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My Odd Job: I’m a chocolatier but my mum still buys me Dairy Milk


A lot of people think my job is all Willy Wonka style madness but being a chocolatier actually means working very hard, and sometimes quite repetitively.

That being said, we do get to eat a lot of chocolate.

As the kitchen development manager for Paul A. Young, I co-manage and train our brilliant team of chocolatiers and I also work on developing new products and ranges for our shops and customers.

My day starts around eight in the morning. I’ll get the job lists and production plans set up for the team then I’ll crack on with some production.

We make everything by hand, whether it’s fresh ganache and caramels made in small batches to fill truffles, or tempering (an essential process to get a good set and shine, and the right texture and flavour in your chocolate) using up to 10 kilos of the finest quality chocolate at a time.

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk Odd Jobs - Chocolatier
I recently developed a chip shop caramel truffle inspired by the British seaside (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

I’ll also spend part of the day developing new products. The creative aspect of my job is something I really love and am motivated by.

I take inspiration from all over the place to feed into new projects – whether it’s something I’ve eaten, an experience I’ve had or a memory.

I recently developed a chip shop caramel truffle inspired by the British seaside, taking all my memories of salty, vinegary chippy teas at the coast and translating those flavours into a truffle using wakame seaweed and tenkasu tempura bits that I experienced more recently in Japan.

I’ve lost a sense of what’s unusual; when Marmite truffles are an everyday concept, it takes lots to surprise me. Our beef dripping caramel stands out for me; it was so delicious and worked so well, but shocked a fair few customers.

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk Odd Jobs - Chocolatier
The most unusual project I’ve been involved with was a client’s request to make a chocolate that was edible, but purposefully unpleasant (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

A good palate is essential to my job – as is being able to distinguish between ‘not good’ and ‘not to my taste’.

I have to be aware of anything that might be altering how I taste something (like having started the day with a strong coffee) and also what preferences of mine might slip through into a recipe.

I have a slight reputation in the kitchen for liking a stiff drink so I try to develop recipes a teeny bit less boozy than I’d automatically go for.

The most unusual project I’ve been involved with was a client’s request to make a chocolate that was edible, but purposefully unpleasant. Though we’re more than used to unusual flavours, dried fish and painfully spicy chillies were still odd to be working with!

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk Odd Jobs - Chocolatier
As much incredible fine chocolate as we encounter and enjoy at work, I still love Maltesers (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

Some of our more unusual projects come from bespoke customer orders. This year alone I’ve been tasked with using chocolate to create tiny relief images of furniture on a box of truffles, and making a very special chocolate plaque for a proposal – thankfully the person it was for said yes, otherwise I’d have been worried that it was because the chocolate wasn’t up to scratch!

Easter and Christmas are particularly busy times as you can probably imagine. We end up making tens of thousands of Christmas truffles, and thousands of Easter eggs – each egg is cast with a double layer of chocolate to make sure its satisfyingly chunky, then joined and decorated – all with no mechanical existence.

But with teamwork and a great playlist, we got the production line working smoothly.

People are definitely more focused than ever before on the provenance and sustainability of their chocolate and how ethically it has been farmed and produced.

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk Odd Jobs - Chocolatier
My mum still buys me a Dairy Milk advent calendar at Christmas (Picture: Jerry Syder/Metro.co.uk)

With ever more awareness of the damage that poor farming practices can do, it is great to see a reaction in customers looking for chocolate that hasn’t caused any harm on its way to us.

On a personal level, I feel that any impact I can have is the least I can do to try and tackle this huge issue.

In the future I expect we’ll see a continuation in the current trend towards chocolate with a lower sugar content that delivers in the same ways as we are used to.

There is also growing demand for more bitter flavours; with less bitterness you need less sugar to counteract it, and I expect that will play a part in chocolate trends to come.

I think luxury chocolate will always be popular. I always say chocolate is like wine, in that there’s a massive difference in what you’re looking for, depending on whether you are splashing out and treating yourself or a loved one or it’s a casual, after work indulgence, for which a basic supermarket option will do the job.

As much incredible fine chocolate as we encounter and enjoy at work, I still love Maltesers.

There are times when you just need some comfort food and a sugar rush. My mum still buys me a Dairy Milk advent calendar at Christmas.

How to get involved with My Odd Job

My Odd Job is a new weekly series from Metro.co.uk, published every Sunday. If you have an unusual job and want to get involved, email aimee.meade@metro.co.uk.

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You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I thought I was clumsy, forgetful, lazy and stupid until I was diagnosed with dyspraxia’


Welcome to You Don’t Look Sick – our weekly series about living with invisible illness and disabilities.

Many people with conditions you can’t see, face judgement because they look healthy to the outside world.

Elly Badcock, 29, who lives in Cardiff, has dyspraxia and attention deficit disorder (ADD) – a behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Dyspraxia is a developmental coordination disorder, which affects how Elly does anything that requires coordination or movement.

It can affect her memory and how she learns new things as well as difficulties with day-to-day activities like dressing, preparing meals, writing, typing, grasping small objects.

The condition can make Elly come across as ‘clumsy’ due to a lack of coordination.

It also affects her ability to manage her time, plan and organise.

Despite dyspraxia having an impact on many aspects of her life, Elly has been told that her condition isn’t real, which has been upsetting.

Elly has completed two degrees and is considering studying for a PhD and she says that her academic achievements affect how people think about her condition.

Elly Badock who is talking about dyspraxia for the invisible illness series
Elly has dyspraxia (Picture: Matthew Horwood for Metro.co.uk)

She says: ‘What I find most often is that people dismiss the fact I’m dyspraxic because I look like I’m doing well in life. I’ve had a couple of people say to me that dyspraxia doesn’t count as a ‘real’ disability.

‘I find this particularly offensive, firstly because it suggests that you can only be ‘really’ disabled if you have a visible disability, and secondly because it minimises the huge amount of effort that I put in to doing the things I want and need to do.

‘Just maintaining the basic aspects of life like making three meals a day, showering and brushing my teeth, having clean clothes to wear, getting to work or study on time and keeping the house one step above being an environmental health hazard, take up so much of my mental energy.’

Elly wasn’t diagnosed with the condition until she was at university but she has lived with it throughout her life.

It affects between 2 and 6% of the population but many people with milder symptoms are not diagnosed until adulthood.

Elly explains: ‘I was diagnosed at the end of my second year at the School of Oriental and African Studies – the first university I attended.

‘I visited the school’s Learning Support Centre on the verge of a breakdown, as I felt my ability to manage my academic and personal life was rapidly spiralling out of control.’

Elly was missing deadlines, struggling to attend lectures and to organise her life.

She adds: ‘My housemates were annoyed at my constant inability to do any cleaning, and my social life was all over the place because I could never remember what I was doing and when.

‘A friend had suggested I might be dyspraxic and the university agreed – I was referred to an educational psychologist, who said that some parts of my dyspraxic profile were so pronounced that they were only seen in a small number of dyspraxic people.

(Picture: Elly Badcock)
Elly says people think she cant have a disability because she has two degrees (Picture: Elly Badcock)

‘When I got my diagnosis, I had an overwhelming sense of relief. I had spent my entire life up until this point berating myself for being clumsy, forgetful, lazy, and stupid.

‘I wondered why it took me so long to learn how to ride a bike, or do up a tie or shoelaces. I always misplaced things, including important things like money, passports, my school books and so on, and a lot of my school reports said “Elly is bright but disorganised and fails to apply herself.”

‘Knowing that this was because I had a neurological condition, rather than being a personal failing, was so validating and allowed me to be a lot more content with the person I am.’

Now studying for her second degree in occupational therapy, Elly felt more able to ask for more support to be put in place to help with her condition but says it does affect her every day.

She says: ‘It can be hard to describe the impact, because people often say “Oh, I’m like that too, so clumsy!”

‘Everyone has had those kinds of days where you lose your keys when you’re running late to a meeting, and you notice there’s a ladder in your tights, then you get to work and realise you didn’t bring your lunch, and then someone tells you you’ve got mascara on your face, and because you’re so flustered you drop a cup of coffee down yourself, and the vicious cycle continues. With dyspraxia, that’s a good day!

