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Women share their stories of getting the morning after pill in an effort to remove the stigma

(Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Getting the morning after pill still carries an enormous stigma.

In big 2019, women are still made to feel ashamed, embarrassed and judged for using emergency contraception – rather than being celebrated for the responsible act of dealing with a problem head-on.

This lingering taboo leads to women feeling isolated, alone or like they have nowhere to turn.

People don’t talk about their experiences with emergency contraception and as a result there is a sense of fear and uncertainty that surrounds the morning after pill.

A recent survey conducted by morning after pill company EllaOne, found that 46% of those surveyed had had unprotected sex in the past year, but only 27% took emergency hormonal contraception.

Normalising the conversation about the morning after pill will help women feel emboldened to ask for emergency contraception without the fear of shame, and will reduce the number of unnecessary risks.

The #MyMorningAfter campaign is working towards just that.

Not only will they be showing the first ever advert for emergency contraception in cinemas nationwide, but they have also reached out to women to ask them to share their morning after pill stories.

I felt too embarrassed to ask him to use a condom – Anonymous, 18

I took the morning after pill on two occasions. The first time was after a one night stand I wish hadn’t happened. However, it wasn’t until two days after I went to get the morning after pill.

I had taken a pregnancy test the morning after, not fully understanding how and when you should take a test. Luckily for me, my sister informed me that I could still take the morning after pill, so I went to my local pharmacy and avoided an unplanned pregnancy.

The second occasion, I had unprotected sex with a friend. I didn’t ask him to use a condom – I felt too embarrassed to ask, like it would make me seem square or something.

So I got the morning after pill by myself the next day. I was even too embarrassed to mention to the pharmacist that I was still in full time education, worrying that they would judge me.

It made me feel like he was judging me – Anonymous, 24

I was 22 and on the combined pill when I took the morning-after pill. I’d been sick one morning, the next day I slept with my boyfriend and realised immediately afterwards that the effectiveness of my pill was probably affected by the fact that I had thrown up.

Just to feel reassured, I went to the pharmacy and got the morning-after pill.

I didn’t really feel ashamed, if anything I felt good about myself for being responsible about my contraception.

That was until I was in the room being given it – I was trying to be friendly and make small talk with the man giving it to me, but he was pretty much silent other than giving me short instructions and barely looking me in the eye.

His total lack of bedside manner made me feel awkward.

It made me feel like he was judging me, and I had the urge to tell him all about my pill and the fact I was in a long-term, committed relationship, because I suddenly felt the need to make him think I wasn’t some irresponsible kid.

It took me a while afterwards to realise that it didn’t matter what he thought and I had no need to feel bad about it.

Contraception is a responsibility that women just deal with, often silently, and from various experiences I’ve heard from others and had myself, I’ve learned that it’s never simple and now I feel proud about the way I handle it.

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

I thought condoms breaking was an urban myth – Anonymous, 31

I was backpacking with my friend in Ireland one summer about 10 years ago and we befriended a guy who put us up for a night.

All of us went out and I ended up having a one-night stand with a friend of our host. I had  honestly always thought that condoms breaking was an urban myth and that it was an excuse for people who just didn’t use any contraception.

But there I was, just after having intercourse and the guy said “Oh sh*t, the condom broke”. I looked, and it was indeed ripped.

Great! I was in a foreign country in the middle of the night and nothing had really prepared me for this situation. I wasn’t on the pill so I started to panic slightly.

Next thing we are in a taxi and driving to a clinic where the same women I had chatted to on the phone hands me a prescription. I was emotionally pretty unsettled by that time. I mean, I didn’t know this guy and I had no idea where we were. I saw a lot of sympathy in the woman’s eyes but I felt really silly and foolish.

The next morning I picked up the morning after pill. Thank goodness I had my friend with me. I knew I could talk to her and she wouldn’t judge me one bit.

That was the only time in my life I took the morning after pill and it was such a good option to have. Along with an STI test I got a couple of weeks after, this was what made me feel like I took ownership and responsibility of my life.

My boyfriend agreed that he would split the cost with me – Georgina, 25

I have taken the morning after pill twice and I often find that people are surprised when I talk candidly about it. To some, it’s an admission of guilt, that you messed up, that you were ‘irresponsible’.

To me, this makes no sense. Irresponsibility is the lack of response, of assertive action. No one feels irresponsible asking for cough medicine or plasters.

The first time I took it, my biggest concern was catching a flight in three hours. I bounded into the chemist. My boyfriend agreed that he would split the cost with me, as it had been a joint endeavour.

The pharmacist took me into a room that was basically a cupboard, asked me some basic questions, and then suggested I take the morning after pill. I was given the pill and away I went.

The second time I had fallen asleep without taking my pill. I remember being slightly more apprehensive, as the chemist was smaller and even a discreet request was clearly going to be heard by all. I pepped myself up with my ‘you-are-a-responsible-woman’ chat and asked anyway.

Both of my experiences have been that of relief, of a bullet dodged, of a reset button pressed.

Both incidents happened while in a long-term relationship which may have reduced judgement in those who I interacted with.

I have spoken candidly of my experience to others, not only to reduce stigma about this form of contraception, but also to reduce fear and myths around it, so that more women see it as an option they can take if their normal contraception has failed for whatever reason, and not as a personal failing.

The nurse made me feel really comfortable – Anonymous, 20

I took the morning after pill when I was 18 after a drunk experience on a night out and not being 100% sure whether protection was used or not.

I basically used it as a back up to make myself certain that I was protected. I used it two days after the actual night. I would still use it now if I needed to.

I went through my University Nursing Service, it was really easy, and after a few questions the nurse gave me the pill to take in front of her. I definitely felt a little nervous. It was my first time taking it but my friend reassured me it would be really easy.

The nurse made me feel really comfortable and I was able to open up about the incident. I was relieved, it made me feel much less embarrassed because these things happen.

I was a little scared of the side effects because a few of my friends had felt dizzy or nauseous, but I didn’t have much other choice. I knew a few people who’d taken it and I felt like it was the responsible choice for me.

Overall, it was quite easy to get and I was much more comfortable after. I wouldn’t be afraid to go back again but I would only use it in an emergency. I definitely wouldn’t use it as my primary source of protection.

It’s great for young women, especially at university where not everything always happens as you expect it. It allows you to take control of the situation and I would recommend it to everyone who doesn’t feel 100% sure.

I think there’s so much stigma behind it and it seems really scary at first. You feel a bit stupid because you have had to take it as a result of an accident or because other protection hasn’t worked.

But I think people should be much more open to it because accidents happen and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You can share your morning after pill story on the campaign website.

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Valentine’s Day 2019: Best places to stay in London for couples

Valentine’s Day 2019: best places to stay in London for couples
(Picture: Getty Images)

Planning a romantic getaway in London?

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there’s no better time to treat yourself and a loved one with a romantic getaway in a beautiful hotel in London.

Whether it’s somewhere stylish in the city with skyline views, or somewhere less central, we’ve handpicked our favourite romantic hotels from luxury, boutique to budget, with and without luxury touches like champagne room service and in-room free-standing bath tubs.

So whatever your needs you’re sure to find your perfect pitstop.

Park Plaza Victoria London

Park Plaza Victoria London
(Picture: Park Plaza Victoria London)

Park Plaza Victoria London is in a great spot if you want to be slap bang in the West End and a stone’s throw away from Victoria Station.

Ideal for those who are booking tickets to see London theatre shows such as Wicked and Hamilton, Park Plaza Victoria has a newly renovated bar, complimentary steam room and sauna. And 299 rooms with simple yet stylish decor and more importantly comfortable beds.

If you fancy splashing a little extra cash we recommend booking the studio apartments, as the spacious apartments have a kitchenette, a tiled bathroom brimming with Elemis products and not forgetting an Instagramable city view.

Park Plaza Victoria London
(Picture: TOZI Restaurant)

The hotel’s restaurant TOZI is also well worth a visit, whether you’re a guest of Park Plaza Hotel or not. The charming Italian restaurant specialises in Venetian cicchetti (small plates to share) including pappardelle ragout (£8.75) that deserves to be devoured.

In fact, everything from the bruschetta (£5.75) to the Chef’s pistachio tiramisù (£6.95) is delicious. Candlelit dining that won’t disappoint your taste buds, or your budget.

Park Plaza Victoria London, prices from £167*  per night, parkplaza.co.uk and booking.com


Kettner’s Townhouse

Kettner’s Townhouse
(Picture: Kettner’s Townhouse)

For a touch of 1920’s glamour, Kettner’s Townhouse (now part of the Soho House group) has recently undergone a revamp and opened 33 vintage inspired bedrooms above its restaurant.

It’s close to Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and the theatres of Shaftesbury Avenue and each room is beautifully decorated and feature original Georgian fireplaces, floorboards and apt mahogany furniture.

And it would be rude not to enjoy a tipple or two in the mosaic floored champagne bar – well, after you’ve sipped on the ready-made cocktails found in the mini fridge (included in price).

Kettner’s Townhouse, prices from £225* per night, kettnerstownhouse.comtripadvisor.co.uk


The Pilgrm

The Pilgrm
(Picture: The Pilgrm)

Firstly, we must address that no, we have not misspelled Pilgrm. In fact, it’s one of many things not included at this laid back hotel located in London’s historic Paddington.

The hotel doesn’t have your traditional check-in desk, rather a ground floor coffee shop with a tablet or two to help you check-in – that’s if you’ve not already done so online.

And despite many of the rooms being no wider than a double bed, they’re bright, clean and nicely styled.

The Pilgrm is a great option if you’re after a centrally located, quirky and to the point hotel. Plus check out time is 12pm, which is a bonus for late risers.

The Pilgrm, prices from £99* per night, thepilgrm.com, booking.com


Courthouse Hotel

(Picture: Courthouse Hotel)

Right in the middle of Shoreditch is the Courthouse Hotel, in an old Grade II Listed Magistrates Court (make sure you go to the bar, which has a prison theme)

For Valentine’s Day the hotel is offering an Afternoon Tea-Light package, which gives you an afternoon tea of sandwiches, cakes, scones, and champagne, served to you bedside.

Head along for the afternoon and make sure to treat yourself to a massage in the spa before retiring to your bedroom.

The hotel’s restaurant, Judge & Jury, will also be offering a three-course Valentine’s menu including cod cheek and broccoli velouté, pressed beef brisket with horseradish mash, and a passion fruit creme brulee – with more champagne, of course.

The Afternoon Tea-light package includes afternoon tea, a night’s stay, and breakfast the next morning. Rates begin at £250* per couple. courthouse-hotel.com.


