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Sorry, but your dog just isn’t that clever

(Picture: Getty)

We all like to think our pets are the smartest; when they open the door themselves or learn how to shake your hand.

However, new research shows that our precious pooches actually aren’t as clever as we believe.

The University of Exeter studied various intelligence markers in animals, with dogs coming out relatively middle of the road.

While looking at over 300 papers on animal behaviour, dogs were compared to wolves, bears, lions, hyenas, as well as household pets and farm animals.

Researchers noted that dogs can’t recognise themselves in a mirror, and also are just as able to follow human pointing as goats, pigs, dolphins, and seals.

Pigs, pigeons, and chimpanzees are able to remember the location and timing of events, something which pups are unfortunately unable to do.

There were also various other tasks looked at in the journal of Learning & Behaviour, such as releasing food with a string and being able to recognise human faces.

He’s just trying his best, okay? (Picture: Getty)

The overall conclusion was that dogs are no smarter than pigs, sheep, or pigeons. Sorry, fido!

University of Exeter professor Stephen Lea said, ‘During our work it seemed to us that many studies in dog cognition research set out to ‘prove’ how clever dogs are.

‘They are often compared to chimpanzees and whenever dogs ‘win’, this gets added to their reputation as something exceptional.

‘Yet in each and every case we found other valid comparison species that do at least as well as dogs do in those tasks.’

It might be because we spend so much time with our pets, and that we want to believe they’re the best thing in the world.

But, actually knowing they’re not the genii we hope is good for them, as it means we can readjust how we help them learn and what we expect of them.

Basically, when you’re trying to teach them how to roll over, be aware they’re not humans and are trying their best to understand.

Oh, and give them plenty of treats as motivation.

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Stop referring to people with disabilities as ‘inspirational’– my body does not define me

As an actress with a disability myself I am constantly typecast in roles that see me depressed, lonely, unlucky in love or even suicidal (Picture: Sam Renke)

Fact: If you have a disability you’ve been called ‘an inspiration’ at least once in your life.

I get called ‘an inspiration’ at least once a week, and this hasn’t just started happening since I became a public figure. Growing up I had complete strangers come up to me and say I inspire them. Normally I’d smile politely and say, ‘thanks!’ but I’d be left bewildered. I’m not telling you this to brag – I’ve always felt uneasy about being called inspirational.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I disliked it so much, until I stumbled across a TedX talk called ‘I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much’ by my friend and phenomenal disability activist the late Stella Young. In it she coined the term ‘inspiration porn’. All of a sudden I understood why my toes curled when I was called inspirational.

In her talk, Stella suggested that society has been sold a lie: the idea that living with a disability is a bad thing, something that must make you exceptional. Seeing people with disabilities as inferior is imbedded within our culture. From disabled people being used in “freak shows” in the 19th century, through their persecution by the Nazis, up to today, when words spastic and cripple are used freely to dehumanise and offend.

I often tell people that I wouldn’t change my situation for the world. My disability is not something I am ashamed of – quite the contrary: I have disability pride, something so important to combat attitudinal barriers.

While I may be happy and proud of my body, and my disability may be a big part of who I am – it does not by any means define me. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but having a disability really doesn’t make you exceptional; it just makes you who you are.

Social media is awash with inspiration porn: memes objectifying the disabled community for the benefit of the non-disabled world, making people feel guilty for being lazy or not achieving their potential. I often see images or videos of people in wheelchairs playing sports with the captions along the lines of ‘your excuses are invalid’, or ‘if they can do it so can you’.

Another weirdly common theme is images of the poor disabled person being asked to prom, implying that doing such a thing makes you innately a good person – surely as no one would ask them out of anything other than pity, right?

Ultimately, inspirational porn aims to make able-bodied people feel better about their life, suggesting that their problems may be bad, but at least they are not disabled.

Imagine if part of who you are were used as a ‘worst possible scenario’. It would be clearly problematic to repost memes saying thing like ‘your life may be bad but at least you don’t have mental health problems’, ‘at least you’re not overweight’, or ‘at least you’re not black’. Why do we consider it not only acceptable, but complimentary, to say such things about disabled people?

I can assure you that you never forget the first time someone comes and crouches next to your wheelchair and tells you that if they were like me they couldn’t cope – or even worse they wouldn’t want to live. This is not a compliment, it’s a judgement that makes me feel like nothing I do or say can ever be valued on its own merit, without the caveat of my disability.

It’s not just me who feels this way. I posed the question of whether it’s OK to call people with disabilities ‘inspirational’ simply for living their lives on Instagram. The response I received didn’t surprise me in the least, with the overwhelming majority of the disabled community responding with frustration and indignation. People found it objectifying and reductive to be ‘looked up to’ because of a disability rather than their achievements.

It’s not my intention to shame anyone who calls me or anyone else with a disability inspirational. I do not want to perpetuate the already existing awkwardness that exists between the two communities –  two-thirds of the British public already feels awkward around disability according to figures from disability charity Scope. But clearly society’s perception of what it means to live with a disability is flawed.

It is no wonder society has such low expectations of the disabled community: we only need to look at the media portrayals of disability in film or television. As an actress with a disability myself I am constantly typecast in roles that see me depressed, lonely, unlucky in love or even suicidal.

We are excluded from the world of work, schools and leisure activities in general by a society unwilling to accommodate for people’s needs, making isolation common. As a result, society isn’t exposed to authentic people living with disabilities and so continue the stereotypes. It’s a Catch-22 which cannot be blamed on a single person or meme, but at some point the cycle must be broken.

I would hate to see more people shy away from talking to someone like me just in case they ‘put their foot in it’. If you look at my achievements and see them as inspiring then, by all means, please do tell me and I will take it as a compliment. But before calling someone with a disability an inspiration, take a step back and ask yourself why you feel this way, and what you’re implying about disabled people with your words.

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What I Rent: Max, £900 a month for a room in a four-bedroom house in Tooting

What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Max lives with three housemates in Tooting (Picture: Andre Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)

It’s time, pals, to take another look around someone rented property for our weekly series, What I Rent.

The aim of What I Rent is to create a more honest picture of what it’s like to rent in London – the good, the bad, and the mouldy.

That means being real about how much we’re paying and what we’re getting in return so we all have a better sense of what’s normal.

This time around we’re hanging out with software consultant Max, 27, who shares a house in Tooting with three housemates, Jack, Robbie, and Charles.

What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Max is the one wearing a white tee, Jack is in grey (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)

Hi Max! How much are you paying for this place?

We pay 3,100 pcm total. The rooms are of different sizes so we each pay different sums. I pay £900 for the big room with the en suite. The cheapest room is around £700.

We pay about £80 each for bills, which includes council tax, gas and electricity, internet and TV (we have Sky Sports, BT sport and Eurosport).

We also have a cleaner who comes every 3 weeks. She charges £15ph for four hours.

And what do you get for that money?

4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and another toilet on the bottom floor with the urinal.

How did you find the house?

RightMove, it was put on through Marsh & Parsons, who weren’t the best it must be said. We moved in September 2017.

What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
The housemates know each other from university (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)

What do you think of the location?

I’m very happy. I have lived in tooting for four years now in a few different houses with other uni friends.

We are a five minute walk from Tooting Bec tube station, which is on the northern line so easy to get to work for all of us. We never have to wait for a tube in the morning, as platforms only start getting busy by Balham.

We are also a five minute walk to Tooting Common which is ideal in the summer. There is a lido there too, which is the UK’s biggest apparently!

The high street has loads of pubs and bars too. There’s also a couple of clubs in the area, we go to Chasers quite a bit, and New York New York, but it closes at 1am annoyingly.

I also have a company car, so street parking is fine too. And allows me to drive to the many golf courses which are less than 30 minutes drive away.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

I do as I have the master bedroom! So plenty of wardrobe space. Jack’s room is a bit tight, but he doesn’t mind.

Downstairs our kitchen/living room is very spacious. And the garden is great in the summer for BBQ’s, especially with the decking and the hot tub.

How have you made the house feel like home?

It came unfurnished, so we had to start from scratch. My parents donated some furniture like sofas and chairs, and we got the rest from a trip to Ikea. We’ve had the hot tub for a couple years now, so is a mainstay of our place.

What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
There are a bunch of fancy features in the house, like these LED lights (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)

You’ve got some pretty unusual features in your house – the LED lights, the bidet and urinal, the fancy fridge… what’s the deal with those? 

We fell in love with the house as soon as we viewed it. Think there were 20 viewings on the first day!