‘Dyspraxia affects motor co-ordination, ability to plan and sequence information, and working memory. In laymen’s terms, that means I’m chronically forgetful, clumsy, disorganised and chaotic.’

Small things like writing with a pen, tying her shoelaces and doing up buttons are difficult for Elly.

‘Dyspraxia used to be called ‘clumsy child syndrome’, because one of the main symptoms was being obviously physically clumsy.

Elly with a cat (Picture: Elly Badcock)
Dyspraxia affects Ellys ability to plan and organise, as well as her co-ordination (Picture: Elly Badcock)

‘I have problems with fine and gross motor skills (big and small movements).

‘I trip and fall a lot, bump into tables, chairs and door frames, and have a slower response time than other people to obstacles and hazards.

‘On a particularly memorable day last year, before showing up for the first day of a job, I tripped over my own feet and threw my phone into a toilet as I went flying. When I brought a pack of rice to put the phone in, I opened it at the new job’s office and it exploded, sending rice flying all over the immaculate work space and carpet.

‘One of the biggest challenges for me at the moment is driving. Because I have a slow reaction time, I used to be scared of even crossing roads as a pedestrian because I couldn’t tell how quickly a car was approaching.

‘This means I find driving extremely nerve-wracking. I tried learning in a manual car but found it impossible to manage changing gear, watching the road and dealing with three pedals. I’m currently learning in an automatic but find it very anxiety-inducing and difficult, and it frustrates me that my ability to travel, work and socialise is limited because of this.’

What are the symptoms of dyspraxia in adults?

If you have dyspraxia you may have problems with:

  • co-ordination, balance and movement
  • learning new skills, thinking, and remembering information at work and in leisure activities
  • daily living skills, such as dressing or preparing meals to time
  • writing, typing, drawing and grasping small objects
  • social situations
  • dealing with your emotions
  • time management, planning and personal organisation


Elly remembers having problems like this throughout her life.

‘I vividly remember as a child holding up an entire coach of Girl Guides for 30 minutes because I lost my packed lunch and found it before putting it down to find something else and losing it again, no less than four times.

‘I still do things like this on at least a weekly basis, and it is so frustrating that I often cry.

‘Managing everyday things like washing is still a struggle – because I find these tasks so overwhelming, I can sometimes go weeks without remembering to wash my clothes and days without remembering to brush my teeth.

‘This is the kind of thing that a lot of dyspraxic people won’t talk about, but I think it’s important that people know that just because you see a person who is managing well, it doesn’t mean they’re not burning themselves out just to maintain a façade of normality.’

Elly Badcock has dyspraxia (Picture: Elly Badcock)
Elly was diagnosed at university (Picture: Elly Badcock)

It takes Elly around one and a half to two hours to leave the house in the morning as it takes her much longer to organise tasks.

‘Once I’ve mentally psyched myself up for the day and dealt with making breakfast, I have to build in at least an extra half an hour for finding things I’ve lost like my bank card or shoes,’ she says.

‘I build in extra time to come back and check I’ve turned off the oven (which I often leave on), check that I’ve closed the front door, and the inevitable return for my keys/phone/laptop or whatever I’ve left behind.

‘Whenever I’ve tried to reduce the amount of time I need, it’s resulted in me forgetting something really important, so I just accept that it takes me longer and build this time in now.’

Elly’s memory problems can also make just having a conversation more difficult.

Getting support for dyspraxia

If you think you have undiagnosed dyspraxia, it is best to speak to your GP about your symptoms and how they impact your life.

There are charities to help people with dyspraxia:

She says: ‘Working memory is another thing I struggle with – this means the ability to remember something that just happened.

‘I really struggle with this, so my entire life is like when you’re digging around for your purse at the supermarket and you realise it’s in your hand. People tell me something and I immediately forget it.

‘When I’m talking, I can forget the beginning of the sentence by the time I’ve got to the end and have no idea what I’m talking about. I can ask the same question of my partner three or four times in a row because I’ve forgotten the answer.

‘I try and make this an endearing quality about me, but I imagine it’s really frustrating when it seems like I’m not listening, or I forget to turn up when my friends have arranged to meet me.

‘This can affect me at work and education, too – if someone asks me a question about something they’ve just told me, it looks like I haven’t been listening because I can’t answer it.

‘But if they gave me an extra minute or two to process and then asked me again, I’d be able to answer them much more eloquently.’

Despite the day-to-day impact, Elly has built a strong support network since her diagnosis.

She explains: ‘I am lucky because I have a fantastic group of friends who always get exactly the right balance between empathising with the challenges of being dyspraxic, but laughing with me at the ridiculous things I do as a result of it.

Elly with her cat (Picture: Elly Badcock)
Elly with her cat (Picture: Elly Badcock)

‘I constantly forget my friend’s birthdays, break my phone and lose all their phone numbers, lose their possessions (I’m still sorry about your pants, Vicki) and forget I’m supposed to be meeting them.

‘The fact that they understand me is such a massive relief, because otherwise I’d feel like friendship was just something else I’d failed at.

‘I also seek out other dyspraxic people, online or in real life, to share my frustrations with. When my first driving lesson included me not only mixing up the brake and accelerator, but falling in and out of the car, dyspraxic support groups online were there to sympathise.

‘I have had really good support from both the universities I’ve attended, where I’ve been able to access the Disabled Student’s Allowance which paid for a laptop with mind mapping software, speech-to-text software because I get distracted in the time it takes to switch between a journal article and a word document to make notes, and I also had mentoring and life skills support from the disability office.

‘When I worked, it was at The National Autistic Society who were really fantastic in making adjustments for me to work. They gave me a whiteboard so I could plan my day, offered extra support and supervision when I needed it, and generally just accepted me for who I am.

‘For me, this is what makes all the difference. I believe that disability is caused by living in a society that isn’t built for disabled people’s needs.

‘When you have a social and physical environment where people support you and make the necessary adjustments, you’re able to succeed and thrive just as much as anyone else.’

She wants to see more awareness of the condition and for people to understand that it’s not just clumsiness or forgetfulness.

She says: ‘I think people need to be more aware of them. Dyspraxia affects around 6% of the population yet most people don’t know what it is.

‘When people have heard of it, they assume that it’s something you have in childhood – but it doesn’t disappear at 18.

‘People get better at managing it, or they avoid things they find challenging – I just don’t own fiddly clothes or dainty shoes, for example. There’s very little research into the experiences of adults with dyspraxia, or suggestions for how to make their daily lives more manageable.

Elly drinking Guinness at a pub (Picture: Elly Badcock)
She wants people to be more aware of what dyspraxia is (Picture: Elly Badcock)

‘I think it’s important that people share their experiences, but it shouldn’t all be on individuals to do this.

‘We should have a better funded education system and NHS that can identify dyspraxia much earlier, and continue to offer support into adulthood.

‘Most dyspraxic people I know, myself included, struggle with driving, organising our time, holding down certain jobs, education, and looking after ourselves day-to-day – but the vast majority of us don’t get any social care support or disability benefits, because it’s not seen as ‘bad enough’ to warrant any help.

‘We need to stop austerity and benefit cuts immediately, and have a society where everyone is well-supported to live the life they choose regardless of disability.’

How to get involved with You Don't Look Sick

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 youdontlooksick@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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Father’s Day 2019: The best e-cards, videos, GIFs and online cards you can send today

'happy father's day' written on a notepad
If you missed the post, there’s still time to send an e-card (Picture: Getty)

Happy Father’s Day! It’s the day to celebrate the dads in your life and yes – even laugh at their jokes.

But wait… what about the card?

You wouldn’t be alone if it slipped your mind this year, but don’t fear: it’s never too late to send an e-card.

E-cards can be a great last minute solution but let’s face it, they can also be a bit naff. We’re here to help you pick the best of the bunch.

Free Father’s Day e-cards

We get it. You love your dad but you’d rather not pay for an e-card and instead you’d prefer spending that money on a last minute present for him.

One good free website for e-cards is Just Wink.

Just Wink have a massive range of cards, from Father’s Day to birthdays to graduations, so it’s worth bookmarking to return to later.

Selection of e-cards from JustWink.com,
From humorous to sentimental cards, it’s all there (Picture: Just Wink)

Once you select your card, you can write your own customised message and select whether you want to email it, or share it via text message or Facebook.

