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Our hobbies must be protected from the culture of the side-hustle

Illustration of someone sat at their laptop with a cup of tea on the side
If you do decide to make money from a talent, it shouldn’t be in lieu of recreation and hobbies which they often are (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

When I tell other writers I ‘fell’ into journalism, it’s usually met with an eye roll.

It understandably irks that I didn’t have a burning childhood desire to edit my school paper or collect Vogues but the truth is, I started blogging as a hobby and to make my mates laugh with funny (albeit badly edited) posts.

The old idiom ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ isn’t entirely true – I work, a lot – although I can’t complain. I’m still shocked I make a living doing what I would have happily done for free a few years back. It’s a staggering privilege I struggle to get my head around.

Still, the stress of work often bleeds into the things I love most: I co-wrote a book with my best friend which is incredible, but the person who was once my confidant about the pitfalls of the industry has become my co-conspirator.

I travel a lot to cover events, but I don’t have much time for holidays. I even write about TV, a once blissfully empty-headed pastime now taken over by analysis and careful critique.

The lines between recreation and work, business and pleasure, best friend and business partner, constantly blur. Perhaps the more accurate saying would be ‘do what you love and you’ll never stop working.’

Slay In Your Lane authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené pose at The British Book Awards
I co-wrote a book with my best friend which is incredible, but the person who was once my confidant about the pit-falls of the industry has become my co-conspirator (Picture: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Turning a passion into a side hustle can be incredibly rewarding, especially for women and even more so for women of colour who are doubly penalised by pay gaps in the workplace. Yet even if you do decide to make money from a talent, it shouldn’t be in lieu of recreation and hobbies which they often are.

The idea of just doing things because you like it feels increasingly archaic and the freedom to ‘waste’ time on things that we’re not even good at is almost obsolete.

Writing was just something I liked and happened to be good at. This was the same for art, something I’ve enjoyed recreationally since I can remember. But unlike writing, I must keep it as a hobby, to keep many sanity.

Painting is one of the only things that I do for doing’s sake. The closest I ever came to making money off of my art was decorating my classmates textbooks with Disney princesses for a small sum in year eight.

I did it for friends first out of sheer enjoyment, but sooner or later acquaintances caught wind and I started offering my services for a fee.

The enjoyment soon left it soon after. My brief stint with entrepreneurialism now means I keep my paintings for myself or gift them, but I’m a millennial (and a Nigerian one at that), so a need to monetise often subconsciously creeps in. Our current culture teaches that time spent not earning is wasted.

I can paint but nothing makes me happier than when people do it out of pure love, as opposed to perfectionism.

I think a lot about the fact that as children we were all artists of differing levels – scribbling stick men and doodling Dragonball Z characters on tabletops.

We were all footballers and singers until the ‘mediocre’ were eventually siphoned off and only the ‘talented’ were left doing things many of us enjoyed. By the end of it, it’s often only ‘professionals’ left.

The idea of story writing for the sake of it is increasingly considered the preserve of children. That’s not what hobbies should be about – they should be about leisure and love.

I love the idea of cosplayers dedicating hours to create costumes for an event that takes place once a year, or even spending money on outfits, instead of earning it.

I love watching the top-notch bakers on Bake Off as much as I do the terrible contestants on Netflix’s Nailed It! (a bake-off competition with only the most amateur of amateurs cast) – the common denominator is the joy of baking.

Why join a drama club or choir if you can’t act or sing? The answer is simple: because you want to.

I’m a horrific swimmer but adore it. I flopped German at GSCE but my phone is filled with language learning apps like Memrize and Duolingo. I would love to eventually master these things but if I don’t, who cares?

More importantly, if I do, it doesn’t mean I have to do anything meaningful with these newfound gifts.

There is increasing conversation about the fact we don’t need to earn from everything but I say we take it a step further: a return to purely ‘pointless’ activities like stamp collecting, bird watching, juggling and card tricks.

Spare time is spare for a reason – it’s the loose change of a week spent ‘grinding’. In the slither of time between the main hustle and side, wedge in something that is purely for you and wasteful in every conceivable way other than the nourishing of your soul. The worse you are at it, the better.

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Mummy blogger gives her three-year-old daughter breast milk baths to soothe eczema

mum pouring breast milk into a bottle
Breast milk – an eczema cure? (Picture: Getty)

We’ve all heard our fair share of unique home remedies. Vodka for stinky feet, toothpaste on mosquito bites, onion in your sock to prevent the flu, and coconut oil for well, everything. So the next one might not come as a shock.

Mel Watts, a mum on Australia’s central coast, has just shared with her 267,000 Instagram followers that she treats her daughter’s eczema with breast milk.

The Modern Mumma blogger revealed that her three-year-old daughter Indie was ‘excited’ to take a bath in ‘boobie milk’, and that it leaves her skin feeling ‘so smooth’.


Indie has experienced eczema since the three months of age. After trialing various diets, creams and trips to the specialist, Mel took a friend’s advice and gave breast milk baths a go.

‘Yes…. it’s not my breastmilk cause that’ll be well and truly stale lol,’ she said in her Instagram post.

Before her followers could dispatch their milkiest homebrews to Mel, she disclosed that she already had a ‘supplier’.


The mum of four called for other mums to try the remedy on their little ones. Naturally, the comments section exploded.

Many agreed with the natural healing properties of the milk, saying it ‘fixes everything’ and that it’s ‘liquid gold’.

‘I squirt milk straight from the boob onto every scrape & scratch, use it on nappy rash, and sneak it into my toddlers breakfast if she’s sick,’ wrote one user.

Some people weren’t so positive, with some suggesting she donate the milk to ‘a hungry baby’ and ‘babies in need’. Others were quick to label it as ‘stupid’ and ‘unsanitary’.

Mel isn’t the first mum to suggest breast milk may help to treat eczema.

Last year a mum shared that she uses breast milk soap to treat her baby’s sore skin, and according to one study, the soothing properties of breast milk may actually help to treat skin conditions.

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Why are people using Facebook to pretend to be baby boomers, cows, influencers, and possums?


‘What’s a beautiful face without a beautiful mind? 👓💄I want to inspire all of you to challenge yourself everyday and try to be the best you can be💪!!! Inner beauty and intelligence is so important 💕💕That’s why I always try to read at least one 📕a day!!! Today I’m reading Gatsby The Great 👍 #blessed #intelligenceissexy #innerbeauty #allaboutmyfollowers’.

So reads one Facebook post in a group where everyone pretends to be influencers. It’s accompanied with a selfie of a woman reading a book. The book is upside down.

In another group, someone pretends to be a customer trying to return a half-eaten banana, with another group member acting as a manager. A few posts down, someone is trying to get into a store that’s closing in five minutes.

These are two niche Facebook groups, styled on the viral success of the group ‘where we all pretend to be boomers’ (exactly what it says on the tin, a Facebook group in which people pretend to be baby boomers), but they’re not the only ones.

There’s a group for people that pretend to be aliens pretending to be humans, one for farmers and cows, and one where everyone is a screaming opossum (and the most common post is simply ‘AAAAAAAAH’).

