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What is carb cycling and should you be doing it?

(Picture: Getty)

If you like food, the idea of a no-carb diet is probably your idea of hell.

Pasta, pizza, bread… pasta. All off-limits. We can’t compute.

Aside from our personal cravings, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that cutting out carbs completely isn’t actually effective for weight-loss – particularly in the long-term.

And official NHS advice states that wholegrain carbs are a really important part of a balanced diet.

But carb cycling – a diet that staggers the amount of carbs you eat – could be a viable alternative.

(Picture: Getty)

Carb cycling is when you vary your carb intake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

What that means is that on some days you eat more of them and some days you eat less.

You can do it based on your activity – so, say you go the gym three times in a week, on those three days you would eat carbs normally. On the other four days of that week you would eat a low-carb diet.

The idea is that you get the benefits of a low-carb diet without the fatigue and possible muscle-loss – so in theory it is more sustainable.

If you don’t judge it by activity, another simple way to do it is to eat low-carb for three days followed by two higher-carb days. And you can choose to continue at the weekend or not.

But is it healthy? Will it actually help you lose weight? And, most importantly, is it safe?

Nutritionist Charlotte De Curtis, think there are certainly benefits.

‘There can be a number of benefits to carb cycling when done correctly,’ Charlotte tells Metro.co.uk.

‘When it comes to fat-loss, many of my clients enjoy the flexibility that carb cycling brings when used in line with a calorie deficit, often improving diet adherence and long term success.

‘There is research to suggest that cycling carbs around your workouts can also be beneficial for gaining muscle, improving physical performance, along with aiding recovery.

‘Other research suggests that high-carb re-feeds, after a state of lower carbohydrate intake, may have a positive effect on hormones during a diet, particularly the thyroid hormones and leptin, which is one of the hormones responsible for balancing hunger.’

As with any diet, there’s plenty to consider before getting started, but Charlotte doesn’t think there’s anything particularly worrying about carb cycling if it’s done properly.

‘Although there are no “dangers” as such, cycling your carbs in this way can often be complex in nature for beginners, leading to confusion and
lack of adherence,’ she explains.

‘Something else to be aware of is that you may gain water weight on your high-carb days and, cutting down too low on carbs, on your non training days may feel too restrictive and increase your cravings for sweet foods.’

We have all been there. Trying to be healthy and ending up raiding the vending machine at 3pm.

So how can you make carb cycling work for you? Charlotte has some pointers.

‘Carb cycling can absolutely be implemented into a balanced and healthy approach for both fat loss, performance and general health.

‘Depending on the goal, by ensuring that you are eating enough calories to cover the energy that you’re expending, from one day to the next and that your carbs are coming from sources that are dense in nutrients – think veggies and starchy carbs – this will illicit the maximum benefit.’

So it’s all about balance – making sure you’re offsetting your exercise and activity with enough food to keep you energised.

If you’re tempted by a low-carb diet but can’t quite say goodbye to your breakfast bagel habit, then this could be the perfect diet for you.

MORE: Is the keto diet actually dangerous?

MORE: What is the low FODmap diet and is it good for you?

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Six women open up about what it was like to have an abortion

Woman's hand holding positive pregnancy test
(Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)

Falling pregnant with no plan can be terrifying.

You’re presented with a deeply personal choice that faces tremendous pressure – ranging from misconceptions to blatantly false information – to sway you to one particular perspective, and a lack of open conversation around the other.

Abortion remains a taboo topic, and this silence harms us.

We spoke to six women who each chose to have an abortion, to find out why they did it and what it was like.

23-year-old Maddy was 16 when she had an abortion. She says she definitely wasn’t ready for a baby. She’d had sex with her boyfriend and the condom broke, but she was ‘naive’ and thought everything would be okay.

Then she didn’t get her period.

She tells us: ‘I told my mother, she ran to the shop and picked up a test. It was positive.

‘Truthfully the actual abortion was incredibly painful. But the entire experience was much simpler, quicker and easier than you’d expect.

‘I was taken into a small room, asked questions about if it was my choice and was I sure this was what I wanted, I said yes to everything.

‘I was then given a tablet to swallow, then I was put straight on to the contraceptive injection. The next day we had to go back, to another small room, I had to lay on a bed, the nurse inserted two tablets into me and I was then sent home with painkillers.’

Maddy says she felt ‘relief’ after the abortion.

She said: ‘It was the best thing I could have ever done, I’m still not ready for children seven years later so I was certainly not ready back then.’

Maddy has absolutely no regrets, and just sees the abortion as something that brought on her period.

‘I don’t think of it as a baby as we found out so early,’ she said.

25-year-old Anna was 21 when she had an abortion. She was with a boyfriend at the time, missed the pill once and fell pregnant straight away.

She says she wasn’t given a choice by her ex, and didn’t feel comfortable standing up to him and having a baby on her own – but looking back it was the right decision for her.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The process was easy as I was quite early and able to just have the pill.

‘I went to a specialised place just for abortions rather than a hospital and I can’t fault the staff there at all.

‘They were so caring and gentle which really made a difference as I was terrified of being judged. After that you just have to go home and wait.

‘I guess I felt okay physically after, it didn’t hurt for me and wasn’t as traumatic as I was expecting but it takes a toll on you mentally, especially as I had no support from the dad and chose not to tell my mum.

‘I’d say it’s affected my mental health a lot but I think for me that’s not so much the abortion itself, but feeling like I wasn’t given a choice and being in an abusive relationship.

‘It’s something that I’m still dealing with now and won’t ever forget about, although it’ll hopefully get easier.’

Pregnancy heart illustration (Picture: Irene Palacio for Metro.co.uk)
(Picture: Irene Palacio for Metro.co.uk)

32-year-old Danielle had an abortion when she was 20. Her boyfriend at the time coerced her into having the abortion and was abusive, and told her he would leave if she didn’t have it – despite them already having a three-year-old together.

She explained: ‘The abortion process was horrible. I applied for one when I was just a few weeks pregnant but ended up having the procedure at five months.

‘I was referred to a clinic who booked me in but refused to do the procedure just as I was about to go in, because I had sickle cell disease.

‘My GP then had to refer me to the hospital which took so long my choices became limited with doctors who would perform the procedure as I was so far gone.

‘I was booked in at five months and given basically the same medication I would have been given earlier on in the pregnancy – it causes the pregnancy to abort and fall away.

‘The difference was that I was five months so I had to ‘give birth’ to complete the procedure.’

Danielle says she was ‘scarred’ for a long time after the procedure.

She said: ‘I was angry that I had to wait so long for an abortion. I had a fear of being pregnant after that.

‘I’d never want to have another abortion. Looking back though it was the right idea.

‘I was very young, in a terrible relationship, and I later found out my boyfriend had another pregnant girlfriend at the same time.

‘The abortion is always something I will remember. It was a horrible time for me. It’s something I’ll never forget.’

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

23-year-old Jess has had two abortions – one when she was 21 and the second when she was 22.

The first followed sex with a guy she was seeing regularly and the second was with a boyfriend

When asked what the abortion process was like, she said: ‘The people who I spoke to on the phone to book the appointments and the people who work there were the nicest people I’ve ever met, I don’t think I’ve felt more comfortable while also feeling so vulnerable.

‘Considering I was back again only seven months later I didn’t at all feel like I was being judged. The actual process itself was horribly painful, both physically and mentally, but that’s to be expected. I don’t feel guilty for what I did though.’

Jess feels having an abortion was the best thing she could have done for herself – though she says she is currently feeling broody.

She said: ‘To me the process was just like ripping off a plaster. It’s something I had to do, yeah it hurt but it had to come off so I just had to suck it up.

‘I feel fine about it. I’m still scared to talk about it because there’s such a stigma but I don’t think there should be. I’m not ashamed that I had them.

‘I wasn’t ready financially or mentally for a child, and neither was the father. I’m so grateful that I was able to do what I did, as strange as that sounds.

‘I didn’t at all feel pressured to do what I did, and no one made me feel guilty either. If I hadn’t have had the abortions, I wouldn’t be where I am today.’

38-year-old Karen was 37 when she had an abortion.

She said: ‘Not proud, but I had an affair with a married man.

‘It was on and off as the guilt was too much sometimes but it kept on happening.

‘In September 2017 he told me he was going to leave his wife. So I decided because I loved him so much that the inevitable horror and anguish that we were about to go through would be worth it if it want being together.

‘We had already discussed that neither of us wanted any more kids. I have a son and he has two children. So when I got pregnant by mistake (I was on the pill) it was a big shock. This was in November 2017.

‘I asked to meet him at his flat which, incidentally, I’d never seen and I was already questioning whether he actually had one or had even left.

‘When we got to his flat he told me he had lost his keys. So I ended up breaking down and telling him in his car. He was great, shocked but told me we should talk about it.’

