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Asian fast food sensation Jollibee arrives in London but is it worth the hype?


‘Welcome to Jollibee, how may I take your order’

This is how I imagine fast food used to be. Or maybe that’s just what I remember from being fed too much American television as a child.

Either way, Jollibee, Asia’s biggest home grown fast food joint, opened its doors to thousands of waiting fans over the weekend in Earl’s Court.

Only the second branch in Europe, and arriving with queues of up to 18 hours at Saturday’s London opening, the chain boasts a somewhat unusal signature dish of fried chicken and spaghetti.

To make matters even more interesting, the restuarant’s namesake and mascot is a large red bee.

Thousands queued up at the opening of the new Jollibee restaurant (Picture: Munch PR)

What’s all the fuss about?

On its own, Jollibee’s food is up there with the chicken of KFC and the cheeseburgers of McDonald’s — no mean feat.

The fried chicken is tender but not too greasy, and comes with a small pot of gravy that’s perfect for dipping in bits of crispy skin.

The spaghetti sauce is sweet and served with chopped hot dogs mixed in, and makes you feel like a kid.

The cheeseburgers, or Yumburgers in the Jollibee universe, taste like a cross between McDonald’s and Shake Shack with a Thousand Island sauce chucked in.

Jollibee’s unusual Jolly Spaghetti and Chickenjoy (Picture: Jollibee)
(Picture: Jollibee)

Taken piece by piece, Jollibee might seem like the weirdest fast food joint you’ve ever seen. An odd mascot, TV advert service and bizarre meal names.

But put together and experienced in sum, it all makes sense.

In an age of nostalgia, where we clamour for retro games consoles and cereal cafes, Jollibee slots right into our childhood, even if it was never there to begin with.

MORE: Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s claims they sell ‘proper Indian’ food aren’t going down well

MORE: A pub wants to pay someone £500 to drink beer, eat food and watch sports

My odd job: I’m a third generation lion tamer and I’ve been training big cats since I was 15


There was never any question that I would become a ‘lion tamer’ – or big-cat trainer, as I prefer – I just followed in the footsteps of my father, and his father before him.

My family has worked with animals since the era of Charles II, almost a century before Philip Astley famously created the modern circus in 1768.

Aside from building Europe’s largest circus following the Second World War, the Chipperfields also pioneered the drive-through Safari Parks in England, starting with Longleat and Woburn, as well as establishing lion parks in Africa.

My apprenticeship began when, at the age of 12, I was given the responsibility of looking after the tigers. This involved making sure they had clean enclosures and fresh water, and I also prepared their feeds.

thomas chipperfield
(Picture: Gem Darwin and Matilda Temperley)

After three years, I began free contact training with the animals – learning how to shape behaviours by encouraging them to follow my guide and cane, as opposed to chasing and dominating them. More on that later.

When I was 18, I performed for the first time in the ring with my father’s Siberian tigers and my African lion. The rush I got from that experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The weirdest thing that has happened to me on the job is a difficult one to pin down because my job is quite unusual anyway.

The thing closest to that would be the day one of my male lions, when jumping over me, misjudged it and fell on me.

Despite being winded from a 500lb apex predator hitting me at 40 miles per hour, there was no damage done, and the routine went quite smoothly after that.

When people ask me what my days look like, I reply: uncomfortable.

thomas chipperfield
(Picture: Gem Darwin and Matilda Temperley)

We don’t have union regulations to limit the conditions we are exposed to, so personal sacrifices have to be made in order to see that our animals receive the best of care.

From mucking out enclosures in the morning, to lunchtime training, afternoon shows and evening feeds, followed by putting everyone to bed late at night, a lot of your day is taken up already.

In between these tasks, you also have to fit in time for your own needs, although they are of secondary importance when you are responsible for half a dozen apex predators.

Even salaries for jobs like mine can be hard to pin down because of variables in expenses related to how many animals a trainer has to look after, how many staff there are to pay, or just what each individual asks independently based on their estimated worth to a show.

There are great things about my job though, and not just the applause, as many would assume.

thomas chipperfield
(Picture: Gem Darwin and Matilda Temperley)

Don’t get me wrong, an enthusiastic audience’s response is gratifying, but the true sense of accomplishment comes from the slow but steady increase in cooperation from a being with whom we have very little in common.

Lions and tigers have no true language, and their perception of the world is incredibly different to our own, so trainers like myself rely on reading the nuances of their behaviours. As an equine behaviourist friend of mine would say, ‘How do I know what they’re thinking? Because they’re telling me.’

When I came back to England after spending 23 years abroad, what struck me about the British circus scene was the lack of active animal trainers.

While there are still some doing very good work in England, the absence of wild animal trainers in the UK to represent the profession has made my fight a very difficult one.

While being a very subtle art, gaining an animal’s trust is to build a bridge between worlds – but it can be hard for people to understand this side of my job.

thomas chipperfield
(Picture: Gem Darwin and Matilda Temperley)

The animal rights movement use pseudoscience to oppose circus and what I do.

I and every other animal trainer are, on a daily basis, referred to as cruel, brutal and/or sadistic. We are accused of beating and starving our animals in to submission.

Given the ever increasing understanding we have of animal behaviour, we now know in scientific terms that not only is beating or starving these animals unnecessary, but it’s also counterproductive.

Through deep understanding of operant conditioning, where behaviour is modified by reinforcement or punishment – the learning process adopted by animal trainers and even parents – a trainer can teach tricks in a benign way.

The above fact – and it is a fact – has not stopped the conversation from being hijacked. The danger here, aside from discrimination against people who have scientific consensus on their side, is that certain words have lost their meaning.

‘Cruelty’, once used to describe the infliction of unnecessary suffering, is now used to describe any kind of animal-human interaction, regardless of how content the former is.

thomas chipperfield
(Picture: Gem Darwin and Matilda Temperley)

Another is ‘abuse’, which is as vague an allegation as can be made, but its loaded ring still means that no one wants to be accused of it.

The weirdest thing that has been said to me about my job is that it would be more moral if I did it for free, instead of exploiting my animals for financial gain, as if the addition of economics to the situation has a negative impact on their wellbeing.

These attitudes have real consequences: I have been affected by the spread of this way of thinking in my being refused a licence by the government to operate my own circus with wild animals, despite receiving consistently positive reports from their own veterinary inspectors.

I am currently challenging this decision and hope to be able to break the stigma around circus by commencing my tour as soon as possible.

A very unsettling idea that is never far from my mind is that my children may be robbed of the opportunity to follow the life I have lived.

The value of my experiences on the road – meeting some of the most extraordinary people and the feeling of community one shares with them, coupled with the profoundly life shaping honour of being able to call lions, tigers, horses and dogs family – cannot be overstated.

How to get involved with My odd job:

My odd job is a new weekly series from Metro.co.uk, published every Monday.

If you have an unusual job and want to get involved, email qin.xie@metro.co.uk.

MORE: My odd job: I’m an organ tuner in charge of the 9,999 pipes of the organ at the Royal Albert Hall

MORE: My odd job: I look after the ravens at the Tower of London so the Kingdom doesn’t fall

MORE: My odd job: Working in cremations has taught me how important it is to make the most of life

11 reasons to go to Orlando on your next holiday

Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida ©Disney

Tell anyone you’re going on holiday to Orlando and they’ll naturally assume you’ll be squeezing in a visit to meet Mickey Mouse.

Why? Because Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is one of the state’s crowning gems. Excitingly, though, whether you’re meeting your favourite Characters to visiting the enthralling attractions, you’ll find there’s a whole lot more to discover in Orlando too, including Universal and the SeaWorld Parks. You’ll need two weeks to pack in everything there is to enjoy.

This sun-drenched playground of the world not only has 7 ever-evolving theme parks, but so much more to keep you busy, time after time.

Golf, lakes, wildlife and animals galore, as well sensational cuisine, designer outlets, malls and unique boutiques.

Meet marvellous marine life and experience record-breaking rides at the SeaWorld Parks, and take on some of the world’s most exhilarating roller coasters and rides at Universal Orlando Resort, including Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay.

Lucky Orlando gets year-round sunshine and winter highs of 23c too – making it the ideal destination for a cheeky week of sun when it’s freezing back home.

There are so many reasons why your next holiday should be to Orlando.

Here are 11 of them.

1. The weather

Board a treasure raft and hit the high seas on Miss Adventure Falls at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park ©Disney

Florida isn’t called The Sunshine State for nothing. With average winter highs of 23c and summer temperatures reaching into the 30s, 233 days of sunshine (America’s average is 205) and a warm, pleasant climate all year round, Orlando is the ideal balmy bolt hole and an antidote to grey days.

Make the most of the clear skies with a day spent biking across the city, channel your inner daredevil with a tandem skydive or keep cool in the Florida sun with a visit to Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, or one of the two waterparks at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park offers exhilarating waterslides, children’s play area, giant wave pool and more, and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park boasts family-style raft rides and a one-acre wave pool.

Kids big and small can explore the wonders of the underwater world at Aquatica by way of pulse-racing rides like Ihu’s Breakaway Falls and brand new water adventure Ray Rush, or float along a lazy river and relax on a white sand beach.

The best way to relax in the sunshine is with a cocktail in hand while overlooking a peaceful bay. Visit Discovery Cove where all of your food and drink is included in your ticket and you can cool off in five unique waterways.

2. The world class roller coasters

Test your nerves on Mako – Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest coaster – Florida’s only hyper coaster (Picture: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment)

Orlando has 7 legendary theme parks – making it more than deserving of its moniker ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’ – and they offer wall-to-wall rides.

Walt Disney World Resort, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort which is home to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where you will find The Wizarding World of Harry Potter have some of the world’s biggest, best, fastest and most exciting roller coasters, as well as one-to-one character and immersive experiences.

Busch Gardens is home to more roller coasters than any other park in Florida. The whole family will enjoy Florida’s first family spin coaster Cobra’s Curse, as well as super-fast Cheetah Hunt. The thrills are set to continue into 2019 with two new rides, including Tigris which will be Florida’s tallest launch coaster.

SeaWorld’s Mako, named after one of the fastest sharks in the ocean, is the tallest, longest and fastest in Orlando, with 9 terrifying/exciting (you choose) moments of airtime and a huge vertical drop from 200ft up on a 1,450m track with a top speed of 73mph. Brand new water ride Infinity Falls offers guests the chance to plunge down the world’s tallest river rapid drop. Hold on tight and expect a huge splash!

