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Bride says guest’s wedding gift wasn’t good enough – and demands £230 more

(Picture: Juris Jesalva / EyeEm/Getty)

When it comes to wedding gifts, it’s the thought that counts.

According to one bride, that’s apparently incorrect.

The bride has outraged people on Facebook after demanding more money from her guest, after she had already given her some as a gift.

Posting on the Facebook group ‘That’s It, I’m Wedding Shaming’, the anonymous woman received a phone call from her newly-wedded friend while she was off on her honeymoon.

But instead of simply enjoying the time away, she was thinking about the money she’d been given.

Or rather, how unhappy she was with the amount.

(Picture: Facebook)

The woman wrote: ‘I’ve just hung up the phone from a friend (ex friend now!!) whose wedding was a few weekends ago.

‘She had a beautiful wedding, lots of guests, lots of wine and food. There were even fireworks when she and her new hubby left (via a yacht) to go on their honeymoon.

‘She told me that the cost of having my husband and I at her wedding was far more than the miserly gift we gave her.’ [sic]

Though the woman says her friend has a ‘good heart’ but can be a little ‘tone deaf’, she didn’t think much of it – and reminded the bride that she had already given her £153.39 in cash, as well as spent £57.52 on a candle.

She wrote: ‘I was thinking perhaps someone stole the card with the cash, my friend has always been a bit quick to judge and can be tone deaf rude, but she has a good heart.

‘She says to me, that it wasn’t enough and that the venue charge was $250 (£191.75) per head, so I owed her another $300 (£230) cash.

‘At first I’m like, oh she’s sarcastic joking, but she was serious.

‘She didn’t consider the candle a real gift because “she can’t do anything with it” and it wasn’t “the big one” that she wanted. The bigger candle was $150 (£115)!

‘For real, I let her nag me for five minutes because I was speechless. I still am!’

(Picture: Facebook)

Unsurprisingly, people who read the post were outraged by the bride’s behaviour, with many pointing out that she should have booked a smaller wedding if she couldn’t afford the headcount.

One person said: ‘Sorry but you can’t charge admissions for your wedding. She don’t owe the bride s***.’

Another added: ‘I got to weddings for the free food. If someone expects me to basically pay £380 to attend, I better be personally cooked for and served by Gordon Ramsey.

‘Screw that.’

Someone else added that the bride shouldn’t expect her guests to pay a huge amount to cover the costs of her wedding – and that what she had already been given was more than generous.

What do you think – was the bride in the wrong or should the guest cough up the cash?

MORE: Bride refuses to provide ‘special food’ for vegan guests and says they can bring their own

MORE: Bride who claimed £100 flowers never arrived caught out by Facebook profile picture

I want to end the taboo around bowel cancer before I lose my life

Patrick Wymer who has stage four bowel cancer
The disease has spread beyond the bowel and in my case, into my liver and lungs (Photo: Patrick Wymer)

I was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in June 2017.

It all happened very quickly; several weeks after first visiting my GP with mild stomach pains, I had an emergency operation to remove a large tumour from my bowel.

Stage four essentially means that the disease has spread beyond the bowel – and in my case, into my liver and lungs.

It’s incurable with fewer than 10 per cent of stage four bowel cancer patients living for more than five years.

I’m nearly two years in already.

After the operation I had the pleasure of being given a stoma, an opening in my abdomen through which my poo passes into a bag. This almost came as a bigger shock than the cancer itself.

But with help from the amazing specialist stoma nurses, it has become surprisingly easy to live with and, frankly, is now the least of my concerns.

I’ve been on regular chemotherapy to try and keep the disease in check for as long as possible.

The treatment is gruelling, and the side effects can leave me terribly fatigued for several days.

Until recently, it seemed to be working well, but my most recent scan showed some increase in the size of the tumours in my lungs. And so, my treatment continues.

How do I cope? The biggest challenge is acceptance.

Before being diagnosed at 52, I had a reasonable life expectancy of perhaps 30 or more years. I’ve had to recalibrate and think in terms of possibly only a matter of months.

I continue to occupy this awkward space, sandwiched between my pre-cancer life and probable early death.

Such a dramatic adjustment takes a lot of getting used to, but it’s focused my mind very much on the here and now, and forced me to evaluate what is most important in life.

Bizarrely that’s been quite a positive change for me – savouring and enjoying the present moment.

I’ve built a new life for myself and it is, in its own way, satisfying.

I write a blog, read, walk, spend way too much time on social media and drinking coffee in local cafes.

In my pre-cancer life, it had never occurred to write a blog, but I find it therapeutic to articulate how I feel about my illness and it’s very satisfying to see that others appear to enjoy reading it.

I’m involved with Bowel Cancer UK and Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where I receive my treatment, fundraising and increasing awareness of the disease.

With more time on my hands than I’ve ever had, it helps me to have some purpose.

More importantly, these are two fantastic organisations that in different ways have helped me hugely and quite literally kept me alive. It’s a genuine pleasure to be able to give something back to them.

Yet I continue to occupy this awkward space, sandwiched between my pre-cancer life and probable early death.

There’s a lot of chat in the cancer world about the importance of maintaining a ‘positive attitude’.

I often think this can put undue pressure on people – surely we’re permitted to have negative feelings when dealing with such a brutal disease.

I’m fortunate to have the support of fantastic family and friends who help in keeping me mentally strong. Since cancer reared its ugly head, I’ve come to appreciate time spent with them even more.

That said, there really is no substitute for sharing with others who’ve been through the same or similar experiences.

Through my blog, social media and my involvement with Bowel Cancer UK, I’ve encountered so many others living with cancer and been fortunate to meet and form friendships with some of them.

It’s such a benefit to be able to share practical information about coping with bowel cancer, giving and receiving moral support or simply just sharing a joke.

I’ve made a point of being as frank as possible about my illness as increasing awareness and demystifying aspects of the disease, such as having a stoma, are ways in which I can hopefully make some positive contribution.

I do have my moments though.

Cancer can be psychologically draining and it’s so tough on family and loved ones – something that’s frequently forgotten.

While we do support one another, inevitably we all have low times when acceptance is a huge challenge.

I sometimes wonder if I’m in denial about the seriousness of my illness – there may be some truth in cliches you hear about that.

I feel well when I’m not on chemo, so it’s often difficult to imagine that I’m extremely ill. I try and enjoy life to the full and it’s not easy to think of that coming to a premature end.

People are frequently surprised to learn that bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer.

It often goes under the radar when compared to other cancers.

This may be due to taboos surrounding bowels and poo and embarrassment – particularly among men – and about discussing symptoms with doctors.

The positive news is that if diagnosed in the early stages, bowel cancer is very treatable and the survival rates are good.

However, these deteriorate significantly if the disease is not detected until its advanced stages.

You really don’t want to end up in my situation so please, do act quickly if you experience any possible symptoms.

For obvious reasons I can’t look too far into the future. I simply hope to keep going for as long as I can and continue to enjoy life.

I do think a lot about my wife and family, and how things will be for them when I’m gone.

But I take comfort in the fact that they’re strong and I know they will get through these difficult times.

MORE: I don’t tell people I had childhood cancer because I know it will change how they treat me

MORE: My Label and Me: I let terminal cancer shape my life, but now I live to the full

MORE: People affected by bowel cancer tell their stories to show the disease does not discriminate

Primark has released a lovely new Friends homeware collection

Primark releases new Friends homeware range
(Picture: Primark, Getty, Warner Bros)

Attention, Friends fans: Primark has released a new homeware collection inspired by your favourite 90s sitcom.

The super cheap retailer has launched a whole range of stuff, including slogan candles and oversized mugs emblazoned with the Central Perk logo.

Following on in coffee shop style is also a Central Perk themed cafetiere and glasses, as well as a storage glass perfect for coffee beans.

Alongside kitchenware there is also lots of décor pieces – such as photo frames, whiteboards and door hooks.

Primark has also introduced a cute stationary range, with prices starting at just £1.50, featuring an adorable lobster pen, some Central Perk paperclips and notebooks.

So everyone knows who your friends are, £6

Primark launches new Friends range with prices starting at 1.50
(Picture: Primark)

We love these glasses, £7

Primark launches new Friends range with prices starting at 1.50
(Picture: Primark)


Want the Friends scent? £2

Primark launches new Friends range with prices starting at 1.50
(Picture: Primark)


Put a photo of your favourite character (or actual friends) in this frame, £4

Primark launches new Friends range with prices starting at 1.50
(Picture: Primark)


Central Perk mugs, anyone? £5

Primark launches new Friends range with prices starting at 1.50
(Picture: Primark)

In true Primark fashion, all of the items are super cheap – with most items retailing under £10.

