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I am fat but by no means weak, Michael Buerk

Gillian Fisher, Arts, Culture and Lifestyle Writer based in London. (Picture: Gillian Fisher)
As a size 20 woman I often feel that my body is somehow public property (Picture: Gillian Fisher)

Journalist and presenter Michael Buerk has never been shy when it comes to voicing unpopular opinions.

He’s commented on matters such as age discrimination and gender inequality, leading former newsreader Anna Ford to comment: ‘He’s a dear old-fashioned chauvinist of the first order.’

This time his attack is on the overweight, who he deems ‘weak, not ill.’

In his column ‘Leave the Couch Potatoes Alone’, he sadly reflects and reinforces the popular opinion that all fat people are lazy TV junkies with no interest ranging beyond the biscuit tin.

Not only is this untrue, it is harmful.

The criticisms which abound in the piece are the sort of snide comments fat people are faced with every single day, gradually eroding their sense of worth and any kind of confidence.

It is the thoughtless and misplaced aspersions cast by Mr Buerk that can lead to overweight people developing mental health issues and afraid to go to the doctors for fear of being termed a flabby disgrace.

There are no shortage of first-hand accounts from people who have felt shamed by their healthcare professionals for their weight, and studies have confirmed the prejudice exists and the urgency with which it should be tackled.

I often think of the comedian Jo Brand’s sketch in which every GP visit, whether about her eyes or her elbow ended with the doctor’s comment: ‘You really ought to lose some weight, Miss Brand.’

Slim people are energetic, strong-willed and intelligent, while stupid fat people are floundering in apathetic self-pity while reaching for their seventh sticky bun.

As a size 20 woman I often feel that my body is somehow public property. I’ve had complete strangers approach me to share their Weight Watchers stories, fellow commuters tell me that walking would be better for me and Tinder matches say they’d really like to sleep with me, but they wouldn’t want their friends to know.

I have had to learn to separate my physicality from my value as a person, which is far from easy when even highly respected and intelligent journalists feel entitled to term me a greedy couch potato.

Somehow, being wobbly means my body is up for discussion by whosoever feels they’d benefit from a brief surge of smugness. Because make no mistake, if being fat is considered a failing, as Mr Buerk’s column so obviously asserts, there can be no greater achievement than remaining svelte in a world so populated by ‘fat-soaked convenience rubbish.’

It is an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality, where being slim is heralded as good while being fat is shameful. Slim people are energetic, strong-willed and intelligent, while stupid fat people are floundering in apathetic self-pity while reaching for their seventh sticky bun.

It may surprise Mr Buerk to hear that fat does not automatically mean unfit. I would highly recommend triathlete Krista Henderson’s blog Born to Reign, which is dedicated to plus-sized athleticism, or take a peek at the infinitely flexible Jessamyn Stanley’s Instagram page where the full figured yoga teacher demonstrates her skills thanks to years of dedicated exercise.


To give him his due, I do applaud Mr Buerke for not lambasting about obesity’s cost to the NHS, in my opinion, correctly pointing out that ‘Who can calculate how much an obese person would have cost if they slim?’

However, his damning attack of ‘It’s your fault and you can put it right. Stop guzzling’ is beyond offensive.

This blame mentality, that being fat is automatically a problem and is something you ought to change again reinforces the negative view of fatness.

It fails completely to address how challenging weight loss can be, especially if emotional issues or personal problems underlie your relationship with food, as is the case with me.

One cannot simply ‘stop guzzling’ because humans need food to survive. Mr Buerk’s stance is not dissimilar to Cancer UK’s recent campaign which likens obesity to smoking related illnesses. The implication being that fatness can just stop, by putting down the Oreos.

Mr Buerk may have lost 9.52kg during his stint in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here but that hardly makes him a weight loss guru.

In fact, it is people who have never struggled with their weight and see nothing wrong with criticising other people that remain a problem in our image obsessed society.

All you can tell by looking at me, Mr Buerk, is that I am fat. You cannot tell anything about my lifestyle, my health, or my mind set based upon my waistline.

Please bear that in mind. From your admiring couch potato.

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Great granddad has been teaching judo for 68 years

Jack Hearn takes part in a campaign with Seven Seas JointCare Supplex & Tumeric
Jack Hearn has been teaching judo for 68 years (Picture: PA REAL LIFE/Seven Seas JointCare Supplex & Tumeric)

Meet Jack Hearn, a war veteran, great granddad, and Britain’s oldest judo sensei master.

He’s 95, and claims that martial arts are the secret to a long and happy life. We’re inclined to believe him.

Jack, from Cramlington, Northumberland, has been teaching the sport for almost 70 years and continues to travel around the country taking classes.

Demonstrating his knowledge of the art, he has been awarded his ninth Dan black belt – an instructor who is nine degrees above a standard black belt – and is hoping to achieve the 10th Dan, the highest you can get, next year.

Jack regularly teaches people of all ages, even after retiring as a dockworker.

He said: ‘I fell in love with judo right away, I just took to it like a duck to water and now I’ve been doing it for 68 years. I would say it is the secret to a long life.

‘It’s a very active sport and you have to do a lot of physical training like push ups, sit ups and knee ups.

‘I can still touch the floor with my hands flat and I still get on my back with my legs cycling in the air. I walk up and down the stairs a number of times just for the exercise.

‘I get such pleasure in teaching the younger generations and passing on the knowledge. You can have a lot of fun with it when you let them throw you down as well.

Jack Hearn with Phil Tuffnell and Graeme Swann who go head to head in a series of challenges
The 95-year-old started a judo school in the 50s with his brother (Picture: PA REAL LIFE/Seven Seas JointCare Supplex & Tumeric)

‘People who do judo are the most calm people you will meet. They are not interested in fisticuffs at all.’

Jack has taught so many people judo he’s lost track of how many students he’s seen, but can say he’s coached kids who have gone on to compete at an international level.

His love for judo started when he set up a judo school in North Shields in the 1950s with his brother Bob, who passed away more than 20 years ago.

Jack said: ‘Before that I was a racing cyclist but, I had an appendicitis and had to have an operation, so the doctor told me, ‘No more cycling.’

‘My brother Bob went to a judo club so I decided to look at doing that instead and I just took to it.

‘I was really curious because it was man-to-man rather than a team game. You would just crash land until you learned how to fall properly.

‘In 1954 my brother and I decided we would start our own judo club in North Shields.

‘We couldn’t afford a lot of the equipment, so we would make our own judo mats out of sawdust and old army canvas, or material taken from lifebelts.

‘The club became really popular. The room we taught in was 25ft by 15ft and there were as many as 70 people practising in there.’

Jack Hearn with Phil Tuffnell and Graeme Swann who go head to head in a series of challenges
Jack wants to inspire others to take up martial arts and stay active (Picture: PA REAL LIFE/Seven Seas JointCare Supplex & Tumeric)

In 1954 Jack went to college to gain a teaching qualification and has gone on to coach people who have competed at championship level. He has also refereed international competitions across Europe.

The granddad uses the Japanese name Hoko Jun at competitions and still uses it when teaching.

‘I was talking to a Japanese student from Newcastle University and asked if he could give me a Japanese name,’ he explains.

‘He called me Hoko Jun. Jun means ‘shield’ and ‘Hoko’ is ‘north’ so when translated it meant ‘defender of the north’. Wherever I went the name Hoko Jun followed.

‘I wasn’t interested in getting trophies and medals, but I was really interested in the culture and history of judo.’

Jack travels around Europe meeting Japanese judo teachers and educating students, and hopes to inspire people to take up martial arts at any age.

He also enjoys ballroom dancing, and wants to showcase the importance of staying active as you get older – which is why he’s taking part in a campaign with Seven Seas supplements.

‘Judo teaches people to respect and have a good feeling for other people,’ he says. ‘One of the main things I teach is respect. Without that we are nothing.

‘You do not go into a fight hoping to damage the other person. You have a nice feeling about the other person.

‘I want to live for as long as I can.

‘If you sit in the house and watch television you become inactive and your body starts to slip away and you soon die.

‘People need to get off their butt and do something to keep the body and mind active.