The sliding French doors were a big selling point, as we thought it would be perfect for hosting BBQs in the summer. The island in the kitchen and the LEDs also helped.

Having a urinal is obviously very useful in a house of four guys too. I don’t think the bidet has ever been used, but it looks nice.

How long have you and your housemates lived together? Did you know each other before moving in?

We are all from Uni of Southampton where we were in the same halls of accommodation. Me and Charles have lived together for three years, me and Robbie for two years, and Jack moved in at the start of the tenancy.

What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
All the housemates are into sports (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)

What’s it like living with your housemates?

I love it, we all get on really well. We’re quite an active house so we play most sports. We play football, golf, tennis, cricket, basketball, baseball and even squash.

Weekends are taken up by either watching or playing sport.

We also like to do a bit of gaming from time to time, Charles even has a separate gaming spot where he plays Fortnite!

Are there any major issues with the house you have to put up with?

Not really, any issues have been fixed by the landlord fairly quickly. We did have an abnormal smell coming from behind the fridge a while back, but that resolved itself somehow. The cause is still unknown.

Any plans to move again?

We have a break clause in our tenancy which would take us up to March 2019. I’m hoping to buy a place, whereas the others are still undecided on what to do.

I am hoping to buy a place early next year, when our tenancy finishes. Looking to buy in this area too, as I know the area and think it will be a good place to buy. House prices are down at the moment, so I feel like it’s a good time to do it too.

Shall we have a look around the house, then?

What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Fancy, huh? (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Yes, there is a hot tub outside (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
The boys spend a lot of time gaming (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
In summer it’s BBQ time (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Did we mention they like sports? (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
There’s plenty of seating for guests (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
And more than enough games to choose from (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Behold the snazzy kitchen, complete with a fridge large enough for four (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Board games are essential (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
There are four bedrooms in total (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
They’re different sizes, so housemates pay different rent accordingly (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
(Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Someone likes elephants (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Max has the en suite (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
The boys have made the house their own with some interesting decoration (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
Spot the bidet (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)
What I Rent: Max Barrow in Tooting
And yes, that’s a urinal (Picture: André Zuccolo for Metro.co.uk)

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 in London. 

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

MORE: What I Rent: Alex and Andy, £1,400 a month for a maisonette in Hither Green

MORE: What I Rent: Max, £900 a month for a room in a four-bedroom house in Tooting

Dunk Elephant is opening a London pop-up shop: Here’s everything you need to know

‘House of Drunk’ window display. (Picture: Space NK)

Just when we thought we couldn’t get anymore excited about the UK launch of cult skincare brand Drunk Elephant, Space NK is opening a London pop-up shop.

The ‘House of Drunk’ is set to open today (yep, today), Tuesday, 2 October at 10am in Covent Garden – which FYI is a full 24 hours before it launches nationwide – giving customers the chance to experience Drunk Elephant skincare first hand.

For those that are unfamiliar, Drunk Elephant is a US based skincare brand with devastatingly attractive products that are well-loved for being free of any nasties such as fragrance, dyes and drying alcohol.

Instagram Photo

The products have been praised by skincare experts from around the world, including our favourite beauty consultant Caroline Hirons.

The pop-up shop will be the first opportunity for customers to test and purchase the entire range of skincare before the wider launch, including the brands glow-inducing moisturisers, face masks and serums.

It will undoubtedly be an Instagrammable moment too, as the space has been designed as an immersive multi-sensory experience.

If you can’t be the first in line to buy Drunk Elephant at the pop-up shop, no fear, Space NK will host a virtual version of the pop-up, in addition to the Covent Garden store. And don’t forget, you can still sign up to the waiting list here to be notified when it arrives online.

But, we’ll see you in the queue…

Check out the store address and opening hours below.

The ‘House of Drunk’, powered by Space NK, will open on Tuesday 2 October at 10am until 5pm and again on 3 October from 10am – 5pm. It’s located at 9 – 11 Shorts Gardens, Covent Garden.

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Could your spicy food binge land you in hospital?

(Picture: Getty/Frito Lay)

Most of the time a poorly judged choice of spice level results only in regret, shame, and a burning tongue.

But if you’re unlucky – or you eat an excessive amount of something spicy – your feast could land you in hospital.

Rapper Lil Xan (don’t feel old if you have no clue who he is. He’s 22 years old and recently made headlines for breaking up with Noah Cyrus, the little sister of Miley) says he ended up in hospital after eating too many bags of Hot Cheetos.

‘Yeah, I went to the hospital today. I just want to let everybody know I was in the hospital not due to any drugs but, I guess I ate…too many hot Cheetos and it [giggles] it ripped something in my stomach open and I puked a little blood,’ he said. ‘But we good!. Be careful, Hot Cheetos are one hell of a drug aha.’

Last week a woman had to go to hospital after suffering rectal bleeding from a spicy noodle challenge.

Clearly, there are risks when it comes to eating spicy stuff. But how high are those risks? And what kind of damage can you actually do to your body by chomping down on food products with advertised with words like ‘fire’, ‘pain’, and ‘death’?

(Picture: Getty)

‘Small amounts of spices aren’t usually problematic,’ Alison Orr, a nutritional therapist at YorkTest Laboratories, tells Metro.co.uk, ‘but excess spice such as during food challenges can certainly contribute to temporary health complaints.’

Whether or not you experience those health issues can depend on your general health as well as the amount of spice you consume.

‘Acid reflux is often made worse, as are stomach ulcers,’ says Alison. ‘If someone is predisposed genetically to certain gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s disease then eating spicy foods can irritate the condition leading to inflammation, pain and in some cases needing medical attention.

‘If you do not suffer existing medical conditions then over doing it on spicy foods will usually only create temporary adverse effects although they may be enough to stop you repeating it!’

Some of those temporary adverse effects can include vomiting and stomach pain.

When you eat very spicy food, the brain receives ‘pain’ signals that can make the body react as if it’s ingested something toxic. That pushes the body to get rid of the substance, by either pooing or vomiting.

Vomiting can cause issues.

(Picture: Getty)

In October 2016, a man developed a hole in his esophagus after eating ghost peppers during a contest. It wasn’t necessarily the peppers that burned a hole in his throat, but the action of repeatedly retching them up.

The stomach acid your body produces in response to the ‘dangerous’ spice can also cause irritation to the stomach lining and throat.

For those with existing health issues, that can cause drastic problems. Spicy foods alone don’t cause ulcers, but they can worsen them. Spice can also trigger IBS symptoms, leaving you in a lot of pain and discomfort.

There’s also the effect on your butt.

If you’re unlucky enough to have small anal fissures – little tears in the anus – eating spicy foods can aggravate symptoms. That’s intensely painful.

You may also experience burning when you poo as well as diarrhea. There’s no evidence to suggest that this will cause longterm damage to the body, but it’s not exactly a pleasant experience.

The lesson here is pretty simple. If you have existing issues with your stomach and gastrointestinal system, piling on the spicy food is not a wise idea – you’re likely to trigger and intensify symptoms. Skip the food challenges and limit your intake of spicy crisps.

If you’re in perfect health, still proceed with caution.

Spicy foods can have health benefits such as supporting weight loss and increasing libido, so you shouldn’t get rid of all spice in your diet and pursue a bland existence.

But if your spice consumption is causing you pain, stop. If you feel like you’re dying, don’t keep eating the food that’s causing it, even if it tastes good or you’re in the middle of a YouTube challenge.

Look after yourself and listen to your body. The risks aren’t high enough to put you off all spicy food, but eating anything painful isn’t a good idea, especially in excessive amounts.

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Tate Modern exhibition wants your body heat and tears

epa07061103 Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera (C) stands with volunteers on her installation during its unveiling in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London, Britain, 01 October 2018. The art project created in response to the global migration crisis as part of the annual Hyundai Commission will be on show from 02 October 2018 to 24 February 2019. The installation 'invites visitors to take part in symbolic actions by revealing a hidden image beneath a heat-sensitive floor'. EPA/ANDY RAIN
(Picture: Andy Rain)

Being uncomfortable is the theme of a new exhibition at the Tate Modern, headed up by artist Tania Buguera.

It includes a room designed to make you cry (not via emotional cues, but chemicals in the air), a hall with a plain black floor which reveals the artwork hidden beneath only when it’s touched by body heat, and a room with a constant hum of a bass-heavy, headache-inducing soundtrack.

The exhibition alludes to the theme of immigration; Tania wants to make people physically uncomfortable because she says, life isn’t comfortable.