The East London Hotel

The East London Hotel
(Picture: The East London Hotel)

For the millennial travelers seeking value for money, The East London Hotel in Bethnal Green is our top pick.

Shoreditch is just down the road and if you’re wanting to head into the city, it’s only 13 minutes away by Tube.

Expect no bells and whistles here, just a compact room with fab facilities such as; speedy wi-fi, monsoon showers and 24-hour check-in.

If all you’re after is a decent room, a decent bar and a tasty breakfast bagel, you can’t go wrong with this newly opened budget hotel.

The East London Hotel, prices from £85* per night, theeastlondonhotel.com, booking.com


Kimpton Fitzroy London

Kimpton Fitzroy London
(Picture: Kimpton Fitzroy London)

If you’re looking for bougie hotel stay, Kimpton Fitzroy is expensive, but a nice treat or a place to stay as a one-off.

Seconds away from Russell Square tube station the landmark hotel built in the 1980’s with over 300 rooms, was designed by Charles Fitzroy Doll, who designed the Titanic’s dining room.

It’s elegant, elaborate and luxurious with marble features, dark wood and stunning chandeliers that even Sia would be tempted to swing from.

Kimpton Fitzroy London, prices from £299* per night, kimptonfitzroylondon.co.ukbooking.com


The Ned

The Ned Hotel London
(Picture: The Ned)

Situated just a short distance from Bank tube station, The Ned has 250 rooms, a spa, and gym and boasts 10 restaurants for those who love their food.

We recommend their cosy room to help keep costs down. Sure, it’s snug, but it has all the essentials you need along with a few charming details.

The spa offers several treatments from facials and massages, to IV vitamin drips.

Oh, and if you fancy a shopping spree from your bed, the hotel room phones have Net-a-Porter on speed dial. Yes, really.

The Ned, rooms from £213* per night, thened.combooking.com

*Price correct at time of issue and is subject to change. 


Bride-to-be who launched a wedding fundraiser hits back at social media shamers

(Picture: Natalie Borg / SWNS)

Planning a wedding can be difficult, but Natalie Borg, 36, and Richard McMurray, 37, never expected to be publicly shamed for it.

The pair, who are both from Edinburgh and have been together for two years, received major backlash after launching a fundraiser on GoFundMe, pleading with people to donate money to their cause.

They were hoping to raise a total of £4,500 to pay for their big day on 27 April this year, but aren’t relying solely on donations. They’ve also personally sacrificed their time by taking on extra shifts at their respective jobs, as well as sold some of their belongings.

Unfortunately, people were less than impressed with the plea and took to social media to voice their views.

Several said that if the pair can’t afford their wedding, they shouldn’t get married or should simply ‘try a registry office’.

One Twitter user even said the couple were ‘missing the point of marriage’, while one woman, Caroline Orr, said it was ‘pretty cheeky to set up a fundraising page for that’.

Bride-to-be Natalie has responded to the barrage of comments and said she’s not a ‘money-grabber’.

‘I think if people had done a media campaign to pay for their wedding I would think that’s pretty cheeky, but if it’s to pay for the day instead of presents, it’s fine,’ said Natalie.

‘We don’t have a honeymoon booked, we’ve just booked two weeks off and will chill out and go out for walks to the beach. We’re not money-grabbing people, we’re people that have worked really hard for our big day.

‘I shouldn’t need to hide anything, I’m just a normal person and not a money-grabber.’

The couple's GoFundMe statement

‘We’ve done the math and are still short of (and running out of time) to cover our outgoings for our planned wedding on Saturday 27th April 2019,’ said the statement on the couple’s GoFundMe page.

‘Despite throwing all our wages at the wedding costs, selling our belongings and taking as many extra shifts at work as are available we are still falling short of our final bills.

‘As we can’t put off the wedding for another few months – (everything is booked) we are asking in lieu of any wedding gifts if you are able to please contribute anything to our costs for the day that would be amazing.

‘Final payments we are are still trying to cover are mainly for the venue, photographer, cake and dress alterations. We have no honeymoon budget and not worrying about this just want to be able to cover our bills for the day so it can go ahead.

‘Thank you you in advance to anyone able to help.’

Natalie Borg, 36, and Richard McMurray, 37, who are getting married on April 27. See SWNS story SWSCwedding; A wife-to-be has hit out at criticism of her and her fiance's fundraiser for their wedding - claiming they're not "money grabbing people". Natalie Borg and fiance Richard McMurray set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for their big day on April 27. The couple, from Edinburgh, are needing ?4,500 for the costs of their wedding and have been taking extra shifts at work and selling their belongings to fill the gap in their funds. Despite their appeals for help, the couple's fund attracted stern criticism on social media.
(Picture: Natalie Borg / SWNS)
Natalie Borg, 36, and Richard McMurray, 37, who are getting married on April 27. See SWNS story SWSCwedding; A wife-to-be has hit out at criticism of her and her fiance's fundraiser for their wedding - claiming they're not "money grabbing people". Natalie Borg and fiance Richard McMurray set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for their big day on April 27. The couple, from Edinburgh, are needing ?4,500 for the costs of their wedding and have been taking extra shifts at work and selling their belongings to fill the gap in their funds. Despite their appeals for help, the couple's fund attracted stern criticism on social media.
(Picture: Natalie Borg / SWNS)

Natalie also mentioned that she was aware of a different couple who had used a crowdfunding site to raise funds for their wedding, and who also received criticism for it, but that GoFundMe has a special section for wedding requests.

She said: ‘We’ve paid for the majority of our wedding but we just need a bit extra to help us get there.’

Natalie also said the couple’s target of £4,500 was overambitious and that they are ‘not forcing people to contribute’.

Natalie Borg, 36, and Richard McMurray, 37, who are getting married on April 27. See SWNS story SWSCwedding; A wife-to-be has hit out at criticism of her and her fiance's fundraiser for their wedding - claiming they're not "money grabbing people". Natalie Borg and fiance Richard McMurray set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for their big day on April 27. The couple, from Edinburgh, are needing ?4,500 for the costs of their wedding and have been taking extra shifts at work and selling their belongings to fill the gap in their funds. Despite their appeals for help, the couple's fund attracted stern criticism on social media.
(Picture: Natalie Borg / SWNS)

‘I put £4,500 on the page, that’s how much extra we needed at the time, but I never expected to raise that amount. We just wanted a few extra hundred pounds from our close friends and family.

‘I’ve got friends coming up from London and they’ve asked what we want and I said “nothing”, we just need a bit of help with the costs. We’re not forcing people to contribute to our wedding, it’s just been a bit overwhelming.’

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pair have only raised £495 so far, but a minister has offered to marry them for free.

What do you think?

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What’s the right way to sign off an email?

Drawing of someone writing an email on their laptop
How exactly should you finish an email? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Email is hellish, but it’s a necessary evil.

If you work in an office, you’re destined to send a bunch of emails, whether they’re carefully constructed questions to a company or a quick message to someone a few desks away.

The ins and outs of writing those emails can be tricky.

Do you start with a ‘hi’ or a ‘dear’? How many exclamation points are safe to use?

And – the biggest stumbling block – how the hell are you supposed to sign off?

There are some obvious no-gos when it comes to professional emails. A ‘love,’ feels deeply inappropriate, as well as a simple ‘[name] xxx’ (although I still come across people who send kisses on their emails, so perhaps this isn’t a universally acknowledged rule).

‘Smell you later’, ‘stay fresh, cheese bags’, and ‘byeeeeee’ are fun, but someone senior might not be a fan.

Should we be going full-on formal?

How about ‘yours sincerely’, ‘faithfully’, or the highly controversial ‘regards’?

If you don’t know about the debate around ‘regards’, let us inform you: it’s intense.

When I posed the question of email sign-offs on Twitter, I received multiple negative responses about variants of ‘regards’.

‘Can’t stand Regards, it’s just ew,’ said Katherine. ‘I think it sounds very unfriendly/abrupt.’

@MisterRatt added: ‘Hate “regards”, it’s too personal for a work email. Might as well say “you’ll be in my thoughts” or “kisses!” No no no.

‘I think it’s because of “kind regards”, like, why are you regarding me? Stop it. Ew. I like thanking people for reading my email, not telling them I’m thinking about them.’

‘Regards is very annoying,’ says Alex. ‘I find it very detached an impersonal. They’re not even kind. They are just regards. It’s just like saying “considerations”.’

Very true – a plain ‘regards’ without ‘kind’ or ‘warm’ feels very detached, as though you’re deliberately omitting that your regards are kind or warm and that you simply acknowledge someone’s existence.

But adding ‘kind’ or ‘warm’ can tip into the overly personal category. Why are your ‘regards’ so warm and cosy? Get them away.

More preferable (among my immediate internet circle, at least) seems to be ending an email with ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you’ – exclamation point optional for further enthusiasm.

I’m a ‘thanks’-er, ending every email with a ‘thank you!’, ‘thanks so much!’ or a ‘thanks,’ if I’m not feeling as cheery.

Victoria agrees: ‘Thanks. Every time. Even if I’m thanking them for precisely nothing. It’s bizarre.’

As does Jasmine: ‘I use Thanks, or if they’re pretty special, Thanks so much.’

And regards-hater Alex: ‘I just use Thank you and my name’.

Drawing of a man and a woman holding hands and sitting at their computers
‘Warm regards’ feels like a clammy hand hold (Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

Cheers works in a similar fashion, but denotes a more casual relationship. Nicola notes that the first time she’s emailing someone she’ll use ‘best wishes’, then will move on to ‘cheers’.

Some people will shorten thanks to a ‘Tx’, which we reckon is best saved for recipients you know well, lest they are so puzzled by what Tx means that they call up someone you know to get some clues.

Another option that seems to divide the general email-sending public is ‘best’, which can be short for ‘best wishes’, ‘best regards’, or is used as simply as a mysterious ‘best’ all on its own.

Jasmine adds: ‘Hate ‘Best’… BEST WHAT?’

Suzy notes that those who watched Sex and the City may hate ‘best’ thanks to Samantha’s ex, Richard, who signed his cards and gifts with ‘best’ to avoid any declaration of love.

The message we’re getting here: email sign-offs can be contentious.

We asked some experts if there’s an official rule we’re missing, or one agreed-upon sign-off that we should all stick to.

Peninsula Group Operations Director and HR expert Alan Price says that sadly, there’s no one correct sign-off. Damn it.

But he does have some rules to stick by. Alan tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Jokey sign offs, risqué banter and kisses should be avoided in case they are not received well by the reader.

