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Muslims Who Fast: Harry, Ilyas, and Junaid show us what iftar away from home looks like

Muslim housemates Harry Shotton (left), Ilyas Nagdee and Junaid Ahmed are pictured at their flat in Stratford, London
Housemates Harry Shotton (left), Ilyas Nagdee, and Junaid Ahmed have lived together for a year and make iftars together during Ramadan (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

By now you probably know that during Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and daily vices such as gossiping and general negativity.

In the last ten days of the holy month, the efforts are amped. During the last full week of Ramadan, our mini-series Muslims Who Fast is prying into the lives of those enjoying their iftar, whether at home or away.

While most iftars are great family feasts, it’s not possible for Muslims who live away from home. This week, we speak to Harry Shotton, from Manchester, who lives in London with his two mates Ilyas and Junaid.

The trio has been living together for a year and sorts out all the iftar duties among themselves.

Harry has spent Ramadans in India, Morocco, Egypt and the UK and though each place is different, he says the community spirit is alive in each place in the same way.

Let’s see what he and his friends had for iftar:

Chicken curry, sweet potato chips, salad and 'Mamma Nagdee's chicken pasties'
Chicken curry, sweet potato chips, salad and ‘Mamma Nagdee’s chicken pasties’ (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
Dhal, sweet potato chips, salad and chicken pasties
Cute plate (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
A green salad
And of course, a salad (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

Tell us about yourself

I’m a proud Mancunian currently exiled to London for work. I’m a civil servant working on international policy having worked in politics for a few years.

Outside of work I enjoy reading, cooking (my favourite dish is probably grilled chicken) and video games (currently playing this incredible Spiderman game on PlayStation).

You’ve probably noticed by now that every Muslim household has dates for iftar (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

Nice. What did you prepare for iftar today?

I prepared a red lentil daal which I’ve cooked in a big batch, a classic chicken curry, a mixed salad dressed in mint and yoghurt, and served with some sweet potatoes and Mama Nagdee’s homemade pastries.

Chicken curry
A chicken curry (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

What’s different about iftar at home and away?

It can be difficult doing Ramadan away from home because you miss your parents and them not letting you get lazy when you’re tired, as well as the quality family time while waiting up for suhoor (pre-dawn meal) together.

When you’re away, there’s greater flexibility in picking what to have for iftar! Whether it’s a lazy pizza takeaway or cooking something you’ve been craving all day.

Muslim housemates (left - right): Junaid Ahmed, Harry Shotton and Ilyas Nagdee are pictured preparing to eat after sunset
Teamwork makes the dream work (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

What’s an iftar must-have for you?

A Ramadan staple for me is probably dates and water. I try to always open and close my fast with dates and water, aiming to drink about three litres a night. Watermelons always remind me of Ramadan too.

The three friends sitting on their sofas eating their meal
No watermelons tonight (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

Same. What does Ramadan mean to you?

Ramadan is one of my favourite times of the year. I love the night prayers (Taraweeh) at the mosque and bumping into old friends and catching up over a cup of coffee and a cheeky scoop of gelato (or two).

It’s an incredibly blessed month which offers me the chance to refresh and renew my relationship with God.

Above all Ramadan means thankfulness to me: I’m thankful for everything and everyone I have in my life, it gives me time to reflect over all the privileges I take for granted.

Harry leading prayers in their living room
Iftars are accompanied by a prayer, Maghrib, at sunset (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

Any particularly fond memories?

I’ve spent time in India, Morocco and Egypt during Ramadan and the community feeling is incredible. To see families out taking late night strolls or the way people share food at iftar time is lovely.

Also, my mum waking me up before Fajr (dawn prayers) to tell me she’d made some suhoor for me was always amazing. Bless our mothers.

Harry, Ilyas, and Junaid rest after eating their dinner
Repping Stratford (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

How old were you when you first started fasting?

I probably fasted for the first time when I was about 16. Some of my friends encouraged me to try it and it was a really good experience. I properly started doing it four years ago now.

The three men preparing to eat
Some serious preparations going on (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

Are there any things you crave when you fast?

Sounds sad but the biggest thing I miss is drinking water first thing when I wake up. Oh and brunch. I love brunch. I end up making brunch at suhoor time.

So this week I’ve been having daal and scrambled egg on toast or sometimes I’ll make huevos rancheros which is a Mexican dish.

Harry and Junaid sitting on a couch while Ilyas sits on the kitchen table
After the dinner is done, it’s time to chill…until the next prayer begins (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

Fancy. What’s difficult about Ramadan?

The difficult thing is definitely working, and having to be up early and in the office for a whole day while struggling to concentrate and running on very little sleep.

I’m lucky that my work is quite flexible so I can work from home some days because Underground commutes in the summer heat and trying to focus on complex bits of policy work after 4pm is quite a struggle.

But at the end of the day, the spiritual enrichment is so incredibly worth the struggle.

MORE: Muslims Who Fast: Harry, Ilyas, and Junaid show us what iftar away from home looks like

MORE: Muslim mum makes glorious Ramadan care packages for all her neighbours

Stop asking me when I’m getting married

Woman pins veil into her hair
I am left questioning my worth and wondering if I will ever get married, or if I’m even worthy of being married (Picture: Getty)

I’m a hard working and driven 20-something who is doing all I can to secure a future for myself.

However, this is not considered good enough for the older generation and the mounting pressure for me to get married is becoming overwhelming.

I’m British-Nigerian and in West Africa marriage is seen as the epitome of success.

Some Nigerians tend to hold the conventional view that a woman is not complete without a man and that women who marry in their late 20s or 30s are ‘leftover women.’

As African hall parties and wedding season comes about there is an instantaneous influx of questions from relatives like, ‘where is your own husband?’ and ‘when will you get married.’ This is usually followed with, ‘don’t leave it too late.’

I always put on a brave face and reply with ‘God’s timing’ but I leave feeling that I’m not enough or I haven’t done anything significant in my life.

I am left questioning my worth and wondering if I will ever get married, or if I’m even worthy of being married.

At times these questions and remarks make me want to avoid attending family functions as a whole.

In all honesty, I’m bored of having my worth tied to my relationship status.

More women are choosing to prioritise building businesses and pursuing further education. This needs to be praised and placed on a pedestal just as much as marriage is.

If women were glorified more for their accomplishments they would probably feel more confident in themselves when the subject of marriage was broached, rather than feeling inadequate.

Women already face enough societal pressure; having to deal with often daily sexism and our generation’s obsession with social media perfection.

So the last thing we need is for our loved ones to urge us to force ourselves into something that is meant to transpire naturally.

Marriage is only meant to happen once, so why does it feel like there’s a rush?

I understand they want to see us happy, but I wish tradition didn’t come with a timer that causes us to compare ourselves to others, become stressed or unhappy.

I have seen older people succumb to this pressure. Rushing into marriage due to parental influence has left some with financial strain, paying off a wedding that they are no longer happy about, or merely marrying the wrong partner.

But I can understand why they do it. Truth be told, I dread being another year older without having a potential love interest to show off to my family. It almost makes me feel disgraceful.

Worst was when I overheard an aunty ask my mum why my cousin and I weren’t married yet and where did they go wrong.

So how am I able to deal with the pressure from Aunty Bimpe and Uncle Olu?

The average cost for a wedding held in the UK can reach up to £27k with at least 350 to 500 guests. You think this sum would be enough to deter parents and relatives from forcing the subject of marriage, but it’s yet to have any impact.

Fortunately, I am not alone in this and have my friends to talk to and confide in. When talking to each other we admit the only response we want to give to our inquiring relatives when they ask when we’re getting married is, ‘when the time is right’ and insist that we are under no pressure.

Yet, due to age and respect, we often end up agreeing and saying ‘soon.’

I love the idea of marriage. I love the idea of building a life and a family with your best friend. I love the idea of being with someone that accepts you and your imperfections.

I want to get married but don’t want it to be because I felt pressured into it.

For me, the priority is feeling whole and complete with myself first, rather than finding that through being in a relationship with someone else.

And this takes time. Marriage is only meant to happen once, so why does it feel like there’s a rush?

Many of the relatives that ask me these questions are divorced, and so I find it peculiar that they do not seem to recognise that the focus should be on finding your perfect match, rather than just any partner.

Although I find the confrontations hard, I’m grateful that I know myself and will never cave to the pressure put on me.

I still plan to attend these functions and maybe soon I will be able to appease them with a ring, but for now, I have no other choice but to nod along.

MORE: 8 things that always happen when you go to a wedding on your own

MORE: ‘I had months of anxiety dreams’: How to manage insomnia when you’re planning a wedding

MORE: Lean On Me: My best friend is marrying a guy after knowing him six months. Should I stop her?

Mixed Up: ‘I spent a large part of my life wishing I was just one race’


Being mixed-race can be complicated. Straddling two or more cultures, often feeling like you’re not quite enough of either.

But there are also unique pleasures and benefits of being in this position – a multiplicity of languages, religions, cuisines and perspectives on the world.

For many, it’s about occupying two identities simultaneously, reconciling the differences and trying to carve out a space to exist between the two.