None of these have reached the same level of popularity as the Boomer group which, at the time of writing, has over 220,000 members, but many of them have a few thousand members each.

the most popular facebook roleplaying group invites people to pretend to be baby boomers
(Picture: Facebook)

All of them offer a sort of catharsis for those role-playing in these spaces. Some of them are even a sort of subversive critique of our internet-heavy culture. And, of course, some are just here for the fun of it.

The need for catharsis makes sense in the ‘group where we all pretend to be Influencers,’ where 7,000 people promote fake product lines on fake YouTube channels and collaborate with other fake influencers.

With so many people trying to present the perfect social media lifestyle, the effects can be hazardous to both poster and viewer. Nevertheless, it feels inescapable. The influencer market could be a $10 billion industry by next year, with smaller and smaller audiences required to be called an influencer (or nanoinfluencer) and fall into that stereotypical #ad way of posting.

‘This content is inundating social media,’ Taylor Berg, an admin of the ‘Influencer’ group, tells Metro.co.uk, ‘and is a bit exhausting to the regular everyday person on social media.

‘And on top of this, the idea of becoming an influencer and making money on social media is enticing to some, so there are a lot of new people trying to become influencers as well. So for some people they see a complete inundation of influencer content filling their news feeds. Both actual influencers and new people trying to position themselves as a social media influencer.’

there are many groups inviting users to pretend to be something else
(Picture: Facebook)

Here, imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery, but it can be an outlet for frustration that’s enjoyable to play out.

Taylor tells us: ‘The group allows people to be silly and absurd, kind of like celebrating Halloween. You get to be something different and have fun with a character that’s totally different than who you really are and nobody is judging you for it.’

Similar notions are expressed by Jen Grey, an admin of the group where people pretend to be customers or managers which, despite only being around for a few weeks, already has over 2,000 members.

Jen tells Metro.co.uk: ‘If you have ever worked retail you can kinda relate and I think that’s what a lot of people love. You can pretend you’re at a specific store [and] finally tell the “customer” how you really feel.

‘A lot of them create fake scenarios that end up becoming really comical but there’s been a few people that have posted real life issues they’ve seen/dealt with.’

customer manager facebook group
(Picture: Facebook)

It’s the same energy of the ‘Can I Speak to the Manager?’ memes – funny, sure, but a reflection of political authority nonetheless, and one that can be expressed in the safe walled-garden of these themed groups.

While there is the opportunity to vent for those who want it, a lot of these groups are also just there to entertain and to be entertained. Role playing on the internet is not a new phenomenon, and the low barrier to entry Facebook affords means people who might not have wanted to play something like Dungeons & Dragons or World of Warcraft can still get in on the fun.

But there is still a sense of escapism – says Angela Mary LaFave, an admin of the ‘possum group’ – as ‘many of [her] possums find it therapeutic to let out a good AAAAA and … develop some really strong possum personalities.’

The less serious groups have another function, says Dr. Dawn Branley-Bell, a psychologist specialising in cyberpsychology at Northumbria University: as well as relaxation and escapism, they also ‘provide a playful way of embracing and emphasising that not everything we read online is real.’

‘For many, these groups may provide a brief escape from reality and everyday life, and provide entertainment for entertainment’s sake,’ says Dawn. ‘That in itself can be a big enough reward.’

Occasionally, though, the separation between the digital role play and the real world isn’t big enough.

Eya Gibran, an admin for a group where everyone is a middle-aged dad, says that while the majority of the members are people in their twenties and thirties there are a number who are approaching middle age themselves and no longer have to pretend.

It’s a little like the speech at the end of The Breakfast Club, except instead of discovering brains, basketcases, and criminals, we’re aliens, animals, and middle-management.

‘At that point,’ Eya says, ‘they’re basically roasting themselves.’

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How to cut down the costs of being a bridesmaid

Bridesmaids standing with the bride
Could you make being a bridesmaid financially easier on yourself? (Picture: Getty)

Being part of a bridal party can be expensive – especially if you’re a bridesmaid who’s been asked to cover their own expenses.

If you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid but you’re worried about the actual costs of being one, don’t panic, because we’ve asked a couple of experts to tell us how you can keep the costs down – as long as the couple getting married are accommodating and understanding, of course.

Simon and Julie Daukes from Ash Barton Estate, have offered their top tips to cutting down the costs for the bridal party.

First up, they mention travel. The cost of getting to the wedding venue can add up to a huge amount of money if going individually, so Simon and Julie recommend hiring out a coach to save some money. Or, if the wedding is more accessible, you could group together on a train with a group ticket, and have a small pre-party on the train carriage.

Many airlines also offer group discounts for more than ten people, so if you have a larger bridesmaid party and the wedding is abroad, make sure to research the best offers and take full advantage of the discounts.

If you’re wanting to save money as a bridal party, it’s important that you work together as a group.

Bridesmaids ready for a wedding
Make it a group effort, and share the expenses (Picture: Shutterstock)

Simon and Julie say: ‘Suggest that your bridesmaids get together as a group and DIY wedding favours to personalize the event and make it more cost-effective.

‘Instead of eating out, consider a tapas style evening where each bridesmaid brings a dish to your home before you all head out.

‘Whilst this does take some organization and preparation from them, the money saved will be worth it!’

You know what else can be expensive but what we rarely think about when adding up the wedding costs? Hotels.

Instead of booking your own room, book an open suite. A suite in a hotel has connected rooms under one room number and usually has more space than the standard hotel room.

Other features can sometimes include sofa beds and shared living areas, so you can have more than one bridesmaid comfortable in one room. This could save hundreds of pounds.

Moving onto gifting: You want to give an amazing gift but after everything else, you just don’t quite have the money.

Again, you could make it a group effort – get together with the rest of the bridal party and chip in to get a bigger and better gift.

Sure, the bride will only get one gift but it might just be better than a load of cheaper gifts.

And finally, getting ready for the big day. This is where the group talents can really come in handy.

Bridesmaids standing with a bride
Could you offer your own talents? (Picture: Getty)

Simon and Julie say: ‘If you are not paying for your bridesmaid’s professional hair and makeup, ask if they can swap and
share their talents amongst them.

‘Perhaps there is a bridesmaid that is particularly talented in makeup who can offer to do the groups’ makeup? A pre-wedding practice party could be a nice way to get your bridesmaids to bond if they don’t know each other well.

‘This would be a good opportunity for them to practice hair and makeup on each other, so you nor they have to splash on unnecessary expenses.’

Of course, if there are things you really can’t afford in the wedding, it’s important to be open and honest with the bride about what you can afford and what you can’t.

If they’re a good friend, they will be understanding and accommodating.

If they won’t see past it, it might be time to make a decision as to whether you feel you should really remain in the bridal party.

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Impossible Food is developing a new vegan fake fish

Journalists taste test the plant based hamburgers during a media tour of Impossible Foods labs and processing plant in Redwood City, California, U.S. October 6, 2016. Picture taken October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach - S1BEUGSRCSAB
A burger made with impossible meat (photo:Beck Diefenbach/ REUTERS)

The first question I ask when I’m offered a vegan meat product is ‘but does this bleed? Like an animal would?