Karen and the man discussed it the next night and decided that because he had only just left his marriage, they didn’t want to hurt anyone any more than they already had, so booked in for an abortion.

She continued: ‘It’s strange because although I knew I was going to terminate the pregnancy I still did everything to protect the baby. Didn’t drink or smoke or eat anything I shouldn’t. Motherly instincts kicking in, I suppose.

‘On the day, I went to the clinic on my own. He had to work and didn’t really offer me much support beforehand.

‘At the clinic I was fighting back tears and sat in the waiting room for over five hours from beginning to end. I had a scan and they confirmed it. For some reason, I asked to see it. And then I broke down.

‘I saw that little dot and my heart told me that I shouldn’t do it. I was asked if I still wanted to go ahead but knew I couldn’t keep it. And I knew I’d be on my own if I did.

Male fertility stories (1): I had lazy sperm, but no one to talk to about it Pregnancy fertile mental health male female man hospital baby child kids pregnant body sperm sex relationships Picture: Dave Anderson/Metro.co.uk
(Picture: Dave Anderson/Metro.co.uk)

‘They gave me a pill to insert into myself and two to swallow. I did. When I got back in the car I burst into tears. He was waiting for me when I got home. We didn’t live together.

‘He spent the night and at around midnight I started to bleed. He slept through the whole thing. He left in the morning and then sent me a text asking if “it looked like a shark attack down there”. I was heartbroken.’

Karen and her then-partner never spoke about the abortion after that, and nine months later she found out that he had never actually left his wife, and was lying the entire time.

Karen continued: ‘Because of all that, I’m glad I made the right decision on having an abortion. Or I’d no doubt be on my own with a child whose father would not want to be involved.

‘I think about it every single day. I ask myself questions like “how old would it be now” “what would it look like” and “am I a bad person for denying someone the right to life”.’

‘It eats away at me all the time. Every time I see a baby I think about what I have done. It has had a profound effect on my mental health but more so because of his lack of support and ultimate betrayal.

‘Some people will say I deserve the pain for having an affair. My answer would be that you can’t help who you fall in love with.

‘I ended it and he came back to me with a promise he would do the right thing and leave. So I will not apologise for the last nine months of the affair. Because I was under the illusion that he had left.

How to stop saying sorry Metro illustrations Ella Byworth
(Picture: Ella Byworth)

‘It’s left me incredibly angry but grateful that I had an option to choose. And I believe that after all the above, I made the right decision. Even if I do think about what could have been every day.

Kate, 29, was 21 when she had her first abortion. She had already had a daughter by then. She fell pregnant by accident as her contraception failed.

She says she’d already been judged for being a young mother so was torn on what to do, though ended up coming to the decision that she wanted to keep the baby.

Weeks after that decision she had her first mental breakdown. She wasn’t allowed to be left alone and couldn’t remember who people were or even how to make a cup of tea.

She said: ‘I apparently was very low and spoke very basic. I still don’t remember much of that time.

‘I’ve been told that I was made to have conversations with the intervention team and apparently during those decided to have an abortion.

‘Yet my parents weren’t ever allowed in the room unless they managed to remind me to ask for them.

‘An abortion was booked one day before legal limit. I don’t remember making that decision and to this day I don’t feel that it was right for someone who was mentally in such a regressed and depressed state to be pushed into a decision making situation at all.

‘I don’t remember much about the abortion itself. My parents drove me to Twickenham for it and my mum stayed with me.

‘I know it was surgical due to being so far on.’

Kate slowly recovered from her breakdown but the abortion left a deep scar. She feels like it was a different person making the decision, and that it was out of her hands to some extent.

‘Like a faded memory which is just one trauma which has now added to my CPTSD, depression and anxiety. If I hadn’t been in such a bad mental state I may have made a different choice,’ she said.

Kate then had a second abortion while she was in another relationship. She was 25 and her relationship was abusive. The father wanted her to get rid of the baby.

Kate said: ‘He was physically and verbally abusive. I never told my family and friends. He said that I had no choice because as a young mum I was already a failure. I would never cope with two children.

‘I wasn’t quite made aware of how it would be. I was called into a room, awake, then they started the procedure of basically pulling the baby out. It was painful and emotional.

‘I cried the entire time. Despite there being a doctor, nurse and about three other people in the room, none of them comforted me. None of them answered my questions and I had no idea what to expect.

‘I was ushered out and told to redress then I could leave. I was just disregarded. I left in a wheelchair from exhaustion, pain and feeling sick. I was shocked.

‘The father took me home to my daughter and I remember just thinking at least I had her.

‘Years later I broke down and told my friends and parents, it broke their hearts.

‘Do I regret that decision? Yes because no one treated me like I was capable, like I was human or like I was respected and safe. I think if they had I wouldn’t have been bullied into it.

‘I have suffered since my first breakdown when I had the abortion first. However I have learnt to forgive, to grieve and to put my all into being a mum to the daughter I do have who is amazing.’

If you are worried about a pregnancy or are questioning whether an abortion is right for you, please speak to somebody you trust and see your GP for advice. Don’t suffer in silence, let others support you while you make the best decision for yourself.

MORE: 13 mental health resolutions you should set yourself for 2019

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How to declutter your love life in Marie Kondo style

(Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

‘Does it bring you joy?’

The phrase, uttered by Emily Gilmore in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, as she rummaged through her belongings in an effort to declutter her life, was our first taster of the KonMari method.

Made famous by Marie Kondo, who this month launched the series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, the technique can be summed up as follows: ‘tidy your space, transform your life’.

But what if the messiest part of existence isn’t about badly folded clothes and a lack of plastic storage boxes, but about decluttering the area that bring so many of us, so much grief?

We are of course talking about dating.

Imagine this: you’re standing in front of a sock drawer, but instead of footwear in various colours and patterns, you’ve got categories of all kinds of partners, neatly organised in a row.

Depending on your personal experience, there’ll be platonic relationships and besties, followed by f*** boys, occasional hook-ups, a whole load of dating apps (and conversations that are stuck in an endless loop of ‘how’s your day been’), exes and f*** buddies (the same category for some), crushes, casual-with-potential dates and current partners.

Getting your dating life in order isn’t as easy as folding socks, but we’ve consulted with a few experts to provide some top tips on how to do dating, Marie Kondo style.

‘Marie Kondo is a genius in term of how she simplifies life right down to what matters most – joy,’ relationship expert, Kate Mansfield, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I help women in a similar way to really let go of what is not working in their love lives and to do this I include a decluttering process in a 12-week course by insisting on spending one month not dating, or taking a break from their current relationship and doing a thorough detox of behaviours, beliefs and activities that don’t bring joy, love and romance into their lives.

‘So often we get used to what is familiar and accept not just a lack of joy, but much worse than this, we often accept behaviour and relationships that destroy and rob us of joy in the rest of our lives, because of how it makes us feel about ourselves.’

Telling your significant other that you want a 30-day break might cause some friction, so here are a few practical tips on how you can work together to reboot your relationship.

Top tips on how to declutter your relationship in a couple

Confidence coach and dating expert, Michelle Zelli, shares her top five tips:

1. Let resentments go. Bringing up past misdemeanours clutters your relationship with toxicity.

2.Declutter your bedroom. Create a sensual sanctuary by getting rid of anything that is not beautiful or useful.  Replace old candles, update massage oils and treat yourself to new bedlinen.  Don’t let this special room make you feel the gloom.

3. Ask for what you want from your partner. If you are not getting your needs met, what is it you want them to change? When you get clear on what it is you want, you make it easy for them to understand.

4. Stop nagging. Don’t clutter your relationship up with white noise – repeating the same thing over and again – you won’t be heard and will become increasingly frustrated. Change the way you communicate and the needs that aren’t being heard.

5. Clean up your expectations. If you are feeling disappointment with your partner more often than you should, it is because your expectations are not being met. When you expect your partner to behave different to the way they always have, you are setting yourself up to feel let-down and your partner to feel resentful.

If you’re single, we feel your pain. Navigating the fragile dating landscape can be difficult, stressful and disappointing. You can’t change how others behave, but you can improve your own methods.

Maybe you’re overloading on dating apps, flicking through four or five different ones at the same time, but not really investing your time in any conversations. Or, perhaps you’re committing your time to people who aren’t emotionally available and don’t treat you the way you deserve?

Martina Mercer, sex and relationships expert at Sunday Woman, tells Metro.co.uk her best tips for how singles can boost their love lives.

First up is the obvious – saying goodbye to exes and removing the evidence of past love.

She said: ‘When we’re single, we tend to keep a tentative hold onto our ex partners, just to remind us that someone loved us and to ensure there’s someone for a booty call.

‘This contact could be holding you back. Unless there’s a strong chance you will try again, delete their number, cut contact and perform closure on the relationship.