Mixed Up is a weekly series that aims to go beyond the stereotypes and get to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.

Ilayda McIntosh is a writer and photographer. She is Turkish, Jamaican and Indian, and says she spent years wishing she could erase parts of her identity.

Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris
‘I spent a large part of my life wishing I was just one race’ (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

‘I define myself as mixed. My Mum is Turkish – born and raised in Turkey, and my dad is Jamaican and Indian – born and raised in Birmingham,’ Ilayda tells Metro.co.uk.

‘My mama (grandma) came over to the UK from Jamaica in the 1960s. I’ve never met my granddad on my dad’s side and I’ve never been introduced go my Indian heritage, so I identify more with my Turkish and Jamaican sides.

‘My parents met in Istanbul and came over to the UK when my mum was pregnant with me.

‘All of my mum’s family live over in Turkey, which means I only see them once or twice a year. But on both sides, my family is huge. I have relatives in Florida, Antigua, Turkey and more.’

So much of the narrative around being mixed-race centres on mixes that include a white parent or a proximity to whiteness. Neither of Ilayda’s parents are white, something that she finds makes it even harder for other people to understand.

‘Most of the mixed-race people I know have a black and white heritage,’ says Ilayda.

‘Though we share many similar experiences in navigating through society and our identity, my experience of being mixed without a white parent is very different.

‘I think of it as having three different homes.

‘I have a huge family in Turkey. I have family in the Caribbean and I have a family in the UK. Three different places where I belong, but also three different places that don’t represent all of me.

‘It’s like I have an intersectional version of a diasporic experience, which I can’t really make sense of. But I do my best to accept it as is and get on with life.

‘If I had a white parent, I think my experience may have been different.

Little Ilayda with her dad
Little Ilayda with her dad (Picture: Ilayda McIntosh)

‘I would have only had two homes – which would be much less confusing – but also I wouldn’t have experienced such a culture clash.

‘There’s an abundance of cultures in my experience which often contradict one another.

‘Turkey is mostly Muslim, Jamaica is largely Christian. Turkey’s culture and social norms are relatively conservative, Jamaica can be quite the opposite to say the least. So I do find that to be a bit of a conflict.’

The merging of multiple cultures and traditions isn’t always to do with conflict or confusion – Ilayda has experienced the joy and variety that the multiplicity of her heritage has added to her life.

‘The foods we eat are just as good as each other, but again so different,’ she explains.

‘I remember at Christmas we have ackee and saltfish, plantain and dumplings for breakfast, then a full British roast for dinner. And the day before we would have had dolma (stuffed peppers) with Turkish yogurt. I can’t complain about the food, that’s for sure.’

As Ilayda grew up, the complexity of her identity began to weigh on her shoulders. It was a feeling that she never really felt prepared for.

‘No one warns you about the identity crisis you have when you start navigating spaces in society,’ Ilayda tells us.

‘As a child, it was never something that concerned me, but as I got older, moved to London, it became a huge part of my life. I have struggled in finding my space as an adult, both internally and externally.

‘I spent a large part of my life wishing I was only singular raced. My perception was that it would be a much easier experience.

Illayda Mcintosh
‘I have found that being mixed-race is a constant balancing game’ (Picture: Ilayda Mcintosh)

‘As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realise that all aspects of my heritage are just as important, and have been equally important in shaping the person I’m becoming.

‘When I look back, it’s upsetting to think I wanted to erase part of myself to ease the understanding for those around me – instead of questioning why they find it difficult to perceive.

‘But I wouldn’t change a thing, I’ve found comfort in knowing that I am unique. I have so much love and pride for my heritage. It’s a blessing to have so much and such a rich culture.

‘Being mixed-race isn’t black and white – pardon the pun. There isn’t a singular shade, hair type or body type that defines what it means to be mixed-race, it is so accurate to say that we are really mixed up.’

Ilayda’s racial heritage is only one of the many components that make up who she is – but it is a significant part. She is still learning how the world reacts to her and figuring out a comfortable place to exist within that.

‘Being a woman informs my identity first and foremost, being mixed-race comes very closely behind,’ explains Ilayda.

‘Throughout my life I have learned and adjusted to parameters set by society because of my gender – norms, expectations, restrictions. Equally, I have adjusted to the expectations and norms based on my mixed racial heritage.

‘The mixed-race experience varies based upon every mixed person’s individual story. But I have found that being mixed-race is a constant balancing game. Balancing multiple identities, multiple cultures, multiple expectations.

‘It’s about creating your own space to exist in the in-between of your races.

‘It’s accepting that you won’t ever find one community which reflects your experience, which is a blessing and a curse in itself; you find multiple communities of those who represent and share elements of a lived experience with you, but never those who share an exact experience.

‘You have to learn to create a home where you are, regardless of wherever feels like home.’

Ilayda uses her creativity to understand and analyse the world around her. Creating art has helped her to piece together her own narrative through the stories of others. Giving a voice to the voiceless is something that she is passionate about.


‘Photography has been a way for me to tell the stories that can be difficult to tell through words. I’ve found that people engage with visual storytelling more than written,’ she explains.

‘I first got into photography in the summer of 2018. I started out with street photography and eventually became fascinated by portraits.

‘Human faces are so unique and in such a busy world we rarely stop and admire them. I pitched the idea of creating a photo series exploring the mixed-race experience for The Black Experience exhibition and began shooting when my place was confirmed.

‘Unpacking each individual experience was so powerful, it helped me make sense of my own mixed-up experience, as well as each of my subjects making sense of theirs.

‘The lived experience of mixed-race individuals isn’t discussed openly within society as there isn’t a distinct communities which brings them together.

‘The black-ish photo series allowed me to create a community through shared experience, which was huge for me.’

Not fitting in is a feeling that has characterised much of Ilayda’s youth. It’s a feeling that’s hard to quantify, but easily recognisable by many mixed-race people who will have experienced this same sense of inadequacy.

‘At university I went to the ACS, which is the African and Caribbean society. I attended one or two events, but after a while I found it wasn’t particularly a space for those who aren’t visually Black; African or Caribbean.

‘This is just one example but it extends beyond this. I’ve been told many times that my race isn’t clear enough.

Illayda Mcintosh with her family
‘People around me often think it’s okay to share racist views with me because I can pass as non-black’ (Picture: Ilayda Mcintosh)

‘I’ve been asked why my hair isn’t curly if I’m Jamaican, and told that I look more Brazilian. Hearing these types of comments once or twice wouldn’t affect me, but I’ve been asked these things my whole life – to the point where I have considered whether to just say that I’m English instead.

‘I think society reacts to mixed-race people either through exoticisation or anti-blackness.

‘Mixed-race individuals are often hypersexualised and exoticized as some sort of hybrid-being through colourist perceptions.

‘One time a guy called me an “exotic creature” on a night out. I find it wild that people seem to think this is okay?

‘”Lightskin privilege” dominates TV and media, which I think makes some people think that the commodification of mixed-race individuals is okay.

‘Colourism also hugely affects this. Being lighter skinned doesn’t mean that you can’t experience racism, but it definitely means you don’t experience it to the same extent as darker skinned women and men.

‘As a lighter-skinned person, if you don’t acknowledge your level of privilege, you run the risk of perpetuating colourist attitudes. It’s important to keep this in mind when discussing mixed-race struggles.

‘Equally, some people deem it okay to express racist views to people of mixed heritage because they’re still “half white” – even though this isn’t the case for me.

‘It’s hard to understand what is and isn’t racist when you’re mixed race, because it exists in such a grey area.

‘I’ve had experiences where people around me often think it’s okay to share racist views with me because I can pass as non-black, as though mixed individuals aren’t black enough to be offended. It’s a difficult thing to navigate.

‘I also acknowledge that I have a certain level of privilege in my “passing”, making me less susceptible to such explicit racism.’

The shift towards more overt racial tension and hostility in the UK worries Ilayda. She thinks political policies have emboldened people to be more open about problematic or racist opinions. Her solution is to make sure marginalised voices are still being heard.

‘I don’t think attitudes to race are changing or getting better, I think people are now comfortable enough to express the views they previously deemed too provocative. It’s scary.

‘This uprising of the far-right adds fuel to the fire and make it difficult for these attitudes to improve. The state of America right now is deeply disturbing. I don’t think it’s a case of attitudes improving or getting worse; true attitudes are just coming forward.

‘During my studies I wrote my dissertation on mixed-race portrayal in London’s contemporary theatre – and I was surprised at the lack of literature about mixed-race identity.

‘I think it’s so important to tell these stories, and listen to these stories in order to then understand the lived experiences.

‘If conversations don’t exist, then it’s the responsibility of individuals to create these conversations, and that’s what I try to do with my photography.’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I’m proud of the complexity of who I am and where I’m from’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I was adopted by two black parents – they made me who I am today’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘For white people, having brown babies used to represent a moral taboo’

People are shocked by this landlord’s extreme list of demands for tenants

Is this the most extreme landlord yet?
Is this the most extreme landlord yet? (Picture: Jessica Marteny/Facebook; Getty)

We’ve all dealt with a rubbish landlord or housemate in our time renting.