If it doesn’t then, frankly, I don’t want to know.

Thankfully, California-based food company Impossible have already achieved great success by appealing to people who don’t like hurting animals but do like blood.

And now they’re developing a fish product, which hopefully means we’ll soon be able to tuck into our favourite seafood without having to feel so guilty about the degradation of the world’s oceans, and our complicity in that, our shameful apathy.

Impossible’s products are based around the molecule heme, which is found in both human and animal blood, and is apparently what makes meat taste like meat. Impossible extract heme from a soy plant  then ferment it with ‘genetically engineered yeast’. You spoil us, ambassador!  

According to Burger King, one of the chains which stocks Impossible products, ‘virtually no-one can tell the difference’.

A couple of times, when I was younger, my mum would try to trick my brothers and I by feeding us Linda McCartney burgers, then demanding, with a mischievous grin and a twinkle in the eye, ‘notice anything different?’

To her bitter disappointment,  we would clock the difference literally immediately and jeer at her efforts to deceive us – so I’m sceptical about Burger King’s claim. 

Having already succeeded in making an ‘anchovy-flavoured broth’ from plants, Impossible is now working on make fish.

‘The only way we can succeed,’ Pat Brown, the company’s chief executive, told the New York Times, ‘is to make fish from plants that is more delicious than the fish that’s strip mined from the ocean.’

Chargrilled Tuna Steak
An actual, real fish from the sea. Not a weird, heme-based alternative. (photo: FabioBalbi/ Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The depletion of the world’s fish resources, partly driven by overfishing, is one of the most pressing environmental concerns we face. Any attempt at reducing demand and improving this situation is to be applauded, but whether consumer’s will embrace Impossible’s fake fish remains to seen.

On the strength of their beef products, Impossible have already achieved an astronomical degree of success in the US – they’re valued at $2 billion and their products are stocked by a range of outlets including Burger King,  Applebee’s and Cheesecake Factory. Here in the UK, it’s very likely that their burgers will soon be finding their way to a Burger King near you. 

Impossible aside, there are a range of similar fake-meat products you can try in the UK right now to help you satisfy your ethical, vegan blood-lust. US company Beyond Meat has a beetroot burger on sale in Tesco, while restaurant chain TGI Friday has also added a ‘bleeding’ vegan burger to its menu.

One critic has suggested that appeasing people’s desire to eat flesh with fake blood alternatives is ‘like offering sex dolls to paedophiles.’ How seriously you want to take that critique is entirely up to you.

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You can now buy shimmery electric blue colour-changing raspberry gin

The new gin
This looks amazing (Picture: Getty, ZYMURGORIUM)

Zymurgorium, home of the original Parma Violet gin, has launched an electric blue raspberry flavoured shimmery gin which turns pink when you add a mixer to it.

The Flagingo Electric Raspberry gin is flavoured with blue and Scottish raspberries, and according to the brand, turns from bright blue to pink when you add a sparkling mixer.

The £19 bottle of gin, which has an alcohol volume of 20%, is electric blue and comes with pink packaging.

The product description reads: ‘Lay back and let the Flagingo house band rock your taste buds with an Electric combination of Blue & Scottish Raspberries!

‘By adding a Sparkling Mixer to the swirling-shimmering blue madness, it triggers a wonderful on-stage explosion of Pink hues.

‘The final rift on the palette and nose will leave you swooning like a Love struck Groupie.


‘Strong and Powerful Refreshment, finishing with a soft & smooth diminuendo of ripe fruit, leaving your senses crying “ENCORE! ENCORE!’

The brand has been promoting the new gin on its Instagram, with a series of videos and photos showcasing the gin, which has a shimmery hue to it.

As expected, gin fans have been getting pretty excited for it.


One person tagged their friend writing, ‘We need this’, while another put a simple ‘Oh god’.

Someone else wrote: ‘OH MY GOD! I need to try.’

Honestly, we think we need to buy a bottle to try – but also an extra bottle to have on display, simply because it’s so pretty.

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Finland hosts the first ever heavy metal knitting championship 

Heavy metal knitting in Finland. (Picture: Supplied)
Heavy metal knitting in Finland. (Picture: Supplied)

The country responsible for conquering Eurovision with orc rockers, inventing the sauna and oh yeah, Darude, always had the potential for more innovation in the music and leisure realm.

The Heavy Metal Knitting Championships have just taken place in Joensuu, a Finnish city bordering Russia. Unsurprisingly, the event was a world first.

On Thursday, performers with names like Woolfumes, 9” needles and of course, Heather McLaren, took to the stage to fuse darning with deafening noise in an exuberant display of costumes, physicality and head-banging.

Competitors from nine countries including the UK, Denmark, Russia, and Israel, rocked out with their needles out at the inaugural event.

‘Finland is the promised land of heavy metal music. There are 50 heavy metal bands per 100 000 Finnish citizens, which is astonishingly many and actually more than anywhere else in the whole world,’ reads the event website.

‘The number of needlework enthusiasts is equally high, as according to even the most modest estimates there are hundreds of thousands of people in Finland who are immersed various kinds of needlework crafts, knitting included.’

This year’s winner was the five-person Giga Body Metal group from Japan, who performed with sumo wrestlers and a kimono-clad man.

The next tournament is expected to take place next July, so there’s plenty of time to link your textiles queen of a grandmother your Slayer playlist, or train your Metallica-loving dad in the art of a demure chain stitch.

The entry requirements for this year’s competition were simple. Film yourself knitting to the track ‘Fight Or Die’ by Joensuu band Maniac Abducto for one minute, then wack it onto YouTube. You can watch the playlist of this year’s semi-finalist audition videos online.

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National Simplicity Day: How to live a simpler life, according to Henry David Thoreau

Walden Pond is a lake in Concord, Massachusetts in the United States. The writer, transcendentalist, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. His account of the experience was recorded in Walden; or, Life in the Woods, and made the pond famous.
Thoreau lived on the northern shore of Walden pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845 (Picture: Denis Tangney Jr/ : Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Today is National Simplicity Day, an event inspired by the life and work of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862).

Thoreau’s most famous work is Walden (1854), an account of a two year period he spent living alone in a cabin – which he built himself – by Walden Pond, Massachusetts. Walden is about reducing life to its barest essentials.

In its emphasis on simplicity, and self-imposed challenge, Walden is the literary precursor to a particular type of memoir frequently published today in which the author sets themselves a challenge for a limited amount of time, whether that’s only eating food scavenged from Tesco bins or exclusively wearing trousers made from plants.

Thoreau’s injunction ‘simplify, simplify’ became so popular it was practically the ‘live, laugh, love’ of its day.

But although the classic image of him is that of an affable hermit pottering around a lake and muttering to himself about how trees are a great role model, his work actually has more of an edge than this suggests.