‘Decluttering your memories is not as easy as it once was, with Facebook, email and various social networks reminding you of what you’ve lost. It may take some time but delete those emails that you read after a glass of wine, clean up your Facebook memories, tidy up your Insta feed and remove traces of the past.

‘If you’re dating via the internet, you’ll have a lot of potential suitors. Using the decluttering method, decide if they give you joy or happiness.

‘If they leave you uncertain, cut contact and try not to keep a “just in case I’m desperate” pile of dates. You’ll never need them once you move forward.’

Top tips on how to declutter your love life when single

Confidence coach and dating expert, Michelle Zelli, shares her top five tips:

1. Red flags become blurred once we are attracted to somebody.  Declutter your dating by defining your red flags before the dating process.

2. Declutter your heart. If you are bringing old wounds, disappointments, and hurt into dating it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused.  Forgive the exes that have hurt you and learn your lessons on how you will do it differently this time.

3. Set yourself clear time limits for daily internet dating sites and take back your control and self-respect.

4. Declutter your beliefs about being single.  Relish your independence and freedom to choose what you want to do in life. Own your power.

5. Focus on what you like and be aware of this.  Internal chatter, wondering if they like us will get in the way of a healthy dating process.

Before you go deleting dating apps and phone numbers, or redefining your entire relationship with your partner, sit down and go through what’s lacking (if anything) in your love life.

Decluttering to a drastic degree can be a regretful practice, if you suddenly start stripping out pieces that you later find you actually wanted to keep.

And sadly, replacing love isn’t as easy as picking up a new pair of socks.

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Greggs vegan sausage rolls are selling on Ebay for nine times the price

(Picture: Ebay)

You’ve probably heard Greggs have released a vegan sausage roll.

But with reports of stores selling out, you might not have been able to get your hands on one.

Well now it seems you can pick them up on Ebay.

Some savvy sellers have listed one of January’s must-have items.

At the time of writing, there were two vegan sausage rolls listed.

One is currently on £7 with 15 bids, from someone called Dave.

Dave says: ‘I had one myself and it was a delight.’

(Picture: Getty/ PA)

And don’t worry about it not being fresh, it’s collection only – and he’s not accepting returns.

He says it comes in a ‘cool’ Greggs paper bag and not a box.

The other listing is currently at £9.50 and has three bids.

And this one can be posted as the seller says they are a Greggs employee and they’ll post it first class on the day it is made.

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Adorable dog mistakes vet visit for hug session and snuggles into nurse

(Picture: Reddit/meowpal33)

Most dogs dread a visit to the vet.

This beauty, however, relished in her special moment with veterinary nurse, Kayleen Campbell.

As the pooch sat down for her exam, Kayleen grabbed her around the neck – a regular method for vets when drawing blood from pets (as it allows them to do so quickly, instead of using the veins in the legs) – which isn’t usually well-received by the pets.

But this 13-year-old dream got nice and comfortable, and was clearly enjoying what she thought was a hug session.

The vet shared a photo of the encounter on Reddit, and captioned her post: ‘We have to hold off the jugular vein after drawing blood, but this sweet old girl thought I was just there for the hugs…this is why I love my job.’

(Picture: Reddit/meowpal33)
(Picture: Reddit/meowpal33)

‘Holding the vein off usually only takes a short amount of time, but this sweet old girl kept leaning back into me and thought I was just there to give her love and attention, which I was happy to give,’ Kayleen said to the Dodo.

“I wouldn’t say this is a common reaction mostly because a lot of dogs don’t want to sit still for a prolonged period of time in a place where so much is going on.

‘Of course some are nervous or scared, in which case I try to be as respectful of their needs as possible.

‘But when I see friendly, happy dogs or purring cats, I always make time to give them some attention and love.’

Be right back, we’re just off to get a veterinary degree so we can also spend our days hugging and hanging out with fluffy pets.

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Woman turns down second date with man because he didn’t pay for her £99 lobster and wine

(Picture: Reddit)

It’s 2019, which means it is very normal for women to pay for meals or at least split the bill.

But one woman got pretty annoyed when her date didn’t pay for her meal.

A man recently posted to Reddit a series of screenshots of a conversation between him and a woman he’d gone on a date with.

She was absolutely furious that they’d gone out and he’d not paid – despite her meal coming to £99, as she ordered lobster and an expensive bottle of wine, and his coming to just under £16, for a carbonara and a beer.

METRO GRAB VIA REDDIT Student outrages his date by refusing to pay for her ??100 meal while his cost SIX TIMES less at ??16 - but do you think he was right not to get out his wallet? https://www.reddit.com/r/ChoosingBeggars/comments/actr3m/well_there_goes_the_friendship_with_her/
(Picture: Reddit)

They had split the bill on the date and the man hadn’t thought anything of it – but he soon realised the woman wasn’t happy after he asked her for another date.

After texting her to ask her out again, she replied: ‘After what you did last time you expect me to go out with you again? Wow’.

To which he replied saying he was confused about what he’d done.

She soon explained.

She said: ‘You made me pay for my own food and drink while you only paid for yours wtf’.

The guy went on to explain that he thought that was fair, given she’d asked him on a date and that there was a huge difference in price.

Then things turned nasty. The woman said she though the guy shouldn’t accept a date if he can’t pay, and that a gentleman always pay. She then called him gay.

The Reddit user went onto say that she had made him uncomfortable by spending the night talking about another man – but the woman still didn’t seem to get the picture, and instead insisted he was using her for sex.

METRO GRAB VIA REDDIT Student outrages his date by refusing to pay for her ??100 meal while his cost SIX TIMES less at ??16 - but do you think he was right not to get out his wallet? https://www.reddit.com/r/ChoosingBeggars/comments/actr3m/well_there_goes_the_friendship_with_her/
(Picture: Reddit)

To which he quipped: ‘Ofc I wanted to have sex with you, but then I realised I might not have £20 for that’.

Unsurprisingly, that was the end of the conversation – and we doubt they’ll be seeing each other again.

Since the messages were posted to Reddit, users have been pretty outraged by the woman’s attitude.

One said: ‘Anyone that expects that royalty treatment is not someone you want in your life. Good move’.

Another said: ‘That’s incredibly obnoxious. Going out solely for the free lobster! Gives women a bad name.’

Someone else added: ‘The one who invites another pays for the meal. Doesn’t matter if it’s a man or woman or whoever. If I invite you, I pay. Isn’t this like common sense?’

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Romance in Rhodes or finding a kids’ paradise in Kos: There is a perfect Greek island for you


As many of us figure out, quite rudely, the idea of planning a holiday is super-exciting but the reality can be stressful and more often than not you pick something that’s easy so you can stop the traumatic hunt for your sunshine break.

More often than not, you pick somewhere that’s easy to get to, so there’s less frazzled nerves by the time you reach your final destination, but often find that it’s ‘safe’ and ‘will do’. But now, Olympic Holidays is offering a holiday that practically bans the phrase ‘will do’. Instead, you’ll be lost for words as you build your perfect getaway, tailor-made for you.

Whether it’s for a couple, a group of friends or a family, Olympic Holiday has cut out the hassle from creating a dream holiday in Greece where you can mix up cultural trips, sampling local cuisine or getting you a relaxing sun bed for an epic chill out session by the pool.

A family holiday doesn’t have to mean that you’re forever banished to soft play areas until the kids reach high school and you don’t even have to leave the family at home so you can enjoy the high-life, it’s all waiting for you with Olympic Holidays.

You can mismatch different holidays that suit your personality. Are you a sun seeker? Are you a history sponge who wants to see all of the ruins and who wants to discover the awe-inspiring historic sites like the Cave of Melissani? You can.

Island hopping doesn’t have to be stressful, it’s a holiday after all! With Olympic Holidays it means fun and flexibility with a plentiful choice of off-the-grid, authentic, luxury and family options.

The beauty of Olympic Holidays island hopping is that you can pick the islands you want to visit, and make the most of your holiday and at your own pace. Find your adventure as you enjoy your meals in local tavernas before another hop to soak up Greek culture at some of the islands’ iconic sites as you use the ferries and catamarans (yes, that will make a great Instagram shot) to get you where you need to be easily. Make the most of Olympic Holidays’ expert knowledge of Greece so your holiday is perfect for you.

So what islands would suit you?


Bubble Beach is one of Kos’ top recommended beaches. It’s officially called Paradise Beach because of its stunning white beaches and clear waters, but beachgoers will quickly spot the infamous bubbles that appear on the shore which actually originate from Kos’ neighbouring Nisyros Island. The island is renowned for its resorts, which often offer an enviable range of water sports to make the most of the islands’ clear waters.

Or, if you fancy, why not pack yourself a traditional picnic and head to Aliki Tigaki Salt Lake? As you relax around the salt lake, keep an eye out for flamingos, pelicans and even water turtles. That’s not something you see every day.