This includes other bits such as socks, caps and makeup bags, which all cost under £6.

It’s the perfect opportunity to turn your home into a Friends-themed paradise.

We’re thinking Central Perk coffee shop for one room, Monica’s flat for another and you could kit your bathroom out with cute little wash bags, which cost just £5.

Could this BE any better? Probably not.

MORE: How would you get blacklisted by ASOS?

MORE: People are thanking ASOS for showing a model’s stomach rolls

Having sex hurt so much that I thought my vagina was broken

One doctor said I had ‘a very underused vagina’ so I should ‘get out there and use it more’ (Picture: Ad Libido)

I’d been told sex would be painful the first time.

Teen magazines, sex ed class and sleepover parties had left me with the idea that your hymen would be punctured and there would be inevitable oceans of blood. That was unless you’d done a lot of horse riding or gymnastics (or gymnastics on horseback, preferably whilst inserting a tampon).

And losing my virginity was painful.

Every time I tried to have sex it was as if my vulva had been replaced by a brick wall. I remember lying in bed thinking that my vagina must be broken, or not exist or that maybe I just wasn’t meant to have sex.

After six months of banging my head (and other body parts) against that brick wall I finally – very slowly and painfully – had penetrative sex and 16 year old me thought her vaginal woes would be over. Let the good times roll!

What followed was a very un-sexy cycle: not knowing if sex hurt because I wasn’t turned on enough, or I wasn’t turned on enough because I was worrying sex would hurt.

The pain meant achieving full arousal and orgasm were difficult. These symptoms come under the umbrella term of Female Sexual Dysfunction.

It is estimated that around a third of young and middle-aged women suffer from a form of sexual dysfunction, along with around half of older women.

I now bring lube on a date (I don’t get it out at dinner). I hope one day lube is a mandatory part of all sex education, as how wet someone gets really isn’t a parallel of how aroused they are.

Doctors were reluctant to diagnose me. One told me to ‘have a glass of wine to loosen myself up a bit’ and another said that I had ‘a very underused vagina’ so I should ‘get out there and use it more’. I was 16 at the time.

For years penetration felt like the holy grail of sex, and my having an orgasm felt like something I had to do to show my partner they were a good lover. By these standards I felt a failure and had no idea what I actually enjoyed.

I was worried that boyfriends might leave, as surely even the most patient partner could only put up with so much sexual admin.

It is only now in my 30s that I have placed myself more centrally in my own sexual experience. I’d previously felt a lot of embarrassment and anger at my body for not being wet without the assistance of lube.

I now bring lube on a date (I don’t get it out at dinner). I hope one day lube is a mandatory part of all sex education, as how wet someone gets really isn’t a parallel of how aroused they are.

The more I learnt the more confident I became asking for the type of sex I like. Since learning that internally the vagina has very few nerve endings and only 18 per cent of women say that vaginal penetration alone is enough to orgasm, I put a lot less pressure on penetration. Knowledge is power.

I think a sense of shame can grow when the sex we are having doesn’t match the sex we are exposed to or taught about. I was taught oral sex was just a stepping stone to the main event and lube was something I might need when I was older.

The truth is that as long as sex is consensual there is no right way to do it. There is no such thing as ‘normal’. Some days I’d much rather just get my ears kissed.

Despite my experiences, it is always still worth seeing your GP about any pain, low libido or difficulty orgasming. There needs to be better medical and emotional support for people who do seek help.

For me, learning what I like and being able to communicate this has been life changing. Making a comedy theatre show tackling taboos around female pleasure made me realise I’m not on my own. It gave me back the voice I so often lost in bed.

Ad Libido comes to the Soho Theatre 7th-11th May 7.15pm, 3.15pm matinee on the 11th

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A dog who lost her eyes due to neglect has become an Instagram celebrity

Dog who lost both eyes becomes Instagram sensation
(Picture: Mercury Press)

A dog who had an awful start in life and lost both her eyes as a pup has found a forever home – and become an Instagram star in the process.

Five-month-old pup Puddin was rescued from her previous owners in Texas, US, at six weeks old, after she was neglected and left with an eye infection.

By the time she was in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas (SPCA), the puppy was completely blind and needed her eyes removed and eye sockets sewn together.

Her new owner, 22-year-old Cory Gonzales, took in the injured pup.

Despite Puddin’s lack of sight, she has an infectious enthusiasm for life that has touched the hearts of thousands of fans online.

Dog who lost both eyes becomes Instagram sensation
(Picture: Mercury Press)

‘The SPCA found Puddin with a very severe eye infection,’ said owner Cory, who is a student from Lubbock, Texas.

‘While the owners did not take care of Puddin, they refused to hand her over. The animal welfare society took them to court, which took longer than they had hoped, and by the time they had won the case Puddin’s eyes were completely destroyed.

‘They took Puddin to a specialist and he informed because of the damage done by the infection she was going to be left blind and further inspection of her eyes they realized that they were causing her a great deal of pain.

‘To improve her quality of life, they removed her eyes, and now here we are.’

Dog who lost both eyes becomes Instagram sensation
(Picture: Mercury Press)

Cory, who is currently training to become a speech language pathologist, adopted Puddin three months ago.

He started an Instagram page where he documents Puddin’s adventures and already has almost 7,000 followers.

Fans can see Puddin learning new tricks and going about her day-to-day life, as well as marvel at her beauty.

Cory describes her as ‘a spunky girl who enjoys long naps, biting her dad’s toes and cuddles’.

Pic by Mercury Press - (Pictured: Puddin the blind dog.) - A pooch whose rough start in life completely destroyed her eyes has found a home - and become an Instagram star. Five-month-old pup Puddin was rescued from her previous owners in Texas, US, at six weeks old after she was neglected and left with an eye infection. But by the time she was in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas (SPCA), the puppy was completely blind and needed her eyes removed and eye sockets sewn up. But new owner Cory Gonzales, 22, took in the injured pup, with her infectious enthusiasm for life despite her lack of sight touching the hearts of thousands of online fans ever since. SEE MERCURY COPY
(Picture: Mercury Press)

Cory said: ‘When I saw Puddin online I immediately fell in love with her ears, of all things.

‘The day after I met her, I came back in and adopted her! I think we both feel so blessed to have met each other.

‘She is five months old now, and the way she has adapted to her new life is incredible.

‘She has really learned how to use her sense of smell to run, play, find her toys.

‘Even stop herself from hitting things. It’s really amazing to watch.’

MORE: Abandoned dog that lost its hind legs, tail and left eye is given forever home

MORE: Couple eat dog food to make sure its quality is good enough

A meatball speakeasy is coming to London – and it’s just as fun as it sounds

Ballroom, the meatball bar, opens in London
(Pictures: Getty)

Grab a fork, because there’s a new speakeasy about to open in London and it’s all about balls (thankfully, it’s the edible kind).

Introducing Ballroom, the new concept that merges New York vibes with delicious, mouthwatering flavours from Italy.

The quirky venue was founded by Christian Arden, who spent his childhood in San Gimignano, where he watched his Italian grandmother cook up tasty dishes.

Ballroom contains both a diner and a cocktail bar – and so isn’t technically just a speakeasy – but hipsters are bound to love it all the same.

Grounded London / Ballroom
(Picture: Grounded London/Ballroom)
Grounded London / Ballroom
(Picture: Grounded London/Ballroom)
Grounded London / Ballroom
(Picture: Grounded London/Ballroom)

The ‘world class balls’ are hand-rolled and will be available in a range of meats including beef, pork, Thai chicken and Moroccan lamb.

Of course, there is also a fish and a vegan option, in addition to the ‘special of the day’ (mystery balls).

All balls are served with a base, including pasta – which changes daily– couscous, creamy mash or wilted greens.

Grounded London / Ballroom
(Picture: Grounded London/Ballroom)

If you’d like some add-ons, you can also order homemade slaw or salad.

‘With Ballroom it’s back to basics for me, cool interior, fabulous food and great drinks,’ said owner Christian.

‘I just love meatballs and our vegan balls are epic.’

The venue will officially launch on 1 May on Eastcheap, near Monument tube station.