Which sign-off gets the most replies?

Boomerang did some research on which sign-offs make emails get the most replies. They looked at 350,000 email threads and found a difference in the response rate depending on how people ended their emails.

Here’s the list of sign-offs ranked in order of reply rate (shown in a percentage).

  1. Thanks in advance – 65.7%
  2. Thanks – 63%
  3. Thank you – 57.9%
  4. Cheers – 54.4%
  5. Kind regards – 53.9%
  6. Regards – 53.5%
  7. Best regards – 52.9%
  8. Best – 51.2%

It’s worth noting, however, that the average response rate across all sign-offs was 47.5%, so you’re not seeing a huge increase based squarely on your sign-off.

The reply rate could also be influenced by the tone of the rest of the email, or the content of the email – if a message has a ‘thanks in advance’ that’s likely because it actually requires a response of some sort.

So take these results with a pinch of salt, but ‘thanks’ people, feel vindicated.

‘All it takes is for one employee to consider the email to be offensive and if the content is connected to the reader’s gender, for example, you’ve got the makings of a harassment claim where employers would have to defend themselves, and the actions of its employee, at employment tribunal.’

Yep, it can be that serious.

‘The level of formality of the sign off is also likely to be defined by whether the recipient is internal or external,’ Alan continues. ‘Cheers may be acceptable when thanking a team member for sending a document over but not when replying to a client or customer, when something more business-like is likely to be expected.

‘In addition, as a manager, do you want to be accused of favouritism if you use a smiley face emoji to one team member on the end of the email but not another?’

Alan recommends that employers should establish a proper email policy to get rid of any confusion, stating that it’s ‘up to employers to set out their expectations on maintaining professionalism on email etiquette’. That policy might include a compulsory email signature, or one sign-off that everyone uses.

Drawing of a woman sitting at her office desk with her laptop
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If your workplace isn’t the type to issue an official decree, you can take lessons from Alan’s wisdom. Avoid anything over familiar (confirmed: kisses are not a good idea) or that depends on someone getting your sense of humour, and tailor your sign-off to who you’re addressing. If it’s a coworker you’re safe with a ‘cheers!’, but for someone external or senior, a ‘best wishes’ is a safer option.

The obvious issue here, though, is the fear that by going formal you’ll come off as cold or unfriendly.

Mark Pearcy, head of Marketing for office telecoms provider, 4Com, tells us it’s best not to try to balance out the formality by getting super friendly.

Mark says: ‘As a means of contact, email lacks the nuance of face-to-face, or even telephone communication. With the shared connection of eye-contact, facial expressions and tone of voice missing, your words lack the usual warmth of human conversation.

‘As a result, very short sign-offs, such as a simple ‘regards’ can sometimes feel quite cold, clipped and even passive aggressive, whether or not that was the intention.

‘That said, it is unhelpful to try and counter this with overfamiliarity in emails, as this comes across as unprofessional, or even insincere. If you don’t know the person particularly well, or only have a working relationship, it’s odd to sign off as if they were an old friend.

‘Examples like ‘best wishes’ or ‘kind regards’ walk this line well – they aren’t too informal, but they maintain an element of pleasantness that lets the reader know that you mean well.’

Okay, so the experts don’t have one correct sign-off, but they do bring up some fair rules to stick by.

Err on the side of formality, just to be safe. It’s far better to seem a bit uptight than cross a line.

Judge who you’re talking to and how friendly you are. If you’ve never spoken to them, ‘best wishes’ is a good shout, but once you’re more familiar a ‘thanks!’ will do.

It might be time to quit kind regards, judging how much people hate it, but save a simple ‘regards’ in your toolbox for times when you want your message to drip passive aggression.

We could, of course, just ditch the sign-offs entirely and treat email more like a personal messaging service, free of intros and outros. That’s an option if you’re entirely fed up of all the debate.

Just be careful of making sudden changes to the style of your email. Going from a ‘thanks!’ to nothing can feel like a deep snub.

But the best bit of advice we can give is this: you’re not alone in debating your email sign-off. Everyone finds it puzzling. Choose a sign-off you’re comfortable with which doesn’t offend anyone, and stick to it.

I’ll keep going with ‘thanks’, even if the email requires no gratitude at all. I see it as thanks for actually reading this email – because you were probably tempted to just delete it.

Which sign-offs should I go for?

Good sign-offs:

  • Thank you, thanks, thanks so much! 
  • Best wishes
  • Cheers – but only if you know the recipient well
  • Talk soon – only if you actually are going to talk soon
  • Just your name – fine, but make sure the rest of your email doesn’t read too cold
  • Nothing at all – entirely acceptable if it’s a thread of email responses

Sign-offs to avoid:

  • Kind regards – experts like it, but everyone else seems to hate it. Sorry.
  • Regards – avoid it, it’s the bare minimum
  • Warm regards, warmly – stop with the temperature references, it feels weird
  • xxx, xoxo – no, no, no
  • Kisses – even worse
  • Love – way too intimate
  • Tx – some people find it confusing. Just write out thanks
  • Laters – too casual and reminiscent of 50 Shades of Grey
  • Yours faithfully – sounds like an old time-y love letter
  • Respectfully – tends to sound sarcastic, in our experience

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These are the best stretches to help deal with back pain

Drawing of a woman experiencing back pain
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Sitting at a desk all day can really take its toll on your back.

Slumping over your computer, laptop or phone for hours at a time compresses your spine and puts undue pressure on your muscles – leading to stiffness, aches and pains.

The lower back is often the worst-affected area. Pain can come and go, hit you just at the end of the day, or it can persist for weeks at a time and have a really debilitating effect on your life.

There are lots of conditions and circumstances that can cause back pain, and often people are forced to resort to long-term medications or invasive surgery.

But before you try either of these options, there are certain stretches that can make a huge difference to chronic or sporadic back pain.

Nikki Robinson has been a physiotherapist for 25 years. She swears by a stretching technique called myofascial release, which aims to work with your body to find and treat the cause of symptoms such as pain, tension and inflammation.

‘Back pain is often linked to tight psoas muscles,’ Nikki tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The psoas is one of your body’s core muscles. It attaches at the front of your spine, and passes through, and in front of your hip joint, ending at the top of your leg. It is one of the largest and thickest muscles.

Tension in these muscles can cause symptoms such as acute low back pain, difficulty straightening from bent over or sitting positions and spasms holding you in a flexed position.

What is vyofascial release?

Myofascial release is a medicine therapy that claims to treat skeletal muscle immobility and pain by relaxing contracted muscles, improving blood and lymphatic circulation, and stimulating the stretch reflex in muscles.

It is traditionally accepted that myofascia is the connective tissue in and around muscles, particularly those muscles that are important for posture.

So this technique aims to alleviate tension, restrictions and adhesions in the myofascia, in order to restore balance and function.

‘As the psoas muscles attach to the front of your spine, they cannot be reached by treating the back, even though they cause back pain.

‘Of course there are many reasons for back pain, but psoas usually joins in and makes things worse, even if it is not the primary cause.’

Nikki has a range of simple stretches that she swears by to help relieve back pain. She says it’s very important that you don’t push any of these moves to the point of pain.

A woman performing stretches on a yoga mat
(Picture: Getty)

Tennis ball stretch

Lie on your stomach on the floor with your ball – you can lie on a bed but put a book under the ball so it doesn’t disappear into the mattress.

On your loosest side, locate the bone at the front of your hip. Place the ball on the inside of the bone and towards your belly button. Lie face down on the ball for 10 minutes.

Repeat on the tighter side.

Pelvic tilt

Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet on the bed.

Slowly pull your belly button in towards your spine, tilting your pelvis towards the ceiling then release. Gently repeat this rocking motion until you feel your back loosen.

This is also a very good exercise to help support your back – do the same movement and then hold the tilt for five seconds. Do five sets of 20 repetitions.

Knee rocking

Lie on your back with both knees bent.

Keeping your feet on the bed, gently move your knees together from one side to the other. This is great for loosening your back before you get out of bed in the morning.

Repeat, gradually going further to each side until you feel your back has freed up.

Remember, it doesn’t matter how far you move, just that you are feeling into the movement and not forcing your body.

Knees to chest

Lie on your back with both knees bent.

Bring one of your knees up towards your chest and hold it with both hands, keeping your head and the rest of your back resting on the floor or bed.

Using your arms, slowly pull your knee further in to your chest until you feel a gentle pull. Hold there until you feel it release – do not move into pain.

You can increase the pull by straightening the other leg onto the bed. Repeat with the other leg.

Back pain advice

  • Stay as active as possible and try to continue your daily activities – this is one of the most important things you can do, as resting for long periods is likely to make the pain worse.
  • Try exercises and stretches for back pain; other activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates may also be helpful.
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen – remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take first and ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure.
  • Use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief.

Although it can be difficult, it helps if you stay optimistic and recognise that your pain should get better. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.


Of course, stretches can only do so much, and if you are experiencing chronic, debilitating pain then you should speak to your GP about your options.

But stretching, keeping active and limiting your sedentary time every day are all good ways to ward off the worst of the pain and counteract some of the damaging effects of having a desk job.

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Restaurant creates the ‘world’s most sustainable’ cocktail served in a glass made of pasta

A cocktail in a homemade pasta cup
(Picture: Thomas Alexander)

Pasta is a versatile ingredient, but this is a rather innovative use for it.

The delicious carb is no longer just a base component to tasty Italian dishes, but now serves a new, environmentally-inspired purpose.

As part of its new sustainability initative, bar manager at Quaglino’s, Marco Sangion, has created Blossom – which the restaurant claims is the ‘world’s most sustainable cocktail’.

The tipple, which contains organic vodka, infused with the peel of purple carrots and mixed with homemade jasmine milk and mandarin cordial, is served a glass-shaped cone made of crispy pasta.

And we thought drinking coffee from an avocado peel cup was strange.

To further showcase its sustainability appeal, Blossom is made entirely from ingredients already used within the restaurant.

Once you’ve finished your drink, go ahead and eat the ‘glass’, or take a few bites as you sip.

‘This cocktail came about as a natural extension of our dedication to sustainable bar work,’ said Marco.

‘We have created a menu around sustainability, but wanted to take it to the next level by making every aspect of the serve as sustainable and responsible as possible. With a strong Italian team behind the bar, we have a natural affinity towards pasta, so came up with the idea of using homemade pasta as the vessel.’

Quaglino’s originally launched the cocktail list A Science for Sustainability in September last year, but this new addition was created in time for a sustainability supper club taking place on 6 March.