Another bucket list item is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal’s Islands of Adventure -it speeds round a corkscrew track and the world’s first non-inverted loop-the-loop 167ft up at 65mph. Want to know the extra fun part? You can pick a song to listen to as you ride it – and the hilarious faces you make as you enjoy its amazing twists and turns will be turned into a music video you can keep and share with your friends.

And don’t miss Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park which will see you careen through the Himalayan mountains on a speeding train while avoiding the clutches of the mythic Abominable Snowman. Hurl 80 feet down the base of the cursed mountain and swoop in and out of murky caves and along jagged rocky ledges as you race to escape the dreaded monster before he catches up with you.

3. The wonders of Walt Disney World Resort

Join Mickey and friends at the Magic Kingdom Resort (Picture: Disney)
Join Mickey and friends at  Magic Kingdom Park (Picture: ©Disney)

Of course, the world’s most famous Resort has its home right here in Orlando.

It’s the place where dreams come true. Imagine six fantastic Disney Parks including 2 Water Parks, plus two exciting night-time entertainment districts, and a state-of-the-art sports complex. Now add in over 20 themed Resort Hotels, plus countless opportunities for dining, shopping and recreation, and it’s easy to see why Walt Disney World Resort is the number one holiday destination in the world.

Immerse yourself in the magical world of Pandora – The World of AVATAR or spot lions on an early morning safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Visit Toy Story Land where you can meet Woody and the gang – and don’t miss the epic nighttime spectaculars, including Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the truly magical Happily Ever After fireworks display at Magic Kingdom Park.

Frozen fans will be delighted with the wondrous wintery world of Frozen at Epcot, where they can enjoy Frozen Ever After, an unforgettable adventure where you’ll be whisked away for an on-the-water journey through Arendelle—one set to the tune of your favourite songs from Frozen! Then head to the Royal Sommerhus, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet with Anna and Elsa!

Whether you’re looking for big thrills, family fun or experiences for little ones, there’s something for everyone at Walt Disney World Resort.

Insider tip: make sure you experience Character Dining: a delicious meal that comes with appearances by some of your favourite Disney Characters. Just don’t forget your camera and autograph book!

4 Expect the epic at Universal Studios

Visit a working film and TV studio at Universal Studios Florida, with rides, shows and attractions that bring decades of movie-making to life. It’s Hollywood meets Orlando and all ages will be enthralled – what kid doesn’t want to see Transformers in epic 3D, Shrek in 4D or a 3D Despicable Me Minion Mayhem?

New this year is Fast and Furious – Supercharged, a fully immersive experience featuring Tej and Mia. The Fast and Furious queue area is just as exciting – you’ll find yourself in the crew warehouse surrounded by supercharged vehicles – and the attraction also uses the new Virtual Queuing System, so you’ll get a time slot to ride, cutting down waiting time. You will also get quizzes, games and messages from the characters delivered to your phone while you wait.

Time your visit for the ultimate Halloween experience in Halloween Horror Nights. This year running from 14 September – 3 November, Universal Studios Florida is taken over by scary sights – horror stories and haunted houses that bring together visions from some of the world’s most notorious horror creators, including Netflix’s Stranger Things, Poltergeist and Chucky.

Universal is about so much more than movies too – they have a brand new water theme park, the world class Volcano Bay. The largest water theme park in Orlando, it has 19 water attractions as well as a very relaxing lagoon beach and lazy river.

Krakatau volcano at Universal Orlando Resort’s Volcano Bay water theme park (Picture: Universal Orlando Resort)

Volcano Bay’s wearable watch (TapuTapu) lets you hold your place in the ride lines.  It’s a tropical escape in Orlando.

And, of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Spanning two parks, Universal Studio Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a Mecca for Potterheads who can explore Hogwarts castle, ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and visit the shops of Diagon Alley, where Harry is famously chosen by his wand… and you may well be chosen by yours.

Diagon Alley and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts are at Universal Studios, while Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Hogwarts castle are in Islands of Adventure – and guests can travel between the two lands from Kings Cross to Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express. JK Rowling herself was involved in the creation of this wizardly world, and it shows: it’s like stepping into the movie.

Save at least three days to take in all Universal Orlando Resort has to offer – you won’t want to miss a thing. EPA or Early Park Admission is also available for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Volcano Bay when staying at one of Universal’s hotels.

5. Four times the adventure at the SeaWorld Parks

Have the ultimate Florida adventure at the SeaWorld Parks

SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove are packed full of fun for adventurers of all ages. From nerve-wracking hypercoasters for thrill enthusiasts to play areas for those still learning to walk, there is something to keep you wide-eyed at every turn.

Take a seat on Florida’s wildest rides and prepare to gasp, plunge, splash and scream. You’ll sprint as fast as a cheetah on Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens, chase your prey like a shark on Mako at SeaWorld and plunge towards the earth like a bird of prey on Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens – we suggest you hold on tight!

As the temperatures soar so do the splashes! Float along the calming streams of Loggerhead Lane at Aquatica, swim amongst beautiful marine animals in The Grand Reef at Discovery Cove or drop down the gigantic water slides of Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica…whatever you choose, you’re sure to stay cool.

Get as close to the wild as you dare. See the world through the eyes of incredible animals, and then come face-to-face with them. Waddle amongst penguins in Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove or head out on an African safari at Busch Gardens.

Holidays go at your pace at the SeaWorld Parks. Relax on white sand beaches at Aquatica, paddle in pristine pools or soak up the sun in the tropical paradise Discovery Cove. Tranquility and relaxation await you…

6. The food

Try real-life Butter Beer at Harry Potter’s Leaky Cauldron at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Apalachicola oysters, Florida lobster, Key West pinks – seafood is abundant in Florida and Orlando is no exception.

There are hundreds of authentic restaurants around Florida serving up the freshest of fish, as well as regular appearances by celebrity chefs.

Orlando’s Winter Park is fast becoming a go-to spot for foodies, and while theme parks are well known for family-friendly burgers, corn dogs and pretzels (which also have a very special place in our hearts), there are also many fine dining experiences, Character Dining and incredible themed Disney Dinner Shows that will stay with you for a lifetime.

For a true culinary experience, time your visit for Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, sponsored by American Express, where over 100 restaurants come together to showcase the best of Orlando’s offerings annually each September.

For a unique dining experience, book a table at Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld. This award-winning, full service restaurant gives you the opportunity to dine while being surrounded by sharks.

Elsewhere, try real-life Butter Beer at Harry Potter’s Leaky Cauldron at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or book a table at the exquisitely themed Beauty and the Beast restaurant Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom Park to dine on fine cuisine – and find out once and for all just what ‘the grey stuff’ is.

The whole family will love the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park , a dining facility adorned with Na’vi art and cultural items which serves international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options and specialty libations in a menu inspired by Pandora’s bounty.

Don’t miss Pongu Pongu where you can try beverages with Boba Balls and other drinks from another world.

7. The wildlife

Animal lovers will find much to entertain them in Orlando, whether on an airboat ride or at one of the theme parks.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park  explore the wonders of nature throughout the day and into the night. Here you can discover rare animals, authentic adventures and world-class entertainment transporting you to the heart of nature — alive with magic.

A day at SeaWorld will introduce you to manatees, killer whales, penguins, sea turtles and sharks. Take a look Behind The Scenes and discover how the SeaWorld Parks have helped rescue over 33,000 animals and contribute to conservation projects around the world.

Over at Busch Gardens you can meet more than 300 species of animals, including big cats, gorillas, elephants, meerkats and snakes. Climb aboard a safari truck alongside your expert guide and explore the 65-acre Serengeti Plain, home to zebra, rhinos and giraffes.

The record-breaking rides at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens allow guests to experience the speed, power and agility of some of the world’s most impressive animals. Glide through the sky with the grace of a ray on Manta at SeaWorld, or dive face-down like a stalking falcon on Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens.

If you prefer a slower pace, step into Dolphin Lagoon at all-inclusive day resort Discovery Cove where you can swim with a bottlenose dolphin or hand-feed exotic birds in the Explorer’s Aviary.

8.Time for grown-ups  

Enjoy sushi and burgers at Cowfish, at Universal’s CityWalk

If you can snatch some time without your mini-mes, there is a tonne of adult-friendly fun waiting for you, including sushi and cocktails, rum bars, haute cuisine and spas – take your pick. Here are just a few:

  • Enjoy night-time entertainment like live music, world class shopping, and gourmet dining at Disney Springs
  • Dine in The BOATHOUSE® at Disney Springs for fresh seafood, a raw bar and premium steaks—complete with retro dream boats, from vintage American Amphicars to Italian Water Taxis
  • Enjoy fine dining in a stunning water-front location at Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Duff Beer and lunch at Moe’s Tavern in Universal Studios Florida
  • Universal’s CityWalk for Rising Star – a karaoke venue where you front a live band
  • Sushi and burgers at Cowfish, also at Universal’s CityWalk
  • Visit World Showcase in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort, where you can experience the sights, sounds and tastes of 11 different countries in one day
  • Margaritas at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, at Universal’s CityWalk
  • …And Universal’s CityWalk’s 20-screen movie theatre


9 The lakes

Orlando has more than 100 lakes, all of which offer something unique. At Lake Eola, actually a giant sinkhole, you’ll find 5 different types of swans – whooper, royal mute, trumpeter, Australian black and black neck.

Clear Lake, Jessamine and Conway are a wakeboarder’s Mecca, training ground to the world’s top pros who live and train around the lakes.

Orlando’s lakes and rivers also offer kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, boating, snorkelling with manatee and freshwater swimming.

Just like the Florida coastline, many of the lakes are lined with palm-fringed, white sandy beaches and cypress trees, with charming colonial-style houses dotted here and there to offer either an idyllic backdrop or a place to stay.

10 The golf

Mini golf that is definitely not just for kids: Kitsch movie references and comedy soundtrack make Hollywood Drive-In golf just as good for both day time and date nights
Mini golf that is definitely not just for kids: Kitsch movie references and comedy soundtrack make Hollywood Drive-In golf at Universal CityWalk just as good for both day time and date night putting sessions

Whether you’re a pro, a pitch & putter or a mini golf maniac, Orlando has the course for you.

There are 170 world-class golf courses on offer – frequented and even designed by some of the world’s top golfers – alongside multiple very elaborate mini golf courses that are most definitely not just for kids.

Among many others, Walt Disney World Resort has three Arnold Palmer golf courses while Reunion Resort is the only club in the world with courses created by Palmer, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.