Go, satisfy all your ball-craving needs.

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Yankee Candle launches Easter candles in pink and green

Yankee candle launches two new fragrances
(Picture: Yankee Candle/Getty)

Yankee Candle has released two new Easter-themed scented candles and they sound delicious.

First up is the Rainbow Shake, a pink, large jar candle that the brand describes as being ‘a sophisticated sugar rush – juicy, sparkling fruits blended with sweet vanilla, finished with whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, and berry drizzle’.

It features various scents, including top notes of pineapple, caramelised apple and toasted almond, mid-notes of peach, black currant drizzle and Italian orange, and base notes of cinnamon, vanilla cream and raspberry frosting.

According to Yankee, the top note is the ‘initial impression of the fragrance’, while the middle note is the main body and the base is the final impression.

Yankee candle
(Picture: Yankee Candle)

So far, it’s had fabulous reviews.

One person said: ‘As the label implies, you expect a candle that’s sweet and fruity and this candle doesn’t disappoint!

‘It’s a great candle for Easter. It is a sweet candle with a hint of vanilla, but that is not the dominating scent. There is also a hint of citrus as well. Love the color of the candle and the label. Would definitely recommend this candle for the holiday!’

The candle is a little expensive at £23.99 – but also comes as part of a £38-for-two deal.

If you fancy buying another, the Easter Basket candle will be perfect for you.

Yankee candle
(Picture: Yankee Candle)

The Easter Basket candle is mint green and is described as being ‘a joyful jaunt on Easter morning, with a heady mix of dewy grass and wet woods, sweetened by the promise of fruity jellybeans and bright bouquets.’

Top notes consist of lime, cactus water and Brazilian orange, mid notes are ginger lily and night-blooming cereus, and finally the base notes are rose, patchouli and moss.

Again, this candle is £23.99 but is available as part of the deal.

Easter is generally all about the chocolate eggs – but if you’re not a fan of chocolate, why not treat yourself to a candle instead?

MORE: A meatball speakeasy is coming to London – and it’s just as fun as it sounds

MORE: A dog who lost her eyes due to neglect has become an Instagram celebrity

Asda relaunches its £1 Easter bunny crumpets

(Picture: Asda)

Asda has relaunched its bunny-shaped crumpets just in time for Easter.

The Baker’s Selection Easter Bunny Crumpets are shaped just like bunnies, and frankly, it just makes us want to smother them in butter even more.

They first made an appearance back in 2017 and are now back for those who fancy a traditional Easter breakfast – bunny-style.

The crumpets cost just £1 for a pack of four, and people on Twitter are already getting excited to buy them, with some saying how ‘cute’ they are.

Asda's bunny crumpets are back Provider: Asda Source: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/worklife/a9254282/bunny-crumpets-asda/
(Picture: Asda)

‘Our customers have absolutely loved the Bunny Crumpets in the past, so we wanted to bring them back this year, so nobody is left disappointed at Easter!,’ said Sarah Burns from Asda.

‘Our crumpets are the perfect treat for everyone, and a fun way of bringing the family together over breakfast.’

In other Easter news, Jägermeister has released a boozy Easter egg.

The limited edition Jäger eggs are made of smooth milk chocolate infused with the unmistakable German liqueur.

This comes after the company joked in 2016 that it had created the boozy egg as an April Fools’ joke – but after customers pushed for Jägermeister to actually make one, the brand went ahead with it.

Whether bunny crumpet or boozy egg, get yourself a treat this Easter.

MORE: A meatball speakeasy is coming to London – and it’s just as fun as it sounds

MORE: McVitie’s has launched two new types of Digestive biscuits

MORE: Pub’s £1 roast trial such a success they’ve made it permanent

People tell us how smoking weed affects their mental health

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

The mental health effects of weed have been debated for many years.

Some express that the drug (which is illegal in the UK) improves or helps maintain both physical and psychological stress, while others – many medical professionals included – list the dangers of cannabis.

Just a few weeks ago, a new study revealed that people who smoke super-strong weed are at a higher risk of developing psychosis.

It is also said to affect some people’s memory, make them anxious and / or paranoid, as well as bring on panic attacks, according to the NHS.

However, it’s a double-edged sword as other research claims it can be beneficial; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report last year where 10,000 studies were reviewed.

It was found that cannabis and cannabinoids were effective in treating patients with chronic pain, as well as improve symptoms for people who suffer from multiple scleroris (MS), if used short-term.

In addition, the research revealed that cannabis ‘does not appear to increase the likelihood of developing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder’.

Though not all findings were positive – heavy cannabis users were more likely to report suicidal thoughts, compared to those who didn’t smoke weed.

*Content warning: the following contains references to suicide that some readers may find triggering.*

Jess, 25, tells Metro.co.uk that she turned to weed when she was having problems with her mental health, but it caused negative effects.

‘For me, weed really affected my mental health – but not in the way that many people report e.g. paranoia and increased anxiety,’ said Jess, 25.

‘My problem was that I used it as a crutch to stop my thoughts when I was low, which led to me becoming dependent on a joint to feel better.

‘I can also get really lazy when I smoke, which meant I neglected a lot of other responsibilities that actually make me feel more in control normally (such as cleaning and cooking things from scratch).

‘I don’t think weed was the problem as such, but the fact that I smoked in such an unhealthy way and was getting high as an escape. I’ve now quit – except for the odd joint on occasion – and try to keep my my mind a bit clearer and deal with things rather than pushing them to the side.’

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

Meanwhile, Myles, 31, has experienced positive effects of marijuana throughout the years.

He suffers from depression and smokes ‘a little’ every night to help himself sleep, but tells us about the importance of not replacing legal mental health aids such as antidepressants with weed.

‘I don’t smoke as much as I did when I was in my 20s, but I do smoke a little bit each night,’ said Myles.

‘I wouldn’t say it directly fires depression – that’s what antidepressants are for – but I get super anxious before bed (usually if I have work the next morning) and suffer from night terrors and sleep paralysis.

‘If this occurs, I usually step outside for a little joint and it helps me collect my thoughts and reason.

‘Pot usually helps me wake up feeling good, too. In contrast, I find if I’m hungover due to alcohol, I’ll be like a big sad rock that can’t move from my bed.

‘But it’s clearly subjective to each person, of course.’

As for negative effects, Myles has experienced some short-term memory issues – but only when he was a heavy smoker.

It also causes him the munchies, which makes him spend more money on food.

Tom, 32, started smoking cannabis when he was in his early teens.

It quickly became a regular habit, and although it helped boost his creativity when making music, it also caused him paranoia and depression.

‘I started smoking weed at 14; giggled for hours, felt rebellious and shared great times with friends,’ he said.

‘That rebellious act was a necessary part of growing up, of shaking off the judgement of my parents, of teachers. My childhood had been fairly normal, though like anyone I had some emotional baggage.

‘Then in my late teens I started to buy regularly.

‘I found it useful as fuel for my creativity, and for introspection. On the one hand I was starting to write some great music, but I was also becoming increasingly paranoid and depressed.

‘Thankfully I had close friends to support me, though they also encouraged me to smoke more. When I started university I smoked less regularly but the paranoia, anxiety and depression continued until I became suicidal.

‘In the following years, I smoked regularly – again as a form of self-medication – the introspection deepened, and it felt productive at the time, but with it came ever-deeper paranoia.

‘Eventually I dropped out of university and moved back in with my parents at the age of 23, which forced me to stop. After that I became so sensitive to it that I just didn’t enjoy it anymore.

‘All in all, it set my life back by several years.’

Just like other (illegal) drugs, marijuana is very individual in how it affects the person smoking it.

For some people, it can provide relief and relaxation, while for others, it increases mental health problems.

Whatever your personal choice, if you feel like you need help – get it.

Contact a healthcare professional, chat to your local GP or alternatively, reach out to FRANK – a confidential drugs advice service.

Need support?

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.

MORE: Apparently, weed gives women better orgasms

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Teen spends £121 on McDonald’s food in an attempt to win £100,000 – but fails


A teenager spent £121 on food from McDonald’s in an attempt to win £100,000 on its Monopoly game – but said she was ‘gutted’ when she didn’t win the top prize.

19-year-old Saffron Barker and her friend bought the food for themselves, family and friends, in order to film the process of peeling off the Monopoly tickets in a vlog.

Saffron, from Brighton, was left underwhelmed when she won pretty mundane prizes.