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera poses in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern at the opening of her commission 'Tania Bruguera: 10,142,926' in London on October 1, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images
Cuban artist Tania Bruguera at Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern at the opening of her commission (Picture: AFP)

If you visit the exhibition, once you step into the Turbine Hall, you’ll see an empty black floor. You’ll need to rub shoulders with some strangers to be able to see the whole image because it requires body heat.

‘It’s an almost impossible task,’ said Catherine Wood, the museum’s senior curator of international art.

‘Tania chose to put an image under a floor using thermochromic material – heat-sensitive material – because she loved the idea of making a horizontal mural.

‘But it’s one which is a call to action because there’s no way that you can see this picture unless you join together with many, many other people.’

Once there are about 150 people or so, what is revealed eventually is an image of a young Syrian refugee called Yusef, who fled to the UK from Homs, western Syria, and is now studying medicine.

Volunteers stand after lying down on the heat sensitive Hyundai Commission artwork, Our Neighbours, by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, in London, Britain, October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
The heat sensitive Hyundai Commission artwork is revealed after enough bodies have lent their heat to it (Picture: Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

You can also wander over to the crying room which does exactly what it sounds like.

An organic compound is sprayed in the air, making your eyes tear up as it does when you cut onions.

The smell is minty due to the menthol in the air. Artist Tania, from Havana, Cuba, called the piece Forced Empathy, to provoke feelings.

She said: ‘Life is uncomfortable, the really good things in life, you have to work hard for them, I want people to understand that change takes a lot of work.’

You can visit the exhibition entitled 10,142,942 (though the number will change by the time you go) between 2 October and 24 February 2019. More details can be found here.

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London’s latest Michelin star restaurants for 2019 are revealed

(Picture: Sabor, Ikoyi, Leroy, Brat)

The 2019 Michelin guide to the U.K. and Ireland has been revealed.

The Michelin Red Guide, the oldest European hotel and restaurant reference book, awards up to three Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.

The trendiest restaurants who have been vying for the coveted accolade have eternal bragging rights if they are awarded a star.

It is the gold standard for diners looking for chic places to eat with fanciful food.

These are the new restaurants in London achieving one reputable star in 2019:

Core, by Clare Smyth, 92 Kensington Park Road

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Core by Clare Smyth METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.corebyclaresmyth.com/ Credit: Core by Clare Smyth
(Picture: Core)

Core is one of only 120 restaurants across the world to be given two stars in its first award.

It is a rare feat for an establishment to be given more than one award in its first year of eligibility, which puts head chef Clare Smyth quite close to the Red Guide’s top honour.

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Core by Clare Smyth METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.corebyclaresmyth.com/ Credit: Core by Clare Smyth
(Picture: Core)

Sabor, by Nieves Barragan Mohacho and José Etura, 35-37 Heddon Street 

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Sabor METRO GRAB taken from: http://www.saborrestaurants.co.uk/restaurant Credit: Sabor
(Picture: Sabor)

The Spanish tapas bar, restaurant, and grill becomes the fifth restaurant in its JKS Restaurant Group to be awarded by Michelin.


Ikoyi, by Iré Hassan-Odukale and Jeremy Chan, 1 Saint James’s Market

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Ikoyi METRO GRAB taken from: https://ikoyilondon.com/ Credit: Ikoyi
(Picture: Ikoyi)

This is the only African restaurant to receive a new accolade on the list. It is a West African inspired fine dining restaurant.


Hide, by Ollie Dabbous, 85 Picaddily

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Hide METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.instagram.com/hide_restaurant/ Credit: Hide restaurant/Instagram
(Picture: Hide restaurant/Instagram)

Chef Ollie Dabbous introduced Hide, after closing down his much successful eponymous restaurant in Fitzrovia. His new establishment, co-owned with Hedonism Wines’ Evgeny Chichvarkin and Tatiana Fokina, received its first star.


Roganic, by Simon Rogan, 5-7 Blanford Street

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Roganic METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn5fj1chYPo/?taken-by=roganic Credit: Roganic/Instagram
(Picture: Roganic/Instagram)

Simon Rogan is proud holder of two other restaurants with Michelin stars; L’Enclume in Cartmel, in the Lake District, and development kitchen Aulis in Soho.


Leroy, Shoreditch

Michelin star restaurants 2019 METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.leroyshoreditch.com/leroy-menu-1/ Picture Leroy, Shorditch Credit: Leroy
(Picture: Leroy)

The wine and restaurant bar, opened by owners of the now-closed and starred Ellory, have only been open for six months and have gone from strength to strength.


Brat, Tomos Parry, Shoreditch

Michelin star restaurants 2019 Picture: Brat METRO GRAB taken from: https://www.bratrestaurant.com/ Credit: Brat
(Picture: Brat)

Shoreditch is clearly the place to go if you fancy top-notch food as it features four Michelin-starred establishments.

There are plenty of other eateries gaining two and three stars in the capital. The full list can be found here.

How do you earn a Michelin star?

The Michelin Guide began in 1926. It went from a free guide on where to change tires, find restaurants, and hotels to what it is now, though it has its share of critics.

Michelin only operates in certain regions, so unless your restaurant is located in an area the guide covers, you can’t be considered.

Anonymous inspectors come in to taste the food, assess the ambiance, decor and take in the vibes so you’ll never know who exactly is judging you.

Many chefs have written about what they think has pipped them to the post; inspectors usually look to be seated quickly, served attentively, and wowed with food beyond an average meal.

The advantage of a star is that it puts the restaurant on the map, bringing international audiences and gaining publicity.

Some do feel that it gives an added pressure to always perform well and be the best. Some joints have been demoted and had their stars taken away.

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Aldi launches giant roast dinner filled Yorkshire Pudding for £2.49

(Picture: Aldi/Getty)

Aldi has launched a new roast dinner-filled Yorkshire pudding.

The Filled Yorkshire Pudding is a roast dinner which comes in a giant Yorkshire pudding.

It’s made with British chicken breast and thigh, garlic and parsley roasted potatoes, gravy with onion, chicken stock, white wine and garlic, pork and onion stuffing and pork chipolata sausages all nestled inside a Yorkshire pud.


The new 400g roast dinner dish is going to be launching as part of Aldi’s supermarket winter seasonal range, which will be available across all UK stores from 28 September for £2.49.

(Picture: Red_Consultancy)

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an English dish being served in a Yorkshire pudding.

Last month, we wrote about Porky Pig Carvery’s English breakfast.

The breakfast features bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, beans and a hash brown, all piled up in a Yorkshire pudding.

The restaurant told Metro.co.uk: ‘We oven bake the Yorkshire pudding with everything in: bacon, sausage, egg, mushrooms, beans and hash brown.

‘The inspiration is just from loving what we do and trying to be different. A Yorkshire pudding on a breakfast is just like having a pancake with a breakfast.’

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For those that can, going sober for October is brilliant, but alcoholics aren’t getting the help they need

Why we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations
(Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)

It’s the start of October and with that comes the start of the fundraising campaign led by Macmillan Cancer Support ‘Go Sober for October’. Last year, 75,000 signed up, raising a fantastic £5million for the charity.

As well as raising money for those affected by cancer, they also note that the fundraising campaign is aimed at challenging social drinkers to change their habits for a month to make healthy lifestyle changes, and that heavy drinkers, or those dependent on alcohol, speak with their GP.

And while the Go Sober for October campaign is without a doubt an incredible way to raise money for this fantastic cause, I can’t help but also feel saddened at the fact that yet another year has passed with little to no support for those truly struggling with alcoholism.

It’s time to address the crisis in public alcohol treatment services

My firm carried out a Freedom of Information Request in April this year, which revealed that since 2013, councils across England are choosing to spend significantly less and less each year on drug and alcohol treatment services.

These are free services that the people who Macmillan are encouraging to see their GP in the first instance would then need to access to live a sober life.

How are those suffering with alcohol dependency and addiction going to be supported, if the funds needed to keep free treatment services open are being slashed?

It would appear that the NHS is unfortunately taking the brunt of poor budget cut decisions. Earlier this year, Public Health England confirmed that over 1.1million people were treated in hospitals during 2016/17 for alcohol related conditions, a rise of 66% over the last 10 years.

Those suffering with alcohol addiction or dependency are simply being ignored and unsupported by our government.

Around the same time, the Office for National Statistics also revealed that in 2016, 7,327 people died from alcohol, and that in England, alcohol-specific deaths were significantly higher in more deprived areas of the country.

And only a couple of months ago it was announced that in the UK, roughly one person every hour dies as a direct result of alcohol and that there are some 200,000 children living with alcohol-dependent carers.