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Woman’s rare condition makes her sweat to much her damp clothes freeze in winter

(Picture: PA Real Life)

A student who dubs herself the ‘sweat bender’ says she dreads cold winters due to a rare condition which causes her to sweat profusely – meaning her sweaty clothes freeze in the cold while she is wearing them.

Sophie Dwyer, 20, suffers from a severe form of hyperhidrosis, a disorder with no known cause affecting one in every 200 people, that makes her sweat roughly 10 times as much as the average person – drenching her skin and clothes in just a few hours.

Sophie, from Texas, says it has made nights out and dating a nightmare, as she’s always having to make frequent trips to the bathroom to dry her armpits using a hand-dryer.

She said: ‘I sweat so much that I’m pretty much always uncomfortable, but winter is by far the worst time. It’s really horrible at the moment, because I’m sweating just as much but the sweat runs cold.

‘I have to dress up warmly, but I know that the sweat will start to soak through the layers, which then starts to freeze making me even colder. There’s no way I can win and it can make me really depressed sometimes.’

Sophie, who has to drink an average of 5.7 litres of water each day to replace her moisture loss and stay hydrated – far more than the daily recommendation by the NHS of 1.2 litres – has even turned her sweating into a party trick, making her hands sweat on cue.

She said: ‘I call myself the ‘Sweat Bender’, after Uri Geller the ‘Spoon Bender’ because I have this ability to make my hands sweat really fast just by thinking about sweating.

Sophie will be covered in sweat within just a few hours of being dry (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘It’s like a kind of superpower, although possibly the worst superpower in the world. My friends enjoy watching it though.’

But Sophie has not always found it easy to make light of her condition, which mainly affects her hands, armpits and feet and causes her no end of problems when it comes to handling objects in her sweaty grasp.

‘I have broken my computer and my phone because of water damage, and I also really struggle to drive because the wheel slips around in my hands,’ said Sophie.

‘I had also considered a career in medicine, but I know that’s something that probably isn’t an option for me – because who wants to be examined by someone with clammy hands, let alone hands dripping with sweat?’

Diagnosed with hyperhidrosis aged eight, Sophie’s parents, William, 51, who works for the space agency NASA, and stay-at-home mum Heidi, 51, realised she was stickier than her friends as a two-year-old, when her cousin, Emily, then aged four, refused to hold her hand, saying it was ‘too gross’.

But, as William was also prone to sweating, they were not overly concerned, assuming she was like her dad until she reached school age, when they realised her problem was causing her embarrassment and discomfort.

‘I was constantly having to dry my hands on my clothes at school, to the extent where they’d always be wet,’ she recalled.

‘I’d leave puddles on my work and kids wouldn’t want to get anywhere near me.’

Things came to a head when Sophie was humiliated in front of her classmates by a teacher who asked if she had had ‘an accident,’ on her hands as she was so wet.

Sophie's condition means she sweats ten times more than most people (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘Obviously, at that age, all the kids laughed and it was very upsetting for me, as an eight-year-old, to be made fun of in front of so many people,’ she said.

As a result, her parents took her to see a doctor and she was diagnosed with primary hyperhidrosis, an inherited disorder that begins in childhood and normally affects only certain areas – in Sophie’s case, her hands, feet and armpits.

Various treatments were prescribed, including iontophoresis where the hands are placed in water that is connected to an electrical current, but sadly none were effective.

Unable to find a cure for her condition, Sophie – who cannot afford Botox treatment, which can be very effective, but costs $1,500 (£1,150) for each six-monthly session – found ways of adapting.

‘I began carrying sweat rags around with me all the time and would only wear very particular kind of clothes,’ she said.

‘You’ll never see me wearing a grey t-shirt and I only ever really wear white and black, which make sweat marks less obvious.

‘I’m careful to feel all of my clothes before I buy them, too. I need something that I can dry my hands on throughout the day that won’t show up the moisture marks.’

As a child, Sophie felt isolated by her peers until she joined secondary school and met a group or friends who were more understanding.

She said: ‘When you have a disorder like mine that you can’t control or stop, you can either let it make you miserable or start to own it,” said Sophie, who has other medical problems because of it, including eczema on her feet.

Sophie's foot eczema (PA Real Life/Collect)
(Picture: PA Real Life)

‘So I started to own it, openly telling people about hyperhidrosis and how it affects me. I think people respected that.’

Sometimes though, her openness about her hyperhidrosis has caused her problems.

She said: ‘I once told someone I was on a date with about it – as I always do whenever I meet someone – and he took it fine, but then kept on referencing it and making jokes about it throughout the date.

‘I was thinking: ‘Can we just move on?’

‘I don’t like the fact that people often define me by it.’

Nevertheless, her hyperhidrosis is not something Sophie wants to hide from and she has created an account on Instagram to discuss openly her condition.

‘I feel like I have to embrace this, not to shy away from it and pretend like everything is fine,’ she said.

‘I’m going to spend my life living with this – so I have to face up to it.’

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15 experiences you need to know about at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida



Where are you planning to go on holiday this year? Whether travelling with family or friends, travel time is always at a premium, so a holiday needs to tick all the boxes.

We want to make memories and have exciting experiences we’ll remember forever. We want escapism and magic, we want to be inspired – and most of all, we want to have fun.

Whether you went as a child and can’t wait to recapture the magic, or you’re a first-timer, Walt Disney World Resort can make all of that a reality – and more.

And because Walt Disney World Resort is ever-evolving – adding new attractions, new shops and themed restaurants and re-imagining the classics – you’ll want to revisit time and time again.

This magical world is over 40 square miles  – that’s as big as the city of San Francisco – and includes six Disney Parks, including two Water Parks, plus two exciting night-time entertainment districts, a state-of-the-art sports complex, over 25 themed Disney Resort Hotels and countless opportunities for dining, shopping and fun.

There are so many wonderful things to experience at Walt Disney World Resort – here are just 15 you must find time for.

1. Be among the first to enjoy a new ‘limited edition’ experiences

Even if you’ve been going to Disney every year since you were a wee dot, you won’t have seen these yet.

For 2019, there are brand new, limited edition experiences to choose from, including Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom, a Party with your Pixar Pals during the 30th Anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a celebration for the 25th Anniversary of The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – and more.

They all run until 30 September 2019, even more reason to visit now more than ever, so get booking if you don’t want to miss out.

2. Unforgettable nighttime spectaculars

Sensational, super-sensory pyrotechnics displays that will create enduring memories, the nighttime shows  are one of the highlights of a holiday to Walt Disney World Resort.

Happily Ever After is the new-ish addition to Magic Kingdom and it features more lights, lasers and projections in 18 minutes than any other fireworks show in the entire history of Magic Kingdom Park.

Happily Ever After celebrates the adventures Disney Characters have embarked upon – including Aladdin, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Moana, Frozen and Brave, with plenty of cameos from your favourite characters.

The epic display of fireworks and original animation has been created just for the show, along with a soundtrack featuring contemporary versions of classic Disney songs – music to the ears of Disney fans.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is an absolutely stunning firework, laser and projection show featuring Star Wars Characters and some awe-inspiring pyrotechnics

For a very special view of Happily Ever After in Magic Kingdom, book a table for dinner at Cinderella Castle that will take you to 9 or 10pm, depending on the time of year, when the lights in the castle will dim and music is piped in from the parade outside. Your view from the stained glass windows will be a truly magical experience – and you can always make sure to catch it from outside on another of your nights, too.

The perfect way to round off a day at Walt Disney World Resort. Find out more and check showtimes here.

Or why not take a seat at Mexican restaurant La Hacienda in Epcot which will give you a privileged view over the lagoon of IllumiNations: Reflections on Earth night-time show with a margarita in hand. Book a table, order your tacos and enjoy the show.

Elsewhere, you can find the sensational Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, complete with beautiful music and colourful lit-up animals gliding along the river, reflecting spectacularly on the water, and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – an absolutely stunning firework, laser and projection show featuring Star Wars Characters and some awe-inspiring pyrotechnics. This is a must-see, whether you are a Star Wars fan or not.


3. The rides!

Tune up for a maximum velocity ride on Rock 'n'Roller-Coaster starring Aerosmith
Tune up for a maximum velocity ride on Rock ‘n’Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith

At Walt Disney World what list would be complete without the rides? Some of the best rides and roller-coasters in the world can be found at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Recapture the thrills of your childhood with a ride on Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, classic rides that are just as exciting now as they were then – there’s a reason you haven’t forgotten their names!

For a tummy-turning experience, try The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, widely thought to be the best drop ride in the world, thanks to the 130ft plunge at almost 40mph. Or tune up for the brilliant Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, where you can ride a stretch limo that speeds from 0-57mph in 2.7 seconds, taking you on a fast-paced, maximum velocity ride over 3,400ft – while you sing along to the tunes of Aerosmith. Pure adrenaline.

For the fastest ride at Walt Disney World, seek out Test Track – it goes at a hair-raising 64.9mph.

4. Last chance to see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth will be ending in the second half of 2019

With a new nighttime spectacular arriving at Epcot later in 2019, this is your last chance to catch the stunning IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot. The spectacular show, full of fireworks, lasers, lighting, special effects and dancing fountains, all casting a spectacular light show over Epcot’s central lagoon.

The fabulous new nighttime spectacular, called Epcot Forever, an epic laser, light and pyrotechnic show set to classic Epcot tunes will arrive in the second half of the year – one for your bucket list.

5. Instagrammable EVERYTHING

It’s the colour du jour – and you’ll find it at every turn here. A towering new Nutella and vanilla Rose Gold Ears Cup Cake, topped with three layers of icing, rose gold baubles and finished with rose gold Minnie Mouse ears, at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot.

Sparkling sequinned rose gold Minnie Mouse ears at the Disney stores, and a rose gold wall at the entrance of Mission Space to photograph it all against. Your selfie game just got a lot stronger.

Once you have had your fill of rose gold, head on over to Tomorrowland and make Instagram magic at the Purple Wall.

Situated next to Tomorrowland Terrace is an eminently Instagrammable background – the now-famous Purple Wall – and next to that wall, what can you find? The Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant, selling the Purple Wall slushie, a purple-toned taro tea slushie with tapioca bubbles, whipped cream and purple sprinkles – which is not only delicious, but also happens to be the perfect accessory for your photo.

6. Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

One of the newest lands at Walt Disney World Resort, Toy Story Land will make you feel as though you’ve been shrunk down and dropped into Andy’s back yard. You’ll come face-to-face with all of your favourite characters and get your thrills on a host of rides like Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster – exhilarating turns, climbs and drops as you ride in Slinky Dog’s coils –  and Alien Swirling Saucers.