Instead of cash, the pair got a new Kindle, and a few meals and snacks such as carrot bags and sugar doughnuts – which are usually pretty easy to win.

‘We tried. It feels like its £121 down the drain,’ Saffron said in the video.

‘We are a little bit gutted.’

Since sharing the vlog, nearly 800,000 people have viewed it.

Saffron Barker/Youtube
(Picture: Saffron Barker/Youtube)
Saffron Barker/Youtube
(Picture: Saffron Barker/Youtube)

The pair also said they don’t think people should take part in the game.

‘We don’t recommend anyone doing this,’ said Saffron.

Then again, in the video, Saffron also said she ‘enjoyed’ the experience and that is was ‘quite fun’.

She ended up giving her mum the Kindle, and gave all the leftover food that wasn’t eaten to her friends.

At least everyone got a meal, right?

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Game of Thrones inspired food and drinks you can buy ahead of season 8


Game Of Thrones oreos/other food and drink items [sat]
(Pictures: Amazon/Oreos/Shake Shack)
The final season of Game of Thrones premieres in the UK on 14 April, and it’s certainly felt like a long time coming.

The show has become a complete sensation among TV bingers, and we’ve had everything from trainers to pyjamas to candles in its honour.

If you’re more of a food-motivated watcher, there are also some food and drink items you can purchase that bear the names of your Winterfell and Westeros faves.

Here are some bits you can buy for your GoT obsessive loved ones (or just hoard for yourself).


There are actually a few different whiskys available for Game of Thrones lovers, with Johnnie Walker having released a White Walker blend very recently and Diageo creating a number of varieties.

The Johnnie Walker one is purported to be ‘light and fruity’ with ‘notes of vanilla and fresh fruit’.

The Diageo and HBO collection has ones for various GoT families, including the Tullies, the Starks, the Targaryens, the Tyrells, and even the Night’s Watch.


As part of the Game of Thrones #ForTheThrone campaign – which has also brought us Urban Decay makeup inspired by the show – Oreo have something new.

The company debuted some classic-flavoured Oreos featuring different designs on them.

There are Lannister, Stark, Targaryen, and White Walker biscuits, and if reports are correct they’ll be hitting shelves very soon.


Whether you’re a red (wedding) or white (walker) person, there’s a GoT wine available for you.

Amazon sells a Red Blend Paso Robles for £38.90 a bottle and a 2016 Chardonnay for £38.90, both made by the Game of Thrones Winery in California.

Cake toppers

amazon game of thrones cake toppers
Who’s the real mother of dragons when you’re able to dissolve them on your tongue? (Picture: Amazon)

You could, of course, order a custom cake themed around GoT, OR, for a fraction of the price you could get these edible cake toppers to put on your own.

All the people you love are there – from Jon Snow to Arya Stark – and imagine how great you’ll feel chowing down of Joffrey after everything he’s done.

Get them from Amazon for £3.99 plus delivery fee.


In anticipation of the eighth series, Shake Shack have come up with a Dracarys Burger and Dragonglass Shake. The shale features mint, white chocolate, and shards of toffee, while the burger has Monterey Jack, bacon, and a hot sauce to make it the ‘mother of burgers’.

Couple of hurdles for those in the UK who want to try it, though. Firstly; it’s only available in the Madison Square Garden restaurant in New York, and secondly; you have to ask for your meal in Valyrian to be sold.

Real fans who can crack the code can get the special items until May 19.

Easter eggs

Deliveroo launches Game of Thrones painted dragons eggs for Easter Picture: Deliveroo PICS SUPPLIED TO METRO.CO.UK
Celebrate the new life of Easter with the death of all George RR Martin’s characters (Picture: Deliveroo)

From Sunday 14 April to Easter Sunday, three Daenerys inspired Easter eggs will be available on Deliveroo. They’re only 80p as well!

They’re all made from Fairtrade white chocolate and sprayed to look like the eggs that gave Ms Targaryen her special status.

Joe Groves, head of consumer communications for Deliveroo in the UK and Ireland, said: ‘We see huge spikes of orders around season premieres and finales and we thought what better way to celebrate hardcore fans than with these amazing scaley creations’.

MORE: People tell us how smoking weed affects their mental health

MORE: Asda relaunches its £1 Easter bunny crumpets

How to check for signs of leishmaniasis in your dog

How to check your dog for leishmaniasis
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

As spring approaches, you might be considering a trip abroad (and plan to bring your dog with you).

Or perhaps you’re soon to adopt a pooch from an animal shelter in another country and have the beauty flown over.

Both of these are excellent ideas, but it’s important to be vigilant when you’re taking your dog out of its natural environment.

Protect the animal’s health from dangerous diseases, such as leishmaniasis – a tropical disease that can affect both humans and dogs, and claimed the life of a Shih Tzu in the UK recently.

It’s believed that the pup caught the parasite from another dog that he lived with, who had been brought over from Spain, and sadly died shortly after.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, tells Metro.co.uk that the biggest challenge with this type of non-endemic disease is that the signs aren’t specific – and that it can have a ‘long incubation period’.

It can be many months or even years from the point of infection to the point of clinical signs and diagnosis.

‘A big challenge with leishmaniasis is that we don’t expect to see it in the UK,’ said Paula.

‘It’s the sand fly that transmits the disease and we don’t have the sand fly here, which is why it’s so unusual to have a dog that hasn’t travelled to be diagnosed with leishmania.

‘There are two ways that this might happen; it has either gone from dog to dog via a bite or a wound, or has the disease actually adapted to a different vector?

‘We can’t say for sure, but it causes great concern that we now have a second case of dog to dog transmission, where the recipient dog hasn’t left the country.

‘The disease can have a long incubation period and it can be years before it will rear its head.

‘Signs are very variable – it’s not an a + b equals c sitaution. It could manifest itself in the skin or be a systemic sign, where the organs are affected.’

Front innocent face of young Shih Tzu dog, long tongue and doubtful, on green lawn with soft light; Shutterstock ID 785437429; Purchase Order: -
(Picture: Michael Mong/Shutterstock)

However, while it’s difficult to identify exact signs, there are preventative measures that dog owners can take, especially if travelling or importing animals from overseas.

‘A lot of countries in mainland Europe have issues with stray dogs,’ said Paula.

‘As secretariat of the EU Dog & Cat Alliance, we are working towards the day where international rehoming is no longer necessary, but if you are going to adopt or rescue a dog from another country, please do so safely.

‘By being safe, we advise moving the dog to a country of similar disease status or at the very least, check the animal’s health status before you bring him or her over (and test for these so-called non-endemic disases) so that you know what you’re dealing with.’

Unfortunately, leishmaniasis isn’t curable and dogs who are diagnosed will likely rely on medication for the rest of their lives.

‘It’s about managing the situation, it tends to be lifelong medication to manage the individual dog – but medication isn’t going to resolve the issue.

‘As a vet, if a dog does not have a history of having travelled, this disease wouldn’t necessarily be on your checklist in the first instance.

‘If you are taking your pet abroad, speak to your vet to take appropriate preventative measures. While we are all aware of the pet travel scheme, this is primarily about human health.

‘We have the mandatory pet travel scheme so that you and I don’t get diseases that transfer between humans and dogs, but there are other diseases that affect dogs travelling outside of the UK, including tick-transmitted diseases and mosquito-transmitted heartworm.

‘Some breeds such as the Ibizan Hound have a natural immunity towards leishmaniasis. However, we have a naive population of dogs in the UK. That lack of inherent immunity in UK dogs is a concern as to the severity of signs we may encounter.’

If you’re concerned about your dog, the best thing to do is to chat to your vet or take him/her for a check-up.

Better to be safe than sorry – take care of your best friend.

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KitKat ice cream sticks exist and they look dreamy

Have a break, have an ice cream! Iconic Kit Kat chocolate bar is now available in creamy frozen form (this is aus but could do one about if they’re available here)
(Picture: Supplied)

KitKat lovers, rejoice – KitKat ice cream exists and it looks dreamy.

Firstly, we have to ruin your expectations by letting you know these ice creams are only available in Woolworths in Australia (we know, it’s very sad).

But we can still drool over how yummy they look, and keep our fingers crossed they’ll arrive in the UK soon.

The ice cream consists of a creamy wafer flavoured centre, and is coated with chocolate filled with crushed wafer pieces.

The frozen KitKat sticks cost £4.63 for a multi-pack, while individual ice creams cost £2.07 each.