Those suffering with alcohol addiction or dependency are simply being ignored and unsupported by our government. The 2017 drug strategy doesn’t even address alcohol as a stand-alone problem, nor does it detail how they will tackle the treatment of alcoholism as an isolated issue.

It’s not about alcoholism versus cancer – it really isn’t. It is not my opinion that one illness is more important, relevant or deserving of financial support than the other.

But it is my belief that more should and could be done all year round, instead of just within the month of October, in order to educate people on the dangers of excessive drinking.

Not only would this help to lower the number of those dependent on alcohol, but it could help to lower the number of people who are diagnosed with any of the seven types of cancers associated with alcohol.

Perhaps Macmillan could partner with the newly formed charity Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK for next year’s fundraising campaign, with a view to working together to collectively raise money to treat cancer, but to also raise the awareness of the severity of our country’s problem with alcohol?

It goes without saying that Go Sober for October is a powerful way to encourage those who aren’t suffering with alcoholism to understand the health benefits associated with drinking less, but it would be my wish that greater focus be given to the wider societal impact alcohol dependency has on almost 600,000 people in England alone who are right now, today, dependent on alcohol and in need of specialist support.

At UKAT, we’ve already treated over 1,000 people with alcohol addiction in our private residential rehabilitation centres this year, the vast majority of which had to be medically supported during their initial detoxification stage. Going ‘cold turkey’ from alcohol is extremely dangerous; the individual could experience seizures, hallucinations, sweating, anxiety, depression, tremors and nausea.

So please, if you have been motivated by the thought of going Sober for October, but if you are dependent on alcohol, please seek professional support before you start your journey to sobriety.

For more information on alcohol addiction, the signs, symptoms, withdrawal details and various treatment options available, visit www.ukat.co.uk/alcohol

MORE: How do you go sober for October?

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MORE: I didn’t need to be drinking a lot to realise I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol

What does it mean to be heteroflexible?

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If you follow the Kinsey school of thought, you’ll know that sexuality is a spectrum – and a wide one at that.

There are a number of different labels under the LGBT+ umbrella, with heteroflexible in there somewhere.

It refers to those who would predominantly consider themselves straight, but from time to time may be attracted to or have experiences with the same gender.

This term has been controversial both from those within the gay community and outside.

As a bisexual woman myself, it did take some getting used to. Bi people often have preferences, but it doesn’t take away the fact they are attracted to people of more than two genders in some way or another.

Is this term simply just a way to erase bisexuality unless you’re ‘fully bisexual’ and have the exact same level of attraction to men and women (similar to the idea of a ‘gold star lesbian’)?

If people have a problem labelling themselves as bisexual, does this mean that they’re ashamed of it or have some sort of internalised biphobia?

These are the things I wondered.

The fact is, anyone can identify however they feel comfortable. If it also gives people a chance to explore same-sex attractions without compromising who they may have initially thought they were.

Although you could argue that those who refer to themselves as heteroflexible are technically bisexual, it’s up to that person to call themselves what they want.

YouTuber and author Hannah Witton told Refinery29 that, when she’s in straight circles she identifies as heteroflexible, but doesn’t want to ‘steal the thunder’ while in LGBT spaces.

It’s amazing that she’s thinking about these things, but since heteroflexible people are under that aforementioned LGBT+ umbrella, she’s more than welcome to be part of these spaces.

In an ideal world there’d be no exclusion or contention about terms like this, but given that many LGBT+ people have experienced discrimination or felt victimised for their orientation, it’s not that surprising that things could get tricky.

Essentially, identify however you want. You can still be bi if you don’t find that your experiences are equally weighted when it comes to men and women, and you can be heteroflexible if you might be considered ‘more bisexual’ by outsiders. It’s your life and your sexuality.

That said, it’s always good to have conversations among ourselves on why things might feel like erasure or further fragmentation of already marginalised groups- as long as it always comes from a place of trying to understand each other better.

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Why adults are using Lego to battle stress

File photo dated 22/06/14 of a person playing with Lego, as the plastic brick giant has been voted the UK's strongest brand as previous winner British Airways fell from the top 20 ranking entirely. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday March 12, 2018. The Danish toymaker beat more than 1,500 companies to pole position as it celebrates its 60th anniversary, rising from 25th place in 2014 to second position last year in the annual UK Superbrands ranking. See PA story CONSUMER Superbrands. Photo credit should read: Laura Lean/PA Wire
Playing with Lego could be good for your mental well-being

Admitting you’re an adult that plays with Lego is no longer the shameful revelation it would have been a decade ago, even if it’s not necessarily the sort of thing you brag about when trying to seem cool.

But Lego didn’t become the most trusted brand in the UK (beating the likes of Apple and Disney) by only appealing to children.

Everyone loves Lego, or has loved it at some point, and nowadays there are plenty of Lego sets that, in terms of subject matter and price, are aimed squarely at adults.

The tactile joy of the little plastic pieces isn’t necessarily just a trivial time waster. We spoke to several adult fans who claim that building with Lego actually helps them to relax, and in some cases cope with major mental health issues.

James Maheady is a 31-year-old teacher who enjoyed Lego when he was younger but grew out of it when he got into his teens, after which all his bricks were retired to the loft. But when tragedy struck it was Lego he returned to in order to cope with depression.

‘Me and my wife, we lost two children’, Maheady tells us. ‘It hit me really hard and I got really bad depression and anxiety. I could get through the working day okay but when I got home I needed something to do, to get through the rest of the day. And I thought to myself that maybe I should get some Lego and build that to take my mind off other things. And it did.

‘When I was doing it, the depression and the anxiety, it wouldn’t take it away completely, but it definitely helped provide a bit of a break.

‘And so after building some of the sets I decided to build my own bits and I ended up building… we got that big Millennium Falcon. I built that and then I made a coffee table to put it in. That was when I really started enjoying it, not just building off instructions but building my own things. Because then I can get lost in it even more, and really enjoy it.’

Maheady subsequently met fellow fans online and by helping out with his nan’s charity group, but for him building Lego is usually more of a private pleasure.

‘I’m a PE teacher, so I’m quite sporty. I do a lot of my socialising while playing sport but when you’re playing sport you don’t really get that relaxation time’, he explains.

‘When I was suffering really, really bad the Lego was a godsend. I would struggle through the day at work, come home, struggle through whatever I had to do, and then get to a point at night and sit down and for two or three hours it wasn’t a struggle.

‘So I think anyone that’s looking for advice for mental health it’s such a good thing to do.’

A coffee table that can do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs

Not every adult fan has such a serious story to tell. For many an escape from the daily grind is all the reason they need to take up the hobby. 29-year-old Peter Mordecai is a solicitor by day but a Lego builder by night.

‘My work’s quite high intensity and very stressful’, he admits. ‘So it’s nice to just do something completely different. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it’s nice to have something that’s very hands-on, very precision-based. It’s nice to have something completely different from my job, where I’m not thinking so much but can get really focused and forget about everything else.’

Jack Daubey is a 29-year-old sign maker who, like many people we spoke to, found himself getting back into Lego through one of the company’s most popular themes: Star Wars.

‘My other half bought me one of the Lego Star Wars advent calendars and I really enjoyed that’, says Daubey. ‘A little thing every day, throughout December, and she could see I was clearly enjoying it so I ended up getting a bit more Lego for Christmas that year. I particularly liked the minifigures, so I kind of came back to it through collecting the minifigures and then got more involved in building’.

From there he began experimenting with constructing his own models and eventually attending Lego fan events and teaming up with others to make collaborative projects.

‘I got involved with a charity called Fairy Bricks, who donate Lego bricks to children’s’ hospitals. And I started helping them with fundraising at shows and things like that. That was the major catalyst for me’, he explains.

‘I think quite often people have a bit of a bad idea about adult toy collectors. They think they’re people who don’t want kids to have the toys and want them to be kept pristine.

‘But I think Lego fans go against that grain quite a lot and for me that was really a good way of putting something back.’

Fairy Bricks helps both kids and adults through the medium of Lego

Dan Jarvis is a 37-year-old forklift driver and one of the most respected Lego builders in the UK. With three children in the house he does all his Lego in the loft, a mirror image of the Will Ferrell character from The Lego Movie with his massive set-up in the basement.

‘When I first got back into Lego I was living on my own and a friend of mine just brought round a box of Lego, that he’d found in his mum’s attic, to keep me entertained; to keep me busy. Because I use to like doing Airfix models… I always enjoyed building stuff. So I got the bug and then I discovered the online community and all this massive world of Lego.’

Like the others he started off buying Lego sets but gradually began to focus on building his own designs and taking them to exhibit at shows.