For mini golf, there’s Pirate’s Cove, Congo River (with actual waterfalls), Disney’s Winter Summerland (all-year Christmas theme!) and the newest jewel in Orlando’s mini golf crown: Hollywood Drive-in Golf at Universal CityWalk with two movie themed courses, 1950s sci-fi and horror, complete with soundtrack, pop culture references and gags, good by day and great when lit up at night.

11 The beach life

The azure waters of Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic coast

Orlando itself is inland, but miles of white sandy beaches with swaying palms and crystal clear turquoise waters line the Florida coast, the nearest less than an hour away, where you can venture out on a day trip to surf, paddleboard, build sandcastles in dazzling white sand – or just soak up the sun.

Go east for beautiful sunrises on the Atlantic coast and west for sensational sunsets on the Gulf. The azure waters of Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic coast are claimed as their own by Orlandoans, and it’s well worth a day trip – not only for beach bar life and rich surf history, but also because it’s the gateway to the Kennedy Space Center.

New Smyrna Beach is quieter and more residential but an equally easy drive. Daytona Beach offers sunbathing + NASCAR speedway.

On the Gulf side, Clearwater beach has truly tropical white sands and breathtaking sunsets, plus a nightly pier music festival as a soundtrack to your sundowners. A 20-minute ferry goes across to Caladesi Island, an untouched slice of paradise only reachable by boat.


With so much to see and do in Orlando, let Virgin Holidays help organise your trip from start to finish – making sure you don’t miss a moment.

From theme park entry and tickets to events to tours and spectacles, Virgin Holidays can help create your perfect itinerary. Chat to Virgin’s knowledgeable Holiday Experts – who have 30 years experience sending families to Orlando – to help make the most out of your trip and all the adventures on offer. You can find more info on Holiday Experts here. 

Virgin Atlantic flies direct to Orlando (MCO) from Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN) daily, with summer services from Belfast (BFS) and Glasgow (GLA).

Guests flying from Gatwick or Manchester have Vroom access – find out more here

More information on Orlando here.

More information on Walt Disney World Resort here.

More information on Universal Orlando Resort here.

More information on Seaworld Parks here.

COMPETITION: Your family could be in with a chance to experience the wonder of Orlando for FREE!

Virgin Holidays and Visit Orlando are giving one lucky family the chance to spend a week in the sunshine state, with free reign to enjoy all that Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Parks have to offer.

The winners  will get return Economy Flights from London Gatwick or Manchester Airport to Orlando International for 4 people (2 adults & up to 2 children up to 16) and hotel accommodation for 7 nights at a 3V or 4V hotel on a room only basis.

You will be able to get around in style with car hire for the whole week with the Virgin fully inclusive insurance package included in the prize, along with entry tickets to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Parks for 1 week.

And that’s not all. Three runners-up will each get an incredible £500 Virgin Experience Days gift card, which they can spend on a whole host of exciting treats and days out, such as supercar track sessions, luxury spa days, theatre tickets and so much more.

All you have to do to be in with a chance to win and experience the magic first hand is draw your perfect family holiday in Orlando. Find out more here. 

Modern Etiquette: How do you tell your hairdresser they’ve done a terrible job?

Modern etiquette period girls balance pillow sex education school Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk
(Picture: Monica Muffin for Metro.co.uk)

Welcome to Modern Etiquette, a brand new series where we ask the pressing questions of 2018.

This week we’re looking at the nightmare which is getting a bad haircut.

We’ve all been there. You arrive, the salon seems fine, they give you a coffee with a very small biscuit and a copy of Heat magazine from November 2014, and then they set about butchering your hair.

The person you were hoping might transform you into a vision of glamour and grace has actually created something quite similar to Billy Ray Cyrus’s hair in the mid 1990s.

At the end of the haircut, if you’re British, the rule is that you have to look in the mirror, swallow your tears, nod and say it’s lovely. You have to hold back your horror when they make you look at the back of your head, and then you approach the counter and fork over lots of money for the privilege.

Once you’re out of the hairdresser you walk down the street checking your reflection in shop windows, hoping it might not be as bad as you think. A couple of days later you’ll wash it yourself and realise that if anything, when styled at home it’s even worse.

Modern etiquette hair straighteners look style fashion Provider: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk
(Picture: M Muffin)

We can all agree, this is a ridiculous way to conduct yourself, and that we all need to be much braver. If your hairdresser has done a bad job on your hair, you need to tell them. Why? Because they might be able to fix it. And if they can’t fix it, they probably won’t charge you full whack (or at all) so you can go and get someone else to fix it.

As repressed Brits, the idea of being rude is a terrifying nightmare. But you have to remember: hairdressers aren’t personally offended if you politely explain that what they’ve done isn’t what you had in mind.

Gorka, Arraras, Creative Manager at Charles Worthington Salons, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Clients should always feel comfortable to express how they feel about their cut or colour and not be afraid of what the stylist will think. At the end of the day, the stylist will be happy if the client is happy. It’s also always best to tell the stylist immediately if your cut or colour is not satisfactory so that this can be amended straight away.’

After you’ve politely explained that your hair doesn’t look the way that you want it to, and that it’s not like the pictures you shared of discussion you had, what should happen next? Gorka explains: ‘

Listening to a client is always crucial, more so than ever after a bad or not expected service. Ask as many questions as possible to understand what the client wants or wanted, and make a clear a programme together with the client of what steps are needed to get the desired results: colouring, treatments.’

If colour is the issue, ideally your hairdresser will offer you a protective treatment so that your hair isn’t more damaged by the experience.

And what if you don’t say anything at the time, but you want to go back to the salon and complain? Gorka says: ‘Salons should always do whatever it takes to make the client happy but this all starts with a very detailed and professional consultation to avoid any misunderstandings and unhappy clients in the first place.’

The importance of the consultation is echoed by Rebecca Wakeman from Hari’s Salon, who told Metro.co.uk: ‘After a full consultation and understanding of clients needs, wants and capability, it should never come to this. It can be a good idea to use pictures, as sometimes clients can’t express what they want clearly. Visuals are very important in our industry.’

That said, if you had the haircut several weeks ago then you’ve probably left it too long. The salon will be a lot more likely to be able to help you if you tell them straight away that you’re not happy.

Speaking up about a haircut or colour that you hate isn’t easy, and while we might laugh about how pathetic we are when it comes to being assertive, the reality is, it’s important to be able to politely complain. Being respectfully assertive is a vital skill, without which it’s easy to end up being walked all over.

Your hairdresser is a professional. Just as your boss might approach you to say that a project needs some work, your hairdresser will be perfectly able to deal with any complaint, as long as it’s made politely.

Any decent hair dresser would rather work with you to fix a ‘do you hate, than know that you said you loved it but cried on the bus home.

Modern Etiquette is a weekly series. Rather than telling you what to do with a salad crescent or which shoes are most appropriate for Ascot, we’ll be working out how to navigate shared houses, drugs, ex-boyfriends and that moment when you send the screenshot of the person you’re bitching about to them. 

Next week, we’ll be asking how you tell your hairdresser that they’ve done a sh*t job. 

MORE: Modern Etiquette: I liked an Instagram photo from 2014 – what do I do?

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Sajid Javid using divisive language is more damaging than racism from white politicians

(Picture: Twitter/rex)

Sajid Javid caused outrage on Saturday for noting the ethnicity of a grooming gang in Huddersfield when tweeting about the outcome of the case.

The home secretary tweeted: ‘These sick Asian paedophiles are finally facing justice. I want to commend the bravery of the victims. For too long, they were ignored. Not on my watch. There will be no no-go areas.’

It’s a dog whistle tactic used often by right-leaning politicians to signal otherness and appease innate racist sentiments. But for a man of Pakistani descent, in a prominent position of power to say these things, the damage could be even greater.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sajid Javid, makes a speech in central London, Britain, June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo.
(Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville)

For Javid to use the phrase ‘sick Asian paedophiles’, is shocking. To suggest that the ethnicity of these criminals is intrinsically related to their crime is inciteful and hugely dangerous rhetoric.

He goes on to perpetuate the myth that ‘no-go areas’ exist in Britain, which has long been used as part of an anti-Islamic narrative both here in the UK and in the US.

The use of this language suggests that Javid is more interested in garnering votes and self-promotion than in creating a safe space for minorities in this country. This is our home secretary. It’s both terrifying and unforgivable for a man in his position to actively seek to divide communities in such a brazen way. And seeing these comments come from a non-white source will only embolden the racists.

What isn’t up for debate is the condemnation of these offences. It goes without saying that paedophile gangs should be broken up and brought to justice – regardless of their ethnicity. The group of men in question were found guilty on Friday of more than 120 offences against 15 girls. It was an abhorrent and horrific crime – but one that affects all communities.

The home secretary could have condemned the group and left it at that. Why did he feel the need to signal ethnicity as a relevant aspect of the crime? It seems that Javid has chosen to pander to a specific crowd, disregarding the wider consequences for minority communities. And the consequences could be dire.

Last year there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year. 76% of those were based on race. And of religious hate crime, 52% were aimed at Muslims.

How to talk to a woman you don't know
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Javid’s ethnicity makes this whole thing worse. There is a sense that he’s sold out against his own. How can an Asian man, of any conscience, knowingly use language that justifies racists in this country?

As a non-white woman I have a strong belief that minorities in the UK need to support each other, particularly in these turbulent, post-Brexit times. But this is bigger than betrayal. Selling out is one thing, actively granting a mandate to racists is another thing entirely – and far more worrying.

Labour MP David Lammy hit the nail on the head in response. ‘Sajid Javid has brought a great office of state into disrepute,’ he argues.

‘By singling out “Asians” he not only panders to the far right but increases the risk of violence and abuse against minorities across the country.

‘It does no service to the victims of this evil to pin the blame on any one group.’

It is the increased risk of violence against minorities that I find so disturbing. For Javid to flagrantly ignore this risk, despite knowing the violence figures, is simply baffling. The communities likely to be affected by the public declaration of such divisive sentiment are those that his Pakistani parents belong to, his own family. To throw them under the bus like this smacks of a seriously dubious moral compass.

The desperate political messaging in Javid’s tweet becomes even more transparent when you look at it compared with another tweet from back in August.

The Home Secretary slammed Jeremy Corbyn for his use of the word ‘zionists’, saying, ‘If Corbyn had said “Asians” or “Blacks” instead of “Zionists” he’d be gone by now. The fact he’s still there, tells us all we need to know about what the Labour Party has become.’