‘We are excited to bring a delicious twist on our iconic favourite, KitKat, and make a break into the ice cream freezer,’ said Anna Stewart, head of marketing confectionery at Nestlé.

‘Chocolate and ice cream lovers across Australia can now enjoy a well-deserved and chilled break with the KitKat stick.’

(Picture: @foodiebroo)

‘The KitKat brand is hugely popular here in Australia with a proven track record of successful new flavour innovations, so we’re thrilled to be working with the Nestlé team to introduce Kit Kat to the ice cream freezer,’ said Emma-Jane Collins, director of marketing, category & innovation at Peters Ice Cream.

These aren’t the only KitKat ice creams to be released this year.

Over in the US, you can buy KitKat drumsticks.

The traditional drumstick is a scoop of ice cream in a cone, dipped in chocolate and coated it in nuts. Instead of nuts, the KitKat version replaces these with little bits of wafers in the chocolate bar.

If you buy a four-pack, each ice cream comes with chocolate fudge sauce in the middle.

Or, invest in the eight-pack, which features both fudge and chocolate ice cream.

But if you don’t have a trip to Australia planned in the immediate future, don’t despair.

There’s good news on the KitKat home front too.

Green tea KitKats are finally coming to the UK, and that’s a pretty good consolation prize.

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You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I get told to take the stairs because I look healthy but I have stage four cancer’


You might have heard the phrase ‘invisible illness’.

It means living with a condition or disability that has an impact on you every day but on the outside, you look fine.

People with invisible illnesses suffer from pain, discomfort and embarrassment.

But when they use facilities like disabled parking spaces, disabled spaces or priority seats, they face judgement because people don’t believe they are ill.

You Don’t Look Sick is the name of our series highlighting the issues around living with an invisible condition.

Each week we speak to a different person about their experiences.

Mo Haque who suffered with Stage 4 bowel cancer, now has it in remission but battles daily with the side effects of the treatments he recieved
(Picture: Sofia Bouzidi / Metro.co.uk)

Mo Haque, 36, from London, has stage four bowel cancer, and has developed side effects from treatment including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis. He also uses an ileostomy bag after having surgery to remove part of his bowel.

Speaker and author of the book Choosing to Stay, Mo says that because he still looks well, he often faces judgement from people

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘When I wait for a lift instead of takings the stairs, I sometimes get told “you should take the stairs at your age”.

‘If I need access to the accessible toilets to check my stoma, I’m sometimes shown the regular toilets. I then need to tell them that I have a stoma.

‘If I go to a football match, I take medical letters with me in case I face difficulties with the stewards when wanting to use the lift.

‘I do feel judged at times especially when I have to explain my reasons for accessibility. On the outside I look fit and healthy, yet on the inside nobody would know the struggles I have.

‘Nobody would know that I’m ill, unless I tell them or they already no my story.’

On the evening of 23 October 2014, Mo suddenly developed severe abdominal pain.

When it was still there the next morning, he decided to go to A&E.

He explains: ‘The nurse thought it was ‘a tummy ache’ and said: “We feel pain, we take pain killers, and the pain goes away” and proceeded to give me paracetamol. I remember feeling silly, as though I was wasting NHS time.

‘As I waited to see the doctor the pain didn’t go away. I was found to be anaemic, and the doctor said they’d need to investigate further by putting cameras inside, and that an appointment would come through the post.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

Bowel Cancer UK

‘In fact for the next six weeks, the pain continued, every minute of every day; keeping me awake at night. I somehow managed to continue to go into work, but was at breaking point.

‘The painkillers increased in potency; from paracetamol, to codeine, to co-codomal, to eventually tramadol, but the pain continued.

‘I couldn’t sleep. I would have night sweats. I had lost 5kg in weight without noticing. I made several trips to the GPs, I had several blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, ECGs but they couldn’t get to the cause.’

Mo’s appointment came on 6 December for a colonoscopy, where a camera is insert into the bowel to see if there are any issues.

They quickly found that the inflammation in Mo’s bowel was too severe to complete the procedure. They took samples for a biopsy and arranged an emergency CT scan.

He says: ‘I was told I had either Crohn’s disease or cancer. The next five days were agonising. I was hoping for the best in Crohn’s yet expecting the worst in cancer.’

Unfortunately, Mo’s worst fears were confirmed. He was told he had cancer but they needed to do more tests to see how severe it was.

Mo with his radiotherapy mask (Picture: Mo Haque)

He says: ‘When I heard the words “yes, its cancer”, I didn’t know the severity. I was scared, yet hopeful that whatever was ahead of me, I could handle it.

‘A week later I met the cancer specialist and learned that it was stage 4, that my tumour was inoperable, that I had a small chance of success.

‘I was devastated, I was shattered and I questioned the point of even having any treatment as I signed the consent forms for chemotherapy.’

Chemotherapy began on Christmas Eve, four days after his 32nd birthday.

He adds: ‘It was happy birthday, happy Christmas, happy new year, with not much to be happy about. I questioned whether I’d see another year.

‘Within a matter of days, my entire life took a whole new direction with a new level of meaning. I was now taking one day at a time.

‘I now relied on help and support, for tasks I never thought I’d ever need. Help with my shopping, my cleaning, my travel. I could no longer go for a walk whenever I wanted, let alone a run.

‘From waking up each morning and getting ready for work, now I wasn’t sure if I would wake up each morning. It was primarily home and hospital.’

Mo having treatment (Picture: Mo Haque)

Four years on, Mo has had lots of different types of treatment, including chemotherapy,  radiation and surgery, including removing his colon and giving him an ileostomy bag.

He adds: ‘I marvel at what the medics can do. The stoma collects my poo into a bag that needs emptying several times a day. This allows me to live but does occasionally brings problems.

‘When the bag has leaked it causes a huge mess together with embarrassment and guilt. It once leaked at a football match, which took two hours to clean up after I came home.

‘I’ve had moments when, out with friends, my stoma has prolapsed where parts of my bowel have protruded out. Not only were these scary moments, but ruined plans with me needing to go hospital or straight home.

‘My friends truly are amazing, they know my challenges and are mindful that I might cancel at any moment, even if we’re about to order food.’

In December 2015, he was told there were no more treatment options available on the NHS but his cancer continued to grow.

Mo was also told he had Lynch Syndrome – a type of gene mutation that puts people at high risk of developing bowel cancer.

Mo’s dad died of bowel cancer when he was a baby and it is believed Lynch Syndrome was inherited from him.

Mo in hospital (Picture: Mo Haque)

Mo’s research showed that immunotherapy, a type of treatment not widely available on the NHS, can work in patients who are carriers of Lynch Syndrome.

Immunotherapy works by trying to make the body’s immune system attack the cancer cells.

He set out to raise £190,000 to have the treatment privately, which has been a success.

He explains: ‘This has incredible seeing my tumours reduce and stabilise. I am blessed and grateful for the love from family, friends, and complete strangers for helping me stay alive.’

But the immunotherapy has created some other side effects that are challenging for Mo.

He says: ‘I now have rheumatoid arthritis. I had no idea how painful and challenging arthritis could be. I have it in my hands, shoulders, knees and feet. If someone shakes my hand firmly, it feels like my bones are crushing.

‘My knees can lock up making it impossible to walk at times. Getting ready, or changing clothes takes a lot longer.

‘I need help to put on my coat, or tie laces. I struggle to open bottles or jars, and when I try I feel like I’m doing a work out where my heart rate is at maximum.

‘I can’t even sit on the floor, or kneel down to do any floor exercises.

Mo having chemotherapy (Picture: Mo Haque)

‘I also have Ulcerative Colitis, which is inflammation in my rectum. This causes discharge where I pass out mucus, blood or liquid multiple times every day.

‘Sometimes this is uncontrollable, so I need to make sure I am near a toilet. The incontinence can cause a lot of mess. Sometimes the pain from the colitis has seen me nearly pass out, and has definitely meant cancelling meetups with friends.’

Despite the side effects, Mo hopes the immunotherapy will help him to remain stable, taking each day as it comes.

He adds: ‘The illness doesn’t stop me from going out although I need to do a lot more planning and I need to build in a lot of rest and recovery.

Mo is backing Bowel Cancer UK’s #thisisbowelcancer campaign for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (Picture: Mo Haque)

‘When I’m arranging meet ups or activity, I am conscious about how much I can realistically do and anticipate how much down time I’ll need, to make sure I don’t over do things.