There’s even an option to schedule so you could always schedule next year’s card, if you’re scared of forgetting again.

Another strong contender in the free e-card sphere is Punch Bowl.

They offer a range of well-designed yet simple Father’s Day cards and give you the option of adding an Amazon gift voucher at the checkout so it’s a For a small extra cost, you can also add your own photograph.Once again you can send your favourite design by email or text message.

Screenshot image of card from online card shop Punch Bowl
If you’re looking for something more minimalistic, check out Punch Bowl (Picture: Punch Bowl)

Other e-card websites

If you regularly forget to send physical cards or are a digital-first person then why not consider taking out a subscription for an e-card website?

Hallmark have a massive range of ad-free cards which are accessible via a monthly or yearly subscription ($5/£3.97 or $18/£14.29).

Another good website is Jacquie Lawson which offers a range of artistically designed and animated cards for an annual subscription of £11.

Image of Father's Day cards on rack in card shop
 Because physical cards are so 20th century (Picture: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Father’s Day GIFs and videos

Another website to try, particularly if you’re looking for something more lighthearted is Jib Jab.

Jib Jab has a range of funny videos and GIFs – complete with songs –  which you can customise using your own photographs so it’s perfect for embarrassing your old man.

There’s an app and limited range of videos for free members, however, most of the good videos can be unlocked by taking out an annual membership of $24.00 (£19.06).

If you’re not fussed about customising your message, you could also try Tenor, or GIPHY which both have a selection of specially designed Father’s Day GIFs.

MORE: Father’s Day 2019: The best dad jokes to write in his card (and some Twitter memes)

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How to fill your garden with plants if you can’t get to a garden centre

woman sitting on a balcony surrounded by plants
You can have a beautiful garden, without carrying all your plants home from the garden centre on the bus (Picture: Getty)

Let’s be honest, no one wants to be that person lugging 30 litres of compost home on the bus.

Filling your garden in a city, when you probably don’t have access to a car seems like an impossible task.

Garden centres in London and other big cities are few and far between and while a day out to the suburbs to browse plants is a lovely way to spend a Sunday, you can only buy what you can carry.

But before you rent a van or ruin your Uber rating on a trip home from the garden centre, it is possible to have a green oasis if you think carefully.

Firstly, plants don’t have to come from garden centres. Lots of big supermarkets sell plants that you can pick up with your weekly shop.

Buying one each time you visit the store makes them easier to carry and spreads the cost. Lidl, for example, has a weekly flower market section selling seasonal plants, which means you can get a great selection.

Of course, if you want to grow something you can eat too, you can easily grow a herb garden from pots picked up at the supermarket.

Similarly, some supermarkets stock compost and other garden essentials during the summer so if the store isn’t too far away, you should be able to carry heavier items with some help.

You can also try growing from seed, which is much cheaper and they fit in your pocket. Similarly, you can grow from cuttings taken (with permission of course) from friends’ gardens.

Plant pots on a balcony
Pick up plants at the supermarket or order them online (Picture: Getty)

If you want a specific plant, see if your local garden centre will deliver within a certain area or you can try Patch – an online delivery service for both indoor and outdoor plants.

Freddie Blackett, Co-Founder of Patch, has some straight forward tips: ‘I sometimes wonder if you’re only really a Londoner once you’ve carried an Olive Tree, peace lily and a 5L sack of all-purpose compost home on the Piccadilly line.

‘As the weather warms up, even the strongest of bodies wither as they waddle back from Columbia Road Market – via The Golden Heart for a much-needed refreshment break – to Liverpool Street, laden with succulents in concrete pots.

‘Have you ever had a bag of soil split as you sit apologetically on the 38 bus? I have. It’s not a good look.

‘Bringing a buddy with you to a plant market may seem like a great idea – there’s two of you, so half the amount to carry.

‘Delivery options which seems to be a sensible answer. Last year we delivered 130,000 plants in London and this year we’re on track to do more like 300,000.

‘Ordering your plants online can also help curb the urge to impulse buy those 6 trays of perennials, which seems like a great idea at the time.’

For heavier items like compost or soil, you can pick up compost that expands, like Miracle-Gro Expand and Gro. When water is added, you get up to 50 litres from a much smaller bag. If you just need a little for seeds, you can buy small compost discs that expand in water online.

You can also get compost delivered in different sizes, as well as all sorts of garden accessories and pots from brands like Patch.

If you think it through, plan what you need and pick them up from different places, there’s no need for that back breaking bus journey.

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Bali hotel offers puppy therapy to its guests and we need to visit ASAP

Caption: Hotel with puppy therapy
The best kind of therapy (Picture: @purigardenhotel)

Some hotels in Bali are so luxurious you probably won’t even want to leave the place to go sightseeing.

The Puri Garden Hotel is one of those as it has found the best way to keep guests wanting to spend their days on site.

The Ubud-based hotel and hostel offers puppy therapy and honestly, what more could you want?

Travellers and backpackers have been rushing to the boutique hotel which has been voted one of the most luxurious hostels in the world by Hostelworld.

Guests can immerse themselves in Balinese culture or head to the Puri Garden for a ‘great atmosphere’ where they can play with little doggos.

Stays can cost as little as £19 and with the added luxury of playing with puppies, it’s no wonder the Insta-worthy hotel is so popular with guests.

Guests play with puppies in a pen
Guests can enjoy all this for as little as £19 a night (Picture: @purigardenhotel)

The puppies are donated by the Bali Dogs Association rescue charity – an organisation the hotel gives money to.

The free therapy sessions take place twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1.30 and 3.30pm.

Some of the other amenities offered by the hotel include free daily yoga classes and free massages by the pool.

puppies drinking
(Picture: @purigardenhotel)

On its website, it says: ‘Here at Puri Garden, you will meet like-minded travellers from all over the world, looking to make the most of their adventure.

‘Enjoy a drink by the pool, read a book in our hammocks or join one of our activities. Centre yourself around the garden and it’s hard to find yourself at a loss with no one to talk to.’

Live music, barbecues, and traditional Balinese dances are also part of the hotel’s charm.

Hotel with puppy therapy - Puri Garden Hotel & Hostel
Think of the Insta pics (Picture: @purigardenhotel)

Users on Instagram said the initiative was ‘bloody brilliant’ while reviewers on Hostelworld shared similar sentiments.

One person wrote: ‘Staff are very friendly and helpful, the dorms are very clean and with massive beds. Love the bbq nights and the day trips organised by them. My favourite activity was the puppy day!’

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Father’s Day 2019 quotes, messages and wishes to send to your dad

Illustration of father and daughter hugging
Because who else hugs like dad? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Today is Father’s Day, so it’s the perfect time to let your old man know how much you love him.

Or maybe just to thank him for being an endlessly patient taxi driver.

It’s not always easy to find the words to say (or write) how you feel so we’ve compiled some powerful quotes, messages and wishes to send to your dad today.

Quotes for Father’s Day

‘Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.’ – Barack Obama

‘By the time a man realises that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.’ – Charles Wadsworth

‘An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom.’ – C.S. Lewis

Happy Father's Day greeting card on background.
It’s not always easy to find the right words (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘A father is the one friend upon whom we can always rely.’ – Émile Gaboriau

‘I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.’ – Umberto Eco

‘Dad. He can play like a kid, give advice like a friend, and protect like a bodyguard.’ – Unknown

happy fathers day message written on a notebook
Sometimes short and simple messages are best (Picture: Getty)

Father’s Day wishes and messages

You’re still the one I think of first when I have a question about something or when I just need some support and good advice. Thank you for always being there for me.

You will never go out of style. Happy Father’s day to the coolest dad ever!

Dad, I wanted to give you the most special and amazing gift ever… then I remembered you already have me! Happy Father’s Day!

Illustration of father holding daughter
Let’s give it up for dads (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Thank you for being there every day with just the love and guidance I’ve needed.

This day is not about ordinary people, it’s about special people like you. Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day! You’re not just my father, but one of my closest friends

Out of all the dads in the world I think we got the best one! Happy Father’s day.