So he has said it himself. Using unnecessary ethnic signifiers is dangerous, racist, and in his own opinion, punishable with the sack.

(Picture: Ella Byworth

This episode is, unfortunately, part of a growing trend of political parties using non-white faces to pedal unpalatable, borderline racist views and policies. As though these opinions can’t possibly be racist if they’re being said by someone who isn’t white.

The Conservative London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, a black man from Kensington, was recently blasted over comments he made in 2005 about the dangers of multiculturalism.

In the pamphlet, Bailey said schools were ‘removing’ Christianity at the expense of other religions, and that immigrants were being allowed ‘to bring their country’s cultural problems with them’.

A spokesman for Mr. Bailey said: ‘As a descendant of the Windrush generation, and someone who has worked with diverse communities for over 20 years, Shaun knows full well the challenges faced by BAME communities.

‘Shaun has made it his life’s work to help those from migrant and disadvantaged communities, and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.’

But what isn’t ludicrous is the tangible, real-life effects that comments like these have on minority communities. Beyond party politics and internal power struggles, thousands of people in this country are facing abuse, harassment, and violence because of their religion or the colour of their skin.

Politicians, of every ethnicity, have a responsibility to protect vulnerable people. The figures show that ethnic minority communities are particularly vulnerable at the moment, and they need powerful people in their corner.

What minorities don’t need is self-serving politicians spewing bigoted narratives in a pathetic attempt to ingratiate themselves with their white peers.

MORE: Tiny EDL protest is swamped by police during far-right march in Manchester

MORE: Brexit is a symptom of a British culture war – but it’s not about race, nationality or religion

MORE: Sexual objectification of men could become a hate crime

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink author says women don’t live by a one-size-fits-all philosophy

(Picture: Scarlett Curtis)

Feminists shouldn’t take their husband’s last name, feminists should pay on dates then, feminists shouldn’t have submissive sexual fantasies, feminists shouldn’t become housewives.

These are just some of the things feminists have been told over time. Writer Scarlett Curtis has compiled a book – Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (and Other Lies) – to address the things that women who identify with feminism have been told.

She tells Metro.co.uk about what feminism means to her as well as 52 leading women and how it informs their everyday choices.

Feminists Dont Wear Pink author interview
(Picture: Scarlett Curtis)

‘Objectively, feminism is a 200-year-old social movement fighting for the equality of the sexes,’ she explains.

‘I think bell hooks said it best when she said that “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression”. To me feminism is the fight to make the world a better place for women.

‘I never wanted to write a book about feminism on my own but I really wanted to create something that tried to bridge the gap between feminist hashtags and scholarly text and also create a snapshot of what the feminism movement looks like today.

‘All royalties going to the UN’s ‘Girl Up’ organisation and four of their amazing teen ambassadors are in our book.

The whole focus of this book is to smash the lies that we’ve been told around what it means to be a man or a woman or a feminist. I was told a while ago that my love of the colour pink was undermining the work I was doing as a feminist activist and I guess that lie really stuck with me.

Feminists Dont Wear Pink author interview


Feminists Dont Wear Pink author interview
(Picture: Scarlett Curtis)

‘We wanted to have a real mix of either amazing women who you might not know are feminists or feminist activists who you might not know at all.

‘I completely agree that feminism doesn’t fit a one-size-fits-all philosophy. I think one problem with the feminist movement is when we think that equality looks the same for everyone.

‘Muslim women’s equality looks very different from trans women’s equality which looks very different from white women’s equality.

‘We wanted the book to reflect all of the different ways that someone can be subject to discrimination and the fight to overcome those specific intersections of what it means to be a woman.’

You can expect to see pieces written by plenty of A-list celebrities too, including Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, and Jameela Jamil.

Other contributors include Kat Dennings, Keira Knightley, Jodie Whittaker, and Zoe Suggs.

By detailing how they came to call themselves feminists they show that the concept means different things to each of those who prescribe to its ideals.

In their own way, they explain that at its core, feminism is about choice and that people should be free of constraints due to their gender so expecting all of them to hate pink, or the idea of taking their partner’s name or even wanting to be a housewife is unfair. It’s just as simple as leaving it up to them.

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Not exercising is worse for your health than smoking, study says

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

It’s common knowledge now that a sedentary lifestyle is bad. We all know that sitting down all day can pose a major risk to your health. But just how dangerous is it to be a bit of a couch potato?

A new study has found that not exercising can actually be worse for your body than smoking.

Researchers in Cleveland retrospectively studied 122,007 patients after their deaths. Each one had taken part in exercise treadmill testing between 1991 and 2014.

The scientists wanted to test the levels of exercise against the cause of death for the patients.

The data shows that those with a sedentary lifestyle were 500% more likely to die than people in the top band of exercise performance. This is three times higher than the risk posed by smoking.

(Illustration: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)
(Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

What this doesn’t mean is that we should all start puffing on 20-a-day. But, rather, it’s time to up our daily and weekly exercise levels.

The scientists say it’s imperative that we get moving, and keep moving.

‘Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was associated with benefit in older patients and those with hypertension,’ explain the researchers in their findings.

‘Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness.’

Senior author of the study, Dr. Wael Jaber, told CNN that ‘being unfit on a treadmill or in an exercise stress test has a worse prognosis, as far as death, than being hypertensive, being diabetic or being a current smoker.

‘We’ve never seen something as pronounced as this and as objective as this.’

Jaber says it’s important that the general public understand just how important fitness is as a marker of overall health.

He adds: ‘Being unfit should be considered as strong of a risk factor as hypertension, diabetes and smoking, if not stronger than all of them.

‘It should be treated almost as a disease that has a prescription, which is called exercise.’

MORE: You could cut the calories in your rice in half with one simple trick, study says

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MORE: Is it worth spending money on expensive yoga kit?

$2,500 hypoallergenic dog reunited with her family one week after she was stolen


Family dog Pippy was tied outside a supermarket in Perth, Australia, as her owners were shopping inside.

Suddenly, a man untied the knot and ran away with the beloved pet with some help from a female accomplice.

Thankfully though, police were able to track down the two-and-a-half-year-old lagotto dog who was hidden in a home in Medina.

The suspects were arrested and Pippy was reunited with her family.

In a touching video, Pippy was seen running to her owners, the Vines, who burst into tears as they embraced her, a week after she had disappeared.

The emotional moment a dog stolen outside a supermarket by a brazen thief is reunited with her loving owner
(Picture: WA Police)

Pippy has been more than just a pet for the Vines family.

As three of the children suffer from allergies, it’s been difficult to get a dog that doesn’t make them ill, but the family saved for two years to raise $2,500 for a hypoallergenic breed.

This breed means it’s relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. So when she was missing for a week, the family were distraught.

The emotional moment a dog stolen outside a supermarket by a brazen thief is reunited with her loving owner
(Picture: WA Police)

The family scratched Pippy’s belly as Alex Vines kneeled to the floor and wept while hugging Pippy.

She said: ‘Hi bubba. I can’t believe you’re home.’

stolen dog reunited with owner Ten News
A man was filmed walking away with the dog (Picture: Ten News)

A man and woman are said to now be assisting police with the investigation.

CCTV footage from the day Pippy was stolen showed a man and woman watching the door of the store before the man untied Pippy’s leash and ran down the road with her.

The woman was filmed heading back to the car.

It is the latest in a string of dog abductions in Perth and Western Australia.

Police have asked dog owners to be cautious with their pets when out and about.

MORE: Three tiny kittens survive being locked in a car for a week during a 2,000 mile journey

MORE: Owning a dog will help you find love

MORE: Woman becomes friends with the stranger who saved her life with CPR

What happens if you’re disappointed about your baby’s gender?

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

Prince Harry has been fielding a lot of questions about fatherhood on his tour of Australia.

Yesterday he made the bold move of admitting that he’s got a gender preference for the baby. He would like, he confessed, a girl. Which is a pretty controversial thing to admit, whether you’re a royal or not.

Now admittedly most kids won’t be able to tell from the international news archives whether their parents wanted a boy or a girl. But even for us normals, saying out loud that you would strongly prefer your baby to be a boy or a girl is a ballsy thing to do.

Maybe parents are allowed a secret preference, but openly admitting that you’d rather a boy than a girl, or vis versa, is a big move. The only acceptable thing to say seems to be ‘I don’t mind as long as it’s healthy.’ Which is an admirable sentiment, but let’s face it, often not true.

‘I really, really wanted a girl both times’ said Sarah*, 32. ‘I had sisters, and I think it’s such a special relationship. I really wanted that for my children. When I found out that my second child was a boy, I was really disappointed. I didn’t tell anyone, but inside I was crushed.’

Similarly, Caroline, 52 admits that she was desperate for a boy. ‘When I was pregnant all I could think about, having already had two girls, was that I wanted a little boy. I decided to find out what I was having at my 20 week scan, and when I found out it was a girl I cried. I was ashamed of myself for being so upset, but I couldn’t help it.’

So, what are you supposed to do if you find out you’re not getting the gender that you desperately wanted?

Parenting expert and author of The Positive Birth Book, Milli Hill, told Metro.co.uk, ‘First of all it might be interesting for parents-to-be to ask themselves why they are hoping for a specific gender and then asking themselves why one gender in particular might not fulfil those hopes?

‘For example, if they are dreaming of football and rough and tumble with a boy, or gentleness and cuddles with a girl, they might want to challenge those gendered assumptions. Babies come with their own qualities and are also shaped by their parent’s interests, attitudes and expectations. If dad loves football, his daughter might end up on the England team!’

metro illustrations
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
Fertility Series

Of course in 2018 we would hope that gender wasn’t a reason to expect a child to be more or less likely to enjoy any specific activities. But even so, there is something inside some of us which longs for a son or a daughter specifically. If that’s the case, Milli suggests that not finding out your baby’s gender could make life easier, saying: If parents are especially worried about being disappointed, they may like to consider not finding out the gender at the scan, but waiting until the birth.

‘The moment of birth is so emotional and meeting your baby for the first time is so overwhelming, that any thoughts about ‘boy or girl’ will usually melt into the background.’

As with so many aspects of parenting, there’s so much shame surrounding the idea of ‘getting it wrong’.

‘I felt terrible for being upset about my daughter not being a boy’ said Caroline. ‘Like I was being selfish, I was healthy and pregnant, I didn’t think I was allowed to be upset. When my daughter was born I adored her – and I still do. But I still feel guilty for wishing she were a boy.’

