.
To get you in that extra festive mood, there’s a new sandwich for 2019 and it will be especially popular among coeliacs.
Please welcome Christmas Lunch, the gluten-free edition – with free-range turkey, herby pork stuffing, port and cranberry sauce and mayo, served on a slice of gluten-free seeded bread.
The original Christmas Lunch is also returning and is similar to the gluten-free option, except that it features port and orange cranberry sauce, as well as baby spinach leaves and crispy onions, nestled in-between two slices.
There are two more choices on offer including a tasty vegetarian sandwich with roasted butternut squash, spicy rocket and nutty Christmas-themed pesto, finished off with yoghurt mayo, crispy onions and caramelised pecans.
Don’t despair vegans, there is something for you, too.
It comes in the form of the Very Merry Christmas Lunch, a sandwich stuffed with grilled carrots, crispy onions, baby leaf spinach, port and orange cranberry sauce and, of course, Pret’s vegan stuffing and caramelised pecans ‘for an added Christmas crunch’.
But wait, there’s more.
You can also dig into two seasonal baguettes, including the brie, pistacho and cranberry or Pret’s Christmas Baguette with turkey, port & orange cranberry sauce, herby pork stuffing, rocket, mayo and crispy onions.
For something from the seas, try the Lobster Roll – which was also sold during summer as a limited-edition item – and is crammed full of Maine lobster claw and knuckle, cucumber, crisp cos lettuce, spring onion and mayo.
Prefer sweet over savoury snacks?
Grab a Pret Mince Pie, Christmas Tiffin – created from a family recipe – and Melvin, the Melting Gingerbread Snowman.
Pair with a hot drink, like a gingerbread latte or crème brûlée latte or hot chocolate with mint or hazelnut syrup.
‘This year, our team of food innovation managers have gone to extra lengths to ensure the ingredients that make up our menu of Christmas items are the most delicious they’ve ever been,’ said Hannah Dolan, Pret’s global head of food innovation.
‘From tasting stuffing at 7am on the hottest day in July, to using a well-loved family tiffin recipe for one of our sweet treats, we’ve been dedicated to getting Christmas right, and can’t wait to hear what the nation thinks of the food.’
The complete Pret Christmas menu
Pret’s Christmas Lunch 2019, from £3.95
Pret’s Veggie Christmas Lunch 2019, from £3.75
Very Merry Christmas Lunch, from £3.75 (vegan)
Pret’s Christmas Lunch on Gluten-Free Bread, from £3.75
Pret’s Christmas Baguette, from £3.99
Brie, Pistachio & Cranberry Baguette, from £3.50
Pret’s Lobster Roll, from £5.99
Pret’s Fish Pie Mac & Cheese, from £5.75
Pret’s Turkey & Ham Soup, from £3.80
Pret Mince Pie, from £1.60
Christmas Tiffin, from 60p
Melvin, Pret’s Melting Gingerbread Snowman, from £1.50
Gingerbread Latte, from £3.00
Crème Brûlée Latte, from £3.00
Mint Hot Chocolate, from £3.00
Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, from £3.00
Getting into the spirit of the season, Pret is also donating 50p from the sale of each Christmas sandwich or baguette to the Pret Foundation, which aims to ‘break the cycle of homelessness’.
The Pret menu launches nationwide at 10am today (5 November) and all of the vegetarian and vegan dishes will also be offered in Veggie Pret Shops.
Have a very, merry lunch.
Pret's Christmas sandwiches
Credit scores are the ultimate letters of recommendation – they tell lenders how reliable you are.
Unlike a character reference though, credit scores look solely at numbers – debts and how many loans you’ve taken out (sadly, your willingness to help a friend move home does not count).
You might not be thinking about your credit score too much (owning a home seems to be a pipe dream, after all) but it’s important to know how your spending habits affect it, should you eventually need to borrow credit.
Whether you want to take out a credit card, a personal loan or a mortgage, the first thing a lender will do is check your score.
The higher the score, the more likely are you to be accepted as a borrower. But there are different systems and different scores.
So what does it all mean?
This month on Metro.co.uk we’re looking at debt and all things money. So for those who’ve been meaning to check or too scared to look, here’s how to check your credit score.
What is a credit score?
Your credit report is put together by companies known as credit reference agencies (CRAs). There are three in the UK: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion who create your credit reports.
These CRAs gather information on your borrowing history, calculate a score based on this and then create a report – a credit file.
Lenders then ask one of the CRAs about this information before accepting your application.
James Jones, head of consumer affairs at Experian tells Metro.co.uk that your credit score is your financial CV.
He explains: ‘We collect information from banks and lenders and 500+ companies and piece it all together.
‘We also look at court judgments and the electoral register for details (whether you’ve registered to vote), and your financial record from the last six years.
‘Based on that, the rating figures out the likelihood of you making future payments.’
How do I check my credit score?
Thankfully we live in tech-savvy times so checking these things is super easy. You can do it on a browser or download an app that gives you a score within seconds for free.
Money Supermarket, for example, will show you your score and help you find the cards you’re likely to be accepted for.
What’s a good credit score?
Of course, this is the most important part. After all, you want a high number. While the higher it is, the better, not all scales are the same.