According to American essayist Mark Grieff, ‘Thoreau makes war on jobs; debts; houses; inheritances; governments; states.’  His work Civil Disobedience was a major influence on both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

Writer Henry David Thoreau poses for a portrait in circa 1879. (Photo courtesty Library of Congress/Getty Images)
Writer Henry David Thoreau, circa 1879, looking like he’s done with your BS (Picture: Library of Congress/Getty Images)

Henry David Thoreau was a complicated man and reducing his body of work to ‘declutter your desk, guys!  #selfcare’ would be, well, reductive.  Despite what many of the people using the #NationalSimplicityDay hashtag would have you believe, Thoreau is not actually Marie Kondo.

So how, on this most sacred of days, can we apply his philosophy to make our lives better?

Be a lazy, unambitious piece of sh*t

The great man once said: ‘beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.’

Thank you, Thoreau, for affirming my decision to never get a proper job, attend a funeral, or date anyone who works in fashion.

Quit your job

He also said: ‘The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.’

This would be a good text to send your boss when you finally snap and decide that the weather is too nice, and that life is simply too precious, for you to come to work today.

Get rid of all your stuff

In fairness, he actually is a bit like Marie Kondo.

He writes: ‘Before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects, the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped….now, a taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors, where there is no house and no housekeeper.’

As a preeminent scholar of Thoreau, who has spent as long as twenty minutes reading his Goodreads page today, I will put it into simple terms so you can understand: You can’t have a beautiful house if you don’t have a beautiful mind, bro.

So chuck all your stuff out and haul your lazy bum to a pond. Only then will you gain the wisdom to decide whether an ‘In this house, we do geek’ wall-hanging will be a tasteful addition to your bedroom.

At least I think that’s what Thoreau is saying.

Go outside

‘We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.’

Admittedly, ‘the tonic of wildness’ is harder to come by if you live in a big city. It’s true that Hampstead Heath can be pretty wild, but probably not in the way that Thoreau had in mind.

But getting out into nature, even for a walk in your nearest park, is undeniably good for the soul. Maybe leave your phone at home though, because wandering by a sun-dappled lake while checking who’s been viewing your Instagram story isn’t going to have quite the same restorative effect.

If you’d like some less esoteric advice, mental health charity Mind has some tips for practising mindfulness.

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You could get paid £5,000 to eat nothing but chips, bread and pasta

A picture of chips and pasta
Fancy £5,000 to eat bland foods? (Picture: Getty)

Fancy getting paid £5,000 to eat chips and pasta? Well, now you can, as a multivitamin subscription brand is looking for three people who only eat beige foods to try out their vitamins.

The brand, Feel, will pay you £5,000 to take a one-a-day multivitamin for a month while you continue to eat a poor diet – which includes beige foods such as chips, pasta, white bread, chicken and rice.

You’ll have your nutrient levels tested before and after the trial to see whether the multivitamin was effective in generating healthy nutrient levels.

Of course, vitamins don’t equal a healthy diet – and the brand wants to make that clear, which is why they’re only looking for people who already eat a pretty bland diet.

Boris Hodakel, Co-founder of Feel, said: ‘It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get all of the vitamins and nutrients required to live life on the go.

Close up of french fries.
You must already have a pretty beige diet (Picture: Getty)

‘Although options for nutritiously balanced food are improving all the time, there are no options that can guarantee a perfectly balanced diet, and multivitamins can be a solution.”

‘We in no way want to encourage people to use our multivitamin as a substitute for a healthy diet, the purpose of this study is to test the effectiveness of our product, outside of a lab or controlled environment, where results don’t reflect reality.’

‘We want average members of the public to eat a version of the modern Western diet – under the watchful eye of a doctor and nutritionist, to see whether Feel is as good as we think it is, in the real world.’

Those who are picked will be watched over carefully by a nutritionist and doctor, so that your health is looked after during the process and so they can check you are eating enough.

The roles are open to those who are over 18, who don’t have any underlying health conditions. It’s also important that you’re not undergoing any medical treatment during this time.

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How to spot and prevent skin cancer in cats

A cute cat lying in the sun
Make sure you thoroughly check their fur (Picture: Getty)

The days are getting warmer, and so it’s important that you look after your pet’s health as the sun comes out.

Particularly cats, as they can be susceptible to environmentally caused skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma, which is a form of skin cancer linked to sun exposure.

Not all skin cancer is caused by the sun, and cats can get tumours in which genetic factors play a role.

If you are worried that your skin may have skin cancer, there are ways to spot it.

This includes spending time regularly grooming your cat – which will make sure you are constantly aware of any unusual bumps of lumps, and you can spot any changes in their skin as they appear.

You should make sure to feel areas that you wouldn’t normally stroke – such as their armpits, the groin, the back of the neck, between the shoulder blades, under the tail and the anus.

It’s also important to check their ears and their nose – and if you notice anything peculiar, see your vet as soon as you can.

kitten on green grass
Skin cancer from the sun can be prevented (Picture: Getty)

It could be absolutely nothing, but it’s better safe than sorry.

Celebrity vet Marc Abraham says: ‘Skin cancer in cats is an extremely serious problem, especially in summer with white/pale coloured cats lacking in sufficient pigment/hair cover.

‘Danger areas include ear-tips and nose and pet-friendly sunblock should always be applied to these areas on cats exposed to sunlight.

‘Any signs of redness or sunburn, or for more advice, please contact your vet immediately; as these sun-damaged areas commonly turn into aggressive forms of cancer and may even require radical treatment such as ear amputation.’

According to Pet Plan, there are ways to prevent skin cancer in cats.

This includes keeping your cats in on really sunny days – which, while may be annoying to them, will be better for their skin. This is especially true for sunburn-prone white cats, or those with white or light-coloured fur on the tips of their ears or head.

You can also buy suncream for pets, which you could put on them before letting them outside. Be careful they don’t lick it all off, and only use suncream specially formulated for cats.

It’s important to remember that while skin cancer in cats is serious, environmental cancer can be prevented and it is treatable.

So make sure you’re keeping an eye on your feline this summer – and head straight to your vet if you spot anything alarming.

MORE: 16 stunning black cats who are looking for their forever homes

MORE: Jeffree the cat helped young boy with Asperger’s cope with the sudden death of his father

Passenger painfully learns baggage conveyor belt isn’t for her


Airports are a mixing pot of sleepy kids at the end of their tether, cross-cultural fashion, and last-ditch effort souvenirs meant only for your least-favourite family members.

It’s also a place where common decency goes to die. Want to neck a beer at 7am? Drink up. Want to rudely direct an entire life worth of loss, frustration and anger to the desk staff? Well, please don’t, but you probably will.

Whether intentional or not – we won’t hasten to assume the motivations here – a passenger at the newly-opened Istanbul Airport in Turkey stepped up to the check-in desk and onto the conveyor belt, the one intended for bags. Truly a unique way to christen the new airport.

In the CCTV footage, she can be seen holding her bags as she waits for luggage to pass her on the conveyor belt. She then strides forth as fellow passengers watch on. Note a very puzzled Sir. Purpleshirt… he’s all of us.

The woman ultimately stacks it and continues riding the motorised wave until quick-thinking staff bring it to a halt.

Was she overtired, drunk or maybe even just doing it to rouse the crowd with a massive giggle?