‘I also make sure accessibility needs both in travel and toiletry are supportive.

I see a psychologist regularly, to talk through mental and emotional challenges I face. Self care is a huge part of my life. I practice monthly breathwork sessions. When times have been extremely challenging, I take one day at a time.

‘I find writing therapeutic, and revisiting my story in my published book Choosing To Stay, was profoundly cathartic.’

Mo also speaks about his condition to raise awareness of Bowel Cancer, especially in younger people, and of Lynch Syndrome.

As part of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, Mo is taking part in Bowel Cancer UK’s #thisisbowelcancer campaign by writing one word about himself on a piece of paper and shaing it on social media.

To take part, you can write a word, such as your hobby or job, on a piece of paper or download and print their PDF template, take a photo and share it on social media with #thisisbowelcancer.

You Don’t Look Sick is a weekly series telling the stories of people with invisible illness and disabilities. 

You Don’t Look Sick is Metro.co.uk’s weekly series that discusses invisible illness and disabilities.

If you have an invisible illness or disability and fancy taking part, please email laura.abernethy@metro.co.uk.

You’ll need to be happy to share pictures that show how your condition affects you, and have some time to have some pictures taken.

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My Odd Job: As a costume designer I was once asked to dress an ostrich


I didn’t grow up wanting to be a costume designer. I actually wanted to be an architect but I gave up on that dream when I discovered I’d have to study maths or physics.

The cultural context of clothing is as interesting to me as its construction. You are essentially building something for the body to inhabit – not so different from an architect after all.

Costume designer Layla Griffin in a London rental house
As a trainee, I worked on TV dramas, commercials and film and learnt my trade assisting some of the best designers in the business (Photo: Susannah Ireland)

Having graduated with a first Class BA in fashion womenswear I interned for Roland Mouret where I met lots of fashion stylists. I assisted a few who worked in editorial and on music videos, and this led me to costume design.

As a trainee, I worked on TV dramas, commercials and film and learnt my trade assisting some of the best designers in the business. I feel so grateful for those opportunities.

My own portfolio grew gradually from designing for student short films (one of which won the BAFTA for best short) and doing editorial shoots for free.

I was very keen to become a designer as quickly as possible rather than becoming an assistant costume designer.

Costume accessories in a London rental house
We judge people within the first three seconds of seeing them and this also applies to the characters we see on screen (Photo: Susannah Ireland)

It’s a well respected position and route to becoming a costume designer but instead I worked in a boutique every weekend and in nightclubs every evening to be able to afford to work for free and live in London.

It was exhausting but I loved the fact I was designing my own jobs so it was worth it.

To date I have done costume on films such as We Need To Talk About Kevin, styled bands like Feist and You Me At Six and worked on adverts for brands including Samsung, Jaguar and Apple.

My average day depends on whether I’m doing prep or filming. During prep I meet with my director to go through each character and decide who they are and what they should look like.

Layla Griffin worked on the costumes for We Need To Talk About Kevin
I have worked on films such as We Need To Talk About Kevin (Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock)

In life, we judge people within the first three seconds of seeing them and this also applies to the characters we see on screen.

Before they deliver any dialogue, their costume and appearance have communicated a lot of who this character is to the audience.

I use moodboards (photo references) to show ideas and discuss what garments, colours and silhouettes will work in context of the film as a whole.

Depending on the project I will either sketch ideas or start sourcing items, working with my team of assistants and buyers.

Layla Griffin tries on costumes she sources for her job
On a filming day, I’ll be up around 5am to be on set for breakfast with the crew (Photo: Susannah Ireland)

We source clothing everywhere: it could be a rental house (the UK has the best in the world), the high street (it’s amazing how much of my time is spent shopping) or vintage shops, charity shops and markets.

All the items are racked up at the back of my studio before we start building outfits and deciding which items are missing or what will need altering ready for fittings.

Prep days can be long if we are working to a harsh deadline but often we are limited to the hours the shops and rental houses are open, which is the standard 8-10 hours.

On a filming day, I’ll be up around 5am to be on set for breakfast with the crew. We discuss what is being filmed and go through any problems we can see – such as a character getting covered in mud in an action scene – we have to reset the costume to look clean again between each take.

Layla Griffin, a costume designer in London
We could be dressing anything from one person to 250 background extras in period clothing (Photo: Susannah Ireland)

We then dress the artists. Most of the costumes will have been set up the night before but there might be some last minute ironing, alterations, dirtying down or aging an item.

We could be dressing anything from one person to 250 background extras in period clothing. Myself or members of my team head to set to make sure costumes remain in continuity during filming.

They also make sure the artists are comfortable on set, whether that be unlacing corsets between takes or wrapping them in blankets and hot water bottles if it’s a cold day (bikinis on beaches in November spring to mind).

Filming days can last anywhere from 10-14 hours but I have worked my fair share of 20-plus hours straight.

I’ve designed some amazing costumes but I’m fickle so my favourite changes all the time.

Layla Griffin looks through costumes in London
I dressed an ostrich and a lion from Harvey Nichols once (Photo: Susannah Ireland)

I really enjoyed designing fantasy video game characters for Samsung in South Africa last month, but then a couple of weeks before I loved doing cowgirls and modern military for PlayStation in Romania. I’d love to get the opportunity to do sci-fi one day.

One of the things I love most about my job is the variety of people I work with, from makeup artists and choreographers to sparks (electricians) and grips. All the departments are so different and yet we’re all a team and work as one.

Odd things happen daily. I dressed an ostrich and a lion from Harvey Nichols once, but honestly there are too many to mention. I seem to spend a lot of time working out how to make nudity more comfortable to film and that can be quite delicate for all involved.

Most people think being a costume designer involves sketching and making every item we use but it’s a common misconception that’s true within the industry as well.

Usually we collate and create characters out of pre-existing items.

More than anything, this job is exciting – I don’t know from month to month where I will be or who I will be working with.

This extends to which country I will be in, whether I’ll be filming in a castle or council flat and whether I’ll be with a celebrity or someone that’s been street cast and never been on screen before.

I could be designing 18th century pirates, an Arctic explorer or someone in jeans and a T-shirt.

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My online friend died and I’m grieving for someone I never met

woman on bed
She mentioned one day that she wished she’d had a ‘big love’ before she died (Picture: Irene Palacio for Metro.co.uk)

I am grieving for someone I never met.

Tracey and I got chatting on Facebook a year ago. We were in a couple of the same groups – all of them for people fighting cancer.

I had just been diagnosed with colon cancer and she was battling ovarian cancer and we were both commenting in the same thread about how tedious chemotherapy was.

Something about our conversation chimed — we were the same age — 32 and 34 respectively, with similar outlooks. She DM’d me a ‘wave’ and I added her as a friend.

‘What are you going through?’ she asked.  I told her that my cancer had been removed but the chemo was to prevent it coming back.  That I was trying to avoid Googling the chances of relapse. She totally got it.

She had been diagnosed about four months before me, so in a bleak way I saw her as my ‘cancer sherpa’.

It doesn’t matter how many people are around you physically (I had a lot of great support from friends and family), cancer can be lonely as hell.

No one else knows that cold and crystalline fear that seeps through you when you think you might die. When that is a real possibility rather than an abstract idea.  But Tracey knew.

A few months later, she got the worst news.  ‘Anyone else here terminal?’ she posted in the group.  Four brutal words. Her cancer had come back and there was nothing more to be done.

I messaged her to let her know I was thinking of her and sending love. She must have been inundated with messages — she was enormously popular — but she messaged straight back.

We discussed how surreal it was. You don’t expect your body to let you down like this in your early 30s.

I guessed from people posting on her wall that knew her in ‘real life’ that she had passed.

Tracey had a bucket list, which she ploughed through.  Holidays, day trips, experiences – I felt like I was sharing in it because she posted regular statuses and pictures.

In fact, if you saw her posts and didn’t know her you wouldn’t realise the painful story behind them.

One of the longest chats we had was about dating.  She mentioned one day that she wished she’d had a ‘big love’ before she died.

She wondered whether she might still find him in time. We chatted at length about how we felt undateable as cancer fighters.

I think I somehow believed that she’d always be there, a fixture of my online world, such as she was.  We were in this fight together, and no man would be left behind.

But I followed her updates as she went quickly downhill in the space of a week and moved into a hospice.