But few experiences match up to the extreme rules one landlord demands are met by all tenants.

A list of ‘terms and conditions’ was shared on the Facebook group Awful Roomates: Roomates from Hell by Jessica Marteny, from North Carolina.

Jessica explained that these aren’t her rules, but a list of demands she found from a landlord when searching for a place to live.

Some of the regulations are pretty fair. You have to respect noise limits, keep the property clean, and you can’t take drugs in the flat. Reasonable, right?

But then things get a bit intense.

Tenants have to stay out of each other’s rooms, they’re not allowed guests, and drinking alcohol in the property is banned.

You can’t adjust the thermostat or use a space heater, so hopefully tenants don’t mind the cold, and the property is under 24 hour surveillance to ensure no rules are broken.

Oh, and you can’t cook between 9.30pm and 6am during the week, or between 9.30pm and 9.30am on the weekends. Sorry if you need a late-night snack or you like an early start on Sundays, breakfast shall have to wait.

Posted by Jessica Marteny on Facebook group 'awful roomates: roomates from hell' (Picture: Jessica Marteny/Facebook)
Tenants aren’t allowed guests or space heaters (Picture: Jessica Marteny/Facebook)

The list continues: ‘YOU are responsible for YOUR OWN toiletries and hygiene products. DO NOT use anyone else’s.

‘If the bathroom is out of items buy your own, DO NOT use paper towels as it clogs the septic system unless you want to pay for a plumber.

‘Windows must remain closed at all times while the heat or air-conditioning is on.

‘There will be a $10 late fee if rent is not paid on time even if it’s the next day.

‘If any of these terms are broken at any time you will be asked to leave immediately, and therefore forfeiting paid deposit and any prepaid rent. By signing this you are agreeing to these terms.’

The reaction to the rules wasn’t particularly positive.

One person asked: ‘Is this guy renting a prison cell?’, while another pondered: ‘What if you have a partner? They can’t come over???? And no cooking before 9:30 on a weekend? What if you work on the weekend in the morning and wanna cook breakfast?’

Some people in the group suggested the landlord must have had some bad experiences before, and perhaps their rules and regulations were just an overreaction.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘ha, my landlord is way worse’, please do let us know. We’d love to hear from you about your renting woes.

MORE: 100% mortgages won’t help millennials but fixing the renting crisis will

MORE: What I Rent: Billie, £800 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Walthamstow

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Is it healthy to have make-up sex?

Illustration of two people lying in bed together, facing away from each other
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

There’s a longstanding joke that people in relationships like to argue with each other because the make-up sex is so good.

Similarly, many say that having angry sex (having sex before you’ve actually made up) is equally appealing, because it’s fuelled by a primal passion.

You just have to have each other, right there, right then – even if you’re furious with the other person.

There is likely some truth to it, but research around it has conflicting results.

For instance, a study from 2008 by Israel’s Bar Ilan University claimed that make-up sex is much better than plain friendly shagging, but another piece of research revealed that this works best when you’ve already made up on a psychological level (rather than having sex in the middle of a fight).

The physical reaction you have during make-up sex – feeling hornier and finding your lover extra attractive is actually your mind’s response to the ’emotional threat’ that it’s going through.

In other words, the possibility that you might break up with your partner is encouraging you to make up, while the sex brings you closer together.

But is this really the case?

Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, tells Metro.co.uk that make-up sex can be a good idea as it allows partners to reconnect, but if you’re regularly turning to sex to sort out arguments, it’s worth considering why – and if there are deeper, underlying issues (that a round in the sheets can’t fix).

‘There is nothing wrong with make-up sex as long as you are doing for the right reasons – emotionally reconnecting with a partner that you love and trust,’ said Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney.

‘All couples row and make-up sex is a great way of getting over an argument. It can be especially exciting.

‘It is a reminder that even though you can hurt each [other], you are still there for each other.

‘The obvious danger with make-up sex is if you are in an abusive relationship.

‘You really need to look at the reasons why you are so often having make-up sex – because your partner’s unreasonable behaviour is causing too many rows. If that is the case, it is best to look at the fundamental flaws in the relationship and either address them or walk away.

‘Make-up sex is not going to paper over the cracks.’

If you’ve spent hours talking, shouting and fighting, sex can serve as a helpful break – letting you regroup, remember how much you love and care for each other and continue the fight in a settled manner afterwards.

It’s harder to be angry with someone when you’re cuddled up to them post-orgasm, full of happy endorphins.

The issue here, according to Sam Custer, who runs a psychotherapy clinic and specialises in relationship issues and couples counselling, is that men and women interpret sex in different ways.

Illustration of a woman and a man hugging
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘Make-up sex can be powerful way to heal a rift,’ the psychotherapist, who is a Counselling Directory member, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Make-up sex says that all is forgiven, but it can’t be used as a quick fix.

‘Generally speaking men tend to have sex in order to feel loved and women tend to have sex because they do feel loved. This is where make-up sex can fall down.

‘If the underlying cause for the discontent is not discussed and resolved no amount of make-up sex will build the bridge. Soon one person in the partnership will start to feel like there is something missing in the relationship.’

So, is there a better option? Yes – talking.

‘Sex is a form of communication but it can’t take the place of all types of communication. Talking and behaviour are key to a good relationship and no amount of make-up sex can take its place,’ Custer explains.

‘The ideal would be for good communication to resolve the issues so both parties feel heard and understood, then a way forward that is in the best interests of the relationship and then followed by intimacy that rekindles the loving feeling.’

It’s worth noting that sometimes both talking and sex are off the table.

If the anger is taking over, go for a walk, try to cool down and then sit down with your partner to hash out your issues afterwards instead. As they say, cooler heads prevail.

The danger in having make-up sex is that it may not have the same effect for both of you.

And if it doesn’t ‘work’, the sex could leave you feeling worse than you did before (both about the relationship and yourself), and now you might also question why sleeping with your partner doesn’t help resolve your issues.

Especially if others around you are constantly discussing how great make-up sex is.

Each relationship has its own kinks and quirks; if make-up sex works for both of you, and gives you that time to connect before looking at the bigger picture (why you were fighting in the first place), then go forth and shag.

For some people a lack of intimacy can also be the reason couples are in a tiff, and so the sex might help.

Just be safe and if you feel sex isn’t enough to resolve the matter, then it’s time for a chat with your partner.

MORE: Over 50s are having the ‘most adventurous’ sex of their lives

MORE: How to talk to your partner about an embarrassing sexual fantasy

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Woman had to have entire skull opened up after her brain tumour was dismissed as exam stress

Sophie Wardle is sharing her recovery photos to raise awareness of the signs of a brain tumour
Sophie is sharing her recovery photos to raise awareness of the signs of a brain tumour (Picture: Caters News Agency)

Sophie Wardle, 28, had to have her skull cracked open to remove a brain tumour doctors initially dismissed as exam stress.

Sophie, from Birmingham, had more than 40 staples across her skull after a craniotomy to remove the tumour.

She’s sharing her story to raise awareness of signs of a brain tumour, and to encourage people to push for medical help when they feel they need it.

The mum of five was suffering from seizures for months, but thought they were panic attacks.

Her symptoms began just seven months after Sophie began her course to become a nurse.

She said: ‘I thought I was suffering from university stress, I never imagined it would be a brain tumour.

Sophie in hospital before surgery
Sophie in hospital before surgery (Picture: Caters News Agency)

‘I began battling with what doctors thought were symptoms of anxiety such as the seizures and struggling to breathe.

‘I started to worry when my muscles went stiff and began to shake also but doctors reassured me that it did appear as though it was stress related.

‘ described the seizures as not being able to breathe, and they said that because I was a new mum, it sounded more like a panic attack, and wouldn’t take me to hospital.

‘It wasn’t until the doctors witness a seizure in the corridor after an appointment, that they began looking into it more seriously.

‘I then had an MRI scan which detected the huge tumour in the frontal temporal lobe of my brain.’

A young mum who had her entire skull opened after her university stress was actually a ravaging brain tumour is showcasing her dramatic recovery photos for the first time
Sophie after surgery in hospital. (Picture: Caters News Agency)

Sophie was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour in 2014. She had to undergo a craniotomy, which involves a section of the skull being removed, in order to clear the tumour. At that point her tumour was the size of an orange.

Four years later the tumour returned, and in August 2018 Sophie had another surgery – this time lasting six hours, while she was awake for the entire thing.

‘It was heartbreaking when I was told my tumour returned last year shortly after the birth of my youngest Tommy-Jay, now two,’ said the mum.

‘But I knew I needed to be strong for my children, Grace, 12, Millie, 10, Paige, eight, Erin five, and my baby Tommy-Jay two, and I knew I had to continue to fight.

‘My eldest struggles a lot as there isn’t much help for children trying to understand losing a parent so young.