A good Experian score starts at 700, with 800 considered excellent while Equifax says it’s 660 and above. Whichever one you choose to use, it will tell you where you are on the scale.
How do I improve my credit score?
If you have a low rating or just want to take it as high as possible then there are some things you can do to improve it.
Some of these things include: paying your bills on time, paying down debt (reducing your credit card balance), making outstanding payments, and limiting new credit requests.
Simple things such as registering to vote can add up to 50 points. A perfect payment record for several years can add 200 points. On the other hand, missing payments can cost you 130 points.
Does checking my credit score affect it?
This is not true.
James from Experian tells us: ‘You can check as often as you like, it has no impact. What affects it is if you’re applying for lots of different credit (i.e several credit cards) because each time a lender has to run checks (leaving a ‘hard footprint’).
‘If you’re applying lots, it indicates thirst for new credit. Applying to borrow lots of different things can cause problems. How likely are you to pay these things back?’
If you check your own score or when a lender or credit card company checks your credit to pre-approve you for an offer (known as a soft enquiry), it does not go on your credit report nor affect your score.
And it’s only the bank or the lender that decides to approve credit, not CRAs such as Experian.
Who checks my credit score?
The broad answer is anyone who’s lending you something. More specifically, that’s landlords and utility companies, credit and store card providers, mobile phone contract providers, car insurers and even your employers.
So go forth and spread your credit knowledge.
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.
Pitfalls of Freelance
If you’ve got a vision of your dream birthday cake, but don’t fancy investing time in baking it yourself or spending a load of cash to get a professional to make your dream a reality, learn from Rebecca Adshead Williams.
When Rebecca was planning her 40th birthday party, she had her heart set on a hedgehog themed cake – but she couldn’t find one in any supermarket.
Rather than giving up on her dream cake, Rebecca got crafty.
She picked up a plain chocolate sponge for £3.50 from Tesco and set to work transforming it into her birthday hedgehog.
Lucky for us, she shared a video of the DIY project on her Instagram, in case anyone finds themselves in the same predicament.
The cake makeover only took about 20 minutes – so it was far easier than making a cake from scratch.
She began by slicing the sides off the chocolate sponge and placing these sections on to the base of the cake, curved side up. Then the front of the cake was trimmed into a triangle to form a pointy nose.
Rebecca slathered the cake with a thick layer of icing, added rows of chocolate buttons for the hedgehog’s spikes, and placed two white buttons on the face for eyes. The cake was finished with a chocolate nose.
The end result does look rather like a hedgehog, doesn’t it?
Rebecca’s friends and family were pretty impressed – as was everyone on the internet.
‘I had looked in all the supermarkets for a [hedgehog cake] but no one had any,’ Rebecca told Metro.co.uk.
‘I love hedgehogs! My cake couldn’t have been anything else!
‘It was only made because I wasn’t able to find one in the shops and after all this, I’m so happy that I couldn’t.’
Budget cake turned into hedgehog design
Lucy Dunstan-Beasley’s life took an unexpected turn when a devastating roller derby accident shattered her ankle and left her permanently disabled.
The accident happened in 2013, and three years later, Lucy was depressed, unable to work and in constant pain.
The 36-year-old had always loved being active and taking on new challenges – as well as roller derby she also had a passion for adventure racing and channel swimming – so to have that taken away was incredibly hard for her.
Her luck started to change when she was fitted with an ExoSym limb salvage device to help her regain some movement and stability in her injured ankle, but she was still unsure how to fully adapt to her physical condition.
Now, six years on from the accident, Lucy has relocated to Hither Green and joined her local Anytime Fitness gym, which set her on a new path of discovery.
‘I was so intimidated at first, but soon realised the gym was very easy going and supportive, features which particularly stood out to me in comparison to other mainstream gyms,’ says Lucy.
But she quickly overcame any nerves and threw herself into strength training. She even started personal training sessions which helped her to really start to see the benefits of working out.
‘Joe has helped me find alternatives for when my disability means I can’t do an exercise the conventional way,’ explains Lucy about her PT.
‘Not only has he helped strengthen my body, the team at the gym have all provided incredible support and encouragement while allowing myself to discover my own way into health and fitness with no judgement and pity.’
Deciding to capitalise on her rapid progress in the gym, Joe encouraged Lucy to enter novice powerlifting and Strongwoman competitions. To say that she smashed them would be an understatement.
A year on, and Lucy has won the 2018 World’s Strongest Disabled Woman, as well as national feats including England’s and Britain’s 2018 Strongest Disabled Woman titles respectively.
‘Joe even travelled with me to the world event and looked after me throughout,’ says Lucy.
‘Winning these titles are all thanks to Joe’s suggestion and endless enthusiasm. I always knew they would help me reach my fitness goals – it’s an incredible feeling.’
Lucy’s ambition isn’t waning; she recently trained in the U.S in preparation to compete at the 2019 Arnold Sports Festival in Ohio.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing, and Lucy has picked up various knocks and injuries along the way – but she hasn’t let that hold her back.
‘From twanged muscles, to golfer’s elbow, to skier’s thumb – it’s been incredibly useful to have a physiotherapist in the gym itself, enabling me to create workarounds on muscle strengthening,’ she says.