There’s also Toy Story Mania! a carnival-themed 4D arcade complete with retro games from the series – get ready to play your way through Andy’s collection of titles, including Viewmaster and Scrabble, or fire at targets with everything from baseballs to cream pies. You’d better be on your toes, because high-score bragging rights are on the line!

Get your thrills on a host of rides like Slinky Dog Dash rollercoaster – exhilarating turns, climbs and drops as you ride in Slinky Dog’s coils

After all that, you’ll probably be peckish – So why not head down to Planet Pepperonia for a slice, or to Woody’s Lunchbox, serving up grub you might recognise: S’mores French toast breakfast sandwich and a raspberry lunch box tart are both on the menu.

You can also watch a life-size Wheezy the penguin sing Randy Newman’s well-loved theme song ‘You’ve Got A Friend’.

To Toy Story Land, and beyond!

7. Enter Pandora – World of AVATAR

The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park by night

Visit Pandora—The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park where you can journey to a distant world where floating mountains defy gravity, nature comes alive in a brilliant bioluminescent glow and mystical rivers flow.

Your expedition begins in the Valley of Mo’ara where the land is an adventure unto itself. Hike under mountains that hover mysteriously above while you discover the totems, cuisine and artifacts of the Na’vi culture that surrounds you.

Ready for a rite of passage, until now exclusive to the Na’vi of Pandora? On AVATAR Flight of Passage you can climb aboard the back of a living, breathing banshee, and let anticipation build knowing you’ll experience flight like never before on one of Pandora’s largest predators.

Or why not board a reed boat on Na’vi River Journey and experience a mystical Pandoran river where every moment tells a story. With the rain forest canopy glowing with life around you, discover plants and exotic creatures as the Na’vi Shaman of songs calls.

8. Be immersed in a galaxy far, far away

Blast off on a thrilling tour of the Star Wars galaxy aboard a Starspeeder 1000 on Star Tours – The Adventures Continues.

Featuring state-of-the-art technology—including a flight simulator, digital 3D video, Audio-Animatronics characters and “in cockpit” special effects and music, it allows you to come face-to-face with Kylo Ren, Boba Fett or Darth Vader as you voyage to amazing alien worlds like Jakku, Coruscant, Naboo.

You can even MEET your favourite characters from the iconic films like Chewbacca, BB-8 Astromech or Kylo Ren in Animation Courtyard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

9. The world class water parks

Summit Plummet is the most extreme attraction at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

There are two major water parks at Disney that cannot be missed. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park gives you year-round thrills in a 66-acre park, built around the mythical tale of a ski resort in Florida that melted into warm water, creating the perfect aquatic playground.

From bunny slopes to black diamonds, it’s packed with downhill thrills and plenty of ways to chill.

Summit Plummet is the most extreme attraction at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park. Scale the heights of Mt Gushmore, then plunge at over 55mph straight down a sheer 120ft slope — there’s even a digital clock at the bottom to display your top speed!

Everyone can enjoy Typhoon Lagoon

Then there is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, a tropical paradise that, legend has it, was transformed by a storm into an oasis of excitement. Plunge down rushing rapids, sunbathe on a sandy beach, glide down a lazy river, and enjoy the thrills and spills of the whitewater journey Miss Adventure Falls where you can board a treasure raft and hit the high seas for the longest ride in the history of the Disney Water Parks.

10. The shops and dining at Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a place for fashion-forward finds at flagship stores, but it’s also a place for culinary adventures with world-famous chefs, and loads of exciting entertainment. Everyone will love the World of Disney at Disney Springs – it’s the world’s biggest Disney Character store, guys – where you can find everything from clothes, jewellery and toys to collectibles and home decor.

Brands like Kiehl’s, MAC, L’Occitane, Sephora are on offer, as well as Anthropologie, Kate Spade, Under Armour and Zara. And if all that shopping has left you in need of some sustenance, there are plenty of options around Disney Springs. Head to The BOATHOUSE® for fresh seafood, a raw bar and premium steaks—complete with retro dream boats, from vintage American Amphicars to Italian Water Taxis.

Linger into the evening to enjoy night-time entertainment and live music.

11. Dance the night away at Disney 

It’s not the first thing you associate with a week at Walt Disney World, but there really is plenty of fun for adults to have after dark. Head to the Atlantic Dance Hall on Disney’s Boardwalk to throw down your best moves til 2am or drink margaritas at any one of dozens of bars: try BoardWalk Joe’s Marvelous Margaritas where you can sip on the Captain’s Seaside Sensation—a pineapple smoothie with a shot of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.

… And to round off your holiday in style, don’t miss the views from the 15th floor of the California Grill Lounge, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Hotel – book at sunset for a truly special sundowner with views over the Magic Kingdom.

12. Meet the Characters

Meet your favourite Characters
Meet your favourite Characters

We all have a favourite character that we’d love to get a hug from. Mickey, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, or maybe a classic Disney Prince or princess. Whichever Disney Character has a special place in your heart, a hug and a photo with them will be priceless.

Or book one of the Character Dining experiences across the Parks to get a chance to meet anyone from Disney Princesses to Chip ‘n’ Dale and Donald Duck while you enjoy a tasty meal. Double win.

13. …and even DINE with them too

Meeting the Disney Characters is one of the most exciting parts of a holiday to Walt Disney World Resort, and those with the inside scoop book a spot at a Character Dining experience.

There are tonnes to choose from, but we love Tusker House Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, where you might meet Mickey, Goofy, Daisy and Donald in safari gear while tucking into a buffet featuring flavours of Africa along with homegrown US classics.

14. A Beauty & The Beast themed dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

The Grand Ballroom at Be Our Guest Restaurant with its high, domed ceiling, chandeliers and snow-laced Gothic arches. Disney’s Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the most sought-after dinner spots in the entire Magic Kingdom Park.

At the Beast’s enchanted castle in Fantasyland you can choose to dine in one of three rooms: In the chandelier-lit baroque Grand Ballroom where snow-laced Gothic arches add to magical scenes, in the Beast’s study in The West Wing for a dark, atmospheric room complete with his enchanted rose, or The Castle Gallery, aka Belle’s private library, where you’ll find larger-than-life figures of Belle and Beast dancing.

You may remember Lumière the candlestick urging Belle to ‘Try the Grey Stuff, it’s delicious!’ Here at Walt Disney World Resort you can find out once and for all just what ‘the grey stuff’ is.

Reservations are strongly recommended for all meals—especially dinner—and can be made up to 180 days in advance. So get the date in your calendar and click here to book. If there’s no table-service spots for dinner, it’s also open for quick service breakfast and lunch too.

15. Stay in a themed Disney Resort Hotel

The Polynesian Hotel is one of the amazing places to stay

At Disney, there’s no need to leave the fun behind when the parks close for the day. With themed Disney Resort Hotels, you can live, breathe, eat and sleep Disney round the clock. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, one of over 25 Disney Resort Hotels, is one of the most meticulously themed of all the resorts.

The blue-hued The Little Mermaid room has an under the sea vibe with shell lights, a coral mirror and imagery of Ariel on the shower curtain.

There are Cars and Finding Nemo family suites and a The Lion King suite with gorgeous decor where it’s practically law to wake the family up singing Hakuna Matata.

Elsewhere, if pirates are more your bag, the Pirate Rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort are themed to the nines, and even have pirate ship beds.

For more of a ‘spirit’ than a theme, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is the one: a slice of the South Pacific in Orlando, with tropical palms, lush vegetation and cute waterside huts positioned right over the lagoon.

Whether you go for a value spot or something more deluxe, when you stay at a Disney Resort Hotel, you’ll enjoy a range of benefits – including extra time in the Disney Parks and complimentary resort transportation.

Find out about the amazing offers here 


Morrisons is selling rainbow LGBTQ+ roses this Valentine’s Day

(Picture: Morrisons)

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, which means it’s time to start planning out what you’re going to buy your partner for the love-filled day.

Unless you’re single of course, in which case you should probably start deciding what you’re going to buy yourself. Because nobody should go without.

And if you’re wanting something a little out there while still sticking to a traditional vibe, Morrisons has launched rainbow roses, and they’re seriously pretty.

Launched as part of Morrisons’ The Best range, the Rainbow Rose will be released from 11 February.

It comes in partnership with LGBTQ+ youth homeless charity The Albert Kennedy Trust.

Each limited edition rose costs £4, with 50p from each sale being donated to the charity, which provides safe homes and support to young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi or trans.

Developed by Morrisons florists, the roses have been dyed so that each petal displays the colours of the rainbow.

To do this, florists cut the rose stems and dip each part into a different coloured water – which are absorbed by the flower to turn each petal into a different vibrant colour – including blue, yellow, green, violet and pink.

Drew Kirk, Produce Category Manager at Morrisons says: ‘We’re stocking rainbow roses this Valentine’s day for the first time. They’ve been designed to celebrate love.’

(Picture: Morrisons)

Carrie Reiners, Director of Fundraising from The Albert Kennedy charity added: ‘We’re delighted to partner with Morrisons on their Rainbow Rose campaign for Valentine’s Day.

‘As the national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity, we are always looking to raise awareness and raise vital funds to support the work we do to provide safe homes and support to young people who face homelessness – just for being brave enough to come out to their families and communities.’

If you’re looking for some red roses but are a little struck down by the prices – because unfortunately they can be expensive – Lidl has got your back, as the supermarket is selling 100 roses – yes, 100 – for just £25.


Or if you’re wanting to accompany your flowers with something – other than a box of chocolates or a card – you should check out Edinburgh Gin, as they’re selling gin bouquets – aka beautiful bouquets of flowers with an entire bottle of gin as the vase.

David Wilkinson, Head Distiller at Edinburgh Gin said: ‘There’s a definite synergy between floristry and distilling, with a love of botanicals at their core. Collaborating with MUD, we’ve been able to create a limited edition release Botanical Bouquets that offer a multi-sensory gift.’

Don’t leave your Valentine’s gifts to the last minute and end up buying a cheap, wilted bouquet of flowers from your local garage.

Just don’t do it.

MORE: Valentine’s Day 2019: Best places to stay in London for couples

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Girl’s HUDA makeup goes hilariously wrong in laser tag photos

(Picture: Amanda Whitrock)

A girl has gone viral on Facebook after she shared a photo of herself after using HUDA baking powder on her face.

In the initial look, Amanda Whitrock looked stunning – but then she went to play laser tag.

And, in the photos afterwards, Amanda noticed her face looked like an entirely different colour to the rest of her body.