‘You don’t need to become a judo master, but just get out and walk, take a trip to the local community centre and meet people.’

‘That’s why I’ve been working with Seven Seas JointCare Supplex & Turmeric to emphasise the importance of keeping physically fit to feel healthy and happy.

‘As long as you are breathing get out and do something.’

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Daily Fitness Challenge: Can you do these sit-ups for more than a minute?


Sit-ups are a classic move for core strength.

There are so many variations you can try, but nailing a classic sit-up is the best starting point for strengthening your abdominal muscles.

How long can you keep going – without letting your feet lift off the ground or using momentum to get yourself up?

Throughout this Staying Active summer series, fitness experts Elia and Amanda – both qualified instructors at Flykick – will be on hand to show you how to do each challenge and give you their top tips.

Our daily challenges are perfect to try at home, at the gym or in the park. They are designed to get you moving every day.

Check back every day to see what the next challenge is – you could even film your progress to make a record of how far you’ve come.

The aim is to be active every day for six weeks over summer. Today’s challenge will test different muscle groups and help to improve your muscle performance.

These daily challenges can be done on their own, or you can include them in larger workout – it’s totally up to you. As long as you’re moving, that’s what matters.

Young woman performing exercises
Make sure you’re not pulling on your neck as you lift. (Picture: Getty)

We know doing the same fitness routine every week can get really tedious, trying a new challenge every day will keep your fitness fresh and fun – and you might even learn some new moves.

How to do sit-ups to strengthen stomach muscles

Start lying down flat on your back.

Bend your legs and place your feet on the ground – you need them to be secure in order to stabilise your lower body.

Place them behind your ears, but gently – you shouldn’t be pulling on your neck.

Curl your upper body all the way up toward your knees. Exhale as you lift. Make sure your feet remain planted on the floor.

Lower yourself down in a controlled movement, returning to your starting point.

I am Team GB

Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com

Drinking booze or smoking before bed will ruin your sleep more than coffee, says study

sleep well
Can’t stay snoozing? Booze may be to blame (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Good news for coffee fans, bad news for anyone who likes a boozy nightcap.

New research says that drinking alcohol or smoking before bed can wreck your sleep – more so than drinking coffee.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University used sensors and daily sleep diaries to track 785 people’s sleep across 5,164 days and nights. As well as analysing the hours of sleep each person managed, they also tracked the quality of their sleep, plus how much alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine they consumed within four hours before going to bed.

They found that drinking alcohol or smoking within four hours of bedtime had a negative effect on sleep.

While booze might make it easier to drift off, sleep was more disrupted after drinking or smoking, meaning lower quality rest and feeling tired in the morning.

Smoking was the substance most strongly associated with sleep disruption. Researchers found that among people with insomnia, nightly nicotine use was linked to an average 42 minute reduction in sleep duration.

But what’s interesting is that the researchers found no impact on sleep from consuming caffeine within four hours of bedtime.

Before you go chugging espressos, though, the study authors do warn that individual variations in caffeine sensitivity and tolerance weren’t able to be measured. Essentially, you could be more sensitive to caffeine than the participants in the study, which could result in lost sleep if you have even a sip of caffeine close to bed.

You’ll know best, basically. If you toss and turn on a day you’ve had coffee, that’s likely an indication that it’s not wise for you to have caffeine close to bedtime.

But if you are struggling with sleep and wandering around in a permanent state of exhaustion, it might be worth ditching the alcohol and smoking along with the caffeine hit.

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This 80-year-old gymnast is probably more flexible than you

Marjorie the 80-year-old gymnast performing a headstand
‘Take the bull by the horns and try it. If you believe you can do it then you will.’ (Picture: Marjorie Scholes)

When you think about hobbies for the elderly, gymnastics probably isn’t high on that list.

But Marjorie Scholes is defying all expectations and is still leaping, tumbling and balancing on the gym floor – at 80 years old.

The grandmother only started gymnastics when she was 76, and this month she came second in the 2019 Adult Gymnastics British Championships – over 45s category.

Marjorie really is proving that age is just a number and making us all feel incredibly lazy.

‘I became interested in adult artistic gymnastics about four years ago, having watched my granddaughter compete for Carterton Gymnastics Club.’ Marjorie tells Metro.co.uk.

Marjorie the 80-year-old gymnast balancing in the gym
‘It certainly helps with flexibility and gives me a sense of achievement.’ (Picture: Marjorie Scholes)

‘Then my daughter joined the adult section at the gymnastics club (having done it herself at junior school).

‘I just thought – you know I wouldn’t mind trying it myself. I was invited by the club’s head coach Debbie to come and try it. I was hooked.’

For people who have been retired for a long time, finding a routine to get you out of the house can be a lifeline. For Marjorie – gymnastics provides a social outlet as well as the mental and physical benefits.

‘I love it because it gets me out,’ she explains.

‘I meet new people and it exercises parts of my anatomy I have never used before. It certainly helps with flexibility and gives me a sense of achievement trying something I have never done before.

Marjorie the 80-year-old gymnast performing a back stand
‘Being able to perform my routine in front of a such a large audience was quite a remarkable experience.’ (Picture: Marjorie Scholes)

‘It boosts my confidence and gives me a feeling of well-being.’

But trying something new can be scary. Particularly is it is something that is completely out of your comfort zone. Marjorie thinks it’s important to be brave.

‘I would say don’t be afraid. Have a positive attitude. Take the bull by the horns and try it. If you believe you can do it then you will.

‘You never know, you may be a budding gymnast waiting to burst forth! It is the best thing I have done for a long time.’

Marjorie is a passionate believer that people in later life need keep their bodies healthy, as well as their minds.

‘It is all too easy to do nothing,’ she says.

‘You get great benefits from being active. It may be hard at the start, but once you have made that effort you will be surprised how much better you feel.

Marjorie the 80-year-old gymnast leaping in the gym
‘My biggest achievement is knowing how much more mobile and fitter I have become.’ (Picture: Marjorie Scholes)

‘It will boost your moral, give you more confidence, you will become more mobile and you will have an aim in life. You will feel much better physically and mentally.’

To walk away from a national competition with a silver medal is a huge achievement for anyone – but for Marjorie, it meant the world.

‘My biggest achievement is knowing how much more mobile and fitter I have become,’ she explains.

‘My outlook on life is much brighter and the icing on the cake is being able to compete in the British Gymnastic Championships this month. Coming second in the over 45s category floor routine was amazing.

‘Being able to perform my routine in front of a such a large audience was quite a remarkable experience. In fact it was absolutely fantastic!’

So next time you think you’re too tired to go for a run, or too nervous to try something new – think about Marjorie, she is sure to inspire you.

Anyone looking to start gymnastics, at any age, can find a local club on the British Gymnastics website.

I am Team GB

Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com

Mixed Up: ‘I love the colour of my skin, but it doesn’t define me or tell you my story’


Mixed Up is a weekly series exploring what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.

Being mixed-race is so much more than just black and white – and, as the fastest growing ethnic population the country, they have a multitude of stories to tell.

This series aims to go beyond stigma and stereotype to truly get to the heart of individual lived experiences – to see if there are any collective conclusions to be drawn.

Each week we look into the unique joys, pains and contradictions that can come with straddling two or more ethnic backgrounds.

Jacqueline Gomes-Neves is Angolan and Portuguese. She works in politics and dreams of speaking for people who are voiceless in traditional corridors of power.

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. Mixed Up
(Picture by Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

‘My mother is from Madeira, and my father is from Angola, in Sub-Saharan Africa,’ Jacqueline tells Metro.co.uk.

‘My parents met in South London in the mid-90s and I am their only child. My mum tells me that she swore to give her child the love and attention she didn’t get when growing up.

‘She had many brothers and sisters, and a mother who was constantly working, so she was mindful about offering a different experience to her child.

‘I have two grandmothers who are strong matriarchs, one in Angola and the other in Madeira. It’s beautiful to see such strong women in different parts of the world and they are both pieces of the stories I will tell as my history.’

Jacqueline’s personal identity is vitally important to her – but she is determined to show people that who she is goes far deeper than the colour of her skin or the ethnic origins of her parents.