‘Developing the habit of training is tough, it really is hard at times to knuckle down and keep going. I applaud anyone with that determination to succeed.’
After recovering from a recent leg surgery and participating in a strength event in Iceland, Lucy has her sights firmly set on further national and world titles in 2020 as well as planning to start channel swimming once more.
‘I’m a very shy person and when I was walking into the gym that very first time, my heart was in my mouth!’ she says.
‘But, despite everything with my physical and mental condition, I did it, and so can you.’
In a time when it feels like every Londoner is moving to Brighton (seriously, can you all stop?), we reckon it’s time for What I Rent to take a trip towards the seaside.
In our weekly series exploring the reality of renting in the UK, we take you inside a different person’s rented property.
This time we’re in Hove with Jamie, who runs his own business as a tiler, and Carys, who works as a sales and project manager for a charity team building events company.
The couple have lived together for six months in a one-bedroom flat in Hove, having moved in eight months after they met on Bumble.
Hey, Carys! How much do you and Jamie pay to live here?
We pay £975 a month and split it 50/50, so £487.50 each. We probably pay around £300 in bills including WiFi, council tax, water and electric, and again split this 50/50.
And what do you get for what you pay?
It’s a one-bedroom flat but the room sizes are huge in comparison to other Hove properties. We have a lounge, kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom.
Do you think you have a good deal?
Yes! That’s pretty cheap considering the size of our flat. We’re blessed with bright airy rooms and high ceilings.
I was searching for a flat like an absolute madwoman and we viewed a few places before this but nothing quite ticked every box. We were the first people to view this flat and fell in love with it straight away. The next morning the holding deposit was paid and it was ours.
How did you find the flat?
Sitting on Rightmove every second of every day pressing refresh until something decent came up! Properties go very quickly in this area so you have to be on it. We moved in in May 2019.
Are you happy where you live?
Incredibly! We love everything, I don’t actually think there is anything we’d change.
Our flat is in Hove, just a few minutes walk from the main high street and a minute’s walk from the sea.
We love the location as there is so much to do on our doorstep, we’re spoilt for choice with restaurants and bars and there’s plenty of great charity shops for a few bargains. It’s also only 20 mins on the bus into the centre of Brighton.
We get so many compliments about what a great location we are in and we have no real plans to move in the near future. Hove has a great buzz to it and is a little more chilled than the hustle and bustle of Brighton.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Yes and no. I would love a two-bedroom flat with a garden but the budget just doesn’t allow it.
The only thing this flat lacks is storage so we’ve had to be a bit more creative with storing items.
What’s it like living together?
We love it. As we’d only been together about five to six months when we first spoke about moving in together people were a bit judgemental, but we both just knew it would be the right decision.
We both rented studio flats and were paying silly money so the logical thing was to move in together. I was always a bit more keen on the idea but Jamie wasn’t as sure… then one day he turned round to me and said ‘let’s start looking’, and here we are!
How have you made the flat feel like home?
I love styling the inside of our home. I share photos a lot on Instagram about where I got things from and Pinterest has been a great influence on my style. I’ve always had a bit of a creative flair so I really enjoy turning a blank canvas into a cosy home.
I think fairy lights make anything instantly feel more homely. We’ve collected a lot of second hand furniture from Facebook marketplace, then trinkets from charity shops and added lots of plants (Jamie keeps telling me we don’t need anymore and then I accidentally buy three more) to each room to make it feel more homely and reflect our styles.
You can put your own stamp and style into a rented property without actually having to redecorate.
Are there any problems with the flat?
We had a few issues when we first moved in – none of the remedial works had been done but they quickly sorted that out. I think we were pretty lucky apart from that.
These buildings are quite old so it’s a little chilly in the winter and the water tank can run out quickly but that’s nothing, really.
Do you have plans to move again?
We really do love this flat and I think it would take something really special to make us move. We planned to stay in our first property together for at least two years and I think that’ll be the case. The first six months has gone so quickly that two years will fly by!
We’ve both moved a lot over the last three or four years so it would be nice to stay put for a while and make a real home out of this place.
Have you considered buying a place?
Hundreds of times. Does anyone else fall into a Rightmove hole where you just end up looking at houses you can’t afford but plan exactly what you would do to them? Because, same.
We wouldn’t be in a position to buy for quite a few years and our priorities reside elsewhere at the moment but we do talk about the future and what we would want.
We both dream of buying a renovation project – a property with some real character that we could transform together and make into a forever home. But for now we want to travel a little more of the world and experience new things before all the ‘adult’ stuff begins. We’re only 29 – still young.
True. Let’s have a look around.
What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property.
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Who needs flowers when you have greenery?
When Coral and Mio tied the knot, they decided to change up the traditional champagne toast.
Instead they opted for personalised Mr and Mrs bongs, taking puffs together and blowing smoke into the camera as photographer Rachel Artime snapped away.
The end results are surprisingly beautiful, don’t you think?
The bongs were on-theme for the couple, as Rachel had also taken engagement photos of Coral and Mio smoking blunts.
Coral also had hemp in her wedding bouquet.
Rachel, from Los Angeles in California, US, said: ‘I’m really happy with the pictures. I love the smoke. It makes them look haunting and romantic in a weird way.