We’ve all been in a similar situation. Think back to the time (last weekend) when you drunkenly hopped into a car thinking it was your Uber, or punched the wrong button and rode the lift to the penthouse floor of an oil tycoon.

Either way, we can respect that it might have been her first time flying, and we can certainly admire her confident stride.

MORE: Woman’s online sex toy order goes embarrassingly wrong

MORE: Please fall in love with this black cat with different colour eyes

MORE: How to spot and prevent skin cancer in cats

Greggs opens a new drive-thru in Newcastle

The new drive-thru
The Drive-Thru is now open (Picture: North News)

Greggs has just opened a drive-thru in Newcastle.

Those lucky, lucky Geordies.

This is the fourth Greggs drive-thru opening in the UK, with the others located in Manchester, Lancashire and Derbyshire.

The drive-thru has been opened just down the road from the first ever Greggs shop, with the opening creating 20 new jobs as well as more opportunities to feast on doughnuts.

To commemorate the opening, a vintage Sausage Rolls car was the first car to use the drive-thru on Thursday morning, decorated in Greggs bunting and accompanied by a themed brass band.

The first customers were also given free Greggs merch, including air fresheners and stickers. Dreamy.

The car pulling up to the drive-thru
First customers got free merchandise (Picture: North News)

Roger Whiteside, Chief Executive of Greggs, said: ‘Since Greggs was founded 80 years ago, we’ve constantly evolved as a business to meet the changing needs of our customers. We know that having convenient access to quality food on the go is key, so that’s why we’re opening more stores where our customers want us to be, including more travel locations.

‘We’ve experienced high demand from our existing Drive-Thru shops and we hope to replicate this successful format elsewhere across the UK.’

The entire Greggs menu will be served through the drive-thru, with breakfast available until 11am – which features bacon rolls, fresh fruit and coffee – and you’ll be able to get your favourite traditional sausage roll afterwards.

Honestly, a Greggs drive-thru is the perfect stop-off on the way to work – we just need one to open in every city.

MORE: You no longer need to trek to Greggs for that vegan sausage roll, it’s on Just Eat

MORE: Great-grandma, 100, who thanks sausage rolls for her long life has a Greggs-themed birthday party

An albino baby wallaby who has to have regular sun cream massages needs a name

The albino baby wallaby
The albino baby is looking for a new name (Picture: Woburn Safari Park / SWNS)

A rare albino wallaby born during the recent heatwave has to have regular massages with sun cream to stop his delicate skin from burning.

The little joey, who has not yet been named, has pure white fur due to the genetic condition. He wouldn’t survive in the wild due to his poor eyesight and lack of camoflauge.

He’s being looked after by keepers at Woburn Safari Park, who are regularly applying sun cream to protect the animal from the sun.

Animals with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin, or no melanin at all, which causes them to have white hair. This also means they burn very easily in the sun.

The baby has to have regular suncream massages
He has to have regular suncream massages (Picture: Woburn Safari Park / SWNS)

For wallabies, their eyes and nose are most at risk.

The baby wallaby is one of lots of newborn animals born in the park during the summer, alongside an alpaca and three barbary macaque monkeys.

As mentioned, the baby wallaby currently has no name – and so the keepers are asking the public for ideas as part of a new Facebook competition.

The baby wallaby in the sun
People on Facebook are trying to name him (Picture: Woburn Safari Park / SWNS)

On their Facebook page, the park wrote: ‘Help name the albino wallaby joey and you could win a £100 gift voucher to spend at the park!

‘Keepers would like Australian-themed name suggestions, in keeping with the wallabies wild origins.’

So far, the post has had over 100 comments, and name ideas include Brett, Wilson, Snowy, Anzac and Byron.

We think Wilson the Wallaby is pretty cute.

MORE: Why do cats love boxes?

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Airbnb’s mermaid experience will get you a tail, a shell bra and a photoshoot

The Airbnb mermaid experience (Picture: Airbnb)
The Airbnb mermaid experience (Picture: Airbnb)

The introduction of the Airbnb experiences platform in 2016 has seen travellers upskilling in areas they never thought to try before.

Holidaymakers were suddenly able to master the art of a smoky Paella in Valencia, develop coconut tree climbing skills in Puerto Rico and burn sage with an actual Texan witch.

Now there’s the opportunity to try your hand – and tail – at becoming a mermaid.

San Diego-based photographer Shannon Subers transforms travellers into mermaids just in time for sunset. So like The Little Mermaid, but in reverse, and Ursula doesn’t try and mess up your life.

Aspiring mermaids get their makeup done and slip into a seashell bra, seaweed earrings, and, of course, a long swishy tail. They also walk/paddle away with 15-20 photos of the experience.

Picture: YouTube Airbnb mermaid experience
You get a shell bra, a tail, and a photoshoot (Picture: YouTube)

To add to the magic, the photoshoot takes place as the sun sets on the scenic San Diego beach of La Jolla, making for quite the Southern California souvenir.

The experience starts at £70 per person.

With exciting casting developments for Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid swirling, Shannon’s business is set to make a lot of a childhood dreams a reality.

The photographer has costumes for men, women and children, so the whole family can have a splash. So yes, this means you will have plenty of photographic evidence to embarrass your kids with once they’re grown adults.

Through her work, Shannon has transformed solo travellers, mum/daughter duos, bachelorette parties and some ‘mermen’ into mythical beings.


And she isn’t alone. She’s got other fishy friends. Airbnb’s ‘mermaid for a day’ experiences are offered all over the world, in locations including Toronto, Florida, Chicago, and Tulum. Heck there’s even a Mexican seashell house you can saunter about it.

Shannon has also been part of the vibrant Californian ‘mermaiding community’ for seven years, and is involved in this weekend’s California Mermaid Convention, the longest running mermaid convention in the world.

While mermaiding isn’t available on Airbnb experiences in the UK, companies such as Mayim Mermaid Academy in Dorset and Freedive UK offer mermaiding opportunities.

MORE: Airbnb user puts up £1,000 a night bench in ‘fashionable Shoreditch’ to raise awareness of homelessness

MORE: Airbnb guest ‘finds crackhead hiding in the bathroom’ when he arrives

MORE: Jesy Nelson is the people’s choice to play Sebastian in The Little Mermaid

This is how your London home could be earning you money

Lucky London homeowners can actually earn money while they’re away (Picture: Getty)

If you’re lucky enough to have bought a London home, chances are you’re managing a pretty sizeable mortgage and juggling that with travel costs and a demanding social life. Sometimes you just need a break, and now as more holiday makers seek more adventurous vacations over package deals, living like a local for more authentic experience is more appealing.

HomeAway gives you a different solution where you can potentially put an extra £1000 in your pocket while you’re away.

Homeowners are becoming more savvy and recognising the potential in their home and signing them up as holiday home rentals. It’s an easy way to keep the cash rolling in, or even pay for your break away, with London homes earning as much as £1,022 per booking.

Why have you never thought of this before? Well, that’s because it’s never been easier or more popular. London remains a hugely popular tourist spot and the demand remains high all year-round.

The UK attracts around 40 million visitors each year and nearly 70% of those visitors are London-bound and need the perfect place to stay.