Skiathos is perfect for families or couples looking for a picturesque spot, that has plenty of food, shopping and entertainment on offer. Ideal for children of all ages, Skiathos offers a wide range of activities to keep young ones occupied, and there’s impressive evening entertainment for all.


It’s not hard to see why Rhodes is a top destination for couples and weddings.

With over 300 days of sunshine a year, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore Rhodes’ ancient temples and castles as well as its traditional villages with their tavernas and market stalls or even the bustling cosmopolitan capital, whatever your mood fancies – Rhodes is a destination of many contrasts. Feel the sand between your toes and lose track of time at Lindos Bay or spoil yourselves with a day of pampering at the Kalithea’s luxury spa.

If you’re looking for adult only hotels, then tap into the luxury offering across the islands – including Cyprus, Zante, Kos, Santorini and more. Make the most of the all-inclusive resorts so work feels like it’s a million miles away.


Situated just 23 miles from Rhodes, Symi is a dreamy destination where you can relax on its glorious beaches after working up a sweat. From the main harbour to Agios Vasilios for a five-hour trek or from the main harbour to Pedi and Agios Marina loop which takes a similar time, there’s a wide variety for the most active of you. Markers do guide you on the Dodecanese island, but it is worth the effort, especially with the cold Mythos at the end. Or, if its a bit hot in the Grecian sunshine, keep your cool with a snorkelling trip or tick scuba diving off of your bucket list.

For the ‘Gram

Stop being the person that ‘likes’ everyone else’s pictures, but instead tag this dreamy destination on your next trip. The idyllic white-washed villages with their stunning blue-domed churches set against the deep blue oceans and cloudless skies will make for envy-inducing snaps.

When you say ‘Santorini’, it’s a destination you can immediately picture for its breathtaking beauty. The crescent-shaped island, which is situated in the southern Cyclades, was said to be formed after a volcanic eruption around 1650 BC. Whether you fancy the dramatic beaches at Kamari and Perissa with its dark sands, or even the iconic sunsets over Oia, you’ll be in good company outside a traditional taverna to toast a view of a lifetime.

Water babies

There are over 6,000 islands and islets across the the Aegean and Ionian Seas, so it’s no surprise that water activities are a main feature of a Greek holiday.

Lefkas is one of the many islands that’s a great sport with the four-star plus Porto Galini Seaside Resort and Spa offering an expansive choices for guests whether you want to canoe one day, try your hand at dinghy-sailing another or even windsurfing. While on your travels, pay a visit to Porto Katsiki, the ‘Port of Goats’, which was once only reached by goats, which you can reach by boat.

Or why not try Corfu? Aqualand is the largest water park on the island and is fun for all ages, whether you’re five or 65. It’s easy to get to no matter where you decide to stay and once you get there you have over 36 water slides to choose from and 15 adventure pools. For a bit of R&R, you can take a dip in the jacuzzi or have a snooze on the plentiful sunbeds.

There are plenty of combinations waiting for you to discover, to make the most of your holiday. Whether you want to get your tastebuds popping on a culinary journey between Corfu, Kefalonia or Zante. Or even a romantic whirlwind through Greece’s Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos.

Take advantage of Olympic Holidays 50 years experience, as they know the islands inside out, and will be able to recommend all of the right spots for your hobbies, or new ones.

For more information on how you can book your perfect Greek holiday, click here. Book now with The Island specialists from just £59 per person deposit and lowest price guarantee.

Student not happy after PrettyLittleThing dress looks like a ‘high-vis tent’

(Picture: Mercury Press)

A student shopping on PrettyLittleThing was gutted to find the chic, mustard mini dress she’d ordered online ended up looking like a ‘high-vis tent’.

Beth Whitehouse was shopping for a new outfit for her upcoming holiday in Paris when she came across the mustard dress.

She decided to buy it, thinking it would look really nice with boots and tights – but when it arrived it didn’t look quite as cool as it had appeared on the model.

***COPYRIGHT UNKNOWN USE AT OWN RISK*** MERCURY PRESS. 09/01/19. Pictured: The dress taht Beth purchased on the Pretty Little Things website. A student was left shocked when she claims the figure-hugging, mustard dress she ordered, appeared to arrive like a high-vis tent. Ahead of her holiday to Paris, Beth Whitehouse, 22, decided to take to the Pretty Little Thing website to buy some new clothes for her upcoming trip. After seeing what she believed to be a figure-hugging, mustard coloured dress she quickly added the ?25 dress to her basket. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press)

She said: ‘When it arrived it looked completely different to the photo – it was as bright as a high-vis jacket and wouldn’t tighten up so it was like a tent!

‘I couldn’t believe the colour mainly – as in the photo it looked like a mustard yellow sort of colour, but it was just blindingly bright.

‘I sent it back straight away, I couldn’t be wearing that no chance!’

MERCURY PRESS. 09/01/19. Pictured: Beth Whitehouse, 22, wearing the Pretty Little Things dress. A student was left shocked when she claims the figure-hugging, mustard dress she ordered, appeared to arrive like a high-vis tent. Ahead of her holiday to Paris, Beth Whitehouse, 22, decided to take to the Pretty Little Thing website to buy some new clothes for her upcoming trip. After seeing what she believed to be a figure-hugging, mustard coloured dress she quickly added the ?25 dress to her basket. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press)

The website describes the £25 dress as featuring ‘neon orange material with a toggle waist detail’.

Beth, 22, has since returned the dress and is laughing it all off.

She said: ‘At first, I was annoyed because I was really excited to see the dress.

MERCURY PRESS. 09/01/19. Pictured: Beth Whitehouse, 22. A student was left shocked when she claims the figure-hugging, mustard dress she ordered, appeared to arrive like a high-vis tent. Ahead of her holiday to Paris, Beth Whitehouse, 22, decided to take to the Pretty Little Thing website to buy some new clothes for her upcoming trip. After seeing what she believed to be a figure-hugging, mustard coloured dress she quickly added the ?25 dress to her basket. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press)

‘But I just decided to refund it, as it wasn’t to my taste at all.

‘I had to take the photo of it on, because it did look absolutely hilarious in comparison to how it looked on the model.

‘Me and my friends can’t stop laughing every time we see the photo, it’s just ridiculous!’

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Mum praised for opening up about not being able to love second child as much as first

(Picture: Instagram/LindaBlacker)

A mum has been praised on Instagram for opening up about her fears of not being able to love her second child the same way she loves her first.

British blogger Louise Pentland shared a photo of herself pregnant and her first daughter, explaining she was thinking a lot about this time last year, when she was due to have her second baby on 1 January 2017.

She said she was feeling really anxious that she wasn’t going to be able to love her second child, Pearl, the same way she loves her first, Darcy – who feels ‘so so special’ to her.

Instagram Photo

Louise said: ‘I didn’t want to talk about that much because I felt pregnant women were supposed to instantly gush with love for their growing babe and I was still fearful. Anyone else felt that?

‘Pearl was cosy in there and didn’t pop out until the 14th and mine and Darcy’s team got a brand new member. Thankfully, a mother’s heart is pretty cool because it doesn’t half with a new child but doubles instead.

‘Essentially, and I hope you don’t mind the bluntness here – it’s ok to be scared sh*tless that you might be a crap mum, your heart will surprise you. Ahhh.’

Instagram Photo

Louise encouraged other mums to share their fears with her – and plenty did, supporting her and offering words of encouragement as well as their own stories.

One woman said: ‘I’m 30 weeks pregnant with my second and have the exact same feeling. Even that I feel this pregnancy has flew by so much quicker than my first and fear it’s because I’m not looking forward to it as much as I did the first time. Then I feel sh*t for feeling like this.’

Another said: ‘I hated my pregnancy, I felt no bond with my baby and I was terrified to say it out loud. I was unbelievably grateful to be pregnant, she was a baby we’d spent so long trying for, but the second she was placed on my chest my world completely changed, in that moment I have never loved anything/anyone anymore.

‘She’s recently turned one (21st December), she thinks I’m a climbing frame, has the attitude of a 14 year old, throws almighty tantrums and refuses to sleep BUT she will always be my greatest achievement.’

Someone else wrote: ‘I felt the same way in pregnancy, it’s only natural and did a shoot with my daughter too which hadn’t done in first pregnancy, it was a great way of as you put it teaming up so she felt the baby was hers as much as mine, siblings have each other forever the link is special.’

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Galaxy and Galaxy Caramel McFlurries are back on the McDonald’s menu

(Picture: McDonald’s)

Attention, chocolate lovers: McDonald’s has relaunched its Galaxy and Galaxy Caramel McFlurry.

The two ice creams were removed from the menu a while ago, and they’re making a comeback for January in replacement of the Maltesers reindeer version.

The Mcflurries are only going to be available from 30 January, and they’ll cost £1.29 for a regular version or 89p for a mini one.