She shared photos of herself during laser tag, in which she was in a dark room, and it looked a bit like she’d shoved a load of fake tan on and left it for days. Oh, and only on her face.

She captioned them: ‘Don’t use the HUDA baking powder if you plan on doing laser tag’.

Don’t use the HUDA baking powder if you plan on doing laser tag 😳🤦🏼‍♀️😂

Posted by Amanda Whitrock on Sunday, February 3, 2019

Amanda shared the photos to Facebook, and since, the post has received over 1,000 likes, 3,000 comments and 3,000 shares.

People have been saying she looks a bit like an Oompa Loompa.

Someone wrote: ‘I work where we have a blacklight booth, almost all makeup looks crazy in it.’

Another person said: ‘I’m sorry I just can’t not laugh at this’.

METRO GRAB - taken from the Facebook of Amanda Whitrock without permissionGirl's laser tag makeupCredit: Amanda Whitrock
(Picture: Amanda Whitrock)

Someone else said: ‘Omg it’s literally violet from Charlie and the chocolate factory.’

Another person thanked her for the heads up not to buy the makeup.

However – it wasn’t HUDA’s fault – it was simply the lighting.

METRO GRAB - taken from the Facebook of Amanda Whitrock without permissionGirl's laser tag makeupCredit: Amanda Whitrock
(Picture: Amanda Whitrock)

Some HD face powders can reflect light, causing it to show up during camera flashes – however in this picture, the makeup reflected the darkness.

So really, it was just bad timing.

But still, we don’t think those laser tag photos will end up being Amanda’s profile picture any time soon.

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Little girl dresses as 100-year-old woman to celebrate 100 days of nursery

(Picture: LeCrushinator)

A six-year-old girl wanted to celebrate her 100th day of kindergarten by dressing up as a 100-year-old woman.

And her parents were happy to help her.

Her dad, Reddit user LeCrushinator, recently shared a series of photos of his daughter dressed up as an old lady – and they’re brilliant.

She was given a little grey perm, some wrinkles on her face and some elderly-style makeup.

In one photo she was pictured sitting at the table eating, with some rather large earrings on, and in others she posed in a hilarious leopard print outfit and walking stick.

METRO GRAB - taken from Reddit LeCrushinator with permission - asked if was the parent Little girl dresses up as old lady https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/alumms/my_kid_wanted_to_be_100_years_old_for_her_100th/ Credit: LeCrushinator
(Picture: LeCrushinator)

She was meant to look like an old rich lady from New York – resembling Yetta Rosenberg from The Nanny.

The dad told Bored Panda that he allowed her to go into school in the old lady costume, and her friends and teachers loved it.

He said: ‘She got a lot of attention in class that day. The cafeteria ladies were obsessed with her, and her friends were all gathered around her first thing in the morning like she was a zoo exhibit.’

He added that his wife and mother-in-law should take the credit for the outfits though – as they did all the work.

Take a look below at the glorious photos.

Here she is eating at the table with those huge earrings

METRO GRAB - taken from Reddit LeCrushinator with permission - asked if was the parent Little girl dresses up as old lady https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/alumms/my_kid_wanted_to_be_100_years_old_for_her_100th/ Credit: LeCrushinator
(Picture: LeCrushinator)


Look at that pose!

METRO GRAB - taken from Reddit LeCrushinator with permission - asked if was the parent Little girl dresses up as old lady https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/alumms/my_kid_wanted_to_be_100_years_old_for_her_100th/ Credit: LeCrushinator
(Picture: LeCrushinator)


We’re loving the glasses…

METRO GRAB - taken from Reddit LeCrushinator with permission - asked if was the parent Little girl dresses up as old lady https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/alumms/my_kid_wanted_to_be_100_years_old_for_her_100th/ Credit: LeCrushinator
(Picture: LeCrushinator)

The dad later uploaded the photos to Reddit, where they have received a lot of attention, with people loving the get-up.

One person said: ‘Only a raspy voice and a cigarette away from Yetta Ronsenberg haha!

‘Well done!!’

Another said: ‘Oh my goodness! Are you a professional make up artist? That is amazing.’

Someone else commented: ‘Lmao this is very good work. Almost to the point where it’s kind of disturbing.

‘They killed it! Lol’.

And we’d have to agree – they definitely did kill it.

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Prada is bringing its iconic Marchesi 1824 bakery to London

Prada Is Bringing Its Iconic Marchesi 1824 Bakery To London
(Picture: Marchesi 1824

Prada is opening a branch of its legendary Marchesi 1824 bakery in London.

Which is great news if you like high fashion and you also like cake.

The stunning bakery looks like it has been plucked straight from an Instagram filter, with endless pastels, stunning antique glass displays and vintage cherry wood counters.

Visitors will be able to indulge their sweet tooth with delights including millefeuilles, pralines, and bignes – all in the most fashionable setting imaginable.

The original pasticceria is owned by the Prada Group and sits above the brand’s flagship Galleria store in Milan.

From April, you won’t have to travel as far as Italy to get your pastry fix – the new store will be opening on Mount Street.

Prada Is Bringing Its Iconic Marchesi 1824 Bakery To London
(Picture: Marchesi 1824)

As well as the delicate classics, the bakery will serve traditional panettone, sugared almonds, colourful dragées and special gianduja chocolates.

There will also be an espresso bar for a real taste of authentic Italy, which will even serve the thick, spoonable style of Italian hot chocolate.

If you like your bakeries to come steeped in history, then Marchesi certainly ticks that box. It has been around since 1824, almost 200 years – so they know a thing or two about making delicious cakes.

The timeless decor and enviable styling really will transport you to 19th century Italy, and we can’t wait to check it out.

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Four men tell us about pressures of performing sexually on Valentine’s Day

The pressure of having sex on Valentine's (when you've got erectile dysfunction)
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Tradition often dictates that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated with romance, love and steamy sex.

There’s the expectation that it should be ‘special’ – an opportunity for a f*** fest (or if you prefer, love fest) for hours on end, with perhaps new lingerie and toys purchased especially for the occasion.

Or maybe your partner has dug out the Kama Sutra and wants to give a new erotic position a try.

It’s a lot to ask of a relationship, new or old, casual or serious.

And for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction, this ‘sexpectation’ can act as an additional layer of pressure on an already delicate situation, not to mention how it can affect their mental health.

Erectile dysfunction (also known as ED) isn’t often spoken about, due to the stigma that’s attached to the topic.

To open up the conversation, we asked four men to tell us what it’s like to have problems getting hard, and how Valentine’s Day can make things much worse.

George*, 67, chairman

I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I was in my 50s, and the erectile dysfunction issues gradually started to appear over the years.

The first time it happened, I was in shock. I looked for other reasons, and wondered if I was drinking too much or was too tired to get it up.

Eventually, after my erections continued to decline, I spoke to my doctor. I didn’t want to talk to my partner about it, I was too embarrased.

I guess it’s a male thing.

It’s a real problem for my mental health, lowers my self-esteem and also put pressure on my relationship because I was avoiding sex.

I feel pressure around Valentine’s Day, but it’s not just this occasion – holidays (when I’m supposed to be relaxed), parties and birthdays are also tough.

Or when she feels like having sex and I try to make excuses for us not to.

Men’s sex issues, unlike women’s, are never openly discussed. A common misconception is that people think you’re ill, second-rate or not fully a man. You’re the butt of the jokes.

When actually it’s a physical problem with mental side effects, and there are solutions.

I tried the drugs like Viagra and Cialis but they had unpleasant side effects, and pumps are awful. They don’t really work and kill all spontaneity and desire.

Dennis, 67, works in sales

I had a prostatectomy when I was in my 50s. I’d had some erectile dysfunction issues beforehand but then completey lost the ability to get hard after the operation.

I felt as though I was letting my wife down. At first (before the surgery) I didn’t speak to anyone about my problems – I just asked for a prescription and took Viagra.

It also meant I avoided sex, which is an important part of a relationship and I felt guilty about this. I was able to get by with Viagra but the mental strain on when to take and when not to was ridiculous.

Valentine’s Day was particularly stressful, because you are expected to be romantic, but at least I had the pills and could plan ahead for the day.

After my operation, I wasn’t able to use Viagra because it gave me the worst side effects. Instead, I tried the Vigore shockwave treatment and it was like a switch had been turned on, I was able to have erections again.

There are so many people who suffer from it and it’s just part of growing old, but my operation really made it far worse.

Perhaps we need more role models for men to break the ice.

What really happens after you have a vasectomy
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Tim, 55, CEO

I am probably an unusual case because I didn’t notice at all; we still had sex, not so often, but it was OK.

Now I know it happened over a longer period of time, maybe 30 years.

Although it didn’t really register then, I now know that we weren’t enjoying our relationship as much as we could have, plus work and kids got between us having a better relationship.

I just lost the quality of my erection, and as a result, the desire a little.

Personally I haven’t really felt pressured on Valentine’s Day, but mainly because we never made a big fuss about it.

But there’s absolutely a stigma attached to erectile dysfunction. I wish people knew that it can creep up on you with age and that your sex life can be so much better if you do something about it.

Colin, Finance Industry manager, 50

I first started experiencing erection issues in my late 30s and early 40s.

Because I knew it was related to my Type 2 diabetes, I was pretty OK about it, but then I married a girl 15 years younger than me and it became a problem.

I travelled to the US frequently on business and saw two urology professors about it. After neither Viagra nor injections worked, both of them told me to get penile implants.

I was very reluctant to do it but felt resigned to; they are irreversible and about as romantic as a big beer belly.

My wife was very good about it, but it left a huge hole in our relationship.

It was constantly on my mind and I saw so many specialists about it, it began to become an obsession in a sort of way.

Valentine’s has always been difficult, especially at the beginning of newer relationships in the past. Many people think it’s about the female or the attractiveness of the relationship, and in most cases it isn’t.

It causes problems in a relationship that don’t exist because one or both jump to conclusions.

Advice from the expert

‘The overwhelming experience I have of men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) is that they feel embarrassed and weak for seeking help,’ said Dr Earim Chaudry, a licensed GP and medical director at Manual.

‘It’s not considered manly to not be able to get an erection, and it’s definitely not something they should tell anyone.

‘Many tell me their erections are not the same as before and worry that their partner will not enjoy having sex with them. So they deal with this fear by avoiding situations that could lead to sex, and so the problem spirals.

‘These issues are particularly made worse when they feel the expectation to have sex and perform such as on Valentine’s day. The pressure to perform “on the night” leads to increased anxiety, which can then result in ED.