Holiday makers are leaning towards more authentic and adventurous vacations (Picture: Getty)

With HomeAway you can offer a unique holiday that your guests would be willing to pay good money for. Most millennials are keen to break off the beaten track and conveyor belt vacations in favour of something unusual, and where better to start that a home-from-home experience?

The extra money is often a big driver in sign-ups for short term rentals, but security and control of your home are also huge factors when picking the right online platform. You don’t want to spend your travels worrying about what’s happening at home, so make sure if you’re keen on the idea to pick a company that gives you control of the pricing, calendar dates that suit you as well as who stays in your place.

Signing up for short-term rentals can help homeowners reach their financial goals sooner than they thought, whether it’s chunking down the mortgage quicker, more money in the pot to give you more freedom or even allowing you to bank some savings. A rarity for most London homeowners. But the opportunity is there. To give you an idea of how much we’re talking, HomeAway reports that the average earnings per booking can be as high as £897 in Camden, and up to £1,022 in Westminster. There’s even a HomeAway calculator tool to give you a better idea.

‘I rent out my home because the extra income has allowed us to travel and do things we probably wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,’ says Patricia, a Kensington homeowner. Over the past 15 years, Patricia has used HomeAway to welcome holidaymakers and claims that along with flexibility it is the ability to set the rates that is a real positive for her.

Patricia, who has rented out her home, has had more adventures than she ever thought possible (Picture: HomeAway)

Picking the right company to list your property is a good way to attract the calibre of guest. Using a more established platform, like HomeAway, can offer more security with its wealth of experience. It can also offer invaluable advice as there are restrictions in London for the number of nights you’re able to book out your home. A company like HomeAway can not only advise you, but score you the highest value bookings each night. To help you sleep better at night while you’re away, HomeAway provides liability protection as well as round-the-clock support for homeowners. If you want to just give it a little try and it doesn’t work out there’s no obligation as you can just remove it from the marketplace.

To find out how easy it is to list your property and how much you might earn this year, visit HomeAway.co.uk

Being a matchmaker has taught me what true love really is


Love, Or Something Like It

In Love, Or Something Like It, our new Metro.co.uk series, we’re on a quest to find true love.

Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day.

I had a vision of what being a matchmaker would be like: I’d be the girl about town, bulging little black book in hand, matchmaking London’s singletons who would fall head over heels with the first person I matched them with. The truth is, finding true love is not that straightforward.

What people say they want in a partner usually turns out to be quite different to who they disappear off into the sunset with.

Clients won’t meet a great match because they don’t like the shoes they’re wearing in a photo, or guys let down a woman after a date by saying they’re not looking for a serious relationship, yet they’re paying us £5,000 for five matches.

Matchmaker Caroline Brealey poses in London
I had a vision of what being a matchmaker would be like but finding love isn’t straightforward (Picture: Saskia Nelson)

Clients often share a long ‘must have’ list – most have a very narrow age range and many women say they want a man who is 6’0 or over. Given the average height of a British man is 5’8 you’ve just shrank your large dating pool to a paddling pool in one statement.

I cottoned on that to make successful lasting matches, my job is to tactfully challenge ‘the list’ to get to the heart of what’s really important to them. I frequently find myself asking: ‘Do you really want the search for your life partner and potential father of your kids to be based around height?’

Not every match I make results in a relationship. I once made a match I was so confident about I could practically see them walking down the aisle. They ticked all the boxes each of them was looking for, had the same outlook and views on life and shared a love for the same extreme sport.

They had a great date but both uttered the words a matchmaker dreads ‘There was no chemistry’. I get it: we want to come away from a date absolutely buzzing high on adrenaline and excitement but many couples who go the distance didn’t feel that rush.

I remember gently persuading one client she should go on a third date with a man whose company she enjoyed but wasn’t that excited about. Several years on they’re still madly in love!

She had been waiting for that instant feeling of ‘this is the one’ – but once she let the relationship develop at its own pace without the pressure, she fell in love. We want everything now, but love rarely works like that. The initial rush is usually lust. You need to get to know someone to really fall for them.

Matchmaker Caroline Brealey laughing with a colleague
I have people ask me who on earth would pay thousands for dating when Tinder is free (Picture: Nicole Englemann)

Similarly, opening your mind to meeting new people gives you the best chance at finding love. The saying that opposites attract isn’t true when it comes to core life values, but with hobbies then absolutely. One of the greatest aspects of a relationship is introducing new things to one another.

A client told me he hadn’t found someone he connected with on an emotional level as well as physical. Turned out he had been dating much younger women but, now he was ready to settle down, found they weren’t on the same wavelength.

He had a perception of what women his own age were like (which was completely wrong!) but after some serious home truths he started to be open to meeting people his age.

He had several nice dates with women but then met a woman who blew him away. Six months later they moved in together.

I have people ask me who on earth would pay thousands for dating when Tinder is free but matchmaking is the opposite to apps.

We meet everyone in person and only work with people looking for a lasting relationship, not hook-ups. Once we have a match the guy arranges the date and we get feedback after on how it went.

Hopefully they have another date in the diary, if not we’re back on the search for their ‘one’. It’s expensive but if finding a partner for life isn’t worth investing in, what is?

Matchmaker Caroline Brealey working on a laptop
We want someone we can’t wait to share exciting news with but who we know will be there for us during the rubbish times (Picture: Nicole Englemann)

People always want to know if I have found love myself – I have. I am lucky to be in a loving, trustworthy and happy marriage but I’ve had my share of heartbreak, which helps me empathise with my clients.

Recently a new client told me she was ghosted by a man she had been seeing for three months. He stopped answering her calls, deleted her from social accounts and went AWOL without so much as a simple ‘it’s me not you’ chat. I admit, when I hear stories like that I think ‘thank god I’ve met my match’.

We always ask clients ‘what does true love mean to you’. Time and time again we see the words companionship, loyalty, best friend, adventure. Ultimately, we are all looking for the same things, just packaged differently.

We want someone we can’t wait to share exciting news with but who we know will be there for us during the rubbish times, too.

A best friend to watch trashy TV with after a long day but one who you also fancy and admire. Someone you can be 100 per cent yourself with and just have fun together easily and naturally.

Finding love isn’t about compromising on core values, or stepping out your comfort zone. It’s about getting clear in your own mind what a happy relationship looks like for you and meeting people who share that same vision – everything else is secondary.

Caroline Brealey is the founder of Mutual Attraction

Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: My wife’s cancer diagnosis has changed the way I love her

Write for Love, Or Something Like It

Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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Shopper calls out PrettyLittleThing for selling a bikini that turns see-through in water

Emily Charlton-Smith has mocked Pretty Little Thing's "comical and outrageous" response to her complaint that one of their bikinis turns transparent in water
Emily wasn’t pleased to buy a bikini she couldn’t actually swim in (Picture: Deadline News)

When you buy some swimwear, you expect to be able to swim in it.

So when Emily Charlton-Smith bought a bikini from PrettyLittleThing, she was pretty shocked to find that it went completely see-through when wet – something she found out too late, while at a pool on holiday in Spain.