‘I’ve never had to photograph anything like this before. This is the most unconventional and non-traditional thing to happen at a wedding [I’ve been to].
‘Every wedding I’ve done is the most normal thing ever, so this is quite the experience to be photographing people literally smoking a blunt at their wedding. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
‘People all over my Instagram were so into it. People were saying they had never seen this. I have never seen a bong at a wedding.
‘With the positive feedback on a drug that was illegal and is now legal, it’s just fascinating to see how people are supportive and love the photos.
‘It was all mine and Coral’s vision and their passion.
‘It’s cool to see a bride and groom’s passion in all they plan for their wedding, and to be so supported [globally]. It’s their story.
‘Coral is wonderful – she knows what she wants. She told me she wanted this photo with the smoke and we had engagement photos done in the same way.
‘They were really excited about their matching Mr and Mrs bongs, which were handmade and very cool.
‘Being in Santa Cruz in a redwood forest, and in her white dress, the contrast was just so pretty with the white smoke. It’s not a conventional wedding photo at all.
‘It was so fun because I do a wedding a weekend, so it was like a creative challenge to have new things to work with.’
Coral shared a selection of her wedding images online with the caption: ‘to have and to toke, forever and ever’.
Kennedy News / Rachel Artime Photo
It has been reported this week that singer Lorde has delayed the release of her new album because of bereavement.
She has considered that the time and effort that needs to be devoted to her career right now will be affected by grief – and who can blame her? The loss of a loved one can be devastating and your work can most definitely suffer while you come to terms with it.
The fact that Lorde is grieving for her beloved dog Pearl, shouldn’t make any difference.
For many people, dogs are as important as the humans we share our lives with – they are family members. They are a constant, supportive presence in our homes and we would struggle to imagine our lives without them.
The care of a dog can evoke the same feelings as a parent would have for a child; the love, the nurturing, the routine of care that underpins your home – and the loss of a dog radically changes the whole dynamic and rhythm of a household.
You miss them terribly.
The day after my own dog died, I went into work but left before lunchtime.
I was unable to speak to anyone without crying, unable to cope with kind commiserations and yes, I was unable to work effectively. I was as shattered and inconsolable as I had been in the days after I had lost my grandparents.
Maybe more so, because I had shared a home and a sofa with my dog every single day for over 12 years. He loved and looked after us, and we loved and looked after him.
Thankfully, I was in a supportive environment with a team who knew what my dog had meant to me and agreed that it was best for me not to be in the workplace at such a time.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. The loss of a dog is sometimes seen as not worthy of any depth of grief or enough of a reason to warrant compassionate leave.
In the UK, there is no specific law surrounding statutory bereavement leave but it is generally agreed that a number of (usually paid) emergency days can be taken immediately following the death of a dependent or close family member.
A dog is not classed as such, despite what we feel for them.
Ideally, long-term ownership of a dog should qualify it as an official dependent, giving owners the same grace of a few days leave, whether paid or unpaid, without inviting a warning or being at risk of dismissal.
Last year, a woman who did take a day off following the death of her dog actually lost her job. She has since created a petition arguing that employers have to take compassion into consideration when an employee loses a pet – it has so far garnered over 25,000 signatures.
Ideally, long-term ownership of a dog should qualify it as an official dependent, giving owners the same grace of a few days leave, whether paid or unpaid, without inviting a warning or being at risk of dismissal.
It doesn’t happen often, it’s usually an extraordinary circumstance and surely employees who are dealt with considerately at this time will be more grateful and accommodating in the long-run, compared to those who aren’t?
What’s more, workers distracted and hampered by grief won’t deliver their best performance and delivery could suffer.
Consider their feelings. It might be ‘just a dog’ to you, but to your colleague or friend that dog might have been their whole world.
Simple gestures such as a card, a cake or an acknowledgement that they had been ‘a good dog’ would be much appreciated. And yes, some time to grieve.
Imagine if you had no close family members and lived alone with your dog.
Imagine if your dog was the reason you got up in the mornings.
Imagine if your dog was your best friend and gave you companionship, joy and contentment.
Why is the grief of losing that relationship not considered worthy of the same recognition and benefits as any other relationship?
As Lorde describes her feelings on needing time after the death of Pearl: ‘As anyone who has felt loss can understand, there’s a door that opens that you step through, and everything is different on the other side.’
That sounds like grief to me.
A woman with a condition that causes fat build-up in the legs was taunted by bullies who branded her a ‘melted yoghurt’.
Mum-of-three Jennifer Williams from Los Angeles has lipedema – a disorder that causes the legs to become enlarged due to deposits of fat beneath the skin.
The 44-year-old medical professional has had the condition from the age of 10.
But in 2017, she decided to embrace her body and start an Instagram account with the purpose of spreading knowledge and connecting with others with lipedema.
She said social media has boosted her self confidence and she is finally happy with the way she looks.
For years, Jennifer had never heard of lipedema and constantly questioned why she looked the way she does.
She discovered the condition through a conference held by the Fat Disorders Research Society. It was after this she was finally diagnosed with lipedema, after decades of no answers.
She had thought she was just ‘obese’ which doctors reiterated to her, despite the fact that she had lost 150 pounds.
Now, Jennifer proudly shows off her body and says she isn’t promoting obesity, just ‘self-love and self-acceptance’.