McDonald's just brought back the popular Galaxy McFlurry
(Picture: McDonald’s)

Twitter users have been expressing their delight over the return of the menu items, saying that McDonald’s has now ‘saved’ January.

Another said: ‘Galaxy caramel McFlurry is a shout.’

The McFlurries follow on from McDonald’s release of vegetarian Happy Meals, which were announced this month.

So it’s looking like McDonald’s definitely has some fans right now.

As of last week, McDonald’s is selling a vegetarian Happy Meal in all its restaurants across the UK.

The veggie Happy Meal is made up of a veggie wrap, made up of a red pesto goujon, tomato ketchup, and shredded lettuce, wrapped in a soft toasted tortilla.

McDonald’s worked with the Britmums network and Vegetarian society to come up with the recipe, inviting parents and children in to select the final flavour. The end result was the red pesto goujon wrap, which is vegetarian and dairy free.

new mcdonald's veggie happy meal
Here’s the new veggie Happy Meal in all its glory (Picture: McDonald’s)

The wrap is also vegan, technically, but isn’t being advertised as such because the tortillas pass through the same toaster as McDonald’s buns, which contain milk.

In exciting news for grown-up veggies, McDonald’s also launched a new standalone vegetarian wrap.

The new spicy veggie wrap is made with two red pesto goujons, spicy relish, tomato, and red onion in a soft tortilla. This replaces the spicy vegetable deluxe, but the normal Vegetable Deluxe remains on the menu so you can take your pick.

And the new Spicy Veggie Wrap (Picture: McDonald’s)

Lynne Elliot, chief executive of the Vegetarian Society, said: ‘We’re really proud to have worked closely with McDonald’s for over 10 years and it’s great to see their veggie menu developing, especially as McDonalds tell us a third of their customers think it’s important to eat more veggie meals.

‘There’s a growing demand for veggie food everywhere and it’s fantastic to see McDonald’s meeting the needs of their customers.

‘It is especially important for young veggies to be able to choose something to eat when they are out with their friends. With the new Spicy Veggie Wrap and Veggie Happy Meal carrying our trademark diners can trust their meal is one hundred percent vegetarian.’

Now all we need is for McDonald’s to bring over their McVegan.

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Mum creates miniature pocket parents for children with separation anxiety

(Picture: Caters News)

A mum is making miniature parents and family members to help children to overcome anxiety.

Debbie Lynn Rutkowski, 39, from Buffalo, New York, first painted her face on a bead to help her son Nathan, aged five, who was nervous about starting kindergarten.

By sending him to school with a mini-replica of herself, clipped onto his belt hole and tucked into his pocket, he felt more at ease knowing she was there with him.

Within a year she had started Pocket People and now three years on has made more than 500 miniature parents for children dealing with separation anxiety or losing a loved one.

Pocket People
(Picture: Caters News)

She believes the tiny tokens can help to reassure and comfort people of all ages, noting that her son, now nine, used it up until the first grade and then sporadically during periods of stress.

The miniature parents take Debbie an hour to complete. She customises them to look like the family member – down to their skin tone, hair colour and even accessories such as glasses or facial hair.

The single mum-of-two sells the creations for $8 (£6.30) online.

Debbie said: ‘Nathan was extremely anxious about going to kindergarten I made it so he could take me with him.

Pocket People
(Picture: Caters News)

‘He and I were quite connected, he is just a very sweet loving kid, so was very unsure of himself when going to school as he was a very young five-year-old.

‘I wondered if I could make a tiny version of me, something discreet that he could hide if he was not comfortable showing it.

‘I wanted to do something for him and I did see a big difference in him, he would ask for it every day and it gave him comfort.

‘When friends got wind of it, they were supportive and then I had strangers asking for friends of friends.

‘I got a lot of feedback saying how much children loved it and that they didn’t cry when being sent to school.

Pocket People
(Picture: Caters News)

‘One lady bought one for my daughter who went to college, as she felt uncomfortable taking her favourite blanket.

‘They are not just for little kids but for adults, autistic children and others.

‘They have been used in every way to help with divorce, anxiety, separation anxiety, separation from military parents and more.’

Debbie recalls the difficulty knowing that despite the distress of her son, she would have to send him to school.

After developing the first Pocket Person for her son, she noticed how relieved he became.

Pocket People
(Picture: Caters News)

Debbie said: ‘I wanted to tell him that he didn’t have to go to school because he was so nervous and scared but you can’t do that, you have to send them.

‘You end up feeling like the worst mom ever, but I knew I was there with him through the creation.’

Since launching Pocket People, Debbie has noticed that the little creations can be used to help a wide range of issues.

These include: divorce and separation, travelling parents, extended hospital stays, lost loved ones, school anxiety, night terrors, best friend bonds, sibling bonds, and more.

Pocket People
(Picture: Caters News)

She hopes one day to introduce them into hospitals and schools.

She said: ‘Anyone can use it anyway they want, besides from eating it or feeding it to an animal.

‘One grandma told me that her grandchildren would lose their minds when they left for vacation, so she bought a set of herself and her husband for all of them and it helped a lot.

‘It’s been great connecting with parents and knowing that something so small is making such a difference.’

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Noodle lovers – You need to feast on these 12ft noodles at Murger HanHan

The hand-pulled wide noodles at Murger Han
The hand-pulled wide noodles at Murger HanHan

If you’re big into noodles and Chinese street food or have spent time in NYC, you might have heard of Xi’an Famous Foods.

The popular Chinese restaurant, now with a ton of outlets, serves up the most incredible fat, hand-ripped noodles in steaming bowls of broth.

It’s become a bit of a cult (take a look at their Instagram to see why, those noodles…).

We are big into both noodles and Xi’an Famous Foods, but until now, we had not been able to get anything even approaching a fix in London.

Let us tell you, things have changed.

London now has its own authentic Xi’an restaurant – and that means it also has the famously wide, famously 12ft Xi’an hand-ripped noodles.

Murger HanHan, claiming to serve London’s most authentic Chinese street food, is in the centre of Mayfair – and it is sensational.

Murger Han Han
Murger HanHan clay pots

Mayfair may not be where you expect to find London’s best Xi’an City street food. And it’s certainly not the sort of place you’d expect to find London’s best Xi’an street food at an affordable price.

But, here we are, telling you that this is exactly what you can find at Murger HanHan.

The must-try dish is the pork Biang Biang noodles: Fresh, succulent 12ft noodles, hand-stretched every day in the kitchen, plunged into boiling water, sauce or stock and and served steaming hot with slow-cooked pork, egg and chilli.

It is fair to say they are sensational. We ordered one between three and realised we should have had one each.

The noodles, which are made with wheat, as is traditional in the Shaanxi province (where Xi’an City is, and where they do not grow rice) are also made into an extra-wide noodle dish with dipping sauce – hand-pulled, but not split before cooking, so they are twice the width.

Instagram Photo

If you’re unfamiliar with Xi’an street food (like most of us) you might find the authentic menu a bit baffling.

Do not let that hold you back – the dishes sound unfamiliar but are all extremely easy-eating. Ask for recommendations or look at Murger HanHan instagram before you go, to choose dishes you like the look of.

Alongside the Biang Biang noodles (ask for braised pork, spring onion, chilli oil and tomato and egg sauce, £10.80, to get the noodles pictured above; ask for mild or chilli on the side if you prefer less spice), standout dishes were the rice noodles in a clay pot (£9.80) and the seafood gyoza (£6.50), which were among the best we have ever had. The filling was fresh-tasting (so often they have that frozen-food taste), the dough light and crisped to perfection.

Try also the murgers, which give the place its name. A mix between a burger and a Chinese bun that MurgerHanHan tells us is the world’s oldest hamburger/sandwich, dating back to the Qin Dynasty in 221 – 206 BC, they come filled with meat – we had the fatty pork (£5) – and come with a chilli dipping sauce.

We drank a low-alcohol Xi’an rice wine – floral, cloudy, light – only 0.5% alcohol, so works for a dryish Jan, too.

It’s the ultimate comfort food, the best hangover cure and just so restorative for winter. If Deliveroo or Uber Eats delivered Murger HanHan, we’d never leave the house. Sadly they don’t… for now.

If Mayfair in’t usually on your radar, don’t be put off. We would go as far as to say the noodles are the best in London (that we have tried – fight us) and you really SHOULD go out of your way to try them.

A very un-Mayfair spot in the heart of town, very convenient for shoppers or pre-theatre and truly incredible value.

A real must visit – and guaranteed for us at least, it will not be a one-off.

Murger Han Han, 8a Sackville Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 3DF, murgerhan.com



Have you tried noodles you think are better than the hand-ripped noodles at Murger Han? Let us know where at hello@barfox.co.uk.