‘For me, the term “mixed-race” is a socially constructed label that I’ve inherited at birth to make sense of my skin,’ says Jacqueline.

‘I love the colour of my skin, but it doesn’t define me or tell you my story.

‘When people meet me for the first time, I always get the question, “so where are you from?”

‘I used to dislike being asked that question because I saw it as an attempt to define me or put me in a box, but now it’s almost like a game and I laugh as the person tries to guess my background with such assurance, “Chinese, Latina, Venezuelan, Mexican, Cape Verdian etc.”

‘They’re always wrong, but it makes me laugh because I am then in a position to educate them.

Jacqueline as a toddles, smiling and holding on to a chair
‘I see myself as Jacqueline. Jacqueline was shaped by love and values kindness, respect, understanding, unity and hard work.’ (Picture: Jacqueline Gomes-Neves)

‘For me, I would much rather be defined by the content of my character and who I am, so I am always intrigued when someone is interested in what I do and my values  – as opposed to what makes up my blend.

‘When people try to connect with me by talking about where my parents are from, the conversation is often short lived. I am intrigued by Angola and its rich history, as well as I am fascinated by Madeira and its beauty, but both of these places are pieces of a much larger picture – that is my personal identity.’

She believes that a person is so much more than simply the sum of bloodline. For Jacqueline, her ethnic heritage is nothing more than a starting point. Who she has become is built on layers of life experiences.

‘From a very young age my identity was defined by the lessons I learnt from my parents, and those lessons had nothing to do with my skin colour, or theirs,’ says Jacqueline.

‘My mother taught me to treat everyone with respect, regardless of where they came from, what they worked as or how they looked. She would always say that there is more to a story, this taught me to never judge a book by the page I picked it up on.

‘My father taught me to be brave, bold and proud. He is a tall man, with a rich, dark skin tone, he wears confidence like it was made for him by the Gods above.

‘Growing up, it didn’t matter that my mum was white, or my dad was brown. They were both human beings with characteristics that were shaped by their lived experiences; some bad, some good.

‘Seeing them put all of that aside for love was the basis of my identity.

Young Jacqueline sitting on the sofa with her parents
‘From a very young age my identity was defined by the lessons I learnt from my parents.’ (Picture: Jacqueline Gomes-Neves)

‘I also saw when they forgot the very values that brought them together, and so I knew what I wanted to avoid in life. I found my identity in the good parts of my parents, and I learnt from their not-so-ideal selves.

‘This is why I don’t base my identity on something as intangible as being “mixed-race”, I see myself as Jacqueline. Jacqueline was shaped by love and values kindness, respect, understanding, unity and hard work.’

Having varied and culturally rich influences in her childhood is something Jacqueline greatly appreciates, and strives to maintain in adulthood. A wide sense of empathy and understanding is an important element that mixed family life taught her to appreciate deeply.

‘Being exposed to different cultures and backgrounds growing up has definitely had its perks in my life, I am always surrounded by diversity and my life is very colourful when I am in a position to control it,’ she says.

‘The most important thing about a person is their values and how they treat others. I have friends from many corners of the world, and every time I make a new friend, I want to taste their traditional family foods and hear their family stories.

‘I am curious about different foods, music, cultures and languages – and I am consumed by wanderlust. My curiosity to understand people and be surrounded by differences helps me to understand myself a little more.’

Young Jacqueline with her mum
‘When I learnt that my experiences were unique and people like me didn’t have a platform, I wanted to speak up for us.’ (Picture: Jacqueline Gomes-Neves)

Jacqueline has been clear on her purpose in life from a young age – always seeking ways to connect with as many people as possible. A natural leader – she now wants to use her communication skills for good in the world of politics.

‘My school days were some of the best days of my life and that’s where I found my voice,’ she tells us.

‘When I learnt that my experiences were unique and people like me didn’t have a platform, I wanted to speak up for us. Before people like me can begin, society tells them it is the end. I now use politics to speak for those of us who aren’t heard.

‘Everyone deserves fair representation, one that isn’t based on the stereotypes and labels given to their perceived group by society.

‘I use my unique experiences to represent those who have been forgotten by society in the corridors of power like Parliament.

‘I recently founded the first ever forum in Parliament to discuss issues pertaining intersectionality. I want to make more voices heard in these spaces.

‘At school I was a floating butterfly and had friends in every corner of the playground, particularly at secondary school.

‘I was always interested in leadership positions and I worked my way up from being a cloakroom monitor in primary school to the senior head girl at secondary school. I was the first mixed head girl too, and I felt proud of myself.

‘I wanted a way to make friends with all the students in my class, and making sure that everyone hung their coats properly was a way to speak to absolutely everyone regardless of where they were from. I was also shy, so serving people was the best way of staying connected and overcoming my shyness.

Young Jacqueline surrounded by toys
‘I use my unique experiences to represent those who have been forgotten by society in the corridors of power like Parliament.’ (Picture: Jacqueline Gomes-Neves)

‘It worked, and by secondary school I had amazing relationships with my teachers and everyone in the playground – the Latin Americans, the Nigerians, Ghanaians, Jamaicans, Portuguese, white English, everyone was my friend.’

Like many mixed-race people, Jacqueline had to contend with a sense of being perpetually inbetween. Along with the many benefits that fluidity gave her, she also found it hard at times.

‘My identity was something that I definitely questioned a lot growing up – not fitting in entirely with any one group,’ says Jacqueline.

‘I then realised that I was attracted to kindness and kindness has no colour. I began to build friendships with people who were kind and fun – this became my group identity.

‘The same rule applied when I won a scholarship to study at a private university in London.

‘I was the only person of colour in my classes and my friends were all from what society would deem privileged backgrounds.

‘This is when the entire notion of putting people into boxes was dismantled for me. I realised that my rich friends had problems too and so it was never fair to put anyone in a box. Whether that be a racial box, class box, religious box or anything else.’

Jacqueline thinks that one of society’s biggest problems is the compulsive need to label everything. She’s sure it would be beneficial to allow people to be individuals, rather than always trying to lump them into arbitrary groups.

‘I am open to new experiences, and I love listening to people and gaining new insights,’ she says.

‘Today I sat down in Brixton Library with someone who I met at the Soup Kitchen whilst feeding the homeless many years back, and yesterday I sat down with a COO of an asset management firm in the city of London. I had the same amount of attention and time for both of them.

‘Growing up with values that transcend race, class, sexuality of religion, means that I am a social butterfly and I genuinely take pleasure in listening to people – no matter what they look like or where they are placed on the societal hierarchy.

Young Jacqueline balances on a plastic chair
‘Labels regarding race are like a double-edged sword; they can empower some and be harmful to others.’ (Picture: Jacqueline Gomes-Neves)

‘I want people to understand that labels don’t work when we enforce them with no flexibility or understanding of the individuals they have been attached to. My label is “mixed-race” but there is so much more to my story.

‘Labels regarding race are like a double-edged sword; they can empower some and be harmful to others.

‘So, my challenge to the person reading this is: the next time you meet someone who is different to you, looks different or sounds different, think to yourself – what can I learn about this person and what can I teach them about myself?

‘I also want people who are structurally powerful to understand that being different is not a prerequisite for taking up a lower status. People who look like me or who have darker skin, are often disregarded from positions of leadership in society because of the stereotypes and assumptions attached to their appearance.

‘This is harmful and we need to empower more diversity in leadership, otherwise we face the danger of everyone being the same.’

As a minority in the UK it isn’t surprising that Jacqueline has experienced racism.

What is more surprising is the measured, empathetic response she has when she encounters people who hate her based on nothing more than the colour of her skin.

‘I spent a year working in an environment where one particular person was very harmful in the opinions he shared,’ Jacqueline tells us.

‘This was the first time in my life that I had worked with someone who’s opinions crossed every boundary, line and value that I had.

‘For a very long time I didn’t say anything and it got progressively worse. I’d go home after work feeling demoralised and sad.

‘I began to think that perhaps what he was saying was the common perspective out there, particularly in the midst of Brexit, and that there was no point in trying to correct him because it would be a losing battle.

‘Eventually, I tried to build a rapport with this individual who only saw me for the label’s society has attached to me: mixed-race, from a deprived background, aggressive black woman, on the bottom of the societal hierarchy, troublemaker etc.