Wanting a child of a specific gender doesn’t make you ungrateful, or a bad parent. As long as you don’t raise your child feeling that they are a disappointment, then you’re totally entitled to feel however you feel.

MORE: Prince Harry hopes new royal baby will be a little girl

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10 experiences to have in Australia’s Victoria and Northern Territory



Ellery Creek Big Hole, Great Ocean Road, West MacDonnell Ranges nr Alice Springs, TarraWarra Estate. Yarra Valley, Phillip Island, Australia’s Outback

Australia is an incredible destination, and increasingly becoming more affordable and accessible, but it’s vast – so you’re best to explore a couple of regions well and what better two than Victoria and the Northern Territory!

Flying Down Under has never been easier with Qantas, allowing you to get to all of your dream locations across Australia, giving you a one-stop shop to make sure your transfers get you from A-B and then C and more without a hitch, with a service you can rely on and ensure that your holiday starts from the moment you hop onboard. Qantas Explorer fares connect Melbourne with Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Darwin affordably and easily, with daily flights and saving those Aussie dollars for the good times while you do it.

So where and what is a must-see when you head to Australia?

1. Phillip Island

Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, Phillip Island is home to an abundance of wildlife, a rugged coastline and the famous Penguin Parade where hundreds of little penguins emerge from the ocean and waddle home to the sand dunes.

Each night you can watch this magical procession from a nearby elevated platform.

While on the island stop off at the Koala Conservation Centre, where you can stroll through the woodland on the tree-top boardwalk and get an up-close glimpse of the koalas in their natural habitat.

2. Yarra Valley

Immerse yourself in the Yarra Valley, Victoria’s oldest wine region, less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne.

With a global reputation for its chardonnay and pinot noir, get lost among the vineyards and peep behind cellar doors. Hop on a winery tour or enjoy a private tasting complete with gourmet treats.

With plentiful wineries in the region, be sure to include Domaine Chandon on the itinerary. As part of the Champagne house Moët & Chandon, you can experience a drop of French tradition merged with the Yarra Valley.

Or visit TarraWarra Estate best known for exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, its subterranean cellar door fabulous restaurant with its inspired by its kitchen garden and fresh local produce

3. Great Ocean Road

One of the world’s most scenic coastal drives, the Great Ocean Road is a feast for the eyes. Get behind the wheel and drive along this iconic route to discover beautiful beaches, temperate rainforests and an abundance of wildlife on the way.

And it wouldn’t be complete without taking in the awe-inspiring sight of the Twelve Apostles. Once connected to the mainland, these limestone pillars rise out of the Southern Ocean and through environmental factors over the years have created a unique rock formation.

Catch a birds-eye view by taking a scenic flight or helicopter and capture that golden shot.

4. Tantalise the tastebuds in Melbourne

With its vibrant laneways, rich art culture and charming suburbs, Melbourne is a city bursting with cafés and bars waiting to be discovered. Renowned chef David Chang enjoyed one of his favourite dishes ever at the acclaimed restaurant Attica, but there’s plenty of options to whet the appetite, from Asian fusion to luxe local fare.

While you’re there, why not taste some of the best coffee in the world? Beating competition from the likes of Italy and Vienna, trendy coffee brewers Patricia on Little Bourke Street is a must. The cookie-cut coffee shop with standing-room only demands a queue but trust us, it’s worth the wait!

5. Mornington Peninsula

Peninsula Hot Springs

Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, you can find a piece of the Mediterranean Down Under.

With its olive groves and vineyards, seaside villages and farmers markets, this area, located south of Melbourne, evokes a sense of Italy or Southern France, but with a distinct Australian twist.

Don’t miss the Peninsula Hot Springs, a natural hot springs and day spa centre where you can soak in warm natural thermal mineral waters, or try some of the spa treatments like the Ice Cave and Australian Aboriginal-inspired kodo full body massages.

6. Ormiston gorge

This imposing gorge, located in Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park, is a favourite among visitors to Australia’s Northern Territory not only because of its natural beauty, but also because it is an amazing place to swim in the naturally occurring waterhole.

If you fancy stretching your legs a little more, the Ormiston Pound Walk, is a three to four hour circuit that follows the rocky slope into the flat expanse of the pound and back along the gorge and allows you to see some of the flora and fauna of the area.

7. Take a hike

Hiking the Larapinta Trail

Feel the outback come alive on the Larapinta Trail, which stretches over 200km along the spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs. The full, supported hike usually takes around 12 days, but there are lots of shorter walks available from one day to six or seven days. The trail is dotted with luxury camps where your guides will prepare dinner and allow you to relax under the star filled outback skies after a great days’ walking. But if that sounds like too much hard work, you can watch kangaroos, brumbies and camels roam beneath you as you glide through the sky in a hot-air balloon from Alice Springs.

8. Sounds of Silence dinner

No, this isn’t anything to do with Simon & Garfunkel. The Sounds of Silence dinner is a truly unforgettable experience at Ayers Rock Resort.

As your gaze falls upon Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and Uluru (Ayers Rock), the sun sets while you enjoy sparkling wine and canapes before tucking in to a barbecue buffet which includes some of Australia’s favourite dishes that you might not get to try elsewhere. On a clear night, you’ll be able to point out the stars as a local storyteller and astronomer points out constellations and tells stories of the regions history.

9. Kakadu National Park

If you fancy yourself a Crocodile Dundee wannabe, then Kakadu National Park is not to be missed. An easy three-hour drive from Darwin, the majestic and ancient landscape gives you a real look at Australia’s wildlife and culture.

Ancient rock art offers a glimpse at the rich indigenous history, while the Warradjan Cultural Centre also tells the story of Aboriginal life in the area. A trip down the rivers and billabongs will have you on the hunt for saltwater crocodiles. If you fancy a swim, stick to the hotel pools as Kakadu’s waterways are home to many of these impressive creatures.

10. Sunset Cruise on Darwin’s harbour

Feel the warm tropical breeze on your face and catch one of the best sunsets Australia can offer aboard a sunset catamaran cruise in Darwin. Sample fresh local produce including seafood during the buffet dinner on board, if you can tear yourself away from the views. .

As the waves lap beneath you, with glass in hand, you can hear all about Darwin’s history while you kick back and relax. After all, what are holidays for?

Experience all of these for yourself with Trailfinders, the No.1 Tour Operator Down Under, with 13 night holiday from just £999. Click here to find out more. 

The best beauty and makeup advent calendars for 2018 – where to get them, what’s inside, and how much they cost

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Getty/ Rituals/ John Lewis)

Christmas represents different things to different people. But one aspect we can likely agree on, is that everything about the holiday season is done to the extreme.

The big dinners, the many parties, decorations everywhere and all the snacks you’ll ever want, including box upon box of Roses chocolates.

Speaking of chocolates, there’s also the daily advent calendar treat to look forward to.

But if you prefer something that’ll give you more than a fleeting moment of pleasure (chocolate is an aphrodisiac, after all), why not try a beauty advent calendar?

Your options are endless – a curse in itself, because which one should you choose? Save the stress for the Christmas gift shopping, because we can help you with this one.

Here is our extensive list of this year’s best beauty, skin and makeup advent calendars.

Green Regime

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Green People)

Price: £75

Packaging: It’s smaller than most of the other beauty calendars, with just 12 windows to open, so you can open one every other day. Less goodies is a let-down, but it’s still one of the cutest calendars we’ve seen this year.

What’s inside: It has 15 products inside. The plant-based items are all free from harsh chemicals, parabens and SLS, including quinoa and artichoke shower products, damask rose facial oil, an organic cotton headband (which is actually great when you’re applying makeup) and a special edition Damask Rose lipstick.

Festive joy: This is your feel-good calendar. A first from Green People, the content is cruelty-free and organic, and even the packaging is 100% recyclable.

Best for: No doubt an excellent choice for environmentally conscious millennials or anyone who appreciates the many ‘free from’ aspects. It’s a favourite on our list, too.

When and where you can buy it: Available now, from the brand’s own website.

Rituals Deluxe 3D

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Rituals)

Price: £89

Packaging: The calendar comes with a cardboard Christmas tree and actual lights to attach to it – we’re sold. Each window also acts as a bauble, and you can put them all on your tree. The only downside is that it doesn’t include batteries, but we can live with that.

What’s inside: The packaging will fool you into thinking there are really big products inside, which we weren’t impressed by. But it’s a very nice selection, with facial oil, creams and candles, plus a miniature perfume.

Festive joy: Come on now, it has its own 3D tree with baubles. Many of the product scents are inspired by the season too.

Best for: Anyone, except people who don’t like fragrant products.

When and where you can buy it: You can buy it online, and there’s also a smaller (no tree lights) version.

Liberty London

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Liberty)
Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Liberty)

Price: £195 (worth £600)

Packaging: Artistic. The front is painted to resemble the department store, while inside there’s an extravagant peacock design.

What’s inside: Filled to the brim with luxury brands like Votary, Malin + Goetz, Dr Sebagh, Diptyque, Dermalogica, Laura Mercier and LIXIRSKIN. A good mix of creams and makeup with 18 full-sized products.

Festive joy: It’s sold on the fourth floor, which is also known as the Christmas floor (where you can find the best collection of baubles in the city).

Best for: Picky shoppers who like expensive beauty goodies. Anyone who lives in Chelsea. And you – if you want to treat yourself.

When and where you can buy it: Available from 24 October on the aforementioned fourth floor in the Liberty London department store or online.


Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Boots/Sleek)

Price: £35

Packaging: Not to be cheeky but the best way to describe it is, well, sleek.

What’s inside: Eyeliners, palettes and nail varnish. But our favourite treat is definitely the many lip goodies, including four lipsticks with matching lipliners.

Festive joy: Silver, bronze and gold detailing on the design, but that’s about it.

Best for: Girls in their late teens, and anyone who likes Kylie Jenner. If budgeting is your main aim but you still want to a nice calendar, this is a good option. You get what you pay for, so the quality isn’t top notch (the lipsticks don’t stick for very long) but the shades are great.

When and where you can buy it: The calendar is sold in Boots but is also available online.


Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Debenhams)

Price: £70 (worth £150)

Packaging: It’s your classic calendar, black design with a spattering of stars. Bit boring for our taste, but still pretty.

What’s inside: A mixture of cheap to mid-range priced brands such as Elemi, Bare Minerals, Too Faced, Too Faced, Kat Von D, MAC and NYX, as well as Debenhams Beauty. It’s an OK option, but feels fairly basic compared to some of its competitors.

Festive joy: It seems there are lots of newbies in the advent calendar game this year, as Debenhams joins in on the fun – which is always nice.