Or just get in touch with your own favourite places to eat, drink. Send us a mini review and we’ll publish it next week.


Girl brags about hunting in Bumble conversation, gets turned in by game warden and has to pay £1,000 in fines

(Picture: Oklahoma Game Wardens)

It’s probably not a great idea to brag about hunting deer on a dating app.

You never know who you’re speaking to, after all. You could end up getting berated by an animal activist, or, more unluckily, turned in because your match is a game warden.

The latter is what happened to one unlucky dater, who opened a Bumble conversation with ‘Just shot a bigo buck. Pretty happy about it.’

What that woman didn’t know was that her match was Cannon Harrison, 24, part of the Oklahoma Game Wardens team, who work to protect wildlife in the area.

The moment the woman mentioned shooting a buck, Cameron set himself to find out whether she’d used an illegal hunting method called spotlighting, in which hunters shine a light into the eyes of a deer to make it freeze in terror, then shoot them from their car.

Bumble convo ends with girl being turned in for hunting picture: Oklahoma Game Wardens METROGRAB https://www.facebook.com/OKLAHOMAGAMEWARDENS/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
(Picture: Oklahoma Game Wardens)

She confirmed that ‘yeahhhh’, she had used spotlighting, and went on to share exactly where she’d shot the deer.

Cameron found the woman’s home address then he and his team showed up at her door.

She was given two citations and fined $1,400 (£1,095). Her rifle was also confiscated.

Cannon and his team shared the interaction on Facebook, writing: ‘As Game Wardens our personal lives are often blurred into our professional lives. This is often the case when it comes to social media, personal cell phones, and now dating apps….

Bumble convo ends with girl being turned in for hunting picture: Oklahoma Game Wardens METROGRAB https://www.facebook.com/OKLAHOMAGAMEWARDENS/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
(Picture: Oklahoma Game Wardens)

‘The woman he was conversing with on a dating app revealed she had just killed a “Bigo” buck. Obviously not knowing Cannon is a game warden her date night took a turn for the worst!

‘Oklahoma Game wardens arrived at the property she killed the deer and made the illegal deer case. She has already pled guilty and paid multiple fines.’

The post has been flooded with comments praising Cameron for calling the woman out, and joking that he’d done well to get a date in handcuffs after just one conversation.

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My Label and Me: Being middle class makes me feel stuck in between


‘God, you’re so middle class,’ my friend laughs when I refuse to go into Primark.

They employed kids,’ I reply. ‘Plus there’s so much synthetic fabric it’s a wonder the shops don’t regularly combust just from people running their hands through the rails.

‘Don’t get me started on the lighting or the layout either.’

For better or worse I’ve been branded middle class most of my life and it’s true.

Both my parents come from working class backgrounds but were united in their ambition to advance socially and materially.

Dad left the rough part of London he grew up in at an early age to join the RAF and eventually fly planes for British Airways, at one point at the helm of Concorde.

Yvette Caster - Being middle class
‘My parents have made themselves middle class but I was born into it.’ (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

Mum left her family’s council house in a quiet rural village to study at Oxford and become an accomplished musician and French teacher.

My parents have made themselves middle class but I was born into it – the expectations, the angst, the ambition and the occasional snobbery.

My sister and I were sent to an all-girls private school to get on in life as much as we could, even though I could tell, from an early age, I didn’t fit in with the upper class kids I was surrounded by.

Girls with ponies (which I was scared of despite the riding lessons my parents sent me to), trust funds and titles (neither of which I had).

I wasn’t bullied but we all knew I wasn’t one of them. I remember one school assignment that still makes me cringe – we had to talk about our family trees.

Almost everyone in my class was related to aristocrats, politicians, or someone famous or important.

Yvette Caster - Being middle class
‘That’s the thing about being middle class – you’re stuck in between.’ (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

Meanwhile my great grandmother, who I adored, had worked in the kitchens of the same stately homes my classmates’ relatives had lived in.

I’m not sure when I was first labelled middle class but I knew I belonged to a certain social group from around the age of eight, I think.

Secondary school was odd too. I asked to be sent to a state school for a change but everyone there thought I was posh. Boys mistook my shyness and confusion about them for snobbery. Girls wanted to be my friend, but many because they assumed I was rich.

That’s the thing about being middle class – you’re stuck in between.

You can’t relax in the pub because you’re waiting for someone to make fun of your accent or your drink, but you also can’t relax at Henley because you might not know the right people.

Everyone thinks being middle class is about shopping at Waitrose, buying vintage clothes and decking your home out in Farrow & Ball, William Morris and unique objects d’art from your travels.

Yvette Caster - Being middle class
‘When you’ve been raised to improve your lot – and your family’s status – there’s a lot of pressure.’ (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

And, although those things ring true for many of my middle class friends, and I’d never say no to taramasalata on sourdough at the John Lewis cafe, I think it’s more about other stuff.

To me it’s about a persistent, low-level fear of never being good enough, never being enough of a success, always wanting more.

When you’ve been raised to improve your lot – and your family’s status – there’s a lot of pressure.

You can’t just get Bs, you need As. You can’t just have fun in PE, you need to be captain of the netball team.

You can’t pick just any career – it needs to be something that will impress all the distant relatives in the annual newsletter and the friends at the Christmas drinks parties.

When it comes to boyfriends, in the past I think my family slightly disapproved of those they saw as too working class or from the wrong part of town but now I’m 36 I’m pretty sure they’d be happy for me to marry any man at all (despite the fact I have no interest in marriage and never have).

Yvette Caster - Being middle class
‘I suspect my class is a strong part of my identity, probably more than I’d like to admit or am conscious of day to day.’ (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

As I’ve grown older I’ve found I care less about being labelled middle class although, having said that, I still have the ingrained anxieties about social standing synonymous with the label.

There’s little I can do about it – because of my background, education and accent I’ll never be working class and, as I have no interest in marrying a Lord or going into politics, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be upper class either.

I wish there was no class system in Britain – I believe there should be equal educational and employment opportunities for all – but I think only an idiot would deny its existence.

How many working class MPs are there, or upper class kids doing shifts at McDonald’s?

I suspect my class is a strong part of my identity, probably more than I’d like to admit or am conscious of day to day.

It not only affects where I shop, what I eat and watch but also who I socialise with, where I travel and where I work.

When someone’s called middle class there’s often a sneer about it – the term implies there’s a touch of the Hyacinth Bucket about them.

I feel a bit embarrassed when I’m called it – I assume people mean I’m being stuck up, stuffy or prudish. Plus there’s also the implication I’m trying, but failing, to be upper class.

Despite this, I don’t feel bad for being middle class.

If anything, as the years go on, I appreciate my parents’ efforts more, and I take pride in trying to emulate their work ethic and ambitions.

That’s not to say people of other classes aren’t hard-working or don’t want to reach the top, just that I’m not ashamed to keep striving, like the true grasping, self-improvement-obsessed middle class social climber I suppose I am.


Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

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Lean On Me: Should I tell my friends I want our holiday to be boyfriend-free?

‘If you’re going to keep them a lifetime, though, some girls-only time is compulsory.’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.

Dear Kate,

I’m part of a very close-knit group of girls from my hometown. We went to the same secondary school, went through all the euphoric and awkward stages of adolescence together and are now bonded for life, even though our lives are now completely different.

Out of the six of us, I’m currently the only single one. For the most part it’s fine; their boyfriends are all super nice and all, but I do sometimes miss girly time.

One of the girls has recently floated the idea of a group holiday for her birthday in the summer. With boyfriends.

I personally don’t feel like using up precious holiday time with a group of couples, even if they are good friends of mine, especially as I have things planned with other friends.

Do I come clean about my reluctance to holiday with them? Is it worth the awkwardness?

Or should I just make other (valid) excuses and avoid the massive elephant in the room?

Helena, 23

‘It’s not juvenile to have girls-only time, it’s necessary.’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Dear Helena,

It’s completely lovely that you’re still so close to your school friends. Our old mate Aristotle said that true friendship requires us to go through something traumatic together – I suspect he meant war, but I think we can count secondary school.

I hope you’ll have those friendships your whole life.

If you’re going to keep them a lifetime, though, some girls-only time is compulsory. I hope your girlfriends have chosen to date kind, gallant men who treat them – and you – with immense respect.

They could be the most wonderful men on the planet, every one of them, but I’d still say they shouldn’t be invited to every social event. It changes the dynamic completely, having partners around.

We tend to reserve a special, private version of ourselves just for our closest girlfriends and we can’t always be that person in front of other people’s love-friends.

There’s a different vibe when men are around, too. You need to banish them sometimes for proper, restorative girl time.

So, for a start, I’d encourage a brunch; a Sunday roast; a brisk walk in the park; a book club.

Croquet on the roof of a converted car park in Shoreditch.

I love my boyfriend, Helena, but I would be on a plane in a moment’s notice, big floppy hat on head, if my friends suggested a trip for just us.