‘I became curious about him and I wanted to know what fuelled the man behind the horrible things he was saying about people he’d never met before.

‘I realised that just like my parents who I had seen good and bad sides of, there were actually positive things about him – like his ability to know what the boss values and his ability to be kind when feeling comfortable.

‘I began to ask him questions about himself and began to share a little about myself. Doing this brought me to the understanding that this person was actually driven by fear and mistrust.

‘The danger of living a life based on fear and mistrust of people you haven’t met before, is that you make assumptions, act on those assumptions and you become reactionary as opposed to proactive. You can also harm a lot of people in that process.

‘Since I left that place, I have worked in environments that are extremely powerful and positive cultures are standard procedure – it has restored my faith in humanity and the professional world.

‘I still have hope that there are people who do not treat others in ways they wouldn’t like to be treated.’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I feel the pressure to change negative stereotypes about young black men’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘People don’t expect a brown girl to be able to speak Slovenian’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Money and schooling opens doors, but I’ve always been an underdog because of my race’

Woman’s cheek piercing swelled up, leaked pus and left her with a ‘significant hole’ in her face

kayleigh brenchley's cheek piercing
Kayleigh is warning people of the risks of specialised piercings (Picture: Kayleigh Brenchley)

Care worker Kayleigh Brenchley is warning of the risks of piercings after hers became infected, swelled up, and left her with a ‘significant hole’ in her face.

Kayleigh, 21, had just finished a 12 hour shift at work when she noticed her right cheek was a little sore.

She’d had her cheeks pierced over a year before with no issue, and says they had been completely healed for the last six months. She hadn’t knocked her face (at least not badly enough that she noticed), and she couldn’t spot any dirt or food stuck in the piercing. Kayleigh went to sleep.

That evening she woke up to find her cheek was puffy. A few hours later it had doubled in size.

By 10pm Kayleigh’s cheek was hugely swollen, hot to the touch, and leaking pus. After calling 111 the care worker was told to go to A&E.

‘I had every test you could imagine,’ Kayleigh wrote in the Facebook group Girlsmouth. ‘I had ECGs, bloods, my heart rate was through the roof, I was put on sepsis watch.

kayleigh brenchley with swollen cheek piercing
Kayleigh returned from a twelve hour shift to find her cheek a little sore and swollen (Picture: Kayleigh Brenchley)

‘After seven and a half hours at A&E, one antibiotic drip and one steroid drip later they allowed me home.’

The next day Kayleigh went for an emergency appointment at the maxillofacial clinic, by which point the piercing had been ‘completely engulfed’ by her cheek.

Attempting to remove the piercing was incredibly painful.

‘I took five lots of adrenaline and local aesthetic to make my cheek numb enough that I wasn’t screaming in pain,’ said Kayleigh.

‘Whilst completely awake they attempted to pull open my cheek with their hand from the inside to remove the bar, then manually squeezed my cheek to remove as much infected pus as possible.

Kayleigh went to bed with a sore cheek and woke up to find it swollen
Soon it had doubled in size and filled with pus (Picture: Kayleigh Brenchley)

‘Even with numbing this was the worst pain I have ever experienced, I was screaming, sobbing and has to be pinned down to stop my body from shaking so violently in pain.’

Kayleigh was told by doctors she had been left with a ‘significant hole’ through her face, that had been left as an open wound in the hope that it will drain itself.

Now she has to wait. Depending on the state of her cheek in the next few days, Kayleigh will either need stitches, surgery to cut open her cheek, or surgery to correct the large hole left behind by the piercing.

‘The doctors say it may have been from a knock but they couldn’t find the direct source of the infection,’ Kayleigh tells Metro.co.uk.

Kayleigh Brenchley's swollen cheek
Doctors still don’t know what caused the infection (Picture: Kayleigh Brenchley)

‘I’m still in a lot of pain but taking painkillers.

‘The doctors have told me I have a significant hole in my face. I am too afraid to look under the dressing. The doctor even suggested someone else changing the dressing for me for the next week to stop me from panicking or passing out.’

Kayleigh is sharing her experience to warn people of the risks of specialised piercings, explaining that even with proper care things can go wrong.

‘I would really like people to consider the risks of having specialised piercings,’ she tells us. ‘I have many piercings and tattoos and I’ve always been extremely vigilant with cleaning and care.

Kayleigh is too scared to look under her dressing at the 'significant hole' left behind
Kayleigh is too scared to look under her dressing at the ‘significant hole’ left behind (Picture: Kayleigh Brenchley)

‘This can happen to anyone for no reason at all.

‘No matter how well you look after risky piercings, it can take one tiny thing to happen for it to go majorly wrong.

‘I am very experienced with tattoos and piercings and even the doctors are baffled as they could not figure put how this has happened.

‘My heart rate is still through the roof, my face keeps dropping as well as my lips twitching had I may be left with a deformed face.

‘Please, please look after yourself girls. This is not to scare anyone but I think people should be made aware of how badly [piercings] can go.’

MORE: Woman’s finger swelled and turned black after getting a salon manicure

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Teenager ‘looked like Mr Potato Head’ after buying £40 veneers online

Ferne Rawson with and without her clip-in veneers
Ferne ordered a set of clip-in veneers for £40 online (Picture: Ferne Rawson; Deadline News)

When it comes to your teeth, you really do get what you pay for.

Take note from Ferne Rawson, 18, who was left looking like Mr Potato Head (her words, not ours) after buying £40 veneers online.

Ferne saw the clip-on veneers on thebrightsmiles.com and decided to buy a set, noting that they were quite a bit cheaper than getting veneers from a qualified dentist.

The veneers that arrived weren’t quite what she expected.

Ferne shared photos on Twitter, writing: ‘Ferne strikes again. Ordered clip-in veneers because all the pics looked good and I got all excited.

‘They just arrived and I look like Mr Potato Head, cannot breathe, actual best 40 quid I’ve ever spent.’

Ferne Rawson wearing the clip-in veneers she ordered online
The veneers weren’t quite what she expected (Picture: Ferne Rawson/Deadline News)

She shared the photos of the veneers she spotted online, just to really hammer home the difference between expectation and reality, along with a screenshot of one of the reviews that convinced her to hit buy.

The review reads: ‘I could not thank you enough. The whole process was easy and straightforward. Communication with the team via email was fast and all questions were answered.’

One of the reviews on the website that convinced Ferne to buy the veneers
One of the reviews on the website that convinced Ferne to buy the veneers Picture: Ferne Rawson/Deadline News

Thankfully Ferne is able to laugh at herself.

She’s sent a complaint to the website but is enjoying all the pisstaking that’s currently happening underneath her tweet.

Some people suggested she looked like Jim Carrey’s character in The Mask, while a comedian wrote: ‘£40  for Methadone Mick’s teeth fresh out his mouth.’

Ferne striking a pose while wearing £40 clip in veneers
Ferne has been compared to Mr Potato Head and the character from The Mask (Picture: Ferne Rawson/Deadline News)

This isn’t the first time someone’s been duped by bargain veneers online.

One woman ordered £28 veneers and found she couldn’t smile without them falling right out, while a student was left crying with laughter after his online ordered veneers were quite clearly too large for his mouth.

The lesson here, in case you missed it: there’s no way to cut the cost of getting perfect teeth. If you want veneers that look decent, you’ll need to spend more than £40.

MORE: Woman snorts fake tan to get a bronzed glow

MORE: Woman’s cheek piercing swelled up, leaked pus and left her with a ‘significant hole’ in her face

MORE: Makeup artist’s fake tan fail made friends think she’d been kidnapped

Millennials, rejoice: A hotel that looks after house plants for free is now open

Hotel concierge at plant hotel, holding a plant
Plants can now enjoy the suite life (Picture: John Nguyen/PA)

Millennials love plants almost as much as we love holidaying and showing off those glorious sun-kissed pictures on Instagram.

But plant mums and dads face one conundrum when we finally manage to book those much-needed breaks.

Who will keep our mini garden alive? After all, it’s the only thing we’ll probably really end up taking care of (houses and babies are expensive, okay?).