‘Finally, there’s other people like me, I’m not just a freak by myself with my legs huge and every part of my body smaller,’ she said.
‘Some doctors will say “you’re just fat, lose weight”. But what they don’t realize is I have lost weight. I have lost 150 pounds since 2016 and I still have large thighs.
‘They think it’s cellulite but it’s not, it’s the lipedema fat. And the lipedema fat is not able to be burned by diet and exercise. It’s not going anywhere.’
Getting a diagnosis and turning her life around was a long time coming for Jennifer, who was bullied as a child and developed severe depression as an adult.
‘It was extremely difficult as a child,’ she said. ‘Not fitting in, going to pool parties and not being able to put on a bathing suit.
‘I always wore a shirt or I would go in the water and have someone bring me a towel before I got out of the water so nobody had to see my legs or my body. It was a nightmare.’
Even in adulthood, Jennifer suffered as the condition had an effect on her marriage. She eventually became a single mother and had to take care of her three children.
In 2016, she decided to get healthier.
‘I think I was just tired of being unhappy,’ Jennifer said. ‘I was tired of being depressed. I wanted to be how I was before I had kids and just have a drive for life because I was tired of just wanting to die.’
Jennifer credits social media for introducing her to others with similar body shapes and helping her turn her life around.
She now regularly models in bikinis and underwear and has become friends with women who also suffer from lipedema, asking some of them to join her for a photoshoot.
‘I am the happiest now than I ever have been in my life,’ she continued. ‘I think a lot of self-acceptance and learning about it has helped me embrace it.
‘You can be beautiful at all sizes, no matter what your shape is. There are so many people trying to shame me saying I look like melted yogurt, I’m ugly, I shouldn’t be promoting obesity.
‘I don’t think I’m promoting obesity. I’m just promoting self-love and self-acceptance.’
Woman's legs described as 'melted yoghurt'
Fancy some free food at Nando’s?
Well, the restaurant chain is offering a range of delicious things for free throughout November.
From 4-6 November, you get a free side, followed by three free wings from 11-13.
Then from 18-20, it’s a free veggie burger and finally, a free quarter chicken from 25 to 27 November.
There is one catch – you have to show that your phone shortlists Nando’s or some of the dishes they serve when you type ‘I’m craving’.
There is also a minimum spend of £7 so you’ll have to buy something to get the free food.
The words your phone has to display include:
Nando’s, peri-peri, chips, peri-salted chips, ¼ chicken, wings, spicy rice, coleslaw, garlic bread, corn on the cob/corn, creamy mash, macho peas, saucy spinach, grains ‘n’ greens, long stem broccoli.
Of course, if you’re a big fan but your phone hasn’t quite caught up, you can tweak the predictive text settings to make it happen.
On an iPhone, you can add it through text replacement in the keyboard settings.
Add the word ‘Nando’s’ as the phrase and ‘craving’ as the shortcut.
On Android, add the phrase to the personal dictionary through the Settings, language and input settings.
The offer is available on any order placed in a restaurant for eat-in or takeaway but unfortunately, it’s not available for delivery.
You can read the full terms and conditions online before you head to a restaurant.
While you are there, you might want to try out their new Mozam wrap. It contains tropical pineapple and coconut chutney, black garlic sauce and peri-peri chicken.
It cats £7.35 on its own, £9.35 with a regular side or £10.85 with two regular sides, with 50p from each sale going towards fighting malaria in South Africa.
Halloween is over, the nights are drawing in and that can only mean one thing – Christmas is heading our way.
Yes, we know that it’s still almost two months until the big day. But with shops sticking up their decorations, Christmas ads arriving on our tellies, Christmas jumpers filling the shops and festive drinks appearing on the menu at our favourite coffee chains, you’d be forgiven for thinking the season of goodwill was here already.
It appears that some people have also decided to start the celebrations early – and are already putting their trees up well in advance of Christmas Day.
But for those unsure about when the tree and the tinsel should be rescued from the loft, exactly when should you put up your Christmas tree and decorations?
Here’s what you need to know…
When should you put up your Christmas decorations and tree?
There are different ideas about when is the best time to put up the Christmas tree and decorations.
Traditionally the tree and decorations were not put up until Christmas Eve – and in the past having the tree up earlier or later than these dates was considered bad luck.
These days however the date varies – with some people putting theirs up in November, and others opting for the first or second week of December.
However the British Tree Growers Association have previously suggested 11 December as a good compromise, as it’s in the middle of the season and is three weeks after advent (which starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas).
This year advent begins on Sunday 1 December.
The Association has also recommended buying your tree at the start of the month if you opt for a real pine, advising that trees can survive for more than four weeks if looked after properly.
How long should you leave your Christmas tree and decorations up for?
According to tradition your tree and decorations should be taken down the day after Twelfth Night (5 January) – it’s considered bad luck to leave them up for longer than that.
Some traditions dictate that Christmas trees may be kept up until 2 February to mark Candlemas – the commemoration of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple – which is when the festive season effectively ends.
However it’s definitely considered bad luck if your festive greenery isn’t removed by Candlemas Eve.
Weddings of the past followed a pretty standard set of traditions and rules.