‘I really can’t reassure them enough, that it’s very common and there is help available.’

If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction or know someone who is, you can find more information on the NHS website or on the Sexual Advice Association site.

It’s recommended that you speak to your GP or other medical professional before taking any impotence medication or trying any treatments.

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Pickle bouquets are apparently the new trend for Valentine’s Day

(Picture: Grillo’s Pickles)

Roses are red, pickles are green.

It’s an unusual twist on the traditional rhyme but pickles are apparently the next big thing in romantic bouquets.

The pickle bouquet was launched in the U.S by Grillo’s Pickles for Valentine’s Day.

So if roses aren’t really your other half’s thing, pickles might be the way to go.

The company claim the bouquet is the first of its kind.

Pickle bouquets Credit: Grillo's Pickles
(Picture: Grillo’s Pickles)

Pickles are combined with garlic, peppers and fresh dill.

They said: ‘We know there are a lot of pickle lovers out there that would love nothing more than to get a Valentine’s Day gift loaded with their favorite snack.

‘Not only is a pickle bouquet more beautiful than a dozen red roses, and healthier than a standard box of chocolate, it’s also far more creative.’

But if you can’t quite afford the delivery from the U.S, you can make your own.

Pick up some pickles and stick them to bamboo skewers, combined with your other ingredients.

You can add other things to the pickles with toothpicks.

Arrange your pickles in a bouquet and voila.

The perfect gift for the pickle lover in your life.

MORE: Prada is bringing its iconic Marchesi 1824 bakery to London

MORE: Four men tell us about pressures of performing sexually on Valentine’s Day

Boy, 8, writes heartbreaking letter to ask strangers to help save his dad

(Pictures: Peter McCleave)

An eight-year-old boy has written a heartbreaking letter to ask people to sign up to help save his dad’s lfie

Maxwell McCleave typed the letter out to tell people about his dad Pete and the campaign to find a stem cell donor to help him beat blood cancer.

Until two years ago, Pete, from Cheshire, was a fit and healthy 39-year-old.

He was an Ironman tri-athlete, a rugby coach and dad to two sons, Maxwell and Sebastian, with his wife Jenny.

Days after completing the Ironman challenge, in September 2016, Pete came down with a bout of pneumonia that ultimately saved his life.

Eight-year-old writes heartbreaking letter asking someone to help save his dad's life Credit: McCleave
Pete, Max and Seb (Picture: Peter McCleave)

It led to X-rays and CT scans that showed legions in his body, a marker of the disease.

Initially they thought the shadows on his chest were due to scarring from pneumonia but a follow-up scan led doctors to believe they could be something else.

In June 2017, after months of tests, he was officially diagnosed with myeloma – a rare type of blood cancer than develops from plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Pete was told that without a stem cell transplant, he would have around seven years to live.

Eight-year-old writes heartbreaking letter asking someone to help save his dad's life Credit: McCleave
Pete was an Ironman triathlete before his diagnosis (Picture: Peter McCleave)

Determined to keep living, Pete and his family launched the 10,000 donors appeal.

They are aiming to raise awareness of blood cancer and encourage at least 10,000 people to join the UK’s aligned stem cell registry through blood cancer charity DKMS

They hope that one of the donors will be a match for Pete.

So far, over 5,000 people have signed up and from those, four people have been confirmed as matches for people in need of a transplant.

Eight-year-old writes heartbreaking letter asking someone to help save his dad's life Credit: McCleave
The picture Max drew showing the process (Picture: Peter McCleave)

After years of seeing his dad in and out of hospital and through chemotherapy treatment, eight-year-old Max is aware that his dad is sick – and he wanted to do something to help.

He wrote the letter to encourage more people to sign up to become donors to give him more time with his dad.

The schoolboy even included a hand-drawn picture to show the process of donating your stem cells.

Eight-year-old writes heartbreaking letter asking someone to help save his dad's life Credit: McCleave
The letter Max wrote (Picture: Peter McCleave)


Maxwell's letter

My name is Maxwell McCleave and I’m in year 4 at primary school and I’m 8 years old. My little brother is Seb and he goes to the same school as me. He’s in year 1 and he is 5.

My Dad has myeloma, which is a blood cancer that I really don’t want him to have. I really want you to help Pete my dad beat his blood cancer by registering to be on DKMS’s stem cell donor list. If my daddy doesn’t find a stem cell match he will only have seven more years with me and I want lots more!

To find himself a donor my daddy has started a campaign I want to tell everyone about because it could save him. It is called 10000donors.com. He is trying to get as many donors on the list as he can which I hope one day will be a match for him, but also for many many others.

The picture that I have drawn, is about the stem cells. So the blue small things are the stem cells and the red is the blood. The stem cells are found in your blood if you didn’t know. The blood is put into a machine which is called a dialysis machine. The machine takes some of your stem cells out of your blood which they put into a pot to be cleaned and put into the person who has cancer. You don’t lose anything because your blood is then put back in to the other arm and your stem cells grow back in a few weeks.

To the left is me with my daddy when he was first poorly. I liked his bald head as me and my brother thought he looked like Jonjo Shelvey and Newcastle United is our favourite team! Please help my daddy and sign up to be a donor, I love him and don’t want him to leave.

Thank you for reading my letter I hope you will help me and my daddy’s campaign.

Love from Maxwell McCleave

Pete was choked up by the letter his son Max wrote.

He said: ‘It has been said in the past, probably justifiably so, that I can on occasion be a little un-emotive.

‘When I read this letter from my son my reaction was far removed from my default setting.

‘I could not be prouder of both my kids but today, Max in particular has knocked me for six. I hate the fact that he has had to be exposed to this.

‘Clearly his understanding of my situation is much greater than I appreciated and the letter is his way of approaching it.’

Sign up to save a life; register now to be a stem cell donor.

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Zuko the little lamb thinks he’s a puppy

(Picture: Caters News)

An adorable little lamb thinks he’s a dog, and it’s so cute.

A pet lamb has taken on the role of being a dog in his family home.

He enjoys cuddling with his owners and chasing the family cat, meaning teeny Zuko isn’t your average farm animal.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Zuko the lamblives on a farm in Pohangina, New Zealand, with his owner Quintin Swanepoel, 22,girlfriend Robyn, 22) - A pet lamb has taken on the role of top dog around his family home. From enjoying snuggles from his owners to chasing the family dog, lamb Zuko isnt your average farm animal. Owner Quintin Swanepoel, 22, has shared dozens of videos on his Instagram page which show Zuko socialising with sheep, goats, cats, cows and even their pet pooch.SEE CATERS COPY
(Picture: Caters News)

His 22-year-old owner, Quintin Swanepoel, has been sharing loads of videos to his Instagram page which show Zuko socialising with other sheep, goats, cats, cows and even the actual family dog (sorry Zuko).

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Zuko the lamblives on a farm in Pohangina, New Zealand, with his owner Quintin Swanepoel, 22,girlfriend Robyn, 22) - A pet lamb has taken on the role of top dog around his family home. From enjoying snuggles from his owners to chasing the family dog, lamb Zuko isnt your average farm animal. Owner Quintin Swanepoel, 22, has shared dozens of videos on his Instagram page which show Zuko socialising with sheep, goats, cats, cows and even their pet pooch.SEE CATERS COPY
(Picture: Caters News)

Quintin and girlfriend Robyn, 22, who live on a farm in Pohangina, New Zealand, adopted Zuko last September after his mother abandoned him.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Zuko the lambwith Quintins girlfriend Robyn) - A pet lamb has taken on the role of top dog around his family home. From enjoying snuggles from his owners to chasing the family dog, lamb Zuko isnt your average farm animal. Owner Quintin Swanepoel, 22, has shared dozens of videos on his Instagram page which show Zuko socialising with sheep, goats, cats, cows and even their pet pooch.SEE CATERS COPY
(Picture: Caters News)

The post-graduate researcher, who is studying food production now enjoys sharing Zuko’s antics online while Robyn ensures Zuko is a well-groomed house sheep.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Zuko the lambwith Quintins girlfriend Robyn) - A pet lamb has taken on the role of top dog around his family home. From enjoying snuggles from his owners to chasing the family dog, lamb Zuko isnt your average farm animal. Owner Quintin Swanepoel, 22, has shared dozens of videos on his Instagram page which show Zuko socialising with sheep, goats, cats, cows and even their pet pooch.SEE CATERS COPY
(Picture: Caters News)

Quintin added: ‘Zuko spends the days with the sheep but always stays close to the farm and sleeps outside the bedroom on his little bed on the deck.’

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Being kinder to yourself can boost your physical and mental wellbeing, study says

Cuffing season is dead, long live dating yourself Dave Anderson for Metro.co.uk love mirror relationships couple boyfriend girlfriend partner advice mental health rose beauty body confidence self
(Picture: Dave Anderson)

Being kind to yourself can boost both physical and mental wellbeing, according to a new study.

Taking time to think nice thoughts about yourself and loved ones can calm the heart rate and switch off the body’s ‘threat response’.

Previous studies have shown that the ‘threat response’ can damage the immune system.

So, taking part in self-compassion exercises is actually a healthy thing to do.

The research team, from Oxford University and Exeter University, believe the ability to switch off the response may lower the risk of disease.

In the study, published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, 135 healthy Exeter University students were divided into five groups, and members of each group heard a different set of audio instructions.

The team measured heart rate and sweat response, and asked the participants to report how they were feeling.

Questions included how safe they felt, how likely they were to be kind to themselves and how connected they felt to others.

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

The two groups whose instructions encouraged them to be kind to themselves not only reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others, but also showed a bodily response consistent with feelings of relaxation and safety.

Their heart rates dropped and the variation in length of time between heartbeats – a healthy sign of a heart that can respond flexibly to situations. They also showed lower sweat response.

Meanwhile, instructions that induced a critical inner voice led to an increased heart rate and a higher sweat response – consistent with feelings of threat and distress.

Study first author Dr Hans Kirschner, of Exeter University, said: ‘These findings suggest that being kind to oneself switches off the threat response and puts the body in a state of safety and relaxation that is important for regeneration and healing.’

Lead researcher Dr Anke Karl, also of Exeter University, added: ‘Previous research has found that self-compassion was related to higher levels of wellbeing and better mental health, but we didn’t know why.

‘Our study is helping us understand the mechanism of how being kind to yourself when things go wrong could be beneficial in psychological treatments.

‘By switching off our threat response, we boost our immune systems and give ourselves the best chance of healing.

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

‘We hope future research can use our method to investigate this in people with mental health problems such as recurrent depression.’