MORE: Father’s Day 2019: The best e-cards, videos, GIFs and online cards you can send today

MORE: Father’s Day 2019: The best dad jokes to write in his card (and some Twitter memes)

Woman told to ‘eat a salad’ by fatphobic Tinder date loses 13 stone

Hannah Bean before and after 13 stone weight loss transformation
A 27 stone woman who was humiliated by a cruel Tinder date that told her to eat a salad shed 16 stone (Picture: Hannah Bean/ Caters News)

Tinder matches can sometimes be awful.

When Hannah Bean, a woman from Perth, Australia, was excitedly meeting up with someone she met on the dating app, she didn’t expect it to go so horribly.

The 23-year-old, who weighed 27 stone (170kg) at the time, had been speaking to him regularly via video chat, telephone calls and text messages for three months before they finally decided to meet in person.

Being her very first Tinder date, Hannah was a ‘bundle of nerves’ but extremely excited to meet the mystery man – but was horrified when her date did a no-show.

Instead, the man left her a text message, saying: ‘I walked in and you look nothing like your photos. Do yourself a favour, eat a salad and lose some weight.’

Since then Hannah stayed off Tinder for a long time and instead began focusing on her own journey of self-love, mental wellness and weight loss.

In the process, she lost an incredible 13 stone (86kg) and feels much happier and confident in herself. She has also started dating again.

 Hannah Bean, 23, from Perth, Western Australia, before losing weight
Hannah’s Tinder date stood her up, texting her to ‘eat a salad’ (Picture: Hannah Bean/ Caters News)

Hannah, who plans to study paramedic science, said: ‘I was so ashamed and embarrassed. I started crying right there in the café.

‘I never heard from him again. It was horrible and I stayed off Tinder for a long time after that.’

Hannah explained that she had ‘always been overweight’ ever since she was a child and was bullied throughout school due to her size.

‘After my stepdad passed away when I was 15, I rapidly piled on weight and reached 110kg.

‘My mum and I were sad about the loss. I started to comfort eat a lot and it continued into a toxic spiral.’

Hannah's new Tinder profile
Since her weight loss transformation, Hannah is back on Tinder (Picture: Hannah Bean/ Caters News)

In her late teens, Hannah’s poor eating habits caught up with her – with doctors warning she would not live another two years if she continued to gain weight.

Faced with this harsh reality, Hannah knew she had to make a real change and in 2016 she completely overhauled her diet and began working out regularly at the gym.

Hannah added: ‘I was having a lot of health problems. I had high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic. I hated the body that I was in. It was a massive turning point for me.

Hannah Bean, 23, from Perth, Western Australia, after losing weight
The 23-year-old now  (Picture: Hannah Bean/ Caters News)

‘I started eating healthier meals that were mostly keto-inspired, which meant they were high-protein and low-carb.

‘I started going to the gym and doing cheerleading to get extra exercise. The weight started melting off.’

After losing eight stone, naturally through diet and exercise, Hannah said she reached a plateau – so opted for to undergo gastric band surgery in 2018, which helped her lose another stone over the next seven months.

Now she hopes the weight loss will help make her dreams of becoming a paramedic come true.

Hannah after weight loss
(Picture: Hannah Bean/ Caters News)

Hannah added that despite the Tinder man’s cruel comments, she has not let it deter her from finding love and is happily back on the dating scene.

‘Life had totally changed for me. I wake up everyday feeling amazing,’ she added.

‘It’s quite a surreal experience when I finally went back on Tinder and started getting all these matches.

‘I’m really not used to the compliments about my appearance, but it makes me feel great.’

MORE: Tinder man leaves horribly sexist and fatphobic message to woman he matched with

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MORE: Vegetarian diet is found to be just as effective for weight loss as mediterranean eating

Dad brings out the leaf blower to perfect daughter’s prom pictures

Shots from the video of Dan using the leaf blower
Get you a dad like Dan (Picture: Twitter/claudiamarie9)

When you know you look good, it’s rare that the weather cooperates and works with you to let you slay to your full capacity.

No one enjoys the wind blowing your hair into your lip gloss after all. One dad determined to let his daughter have the best prom pics ever decided to head into the shed to look for a tool to help with the photoshoot.

Dan Casagrande came out with a leaf blower to ensure that daughter Nadia had a perfect mix of windswept and ‘I woke up like this’ for her pre-prom pictures.

His other daughter Claudia documented the thing which she shared on Twiter where people were loving the dad hack.

‘So my sister’s prom was the other day all I have to say is my dad is number one,’ she wrote on the pose which has amassed more than 7,000 likes.

Who knew garden tools were our friends when it came to photography?

Nadia’s prom pictures were taken by their cousin Rosaria who is a photographer and was delighted to have the assistance from Dan.

It was my dad’s idea to use the leaf blower,’ Claudia explained to BuzzFeed.

‘We were all outside taking photos and my sister said, “I wish my hair was out of my face,” and the next thing we knew, my dad went into the garage and came out with the leaf blower!

‘It was so funny that I had to catch it on video.

‘My dad is always doing the most for us, so we were all for it!’

We wish our dads were as enthusiastic as Dan, to be honest, but will be passive-aggressively sending this to them to drop the hint.

Happy Father’s Day!

MORE: Why all Dads must be feminists

MORE: Father’s Day 2019 quotes, messages and wishes to send to your dad

MORE: Deliveroo launches new sauce that tastes just like your dad’s bad barbecues

The flamingo Instagram pose is so effortless and sexy even Beyonce does it

Flamingo instagram pose shown off by Beyonce
Let queen Bey show you how (Picture: Instagram)

Beyonce could pose in a bin bag and she would nail the pose, the angle, everything.

The superstar is a lover of the flamingo, a posing trend loved by Instagrammers worldwide. Kendall Jenner, Winnie Harlow, Ciara, and Dua Lipa are some of the other celebrities also showing off the look.

Much like a flamingo which stands on one leg, the stars are bending one knee with their weight on the other and the results are cute.

Like Kendall, Winnie also shared the bird theme, opting for a pink dress while lifting one leg and crossing it over towards the other.

So next time you’re at a bougie place and don’t know how to pose, let the flamingo look of the stars inspire you.

Just say Beyonce taught you how.

Beyonce standing against the wall with one leg up
It’s that easy (Picture: Instagram)

Unlike the birds who inspired the pose, you won’t have to balance for four hours (flamingos are pretty spectacular creatures).

The flamingo only requires balancing on one leg for about ten seconds (unless your friends are horrible photographers) and gives you legs for days if you expertly cross over the suspended knee towards the other.

Singer Dua Lipa and Love Island’s Cally Jane Beech are a fan while actress Eva Longoria also nailed the trend while showing off her yoga moves on Instagram.

Kendall Jenner posing against balcony
Kendall is really channelling the flamingo vibes (Picture: Instagram)

If you stan a pose that makes your legs look good, you might also be into Barbie feet which includes pretending like you’re wearing high heels.

The simple trick has the benefit of elongating your legs in pictures (which always comes in handy) as well as giving you something to do with your body rather than just awkwardly folding your arms.

Those who struggle with what to do with their arms might be into the strandid – grabbing a few strands of hair and pulling away from it.

Hurrah, no more awkward Insta pics.

Here are all the other stars rocking the pose:

Eva Longorio doing the flamingo
Eva Longoria has incorporated it into her yoga routine (Picture: Instagram)
Winnie Harlow doing the pose in a pink dress
Winnie Harlow takes a leaf out of Kendall’s books (Picture: Instagram)
Caira doing the flamingo from the side
Ciara tries the flamingo from the side (Picture: Instagram)
Dua Lipa also shows of the pose in an all-black ensemble
Dua Lipa bossing the look (Picture: Instagram)

MORE: The ‘shmile’ is the Instagram pose all the cool kids are doing right now

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Mum of ‘real-life Billy Elliot’ says we should embrace boys who love ballet and wearing tutus

Pictures of Alexander with his Tiny Toes ballet class
Alexander and the rest of his ballet class (Picture: Mercury Press)

Four year old Alexander McGinley, from Swansea, South Wales, loves wearing his pink tutu when he perfects his pirouettes in ballet class.

Proud parents Kate, 33, and Clark, 45, say they have embraced his passion, saying that being more accepting teaches children to be better people.