‘I was always quite creative when I was kid, building dens and using toys to recreate scenes and stuff like that. So I think it was always in me,’ says Jarvis. ‘Even now my wife says that for a grown man I’m still quite childish, because my imagination and my creativity is still quite strong. Because a lot of men she knows from my age, they’ve lost that.’

Jarvis estimates his Lego Star Wars collection at around 300 sets but is now more interested in building his own creations – with no instruction book to follow. To do that he needs access to a lot of Lego. He estimates he has anything from a million to one-and-a-half million bricks, with a total worth of between £15,000 and £20,000.

As with the others Jarvis primarily sees building with Lego as a way to relax and to enjoy some quality alone time.

‘Mainly the stuff I build, I do it on my own. Because it’s my escape. I go in the loft and I can forget about all the troubles in the world and I totally relax. And that’s my stress relief really.

‘If I’ve had a busy or bad day at work and you come home and the kids are running around and screaming there can be days when it gets really stressful and it’s then nice, when everyone’s in bed, for me to just sit in the loft for an hour or two and build something. And then I wake up in the morning all refreshed and happy.’

Just one part of Peter Mordecai’s collection

‘It’s definitely something I think about if I’ve had a stressful week, it’s definitely something that helps for relaxing’, agrees Daubey. ‘I enjoy that it is something constructive.

‘I think there’s a lot of hobbies that you can get relaxation from but for a lot of people my age it’s video games and things like that. And quite often you don’t feel like you get anything back out of it after you’re done. Whereas with building a Lego set you stand back after you’ve done it and you’ve got something fun to look at and to appreciate.’

‘It really draws your focus. You can take a simple set, that you can build in five minutes, and have a film or something on in the background. Or you can go for one of the bigger sets and really get involved in it. And there’s such clever techniques… you start to think about how you can apply that elsewhere. So it’s an excellent distraction, but also it gives you something to take away afterwards.’

Dan Jarvis’ award-winning creation (with Lego-built trophy)

‘I’m lucky, my wife is quite into Lego as well. Not as much as myself, but she is a massive Harry Potter fan. So the resurrection of the Harry Potter theme means that… we had a trip to the Lego shop earlier in the year and came away with two copies of almost all the sets. So we’re planning on building some of the bits of Hogwarts together. So it’s quite nice on that front.

We ask Daubey how much his collection is worth but he hesitates to put a value on it. ‘

I used to justify it a lot in terms of the value. If someone said to me, “Oh, you collect Lego? That’s a bit weird”. I’d say, “Oh yeah but I bought this one set for £15 and I could sell it for 60 quid now if I want”. But I don’t really look at it in terms of the money so much anymore.

‘I realise that actually it doesn’t matter. It’s what I get out of it that’s important. I enjoy it, it helps me relax, and I get a lot of value out of it. It’s something creative that also helps you clear your mind and that really works for me.’

MORE: An injured turtle is learning to walk again using a Lego wheelchair

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Are you brave enough to get these Aladdin inspired toenails?

(Picture: Nail Sunny)

Disney inspired nails are nothing new, but rarely do they take such an outlandish form as these Aladdin themed toes.

The madcap designs come from serial crazy nail artist nailsunny in Russia.

They’re known for taking an idea and running with it, and running with it some more, and then going a little further.

Others include tooth nails, nails with live ants inside, and a very disturbing set of acrylics that makes your fingernails look like feet.

Are these perhaps the ones that finally took it too far?

Instagram Photo

The technician uses a technique called a Russian pedicure, where the cuticles are removed with the ball application on the drill.

Acrylic is then added right from the start of the nail, gradually being moulded using a cone to create that signature Aladdin-style Khussa slipper look.

Glitter polish is added to both sides of the nail, and they’re finished off with a fetching bell – so everybody knows the most extra person ever is walking nearby.

Although they’re not very practical, they certainly take some craftsmanship.

Plus, they make a good excuse to wear some open-toed sandals.

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Cinnamon flavour Coca-Cola is coming

(Picture: Getty/Coca Cola)

Coca-Cola has announced a new cinnamon flavour for the festive season.

With pumpkin spiced latte season in full swing, it’s the perfect opportunity to add some autumnal spice to life your life when you want a colder drink.

The limited edition flavour will be part of the Coca-Cola zero sugar range and will be sold in 500ml and 1.25lbottles.

It’s due to hit stores this week but will only be available until the end of the year.

Coca-Cola said it came up with the idea because of the ‘general public’s love of the flavour’.

Caption: (Picture: Coca-Cola) Provider: Coca-Cola
(Picture: Coca-Cola)

Earlier this year, the brand launched Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Peach flavour following the success of Vanilla and Cherry in 2017.

Speaking about the new addition to the range, Alec Mellor, Marketing Manager at Coca-Cola Great Britain said: ‘Since launching Coca-Cola zero sugar, we’ve introduced an exciting addition of new flavours to the range.

‘For a limited time only, we are excited to announce the launch of Coca-Cola zero sugar Cinnamon, that we hope our current fans and those looking to try a new flavour will love. It’s a drink full of festive flavour and no sugar, perfect for the lead up to Christmas.’

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Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights are as ghastly as ever… and we love it


For the last few years I’ve heard about Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights where people pay good money and queue up to get scared to death.

It sounded like my idea of hell, so naturally I ended up going along to see what all the fuss is about and why people go back year after year.

I was not disappointed.

Basically, the concept involves you going through several specially designed mazes where actors (scaracters) jump out at you to try and frighten you.

Not for the faint-hearted (Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)
(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

In the build-up to the event, I have to admit that I was pretty nervous and ready to back out.

There are also scare zones dotted throughout Universal Orlando Resort so that as you’re walking from one maze to another you’re likely to be chased by someone with a chainsaw or followed by a Chucky doll.

They have new sets every year, and it takes 14 months for the teams at Universal to create the different mazes – this year there were 10 mazes and five different scare zones.

The most highly-anticipated one for this year was Stranger Things, based on the Netflix series, and yes… we went to the Upside Down.

Stranger Things

One of our group mentioned that Stranger Things isn’t actually a horror film or all that scary to watch, but being in it would be very scary indeed.

That was definitely the case with the Stranger Things set.

We visited the Byers home, complete with the alphabet and Christmas lighting, we saw the corridors of Hawkins High School and, yes, we survived the Upside Down.

(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)
(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)
(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)
(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)
(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)
(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

What was fascinating about this one was that the demogorgons had to be made from scratch. In the series they’re computer-generated so Universal had to make them from scratch.

Some were robots while others were humans in costumes – they were all equally as demogorgon-esque as you could expect, and just as frightening.

Of all the houses this was my favourite.

Instagram Photo

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

This one got me multiple times. For those who don’t know, Michael Myers is a tough man to kill who keeps coming back from the dead. He wears a mask and a large knife is his weapon of choice.

The essence of the character was captured in this maze. He was around each and every corner, knife raised and slashing around.

(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

Even when I knew the scare was coming and had my head in my hands ready for the inevitable loud bang/music crescendo I was given a fright throughout the maze. I actually can’t remember much about the decor because this one scared me so much.


Another very scary maze based on an iconic 1982 Spielberg horror film that quickly becomes very claustrophobic.

Before going into the maze you stand in the graveyard in the garden of the house and things get a little bit wet – well you are in the middle of a terrifying storm, of course.

(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

The Poltergeist maze is home to one of the scarier points in our trip with a tunnel of sheets making things rather claustrophobic before you get to the jump scares that swiftly follow.

And of course, there’s the famous television set.

Trick ‘r Treat

We got to Trick ‘r Treat a little later in the evening so you’d think were were perhaps a little scared out. There’s only so much adrenaline you can produce, surely?

But no, Sam was there to follow us round, jump out at us and keep us on our toes as we moved through the maze.

(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

He might only be small, but that probably added to the scariness – he was suddenly there whenever you turned around.

The Horrors of Blumhouse

The Horrors of Blumhouse maze combined two films – Happy Death Day and the First Purge.

Happy Death Day was the horror equivalent of Groundhog Day, going through the same room repeatedly with the same killer in the same baby mask each time.

Seeing the mask once is enough to give you the heebie jeebies, but seeing it repeatedly really gets your nerves on edge as they jump out from all over the place.

The First Purge is based on the prequel to The Purge, a night when nothing is illegal – including murder.

So, you’ve basically got to get through the house with a whole load of killers jumping out from every angle.

At one point I screamed to my fellow victim ‘there’s two of the f***ers’ after being scared from both sides.