Pic By Sophie Wardle /Caters News - (PICTURED: Sophie after surgery at home - A young mum who had her entire skull opened after her university stress was actually a ravaging brain tumour is showcasing her dramatic recovery photos for the first time. Sophie Wardle, 30, from Birmingham, West Mids, has over 40 staples across her skull after enduring a craniotomy - whereby part of the skull is removed - in order to remove her orange-sized tumour. - SEE CATERS COPY
Sophie at home after surgery (Picture: Caters News Agency)

I had the first craniotomy on the 24th March 2014, and the second one awake on the 14th August 2018 and have since been struggling with my speech and movement.

‘Having to be awake during the second surgery was the worst experience of my life – but the team were amazing.

‘It was knowing that one wrong move could cause a stroke or a brain bleed.’

Despite two surgeries, Sophie still isn’t ‘cured’. She will have to continue to be monitored to ensure the tumour doesn’t return or cause further symptoms.

Today she still experiences difficulties with speech and movement.

Sophie refuses to let that hold her back, though.

‘I know I’ll never be completely free of my tumour, who I have named Timmy, but I intend to enjoy every moment with my kids,’ says Sophie.

‘My mum always said this quote to me that made me feel braver; about how I was having to withstand a storm.

‘These experiences have made me become the storm – I’m determined and I’ll enjoy the life I have.’

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Which Boots stores are closing?

Boots logo
Will your local store be affected? (Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Many high street stores are having to cut back on their physical locations at present, with the newest casualty being Boots.

The pharmacy chain announced they may be cutting 200 stores over the next few years, with focus shifting to their online offering.

Walgreens Boots Alliance claim that they are consistently reviewing ‘underperforming stores’ of the 2,485 across the UK, with potential closures as part of new cost-saving methods.

Around 350 jobs are already at risk at the retailer’s head offices in Nottingham, as Boots’ sales fell 2% last year.

It will be part of a plan implemented in the next two years, so there won’t be any immediate closures.

However, if you’d like to see if your local Boots is one of the locations under review, we take a look.

Is your local Boots closing?

Boots have currently not been able to confirm exactly which stores will be closing as part of the restructure.

Given that in August last year, the store estimated that Over 90% of the UK population was within 10 minutes of a Boots store, it’s likely that they may try and cut losses in more populated areas where people can get to another location easily.

For example, in London there are 228 stores, with 52 in Glasgow, and 42 in Birmingham.

In Nottingham – where the brand’s headquarters are located – there are 43 shops, and there are even multiples in smaller locales such as Woking and Uxbridge.

Over 2,000 stores have had recent refurbishment efforts, and a new Covent Garden flagship is due to open, meaning it’s unlikely that Boots will be going under any time soon. However, we may see a thinning of their presence on the high street as they head to the (much cheaper to run) online market instead.

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People can’t decide if bride’s lace bodysuit is ‘tacky’ or ‘amazing’

Bride-to-be wearing a lace bodysuit that forms part of her wedding dress
Some said it looks a bit like a ‘swimsuit’ (Picture: That’s it, I’m wedding shaming (non ban-happy edition)/Facebook)

When it comes to choosing a wedding dress, the process can be exhausting.

The endless hours of trying to find ‘the one’ and standing still during tedious fittings, all in an effort to look amazing on the big day.

Unfortunately, not all dresses receive the awe-inspired response the wearer desires.

A bride-to-be from the US, who is having a beach wedding, has confused people with her bodysuit dress that resembles a ‘swimsuit’ – simply because people can’t decide how they feel about it.

Photos of the unidentified woman were posted in a wedding shaming group on Facebook, in which she can be seen having a dress fitting.

The sweetheart neckline dress has two parts – a fitted lace bodysuit, paired with a removable glittery tulle skirt that is attached to the back and sides.

Bride-to-be stands while two women fit the bottom part of her gown to the lace bodysuit
The dress comes with a removable tulle skirt (Picture: That’s it, I’m wedding shaming (non ban-happy edition)/Facebook)
Bride-to-be posing in her lace bodysuit that some Facebook commentators branded 'tacky'
The bodysuit dress is for a beach wedding (Picture: That’s it, I’m wedding shaming (non ban-happy edition)/Facebook)

The posts, which are clips from a video, were shared to the group by an acquaintance of the bride from Jacksonville, Florida.

‘This is her finished wedding dress,’ the acquaintance captioned the post.

‘She had a beach wedding but that romper is a little too short.’

The comments soon flooded in, but opinions are very divided, with many focusing on the length of the bodysuit.

‘It would be so much cuter if it was a little bit longer,’ one person said.

‘She’s got a great body but it looks like a swimsuit/lingerie piece that has an out of place ruffle in the back.’

Someone else had similar feelings about the ruffle and said: ‘Yeah it would look better without the butt flaps.’

But others pointed out that the bodysuit dress is for a beach wedding and the length is just fine.

‘I don’t care for the dress, but it’s a beach wedding, so I can see it being more practical, said one person.

‘And I see a lot of things posted here that are far more shame worthy than this.’

Another member said: ‘It’s a beach wedding. Swimsuits show more.’

Bride poses on tip-toe in side profile, dressed in her lace bodysuit wedding gown
Some said they ‘hate’ it (Picture: That’s it, I’m wedding shaming (non ban-happy edition)/Facebook)

Others warned her against wearing it and said it would cause a ‘hissy fit’ from her husband’s family and was ‘just tacky’, while some went as far as saying they ‘hate’ it.

One person said she ‘wanted to hate’ it, but the power of the dress made them change their minds.

‘I wanted to hate this,’ they said.

‘I really did. But it’s kind of amazing.’

A few also compared the bride-to-be to female superheroes and said she looks ‘flawless’.

‘This is what Wonder Woman would wear to her wedding on the island of amazon women,’ one person commented.

What do you think?

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Being a wedding guest costs around £391 in 2019

People dancing at a wedding
Although celebrating a wedding is great fun, it can be expensive (Picture: Getty)

It’s wedding season and if you have a big day every weekend, you are probably feeling pretty broke by now.

Being a wedding guest isn’t cheap.

According to the American Express annual study, it now costs an average of £391 to go to a wedding – between travel and accommodation, outfits, gifts and not forgetting the hen or stag do.

It’s increased by £88 from an average spend of £303 in 2018.

The biggest cost is the hotel (£72), followed by outfits (£68), the wedding present (£66) and then hen and stag dos (£58).

Travel costs an average of £57, drinks £45 and hair and beauty £25.

If you have lots of weddings coming up, there are some things you can do to cut costs.

Planning ahead is important – you might be able to cut travel costs by booking in advance and hotels could be cheaper. Try to book what you can as soon as the couple have confirmed a date. If other guests you know are driving, try to team up to share the cost of getting there.

Gifts are a big cost, especially if you want to buy the happy couple something special. Try to team up with other guests to club together and pick one of the more expensive items on the wedding list.

The average spend for a wedding guest


2019 average spend

2018 average spend










Hen/stag do









Hair and beauty






When it comes to your outfit, sign up for sales notifications in advance and think about picking something up long before the wedding day. Buying at the end of this summer for a wedding next summer can really cut costs.

Don’t be afraid to re wear an outfit, especially if it’s a completely different set of guests. Pick up new accessories to make it feel fresher.

When it comes to the hen or stag do, try to opt for activities you can afford. You can support the bride and groom without having to take part in everything.

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Why we need to stop putting age limits on our achievements

Image of woman and wedding dress
Do you have a deadline of when you want to be married by? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co,uk)

It’s official. I will now never be included in any ’30 under 30′ lists. The crushing realisation of that sent me into an existential spiral for at least a week.

But the very existence of these kind of lists highlights society’s pervasive obsession with youth – the younger you are when you achieve something, the more it means. But why?

Surely success is success, no matter your age. Why is that we seem to be programmed to feel more pride in our achievements if we hit them when we’re young? As though youth is an additional achievement in itself, and not something that we all have, that dwindles at the same rate for everyone on earth.

So many of us judge our success by what we have achieved by a certain age. We give ourselves arbitrary deadlines and can feel a deep sense of inadequacy if we don’t make it. It’s part of the reason why so many people hate birthdays.

And it starts young.

Remember primary school? Deciding that you would be married with a house and two children by the time you were 25?

As 25 loomed, this deadline became increasingly laughable. But on my 30th birthday I instinctively felt myself setting new timers – for promotion, buying a property, starting a family.

Image of young couple
‘I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of achieving things young’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Is this internal clock useful? Or is an incessant, ticking deadline adding unnecessary pressure to our already stress laden lives?

Rebecca has achieved a lot in a relatively short amount of time, she is determined to hit the targets she has set for herself. She knows what she wants to achieve and when she wants to do it by.

‘I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of achieving things young and I have been really bad for thinking that success means less as I get older,’ Rebecca tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I’ve always had an internal list of things I need to do before I’m 20, 25, 30.

‘At the moment I’m aiming to have one child, four books, a more developed media career and own a home by 30. Even though it makes absolutely no difference whether I have those things at 31 or 29.

‘In some ways it has been good because it drives me on to be more successful, but in other ways it’s oppressive and sets me up to feel like a failure

‘I’ve been obsessed with “X under X” lists for as long as I can remember, and have just made my first one – something I’m delighted about, but which I shouldn’t have been so obsessed with.’