The 25-year-old took to Instagram to complain to the brand, but was even more puzzled when a customer service adviser asked her to send a video of herself wearing the bikini to show its transparency.

Emily, from Clapham, was left red-faced and scrambling for cover after her £17 bikini became completely translucent in water.

Screenshots of her conversation with PrettyLittleThing show an adviser, Nowman, asking Emily for the proof of the incident. The message reads:
‘Can you send us video of this so we can see how thin this item has become?’

Emily responds: ‘As in a video of it going see-through when I wear it?’

A MORTIFIED shopper has mocked Pretty Little Thing's "comical and outrageous" response to her complaint that one of their bikinis turns transparent in water. Emily Charlton-Smith, from Clapham, London was left red-faced after her ?17 bikini became completely translucent in water. Emily had worn the bikini to the pool yesterday [Thursday] while on holiday in Spain, but was left scrambling for cover when it turned see completely through in the water. The 25-year-old took to Instagram to complain to the company, but was left perplexed when a customer service adviser asked for her to send a video of her demonstrating the garment's transparency.of ?1,200.
She was even more puzzled when asked to send a video of herself wearing the bikini (Picture: Deadline News)
An hour later, Nowman disappears from the conversation and a different customer adviser issues a sincere apology for the blunder, writing: ‘I’m so sorry, that was advised wrong, can you send us a photo of your hand under the bikini to show how see through it is.’

Eventually Emily is told that the bikini is for ‘poolside posing only’… so you’re not supposed to actually swim in it. Right.

In response to her complaints a PrettyLittleThing customer services adviser said: ‘From the material it can be expected to happen, most of our bikinis we do advise for them to be worn for poolside posing based on this.’

A MORTIFIED shopper has mocked Pretty Little Thing's "comical and outrageous" response to her complaint that one of their bikinis turns transparent in water. Emily Charlton-Smith, from Clapham, London was left red-faced after her ?17 bikini became completely translucent in water. Emily had worn the bikini to the pool yesterday [Thursday] while on holiday in Spain, but was left scrambling for cover when it turned see completely through in the water. The 25-year-old took to Instagram to complain to the company, but was left perplexed when a customer service adviser asked for her to send a video of her demonstrating the garment's transparency.of ?1,200.
The bikini went see-through when in water (Picture: Deadline News)
Emily took to Instagram to share the exchange with her followers with the caption: ‘I’m not sure what’s worse @PrettyLittleThing’s Nowman asking me for a video in my see-through bikini or the customer service team telling me bikinis are for poolside posing only.

‘I’ll save you the nude porno video (soz Nowman) but this is what we’re working with.’

Thankfully Emily isn’t too annoyed about her experience.

She said: ‘You have to laugh that they asked for a video initially, I think that would have sent most people over the edge, but I let it play out as I’ve worked in retail and try to be helpful.

A MORTIFIED shopper has mocked Pretty Little Thing's "comical and outrageous" response to her complaint that one of their bikinis turns transparent in water. Emily Charlton-Smith, from Clapham, London was left red-faced after her ?17 bikini became completely translucent in water. Emily had worn the bikini to the pool yesterday [Thursday] while on holiday in Spain, but was left scrambling for cover when it turned see completely through in the water. The 25-year-old took to Instagram to complain to the company, but was left perplexed when a customer service adviser asked for her to send a video of her demonstrating the garment's transparency.of ?1,200.
She’s called out the brand on Instagram (Picture: Deadline News)
‘The best and most mortifying part is that they said bikinis are for “poolside posing”.

‘I posted it on my Instagram story and have had so many people express their frustrations for me and some have had similar experiences.’

This isn’t the first time PrettyLittleThing has been criticised for selling swimwear you’re not supposed to swim in.

Back in May a customer discovered that their bikini bled bright blue dye when put in water, and was told by PrettyLittleThing that the swimsuit shouldn’t be worn for actual swimming.

Anyone else baffled?

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Heathrow Airport strikes 2019 – when are they and will your holiday be affected?

Sign outside Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport could go into ‘shutdown’ this summer (Picture: PA)

If you’re based in London and planning on jetting away this summer, yesterday’s announcement over Heathrow Airport strikes may have struck fear into your heart.

The Unite union threatened to ‘shut down’ Heathrow, while calling a series of strikes over pay.

So, when are the strikes taking place, why are they striking and more importantly – will your holiday be affected?!

Find out all you need to know here.

When are the Heathrow Airport strikes happening?

The planned strike dates are 26, 27 July, 5, 6, 23 and 24 August.

The July dates are typically the airport’s busiest weekend as they coincide with the beginning of the school holidays.

It is believed the strikes could affect one million people.

Passengers waiting at Heathrow Airport
Heathrow is the UK’s busiest airport (Picture: Getty Images)

Unite claim the action comes amid deepening anger over pay disparities between workers at the airport and the airport’s senior staff.

They cited the 103.2% pay increase given to the airport’s chief executive officer, John Holland-Kaye.

The union are trying to negotiate an 18-month pay offer amounting to an extra £3.75 for the lowest paid staff.

What airlines will be affected by the airport strikes?

British Airways, which operates most of its fights out of Heathrow, has said operations will continue as normal.

British Airways plane
BA has reassured passengers there will be no disruptions (Picture: Getty Images)

However, the results of a pilots’ ballot is due on 22 July which could result in further strikes for BA.

This ballot follows days of talks which eventually broke down between BA and the pilots’ union, Balpa, over pay.

Will any other airports be affected by strikes this summer?

easyJet check-in staff at Stansted also announced a series of strikes every weekend over the main summer holidays, starting from 25 July and then every weekend in August.

A spokesperson for easyJet reassured passengers there are contingency plans in place.

There are also several ballots underway which could lead to strikes from baggage scanners and facility workers at Gatwick Airport.

With Gatwick Airport already shutting down for two hours earlier this week due to ‘air traffic control systems issue’, it looks like it’s going to be an interesting summer!

MORE: Flights from Gatwick resumed after ‘systems issue’ grounded planes for 2 hours

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How to start exercising to help with your mental health

We know about the benefits of exercise for mental wellbeing, but how on earth do we get started? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

The benefits of exercise for mental health are bigged up for good reason.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, chances are you’ve been told to exercise to help it.

This could be by a doctor, a friend, or a quick Google, but it seems like everyone is on at us to ‘go for a run’ or asking ‘have you just tried taking a walk?’.

These suggestions aren’t totally ignorant and are based on facts (it’s called science, Linda, look it up), but man, the thought of moving your body voluntarily when you can barely move it out of bed is so overwhelming that it’s easier to just bat those thoughts away.

If you’re reading this article then there’s an implication you’re interested in seeing what this exercise lark is all about, and trying it out to see if it can help your brain-flames. There’s no rush to start anything, but there are some things to remember that’ll help you stop beating yourself up for staying in bed.

You don’t have to exercise at all if you don’t want to

This is the most crucial. Even if it feels like it’s all you’re hearing, you’re not denying yourself a recovery if you choose not to do it. There was a time when everyone was saying we should all be doing the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge and look how that turned out.