Clinical researcher Kate, said: ‘Alex has kind of become an ambassador for the ballet classes, other boys have come to try it to see if it’s for them and Alex has welcomed them in and shown them how fun it can be.

‘People actually call him a real life Billy Elliot all the time – he will sit and watch a full two hour ballet performance in complete silence dressed head to toe in his ballet gear with a tutu on, he loves it.

‘Since he was 18 months old he has loved to dance and to perform. From the moment he could stand, whenever he saw dancers on the television he would watch them closely and do exactly what they were doing, going as far as to look down the line of his leg and making sure he points his toes.

‘It’s like he’s done it before. He doesn’t have any other hobbies, he likes to dress up in mermaid or princess outfits but his life is dancing and ballet, he would do it all day if he could.’

Alex, has been going to ballet classes with Tiny Toes Ballet in Swansea for two years and ballet tutor Emma Morgan, says he takes his dancing very seriously.

She said: ‘Alex is unique because most boys who come to ballet just want to to do jumps and leap around and have fun, but Alex is so determined to perfect every move, he loves to listen and watch the technique of each move and meticulously practices it until he gets it right, he’s such a fantastic little dancer.’

Mum Kate has praised the ballet school for the way they have welcomed Alex.

Alexander McGinley, 4, from Swansea, South Wales wearing a tutu at his ballet class
Alexander McGinley (Picture: Mercury Press)

She said: ‘He always has been one of the most talented dancers in the class I think just because he enjoys it so much and he is such a perfectionist, it’s like it’s in his soul.

‘I think if he hadn’t have had the relaxed atmosphere and reassuring approach they they take at Tiny Toes I don’t think he would be as good as he is now.’

But the confident youngster also has his parents to thank for their wonderfully embracing and supportive attitude.

Kate says that embracing Alex’s passion for dance was part of a wider view that children should be able to break free from typical gender stereotypes.

She said: ‘Both my husband and I have embraced it completely because we wanted him to find something he loved to do and this is part of who he is.

‘I want the children of the next generation to be exactly who they want to be without fear of bullying shame or discrimination.

‘Men and women should be encouraged to follow the career paths that they want to from a young age so that boys feel that they can express their emotions and girls feel strong minded and confident enough to go after whatever they want.

‘Gender stereotypes are just completely made up by society and I really hope that by doing something like this with Alex that other young people can feel more confident to be exactly who they are.’

MORE: Dad brings out the leaf blower to perfect daughter’s prom pictures

MORE: The flamingo Instagram pose is so effortless and sexy even Beyonce does it

Dads who have to squat to change baby’s nappies in public will now find changing stations in men’s toilets

Dads changing nappies on the laps as part of #squatforchange
Donte Palmer (left) started the Squat for Change campaign last year to have changing tables in men’s loos (Picture: Instagram/@squatforchange)

It’s usually women’s toilets and disabled/family toilets that have baby changing facilities – what does that say about gender norms?

Public spaces are affecting how we attribute parental responsibility. In short, it seems to be the mum’s role to change the baby’s nappy.

But dads travelling with their children also need the space. Sometimes where there are no public facilities, they have to resort to squatting on the floor and using their knees as changing tables.

So dad Donte Palmer, who runs Instagram account Three Boys One Goal, started a campaign #Squatforchange, which went viral after he published an image of himself changing his son’s nappy on his lap.

His post received almost 10,00 likes. Other dads jumped on board, expressing support for the movement as they too have had to use uncomfortable makeshift spaces to accommodate their children’s bathroom needs.

Now, Donte’s campaigning has paid off as Pampers has agreed to install 5,000 changing tables in men’s bathrooms across the U.S and Canada by 2021.

They’ve even got John Legend involved in the campaign, urging dads to use the hashtag #lovethechange to direct more attention to the problem. He’s urged dads and parents to post a picture bonding with their children using the hashtag and for each post, Pampers will provide an extra changing station.

‘This campaign is changing the narrative of what a father is, the dynamics of what a marriage looks like, like showing that marriage equality is important,’ Donte explains to Metro.co.uk.

‘My wife and I do everything equally – diaper changing is not just my wife’s job, it’s my job as well.

‘A lot of dads can relate – dads from the U.S, South America, Uganda, Canda. They’re all helping me to push.

‘They’re pushing the message because dads need the resources and that’s what we’re getting. Pampers are heroes. We’re partners now and it’s really making a difference to the world as we see it today.

‘With this partnership, it’s really embracing a parent and I’m so honoured.’

a dad changing a nappy on his lap
Dads regularly send in pictures squatting in public restrooms to Donte’s Instagram account (Picture: @Squatforchange/Instagram)

Donte said it was humbling and overwhelming to get so much attention from around the globe when he went viral last year.

‘I just ran with it and embraced it and wanted to continue to push a great initiative like Squat For Change,’ he says.

So Pampers joined forces with Koala Care which provides baby changing stations in toilets to provide facilities across parks and recreation centres, community centres and libraries.

Done added: ‘I’m excited, I’m honoured, I’m using the moment to teach my boys that if you have a dream, if you have an issue with something, open your mouth, chase it, go attack that thing you want and it’ll come.

‘That’s why I’ve been giving my heart to this campaign to change men’s lives. I’m proud to have a huge partnership with Pampers and Koala Care which will help people really receive my message.’

Dad in suit changing son's nappy squatted in bathroom floor
Let’s hope that suit isn’t ruined by the contents of that nappy (Picture: @Squatforchange/Instagram)

And Donte’s not ready to stop the campaign there. He wants it to go even further.

‘I won’t stop because I want to see the world change and that’s my goal. My goal is to get these tables around the world.

‘I want the U.K to get involved too because you guys are parents too and deserve to see that change.’

MORE: Dad brings out the leaf blower to perfect daughter’s prom pictures

MORE: Why all Dads must be feminists

MORE: New dads are losing their close friends in the first year after having a child

Primark launches range of pet outfits – including a unicorn, hotdog or a bee outfit

The hotdog and bee outfits from the Primark pet range
The hotdog and bee outfits (Picture: Primark)

Primark is not just the place to pick up some summer outfits – now you can get something for your pet to wear too.

The budget store has launched their first range of pet clothes and accessories for very good doggos.

The range includes unicorn, bumble bee and hot dog outfits, all costing £7.

The unicorn outfit has a little hood, completely with ears and horn.

The outfits look like they are for small dogs so maybe not something to try if you have a Great Dane.

The range also includes a blue angel wings harness for £4 and sets of collars and leads.

The collars and leads come in blue, with a ‘Prince’ tag, while the pink set comes with a ‘Princess’ tag.

The unicorn outfit from the Primark pet range
The cute unicorn set (Picture: Primark)

The dog collar and lead sets are £4.

And if you’re a cat owner, there are products for you too. Cat collars in pink and grey are for sale at £2.50, as well as a pack of toys for £4.

And if you are looking for a treat for yourself, as well as your furry friend, the store has launched an Aladdin-inspired beauty collection.

There’s an eye shadow palette, a hair brush, turban, fragrance, eye masks, glitter body mist and a compact mirror.

And it’s all super affordable, with prices ranging from £2 to £8.

The eyeshadow palette is exactly what we would use one of our wishes on – it has 12 highly pigmented shades in a lovely variety of colours.

We absolutely need it all.

MORE: Dads who campaigned for baby changing tables in men’s toilets have wishes answered by Pampers

MORE: You Don’t Look Sick: ‘I thought I was clumsy, forgetful, lazy and stupid until I was diagnosed with dyspraxia’

People love this clip on makeup palette that means you’ll never get the back of your hand dirty again

Make up can be mixed on the palette, keeping your hand clean
No more mess (Picture: MakeupboxLDN)

When it comes to applying makeup, you probably end up with it all over your hands.

And it just takes one bit left on before you’ve had a chance to wash them to ruin your outfit.

Or if you don’t remove those superstay lipsticks you mixed together quickly, you’ll end up with a red mark on your skin for the rest of the night.

Well now there’s a handy tool that clips to the back of your hand and stops it getting dirty.

Apparently the Makeup Hand Palette, from Makeupbox LDN, is so popular, that one is sold almost every 20 minutes.

When it launched last year, there was a pre-launch waiting list of over 6,000 people.