Rebecca can identify the positives in these time-limits, she says they help fuel her ambition. But why are we all obsessed with achieving things young?

Surely an exciting life event would mean just as much to you at 40 as it would at 25 – so why the pressure? For many of us, these deadlines do little but set us up to feel like failures.

There is likely a combination of factors at work.

Firstly there is the concept of youth as currency.

This is a pervasive, Western idea that reveres youth above all else – and it particularly affects women. Over the age of 40, sometimes even younger, women start to become invisible. We don’t see them in movies, TV shows, ad campaigns or even reading the news.

One study found that women over 40 are widely ignored by advertisers, another found that older women are being forced out of the workplace as age discrimination disproportionately affects female employees.

Secondly, there are external, societal pressures. Incessant questions about your achievements can make you feel as though you have to charge through life, full pelt towards the next tick-box.

But, more often than not, no sooner have you ticked one box the questions about the next box will start rolling in. ‘So, when’s baby number two?’

Aimie has recently turned 30. She has been with her boyfriend for years and the pressure about ‘next steps’ is relentless.

‘Everyone always asks me, “do you think you’ll get married?” “when are you going to get married?”, and while I do want those things, the outside pressure makes me feel like I should be unhappy they haven’t happened yet, or that there is something wrong with me or my relationship which means that it hasn’t,’ Aimie tells Metro.co.uk.

‘It has caused issues with me not appreciating how happy I am and putting pressure on myself to think this should have happened, rather than knowing that it really doesn’t make any difference to my life that it hasn’t.

Image of woman looking confused
‘I don’t think I realised actually how difficult it would be to achieve my goals’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘I felt the need to appear tough and put time-frames in so people wouldn’t think I was being walked over, even though actually I’m pretty sure I was less bothered than others about it.

‘I know I then fed into the pressure and equally put it on myself. I guess I had a view that I would be married by now and it’s hard to change that and appreciate what I have today.

‘I also realise that while I struggle with people asking me these questions, I do exactly the same to others, I think it’s this social norm thing that at our age the next thing is marriage and babies – so it kind of occupies the conversation a lot of the time.’

And it isn’t only in her relationship that Aimie feels like this. She has an impressive career as a lawyer, but still the pressure is there.

‘I massively put pressure on myself because I qualified later than the norm. 25-year-olds are further ahead career wise than me and that’s scary,’ says Aimie.

‘This is definitely all pressure from myself though, as I thought it would just all happen and you’re told that when you’re a kid. I don’t think I realised actually how difficult it would be to achieve my goals.’

The concept of a biological clock is another reason why time pressure is disproportionately affecting women. I am reminded with increasing regularity that my fertility will ‘drop off a cliff’ in my mid-30s. A comment which is neither helpful nor comforting.

Anna is a dancer and feels this acute, time-sensitive pressure when it comes to starting a family.

‘As a freelance performer, the pressure to have kids by a certain age is huge and often misunderstood,’ Anna tells Metro.co.uk.

‘So many of my friends either have kids or are talking about kids. As a dancer, that decision will change everything for me. My body is my instrument, my work, my art.

‘I’ll have to take a lot of time out of my career – maybe it will mean the end of my professional performance career. That might seem irrational or unreasonable to some, but as a freelancer it’s a real fear and it has been the harsh reality for some of my friends.

‘Time away from dancing could make it almost impossible to stay relevant and take advantage of opportunities that sustain your career.

‘But, more importantly, I worry about my relationship with my body changing. Not only physically but emotionally. Some mothers I know bounced back like super humans, but others had a more difficult time getting their body back.

Image of pregnant woman
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘On an emotional level, I know myself and I know I would want as much time with my baby as possible, especially in the beginning and I can foresee sacrificing my career for my family, so I just want to be100% sure that I’m ready for that.

‘I plan on having kids in my 30s, some people understand but others judge me for putting my career, or myself, first.’

Somi Arian is a millennial engagement specialist and filmmaker. She has spent time looking into this particular affliction of time pressures and analysing what millennials can do to shift their perspectives.

She says it’s important to remember that we are not all starting from a level playing field.

‘Every day, we are exposed to social media images of entrepreneurs who seem to have it all at ever increasingly younger ages,’ says Somi.

‘In 2018, 62% of digital natives have said that they wanted to be entrepreneurs. Of those who worked in companies, 35% already had a side hustle.

‘We are reminded by high profile entrepreneurs on Instagram and YouTube that “speed is the currency of our time”. We need to act faster and work harder.

‘You want to be a 20 under 20, a 30 under 30, or a 40 under 40! Who sets these deadlines? We are not all equal in our starting point. Is it realistic for people of diverse backgrounds to be measured by the same yardsticks of success?

‘At times my own company’s young staff have displayed the same levels of anxiety over their achievements. I tell them, “I hear you”, because that was once me.

‘For years I dealt with so much anxiety over not achieving certain career goals by certain self-inflicted deadlines.

‘I was failing to take into consideration my physical conditions, my background as an immigrant, skin colour, accent, psychological makeup, gender, and many other factors.

‘So it has taken a huge amount of work and self-reflection to stop beating myself up. Only after this realisation have I been able to see the real impact.

‘Now that I have actually started seeing meaningful achievements in my career, I no longer think of them as deadlines. Instead, for the first time, I see it as a game, one that I’m enjoying playing.

‘Another thing that reinforced this change of attitude was when I started hiring people that were ten years or so younger than myself and I could see how they were suffering from the same pressures that I did in the past.

‘So I started sharing my experience with them and teaching them self-reflection, rather than focusing on success metrics of the society and social media. I believe teaching is one of the best ways to reinforce ones own learning.’

This perspective is an important one. We don’t all have the same start in life, the same support, education or privileges – yet many of our targets are universal, which only serves to perpetuate and widen the gap between people from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.

While setting yourself goals can be a really important and useful strategy for self-improvement and personal progression – fixating on time limits probably isn’t helpful, and can add unnecessary layers of stress that can actually hinder your progress.

The key is understanding and accepting that things happen for people at different times – there is no one correct timetable for how your life is supposed to go.

How to cope with the pressure of time limits

‘We can’t escape comparisons and this is a very real trauma that millennials face.

‘We are constantly in a state of pressure to achieve what others are and if you have been born into the social media generation, even more so.

‘The key to manage and cope with this pressure, is to remind yourself that everyone’s story is different and that social media is a perception of someone’s life.

‘The start-up generation also adds pressure for everyone to be an entrepreneur, an influencer, a success by the time they’re 30 and it’s not realistic. The journey to achieve success is very different and we only ever really see the end result.

‘With the online space, the more you share, the more you can be scrutinised.  Everyone has their own agenda regarding the content they share online and so should you. Always look at what you see with a pinch of salt. It’s only a small insight into somebody’s life and not reason to feel pressure to achieve what they have.

‘Focus on you and your own goals. Understand that there is still life beyond societal pressures, you just have to choose to live it.’

Puja K McClymont, certified life and business coach

Sam is a busy professional working in London’s financial sector. She says living in the capital is a different beast and that despite feeling that pressure at times, the key to happiness is focusing on her own achievements – and not the people around her.

‘Without sounding like a d***head Londoner, I don’t feel any pressure in London because I feel like it’s the norm to do everything later in life when you live in a big city,’ explains Sam.

‘I joke that it buys you an extra 10 years, but it really does because everyone does things later.

‘When I hang out with my lovely family and friends who don’t live in a big city, they don’t pressurise me for being single and not having a house or a husband or a baby, but something internal makes me feel like I am behind personally – even though I am perfectly happy.

‘Some people give me the sad pity eyes, like I must be really miserable, but the honest truth is I’m really happy and you can be happy by yourself!

‘Don’t get me wrong, it would be amazing to meet someone to share my life with and I know I will eventually, but I’m not prepared to do that with someone just for the sake of meeting societal expectations of being married and having a baby by the time you’re 30.’

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Woman bullied for head-to-toe birthmark says new friends made her feel confident enough to go out without makeup

Amba with her birthmark showing and her face with makeup on and on the right, Amba as a baby
Amba now incorporates her birthmark into her looks (Pictures: Kennedy News and Media)

Amba Smith is covered in red patches from head to toe.

The 17-year-old was born with cutis marmorata telangiectatica congenita (CMTC) – a birthmark that affects her blood vessels causing a net-like pattern on her skin and giving it a marbled appearance – as well as a port wine stain birthmark on her face, caused by Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

Her condition also means she has internal birthmarks covering her organs.

When Amba was little her parents Kelly Smith, 43, and Scott Smith, 40, faced hurtful comments from strangers accusing them of scalding their daughter in the bath or letting her get sunburnt.

She was also bullied at school by kids who would ask her if she’d been in a fire.

The comments shattered her confidence and made her very frustrated about her condition, so she would cover the marks with makeup.

But now she wants to share pictures of herself without makeup to raise awareness of the condition.

Amba, of Lincoln, Lincolnshire, said: ‘I was in Year 3 when the bullying started. I still remember it so clearly now.