The recordings that encouraged self-compassion were a ‘compassionate body scan’ in which people were guided to attend to bodily sensations with an attitude of interest and calmness; and a ‘self-focused loving kindness exercise’ in which they directed kindness and soothing thoughts to a loved one and themselves.

The three other groups listened to recordings designed to induce a critical inner voice, put them into a ‘positive but competitive and self-enhancing mode’, or an emotionally neutral shopping scenario. All the recordings were 11 minutes long.

While people in both the self-compassion and positive but competitive groups reported greater self-compassion and decreased self-criticism, only the self-compassion groups showed the positive bodily response.

The signs were reduced sweat response and heart rate slowed by two to three beats per minute on average, compared to the groups listening to critical voice recordings.

Co-author Professor Willem Kuyken, of Oxford University, said: ‘These findings help us to further understand some of our clinical trials research findings, where we show that individuals with recurrent depression benefit particularly from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy when they learn to become more self-compassionate.’

He added: ‘My sense is that for people prone to depression, meeting their negative thoughts and feelings with compassion is a radically different way – that these thoughts are not facts.

‘It introduces a different way of being and knowing that is quite transformative for many people.’

The researchers now plan to extend their research by studying the physiological responses in individuals with recurrent depression.

But they stressed that the study was conducted in healthy people, so their findings do not mean that people with depression would experience the same improvements from one-off exercises.

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Nando’s spiciest sauce is now on sale in Tesco

(Picture: Tesco)

Attention, Nando’s fans: You can now buy a new Nando’s sauce in Tesco.

From today, 6 February, Nando’s has launched its hottest sauce, the PERi-PERi Vusa, in Tesco.

Which means when you order Nando’s to takeaway, you’ll no longer have to ask for little pots of their sauces because you’ll already have the whole bottle at home.

According to Nando’s, the PERi-PERi Vusa means ‘excitement and fire’ and contains more PERi-PERi chillies than any other sauce, with Nando’s’ ingredients including citrus, garlic and onion.

(Picture: Tesco)

The 125g bottle is selling for £2.

This release follows a recent Valentine’s product: Aunt Bessie’s heart-shaped Yorkshire puddings.

The six love-themed Yorkshire puddings cost £1.50, and they cook in five minutes.

While it’s a lovely thought, we’re not sure how many people will actually be having roast dinners on Valentine’s Day. Though it does seem like a great idea.

Hannah Haas, Head of Marketing at Aunt Bessie’s, said: ‘Our new Heart Shaped Yorkshire Puddings are a first for Aunt Bessie’s and have been created for customers looking to add a special touch to mealtimes. Whether it be a traditional Sunday roast or a quick mid-week meal our Heart Shaped Yorkshires will be sure to impress whatever the occasion.’

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Why do younger men go for older women?


Hang on… Naomi Campbell and Liam Payne are dating? Since December? And no one bothered to tell me? WTAF?! *throws phone at where my personal assistant would be sitting if I could afford to have one*

I’m going to breathe and calm myself down.

I have breathed and calmed myself down.

Now I’m no longer angry at being kept out of the loop, I’m THRILLED that 48-year-old Super Naomi is (rumoured to be) seeing 25-year-old popster Liam. It’s bear sick. (Thank you.)

As the creator of the word WHIP (Women who are Hot, Intelligent and in their Prime – or Primark if times are tough), I applaud these ‘finger up at society’ age-gap relationships.

Older men in relationships with much younger women? Of course. Why not? He’s mature, experienced and powerful, and she’s firm, fertile and fuckable. Why wouldn’t they get together?


Get a grip, lovers. The older woman/younger man dynamic is fabulous – and as natural as my sun-damaged face.

The recession meant Bibi could not afford the IVF she had painstakingly planned for and she finally destroyed her donor's sperm in 2016 (Picture: Bibi Lynch)
Bibi says it’s younger men who approach her now she’s in her 50s. ‘Maybe they just want to help me with my shopping bags’ (Picture: Bibi Lynch)

I’ve (almost) always dated younger men. The biggest age-gap I’ve had was 14 years. And we didn’t break up because he was 14 years younger than me; we broke up because he was a dick.

Dating younger men is bloody great. As I write in my WHIP feature (I’m quoting myself. Even I’m appalled): ‘The last two dates I went on were with a 26-year-old and a 35-year-old (not at the same time). And the men DMing me on Twitter are also in their 20s and 30s. These pore-less, firm-jawed men are clever, successful, creative, and absurdly hot.

‘They write, work in film, dabble in music and are super-interesting. They are men I would have killed to meet – but could never attract – when I was in my 20s and 30s. For me, it’s Twitter, not Tinder (or indeed toyboywarehouse.com) where  I’m meeting them. And we’re progressing from tweets to DMs, to the messaging app Telegram, to phone calls… and then to bars.

Naomi Campbell and Liam Payne are rumoured to be dating and having a ‘mind-blowing’ time (Picture: Mega/Splash)

‘And fun is had. You’d think the dates would be excruciatingly awkward, with cultural references tumbleweeding. But no. We talk about our work, about what we’ve been up to, about politics/the world imploding, and we laugh. (Not about the world imploding.) They are funny, intelligent men – there is no setting the dial low… There’s no feeling of being with someone younger. Until you step into daylight and see their skin.’

My friend Michelle, 51, from London, is dating a 37-year-old man. And she agrees with me about the attraction of younger men. She says: ‘1. They are fitter and have more stamina. 2. They are more used to seeing women as equals. (My boyfriend’s boss is a woman.) 3. Men of my generation pay lip service to the idea of liking strong women but tend to fall back on stereotypes and expect to be mothered. And 4. Younger men are also less sexually inhibited and more adventurous in bed. This is based on one man, really, so these are huge generalisations, but that’s my two cents’ worth!’

So we know why women adore younger men. But why do younger men go for older women? I got out my little black book (old-skool) and remembered none of my exes are talking to me – so I asked online instead.

James, 42, from Wales: ‘I can only speak for myself but I am always drawn to women who are older than me. There is something very attractive about women who have real life experience – and the perspective and lack of fucks left to give that that brings.

‘A woman who’s seen it all and cuts through the bullshit is far more interesting, open and intellectually stimulating to me. I’m also someone whose cultural reference points are “before my time”, so I find it surprisingly easy to find common cultural ground with older women.

‘I don’t believe all that tosh about Freud and mummy issues, and I never went to public school… I think my turn-ons are all very healthy and not particularly complicated – but I do find something awe-inspiring as well as alluring about older women: older women who are confident and assertive; who know what they want sexually and are unafraid to tell you – rather than expect you to psychically unravel their feminine mystique like some erotic code cracker.’

Boom! *books train to Wales*

Another online friend, Big Dave, a forty-something in Dubai, feels the older women love too. ‘I do love older women,’ he says. Told you. ‘I have since I was a young lad. When you were young they were exciting, vibrant and a step into a world you didn’t know much about. Now I’m in my 40s, I find them interesting, more relaxed and more experienced in life, love, travel and sex. Which is pretty perfect. I also love them in leopard print – but that’s another story…’

Someone’s been looking in my wardrobe… *books flight to Dubai via Wales*

John, 35, from Milton Keynes, is hearing this too. ‘I guess there are people who fall in love with an older woman, and those whose kink is older women. I don’t have that kink, but the only woman I’ve had strong feelings for in the last few years was an older woman.

‘For those whose kink is older women… Perhaps they had Mummy issues as a kid? They’re naïve and they want a more experienced woman? Or maybe they’re stuck on the stereotype of the cougar after watching American Pie and Stifler’s mum on repeat during their teenage awakening. Jennifer Coolidge has a lot to answer for to the people of my generation.

There may be something predatory about it as well, John suggests. ‘Young kids wanting to think of themselves as players preying on the older women dancing around their handbags on the dance floor. This is more of lust thing though and not someone in search of a relationship.

‘[For relationships] I don’t see the issue myself – certainly in terms of attractiveness. The difference between an attractive women in her early 30s and one in her early 50s is not as big as the latter would tell herself it is. And this [their attractiveness] often comes with an attitude that is very attractive too. There is something very cool about someone who gives less of a fuck than someone in their early 30s, who may be wrapped in insecurity.

‘Older women are less naïve and not into the braggadocious nature you have to display to get yourself noticed in the market place. Older women have attitude, are hot and are generally fabulous.’

Oh for God’s sake. I have to fit in Milton Keynes now, too. Thank the sweet Lord for my Senior Railcard.

Charity places 226 pairs of shoes on steps to represent every child lost to suicide

METRO GRAB FACEBOOK Chasing The Stigma Like This Page ?? 4 February ?? To mark the start of #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek Chasing the Stigma have teamed up with @RadioCityTalk for a "lost childhoods" #MentalHealthMonday special. These shoes on the steps of St George's Hall represent the 226 school children who lost their lives to suicide in 2017. https://www.facebook.com/chasingthestigma/photos/a.431666273680668/1153277551519533/?type=3&theater
(Picture: Chasing The Stigma)

A powerful display on the steps of St George’s Hall in Liverpool highlights the lost lives of children who died by suicide.

Charity Chasing the Stigma teamed up with Radio City Talk to place 226 pairs of shoes on the steps – a pair for each school child who lost their lives to suicide in 2017.

One child lost to suicide would be one too many, but 226 is a truly shocking number.

The image of the shoes has been shared on Facebook and Twitter more than 15,000 times, with many applauding the charity for delivering such an important message in a way everyone can understand.

One comment reads: ‘Heartbreaking. Mental health needs to be a priority everywhere for all ages.’

Chasing the Stigma’s Jake Mills told M.E.N.: ‘We have been working alongside local radio station Radio City Talk on their weekly mental health show, Mental Health Monday, for over a year now.

‘Last year we had a live mental health 24 hour show, which had a great reception, but this year we wanted to create something a bit more visual to make people realise the reality of the numbers.

‘We wanted to make sure we got it right so worked with other organisations like Papyrus and The Oscar Phillips Foundation to make sure we could offer help and support alongside a really moving and hard hitting campaign.’

The rates of suicide among young people has dramatically increased over the last ten years, with the highest number of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 dying by suicide in 2017 since records began in 1981.

Chasing the Stigma offers an app called Hub of Hope, which allows you to enter your location and find sources of mental health support near you.

Anyone struggling with their mental wellbeing can also contact the Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 or through their website.

Young Minds is a mental health charity specifically for young people and children. If you’re finding things difficult, you can text their crisis line by sending ‘YM’ to 85258. Parents, if you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, Young Minds offers a parents helpline from Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm, on 0808 802 5544.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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