Lipsticks and glosses being mixed on the palette
Blend as much as you want (Picture: MakeupboxLDN)

The product, which costs £12, is a simple 100% acrylic square with a loop that goes around your hand.

The square is 7.5cm by 6cm by 3cm so plenty of room for you to get creative.

It means you can mix products easily in the way you are used to but it’s more hygienic and prevents stains on your hand. It also avoids makeup sinking into your skin and wasting some of your precious product.

You can mix foundations or even lipsticks to get the perfect colour and then wipe it clean with a cloth.

The reviews are positive too. One person said: ‘I LOVE this tool. It has completely changed the way I look at my makeup, I can mix my foundations together to get the right shade – with no mess!’

Another added: ‘One of the greatest tools I have.’

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Lidl is selling a genius tray that lets you cook four pizzas at once

The tray being used in an oven
Cook four pizzas at once (Picture: Lidl)

Ok, trying to fit pizzas for everyone in the oven is a struggle.

You can’t get them side-by-side and you don’t have enough shelves for them all.

Lidl have a solution – the pizza stacking oven try is a frame with four pizza trays, meaning you can cook lots at once.

Best of all, the kitchen gadget is just £7.99.

You need to remove the trays in your oven and place the whole stacking set inside.

The heat circulates around the gadget, making sure each one is cooked. The trays are all non-stick to reduce the risk of your pizza getting stuck.

We did previously bring you the news of the Aldi stacking pizza tray but it only had three spaces and cost £2 more so Lidl have outdone them slightly.

The tray filled with pizzas in a kitchen
Perfect if everyone wants something different (Picture: Lidl)

The tray was shared on the Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK Facebook group.

Jemma Thomas, who posted the item, said: ‘Great for when everyone likes different pizzas and you can cook them all at the same time and even you could put chips/garlic bread on them and leave the others for pizza’s’

Each tray is 29cm in diameter and the whole set is 20.5cm high so check your oven is big enough before you buy.

If you want one of the gadgets, you better be quick – they went on sale on Thursday. Find them down the magical middle aisle.

MORE: People love this clip on makeup palette that means you’ll never get the back of your hand dirty again

MORE: Primark launches range of pet outfits – including a unicorn, hotdog or a bee outfit

M&S unveils four new types of cocktail in a can

The aperitivo spritzer, cherry spritzer, peach spritzer and vermouth & tonic cans from marks and spencer
The four new flavours (Picture: M&S)

The train tinny is something to be celebrated – and now there are four new fancy flavours for you to enjoy on your journey.

M&S has unveiled four new types of cocktail in a can – and they sound delicious.

After Diane Abbot’s infamous mojito in a can, the pre-mixed drink is having a moment.

Now you can have a aperitivo spritzer, cherry spritzer, peach spritzer and a vermouth & tonic.

The aperitivo spritzer is a sparkling cocktail with white wine and orange bitters (think Aperol spritz), the cherry spritzer is a mix of cherry juice and rosé wine, while the peach version is peach juice and white wine.

The vermouth and tonic is quite literally what it says on the tin. M&S says it is a ‘popular combo’ that is a ‘must-have for sunny festival days.’

Each can has 5.5% alcohol and contains 250ml and cost £2.

They’re available from M&S now so once the summer finally hits, stock up for all your train journeys or afternoons in the park.

Of course, if you don’t fancy any of these flavours, there are plenty of others on the market.

You can pick up Gordon’s G&T in most supermarkets or try Malibu and Pineapple.

Wine in a can is also a big trend for summer and you can even get a pre-mixed espresso martini.

Your options for lukewarm cans are endless.

MORE: Lidl is selling a genius tray that lets you cook four pizzas at once

MORE: People love this clip on makeup palette that means you’ll never get the back of your hand dirty again

Propercorn founder Cassandra Stavrou explains how her snack brand went global without losing its heart

Cassandra Stavrou started a popcorn revolution from her kitchen 11 years ago (Picture: Propercorn)

There’s barely a workspace in the UK without a bag of Propercorn poised for elevensies.

That’s because four million bags of the guilt-free snack are sold here every month, making Propercorn the UK’s bestselling gourmet popcorn brand.

It was former law graduate Cassandra Stavrou, then aged 25, who changed the face of office snacking from her kitchen 11 years ago, after quitting her ad agency job to create a healthy snack that could beat the munchies between meals.

And while her empire was – and still is – rapidly growing, Cassandra was determined to keep her strong company ethos at the heart of her business, no matter how big it became.

Then just 25, Cassandra quit her job on a mission to create a healthy snack for the post-lunch slump (Picture: Propercorn)
Propercorn sells four million bags a month in the UK and is now a go-to in 15 countries (Picture: Propercorn)

‘Structurally, there was this natural growth of the business,’ Cassandra tells Metro.co.uk. ‘But we have been determined that keep the values, culture and personality of the brand the same.

‘And I don’t think it has.’

Now, Cassandra and her co-founder Ryan Kohn run Propercorn – a certified B-corps business, balancing profit with purpose – with a team of 50 and the snack is a favourite in 15 countries.

Even now, the high-flying business owner still insists on having lunch with her team every single day and she’s implemented flexible working schemes that are founded on trusting her employees.

‘Sometimes it’s really easy to define everything and make it formal in business but we have the opposite approach.

‘There’s no formalized working hours, or expectation to work from the office at Propercorn, plus we have an unlimited holiday policy,’ Cassandra says.

‘But these aren’t perks or benefit, it’s all founded on trust and the expectation that you do what you have to do to produce your best standard of work, greatest ideas and optimal performance.

‘It’s complete empowerment to make the right decisions to enable you to deliver the best in your job.’

Remarkably, the business owner has managed to keep a strong company ethos behind a rapidly expanding brand (Picture: Propercorn)

Cassandra’s team has been able to scale Propercorn by leveraging Dropbox Business to centralise and manage workflows.

With space for sharing and collaboration, the tool has become what Propercorn considers a ‘vital’ part of their everyday office operations, whether remote, or together.

Cassandra says: ‘We are still growing really quickly. So Dropbox Business has become a really integral part of creating simple systems and efficient processes that we use day-to-day.

‘On a practical level, assets like pictures and product information are accessible and easy to find, which saves us time that we could be using elsewhere on creative thinking and making progress.’

This year, Propercorn becomes the Proper brand to expand into new markets (Picture: Propercorn)

‘Without Dropbox, our processes would be very linear, like passing a baton or standing in a queue –our team has been able to grow without limits.’

‘But no good team is linear because one thought can inform someone else’s thinking. If your process gets backed up, you’re only benefitting from the people in front of you.’

As they continue to excel at a rapid pace, 2019 also marks the advent of Proper, the evolution of a new overarching snack brand that launches in new categories and new global markets later this year.

‘This is a really big year for us,’ says Cassandra. ‘To prove that we can expand and go truly global, but also to do it in our own way.’

And even with a huge challenge on her hands, Cassandra is ‘loving’ being an entrepreneur ‘more than ever’.

‘I’m more engaged and excited than I ever have been. It’s surprised me because I’m quite a long way down the journey, but this really feels like just the beginning!’


To learn more about how Dropbox is reimagining work visit www.dropbox.com/flow

THIS is why you need to get to know your neighbours

Friends enjoying Amstel Beer
Picture: Let’s revive our sense of community and get to know our neighbours

Want to know something shocking? Half of us Brits have no idea what our neighbour’s name is.

Yep, it’s true. You know the familiar pained look on your face when you realise you have to pop over and pick up your delivery that your neighbour has kindly received for you and you have absolutely no idea who they are? Do you even know where no. 47 is?

Well, the stats are in, and 1 in 3 of Brits don’t even know what their neighbour even looks like, according to a new study by Amstel – and we can relate.

The days when you couldn’t move an inch at home without your neighbour Jane texting your mum about the party you threw while your folks were away have all but disappeared. There’s no more ‘popping over the road’ for a natter or barbecue, as a shocking 70% of us probably wouldn’t extend an invitation to a party.

Three men laughing about something on a phone over pints in the pub
Picture: Getting to know your neighbours could help you feel happier and improve your wellbeing

But if we’re all just strangers living next door to one another, it’s no real surprise there’s a lack of community. With groceries getting delivered right to your door within the same day, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to borrow a cup of sugar – but what about an ear out for when you’re away?