‘People would say stuff about my skin and ask if I was in a fire or why my parents let me get sunburnt. Some people would even ask if my parents scalded me in the bath.

Amba has a sturge-weber syndrome birthmark on her face
Amba has marks all over her body (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘My condition would cause my stomach to bloat when I was younger so other kids would call me fat even at the age of eight.

‘When I was young, I couldn’t understand. I thought my skin was just normal and there were lots of other people out there like me. I thought I was just the only one at my school.

‘But as I got older and learnt more about my condition I realised it was really rare. We go to lots of meet-ups at hospitals and I’ve never seen anyone else with a birthmark like me.

‘Usually Sturge-Weber only affects one side of your body but my whole body is covered from head to toe.

‘Then I would get frustrated because I didn’t understand why this happened to me.’

After joining secondary school, Amba’s confidence started to grow as she found it easier to make friends and began experimenting with makeup to cover her birthmark on her face.

But in Year 9, she was hospitalised for eight months because of health problems caused by the lesions inside her body.

A picture of Amba, who has a birthmark across her body, as a baby
Amba as a baby (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

When she got back to school, she says her friends had turned against her and she was accused of faking her illness for attention.

Amba said: ‘All I wanted was to be back out there living a normal everyday life. There were times I resented my birthmark for taking all of that away from me.

‘That’s when the bullying started again and my confidence levels dropped to absolutely nothing and I started suffering from anxiety.’

The bullying got so severe, Amba was moved to a hospital school to complete her GCSEs.

What is Cutis marmorata telangiectatica congenita?

Cutis marmorata telangiectatica congenita (CMTC) is a birthmark that affects the blood vessels in the skin causing a net-like pattern on the skin giving a ‘marbled’ appearance.

We do not fully understand what causes CMTC. It probably develops early in fetal life when the blood vessels are forming. It is not passed on from parent to child. It is unlikely to have been caused by anything that happened during pregnancy. It is a rare condition.

The main feature of CMTC is the net-like pattern on the skin, which gives a marbled appearance. This pattern ranges in colour from blue to purple and may become more visible in extremes of temperature.

The pattern may affect one area of the body – most commonly a leg, but sometimes also the arms and trunk. The pattern rarely affects the face and scalp.

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Despite being hospitalised again in May 2018 and having to take her exams from her hospital bed, Amba managed to pass three GCSEs and two BTECs to secure a place at college.

Amba is now doing a Level 2 beauty therapy course and hopes to go onto study to be a makeup artist in London later this year.

Since starting the course, Amba has made so many new friends who are completely accepting of her birthmark and tell her how beautiful she is with and without makeup.

Being surrounded by such a supportive group has seen Amba’s confidence bloom and for the first time in her life, she feels happy to show off her birthmark.

Amba said: ‘Before I started college, I was in bad shape.

What is Sturge-Weber syndrome?

Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS) is a condition affecting the skin, brain and eyes. It is named after the doctors who described it in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

A port wine stain is a vascular birthmark caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but in SWS it affects the skin around the forehead and/or scalp.

As well as the port wine stain affecting the skin, it will also involve an extra layer of blood vessels over the surface of the brain (angioma).

We do not know how many people are diagnosed with SWS but we know it is a rare disorder.

Great Ormond Street Hospital

‘But college has helped my confidence so much. Everyone is so lovely and accepting.

‘We had a day where we were all supposed to get facials and I was scared to take my makeup off in front of everyone but my tutor explained that I had a birthmark.

‘When I took my makeup off, everyone came up to me to tell me how beautiful I am without my makeup on. It made me so happy.

‘Since that day, I’ve been going out more and more without my makeup on. I’m a lot more confident just being me.

‘Makeup at first was my coping strategy and a way of hiding my birthmark and changing myself but now I see it as a form of art and a way of showing people what I can do.

‘I’ve even started incorporating my birthmark into my makeup looks like putting a love heart around it. I’m starting to feel quite proud of being so unique.

‘I want to encourage more people to be themselves. If you want to wear makeup then go for it but if someone doesn’t like you for you, with and without makeup, then they’re not worth your time.’

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Woman says her PrettyLittleThing dress is so poorly designed she can’t fit her head through it

A split image showing the PrettyLittleThing dress on one side and April with the dress on her forehead in the other image, wearing glasses and smiling
Tricky, very tricky (Picture: @april___x1/ Jam Press)

Online shopping can be a hit and miss experience.

Sure, the offering is usually more extensive than what’s available in high street stores, but there’s a chance you, like April Bolger, could end up very disappointed.

The 23-year-old marketing manager from Manchester ordered herself a white smock dress from PrettyLittleThing but was left confused when she couldn’t fit the dress over her head.

She took to Twitter to share photos of the product, which has an inordinately small neckline, more suitable for a child.

‘In what world is an adult sized head mesnt [sic] to fit through that head hole?,’ April tweeted.

Accepting the challenge, the shopper managed to get her arms into it, but the neckline still wasn’t budging.

In a different tweet, she can be seen wearing the £20 white Broderie Anglaise Smock Dress, but it didn’t look quite like it does on the model.

‘Arms are out, but head is still stuck,’ she tweeted.

April Bolger trying to fit her PrettyLittleThing dress over her head
Well, at least the arms are in? (Picture: @april___x1/ Jam Press)
Model wearing the White Broderie Anglaise Smock Dress from PrettyLittleThing
Did the model have to struggle her way into the dress too, we wonder? (Picture: PrettyLitttleThing)

April was determined to keep going, and managed to get the dress as far as her forehead, which she referred to as ‘hat level’.

After another try, she finally pulled it over her head.

Unfortunately, the miniature dress was the same length as a top and didn’t cover the bottom half of April’s body.

So instead, she paired it with a pair of light baby pink shorts.

Pics from Jam Press (Head stuck in PLT dress) An online shopper has been left bemused with her PrettyLitttleThing purchase after getting her head stuck in one of their dresses. April Bolger, 23, Marketing Manager from Manchester tweeted the clothing brand with a picture of the poorly designed item of clothing with the caption ?In what world is an adult sized head meant to fit through that head hole?? After forcing her way into the ?20 white Broderie Anglaise Smock Dress she posted an update to the brand telling them although she just about managed to get it on her head - she is now stuck in the summery number ?Finally got my head in, im now stuck in the dress? Another struggle ensued and April eventually managed to free her arms from the restraint like item of clothing, however her head was still locked in its grip - she tweeted a follow up pic stating - ?Arms are out, but head is still stuck? One more monumental struggle got the dress up to as far as her forehead - which got her to ?hat level???PLT responded to April tweets asking for her order number to try and resolve the matter but April chose not to take it further with them as she didn?t see it going anywhere. She returned the dress and is currently waiting for a refund.??Although annoyed but the child like sizing of this particular item April says she will continue to order from the brand, even though the ?quality of their clothing can be hit & miss and (I) often send things back? She told Jam Press ?I was disappointed more than anything as I loved the dress, however was not mad to fit an adult? ENDS
Eventually, April managed to get the dress over her head, but it looks more like a top (Picture: @april___x1/ Jam Press)

PrettyLittleThing saw April’s Twitter thread and got in touch with an offer to resolve the matter, and asked for her order number.

However, April decided not to take it any further and instead returned the dress for a refund.

Albeit annoyed, the 23-year-old said she will still order clothes from the brand, despite the ‘quality of their clothing can be hit & miss and (I) often send things back’.

She also told Jam Press: ‘I was disappointed more than anything as I loved the dress, however was not mad [sic] to fit an adult.’

We’re inclined to agree.

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Almost half of British people don’t try the local food when on holiday

A compilation of three dishes on a colourful background including sushi, a curry and noodles
People avoid travelling to India, Japan and China because they believe they won’t like the food (Picture: Getty/ Metro.co.uk)

One of the best parts of travelling is exploring the country you’re visiting.

Unfortunately, for almost half of Brits (46%), that doesn’t extend to trying the local cuisine.

A new study has found that more than two thirds of people (68%) will go looking for a takeaway from a brand they recognise. McDonalds – known for offering similar menus across the globe, with some minor exceptions – topped the list as the most popular option (39%), while Burger King (20%) and Subway (14%) followed.

Additionally, one in 10 British people (9%) might be feeling homesick, as they admit to spending most of their holiday in a pub.

The new study, conducted by the flight-comparison site Jetcost, consisted of a poll among 2,300 people over the age of 18, all of whom had been on holiday at least once in the last two years.

Food remained the main issue when travelling, with just 10% eating local food every day. Meanwhile, one in four (26%) said they try it once (before, presumably, going back to McDonalds).

As for why people are avoiding the local cuisine, the top reasons were because they didn’t like the look or smell of the dishes (28%), are ‘fussy’ when it comes to food (21%) or ‘didn’t want to get ill’ (18%).

By not eating the local cuisine, holiday-goers risk missing out on one of the key experiences of travelling.

But people aren’t just not eating the food, 24% are also avoiding countries where they don’t believe they’d enjoy what’s on the menu. India, Japan and China are most commonly avoided, according to the poll.