In her characteristic way, she confronted this new eventuality with cheer: posting pictures of her amazing room at the hospice (she was excited to have a balcony) and saying how great the staff were.

I always thought I would meet her in person eventually, though she lived 150 miles away.

Facebook has a way of making someone familiar even though they’re not physically with you, and I felt that we could easily catch up like old mates if we were to meet.  But of course it wouldn’t happen now.

‘Miracles do happen’:  I have seen this comment a hundred times, under fretful posts from other cancer fighters who have been given a life-limiting prognosis.  They said it to Tracey.

Miracles do happen, it’s true. But they can’t happen for everyone – it’s just not how miracles work. No miracle came for Tracey.

I felt that she had led me by the hand through her experience with her regular updates but she couldn’t let me know that she had died.

It sounds an obvious and stupid thing to say but I really thought that she would.  Instead, I guessed from people posting on her wall that knew her in ‘real life’ that she had passed.

And now I think about her every day, and the sadness remains a constant.  My friend was utterly heroic, beautiful to the end and so very vibrant. I wish I’d got to meet her.

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Eating, bathing and stroking cats: How bustling Istanbul can be the most relaxing weekend break

The hammam provides peak relaxation (Picture: Getty Images)

Imagine the fourth most populous city in the world, the only capital on the planet spread over two continents and a melting pot of different religions. It doesn’t sound like the kind of place you could relax, but Istanbul provides an eclectic range of delights you would not expect.

Over 15 million people live in Turkey’s capital on either shore of the Bosporus Strait, which separates the European and Asian side of the city.

With the huge amount of humans living their lives in Istanbul, there are certainly the trappings of modern city life – the traffic, especially, can be something to behold – but within the seemingly manic surroundings there is an inner calm to the place.

At first glance, Istanbul is a hustling, bustling 21st century business hub, with the added uncertainty of an unavoidable culture clash on the border between Europe and Asia.

But as soon as you get to know what the city is about, it is clear that the lifestyle is built on a warm, friendly and calming way of doing things.

Survive the traffic from the airport without getting too stressed, and you are about to experience a surprisingly relaxing time in Istanbul.

The Turkish eating and drinking experience

There are many things to enjoy about Istanbul, but the food might well be the highlight, both in terms of taste and the whole dining experience.

There really is something for all diets on a Turkish menu, with meat and seafood aplenty, but all sorts of veggie options as well, including every way you could imagine an aubergine to be served.

The beauty of the dining culture is, you can try every single bit of cuisine on offer as these little dishes are there to be shared with everyone at the table.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

It is not quite tapas, but from starter to dessert, the food is there to have a little taster of everything and go back for more of what you liked best.

It is a great social aspect to dining, and gives you the opportunity to taste such a wide range of delicacies (or hardy street food) that you may not have seen before.

A handful of restaurants that stood out in the memory were Neolokal, Firuze and Pandeli, which all provided this extremely amenable set-up.

And it can all be washed down with the absolute rocket fuel that is Turkish coffee.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)


Undoubtedly the most relaxing part of any visit to Istanbul will come in the Hammam, where you will reach unparalleled levels of both chill and cleanliness.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hammam, with my research into Turkish baths lacking somewhat, but I was not disappointed.

Having not been bathed by another human since I was circa five years old, it was an odd experience to readjust to as an adult, but you soon relax and appreciate the soothing nature of the place.

For the uninitiated, you lie down on some wet stone for a while, then a bloke gives you a thorough soapy wash. The first bit is incredibly zen while the second is liberating and remarkably cleansing.

If nudity is an issue for you, stick some swimming shorts on, if not, then go free and easy.

After the Hammam experience, you wander back out into the Istanbul streets in a trance-like state, totally relaxed, and very thirsty for a lager.

The Shopping

Shopping might not be your go-to activity, and maybe not one you think of as relaxing, but whether you are a shopaholic or not, there are a couple of places not to be missed in Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar is one of the highlights of the  city and has been a centre of commerce in the region since 1453.

There are around 4,000 shops in the Grand Bazaar, which might sound a bit overwhelming and stressful, but people aren’t too pushy and it is a real experience to wander around looking at a mix of impressive local produce and cheap designer fakes.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

While you will notice that there are not 4,000 entirely original shops in the Grand Bazaar, there is still a huge range of diverse products and all the stuff you would expect if you are looking for a Turkish souvenir.

The lighting shops were a personal favourite, but carpets, pashminas, crockery and jewellery were proving pretty popular as well.

There is also the Spice Bazaar, which is a much smaller-scale shopping experience, but offers some great options to take home for your kitchen.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

A totally different, but equally interesting shopping experience is wandering around the antiques shops of the Beyoglu district.

An area full of culture, and where I stayed during my time in Istanbul, at The Stay Late Antiquity Hotel.

There is no telling what you will find in the shops around the back streets in Beyoglu, but you could easily unearth a bargain or something highly unusual.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

Not exactly typically Turkish, but these Union Jack and Stars and Stripes darts show just what a range of stuff you can find in these little treasure troves.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

Friendly animals

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

A happy little bonus for any animal lovers visiting Istanbul is that there are friendly cats wandering around all over the place, and a few dogs thrown into the mix as well.

Cats have been a big part of Istanbul culture for centuries, with strays allowed to potter about and are well looked after, with people leaving food out for them and building little shelters for them.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

There are a couple of theories as to why cats are so prevalent in the Turkish capital, but most likely is they were simply encouraged as pest control.

While the Ottoman Empire was in its pomp, wooden houses were common, which meant there were problems with rodents and other pests. Cats became popular to deal with the situation and they have hung around ever since.

They knock about in shops, in churches, around cafes and they are honoured in murals around the city.

For the dog lovers there are less around and they might not be quite as amenable for stroking, but you’ll find one or two chirpy hounds hanging about.

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It seems like a small point, but if you are an animal lover, it’s a really nice bonus to have friendly felines hanging around all over the place.


(Picture: Phil Haigh)

Sightseeing is not necessarily the most relaxing of things to do when on holiday, but given that most of the major things to see in Istanbul are of a religious nature, even this has a peaceful, zen-like quality to it.

As with all major cities, there are a few things you just have to go and have a look at, even if it is not usually your vibe, and the churches and mosques of Istanbul certainly fit that category.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

The Blue Mosque, The Hagia Sophia Museum and the less religious settings of the Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern are all incredible places to visit.

Even with the huge number of tourists that come to Istanbul, a peaceful serenity is largely kept up, and it is not a stressful experience at all as you drink in the history.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

The clash of cultures and mix of religious history is always on display as you visit these famous Istanbul sites, and they give you plenty to think about as you learn how they have survived and adapted over centuries.

(Picture: Phil Haigh)

Of course there is far more to Istanbul than just what has been mentioned here, with vibrant nightlife and a rich sporting tradition two more strings to its extensive bow.

There really is something for everyone and given how affordable flights are to the other side of the continent, it is a trip not to be missed.

How to get to Istanbul and where to stay

Pegasus airlines provide cheap, regular flights from the UK To Istanbul.

A typical return flight from London on a Friday to Monday will cost around £137 with each leg taking just under four hours.

Base yourself at The Stay Late Antiquity Hotel in Beyoglu, or in one of their other locations around the city, including the remarkable Bosphorus Hotel.

A Junior Suite in the Stay Late Antiquity Hotel will cost around £120-per-night.

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Everything you need to know about beauty fridges

(Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

When it comes to skincare, you’re either entirely invested in acids, masks, and serums, or you just don’t give a toss.

There’s rarely an in-between, and the camp you fall into will be revealed by your reaction to two words: beauty fridge.

A beauty fridge is a fridge (usually a mini one) used only for beauty products.

If you thought ‘wow, that is entirely unnecessary’, congratulations, you have not become obsessed with different coloured goops to place on your face.

If you thought ‘I should get one of those’, I’m afraid you are part of the skincare addicts club. Take a seat and don’t worry, we don’t judge here.

To many beauty obsessives, the concept of keeping beauty products in the fridge is entirely old hat. But over the weekend the people of the internet became aware of the idea of a mini fridge for skincare, and reactions were mixed.

YouTuber Safiya Nygaard pushed beauty fridges into the general consciousness by tweeting that she had just bought one – prompting puzzled tweets in response.

But many a beauty editor has shared photos of their own cooling storage, and if you take a look at the #beautyfridge hashtag on Instagram, you’ll find more than 1,000 posts.