Whatever it is you like to do together, do it, and exclude the boys as regularly as you can get away with. It’s not juvenile to have girls-only time; it’s necessary, I think, for your continued candour, love and tenderness with one another.

Are you going to share every detail of the worst-ever date you went on last week with your friends, if a bunch of dudes you’re not that close with are there?

Will your mates be utterly honest about the state of their relationship, if their boyfriend is in earshot?

Can you really hope to be filthily, awkwardly, wonderfully honest with one another when five men you don’t know that well are present?

Probably not. So, ditch them.

As for the holiday, I think you have to suggest it’s a no-boyfriend zone. Are you all on a WhatsApp thread? If not, start one with a title like ‘Summer 2019’ and a dreamy little photo of a beach sunset.

Launch a conversation about logistics and suggest that partners are not invited. Maybe next time they can come, you can say, but this time, let’s make it just the girls.

They might even be relieved or delighted that you suggested it.

I love my boyfriend, Helena, but I would be on a plane in a moment’s notice, big floppy hat on head, if my friends suggested a trip for just us. We actually went to Milos in 2017, deliberately without boyfriends and husbands, and it was so important for us to get back to the original dynamic of our group.

If someone questions you about it or complains that they need their ‘Kevin’ with them at all times, just explain as you have done to me that being the only single one will make you feel uncomfortable.

Remind them how gorgeous girls-only time can be and say you feel really strongly that this should be a boy-free holiday.

Hopefully, they’ll listen and respect what you’ve said.

Hopefully you get your heavenly girls-only getaway.

If not, I’m afraid the question then becomes: are you willing to opt out of the trip and stay home, while your friends Instagram group shots from some tropical location?

That one’s over to you, my friend. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

About Lean On Me

Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.

If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.

Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.

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Woman asks men what nipple covers are, men have brilliant responses

(Picture: Twitter)

A tweet featuring a photo of nipple covers has gone viral after one woman asked men what they were.

She tweeted: ‘Since men know everything. What are these?’.

The tweet has had nearly 600 retweets and over 1,700 likes – and has confused plenty of men who have absolutely no idea what they are.

Here are some of our favourite answers so far:

Though, surprisingly, there were a few men who knew the answer – though we can’t be totally sure they didn’t use Google to help them:

Not everyone knows that nipple covers are handy when you’re wearing something a little see-through or on the tighter side.

And apparently, some men love to throw them at ceilings.

To be honest, that sounds way more fun than the reality: Having to constantly re-stick them to your boobs after your sweat moves them out of place.

The things we do for fashion.

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What is the milk diet and is it dangerous?

(Picture: Getty)

The most extreme form of the milk diet involves consuming nothing but milk for an entire month.

No food, just four pints of milk every day, for four weeks.

We have to be honest – this sounds completely ludicrous.

Any diet that advises cutting out all food in this way sounds like bad news. And a diet this restrictive will surely leave you lacking in a whole range of vital nutrients.

But it’s January, and that means people are going really extra on the weight-loss front – so the milk diet is being searched for a lot online.

So, before you chuck everything out of your fridge and tie up a cow in your back garden, let’s have a look at the facts.

(Picture: Getty)

The diet plan – which has actually been around for decades – involves drinking four pints of semi skimmed milk for a month. That’s it.

The science behind it is scant, but there appears to be an argument that consuming high levels of calcium leads to weight loss as it helps the body rid itself of fat, particularly abdominal fat.

Yeah, that and not eating any solid food should do the trick.

But if you’re still at all tempted by the milk diet, this damning indictment by registered associate nutritionist, Sophie Bertrand, should put you off.

‘The milk diet requires you to cut out pretty much everything – expect milk. Cutting out food groups and relying on certain foods to help you lose weight is never going to lead to long term happiness,’ Sophie tells Metro.co.uk

‘In fact, it will most likely lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and may be quite dangerous. By going on such extreme diets, you are also at risk of deficiency of certain nutrients including fibre.

‘Of course if you cut out food and just drink milk, you’re going to lose weight – but you will also probably be extremely unhappy and likely to put the weight back on when you can’t stand only drinking milk everyday.

‘Fad diets like this are completely unsustainable. This diet is one of the most ridiculous I’ve seen as it is just so restrictive. I would not recommend it for weight loss.’

There are also less extreme versions of the diet that recommend drinking a glass of milk before each meal to help control portion size and therefore calorie intake – essentially it means you won’t be as hungry, so you won’t need to eat as much at meal times.

This seems like a less dangerous option, and gives you the benefit of consuming regular calcium and vitamin D from the milk – but it could still lead to a dubious relationship with food, calories and portions.

Ultimately, there’s no quick fix when it comes to weight-loss.

If you want to lose weight and maintain it, then you have to develop healthy, sustainable habits that work for you in the long term.

Anything that makes you miserable or pushes you to the brink of starvation won’t give you the results you really want.

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What it’s like to live with chronic fatigue and depression


Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME (myalgic encephalopathy) is estimated to effect 250,000 people in the UK.

It is a serious and debilitating illness that at times can render its sufferers unable to function effectively due to the level of fatigue. ME is more than just exhaustion.

According to Dr Charles Shepherd, medical advisor to charity ME Association, the condition ‘can cause greater functional impairment and poorer quality of life than many other serious medical conditions’.

‘ME has a unique and defining clinical feature known as postexertional malaise – a delayed exacerbation of symptoms that can follow even minor physical or mental exertion (such as movement or exercise),’ he says.

‘Research has discovered significant abnormalities in the central nervous system, immune system, endocrine (hormone producing) system, and in muscle, causing energy metabolism impairment.’

Chronic fatigue is described by the World Health Organisation as a neurological disease. There is still so much that doctors do not fully know about the condition but medical research continues to discover more about it and best courses of treatment.

As well as physical side effects, having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) also affects mental health. Those with the condition often develop depression and anxiety due to its impact on their lives.

Sonya Chowdhury, chief executive of charity Action for ME, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘We know that ME scores lower on health-related quality of life tests than some cancers, depression, schizophrenia, chronic renal failure – in fact, most other chronic conditions.

‘Its key symptom is post-exertional malaise, the body and brain’s inability to recover after using even small amounts of energy.

‘This leads to a flare-up in chronic fatigue and pain, cognitive difficulties, inflammation and a range of other symptoms. The daily challenge of living with these symptoms can, unsurprisingly, lead to anxiety or depression for many of the 250,000 with ME in the UK.

Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome/ME:

  • Extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest or sleep
  • Sleep problems, such as insomnia
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headaches
  • A sore throat
  • Problems thinking and concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Feeling fizzy or sick
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Post-exertional malaise, where symptoms get worse after a physical or mental activity

Chronic fatigue is categorised as mild, moderate, or severe. There may be times when symptoms get better or worse.

  • Mild – you’re able to carry out everyday activities, such as work, studies or housework, but with difficulty; you may need to give up hobbies or social activities so you can rest in your spare time
  • Moderate – you may have difficulty moving around easily and problems carrying out daily activities; you may not be able to work or continue with your education and may need to rest often; and you may also have problems sleeping at night
  • Severe – you may only be able to do very basic daily tasks, such as brushing your teeth; you may be housebound or even bedbound and may need a wheelchair to get around; and you may also have difficulty concentrating, be sensitive to noise and light, and take a long time to recover after activities involving extra effort, such as leaving the house or talking for long periods

‘When someone with ME experiences a mental health issue, it can be tough accessing treatment that does not exacerbate their illness. In some cases, exercise and some medication can be helpful in managing depression – but absolutely not if you are living with ME, an illness made worse by exercise, and one which can also cause increased sensitivity to medication.’

Action for ME continue to say that having a well informed GP to assist with both depression and ME is important. Having appropriate and different treatments are vital, so that the mental health treatments don’t make the neurological side of ME worse.

Dr Natasha Bijlani, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Roehampton agrees. She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) is a very debilitating, long term condition with a fluctuating course that results in extreme physical fatigue to the extent that sufferers struggle to even get out of bed, let alone cope with the most basic every day tasks.

‘Not surprisingly then, this can tremendously impact on mental health, with people becoming depressed and developing low self esteem and confidence.

‘The first step in coping with any condition like CFS (ME) that is unlikely to resolve quickly is to accept the diagnosis and then to try to manage fluctuating symptoms, following medical advice. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has a very good evidence base for managing the negative psychological aspects of any condition, and especially ME.’

We spoke to some people who are dealing with chronic fatigue and mental health issues.


I first developed symptoms 10 years ago and found it completely debilitating. We all get tired from time to time – especially with work and children thrown into the mix. But chronic fatigue is exactly that – chronic. It’s beyond tiredness.

The feeling of overwhelming weakness leaves you almost completely incapacitated and no amount of sleep refreshes you. Something as simple as making a cup of coffee or getting dressed is exhausting.