Travellers are however more open to trying cultural activities and going sightseeing on holiday, with 74% admitting they do, but only 15% would do so more than twice during their trip.

In an effort to find out more, we asked people on Twitter if they will eat the local cuisine on holiday, and if not – why.

Majority of them said they would try local food, though some have had bad experiences in the past.

‘Whilst it can be tempting to play it safe when on holiday and get a takeaway, or eat something you’re familiar with, it’s definitely worth at least trying the local cuisine as you never know what you might like until you give it a go,’ a spokesperson from Jetcost said.

‘It’s better to try it and confirm you don’t like it, than it is to never try it and miss out. Do be cautious abroad though; we don’t recommend eating unpeeled fruit and in countries where the local water is to be avoided then it can be best to steer clear of fruit, veg and salad that may have been washed.’

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Shop worker praised for going ‘above and beyond’ for autistic customer

Jacob Tayler
Jacob has learned sign language and other non-verbal communication (Picture: CNN)

An 18-year-old shoe shop assistant has been praised for his patient, caring treatment of a young customer with autism.

Jacob Tayler, who works at Clarks in Bicester, went ‘above and beyond’ one mother’s expectations by showing an incredible level of sensitivity to her autistic daughter’s needs.

The woman was so moved that she emailed the retailer to thank Jacob for his kindness.

‘My daughter is autistic. She wanted to come in and try shoes but once in your store had a sensory overload,’ the mother wrote in her email.

‘Jacob came over and really kindly asked if he could help to which I answered, “Yes please.”

‘He didn’t mention or acknowledge the situation but just sat [on] the floor and started talking to my daughter,

‘He gently tried shoes on her and explained to her why they would feel different and in time they would soon feel OK.

The letter, tweeted by Jacob Tayler's father (Picture: @JamesFlibble)
Jacob’s dad was ‘ridiculously proud’ when he say the letter (Picture: @JamesFlibble/Twitter)

‘He sat patiently while she cried and I had to rock her and carried on when she was ready without any fuss and he didn’t once make us feel like we were taking too long or being a nuisance.’

Jacob’s dad was so proud of his son’s mature and professional behaviour that he Tweeted about the email.

‘I’m ridiculously proud of both of my children, but my 18 year old son was presented with this at his Saturday job yesterday and I might be a little choked up,’ wrote James, sharing a picture of his son’s letter.

And the mother who wrote the letter saw James’ tweet and reiterated her praise.

‘Teens today are given bad press, not enough praise and when he said it was his w/e job I was amazed as he was fab!’ she wrote.

‘I don’t know if he has experience with autism but he certainly did everything right. You can tell him Lois still loves her shoes!’

But Jacob isn’t your average teenage boy – he has an incredibly strong sense of empathy and social responsibility.

He has worked at the children’s charity Barnado’s since he was 16 and learned sign-language and other non-verbal communication at summer camps.

The 18-year-old plans to apply for an apprenticeship as a firefighter after spending three months abroad helping people with disabilities.

‘We’re so pleased to see Jacob’s great customer service being recognised,’ an official Clarks spokesperson told Metro.co.uk.

‘All our store colleagues are trained in providing first class service to all consumers, and we are particularly proud that we are able to create a comfortable shopping environment for those on the autistic spectrum.

‘We have provided quiet hours in our stores for some time, and in 2019, will be implementing a quiet hour in the majority of our stores every day.

‘Clarks recognises and celebrates individuality and we are proud to see our company values being so well expressed by store colleagues.’

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Asda releases super cheap gold award winning wine

The £5.25 wine
Asda’s £5.25 wine won gold (Picture: Asda)

A super cheap Asda wine has won gold at a recent wine awards.

The £5.25 Wine Atlas Feteasca Regala was awarded a gold medal at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards.

The Romanian white wine’s ‘soft, tropical fruit flavours’ are said to pair perfectly with Asian dishes or stir-fries.

It scored 95/100, and beat 17,000 other wines from 57 countries, and was one of the highest scoring supermarket wines this year.

An Asda spokesperson said: ‘We pride ourselves on developing not only great quality, but great value wines, and are delighted to have been awarded gold for our Feteasca Regala.’

Asda previously won gold at the 2016 Decanter Awards for its Chilean Malbec, with demand for the bottles crashing its home shopping site.

The award-winning Wine Atlas Feteasca Regala is available to buy now in Asda stores and online.

The cheap wine won gold
It’s on sale now (Picture: Asda)

Another supermarket wine winning awards is Aldi’s organic Malbec, which costs £6.99 a bottle.

The Exquisite Organic Malbec won silver at the recent Decanter World Wine Awards – and it’s soon going to be hitting the shelves.

It was judged by a panel of 200 world-renowned wine experts, including 70 Masters of Wine.

The Malbec beat loads of amazing wines from around the world in a number of blind taste tests.

In total, Aldi was awarded 49 accolades for its wines, including eight silver awards.

Other wines which were a success with the judges included Aldi’s Exquisite Leyda Sauvignon Blanc, £5.49, Exquisite Crémant du Jura, £8.29 and Exquisite Côtes de Provence Rosé, which costs £6.99.

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The British public has made some controversial choices in the vote for their favourite biscuits

A picture of digestives, jaffa cakes and cadbury fingers
There were some controversial choices in the top five (Picture: McVitie’s/Cadbury)

It’s National Biscuit Day.

It might not be something set up in your calendar, but it should be because the biscuit is a great thing.

It is perfect as a quick treat and of course, for dunking into a cup of tea.

But they can also be divisive.

A survey conducted by YouGov to find the best one has caused a few arguments.

The top choice was the McVitie’s milk chocolate Digestives, with 81% of the vote.

A close second was the Cadbury Fingers with 78%, followed by the Cadbury version of the milk chocolate Digestives with 77%.

The controversial inclusion was the Jaffa Cakes as some say they aren’t a biscuit at all.

Obviously the name itself includes the word cake and a court case in ruled that they are definitely not biscuits.

Apparently it’s because they have a texture like a traditional sponge cake and they go stale rather than soft like a biscuit.

McVitie’s wanted them to be treated like a cake, rather than a biscuit, which is taxed more.

But that hasn’t stopped the British public putting them fourth on the list of their favourite biscuits, with 73% saying they were their favourite.

Fifth place went to the only top biscuit without any chocolate – the McVitie’s original Digestives, which got 71% of the vote.

Reasons why Jaffa Cakes were declared to be cakes

  • The product’s name was a minor consideration.
  • Ingredients: Cake can be made of widely differing ingredients, but Jaffa cakes were made of an egg, flour, and sugar mixture which was aerated on cooking and was the same as a traditional sponge cake. It was a thin batter rather than the thicker dough expected for a biscuit texture.
  • Cake would be expected to be soft and friable; biscuit would be expected to be crisp and able to be snapped. Jaffa cakes had the texture of sponge cake.
  • On going stale, a Jaffa cake goes hard like a cake rather than soft like a biscuit.

Of course, beyond the Jaffa Cake issue, people questioned how their favourite missed out.

Hobnobs, custard creams and bourbons were popular choices that weren’t included in the top five.

We guess this list really takes the biscuit.

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Men and women open up about the times they faked an orgasm

Lots of people fake their orgasms, but it's not a good thing
People tell us about the time they faked an orgasm (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

It’s a sad truth that a lot of orgasms are faked.

There are a lot of reasons behind faking an orgasm – perhaps you feel too under pressure to climax and therefore faking it seems easier.

Maybe they’re just not doing it right but you don’t want to make them feel bad.

Whatever the reason, faking an orgasm isn’t something we’d recommend. Surely it just sets you up for repeat failure, because if you’re never honest about your feelings and what’s not quite right in the bedroom, how do you ever expect to fix it?

Despite this knowledge of the longterm impact, though, loads of us fake it. We spoke to six people about why they fake theirs.

‘I suffer from anxiety and depression’

‘I suffer from anxiety and depression and I’m not sure if it’s that or the medication I’m on… maybe a mixture of both. It always takes me quite a while to orgasm. Sometimes a really long time.

‘Occasionally I can just tell it isn’t going to happen, it’s rarely because the sex is bad or that I’m not enjoying it. It’s just some kind of mental block.

‘It’s frustrating but honestly, as long as I can tell my partner has enjoyed themselves I’m pretty content.

‘I’ve been very open about this to past partners and explained why but they still sometimes take offence to me not being able to finish. They feel like it’s their fault – maybe I’m not attracted enough to them or enjoying the sex enough, which isn’t the case.

‘Despite telling them that, you can just tell they don’t really believe you, especially when a relationship is new and the trust isn’t solid.

‘So a couple of times I’ve faked it. This has been when the sex has become a marathon and we’re both exhausted, so they don’t notice or are too tired to care.

‘Is it the right thing to do? I’m not sure but some people just struggle to comprehend that you can enjoy sex without climaxing, especially a bloke – so to save potential hurt feelings or bruised egos… I’ve faked it.’

Illustration of two people lying in bed together
One man faked it due to his mental health (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘I’ve faked every orgasm I’ve ever had’

‘I have faked every single ‘orgasm’ I’ve ever had!