Best for: Hardcore beauty fans will scoff at the contents, while less makeup-obsessed women will like the wide range.

When and where you can buy it: Available to buy now on the Debenhams website, as well as in store.

Bubble T

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Bubble T)

Price: £29.99

Packaging: The cutest we’ve seen. It’s big, very pink and part of the box is shaped like a bubble tea container.

What’s inside: Everything needed for an excellent time in the bathroom – like bath bombs and oils, shower gels, body lotion and quirky bath tea bags.

Festive joy: It’s not our usual choice for an advent calendar, but it smells divine. Three signature scents included; zingy lemongrass and green tea, Moroccan mint tea and sweet hibiscus & açai berry tea.

Best for: Kids, parents or people who really love baths.

When and where you can buy it: You can buy it from a range of websites, like the brand’s own. Available now, with a free lip balm up for grabs for all orders over £20.

ASOS Face + Body Calendar

Price: £55

Packaging: Designed in the brand’s traditional black and white pattern, so not very festive. But it is completely recyclable.

What’s inside: A mixture of hair, skin and face products to perk up your winter skin, including moisturisers, soothing and plumping gels and illuminating goodies. All of them come in miniature format apart from the 111skin facial mask.

Festive joy: Daily presents are always a joy, but that’s about it.

Best for: People who aren’t too fussed about advent calendars, but really like ASOS.

When and where you can buy it: Available now on the brand’s website.

Marks & Spencer

(Picture: M&S)

Price: £70 (or £35, if you spend the other half of the money in an M&S store)

Packaging: Nice and neat, well-organised calendar in red, pink, green and gold shades. Very pretty.

What’s inside: Oh, this is a popular one – it tends to sell out in the first day online and we understand why. You get £250 worth of products, with many themed around recovery and rest, such as the raved-about This Works sleep spray, L’Occitane Imortelle Divine anti-aging cream and Percy & Reed overnight recovery hair treatment.

Festive joy: Quintessentially British. Kind of like mince pies.

Best for: Your gran and mum will love it. Not one for teenagers.

When and where you can buy it: It goes on sale on 6 November, in both stores and online.


Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Mavala)

Price: £45 (worth £82)

Packaging: Adorable, with a big pink bow on top. But, as it’s for 12 days, it’s smaller than your average calendar.

What’s inside: There are two versions of the Mavala calendar – one called ‘Just Nails’ (with lots of nail polish) or the ‘Nails and Skincare’, which has four shades (including a very fetching grey), tweezers, oils and creams.

Festive joy: Nothing specific, but it’s nicely packaged and can stand up on its own, with drawers that you pull out (instead of the classic route of ripping a window open).

Best for: Those who really like nail care. Not one for people who prefer acrylic nails though, as the colour won’t set as nicely.

When and where you can buy it: You can get it from a range of websites online, with a cheaper price on Amazon.


Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Weleda)

Price: £34.95

Packaging: Very unique, made in collaboration with decorative glass designer Emma Britton. Once again, only 12 days of Christmas joy, so not your traditional calendar. The items are slightly difficult to pry out though, so be careful of your fingers.

What’s inside: All brand own products. It gets repetitive, but the quality of the products is good. Celebrity favourite – the Skin Food cream – is also included. Suitable for vegetarians and free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colourants or raw materials derived from mineral oils.

Festive joy: Lots of sweet-smelling scents – like pomegranate, almond and wild rose. While not Christmassy, it’s still appreciated.

Best for: Those who like natural beauty goodies, and don’t require the exciting ‘what’s behind the next window’ element to appreciate a calendar.

When and where you can buy it: Get it online here.


(Picture: Glossybox)

Price: £75 for subscribers, £99 for non-subscribers (worth £300)

Packaging: This one is massive, but don’t be fooled – a lot of it is packaging. Good to bare in mind if it’s a gift.

What’s inside: All the makeup you will ever need this December, including the INC.redible jelly shot lip quencher to fix those chapped winter lips, the popular HUDA highlighter palette to give you a shimmering glow at Christmas parties and a Yankee Candle, to set the mood.

Festive joy: The sheer size of it will make you as excited as when you were a child, staring at your presents under the Christmas tree.

Best for: Glossybox subscribers (since you get a discount) and makeup fanatics.

When and where you can buy it: Buy it here.

John Lewis & Partners

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: John Lewis)

Price: £165

Packaging: Black, white and gold. You don’t need to find anywhere to keep all your new treats, the calendar works like a nifty storage unit.

What’s inside: Nars, Dermalogica, Charlotte Tillbury, Clarins, AVEDA. You’ll likely have used or heard of the brands within the range and John Lewis are trialling a new ‘luxury size’ of each. And Givenchy debuts its new fragrance L’Interdit within, too.

Festive joy: You could win £100 worth of beauty vouchers if you’re lucky, hidden in a drawer of 20 advent calendars.

Best for: If you’d prefer bigger products from popular brands. If it’s a gift, the person you give it to will be very, very happy.

When and where you can buy it: Available online or in store, now.


Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Net-A-Porter)

Price: £150

Packaging: Minimalistic, practical, beautiful.

What’s inside: Luxury brands only. If you rarely treat yourself to expensive beauty products, this is your chance to explore with Sachajuan hair repair, Erno Laszlo night cream, a Chantecaille eye recovery mask, LashFood gel fix, Le Labo shower gel and more.

Festive joy: It’s pretty and a first for Net-A-Porter. Not much else to it.

Best for: Those who don’t mind splurging on beauty products, people keen to try something new and fashionistas.

When and where you can buy it: You can get it on the Net-A-Porter site.

Space NK

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Space NK)

Price: £250

Packaging: Quirky colours and patterns in emerald green and burgundy, built in an open-out box format (can be closed and put away when needed).

What’s inside: 25 drawers filled with best-sellers and big names such as Malin + Goetz, Omorovizca, Space NK (well, duh) and Sunday Riley, as well as marula oil from new brand Drunk Elephant.

Festive joy: Very seasonal style.

Best for: People who don’t mind a high price tag.

When and where you can buy it: On the Space NK website, out now.


Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Mugler)

Price: £115

Packaging: Shaped like a tree in pale blue, with 12 mini packages to be opened.

What’s inside: Everything Mugler – all the items have been infused with the Angel perfume scent, including full-sized and mini-sized lotion, cream, shower gel and hair mist, as well as a mirror.

Festive joy: Once again, it’s shaped like a tree.

Best for: Young girls or people obsessed with Angel.

When and where you can buy it: Buy in store or online at the Perfume Shop.

Tropic Skincare

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Tropic skincare)

Price: £100

Packaging: Each window reveals a little white pouch with a message like ‘some secrets are best kept concealed’.

What’s inside: Vegan skin treats in a tropical theme; fruit peel, wild mint, lime and pineapple wash, a bamboo face cloth and a velvet coconut cream in a tantalising whipped texture.

Festive joy: Red and gold, and you’re supporting animals everywhere, since it’s vegan.

Best for: Vegans, animal-lovers and people who miss the summer sun.

When and where you can buy it: It was released on 19 October, buy it here.

Jo Malone

Beauty advent calendar round-up (I)
(Picture: Jo Malone)

Price: £300 (the most expensive one on our list)

Packaging: It looks like a classic building that you can probably find somewhere in Kensington, wrapped with a sparkling, gold bow.

What’s inside: One of our favourites – it smells good, has both colognes, candles, bath and body products inside, and features new, seasonal launches such as the mini Frosted Cherry & Clove candle.

Festive joy: This year’s theme is ‘Bring on the Baubles’ and you can find an extra surprise behind door 24.

Best for: Take your pick from whoever is on Santa’s ‘nice’ list.

When and where you can buy it: Only released a few days ago, available to buy online, Jo Malone boutiques and in Harrods, obviously.

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Therapist who lets giant leeches suck his blood says they’ve improved his health

(Picture: PA Real Life)

Ariane Khomjani, is a therapist from Walnut Creek, California, USA, who uses an unusual method of therapy to improve his health.

He owns various exotic animals which include four eight-feet anacondas, a carnivorous centipede, and three giant leeches.

The 22-year-old lets the pet leeches suck on his blood every month and says it has done wonders for his wellbeing.

Placing the three predatory worms he calls his ‘children’ on his arm, Ariane watches them grow up to 15 inches long, as they gorge on his blood – knowing they are capable of drinking 10 times their own body weight.

Warning graphic image: Ariane bonds with his pet leeches by letting them suck his blood (Collect/PA Real Life)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

Ariane lets them out of the small aquarium in his home and plays with the Asian buffalo leeches and says letting them suck your blood increases your lifespan.

‘People are only scared of what they don’t understand,’ he said.

‘In fact, there are so many medicinal uses to leech feeding that we in the West are now only starting to realise.

‘Having leeches suck your blood can help with circulation, arthritis, complexion and even extend your lifespan.

‘I play a lot of tennis and if ever I have any soreness in my arms, I put a leech on and the pain goes away – it’s incredible.’

Ariane says the vampire-style feeds have made him healthier (Collect/PA Real Life)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

Keeping various smaller reptiles and insects, like snakes, scorpions, and lizards at his parents’ house throughout his teens, Ariane had an avid interest in zoology since childhood.

As a youngster, Ariane even went to educational sideshows around his home state, where collectors would show off their pets.

His love for exotic animals grew when he saw a YouTube video of a giant buffalo leech sucking a man’s blood.

Ariane then decided to get some of his own from a dealer in Holland who he paid $60 (£45) a piece. He soon began feeding them with his own blood, to make them grow as fast as possible.

‘I’ve tried all sorts of places on my legs and arms,’ he added.

‘The initial bite, when they are attaching themselves to you, can hurt. It feels a bit like thousands of tiny needles pricking your skin. But once they’re on, it feels fine and there’s a very relieving sensation to it.’

Ariane typically allows his leeches to suck up a pint of his blood – roughly a tenth of the amount held within an average person’s body – at each meal time.

As they feed, he watches them inflate like water balloons, growing by up to 15 inches, when they are full.

The leeches roam freely around Ariane's bedroom at his family home (Collect/PA Real Life)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘People often say to me that keeping these sorts of pets is dangerous, that I should watch out because one day the snakes might start sizing me up, or the leeches might bleed me dry.

‘But once they become comfortable with you, they’re not dangerous at all.

‘I’ve raised them all since they were small enough to wrap around my little finger and they mean a lot to me, like they are my kids.’