Enter, the Patch Plant Hotel. The clue is pretty much in the name but the folks at this establishment are dedicated to all your plant babies.

They cater exclusively to all things botanical, offering five-star stays for free… for plants.

Good news for the staff, at least the succulents won’t be nicking all the toiletries.

The idea is the brainchild of Patch, a brand which delivers indoor and outdoor plants to your doorstep.

They’ve come up with the all-inclusive resort which not only offers food and drinks for your beloved leafy friends but also spa treatments.

Nestled away in Battersea, the Patch Plant Hotel has a team of specialists at hand to make sure the botanicals stay alive.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY A hotel exclusively for houseplants named 'The Patch Plant Hotel' opens in Battersea, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday August 7, 2019. The exclusive 100 'room' botanical hotel will provide their leafy guests with a hydration spa as well as access to plant food and will be a place where customers can leave their plants, safe from withering and dying, whilst away on summer holidays. Bookings can be made on the Patch website from today until September 5th. Photo should read: John Nguyen/PA Wire
Please, sir, let us stay with you (Picture: John Nguyen/PA)

You wouldn’t leave your child with a babysitter without telling them about their needs, so equally you can let staff know about all your plant pet requirements.

You’re invited to share all their personality traits or specific needs. Whether they need a shady spot or a sun-hitting spot, feel free to drone on (these people will actually listen).

The in-house wellness team will really get to know their guests as they design a custom hydration spa package.

‘The hotel is a sanctuary for your beloved plants. They will be in great company and looked after with the respect and love they so richly deserve,’ said hotel manager Rose Grower (ha).

‘So many of us have asked a friend or family member to water the plants when we’re away, only to return to disappointment – the hotel not only saves your plants but your relationships too.’

By the time you get back, your plants will be in better shape than you.

You can start booking stays now as the Patch Plant Hotel is open for business until 5 September. But hurry while summer season lasts as there are only 100 ‘rooms’ up for grabs.

If only owners could stay too.

MORE: How to keep your plants alive while you are on holiday

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MORE: Woman asks her housemate to mind her plants and he takes it very seriously

Don’t tell 12-year-olds they need makeup because they will carry it with them for life

A girl applies lip gloss in front of John Lewis and Mac Cosmetics signs
To tell girls as young as 12 that they need to be thinking about their skin and brows at the start of the school year is utterly misguided (Picture: Getty)

On the morning of my 30th birthday I found my first grey hair. I grabbed my tweezers, plucked it out and hoped beyond hope it was an anomaly, a freak occurrence I wouldn’t have to think about again for at least another 10 years.

I hate that I had this viscerally emotive reaction to a singular grey hair – it feels so cliched, so at odds with my brand of empowering, love-yourself feminism that I preach to friends and family. And so much of that comes down to what women are taught.

This week John Lewis and Mac Cosmetics cancelled a ‘back to school’ makeup master-class after widespread backlash from parents.

The event cost £30 and offered a lesson in how students – starting from the age of 12 – could ‘make the best of skin and brows’ for the new school year.

I love wearing makeup. I love how it can transform my look or disguise my hangover. There is nothing about enjoying makeup that is inherently self-hating or anti-feminist.

Yet to tell girls as young as 12 that they need to be thinking about their skin and brows at the start of the school year is utterly misguided and dangerously out of touch.

This kind of marketing, aimed at children, is an enormous and enduring part of the problem. It is part of the reason women spend their entire lives at war with their bodies, their faces, their hair. It’s the reason why I, at my big age, stood in the bathroom for 20 minutes fighting back tears over a silver hair.

Men are allowed to welcome a ‘salt and pepper’ style with little more than a shrug and the label of ‘distinguished’ or ‘silver fox’. For me, it felt like my youth and beauty – my worth as a woman – was fading before my eyes.

Whether it’s stretch marks from a teenage growth spurt, weight gain after having children or changes in your skin and hair because of illness, no one is immune to the ways life alters our appearance.

We are taught, relentlessly, from the moment we become consciously aware of ourselves as female, that we are not enough, that we will never be enough. There will always be something to shrink, dye, smooth or plump.

It’s in magazines, on Instagram, on TV and even passed down from older women in our lives. It continues to happen at every stage of a woman’s life.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I was actually, genuinely happy with every aspect of my appearance but at every stage, I thought it would get easier.

When I was younger I had the vague sense that I was working towards some kind of peak or personal perfection  – a steady, stable state in which I would be happy with everything and be able to stop worrying about how I looked for a good few decades.

Having now reached the age at which I thought I would have summited this mythical ‘peak’, I have realised that’s not how it works. Perfection doesn’t exist and according to societal standards of beauty, there is always something to fix, improve or change.

Now, it’s my first grey hair, my first wrinkle. In 20 years, or sooner, I might be battling to suppress the changes that come with the menopause.

Personally, that is a bleak and exhausting thought but worse still, a study from earlier this year found that six per cent of girls aged 13 to 16 – equivalent to more than 100,000 – said they had undergone cosmetic surgery to improve their looks for non-medical reasons.

Rather than chasing some impossible, frozen state of perfection, we need to help women of every age understand that their bodies – well, all human bodies – are in a constant state of transition.

Whether it’s stretch marks from a teenage growth spurt, weight gain after having children or changes in your skin and hair because of illness, no one is immune to the ways life alters our appearance.

Fighting against it is a colossal waste of energy, money and time and a commercially driven drain of female resources.

Six months on from my 30th birthday and the grey hair is back. Undeniable. Brittle. Glistening silver. There’s no point plucking it because the little b*stard seems doggedly determined to reside on my scalp. And I’m trying to be OK with that. I want to be OK with that.

I’m not saying it’s easy to unpick the decades of damaging messaging that we are all fed from a young age, but I think it’s really important to try.

If we don’t teach the next generation that there’s no such thing as perfect, it’s scary to think how deep this damage could go.

Entering a new decade of life has made me start to reassess how I judge my worth. I’m now working really hard to consistently remind myself that my value is not tied – in any way – to my appearance, or how close I am able to claw myself towards ‘perfection’.

I wish someone had told me that when I was 12, and not how to shape my eyebrows for school.

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I love the colour of my skin, but it doesn’t define me or tell you my story’

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Bride gets diarrhoea from ‘health shakes’ and ruins £12,000 wedding dress

Woman sat on the floor crying with a brown background
‘The substance that had come out of her body as a result defied explanation’ (Picture: Getty)

Finding a wedding dress can be a time-consuming endeavour.

Budding brides spend months searching for ‘the one’ – a beautiful outfit that fits perfectly and will make them feel like the belle of the ball.

Once found, this dress will be treated with the utmost care to ensure that nothing happens to it before the big day arrives.

Unfortunately, disaster can strike at any time – as one bride found after going on a detox diet that eventually ruined her £12,000 dress.

An event planner took to Reddit to describe how this ‘bridezilla’ decided to get rid of last minute bloating by drinking health shakes, which caused her to get severe diarrhoea described as ‘a substance no human body should emit’.

The ceremony had finished and everything appeared to be going smoothly, with the wedding team prepping for the first dance and cake cutting, when the event planner noticed something was wrong.

‘A few moments later, my headset beeped on, and my assistant said “we have an issue”,’ she wrote.

‘It turns out that the bride had gambled on a fart and lost in a big way.’

Because of the complicated design of the bride’s dress, she wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom on her own – and to make matters worse, the wedding was held in a barn, which meant there were only portaloos available.

The event planner told her assistant to go with the bride while she held down the fort and 20 minutes later, the situation had gone from bad to worse.

‘I ran over to find my assistant looking horrified,’ she wrote.

‘The bride, it turns out, had been using some health shakes in an attempt to fix last minute bloating. This had mixed poorly with the cocktails from earlier, and she had eaten a fairly decent breakfast.

‘The substance that had come out of her body as a result defied explanation.

‘It was slimy, oily even, with stringy bits and the consistency of hair gel.

‘Not only had it been a rather profound accident, but the smell was unrivaled.’

The main problem with the poo incident wasn’t the diarrhoea itself, but rather the latex ‘shaper’ that the bride had worn under her dress.