When I have flare-ups, it affects everyone around me, particularly my son, who gets annoyed when I can’t do things with him. Most recently, the pain of my arthritis coupled with the severe fatigue makes getting up for work a horrendous chore and I can’t wait to go back to bed again at the end of the day.

It’s not just feelings of emptiness or sadness, it’s an unbearable but unreachable pain

My depression started when I was in my teens and was not well managed until my mid-twenties. It took a long time to find medication that was effective, and even now I have episodes when I struggle to eat, leave the house, or take care of myself.

It’s not just feelings of emptiness or sadness, it’s an unbearable but unreachable pain.

I think, like any hidden illness, people don’t comprehend the life-inhibiting effects. Because you look absolutely fine on the outside, there really is no way of people knowing how you feel unless you speak up.

Even then, the unpredictable nature of both conditions means that one week you may be relatively ‘normal’ and then the next week feel as if your life is falling apart. While there are certainly things I can do to manage my conditions, I can’t cure or control them completely.


(Picture: Nicole)

I have experienced chronic fatigue syndrome twice in my life. Firstly, aged 10, shortly after a lot of family trauma, and secondly age 24, after work stress.  In between I fully recovered, both times.

My symptoms included feeling total exhaustion, unable to walk, heavy legs, memory fog, headaches and fear of getting worse, along with anxiety and low mood.

For a while, it felt like CFS really impacted my life. I lost my job, and it felt like the end of the world, but what I want to share with people now is how this can actually be the universe’s way of showing you where you are meant to be.

As I allowed my life to unravel, I actually retrained as a wellbeing mentor and I transformed my life by doing that. I awakened to a profound understanding about life, and how we are experiencing life via thought in the moment, that allowed me to see depression, CFS, and our wellbeing in general, quite differently.

I eventually set up a blog to help share this message, and I now help people tap back into their innate wellbeing

I want people to know that there is absolutely hope of recovery, as well as acceptance that you are perfectly whole even though you are ill. I am the embodiment of that; I know it is possible.

I used to hear some doctors say ‘it is all in your head’ and it would really upset me. It isn’t ‘all in your head’ at all; the symptoms are very real.


Daisy White

(Picture: Singularis Photography)

I was diagnosed with CFS/ME at 14. I always had a sore throat and cough, and was generally rundown and exhausted. The doctor did all the usual tests and said I had it.

I have always tried to hide it as much as possible. I try to fit in extra naps after lunch when I can.

However, I am lucky in that my illness is a mild form, and as I have got older, I have learnt to manage it, and rest before I reach that totally exhausted stage.

After my sons were born I suffered severe postnatal depression. I actually didn’t really recognise it at the time, but now I look back and think: why didn’t I ask for help?

CFS/ME for me, means I have to be a bit careful. For depression, running and yoga helped so much. You need to learn to be kind to yourself.

I try to eat well and generally appreciate I am not superwoman, but that’s okay.

It’s okay not to be perfect, to be tired, and to accept help every now and then. That’s a hard lesson to learn, and it’s taken me a long time to get there.



Sufferers of Body Integrity Identity Disorder Psychology therapy life body beauty mental health mind Ph?be Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk Phebe
(Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

The term chronic fatigue was first mentioned when I was in my late teens – I’d been suffering periods of debilitating tiredness for ages and having mentioned this to my GP they suggested that it could be CFS.

I started experiencing some more severe symptoms such as memory loss, clumsiness and severe joint and muscle pain. My new GP helped me investigate further.

Symptoms can be so vast and no two people are the same, but I constantly feel like I’ve not slept and run a marathon while carrying a bucket of water on my head.

I’ll have bad days when I just want to cry with the all over shooting pains and foggy head, and others where I feel pretty much normal.

I’ve found that lately it has been the frustration of not being able to get things done, not being as organised as I usually am, having to give up hobbies and not join in as many social events as I would like to. It’s been a really tough few terms for my being a teacher, and I think it has definitely been a lot harder to keep on top of the game

I have found that my mental health has started to deteriorate. This is to do with feeling so helpless and slightly lost – not knowing who to talk to and how to describe exactly how you are feeling.

I have also been one of the hundreds of unlucky people who is still waiting for referral appointments to specialists who will be able to help me better manage it and balance my life a bit more than I currently can.

I think people just need to be more aware of the condition in general – if someone is telling you they feel tired or ill frequently don’t just roll your eyes and say ‘you’re always tired’. Ask them if there’s anything you can do to help.

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Girl warns of the importance of patch tests after dyeing kit left her with burned eyebrows

MERCURY PRESS. 10/01/19. Pictured: Montanna Eastwoods eyebrows after she used the eyebrow tint that burnt her skin. A student has issued a warning after an at-home tint kit left her HOSPITALISED when it burned her eyebrows. Montanna Eastwood, 19, used an at-home eyebrow tinting kit in the hope that it would make her brows darker. After leaving the dye on for just five minutes, Montanna removed it to see that her brows were slightly darker and was initially happy with the result. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

A reminder to all: Do a patch test for every at-home dye kit, whether it’s for the hair on your head or your eyebrows.

Learn from Montanna Eastwood, 19, who used an at-home tint that left her in hospital after it burned her brows.

Montanna used the kit to make her brows a touch darker. After leaving the dye on for five minutes, her brows were slightly darker and she was happy with the result.

Then, two hours later, a rash appeared. Montanna’s brows began to burn and weep.

After hours of agony overnight, the next morning Montanna went to hospital, where she was given steroid tablets and antihistamine.

Thankfully that brought down the burning, but Montanna wants to share her story to encourage everyone to do a patch test before trying at-home beauty products.

‘I decided to dye my eyebrows at home because I just wanted them a little darker so I didn’t have to wear as much make-up to fill them in,’ she said.

MERCURY PRESS. 10/01/19. Pictured: Montanna Eastwoods eyebrows after she used the eyebrow tint that burnt her skin. A student has issued a warning after an at-home tint kit left her HOSPITALISED when it burned her eyebrows. Montanna Eastwood, 19, used an at-home eyebrow tinting kit in the hope that it would make her brows darker. After leaving the dye on for just five minutes, Montanna removed it to see that her brows were slightly darker and was initially happy with the result. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

‘It was a kit that I hadn’t used before, but as I only left it on for five minutes I was mortified that it had done so much damage.

‘A few hours after I removed the dye, I noticed that there was a rash and it was itchy.

‘But then as the evening went on it started getting sore and started weeping with liquid.

‘It was getting unbearable by Monday so I went to doctors where they gave me some cream.

‘But by the next day I was in agony and could barely open my eyes so had to go to the hospital.

‘They gave me steroid tablets and antihistamine – the professionals have been very helpful at getting me on the road to recovery.’

MERCURY PRESS. 10/01/19. Pictured: Montanna Eastwoods eyebrows after she used the eyebrow tint that burnt her skin. A student has issued a warning after an at-home tint kit left her HOSPITALISED when it burned her eyebrows. Montanna Eastwood, 19, used an at-home eyebrow tinting kit in the hope that it would make her brows darker. After leaving the dye on for just five minutes, Montanna removed it to see that her brows were slightly darker and was initially happy with the result. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press & Media)

Montanna had never used the tiny before, but says she stuck to the instructions precisely.

‘I only left it on for five minutes, and took it off in the way I was instructed to,’ she explained.

‘I didn’t do a patch test as I always dye my hair, so assumed this would be fine too.

‘I was very lucky that I didn’t lose any hair as a result of the dye – but the skin underneath and surrounding my brow is completely burned.

‘I want people to learn from what has happened to me as I wouldn’t want anyone to go through something this painful.

‘I would warn everyone to do a patch test of the dye even when you’re doing it yourself.

‘I have dyed my hair so many times and my body has never had this sort of a reaction – but it just shows that your body is constantly changing.

‘A patch test doesn’t take long at all and can save you from a lot of pain and aggravation!’

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People are sharing pictures of their pets that they’ve named after Harry Potter characters

(Picture: Twitter/@BrizzyVoices)

You might remember Remus – the adorable mini dachshund who responds to Harry Potter spells.

What a clever pup.

His owner, actress and YouTuber Anna Brisbane, taught Remus to sit, stay and roll over when she waves her magic wand and says certain incantations – it made for a great video.

But Anna isn’t the only Harry Potter obsessed pet owner out there.

Her latest Tweet has got people sharing pictures of their pets – all of whom have been named after iconic characters from the wizarding series.

And we want to cuddle all of them. Well, maybe not Aragog…

The thread has inspired more than 230 responses from pet owners around the world.

It’s mostly dogs and cats, but there are a few surprising critters thrown in for good measure.

Popular names include Dobby, Ginny and Luna, but Minerva is a popular choice for cats – for obvious reasons.

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