According to a new poll by jeweller, Beaverbrooks, however, more and more people are opting to showcase their personalities on their big day.
The company asked 1,000 married Brits how they got married, as well as finding out which longstanding traditions remained important to them.
The results on the wedding themselves we revealing, with all sorts of themes and quirks.
One couple opted for a Star Wars-inspired theme where the bride walked down the aisle to ‘The Imperial March’, while another had a ‘witches wedding’ – a gothic occasion that required all guests to be dressed in black.
Another brave couple even hosted a nudist wedding, with guests, bride and groom all completely naked, and a pair of non-conformists tied the knot submerged in an underwater tank, like these water babies.
Themed weddings featured prominently on the list, with Disney, pirates, cowboys, Harry Potter and superheroes all appearing as modern wedding trends.
Also on the list was wedding in a ten-pin bowling alley, and one where the bride and groom opted to say their vows wearing blindfolds. Whether that was to ease their nerves or so they could really focus on the words we don’t know, but it’s certainly interesting.
As for more new directions in the world of weddings, sustainable, eco-friendly weddings were revealed as an emerging trend for environmentally conscious partners. In fact, Pinterest searches for ‘sustainable weddings’ increased by a staggering 181% last year.
There were some, however, that appeared to be dying out. For example, just 9%of respondents said that a morning suit for the groom mattered to them, and the same amount claimed that groomsmen were of low importance to them.
The best man and not the maid of honour doing the speech has also fallen out of favour (just 1 in 10 said that was important), followed by the bride wearing a traditional wedding veil (14%).
Others things that are no longer a la mode are a tiered wedding cake (16%) and getting down on one knee for the proposal (18%), as well as throwing confetti (19%).
Despite the changes in attitudes to weddings, though, some things are still seen as important to Brits, with having a ring for the proposal coming top of the list at 34%.
A third still liked the idea of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding, and 29%said having a best man was a must.
26% think wedding bouquets are still an important tradition, a quarter still like bridesmaids, and 24% think asking the bride’s father’s permission is a custom worth keeping – controversial.
Lorna Haddon, head of diamonds and jewellery at Beaverbrooks, said: ‘While it’s clear from our research that many traditions have changed over the last century, with more and more couples opting for unique ways to tie the knot, it’s also nice to see that some traditions remain important to people across the country.
‘Whether you opt for a themed ceremony, or a quirky and unusual venue – it’s about finding what’s personal and meaningful for you and your partner, so you can create the perfect day that both of you will remember forever.’
Pet owners probably don’t need the rhyme to remember the 5th of November.
You know Bonfire Night is coming when the fireworks start at this time of year and your poor animal becomes terrified.
According to the RSPCA, 57% of dogs become stressed when they hear loud bangs and almost half display signs of fear when they hear sudden noises so it’s important to try to keep them settled.
The Thundershirt works by applying gentle pressure, a bit like a weighted gravity blanket, which have become popular for humans with anxiety.
According to Pets at Home, over 80% of dogs showed improvement in symptoms when using the Thundershirt, based on a survey with over 2,000 responses.
They are available for both cats and dogs from £30 and range from sizes XS to XL.
You’ll need to measure your pet’s chest just behind the front legs at its largest point to get the right size.
The store is also selling calming sprays and diffusers to help soothe your furry friends.
It’s also important to make sure your pets are comfortable and try not to leave them alone.
Close windows and doors and pull the curtains to block out flashes of light and try to reduce some of the noise.
Remember that some fireworks displays will happen this weekend so stick to routine all week as well.
Pets at Home is selling jackets that help to keep dogs at cats calm during fireworks
When it comes to choosing your baby’s name, maybe you’ll go for a family tradition or just something you like.
But would you consider a name because it could mean your child is more likely to be academically gifted?
Well, the UK’s ‘smartest’ baby names have been revealed.
Tutoring platform Tutor House has analysed internal data to find the names most commonly associated with getting good grades.
To create the list, they analysed 10,000 names from the last five years, and cross-referenced them with the grades achieved by the children with those names.
Top of the list for boys was George and Emma was top for girls.
Obviously there are lots of kids who aren’t in their database and a name is probably unlikely to actually make you more intelligent, but it gives parents-to-be an idea of what the most common names for smart kids are.
The 'smartest' baby names
Alex Dyer, founder of Tutor House, said: ‘Parents often spend a great deal of time deliberating on what name to give their child, and rightly so.
‘It forms part of your child’s identity, with social science studies finding that a name can influence careers, personality traits and even physicality.
‘With that in mind, and considering the wealth of data we have, we thought it would be interesting to see what names are most commonly associated with being academically gifted.
‘While obviously your name has no reflection on your potential, the results are still interesting and might prove useful for parents who are struggling to settle on a name.’
Baby on bed with laptop
If you’re a pet owner then obviously you speak to them (how else will Max know he’s a good boy?). But don’t you wish they could talk back to you?
One lucky dog owner Christina Hunger, 26, can say her canine pal does, in fact, communicate with her.
That’s because Christina, a speech-language pathologist, has given her doggo Stella a customised keyboard which allows her to press what she wants to say.
Stella, an 18-month-old Catahoula/Blue Heeler mix, has been learning to communicate her thoughts and feelings since she was eight weeks old.