MORE: $2,500 hypoallergenic dog reunited with her family one week after she was stolen

MORE: How many different names do you have for your dog?

MORE: Here are some unbelievably cute sloths to soothe your Sunday

Are you guilty of skin stripping?

Close up portrait asian female for beauty product cream and surgery
(Picture: Getty)

It might sound pretty awful, but skin stripping isn’t a form of torture from Game of Thrones.

It’s an expression for when you’ve used super harsh products which have taken all of the natural oils out of your skin, leaving it stripped and dry. You know that tight, overly clean feeling that you sometimes get after washing your face? That’s stripping.

Oily skin might sound like a recipe for spots, but in reality having oil in your skin is really important for keeping your skin supple and bouncy. Jane Scrivener, skincare expert, explains:

‘If you’ve fallen victim to face wipes, foaming washes and over cleansing then chances are you’re part of the ‘stripping’ generation… Anything that strips the skin of its natural oils and/or alkalises the pH of your skin will compromise your acid mantle – your skins first line of defence, protecting it against bacteria and environmental aggressors!

‘Therefore, any challenge to your acid mantle is like leaving the door open to inflammation, skin damage and premature ageing! Don’t fall at the first hurdle and keep your acid mantle healthy by choosing the right cleanser to cleanse, feed, restore and replenish your skin.’

Close-up of young mixed-race woman applying glossy face make-up moisturizer, smiling, with eyes closed with turquoise background
(Picture: Getty)

The worst culprits for skin stripping are makeup wipes, which often contain harsh chemicals. Instead of taking your makeup off with wipes, consider using a cream cleanser, a gentle face wash or if you really can’t face getting water involved at least use micellar water and cotton wool.

On the upside, your skin is constantly regeneration, so even if you’ve treated it back in the past you can get back on the straight and narrow and stop stripping it.

MORE: What is the DASH diet and could it work for you?

MORE: ‘There’s nothing outrageous about breasts’: Lily Allen won’t be shamed for going braless under see-through top

Here’s how to have 55 days off using just 25 days of annual leave

CHICHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Beachgoers gather on West Wittering Beach during hot weather on the first day of the Summer school holidays on July 23, 2018 in Chichester, England. Today has been the hottest day of 2018 with temperatures rising to 33.3 degrees celsius in some areas. The Met Office have issued an amber weather warning to stay out of the sun between now and Friday as temperatures could continue to rise to 35 degrees celsius. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
(Picture: Getty)

Don’t let the seemingly endless warm days deceive you- it’s going to be a long old winter.

But that doesn’t have to a cause for despair.

With the new year comes a clean slate of annual leave and the all the possibilities that it entails.

And just imagine, if there was a way to magic your 25 days of annual leave into over double that number- let’s say 55.

No, it’s not a spectacular flight of fancy, but a very obtainable goal if you follow these fairly simple steps.

Cracking the code to annual leave nirvana means utilising two thing: the cluster of days around bank holidays and a kind hearted line manager.

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

First of all, there’s the stretch over the Easter break, which done right, can leave you with a full 16 days out the office, despite only using eight days of annual leave.

Take a good long peer at the calendar-  due to weekends, then Easter Monday and Good Friday, you’ll only need to request the 15 to 18 April and 23 to 26 April off for a sweet two week stretch to burn off whatever excesses you’ve accumulated.

Then just a month later, yet more opportunity to game the system.

The month of May also comes chocked with possibilities, as you can get yourself nine days off twice in a row by using just eight days holiday- which translates to 18 working days during the entire month.

Request to book off 7 to 10 May around the first May bank holiday, and 28 to 31 for the late 27 May bank holiday. The weekends also play out favourably to keep the chain unbroken.

High summer has its moments too, with the August bank holidays offering up the chance for nine days off, at the cost of just four annual leave days. Just book off the 27th-30th and you’ll be golden.

And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without an extended doss to usher it in.

Luckily, December is absolutely ripe with opportunity.

Book the 23, 24, 27, 30 and 31 of December 2019 off, and along with the bank holidays on 25, 26 December and 1 January, you’ll have almost two whole weeks away from the drudgery of desk life to spend slap bang in the middle of the pub and some homestead gluttony.

It just doesn’t come any sweeter than double holidays, does it?

MORE: We know we plan all your holidays at work and now there's evidence

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This is why you need to celebrate Halloween at Oktoberfest in London


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)

Oktoberfest is coming to London and this year there’s a Halloween special.

London Oktoberfest is hosting the biggest Halloween party, combining the festivities – which must mean double the fun, right?

No, this isn’t a trick, it’s just treat after treat as there’s a reason why Oktoberfest is a world famous party, and this year Finsbury Park will be kitted out for the occasion. We’ve had special word from the organisers that ‘it’s going to be crazier than ever’.

And billed as an ‘unforgettable experience’, this year’s Halloween Oktoberfest is not one to be missed and here’s why.


Finsbury Park is home to many of London’s iconic festival, so it’s fairly apt that London’s biggest Oktoberfest party is being hosted there this year. Located near the City and just a short walk from the Tube station (accessible by train, Picadilly and Victoria Line). Let’s face it, there will be no driving for you after Oktoberfest steins, so it’s best to get your bearings and plan ahead.

Oktoberfest partygoers will enjoy the ‘crazy’ Oomph Day as well as the Halloween parties.

The Halloween parties will take place on Saturday 27 October and 31 October.

Halloween bands

It’s not just sausage and beer that makes a good Oktoberfest, it’s also the traditional music that gets everyone up on their feet and singing at the top of their lungs.

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 make it as authentic as possible.

This year, the first weekend is going to be bigger than ever as a 40-strong Umpa band are jetting in especially for the occasion. The ginormous collective is not to be missed as the band promise to bring the best party to London on the afternoon of Saturday 20th and all day Sunday 21st.


The whole point of Oktoberfest is to celebrate all things Bavarian, so it’s only right that along with specially brewed beer than is shipped in for the occasion, the lederhosen and dirndl, there’s also traditional eats on offer including schnitzel, Bavarian potato salad and pretzels but there’s also traditional German bands flown in on the afternoon of Saturday 20th and all day Sunday 21st, to keep the party rocking. It’s the real deal, with even staff dressed head to toe in Lederhosen and Dirndls to complete the full experience.

We mentioned them before, but just to remind you – the Umpa band is as traditional as its going to get.


epa07038726 A waitress carries mugs of beer during the opening day of the 185th Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, Germany, 22 September 2018. The Munich Beer Festival is the world's largest traditional beer festival and runs from 22 September to 07 October. EPA/PHILIPP GUELLAND

Of course, Oktoberfest wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without all of the beers. Your usual tipple will look piddly compared to huge vats (sorry steins) of the specially-brewed Oktoberfest beer that is shipped in especially for the occasion.

Travelling all the way from Bavaria in giant tanks especially for the London festival, you’ll be able to try both the 5% ABV and the infamous Bavarian Craft Beer. To make sure the beer is top notch, there’s a ‘purity law’ that applies to this beer. Yes, that’s right – a ‘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.

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


MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: A stand hostess hangs gingerbread hearts on the opening day of the 2018 Oktoberfest beer festival on September 22, 2018 in Munich, Germany. This year's Oktoberfest runs through October 7 and is the world's largest beer festival. Oktoberfest typically draws over six million visitors. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

What’s better than having a big ol’ stein in one hand and a warm, salty pretzel in the other to soak up that goodness? Line your tummy with traditional German eats including bratwurst, schnitzel and brezel. Platters of wursts, Bavarian potato salad and more will be on tap for you to tuck into throughout.

Even if you’re vegan or veggie – you’ll be taken care of too, so worry not and get ready to party (use that energy to sort out your costume).

You must try the traditional German ginger cookies if you’ve got a sweet tooth. It’d be rude not to. Sling the diet out of the window and if you need an excuse, just say you’re doing it for the culture.


The absolute pinnacle of any Halloween party is the costume. Who doesn’t love fancy dress? Every night out is better with fancy dress, right?

Not to be undersold – fancy dress is a big party of this experience. It’s all about traditional Bavarian gear – the ol’ Dirndl and Lederhosen. So get involved, perhaps with a zombie twist for good measure!

Actually, unlike many Halloween parties, you don’t have to hit the local supermarket for the leftovers at the last minute and risk sporting something from the kids’ aisles, as you can rent the whole shebang onsite for less than £30. As it’s Halloween everyone will be in the spirit, excuse the pun, so expect a Bavarian twist for a Thriller of a night on the 31st.

London Oktoberfest 2018

When: 18th- 21st October and 25th – 28th October 

Big Band are playing on the afternoon of Saturday 20th and all day Sunday 21st

Halloween Party is the 31st Oct

Where: Finsbury Park, London.

How: There are an extremely limited amount of tickets available on the door, so it’s best to book your tickets here 


Morrisons launches Halloween pizza that’s 200 times hotter than a jalapeño

Caption: Morrison’s RIPizza
Credit: Morrison’s, Getty

Halloween is almost upon us.

Maybe you’re still getting your costume sorted or maybe you just aren’t going to bother this year.

But if you still want to get into the spirit, you can enjoy plenty of Halloween themed food this year

And to really scare you, Morrisons is launching a limited edition RIP-izza for the spookiest time of year.

It’s not for the faint-hearted as it features the ghost chilli sauce, which has a Scoville rating of over 1 million – 200 times spicier than Tabasco sauce and 200 times hotter than a jalapeño.

Photo of a Halloween pumpkin with a toothy smile.

To add to the spice, the pizza is topped with reaper chilli cheddar – a cheese infused with the world’s hottest chilli, the Carolina Reaper, which is 300 times hotter than the Jalapeño chilli and Tabasco sauce.

And just to give it a bit more of a kick, it’s topped with spicy beef and jalapeños.

And to add to the frightening feeling, the base is made with algae to make it ‘look like a tombstone’.

We’re not sure if it’s a trick or a treat.

The 10” pizza is £2.50 and available from Morrisons pizza counters across the country.

Simon Metcalfe, Pizza buyer at Morrisons said: ‘This pizza is one of the hottest and spookiest we’ve ever made.

‘It is definitely a combination of trick and treat with the delicious tombstone-green base, and the burn from the reaper cheddar or ghost chilli sauce.’

MORE: The best beauty and makeup advent calendars for 2018 – where to get them, what’s inside, and how much they cost

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MORE: Walkers launches pigs in blankets, Brussels sprouts and cheese and cranberry flavours

How to become one of those people who work out at lunchtime

Sweat fetish
How do you avoid being a sweaty mess at your desk? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

We all know those people who bounce back to their desk post-workout looking glowing, fresh and ready to face the afternoon. They are oh so smug. And yeah, we kind of hate them.