As well as the mazes based on themes, there were original houses, created specifically for the Halloween Horror Nights.

These are mazes that allow the people behind the even to unleash their creative juices in all their gory glory.

Dead Exposure: Patient Zero

This was the maze that I was dreading the most.

It is based on a zombie outbreak and you have to go through a decontamination tent that will immunise you from the zombies you will pass on your way through.

You’re dropped into the middle of Paris in 1982, but there’s no power and you suffer blindness as a result of the immunisation, so you go through the maze in the pitch black.

The only indication that there’s anyone (or anything) there is when there are flashes of UV light or strobe lighting, revealing the Paris skyline… and the zombies.

Between the flashes the scaracters get ever-closer to you and it made me want to just curl up into a ball.

Slaughter Sinema

Slaughter Sinema was made to look like a drive-in movie from back in the day and filled with the smell of popcorn.

Based on 80s B-movies that were never actually made, there was a bit of a guessing game as we went through.

(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

There were posters telling us the name of the film along with a picture of what it might be that we were going to be scared by – think alien cannibals, brain-eating monkeys and a swamp yeti.

We saw this maze in the daytime without the scaracters jumping out, the smells attacking our senses and the dark lighting, so we had an idea of what was to come.

While it isn’t as scary as other mazes – some parts just made us laugh very nervously – it was probably the best house in terms of gore.

Carnival Graveyard: Rust in Pieces 

I really liked the set design for this one. You’re basically taken through a junkyard where rides from carnivals go to rust into oblivion.

Naturally, with it being a carnival, there are quite a few oddball characters lurking around every corner – not least the kissing couple (the Luv Shak Couple) who really needed to get a room. Oh… and they were wearing the skin of other people as masks.

(Picture: Halloween Horror Nights/Universal Orlando Resort)

There are Clowns, of course, and other creatures that jump out and make a beeline for you. I recall in this maze being scared three times in very quick succession before berating a fourth scaracter before they’d even jumped out at me.

They did so anyway and I was just as scared as if I didn’t know he was there.

Seeds of Extinction

In this maze, humanity has been wiped out by a meteor and only plants are left. Of course, they aren’t just your regular plants, they’re monster killer plants.

It was in this house where I learned to do a weird kind of jig. It wasn’t just plants jumping out at you that you had to contend with, there were blasts of air or water.

One of these jets hit my ankle causing me to dance on my tip toes like I was walking on hot coals.

Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After

Along with Stranger Things and Carnival Exposure, this was one of my favourite mazes.

The premise of the house is that the Wicked Witch of the West has managed to take over – and succeeded.

Instagram Photo

She has twisted fairy tales so that there is no such thing as a fairy tale ending.

You go into the maze through the impressive witch’s castle to have the tales of Goldilocks, Hansel and Gretel, and Rapunzel re-told.

It’s a roller-coaster of emotions with amusement and fear coursing through your veins at the same time.

Travel factbox

Enjoy seven nights at Universal Orlando Resort with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando, with accommodation at Universal’s Aventura Hotel from £1,165pp. The price is for two adults and is based on a Skyline view room on a room only basis with car hire included.

The package includes a 3 Park Explorer Ticket for access to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay AND the Halloween Horror Nights Frequent Fear Plus Pass Ticket – offering multiple nights of admission from September 14 through to November 3.

Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: 0344 557 3859 or visit one of our individual retail stores or one of the 110 stores located in Debenhams and Next stores nationwide or visit www.virginholidays.com.

10 reasons why you need to go to London Oktoberfest this year


MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Visitors celebrate in a beer tent at the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. The Oktoberfest lasts until October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. The beer festival typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images)

It’s that time of the year again where you can swap your usual Pinot Grigio in favour of a stein and not feel guilty about it, because you’re in good company. It’s Oktoberfest and it’s returning to London.

Forget the hills, it will be London that is alive with the sound of Munich as thousands of lash monsters from far and wide descend on the city to crack out the Lederhosen – because why not? Isn’t everything better with beer and Lederhosen?

London is getting double whammy as Oktoberfest is on the horizon and is set to be held in Millwall Park, Canary Wharf and Finsbury Park, in – you guessed it – October.

So for the uninitiated, what on earth is Oktoberfest and why are we celebrating it?

Oktoberfest is an annual party celebrating all things Bavarian, and it’s celebrated worldwide. Imagine a festival-sized party but with German music, dancing on benches and lots of singing accompanied by stein after stein of beer.

But before you get ready to slip on your Dirndl or order your Ledherson to party down, here’s the lowdown on the Bavarian party of the year.

1. Beer

We’ve got 10 points to give you the lowdown, so that you’re schooled on Oktoberfest, but if you can only take away one thing from this mini A-Z on the Bavarian fest, then it is this. Beer. All of the beer. Don’t worry about your usual piddly pint, because next to a stein, you’ll wonder why it isn’t everyday life.

There are different types of beer available on site in the beer tents, including specially-brewed Oktoberfest beer in Bavaria, Germany, 5% ABV and the infamous Bavarian Craft Beer. The two different beers are specially trucked over from Bavaria in giant tanks – just for London partygoers.

Rest assured people, there’s a ‘purity law’ that applies to this beer. Yes, you heard us. ‘Purity law’. So these guys mean business.

‘Our beer is a wonderful dark lager with 5% and produced just for us in Bavaria under the German purity law, so fresh and tasty,’ event director Carsten Raun explained.

Think this calls for a tasting session, just to make sure.

For those of you who aren’t down with the steins of beer, there are options for you too including sparkling wine (probably best not to have in a stein) cider and Underberg (Schnaps).

2. Food

To juggle all of the steins – which are delivered to your table if you pick the right package – you need something to line your stomach and there is plenty on offer to whet your appetite.

Traditional German eats including bratwurst, schnitzel and brezel, will be served, so that hankering for Schnitzel and Pretzels will be truly satisfied. Please don’t worry if you’re vegan or veggie – there are options for you too.

3. Kid free

It’s adult time and we don’t give a schnitzel. Leave the guilt at the door (preferably not Molly and Milly too) as parents get a bit of ‘me time’. Some might call it ‘self-care’. London Oktoberfest is kid-free. All guests need to be 18 and over. There’s a special allowance for little ones on Sunday when children are welcome to come and get the taste of Oktoberfest (the atmosphere, not the beer), and join in on Sunday for lunch and family experiences.

Visitors cheer during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

4. Costumes

Who doesn’t love fancy dress? Every night out is better with fancy dress, right? Not to be undersold – fancy dress is a big part of this experience. But before you show up in a shiny Buzz Lightyear costume, it’s all about traditional Bavarian gear – the ol’ Dirndl and Lederhosen.

So get involved.

But, ladies and gents – don’t worry about buying the whole kit if you haven’t got time, as you can rent the whole shebang onsite for less than £30. It’s at this point we should probably add, subject to availability. Yes, you might feel like a bit odd crammed on to the tube in your Lederhosen, but you’ll get over it pretty quickly as you’re clinking your steins. Also – kill two birds with one stone – as this is makes for a great Halloween outfit to tie in with the crazy festive special at Finsbury Park.

5. Location, location, location

So essentially it always seems to take an hour to get anywhere in London, whether that’s on the tube or in an Uber – it’s just the way it is. But, with the two locations in the city, you’re spoilt for choice to pick an Oktoberfest spot that’s closest to you – one being in Millwall Park in Canary Wharf (click here for directions) and the other in Finsbury Park (click here for directions), so you’ll get there in no time. The two spots are completely different, and like we said, everyone is dressed up in Lederhosen and Dirndl – so don’t worry about the suits in the Wharf. Both locations gives you a great excuse to switch off Netflix and discover a bit of London and fall in love with a new spot.

6. Dancing

Name a place where you are encouraged to dance on the benches? If you were actually able to name one, congrats to you (drop us the name later). But it’s rare. Very rare. But at Oktoberfest, this is all part of the appeal. Get swept up in the lively atmosphere in the beer tent, where the long tables are lined up so you can meet new people or party with your friends and enjoy Ompha-Ompha music. Yep, you heard us. German bands travel to London Oktoberfest to play, so get up on your feet and show your appreciation by throwing some shapes. Hit that dancefloor or put your bench to good use.

7. Music

As mentioned before, the music gets the atmosphere lit and party going. People can rock on to Ompha-Ompha music and try – where they can – to sing along. Also joining the mix are classic German bands who are flown in especially for the occasion to rock out with live music to keep the tempo up.