Start small

Leaping out of your darkness, flicking tears away from your face and jumping into some Mr Motivator style lycra before skipping out the door to merrily sprint 10k and give thumbs up to passing pedestrians is, shall we say, unlikely.

From my experience (please tell me your own!) it was once a hell of a journey to move into a different room, let alone change clothes or think about leaving the house.

When you feel ready you can always start with one of those ‘lovely walks’ people wang on about – though it might be less lovely and more of a miserable trundle through tears, that’s still ok. You do you.

Sometimes it’s easier to swap in a walk somewhere you might usually get transport or drive, like on the way back from work, and (for me) it’s always easier to have a destination in mind for a sit down, rather than just doing a loop of somewhere.

Try not to force yourself when you feel awful – do it when you feel OK

I think this was the biggest one for me; when I feel at my lowest, there is no way on Rihanna’s earth that I’m going to exercise unless I can summon some superhuman strength – which is rare.

I couldn’t even contemplate exercise until my depression felt more manageable (drugs and therapy helped there), and even then I could only do it when I felt in a non-deathly state.

Sometimes there are lighter moments in the dark patches, and it was during those times that I’d go out for a walk or a swim. I think the exercise then became associated with better moods, so would be an easier coping mechanism to reach for when I started to feel desperate again.

Consider a variety of ‘impact’ levels

Walking is great, sure, but a lot of people find it dull.

Running is fantastic, but it’s an actual living hell when you’re starting out and not something a lot of people want to jump straight into.

Personally I find swimming and hot yoga both excellent, as they’re so consuming that all you can think about is trying not to swallow water or trying not to pass out in the heat, and you really give your brain a break from its attempts to crush you. Also, if you’re actually focusing on how not to die, then chalk that up to a win.

Don’t get hung up on numbers

It’s not about how fast you’re going or how much ground you cover or how long you’re active, it’s about the fact that you’re actually doing it.

If you want to work on personal progress later, then by all means, but for the start just remind yourself that heading out to do something is an improvement on staying in to implode.

Sometimes (ok, a lot) I’ll have a crappy run that felt excruciatingly hard and that took me way longer than it previously did to cover the same amount of mileage, but I try to focus on the fact that getting out to do it is something I couldn’t even fathom doing when I was at my worst, and doing anything at all is better than drinking a pint of red wine at 9am. Allegedly.

A wise friend recommended the Nike Running Club app to me when I started to think about speeding up my walks, and I’d like to press it into your hands/phone, too. It’s great for clueless layabouts like myself, and has guided runs with non-patronising, non-annoying (even though they’re American) coaches talking you through the whole thing while you listen to your own playlist. It’s much better than ‘Couch to 5k’ which has inexplicably insufferable music droning on in the background, and there are such a variety of runs to listen to that you won’t get bored. I did the ‘first run’ three times and didn’t hate it.

How does exercise improve your mental health?

Enough about me and more about the science bit; our brains are malleable, meaning that they can grow and change and develop a lot of healthy, strong matter around the well-trodden neural pathways of despair. To create new, healthy pathways, we have to experience new things; from trying to learn something new, to taking a new route to the ice-cream shop, to exercising.

When we first begin something new, the pathway will develop very delicately, like the first time you cut through long wheat in a field (hi Theresa May). The more you practice the activity, the deeper and more formed the pathway will get, and the stronger your brain’s plasticity becomes.

Depression is a sneaky, vile intruder into our brains, and I like to think that the more healthy pathways we can try and introduce, the stronger our ‘positive brain army’ is that can tell depression to bugger off (look, anything that helps is worth considering, right?).

Exercise and endorphins are so strongly linked that many doctors wish they could actually prescribe it to depression sufferers. For me it got to the point where I was willing to try anything, and lo, exercise actually seems to help.

Exercise, like depression, will be different for everyone. Physical activity won’t cure you, but if you can find a manageable way of doing it then it’s a strong contender for a way to clear the fog from your brain and take depression’s foot off the accelerator.

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Love Island’s Amber is right, there are swimming pigs in the Bahamas


We couldn’t have predicted that we’d be writing about Love Island’s Amber, newbie Chris, and whether or not pigs can swim, in one article.

But such is the nature of this wonderful show. It truly is educational, whether it’s teaching us what the Eagle is or making us ponder the existence of swimming pigs.

On Friday’s episode new guy Chris tried to crack on with Amber by asking her about Disney princesses, calling her cool, and questioning the items on her bucket list.

One thing Amber said she really wants to do is head to the Bahamas to swim with the pigs.

Chris went a tad mansplainer and responded: ‘Now you’re just making things up. Pigs can’t swim.’

Amber then offered up a £10,000 bet that actually, pigs can swim.

Travel and animal photography: the swimming pigs in the bahamas exumas
Chris owes Amber £10K (Picture: Getty Images)

It looks like Chris owes her quite a bit of money, then, because Amber is correct. Pigs can swim, and they do so over in the Bahamas, specifically on the white sand beaches of the Exumas – a chain of hundreds of tiny islands and cays (one of these islands is actually up for sale at the moment, and was used to promote Fyre Festival).

People flock to Big Major Cay – also known as the Pig Beach, for clear reasons – to see the island’s famous swimming pigs.

As the name suggests, these are pigs that live on the island and spend their time paddling around the water.

Swimming pigs of the Bahamas in the Out Islands of the Exumas
You can visit the beach by boat and see the pigs paddle up to greet you (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

They’re big lads. They also like to snatch food, so anyone who heads to the beach with a picnic should be careful they’re not knocked over by a hungry porker.

But they’re very friendly, and will peacefully swim with visitors and receive pats on the head.

The island is a little tricky to get to, so we see why it’s on Amber’s bucket list.

The island isn’t populated by humans, just pigs and other animals, and you have to head there by boat. There are loads of people offering guided tours, but they can be pricey, often adding on snorkeling and hanging out with nurse sharks.

The pigs live on Big Major Cay, one of the over 365 islands in Exuma, a district of the Bahamas. Also known as Pig Beach, the island is about 82 miles southeast of Nassau, and about 50 miles northwest of George Town. It is entirely uninhabited by humans.
Can pigs swim? Yes, they can (Picture: Getty Images)

But more on the pigs. Yes, they can swim perfectly well. As you sail on over the pigs will likely paddle right up to the boat to greet you. They enjoy staying in the water to remain cool (did you know that pigs can’t actually sweat?) under the sun.

No one knows how the pigs ended up living on Big Major Cay. There are rumours that a man dropped some pigs in the area as an attempt to create a sustainable food supply, and that the pigs may have escaped from a boat travelling past the area.

Big swimming feral pig checking on visitors boats in the Exumas, Bahamas.
The island is inhabited by pigs and their piglets (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

They’ve been there for years now, with new piglets joining the brood, and live off the food thrown to them from tourists as well as whatever they can find in the island’s forest.

If you are planning a visit, make sure to only feed the pigs healthy food like fruits and vegetables, and feed them in the water rather than on the beach so they don’t gulp down too much sand.

And of course, you’ll need to snap plenty of pics for the ‘gram.

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