‘No one has ever made me orgasm apart from myself, and guys then take it upon themselves to be “the first” and “try” really hard. It’s always easier to fake it then to go through the hell of telling them that they just ain’t it.

‘I’ve never had a guy know that I’ve faked it, so they’ve either been stupid or just don’t pay attention.

‘I’ll usually vocalise that I’m going to, and I’ll just be that little bit louder, grab onto them a bit and I’ll often clench a little so they get that feeling so they believe somethings happened.’

‘I’ve faked it with people of all genders’

‘I have faked orgasm with people of all genders, with people I love and with one night stands whose names I don’t know to this day. I started doing it with a longterm partner for whom my feelings were receding, partly to just make the sex be over and partly because I didn’t want him to feel bad.

‘Neither of which are good reasons, but unfortunately it started to become instinctive and now there’s only one or two sexual partners I’ve had that I haven’t faked it with.

‘I don’t know why but I get anxious when the attention is all on me, like it’s my fault that I’m taking so long to orgasm and that I should be pleasing them instead.

‘So I just fake it, both to make them stop trying and to make them think they’ve succeeded. No one has ever questioned it so I guess I’m pretty good at lying. I’m working really hard on expressing my needs these days and not blaming myself if I don’t come but the instinct to fake it is still always pretty present.’

‘Faking an orgasm has always been successful’

‘I’ve done it a good few times and it’s generally been successful. Clenching and the right moaning. It can be useful for speeding things along when you just know it’s not going to happen and they don’t want to stop till you’re “happy”.’

An illustration of a woman masturbating
One said she faked it as a ‘reward’ (Picture: Ella Byworth/ metro.co.uk)

‘I realised it just wasn’t going to happen’

‘I’ve faked it. I did pull it off.

‘I did some well timed clenching and some (hopefully) believable noises. I did it because I realised that it just wasn’t going to happen. Not because of anything he was doing or not doing, but because every now and then, it’s just not going to go that way.

‘I didn’t know the guy very well so didn’t want to hurt his feelings because it wasn’t his fault.’

‘It was like a reward’

‘I have only ever faked orgasms twice (and I’ve slept with over 100 men, so that’s saying something).

‘I refuse, on principle, to do it because it’s not good for either party – I’d rather gently lead them towards how to better please me or alternatively, if it was a one night stand, I’d simply just not see them again.

‘The reason I faked the first time is because he had tried so, so hard to make me come and I’d even given feedback but it just wasn’t happening – so it was like a reward. The second time it was just cause I was bored, drunk and couldn’t be arsed to keep going (he insisted I simply HAD to come).’

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How should you clean your hair straighteners and how often should you do it?

A picture of hair straighteners and hair curlers
You should clean your hair tools every three months (Picture: Getty)

Many of us couldn’t live without our hair tools. There is nothing better than getting ready for a night out by putting in some flawless curls.

But are you paying as much attention to your hair straighteners and curlers as you are your hair?

Because you should be.

It’s important that you keep your hair tools clean – though many of us don’t think twice about it.

Moe Harb, a stylist at Moe Harb London in Harrods, says hair straighteners and curlers are always collecting products such as hair spray oils and general salon dirt.

And so you need to make sure they are kept clean.

He reccommends cleaning tools while they’re still warm – not hot – so any products will easily slide off.

Moe tells Metro.co.uk: ‘There are two types of curlers: one ceramic and one metal. You can use kitchen cleaning products for ceramic and for the metal, use a wet towel and wipe over everywhere, being careful not to burn yourself.

Picture showing young woman looking in bathroom mirror
You should use a wet cloth to clean them (Picture: Getty)

‘Do not use a scour as this can remove the coating on the plate or heated barrel.’

Moe says at his salon, he uses Turbo Tong as it’s made from aluminium, and the barrel stays clean due to its heating technology.

If your tools don’t have the technology to keep on a low heat by themselves ,- for instance if they’re the simple on or off tools with no settings – all you need to do to clean them is unplug them after use, leave for a few minutes, then clean with just water and a thick towel before the tools have cooled down – though of course make sure they aren’t too hot.

Squeeze the excess water out of the towel before cleaning, so it’s just a touch damp rather than dripping wet.

By the time you have finished cleaning, your tools will have cooled, and you should simply pat dry with a towel or tissue paper.

You don’t need to clean them as often as you straighten or curl your hair, don’t worry. We’re not trying to add extra stress to your hair styling routine.

According to Moe, your tools only need to be cleaned once every three months if you are using them every day, or if you are a light user every nine months to a year.

It’s simple, easy, not really time-consuming and it ensures you’re not adding any dirt into your clean hair.

And yes, we are off to clean our hair tools now.

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Woman surprises mum with Spice Girls tickets and her reaction is adorable

Leona and her mum
Leona managed to keep the trip a secret all day (Picture: @leonaawoyele/Twitter)

A woman took her mum on a secret day out to see the Spice Girls and she had the cutest reaction when she realised what was going on.

Leona Awoyele documented the surprise on Twitter and caught her mum’s joyful tears on video when she found out where she was really going.

‘I told mum to meet me in London and to take an over night bag,’ Leona tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I think she thought we were having a cute few days in London for the bank holiday, then when we got to Wales I think she thought that was the surprise.

‘There were loads of people obviously attending the concert, but I don’t think she thought anything of it so I just played up to it!’

Leona’s mum, Lara was blissfully unaware of the excitement that awaited her – thinking she was just on a nice day out with her daughter.

Noticing the Spice Girls fans she even threw some shade at their choice of footwear.

‘Well if I was going to see the Spice Girls today I would have at least worn trainers so that I can dance and enjoy,’ she quipped.

While the pair were eating dinner, Leona could sense that it was the right time to share the surprise with her mum.

Lara, a huge Spice Girls fan, couldn’t hide her delight and broke down in tears.

‘We spent the day in Cardiff, then we went to dinner and I figured it would be a good time to let her know the real reason why we’d come to Wales… and she had no idea!’ says Leona.

‘My mum has always been great with surprises for me and my brother so this was just our way of repaying her back with a surprise of our own.

‘The concert was good fun. The atmosphere was amazing and she had a lovely evening.’

Leona definitely spiced up her mum’s life and racked up some serious daughter points in the process.

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Why I love waxing away my pubes

why i love to wax my pubes
There’s no shame in waxing your pubes (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

My beauty confession: I enjoy having my pubic hair removed.

Ok, hear me out on this one.

Growing up, I spent the majority of my summers on the beaches of the Jurassic Coast with my family, dressed in a bikini and a pair of shorts in a bid to hide the pubes peeking out.

Pubic hair was taboo and heck, Emily aged 13 would have never, I repeat, never have been seen nude below the waist by my friends, or family, let alone a beautician.

Hair removal wasn’t something my friends and I chatted about; we were more concerned with who fancied whom at the local boys’ school than which at-home hair removal method was best.

It was only a matter of time until I got my mitts on my Mum’s hair removal cream Nair, now better known as Veet, – the thought of which makes me shudder. The stench would burn my nostril hairs before I’d even slathered it onto my nether regions.

I’d sit awkwardly on the toilet and watch my pubes shrivel before I’d grab the spatula and scrape them off. Safe to say, it wasn’t for me.

Soon after, Venus shavers quickly became my go-to, but stubble, razor bumps and rashes made an unwelcome appearance. So the shorts stayed on.

Fast-forward 13 years; pubic hair is less of a taboo subject. It took some time and, you could say, a lot of growing up, to be able to accept that we all have body hair and to finally bin my security blanket/holiday shorts – but also to gain the confidence to get my pubic hair removed.

I’m now a woman who prefers waxing, and I’m ok with swallowing my pride and spreading my legs for my beautician. It was only a few years back that I ventured further than a French bikini wax and opted for then a very fashionable landing strip.

Before I knew it, between my wincing and my beautician’s determination, we removed the whole lot.

I felt elated, liberated, and free of stress. I proceeded to message my girlfriends, letting them know that, pain aside, ‘it’s bloody fabulous, you all need to try it’. Just like that I’d gone from recommending Maybelline concealer to encouraging my friends to spend their hard earned money to have wax poured onto their crotch.

Yes, yanking all the hairs out by the root is going to be somewhat painful, but there’s no chew toy required. Go hard or go home, right? I’m more sensitive to pain just before my period, so I avoid waxing the week before to be on the safe side.

I think I’ve found some type of middle ground; having the lot off gives that prepubescent feel and despite a fuller bush being promoted by various Instagrammers as the ‘in’ thing, I request a hair free labia and like to keep a little up top.

When I get my pubic hair removed I instantly feel as though I’ve got my shit together.

I enjoy it. I do it for no one other than myself. And I do not and will not be made to feel ashamed for being unapologetically myself, hairless or not.

We all have body hair and we want what we want – remove it or don’t, that’s up to you. But I will continue to do something to help me feel beautiful and empowered.

What will happen to my pubes next? Your guess is as good as mine, although I’m now the proud owner of an epilator, and I’m not afraid to use it.

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