How is it possible to fit in a full workout in the middle of the working day? The best you can manage is inhaling a sandwich at your desk and maybe running to the corner shop for a Diet Coke, if you’re lucky.

But it turns out, there’s a science to it. We, too, can be those insufferable, smug-afternoon, lunchtime fitness warriors! All it takes is a little planning and a little commitment.

Sounds too hard? Don’t worry – follow these fool-proof tips and you’ll be saying goodbye to the dreaded afternoon slump for good.

(Picture: Ella Byworth)

Reclaim your hour
A lot of the awkwardness around lunchtime workouts comes from a toxic lunch hour culture. In most cases you’re not being paid for your lunch hour, and you’re well within your rights to take the full 60-minutes, that’s your time.

But that can be difficult when your colleagues are glued to their desks, or there’s eye-rolling if you’re gone for more than 15 minutes. Get your work mates on-side and encourage everyone to take the time that’s owed to them.

If you can finish all your work and take your lunch break, and leave on time – you’re probably a more efficient worker. Bosses notice things like that and they like well-rounded employees.

Plan, plan, plan
Organisation is absolutely crucial for a successful lunchtime workout. If you finish your session and realise you’ve forgotten to bring a clean bra you’re going to have a rather sticky, uncomfortable afternoon.

There’s too much to remember in the mornings – with getting ready, trying to eat something, battling a hectic commute – it’s all too easy to forget the essentials. Like a towel, or clean pants.

The best thing to do is pack your gym bag the night before. Stuff it with everything you need and leave it by your front door so you physically can’t leave the house without it.

(Picture: Ella Byworth)

Expert advice

Make sure you’re not going to feel hungry during the work out. Although you’ve got enough stored energy in your body for around 90 mins of exercise, if you’re actually feeling hungry that’s going to limit performance, so plan on having a mid morning snack.

Maybe the most effective use of your time is a workout where you don’t need a shower after. A pilates class at lunch or an active walk (fast paced, keeping the foot on the ground for just a bit longer than normal so you feel your glutes working) is great for getting your body moving again after hours at the desk.

Lucy Hurn, PT at Auro

Be food savvy
So if we’re working out all lunchtime – when do we actually eat? This again takes a good bit of planning.

Make yourself a packed lunch if you have time – you’ll be hungry after the gym so load it with carbs and protein to help you recover. Making your own lunch speeds everything up because you don’t have to leave time to battle the crowds in Pret.

If you’re feeling conscious about being away from your desk too long, stick your pasta in the office microwave and eat it at your desk. But avoid tuna and egg if you don’t want to make any mortal enemies.

Dress for the occasion
The best way to encourage yourself to workout midday is to make it as easy as humanly possible. Depending on your office dress code, you might be able to sneakily incorporate your workout gear into your work outfit.

Start the morning in your sports bra and leggings, and the battle is already half won. A quick change of trainers and t-shirt, and you’re ready to pump some iron.

Just don’t forget the essentials. I know we keep saying it, but seriously, don’t forget clean pants.

(Picture: Ella Byworth)

Low maintenance beauty
You might just have to accept that the days you go to the gym are not the days to have perfectly blow-dried hair and a full face of make up. When time is of the essence, you’re going to have to strip back your 26-step beauty regime.

A messy bun, fresh face and simple outfit is the best way to nail a lunchtime workout. Keep it simple and use products that double up so you don’t have to lug tons of toiletries with you to the office.

Dry shampoo, baby wipes and body spray are going to become your new best friend. But if you really can’t face heading back to your desk with sweaty hair, invest in a quick-dry towel to get your locks work-ready as fast as possible.

Speed it up
Your lunch break is not the time for a luxurious, 90-minute hot yoga session. You’ve got to choose your exercise wisely – workouts that pack a maximum punch in the minimum time is what you’re after.

Try HIIT – high intensity interval training – for a workout that can improve strength, endurance and leave you totally out of breath in little more than 20 minutes.

Expert advice

Ask yourself – what is your session goal? Fat loss, muscle gain, improving mobility? Pick a workout session that suits your goal. If you are short on time and a big sweat/ calorie burn is what you’re after, then High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is the workout for you. If building muscle is the main goal the you would benefit more from a big compound weight session.

Plan your workout the day before. This way you aren’t stressing in the session trying to figure out what exercises, reps and sets to complete. Preparation saves time and will ensure your lunchtime workout is effective.

Invest in a PT. If all of this planning sounds too much for your brain and you’re not sure where to begin, let someone else handle it! Invest in a personal trainer or coach. This way they can plan your session and help you execute it.

Omar Mansour, PT

While you might be in a rush trying to cram your workout into an hour, it’s important to still look after your body. Jake Williams, a lifestyle health adviser from Bupa, says it’s crucial to minimise your risk of injury.

‘Taking just a few minutes to warm up properly will help prepare your body for exercise and reduce your risk of injury,’ Jake tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Make sure you’re increasing your heart rate during your warm-up, as this can help prepare your muscles for exercise. You should also spend around ten minutes cooling down, doing low-intensity cardiovascular exercise.

‘It’s important to stretch all the parts of your body that you used during exercise, and you can do this through static stretching, which means you slowly stretch a muscle until you feel resistance, but not pain. And if you do feel any pain, stop.’

So the key is to be careful, plan well and stop caring about what everyone else does with their lunch break. If you’re colleagues are happy to sit through an hour of unpaid work – that’s on them.

You would rather spend it getting the blood pumping, endorphins flowing and then bask in a smug glow all afternoon.

MORE: Not exercising is worse for your health than smoking, study says

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How long do pumpkins last for? When you should buy and carve your Halloween pumpkin


Halloween season is upon us and pumpkins are filling our supermarkets more than any other time of the year.

The tradition of pumpkin carving (and before that turnip carving) has been going on for hundreds of years and is showing no signs of slowing down.

thumbnail for post ID 8063308How long do pumpkins last for? When to buy and carve your Halloween pumpkin

But, as much as pumpkins have proved to be perfect lanterns over the years, you can’t forget that they do have a shelf life and will rot if you leave them in your house too long.

Here is when you should be buying and carving your pumpkins for Halloween this year.

When should you buy your pumpkin?

Anytime in the month of October in the run-up to Halloween is a perfectly appropriate time to purchase your jack-o-lantern.

Pumpkins last 8 to 12 weeks after they are picked, it’s after you carve it that the clock starts ticking.

When should you carve your pumpkin?

Once you decide on your pumpkin pattern and outline it on the skin, it’s time to take the knife to your oversized squash and carefully carve.

When the Pumpkin is carved and hollowed out it will last around 5 to 10 days, before it wilts and smells like the disturbing picture below.

So to be ready for Halloween, don’t get carving, it is probably better to wait until Friday to be safe to start carving.

The more air circulation around your pumpkin the better as the less air circulation the faster it will grow mould.

A bright orange pumpkin allowed to grow mold and dry out completely. Incredible texture.

How to make your jack-o-lantern last longer

Make sure you select a perfectly unblemished pumpkin off the shelf as if it has gouges or blemishes this means it is not fresh.

If the pumpkin is soft to touch it means it will not last as long as you would like.

Try to be quick when you’re carving as the minute you make the first incision your pumpkins life clock is ticking.

Once you have scooped out the insides of your pumpkin you should spray the insides with peppermint dish soap, as peppermint is anti-fungal and will slow the pumpkin’s breakdown.

You could refrigerate your pumpkin once it is carved wrapped in a bin bag to re-hydrate the lantern.

Another way to re-hydrate is to soak the pumpkin in a large bucket of cold water overnight.

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Women with fewer sexual partners have happier marriages, claims study

We'll never reach sexual equality if we don't stop obsessing over numbers
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Research from the Institute of Family Studies has found that women who are less sexually promiscuous before settling down have higher levels of satisfaction in their marriages.

The study, which was was funded by a Christian organisation who are ‘pro-marriage’, found that 65% of women who have only had one sexual partner reported being happy in their marriages, compared to 57% of women who have had more than 21 sexual partners.

There are those who are using this research as evidence that women are not ‘suited’ to having explorative sex lives, or that female sexual exploration is dangerous to the traditional family models, though critics of the study have pointed out that there’s only an 8% difference between women with one and 21 sexual partners.

Even though an 8% difference is not huge, it still exists, prompting the question: why are less sexually experienced women happier in their marriages?

Critics have also commented that ‘happy’ is a difficult metric with which to work, as it is a subjective measure and the kind of person who is serial dater, looking for a perfect partner might have a more demanding concept of happiness.

Could it be because women who have only had one sexual partner do not have the weight of comparison?

Or might it be that the type of person who marries their only sexual partner is more commitment oriented?

Of course, it could be that women are genuinely happier in marriages when they’ve had less sex previous to getting hitched.

Whatever the answer is, we clearly need more research before reaching a firm conclusion about what this tells us about women and their relationship to sex.

If you’d like to read the rest of the study, you can do so here. 

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There’s a tequila advent calendar here to set-up a boozy Christmas

Tequila advent calendar
(Picture: Master of Malt)

Lets face it, Go Sober for October is fine and Dry January is a perfectly worthy cause- but December is the time to give temperance a temporary rest.

Just think- the month of unbroken social obligations and obligatory nights out.

And then, Christmas: the booziest holiday of them all.

But there’s a new addition to festivities this year, one’s bound to attract strong feelings whatever your opinion on the tipple involved.

Drinks By The Dram’s Tequila Advent Calendar is a count-down with a twist. A pretty simple twist. Instead of chocolate, or any other of the usual fillings, there’s 24 high-end ‘shots of liquid sunshine’ to be had.

Tequila advent calendar masterofmalt
(Picture: Master of Malt)

They’ve got plenty of form here, as the company behind several other boozy calendars including the £136.11 Ginvent calendar, chocked full of upmarket gins and the ‘countdown box’, filled with rare whiskeys for £10,893.28.

You don’t need to us to tell you that their latest tequilla offering might require slightly deeper pockets than the average 2am round of Jose Cuervo.

Expect only fine and limited-edition tequilas, which you can find listed on their website. There’s even set to be two different styles, according to the Drinks By The Dram website: the ‘traditional Craft finish or the marvelous new Themed edition’, which has an extra sprinkling of festive aesthetic cheer.

Well, you’d hope for something special for £149.95.

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