Christina, from San Diego, created the device herself.
All Stella has to do is press on the button with the word she wants to express.
Not only can Stella say when she’s hungry, wants to go for a walk, or just wants a belly rub, Stella has been able to form sentences.
To date, she knows 29 words. Her most remarkable progress came when Stella was able to convey that she missed Christina’s fiancé Jake.
The clever doggo typed ‘want’, ‘Jake’ and ‘come’ and when he arrived a short while later, Stella pressed ‘happy’.
That’s one smart dog.
Christina uses a similar device as part of her job teaching one and two-year-old children. She began teaching Stella in her infancy too.
Now Stella can combine up to five words to form a sentence.
‘I’m in constant amazement and shock,’ Christina told People. ‘Every day she says something cooler than she said the day before.
‘The way she uses words to communicate and the words she’s combining is really similar to a two-year-old child.’
Christina has been documenting Stella’s learning journey on her blog Hunger for Words.
The pair now excitedly chat with each other as much as they can. Stella is also delighted to be able to chat with her human. When she first learned what the ‘walk’ button does, Stella repeatedly pressed on it.
‘I didn’t realise how much she was waiting to say it,’ added Christina.
‘She also loves saying “beach”. She was so happy and still says it very often.
‘I think how important dogs are to their humans,’ notes Christina. ‘I just imagine how much deeper the bond will be’.
You can follow Stella’s progress on the blog Hunger for Words.
Dog learning to talkDog learning to talk
Dee Hunter loves martial arts and has spent years teaching people how to get fit with the exercise.
But at a UK size 24, she couldn’t do some of the moves herself and when she quickly got breathless in class she felt like a hypocrite.
Her diet consisted of sugary drinks and takeaways almost every night, as the 36-year-old had got into the habit of using food for comfort after a difficult childhood.
A year and a half ago, she decided enough was enough. She wanted to eat a healthier diet and actually practice the martial arts she was teaching.
Now a size 16-18 and getting smaller, Dee, from Newcastle, wants to use what she’s learned to show people how to diet in a healthy way if they want to lose weight.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I felt I couldn’t be a role model to the people I was teaching martial arts to when I was size 24.
‘I looked in the mirror one day and realised I was just getting bigger and bigger.
‘I just started eating a proper diet and actually doing some exercise. It was about changing my mindset and my lifestyle.
‘Slowly, the weight started to come off and now, a year and a half on, I have dropped almost four dress sizes.’
Dee started putting on weight when her family moved from the countryside to the city, and she says they faced abuse from neighbours for being different.
She explains: ‘I was seven years old and people threatened us with knives. We had bricks thrown through the window and fireworks put through our letterbox.
‘My family was victimised because we weren’t like everyone else as we had lived a quite isolated rural life.
‘With that, we were also bullied at school and even when I went to a new school, I was bullied there too. Everything really knocked my self-confidence.’
By the time she was a teenager, Dee was a size 10-12 but she started to gain weight because of the problems she had faced when she was younger.
She explains: ‘I was depressed after everything. Things were better because we finally moved and I started to learn martial arts and stick up for myself but I just had no self-esteem.
‘I didn’t want to eat in front of people so I would wait until I was at home, behind closed doors and just raid the cupboards in secret. I would just eat and eat when I was by myself and no one could see.
‘I went up to a size 14-16 and then it just kept going up.’
At 18, Dee started drinking and going out with friends and with more calories coming from alcohol as well as her diet, she gained more weight.
She went to Northumbria University after finishing school and started partying even more, leading to her size gradually increasing.
During her time at university, Dee says she was sexually assaulted and later raped, although her attackers were never convicted.
The incidents caused her depression to return and she started to suffer from panic attacks, turning to food again for comfort.
Recognising Dee was spiralling deeper into depression, her brother Darren, who set up Solo Studios, tried to help by helping her learn more martial arts.
Dee went on to earn her black belts and her self-confidence improved, eventually working at Solo Studios as a child development coach.
But Dee says that her lifestyle hadn’t changed and she was still putting on weight because of what she was eating.
She explains: ‘I was stuck in the same habits I had been following for years.
Dee's diet before and after
Breakfast: Dee would skip food for breakfast but would sometimes have a tea or coffee (with full-fat milk and four spoonfuls of sugar in a coffee or two in a tea)
Lunch: A pub meal like burger and chips, or a sandwich with cake, crisps, Red Bull, or sometimes chips or Greggs.
Dinner: Takeaway if finishing work late or a microwave meal
Snacks: Lots of cans of pop, energy drinks large, tea, coffee, chocolate bars, crisps, sausage rolls, doughnuts
Breakfast: Dee now always has something for breakfast. Usually, she has cereal or oats with almond milk and no sugar, with a cup of tea (made with low-fat milk and no sugar)
Lunch: A typical lunch is a tuna and cucumber sandwich with water
Dinner: Something like salad, pasta, soup, with water. Dee never eats after 8 pm and avoids tea at night.
Snacks: Lots of fruit including bananas, melon and carrots. Sometimes she has protein bars and cereal bars.
‘I help other people improve their fitness but it was time to look after myself.
‘I couldn’t jump and couldn’t move the way I had before. I was becoming breathless in class just showing the moves.’