‘Waterproof, the poo had just sort of filled it, like a water balloon of horror,’ the event planner wrote.

‘My assistant had opened up the snap crotch and just released the evil trickling down the bride’s thighs. My assistant quickly sealed it back up and she and the bride vainly tried to wipe up the goo, dry, with toilet paper.’

The attempt at cleaning up the poo didn’t work and that’s when the planner noticed that it had gone other places, too.

A bride sat in a bathroom holding a napkin up to her face and looking sad
‘Not only had it been a rather profound accident, but the smell was unrivaled’ (Picture: Getty)

She wrote: ‘The bride is just flipping out that she’s making her guests wait, that she has a cheorographed [sic[ dance waiting to happen, and she needs to be introduced now.

‘I’m just looking at her manicured nails. Residue of diarrhea are just imbedded [sic] in her nail bed. I start trying to scrape the poo out with a fabric stain wipe, while the bride insists that the show must go on, immediately.’

The bride eventually makes her way to the dance floor with her husband, who has not been told what is going on.

And as the pair start dancing, things get much worse.

The event planner wrote: ‘The dance was a cheorographed [sic] affair, and as the groom spun his bride around, hand on her waist, he is squishing the poo up the insides of the waist trainer, up and out the back waistband.

‘To our horror, we watch as a oily stain spread across the mid back of the gown.

‘As we are still cringing from this, the groom sets his hand firmly in the middle of the poo stain.

‘Action had to be taken as soon as the couple left the dance floor, it was obvious, and I left my assistant in charge while I made preparations.

‘She kept radioing me: the stain was spreading, she could smell the poo from her spot by the DJ.

‘They were cutting the cake now. They were feeding the cake to each other, both now with shit stained fingers. Each was looking downright repulsed.’

In spite of everything going to, er, shit, the event planner kept her cool and had someone usher the bride her way for a clean-up.

‘She walked in to find me in dish gloves and a poncho, like American Psycho, the five minutes, I was sponging down a sobbing, naked bride, while I questioned every life decision that lead to this point,’ she wrote.

‘The diarrhea was everywhere, spread in a thin layer across her body. It may be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever dealt with. With her clean, I threw away the waist-shaper, and scrubbed down the $15 k wedding gown back in a plastic basin.’

Thanks to the event planner’s speedy actions, the bride exited the tent with her dress back on and returned to her wedding, where the patient groom was waiting.

‘The groom was a sport, never directly saying anything, but asking if we could cancel the garter toss as he didn’t really want to go under her skirt,’ she wrote.

‘Pictures from the event appeared in a magazine.

‘Still photos, away from the smell, were beautiful.’

The dangers of health shakes

‘Although some detox drinks may contain added vitamins and minerals, it’s best to get these from whole foods like vegetables and fruits which also contain fibre and other phytonutrients, essential for detoxification and general health,’ Kate Dimmer, a registered nutritional therapist and Nutritionist Resource member, tells Metro.co.uk

‘Consumers should be cautious as to some of the claims that these drinks make.

‘The body detoxifies itself through the liver, kidneys, skin and digestive system. A balanced diet is needed for this to function properly.

‘Another word of caution is that often health drinks contain unwanted ingredients such as starches and artificial sweeteners to keep calories low. These ingredients can actually promote weight gain and disrupt gut bacteria.’

MORE: Farmer proposes to his girlfriend by placing an engagement ring on a cow udder

MORE: Is wearing white as a wedding guest really that bad?

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Superdrug becomes first highstreet store to offer period delay pill for walk-ins

The period delay pill
The pill will now be available in Superdrug (Picture: Getty/Utovlan)

Norethisterone, otherwise known as the period delay pill, is nothing new – but up until now it’s only been available prescribed by GPs.

Superdrug has announced it will now be the first highstreet retailer to offer it.

The period delay pill is a prescription-only medication, that will now be available in all Superdrug pharmacies as a walk-in service and through its health clinics by appointment for women aged 18 and over.

The option for women to walk in and be able to have a period delay pill consultation will allow them to temporarily stop their period.

The pill needs to be taken three days before the expected period begins and then delays a period until three days after the last tablet.

Superdrug offers packs of 30, 60 and 90 pills, which last for 10, 20 and 30 days. However, how to delay your period depends on whether or not you are taking the contraceptive pill.

An image of Superdrug
The store has made it available for walk-ins (Picture: Getty)

Women who are not taking a contraceptive pill can use norethisterone tablets to postpone their period, if medically appropriate.

However, if you are on a contraceptive pill, it’s okay to keep taking that back to back to delay your period instead of taking the period delay pill.

Norethisterone is the synthetic version of a sex hormone which naturally occurs in the human body.

It belongs to a group of hormones called progestogens, which are also found in mini pills and combined contraceptive pills.

However, taking norethisterone tablets to delay your period will not protect you against pregnancy, so you still need to use a method of contraception, such as a condom.

Michael Henry Superdrug’s Healthcare Director said: ‘We continue to look for ways to bring accessible healthcare to our customers on the highstreet. The Period Delay Pill has been available on our Online Doctor service previously and now introducing it in our pharmacies and nurse clinics with a consultation and questionnaire allows women to make the choice easily and quickly should they choose to delay their period.’

Dr Pixie McKenna, Superdrug’s Health Ambassador, added: ‘The Period Delay Pill offers women more choice when it comes to their periods.

‘Before taking any medication, a patient should always read the patient information leaflet and I’d always recommend talking any concerns or questions through with a healthcare professional.

‘It is, however, not a contraceptive so if you are thinking of having sex, always use a condom.’

MORE: Don’t tell 12-year-olds they need makeup because they will carry it with them for life

MORE: Teenager ‘looked like Mr Potato Head’ after buying £40 veneers online

Drinks with ‘sexist’ names have been banned from the Great British Beer Festival

Three pints of beer on a white and pink background
One banned product is described as ‘a little tart’ (Picture: Getty)

It’s no secret that some brands use sex-focused messages in advertising campaigns – regardless of the type of product they’re promoting.

Take beer for instance; a beverage that has long been seen as being a ‘man’s drink’, despite many women enjoying the hoppy flavours.

To stamp out sexism in the industry, the Great British Beer Festival has announced that drinks with ‘sexist’ names will not be allowed at the event.

The festival, which started yesterday (6 August) and will run until Saturday this week (10 August), is an important week in any beer lover’s calendar – but also for companies looking to showcase new products.

Several items have been banned by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the industry body that hosts the annual event, such as Dizzy Blonde, Slack Alice, Leg-Spreader and Village Bike.

It’s not just the names of the products that are of concern, but some also have descriptions that cause offense, such as Slack Alice, which is described as ‘a little tart’.

The new stance on sexist products also includes inappropriate designs of pin-up girls on beer pump clips and bottle labels.

According to CAMRA, this decision comes following recent survey results where 68% of women said it was unlikely they would buy a beer if the advertising for it was considered sexist.

‘It’s hard to understand why some brewers would actively choose to alienate the vast majority of their potential customers with material likely to only appeal to a tiny and shrinking percentage,’ said Abigail Newton, the national organiser for CAMRA.

‘We need to do more to encourage female beer drinkers, which are currently only 17 per cent of the population, despite the fact that they make up more than 50 per cent of the potential market.

‘Beer is not a man’s drinks or a woman’s drink, it is a drink for everyone.

‘There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done to overcome outdated stereotypes.’


There will be 1000 beers, ciders and perries available to choose from at the festival and according to Abigail, all have been reviewed to ensure they follow the ‘charter and code of conduct, which details its commitment to inclusivity and diversity.’

As an additional nod towards inclusivity, CAMRA will also be raising money for Stonewall, a charity that supports the LGBT+ community.

Many female beer lovers have applauded the ban, but find it disconcerting that this type of ban needs to exist in the first place.

‘It’s great that Camra have gone on the record in support of women and against sexism in this way, but sad that it still needs to be done,’ Sophie Atherton, a beer sommelier, told the Guardian.

‘I’m sure there’ll be the usual backlash – about women having no sense of humour and how it’s all a bit of fun – but that’s rubbish.

‘This is misogyny and it becomes even more dangerous in an environment where men are likely to be drinking a lot.