What about all of your beautiful house plants that Instagram’s got you buying? How are you going to keep them alive? What about when you’re home alone? Don’t you feel safer knowing that a friendly face is just next door?

Wouldn’t it be nice to catch up with your neighbours down the local after a game of five-a-side, or even on your way home from work? Isn’t that better than being inside your own four walls trying to avoid people and watching other people’s social lives through your phone? We’d say so.

Two women laughing
Picture: We take a look at the neighbourhoods in the UK who are reviving community harmony

Here are some of the friendliest neighbourhoods in the UK who have got it right:


Swansea has been voted one of the friendliest, welcoming and trustworthy places in the UK. The Welsh city is right up there as one of the best places to live. Situated on the coast, Swansea Bay is one of the most picturesque spots, while you can also pay a visit to Mumbles Pier and Oystermouth Castle.


Wales really comes out on top, with Aberystwyth being considered as having one of the safest vibes. In fact, the Welsh town’s residents are so comfortable with each other that some of the residents don’t even feel the need to lock the front door.

Shot of Newcastle
Newcastle is right up there as one of the friendliest neighbourhoods in the UK (Picture: Getty)


Not only has Worcester been named as one of the happiest cities in the UK, but it has also been considered the most polite. Perhaps these qualities go hand in hand and make life a bit more pleasant for everyone?


This northern city is high up there on the ‘friendliest’ in the UK. The university hub is situated on the River Tyne in the Northeast, is home to over 270,000 people and is one of the busiest areas in the whole of our great nation – but that doesn’t stop people from being welcoming and making a little time for their neighbours and visitors. Maybe that’s what makes a night out on the Toon so memorable?


Chelmsford is situated in Essex, just 40 minutes by train from London. Steeped in rich history, Chelmsford has a lot going on for its residents and visitors, with horse racing, the Chelmsford Museum, and its cricket club. It even boasts its own music festival, which takes place at Hylands Estate. That’s a whole load of opportunities to get to know plenty of fun-loving residents, wouldn’t you agree?

Neighbours' Week (17th - 23rd June)

Amstel is launching Neighbours’ Week to start the building blocks of community spirit by inviting neighbours to come together at the local pub.

A neutral ground to unwind and relax, the great British pub is at the heart of communities up and down the country.

From cheering on your favourite sports teams, or sharing a laugh at a comedy set, or even having a little dance with live entertainment as your soundtrack, it’s about bringing it all together.

Amstel was brewed in 1870 by two pals who wanted to share a bier together so it’s fitting that it continues to bring people together.

For more information click here: https://www.amstelbier.co.uk/neighbours-week

How much do you really know about London’s air quality?

Pollution map of London
Picture: Map showing areas of London with the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide. Annual mean NO2 concentrations, 2016 – London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, 2016

We’re here to tell you all you need to know about the real state of London’s air quality, explain what’s being done to improve it and let you know how you can do your bit to help.

Here’s the situation…

Every person in every area of London is affected by air pollution. Fact.

What’s more, around 2 million of us reside in areas that continually exceed the legal limits for air pollution, including 400,000 children and around 1 in 5 state-run primary schools.

In short, air pollution is having a detrimental effect on our health. In fact, every year our toxic air contributes to the premature deaths of thousands of Londoners and estimated costs to our economy of up to £3.7 billion.

So, what exactly causes air pollution?

Cars in traffic
Picture: Road transport is the largest contributor to London’s air pollution crisis

To understand why air pollution is such a big problem, we need to get into the science of what it actually is.

Air pollution can come from a number of sources, such as construction sites, industry, and generating heat and power.

But today, the biggest contributor to air pollution in London is road transport. Petrol and diesel vehicles pump a host of toxins into the air, such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and harmful particulates.

From minuscule bits of carbon to tiny metal and rubber parts from engine use, there are all sorts of harmful particles in our air. We may not be able to see it with the naked eye, but the effects they have on our health are becoming increasingly visible every day.

What’s more, the smallest of these particulates  have the potential to enter our blood streams and cause a whole range of health complaints – such as dizziness, coughs, headaches and reduced immunity – and are also known to worsen conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The combination of all these elements is potentially decreasing our life expectancy and increasing our risk of cardiovascular disease. And children are particularly vulnerable – those who live in heavily polluted streets have been shown to have a 5% smaller lung capacity on average than those who live in areas with cleaner air.

Let London Breathe: Air Myths Busted

  • Road transport isn’t the main cause of air pollution in London – False! Driving polluting vehicles is the single biggest cause of air pollution in the capital.
  • Only central parts of London are affected by air pollution – False! All of London is exposed to high levels of air pollution.
  • You can always see when pollution is bad in London – False! Sometimes pollutants can cause smog or haziness in the air, but not all airborne toxins are visible.

How do we change things for the better?

A man cycling
Picture: Consider cycling or walking where possible to reduce emissions

It’s clear that we need to act to improve air quality now.

The good news is that TfL and the Mayor of London have already put measures in place that will help improve London’s air.

All new double deck buses in London are hybrid, electric or hydrogen, which will help reduce the pollutants in our atmosphere. The Mayor of London has now completed ten of 12 Low Emission Bus Zones, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from buses by an average of 90% along some of the capital’s most polluted roads.

In addition to this, all new taxis must be zero-emissions capable in order to be licensed to work in the capital. Since 2018, over 1,500 zero-emissions taxis have been licensed in London.

Not only this, but the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is expected to reduce harmful road transport nitrogen oxide emissions by 45%. Thanks to ULEZ and other new air quality policies, the number of state schools in areas exceeding legal air pollution limits are expected to drop from more than 450 to just five by 2020, and zero by 2025.

We can each do our bit to help, too. More cycle routes are being introduced across the capital, so we can opt to ride our bikes to work rather than drive. Or, we could take in the sights of the capital by walking more, or even hop on one of the many low-emission public transport services available throughout London.

If you need a car to get from A to B, then there are things you can do to start to drive consciously, such as turning off your engine while waiting in traffic for long periods. Alternatively, you could sign up to a car club; these are cost-effective and usually provide low emission or even electric cars.

To find out more about how Transport for London and the Mayor of London are improving our air quality, visit tfl.gov.uk/air-quality today.

My fat body is my own business

Award winning plus-size style blogger, Stephanie Yeboah
I spent a sizable part of my life obsessed with the notion that something was horribly wrong with my body – specifically that it was too fat and needed to be smaller (Picture: Kaye Ford)

Within the last week, we’ve seen two very interesting things happen on the subject of plus-size inclusion and sportswear.

The jubilation, relief and satisfaction from plus-size women nationwide upon hearing the news that Nike had created a plus-size mannequin and had installed it within their flagship store in London.

The mood quickly turned into disgust, anger at frustration over the release of an article which criticised not only the creation of the mannequin but the ways in which plus-size women look after their body and exercise.

The subject surrounding fatness, health and exercise is a topic that has been a cause of contention between non-fat people, physicians, the media and fat people.

The fact that we as a plus-size community could not even celebrate this historic win within the athleticwear world without a negative opinion being shared speaks volumes about the way in which society sees and devalues fat bodies, while all the time using the alibi of ‘health’ to disguise their rampant fatphobia.

I’ve always had a fraught relationship with exercise. Not because I was scared of working out or feared burning out quickly, oh no.

In fact, I absolutely loved playing football, rounders and badminton as a teenager and was rather good at it.

It was the constant bullying and judgement over my chubby teenage body in sportswear. Snide comments anytime I’d run or swing a bat. Jeers and taunts as I came next-to-last in the 800m race.

When you’re fat, we’re often led into this cycle of being taunted, harassed and abused for our weight with comments about us working out more, yet when we make the decision to work out more, we are taunted, harassed and abused even more.

It’s an endless nonsensical cycle that needs to end.

The recent article in the Telegraph regarding the plus-size mannequin is just the latest in a string of criticism and hostile opinions over fat bodies.

I spent a sizable part of my life obsessed with the notion that something was horribly wrong with my body – specifically that it was too fat and needed to be smaller.