While the beauty fridge may have started as an unconventional way to use a fridge designed for storing beers, the idea hit the mainstream over the course of the last year, when brands including Nordstrom began stocking products specifically for the purpose of cooling and warming products.

Now the industry favourites are The Makeup Fridge, complete with the power to heat and chill, a door shelf for your sheet masks, and, of course, a glossy pink exterior, and The Cosmetics Fridge, which has a lovely marbled effect.

So, should you get your own? Let’s discuss.

First, we must be clear: a beauty fridge is in no way a necessity. You do not need a beauty fridge, just as you do not need a collection of jade rollers and a sheet mask for every day of the week.

This is a luxury that is purely for those who take joy in the skincare and want to maximise the experience. Please, do not feel excluded from the skincare club simply because you do not wish to spend your hard-earned money on a special fridge.

There are some benefits to storing certain products in the fridge – chief among them that when it’s hot outside, applying chilled moisturisers and masks feels like an absolute dream.

Cooled skincare products can help to de-puff the skin and boost circulation, as the chill helps to constrict the blood vessels.

There’s no definitive evidence that refridgerating your skincare products will make them more potent or effective, but if you’re a fan of natural skincare that has an expiry date, fridge storage is a good shout for keeping fresh products, well, fresh for longer.

But of course, you could just dedicate a section of your fridge to your skincare products. As we said, there’s really no need to invest in a dedicated option.

A beauty fridge that can also heat products may be handy for the application of face masks, as heat will open up the pores and allow masks to more easily penetrate and clear the skin.

Whether you opt for a beauty fridge or just clear out some feta cheese to create your skincare’s own area in the kitchen, it’s crucial to know which products suit being chilled and which do not.

Sheet masks, natural fresh products, serums, moisturisers, and facial rollers – all will feel incredible applied after a good chill.

Makeup, oils, and balms, not so much. The cold could cause these products to separate, making application a massive mess.

Oh, and remember that if you do get a beauty fridge, an Instagram post of its contents is a requirement. Watch out #shelfies, now the skincare community wants to see just how cool you keep your collection.

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Man finds out why you shouldn’t spoon your girlfriend after she has fake tanned

Pics from Jam Press (fake tan spooning) Boyfriends hilarious tweet documents the perils of spooning your girlfriend after she has faked tanned. Builder, Sam Phillips, 23, from Southampton shared a photo of his legs covered in fake tan smudged on him from his girlfriend Jade after a sponging session. Sam posted on twitter two pictures of his inadvertently boozed legs with the caption ?Woke up thinking I had a big bruise on my leg, turns out you can?t spoon your mrs after she?s faked tanned? Jade, 23, a veterinary assistant, had applied the fake tan before the two had got into bed and while spooning had managed to give Sam a nice coating of the bronzing cream. The tweet has been shared by over 3k people and liked 38k times, many twitter users are linking in their own partners to share in the hilarity with many commenting on just what a frequent occurrence this is for them and their own fake tan coated spooning sessions. ENDS
(Picture: Jam Press)

One man has found out the hard way why you shouldn’t snuggle up with someone after they’ve fake tanned.

Builder Sam Phillips, 23, got up after spooning his girlfriend, Jade, to find a massive mark on his leg.

He thought he had accidentally bruised himself while snoozing. Instead, he’d managed to get a massive fake tan stain along his leg. Oh dear.

Sam shared photos of the mishap on Twitter, writing: ‘Woke up thinking I had a big bruise on my leg, turns out you can’t spoon your mrs after she’s faked tanned.’

Clearly Sam’s not the only one who has made this dire mistake, as his tweet has been flooded with responses from people who’ve also woken up to find themselves unexpectedly browned.

Pics from Jam Press (fake tan spooning) Boyfriends hilarious tweet documents the perils of spooning your girlfriend after she has faked tanned. Builder, Sam Phillips, 23, from Southampton shared a photo of his legs covered in fake tan smudged on him from his girlfriend Jade after a sponging session. Sam posted on twitter two pictures of his inadvertently boozed legs with the caption ?Woke up thinking I had a big bruise on my leg, turns out you can?t spoon your mrs after she?s faked tanned? Jade, 23, a veterinary assistant, had applied the fake tan before the two had got into bed and while spooning had managed to give Sam a nice coating of the bronzing cream. The tweet has been shared by over 3k people and liked 38k times, many twitter users are linking in their own partners to share in the hilarity with many commenting on just what a frequent occurrence this is for them and their own fake tan coated spooning sessions. ENDS
Poor Sam was covered in fake tan (Picture: Jam Press)

If you’ve pressed up against someone who’s just fake tanned, don’t worry, you don’t have to sit back and wait for the brown stuff to fade.

There are some household products that work brilliantly to remove fake tan in a speedy fashion. Try rubbing the area with lemon juice, shaving foam, anti-dandruff shampoo, or toothpaste, and you should be back to your normal shade.

Exfoliation is key, so grab a glove and some oil and scrub away.

Pics from Jam Press (fake tan spooning) Boyfriends hilarious tweet documents the perils of spooning your girlfriend after she has faked tanned. Builder, Sam Phillips, 23, from Southampton shared a photo of his legs covered in fake tan smudged on him from his girlfriend Jade after a sponging session. Sam posted on twitter two pictures of his inadvertently boozed legs with the caption ?Woke up thinking I had a big bruise on my leg, turns out you can?t spoon your mrs after she?s faked tanned? Jade, 23, a veterinary assistant, had applied the fake tan before the two had got into bed and while spooning had managed to give Sam a nice coating of the bronzing cream. The tweet has been shared by over 3k people and liked 38k times, many twitter users are linking in their own partners to share in the hilarity with many commenting on just what a frequent occurrence this is for them and their own fake tan coated spooning sessions. ENDS
Oh dear (Picture: Jam Press)

If you’ve committed the ultimate crime and got fake tan on your white bedsheets, it’s crucial that you don’t attempt to rub the stain away. Instead use a dabbing motion to apply fabric stain remover and water.

Before you go ahead with remedying the situation, though, please do share photos online. We do love a good fake tan fail.

Remember when one man thought his girlfriend had been visited by a horny ghost thanks to her penis shaped fake tan stain? Or all the times fake tan has ended up turning someone green?

What causes you distress and requires nipping to the shops to bulk buy shaving foam brings us deep joy. Do keep the fake tan mishaps coming.

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Seven-year-old girl asks Ikea to change ‘boring’ flags to include unicorns – and they oblige

(Picture: Supplied)

You can’t say no to a seven-year-old with a vision.

Charlotte, 7, wrote to Ikea suggesting they should change their ‘boring’ blue and yellow flags to include unicorns.

Charlotte, who absolutely loves unicorns, came up with the idea because she spots an Ikea store every day on her way to school.

She decided to draw up some fresh designs, showing unicorns shouting ‘Ikea’ in speech bubbles, and wrote a very important letter to the store’s bosses.

Charlotte wrote: ‘Dear Ikea boss, can you please change the boring old flags near the road in Springvale to these pictures.’

The note also appears to include the word ‘demon’, but we’ll ignore that bit.

Provider: Supplied

The letter arrived at the Springvale store and was brought to the manager, Julian, who decided Charlotte was entirely right.

For two weeks starting on 9 April (National Unicorn Day, in case you didn’t know), a new flag incorporating Charlotte’s design will be displayed on the store’s flagpoles.

Julian wrote back to Charlotte to tell her the news, responding: ‘Thank you so much for your letter suggesting we change our flags. We think you’re right, they are a bit boring.

Provider: Supplied

‘We actually really love unicorns too, and we loved your idea so much we’ve decided to make a whole day out of it and celebrate Unicorn Day with the new flag!

‘When the new, much better flag is up we’ll make sure to let you know so you can come and check it out and show all your friends!

‘Can you please ask your mum or dad to get in touch with us so we can organise to have Unicorn Day on a day that suits you – maybe you could even help us out putting it up?’

The new flag (Picture: Supplied)

Charlotte’s mum Rachael told Daily Mail: ‘We are blown away by IKEA’s response.

‘It’s going to be so exciting for Charlotte to see her design on a flag at our local IKEA in Springvale and for the whole family to be involved in the great activities the store is putting on.

‘I love that my daughter is seeing that she can influence the world around her.’

Here’s hoping Ikea stores worldwide listen to Charlotte’s wisdom carefully and incorporate her work in their designs. This kid clearly has a future in interiors ahead.

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