‘Women have as much right to enjoy a beer in peace as men do.’

If you love beer and want to get involved in supporting women in the industry, there are several initiatives to join, including Fem.Ale Festival and the Crafty Beer Girls on Facebook.

Men and women should both be able to enjoy a cold pint, without either party having to feel offended by the name, design or description of the product.

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Les Pres d’Eugenie: A healthy Michelin adventure in a beautiful chateau in South-West France

Three cuts of red meat sit on a plate, beautifully present with a yellow puree and red coulis, from Michel Guérard's three-start-Michelin restaurant
Michel Guérard has held his three Michelin stars for over 40 years (Picture: Les Pres d’Eugenie)

In need of a health boost – but most certainly nothing too ascetic – I headed to Les Pres d’Eugenie in South West France.

The prospect of dining on beautiful, three-Michelin-star cuisine combined with spa had enticed me to visit, but I soon discovered this sprawling estate, owned by world-famous chef Michel Guérard and his family, was so much more than just a beautiful French château.

A short flight to Bordeaux airport and a drive along the relatively empty roads, we arrived in the spa village of Eugénie-les-Bains and Les Pres d’Eugenie, my home for the next 72 hours.

We stayed in a suite in the main house, but there are 45 bedrooms and suites dotted across the estate, so plenty of choice of both type of accommodation and budget.

A milky bath awaits at the spa at Les Pres d’Eugenie, in a room tiled floor to ceiling in white tiles
Feel like Cleopatra in the spa at Les Pres d’Eugenie (Picture: Les Pres d’Eugenie)

The only way to describe the room was palatial. Fireplace, antique furniture and Persian rugs led up to a veranda and lush gardens. After a quick dip in the white marble bath we headed for dinner.

Michel Guérard is the estate’s culinary gatekeeper, so it’s only fitting that on our first night we experienced his three-Michelin-star restaurant in the main house, but not before drinks at Loulou’s Lounge Bar and a glass of champagne Michel Guérard on the Chesterfield sofa, accompanied by the tunes from the resident pianist.

Guérard has held his Michelin stars for over 40 years. The Palais Enchanté menu celebrates his signature dishes, and I opted for the Tsarina Egg and Wood Fired Beef and Alexander the Palace Potatoes and Splendid Scallops – all paired with estate wines.

A dessert on a plate at Les Pres d’Eugenie
The food at Les Pres d’Eugenie is out of this world (Picture: Les Pres d’Eugenie)

On the hotel’s doorstep is the 25-hectare vineyard Château de Bachen – that means your wine has zero food miles and you can rely on the quality.

The next morning, we headed to the thermal spa in the estate grounds. Housed in a beautiful wooden building, adorned with flowers and trellising, this lovely space offers an extensive spa menu of Sisley Phyto-Aromatic aromatherapy treatments.

I had the Douche thermale pénétrante hydro-massante, a Hydromassing Thermal Shower. I lay on a warmed white marble table, while a multitude of jets pummelled me with thermal water. Incredibly revitalising.

The main house at Les Pres d’Eugenie
The main house packs a visual punch at Les Pres d’Eugenie (Picture: Les Pres d’Eugenie)

This was followed by the much more sedate Bain de Kaolin en Apesanteur, the property’s signature weightless white mud bath. The white mud has thermal properties and I spent a good 30 minutes enjoying the surreal weightless effect. Afterwards, my skin felt incredibly soft.

We were here to indulge – few come to the land of wine and cheese with a view to diet – but since Guérard was known for inventing Cuisine Minceur (he wrote a slimming cook book in the 70s with that title), we checked out the chateau’s slimming menu – totalling 600 calories for three courses.

If spa and slimming sessions feel all too virtuous, I can also recommend the estate’s two other restaurants – rustic café Mère Poule & Cie, perfect if you’re looking for a light snack – croque-monsieur, home-made French pastries, and a range of local wines by the glass and bottle. And the other, La Ferme aux Grives, taking rustic cuisine to another level. The roast chicken really stood out: locally sourced from Landes, it was cooked over a spit. Incredibly simple but seasoned and cooked to perfection. I also couldn’t resist the great coffee choux-pastry éclair.

The waiting room at the spa at Les Pres d’Eugenie, with wooden ceilings, a tiled floor, large fireplace, and striped furniture, with various teas and juices on offer
Chill out in this rustic zen haven at the spa at Les Pres d’Eugenie (Picture: Les Pres d’Eugenie)

We filled the day out with a tennis session, a round of golf on the nine-hole course, and lounging with a book next to the outdoor pool.

We also ventured out for a cycle (bikes are freely available to guests). We headed west through the rolling countryside, stopping to enjoy the view on the way.

An hour’s leisurely cycle took us to the village of Vielle-Tursan, home to a picturesque 11th century church, before a gentle ride back via Ferme des Vallons to taste the region’s Noir de Bigorre ham.

If it sounds as if our itinerary was built around food, that’s because it pretty much was. During our long weekend we did little more than amble from meal to meal, walk in the vineyards, cycle the picturesque roads.

A truly relaxing trip that has left me yearning for my next French adventure.

Rooms from 270 euros per night. For more information or to book visit lespresdeugenie.com.

This yoga workout is perfect for toning and firming your legs

Illustration of woman doing a downward dog yoga pose
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Yoga is a fantastic way to build a healthier body and work towards a calmer mind.

The ancient Indian practice has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and it is little wonder with benefits including increased flexibility, better posture and reduced stress.

But if you live in a big city, regularly attending yoga classes can get really pricey, really quickly.

So if you can’t afford to go to a session every week – turn your bedroom into a yoga studio.

All you need is a little bit of floor space and you can follow our expert tutorial.

This week our yoga sequence is all about energising you in the morning. Becky Crepsley-Fox, instructor and studio coordinator at MoreYoga, walks us through her energising Sun Salutations flow.

Fire up the legs

‘This sequence is brilliant to firm and tone your legs,’ says Becky.

‘The classical standing poses really engage your legs and glutes.

‘These poses are very expansive and strong so could help if you are having a bad day. Take up space and breath into these warrior positions.’

Part of the appeal of yoga is its accessibility. You just need some open space and a mat, you can essentially do it anywhere.

And with the growth of apps and online tutorials, more people than ever are opting to teach themselves the moves and practice yoga from the comfort of their living room.

But it’s really important to do it safely – particularly if you’re unsupervised.

How to practice yoga at home safely

Always warm up

Every yoga class starts with breathing, stretching and smaller postures that articulate the spine, create space in the body and stretch the fascia to prepare you for your practice.

Start small

There is no point jumping into inversions or some of the more ‘Instagram-able’ poses. Especially if you don’t have trained eyes keeping you safe.

Nail the basics

Some of the simplest postures are the most difficult to do, and the easiest to do incorrectly.

It’s important to get the essentials correct before progressing to a more challenging practice.

I am Team GB

Toyota has teamed up with Team GB to re-launch the hugely successful participation campaign ‘I am Team GB’.

Inspired by the achievements of Team GB athletes and the amazing efforts of local community heroes, Team GB has created ‘The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day’, which will take place on the 24thAugust.

Over the weekend, there will be hundreds of free and fun activities across the country, put on by an army of volunteers; the ‘I am Team GB Games Makers’.

To Join the Team and be part of The Nation’s Biggest Sports Day sign up at: www.IAmTeamGB.com

Kopparberg is selling rosé cider for £2.20 a bottle

The new rose cider
This cider sounds lovely (Picture: Kopparberg)

Kopparberg has just launched a Rosé Cider, and it sounds dreamy.

The new flavour was released on 5 August at Asda for just £2.20 a bottle, and will also be available to buy as a three for £6 from 12 August.

The 4% alcohol apple cider is pink – thanks to colouring from red apple skins – and comes in a 50cl bottle.

We reckon it could be the drink of the summer.

Rob Salvesen, Head of Marketing at Kopparberg, said: ‘With rosé ciders becoming the latest trend to hit the UK this summer, we are extremely excited to be bringing our newest addition to the Kopparberg family.

‘It’s the perfect drink for those who like their drinks a little less sweet than traditional fruit ciders and we look forward seeing out new Rosé cider enjoyed together with friends.’