Check out the craic from 2016 and tell us you don’t want to get involved:

8. Atmosphere

Everyone gets stuck in to the party vibe at Oktoberfest. One word to describe it – lively. While you don’t have to go overboard on the steins, you certainly become immersed in the jolly vibe as everyone embracing the Bavarian culture with a giant ‘Prost!’. Far from a pretentious setting, this event can host everything from after work drinks, to stag do’s to even a first date (if you’re brave). After all, if they can handle a stein and a bit of currywurst, they’re a keeper – right? Get ready for loud singing and dancing at this special event and be prepared to get involved, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s not even just the revellers in all gear – the staff will be fully kitted out too – so you’re in good company as the whole event – at both Finsbury Park and Millwall Park – are transformed into Munich-extensions.

9. Venue

Instagram Photo

London’s Oktoberfest plays host to 50,000 visitors each year. Promising an authentic Oktoberfest experience, Millwall Park will be able to host 2,500 in the Oktoberfest tent, while Finsbury Park’s beer tent will have 3,000. But don’t worry, with German efficiency also part of the ‘authentic’ experience – that won’t impact the time you have to wait for your beer. Depending on what ticket you fancy, the advice is to get there early if you want a ‘good seat’. Let’s face it, you’ll need it after a few steins – don’t be fooled, they’re heavier than they look!

10. Efficiency like you’ve never seen

Visitors drink beer during the 185th Oktoberfest, Munich's annual beer festival, on September 22, 2018 in Munich, southern Germany. - The world's largest beer festival is held from September 22 until October 7, 2018. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images

The final point, but by no means the least important. Bavarian traditions includes Bavarian efficiency like you’ve never seen. While 3,000 people in one tent might sound a bit much for a Friday night, have no fear because this will not impede on your valuable drinking time. The whole British ‘queue politely’ attitude still exists but the rapid speed of the servers is stuff of dreams. A slick operation, with just 1.5 seconds to fill your stein of Bavarian-brewed beer. That is correct – 1.5 seconds. When have you ever seen a pint being pulled down your local in 1.5 seconds? So bask in the unrivalled German efficiency, we certainly will. What’s that your mum said? ‘Make the most out of every opportunity,’ and we have to agree.

Oktoberfest 2018 dates are: 

Millwall Park:  4th- 7th October and 11th-14th October
Finsbury Park: 18th- 21st October and 25th – 28th October 

Book your tickets here 

Morning Face: Estée Lalonde shares her real morning routine

In our first edition of new series, Morning Face, Estée Lalonde shares her morning routine (Picture: Estée Lalonde)

I’ve always been a little obsessed with other people’s morning routines.

I blame women’s magazines. As a teen I’d pore over glossy pages recounting a celebrity’s 5am start, daily yoga session, and homemade acai bowl and feel that my morning was incredibly unglamorous in comparison.

I tried to wake up hours before school to start doing stretches, to drink hot water and lemon, and make myself protein pancakes. It never worked out. I’d oversleep, rush through finding my school kilt and a clean shirt, and shove toast in my mouth while I speedwalked to get the bus, all the while berating myself for not having my sh*t together.

Morning Face is a new series designed to feed that obsession with looking at the finer details of other people’s lives (everyone feels that, right?), but without the heap of shame and comparison.

Each Wednesday morning we’ll share the reality of someone’s morning. Sometimes they’ll be as glam as the celebs’ yoga and green juice cycles you remember, but other times you’ll see that yes, it’s totally normal if you wake up half an hour before you need to just to scroll through Twitter shaking your head in despair.

This week, we’re with YouTuber, blogger, influencer, and podcaster Estée Lalonde. Here’s how a typical morning works for her.

morning face
Estée gets up at 7am most days (Picture: Estée Lalonde)

Morning, Estée. What time are you up?

I typically wake up around 7 or 7:30am depending on how much time I have. Even if I want to sleep in, my dog Reggie makes sure I never get too much sleep.

Are you an instant riser or do you hit the snooze button?

I have a lot of trouble sleeping so usually when my alarm goes off I can’t believe it’s actually morning. I allow myself to press the snooze button once! Ok…maybe twice…

You open your eyes and come back to consciousness. What’s the first thing you look at?

Usually when I open my eyes my dog Reggie is staring at me begging me to take him outside. It always makes me smile no matter how tired I am, so I usually spend 10 minutes petting him and throwing his toys around.

I never, ever look at my phone immediately after I wake up. I can’t think of anything worse.

The first thing she does: Take Reggie for a walk (Picture: Estée Lalonde)

How do you get ready for the day?

I usually walk my dog in my PJs so when I get home I hop straight in the shower, moisturise my body and crack on with my skincare routine. If I have the time I love to do a face mask in the morning because it always makes my skin look a bit more well rested than it actually is.

I’m a big lover of dry shampoo so if I don’t have to wash my hair. I really only need 30 minutes to get ready. I’m pretty low maintenance day to day.

I literally always have music playing in my apartment. Without it the silence is deafening.

A morning face mask is essential (Picture: Estée Lalonde)

Ok, so you’re dressed and ready. What now?

I would say I am a morning person and one great thing about being self-employed is being able to create your own schedule. I hate starting my mornings in a rush, so I usually will try to give myself an hour to answer urgent emails, have breakfast etc. before my day really begins.

A lot of my mornings are spent replying to emails, taking calls or planning out what I need to do for the rest of the day.

I also use the morning as a time to clean my space since I do work from home it’s important for me to make sure my dishes are done etc.

What’s the first thing you put in your mouth on a morning?

I always have a huge glass of water in the morning and depending on how tired I am I’ll either have a flat white or a chai latte.

Finally, give us your one tip for having a better morning. No green juice or 5am yoga, please. 

It’s really important to give yourself enough time to feel prepared for the day ahead.

I also try to prep as much as I can the night before to make sure my morning goes as smoothly as possible. For instance, if I know I have a morning meeting I’ll choose my outfit the night before.

On The Line with Estée Lalonde is available on all major podcasting platforms from 19 September. The Estée Lalonde for Daisy London jewellery collection is available from daisyjewellery.com from 19 October 2018.

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Women share what they’d do if men had a curfew of 9pm and most just want to walk at night

(Picture: Getty)

When activist Danielle Muscato asked the women on Twitter what things they would do if men were not allowed to be outside after 9pm, she didn’t think all the answers would have such a dark theme.

Almost every answer included being able to walk freely at night, with no particular plans, but just walking without any restraints such as fearing for safety.

The comments made some of the men reading realise that some of life’s simple pleasures are in fact gendered privileges.

‘Me, I’d walk everywhere,’ wrote one woman. ‘I’d grocery shop late at night when it’s quiet. I’d take public transit all the time and could sell my car. I wouldn’t worry about my girlfriends when we were out listening to music, I’d go to the beach at night.’

Her thoughts were echoed by another woman who said: ‘Imagine how different all of my life would have been. So much freedom! All the places I would enjoy on my own, and going for walks. Spontaneity to just go! I love the way the air feels on my skin when it’s warm at night, and I’d love to experience this without a chaperone.’

‘I would run with both earbuds in, at night. Not cross the road to the other sidewalk. I wouldn’t worry about keeping my phone in my hand and locking my door the second I got inside the car. Walk in the woods, because it’s beautiful at night,’ said another.

Some men joined the conversation and came to the realisation that women genuinely fear men in certain circumstances, like at night, in wooded areas or quiet car parks, or just on the streets.

‘I’m a white guy who regularly visits other countries by himself,’ wrote one man, ‘I walk city streets after midnight while listening to music on my headphones while not speaking the language. It never even occurred to me that this was a gender privilege.’

‘Wow, I feel horrible right now. None of this has ever occurred to me as an issue. I run, I go do whatever I want whenever I want. Why aren’t women filled with uncontrollable rage all the time?’ asked another man.

Danielle, who made the original post, answered his question, drawing a similar analogy of how people of colour are not constantly filled with uncontrollable rage because of racism.

She paraphrased writer Ijeoma Oluo’s words; ‘It is very hard to survive as a woman in this world, and I remember saying once that if I stopped to feel, really feel, the pain of the oppression I encountered, I would start screaming and I would never, ever stop.’

The thread opened up a very important dialogue between people who enjoy the benefits of patriarchy with women who are disadvantaged because of it.

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Woman shares details of her divorce in glorious pregnancy-style announcement

(Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

A mum was so happy to receive her divorce papers that she cradled them like a baby in a post celebrating her ‘beautiful, healthy, newborn freedom’.

42-year-old Carrissa Le Pinnet said she’d ‘never felt a love like it’ when she opened her divorce confirmation letter. She decided to celebrate her happiness in a public announcement.