These thoughts only came to fruition when the size of my body was pointed out to me by bullies in secondary school, up until year seven, I had always been a confident, happy chubby girl who felt confident in her own skin.

The obsession that western society has with making those who fall outside the realm of what they consider ‘beautiful’ feel terrible about their bodies is violent, elitist and often speaks to wider issues such as superiority complexes.

A photo of the plus-size Nike mannequin posted on Twitter
Nike has made waves with this by including fat bodies in their marketing materials. (Photo: Twitter: _AStokes_)

Society has created a hierarchical infrastructure based on our appearance, which is in turn tied to our self-worth.

Fat people have, for a long time, been on the bottom of this pyramid and society has been okay with this.

Fat people are expected to be depressed. We are expected to have feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. We are expected to wear ill-fitting clothes and to be laughed at.

The truth is, as much as society likes to bang on about fat people losing weight for the ‘good of our health’, if there were to be no such thing as fatness, ‘normal’ sized people would be forced to take a look at their own shortcomings and inadequacies, which would be a ridiculous thought to someone who is ‘normal’, seeing as a huge part of the ego is based in feeling superior to others  – hence why social phenomenons such as schadenfreude exist.

Existing in my fat body was never an issue for me until I was old enough to sense how society felt about my body. I grew up feeling very defeated, ugly and undeserving of love.

As soon as I began my self-love journey and started to love the skin I was in, it suddenly became an issue for society, who felt that they now had the authority and audacity to comment on my weight.

I’m still often told that I will be contacting diabetes by the time I’m 40, or that my joints and limbs will start to deteriorate soon.

I’m told that I’ll never be able to find love while I exist in this body and it has always fascinated me as to why people feel entitled over the bodies of others.

Now that we are in a time period where movements such as the body positive and fat acceptance movement exist, more and more fat people are falling in love with their bodies again, living their lives unapologetically and taking up space – to the horror of society – as this disrupts in the hierarchical order and agitates the status quo.

Award winning plus-size style blogger, Stephanie Yeboah. (Picture: Fifi Newbury)
I’m told that I’ll never be able to find love while I exist in this body and it has always fascinated me as to why people feel entitled over the bodies of others. (Picture: Fifi Newbury)

Our fat bodies are our own business at the end of the day, and we should be allowed the dignity and respect to live our own lives in peace, without policing or judgement.

We have proven to society that it is possible to be fat and love yourself, receive love, be active, be successful and be independent, and it’s about time that society gets on board with that.

Someone’s weight should never be an indicator of health, and even if a fat person is unhealthy, don’t they still require the respect, love and basic human decency as everyone else?

Nike has made waves with this by including fat bodies in their marketing materials.

Recent campaigns with plus-size influencers such as Chloe Elliot and models like Sophia Tassew highlight how important it is for plus-sized women to have access to sportswear.

And I say women here, as it seems that plus-sized men have been able to have access to sportswear for years because we – *shocked gasp* actually can work out, and enjoy working out when we want to.

However we choose to exist within our bodies should be our business, whether people like it or not. We all come in different shapes and sizes and will continue to for a long time. It’s time for society to get used to it.

MORE: Fat-shaming caller in live TV debate slams plus-size Gillette model: ‘She looks disgusting’

MORE: Fitness writer sparks outrage by claiming fat shaming is ‘saving lives’

MORE: ‘Fat shaming’ sweatshirt disaster: Whole collection has now been pulled

Northern Ireland? More like Republic of Gilead when it comes to abortion rights

The Handmaid's Tale season 3 is back and fans are divided over Serena Joy
We are pointing fingers at America but our own house is certainly not in order (Picture: Hulu)

A couple of weeks ago Twitter was alight with rightful disgust and despair as the US rolled back reproductive rights in several states.

It would seem that America is currently being run by men who think the case of Roe vs Wade was a tennis match, including Alabama, Georgia and most recently Misogyny…sorry, spelling typo – Missouri.

The latter is making women have a pelvic exam if they are having a medical abortion, which TV host Rachel Maddow described on her show as ‘state sanctioned rape’.

When the news broke, I felt desperately sad and upset for my American sisters who are being denied basic bodily autonomy, and noticed a huge amount of people from the UK commenting and sharing these stories.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan even sent a video message to US President Donald Trump condemning the actions of US States who are crushing women’s rights.

The video was great, but I felt frustrated that he wasn’t also using his massive platform to speak up for the women of Northern Ireland. We are pointing fingers at America but our own house is certainly not in order. Things are looking more than a little like Republic Of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale.

I had an abortion when I was 17.

I was a baby myself and on the pill, and had gone on it at 14 to control my awful periods. Somehow I had still gotten pregnant and I paid for my own termination.

Back then, it cost about £350 and cost a hell of a lot more in mental health. I don’t regret that decision though – I didn’t want a child and neither did my boyfriend at the time. He went to prison a couple of years later. I’m keen to know where the pro-lifers would have been then?

There is an irony to Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster’s insistence that Northern Ireland be treated equally when it comes to Brexit negotiations, yet she refuses to treat her own female citizens as equals who deserve bodily autonomy.

Would they have been waiting with open arms to take in my child and support it? Would they have viewed that kid as another statistic with a criminal father?

Their fascination with life seems to end the minute that a woman gives birth.

My situation was tame compared to what so many women in Northern Ireland are going through at the moment. More than 1,000 women travelled to the UK last year to have terminations – a right they are currently denied in their home country.

Some examples include a 19-year-old woman who was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for buying abortion pills online. A mother was prosecuted for procuring the same pills for her 15-year-old daughter.

There is an irony to Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster’s insistence that Northern Ireland be treated equally when it comes to Brexit negotiations, yet she refuses to treat her own female citizens as equals who deserve bodily autonomy.

She was incensed when the Repeal vote was passed in Ireland and people danced in the streets of Belfast.

‘It’s not an issue that should have people taking to the streets in celebration,’ she said. Maybe Arlene never has to worry about such things and her personality is contraceptive enough.

They were celebrating because women died to get this law repealed and because the only person who should have a say about a woman’s body is the woman in charge of it.

Savita Halappanavar was collateral damage in the war on Irish women’s wombs. She died in Galway from septicaemia (blood poisoning) when the hospital refused to abort her pregnancy during a miscarriage. She was 31 years old.

So, Arlene, the women of Ireland cheered because their daughters, sisters, mothers and cousins didn’t have to die anymore.

Their nieces and best friends didn’t have to go to prison to have the same rights as the UK. They cheered at women not having to carry their rapist’s baby or be forced to give birth to a child who was the result of incest.

Their wombs were not dragging them like fleshy anchors into servitude, destitution and death.

So they cheered Arlene, because whether you like it or not abortions will happen. You are just making it less safe for women. I don’t understand how you can have that on your conscious.

And as for Theresa May, I implore her to do the right thing before she steps down. Otherwise her ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt should be put in a bin fire.

Also, if you are reading this and you are anti-abortion then great – don’t have one.

Don’t stand in the way of a women’s rights to make that choice, because you are literally killing them. In order to channel my fury into something constructive I have decided to put together a fundraising benefit.

On 5 July, I will be hosting ‘Stand Up For Reproductive Rights’ alongside The London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign.

The bill includes awesome people such as Katherine Ryan, Rob Delaney, Tara Flynn, Nish Kumar, Eleanor Tiernan, Alison Spittle and Sindhu Vee, and the funds will go to All 4 Choice in Northern Ireland and Abortion Support Network.

Since I’ve announced this event there have been calls from some anti-choice groups to boycott my Edinburgh show, which is obviously devastating for me. I’m gutted that some people who never planned to attend in the first place might boycott it.

I will say this though, if you haven’t stood up for reproductive rights then it’s time to.

Add your voice to the fight because one in three women in the UK will have a termination by the time they are 35.

We are the one in three. You love someone who has been there.

See Tiff at Stand Up For Reproductive Rights at the Bloomsbury Theatre on 5 July and at Edinburgh Fringe at Monkey Barrell with her show Mother from 31 July to 25 August.

MORE: More than 1,000 women travelled from Northern Ireland for abortions last year

MORE: Unless you’re part of the abortion club, you don’t get a say

MORE: It’s okay not to want to talk about your abortion

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