Finishing work late because of night time classes, Dee would eat food that was quick and easy.
She explains: ‘I was eating takeaways nearly every night – pizza, chips, pasties, McDonald’s.
‘I would finish late and couldn’t be bothered to cook. If it wasn’t a takeaway, it would be a microwave meal. There was never anything nutritious.’
Throughout the day, Dee would drink cans of Red Bull and tea or coffee with three sugars, as well as snacking on chocolate bars.
One day in 2018, Dee decided her diet needed to change.
She cut down the spoonfuls of sugar in her tea one by one and started replacing some of the fizzy drinks with water. She tried eating fruit if she wanted to snack rather than chocolate.
She also increased the amount of exercise she was doing, as although she was teaching classes every day, she wasn’t moving much.
‘Teaching is actually low intensity,’ Dee tells us. ‘It’s the students who do the exercise.
‘So I started doing my own sessions twice a week. I would do a kickboxing workout as well as physical development exercises to build stronger muscles.’
Dee's top tips for introducing a healthier diet
Dee doesn’t weigh herself so doesn’t know how much she has actually lost, instead relying on how she feels and how her clothes fit to measure progress.
She adds: ‘I don’t use the scales because it can be so offputting. One day you might be carrying more water and it says you have put on weight and that can throw it all off. You end up putting yourself down and giving up.
‘I just measure it with my clothes and you start to feel good about things getting looser.’
Dee hopes to continue her diet plan and feels like now she has a whole new way of life, she will be able to reach her goal of a size 12-14.
She’s also working with her clients at the studios to help them understand how to combine diet and martial arts to lead a healthier lifestyle.
‘It doesn’t happen overnight,’ she says. ‘I’ve done it slowly over a year and a half but I feel like my whole mindset is completely different now and this is for the long term.
‘It’s changed my life. I feel so much better now and I have so much more energy. I’m able to get up so much easier in the morning.
‘Now I do feel like a role model because I’m starting to look like what I should look like.’
And Dee has lots of advice for people who want to lose weight healthily and sustainably.
She says: ‘You need to break habits by creating new ones, like training twice a week. Physical exercise is not only good for weight loss but it helps you feel better too.
‘Find an exercise you enjoy – it doesn’t have to be martial arts. For me, martial arts was fantastic because you are also learning self-defence and building confidence.
‘Start by changing little things and build it up. Replace some of your coffees with water or snacks with healthier things like protein bars or apples.
‘If you’re adding things like sugar to your coffee, again just cut down gradually.
‘It does take effort to change those habits but once you crack them, you stick to it and see a difference.’
Dee Hunter weight loss before and after
If it can be eaten, fry it – an American proverb.
Okay, we made that up but it’s no secret that our neighbours across the pond are prone to deep-frying confectionery.
But the UK isn’t shy when it comes to covering chocolate in batter – after all, deep-fried Mars bar did originate in Scotland.
Now battered chocolate is coming to the capital. A fancy Soho chip shop is now offering battered Quality Street.
That’s right, now you can fight over the Green Triangle and Purple one in fried form.
Poppies of Soho, in Old Compton Street, will be serving up ‘lucky dips’ of battered Quality Street charging £2.50 for five.
If that sounds like it’s right up your street then hurry to the restaurant soon, where the addition to the menu will be available from 1 December all the way to 25 December.
Yep, they’re even open on Christmas day for those looking to skip the traditional turkey for a bit of fish and chips.
Why wait to fight over the best chocolate bars with your family when you can have a handful of fried goodies to yourself?
The Poppies team has also ranked the famously debateable chocolates, with the Toffee Finger coming out on top:
They’ll be asking for customer opinions and keeping a tally of the most popular flavours, with the possibility of making any favourites permanent menu items.
Of course, if you want to take away the sweets to share among your loved ones, you have the option to pre-order via the shop.
Those who are saying ‘pass’ to the battered chocolates might be interested in giving the traditional sweets as presents.
Good thing then that John Lewis is offering personalised tubs, allowing you to pick and mix your faves.
So fill your boots.
With the kerfuffle of trying to get everything sorted for the big day (turkey ordered, kids’ presents wrapped, Bailey’s cocktails perfected) it’s easy to forget the important stuff – like actually enjoying it.
One way that parents have been savouring the moment with their little ones is Christmas Eve boxes, which have the dual benefit of getting them off to a reasonable sleep the night before.
Some have been making the boxes themselves, filling with sweeties to be left for Santa and bits and bobs to get excited (and then relaxed, most importantly).
But, a new option has been released by Home Bargains, and customers are raving about how great value it is.
The box is just £2.99, and contains everything you need for a pre-Christmas bedtime routine, all wrapped up and ready to be opened on the 24th.
Home Bargains Christmas Eve box contents
The deal was shared on the Facebook group, Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK, and racked up thousands of likes and comments in a matter of hours.
One commenter said ‘What a brilliant price!’ while another said, ‘Wow sounds good must see if can get one’.
It was also suggested that, if you wanted to add extra items such as PJs or Christmas slippers, the design of the box means it’d be super easy.
Plenty more tagged friends and family, asking them if they wanted to head down to the discount store. Basically, if the comments are anything to go by, you’ll want to do quickly.
One less thing on the prep list.