Instead of writing something sad, she wanted to toast the end of her marriage in the same way her friends were announcing special things like engagements or pregnancies online.

The mum-of-three announced her Decree Absolute in a pink-lined hand towel as if it was a newborn baby, and even weighed it on her kitchen scales.

Carrissa, from Warrington, Cheshire, wrote: ‘Myself & my Dignity would like to announce to the world, our beautiful, healthy, newborn Freedom.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: NEWLY DIVORCED CARRISSA LE PINNET WHO JOKILY POSTED A 'BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT' FOR HER DIVORCE PAPERS) A mum was so ecstatic to receive her divorce papers that she swaddled them like a baby for an hilarious online post celebrating her 'beautiful, healthy, newborn freedom'. Carrissa Le Pinnet, 42, joked she'd 'never felt a love like it' when she opened her divorce confirmation letter and wanted to celebrate her happiness in a public announcement. Rather than writing a 'depressing post', she decided to toast the end of her marriage in the same way her friends were announcing their engagements or new babies online. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
(Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘Opened today at 11am, weighing 0.40lb I can honestly say I’ve never felt a love like it.

‘Welcome my beautiful lil Princess Le Pinnet.

‘I promise to always love you and take care of you & be my own damn light. No matter how dark it gets. I’m so in love.’

Carrissa, who was married for five years but with her ex for 15 years in total, said she wanted to see the bright side of things.

She explained: ‘You’ve got to find your own funny. I’ve seen loads of people lately having babies and getting engaged and being happy.

‘I just thought, I am happy, and I don’t want to slag him off. It’s done and it’s in the past now.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CARRISSA LE PINNET ON HER WEDDING DAY BEFORE, WHEN NEWLY DIVORCED, SHE JOKILY POSTED A 'BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT' FOR HER DIVORCE PAPERS) A mum was so ecstatic to receive her divorce papers that she swaddled them like a baby for an hilarious online post celebrating her 'beautiful, healthy, newborn freedom'. Carrissa Le Pinnet, 42, joked she'd 'never felt a love like it' when she opened her divorce confirmation letter and wanted to celebrate her happiness in a public announcement. Rather than writing a 'depressing post', she decided to toast the end of her marriage in the same way her friends were announcing their engagements or new babies online. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
(Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘The divorce is like a baby. I’ve got my baby. I just thought it would be funny if I put it on [in the same way].

‘When I first opened it, I just felt relief, and was kind of sad. It was a big chunk of my life – it was 15 years. It’s a big chunk of your life so I just felt a little bit reflective.

‘I’m glad it’s over, but it was sad to think more ‘what could have been’ rather than what actually happened.

‘I got a bit whimsical. Thinking to myself, oh well, things could have been different.

‘I wouldn’t bother putting a long depressing one on because I want mine to be upbeat and funny. So it had to fit in with the rest of it.’

Carrissa said she named her divorce baby Princess because she had ‘never been called Princess’ before.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: PICTURES FROM THE STATUS THAT NEWLY DIVORCED CARRISSA LE PINNET JOKILY POSTED AS A 'BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT' FOR HER DIVORCE PAPERS) A mum was so ecstatic to receive her divorce papers that she swaddled them like a baby for an hilarious online post celebrating her 'beautiful, healthy, newborn freedom'. Carrissa Le Pinnet, 42, joked she'd 'never felt a love like it' when she opened her divorce confirmation letter and wanted to celebrate her happiness in a public announcement. Rather than writing a 'depressing post', she decided to toast the end of her marriage in the same way her friends were announcing their engagements or new babies online. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
(Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘So it was like, if I want to be a princess I’m going to be a bloody princess,’ she said.

‘It’s me that’s looking after me now so guess what, yeah I am. I’m going to look after myself.’

After separating from her ex seven years ago, Carrissa’s house was repossessed and she spent 18 months battling breast cancer.

But now that she is healthy and legally single she hopes to start a new stage in her life and go back to college.

Carrissa said: ‘Circumstances have dealt me quite a few blows after the past 10 years or so.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: THE STATUS THAT NEWLY DIVORCED CARRISSA LE PINNET JOKILY POSTED AS A 'BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT' FOR HER DIVORCE PAPERS) A mum was so ecstatic to receive her divorce papers that she swaddled them like a baby for an hilarious online post celebrating her 'beautiful, healthy, newborn freedom'. Carrissa Le Pinnet, 42, joked she'd 'never felt a love like it' when she opened her divorce confirmation letter and wanted to celebrate her happiness in a public announcement. Rather than writing a 'depressing post', she decided to toast the end of her marriage in the same way her friends were announcing their engagements or new babies online. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
(Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘When we separated the house got repossessed, I got put into emergency accommodation with the kids, and I got diagnosed with breast cancer.

‘Then I went through 18 months of treatment, so it’s taken me about six or seven years to actually apply for the divorce and another nine months to have it finalised.

‘Everyone else is starting something, and so am I. I don’t know what I want to do next.

‘I wanted to be a writer and I have loads of half bits and chunks of stories. But the world is my oyster, so we’ll see where I end up.

‘I’m seriously considering going back to college and seeing if I can get my English up to scratch. I’ve got loads of interests, I’m very interested in psychology.

‘Obviously an aged millionaire would be nice but I don’t think I’ll find one in Warrington.

‘But they say life begins at 40 so I’m actually only two years old. That’s my excuse for my terrible behaviour from here on out. I’m just in my terrible twos.’

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Tesco is selling strawberry flavoured Jaffa Cakes for 50p

(Picture: McVitie, Getty)

For most people, the best bit about the Jaffa Cake is the orange jelly hidden beneath the chocolate.

So we’re not sure what customers are going to think of McVitie’s now selling limited edition strawberry Jaffa Cakes.

The new Jaffa Cakes come in the same style as the original, except the traditional orange jelly filling has been replaced with a strawberry flavour.

The Jaffa Cakes were launched back in August, but they’ve recently made an appearance on Instagram account NewFoodsUK, where people have been divided.

The post, which has received over 1,500 likes, read: ‘Omg strawberry Jaffa Cakes! Brought these last night from @tescofood 50p I love these!!!!’

Instagram Photo

Since being posted, lots of people have been commenting to voice their opinion on them.

Some people were excited by them. One person wrote: ‘Oh this could get dangerous and involve some serious searching to find food.’

Another said: ‘Omg game changer!!’

However, people who’ve actually tried the new Jaffa Cakes say they don’t taste like strawberry at all.

An Instagram user said: ‘I went and got those in hope they would taste like strawberry creams they taste like normal jaffa I’ve been ripped off.’

If you’re willing to try the new Jaffa Cakes, despite mixed reviews, you can find them in Tesco stores and online now for 50p.

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Ever wanted your very own Hogwarts letter? Royal Mail now sells Harry Potter stamps

(Picture: Royal Mail)

Ever wanted to get an actual Hogwarts letter through your letterbox? Well, now you can.

Okay, sorry. Hogwarts aren’t actually going to send you a magical letter telling you that you’re not a muggle, you’re an amazing wizard.

And don’t expect anything to fly through your fireplace (if you’re lucky enough to have one).

But you can now pretend – as Royal Mail has just started selling Hogwarts stamps.

Royal Mail is releasing limited edition Harry Potter stamps METRO GRAB taken from: https://shop.royalmail.com/harry-potter-presentation-pack Credit: Royal Mail
(Picture: Royal Mail)

A presentation pack includes 10 stamps featuring Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny and some of the transport used in the films such as the Hogwarts express – and you can currently buy it for £10.75 from the Royal Mail website.

There’s also a collector sheet which costs £39.99, and a prestige stamp book which features 2,000 stamps which can be pre-ordered for December for when you’re writing your Christmas letters.

Royal Mail is releasing limited edition Harry Potter stamps METRO GRAB taken from: https://shop.royalmail.com/harry-potter-presentation-pack Credit: Royal Mail
(Picture: Royal Mail)

Alongside this, if you have a Harry Potter favourite, you can also buy stamps with certain characters on, as well as postcards and envelopes.

Basically, there’s enough here to allow you to write the perfect Hogwarts letter and prank any Harry Potter fan into thinking they’ve got a place at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Amazing.

Royal Mail is releasing limited edition Harry Potter stamps METRO GRAB taken from: https://shop.royalmail.com/harry-potter-presentation-pack Credit: Royal Mail
(Picture: Royal Mail)

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: ‘The Harry Potter movies continue to thrill and delight audiences of all ages.

‘The goal with our stamps is to capture the excitement of the Wizarding World and the heroism of the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.’

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