The rosé cider isn’t the first release for Kopparberg this year.

The Swedish drinks brand also launched pre-mix gin and lemonade cocktail cans back in June, including a strawberry and lime flavour inspired by its famous cider.

A picture of the ciders
They cost £2.20 a bottle (Picture: Kopparberg)

The cans cost £1.95 each or are available as a pack of four for £6.

The gin is pink and has been infused with strawberry and lime as well as juniper, lemon zest and coriander botanicals, which call comes mixed with lemonade so it’s not too much of an overpowering drink.

On the gin, Rob added: ‘We wanted to continue the momentum and excitement surrounding the launch of Kopparberg Premium Gin and launch RTDs into the UK market ahead of summer.

‘The perfect serve of Kopparberg Premium Gin & Lemonade was designed to enhance the natural flavours of the gin and offer a taste profile sweet enough for a long, hot summer.

‘It’s the perfect drink to enjoy with friends and we’re very excited to offer Kopparberg fans another addition to the Kopparberg family.’

MORE: Aldi launches two new tinned fruity ciders for just 99p each

MORE: Tesco has just started selling Parma Violets Rekorderlig cider

Men’s rights activists have made an anti-bagspreading chair but it looks more like a sex device

Wooden anti-bagspreading chair which looks like a saddle
Introducing the anti-bagspreading chair, which was made in response to the anti-manspreading char (right) (Picture: Reddit/Laila Laurel)

If you don’t think manspreading is a thing then you haven’t been on the London Underground.

One student sick of men straddling more space than necessary made a chair that is purposely designed for men to close their legs.

The nifty little stool, made by Brighton student Laila Laurel won a Belmond Award at New Designs in London.

That enraged some men, who bombarded Laila with abusive messages.

In response to the ‘sexist’ creation, men’s rights activists (MRAs) have come up with their own take on Laila’s design: the anti-bagspreading chair.

But the contraption, which looks a bit like a saddle, has been likened to a Sybian – a female masturbation device. Joke’s on you, MRAs.

Mens rights activists have made their own anti bagspreading chair
You can take away our chair but you can’t take away our pleasure (Picture: Reddit/NullAberration)

The design was shared on Reddit’s page r/Men’sRights with the caption: ‘In response to the anti-manspreading chair, here is the anti-bagspreading chair. A chair that bags will fall off of’.

The poster was quickly alerted to its likeness to the masturbation device with people saying: ‘A Sybian with a backrest,’ and ‘it could have a leather cushion on it’.

One keen person wrote: ‘Be more functional than using a washing machine tbh.’

Judging by the comments on the page, some men are really vexed by people who place their bags on the seat, a ‘phenomenon’ they refer to as shebagging and bagspreading.

They were all for the anti-bagspreading chair, saying: ‘THIS deserves a design award, it actually looks pretty neat and even the back is designed to be anti-bag and that big space at the bottom ENCOURAGES you to put your bag down there, this is GENIUS!!!!!!!!’


‘Magnificent! You deserve all the rewards!’ said another.

Commenters also took the opportunity to slam Laila’s design, with one woodworker getting especially invested.

His rant began: ‘How dare she make a “functional chair” that doesn’t even function as an actual chair, as someone highly interested in wood-working it was an ultimate fail.

‘Concaving the seat, and making a proper backrest would’ve made me respect it more… (made me respect the construction more) also, the fact a larger man is going to have to sit on the floor due to the walls, that didn’t f*cking even need to be sharpened because even curved walls would limit some blood flow… oh yeah and the ‘power move’ of the ‘woman-spreading’ enhancer.

‘The overall laziness of the design is quite amazing almost like they don’t really care about manspreading that much.

‘She could’ve just made a functional normal-sized chair with walls, so you can get your comfort room but aren’t sitting with your legs 120°.’

Anyway, in totally unrelated news, have you head of mandozing?

MORE: Women share the dumbest things they’ve heard about periods, reproductive health and their bodies from men

MORE: What is manspreading and where did the word come from?

MORE: Why do men think they get to have an opinion on people wearing makeup on the train?

Woman wants to show doctors her rare joint condition doesn’t hold her back

Brittanie was born with a rare condition that affects her joints
Brittanie was born with a rare condition that affects her joints (Picture: MDWfeatures / Brittanie Wilson)

Brittanie Wilson was born with a condition that usually leads doctors to recommend abortion.

She has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which can leave children unable to do anything for themselves, caused by the unborn baby not moving correctly during development,

The condition affects mobility and the formation of the joints.

When Brittanie’s condition was discovered when she was still in the womb, doctors told her parents to abort their child.

Now, Brittanie is proving doctors wrong by showing everyone she can live independently.

‘When I was born the doctors told my parents that I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself at all, in any way, shape or form,’ says Brittanie. ‘When I look back on this it makes me very upset that they set the expectations for my life so low.

Doctor's expectations for Brittanie were very low
Doctor’s expectations for Brittanie were very low (Picture: MDWfeatures / Brittanie Wilson)

‘I know what doctors say carries some serious weight, and I can only imagine how that must’ve felt for my parents. It must have been terrifying and there were so many unknowns.

‘When I was born, I guess very little was known about children and adults with AMC. I can’t say for certain, but perhaps they think they were trying to prepare my parents for a worst-case scenario.’

By the age of five Brittanie had five surgeries on her feet and legs to increase flexibility and mobility.

While at school she wore casts and leg braces, and had to attend physical therapy several times a week.

She was encouraged to be independent by her parents, who were determined to find a way for Brittanie to do anything she set her mind to.

Birttanie now wakes up every morning in her own home, dresses herself with the assistance of an electric wheelchair, and goes to work as an adjudicator at a bank.

Brittanie is no longer afraid to show off her scars as she comes into her own
Brittanie wants to prove doctors wrong (Picture: MDWfeatures / Brittanie Wilson)

She’s also learned to embrace her body, crediting swimming in public with boosting her self-esteem. She no longer feels the need to hide the scars on her legs, and is proud to showcase her differences on Instagram.

‘I’m very lucky to have been born by my parents,’ says Brittanie. ‘I was raised to be independent and find a way to modify whatever I needed in order to figure things out. I distinctly remember my mum saying to me over and over through the years ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’,” she continued.
“Albeit this strategy didn’t work every single time, but it taught me that by being a little resourceful I could usually find a solution to most problems.

‘I’ve learnt to adapt to the best of my ability.

‘In the first half of 2019 I’ve swam over 50 miles and I have to say it’s had an incredible impact on my range of motion. Also, I’m not scared of the public seeing my scars anymore.

‘I feel as though I’ve come into my own now and it’s amazing. Growing up I was given the wrong impression of what it meant to be beautiful, and because I didn’t see others like myself, it took time to learn to love who I am.

‘Now as an adult, I know I’m beautiful, not just in how I look, but also because of my differences. We all come in different shapes and sizes.’

Brittanie hopes that by sharing her story, she’ll be a role model for others who have AMC. She wants to raise awareness of the condition and show mothers that they don’t have to abort a child because of AMC – as it hasn’t stopped her living a happy life.

‘I’m proving everyone wrong and I’m not the only case,’ she says.  ‘No matter how hard life is or how difficult it can be sometimes in this world, we are worthy of life and we matter.’

MORE: Woman’s cheek piercing swelled up, leaked pus and left her with a ‘significant hole’ in her face

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Animal protection campaign calls on Nando’s to give its chickens a ‘better life’

Nandos chicken and rice on a pink background
The company has been called out on its chicken welfare policy (Picture: Nando’s)

World Animal Protection (WAP), a non-profit organisation that fights for animal welfare, has just launched a petition calling on Nando’s to improve its chicken welfare policy.

The petition forms part of a campaign called #TheRealCheekyNandos, which aims to highlight several concerns, including that the chickens used by the company ‘suffer terrible health problems during their short, miserable lives’.

The WAP has said that Nando’s is using fast-growing chicken, also known as broilers (chicken farmed for meat).

Chickens can live up to six years, however broilers are often slaughtered after just a few weeks or months, depending on whether they are free-range or organic, according to Compassion In World Farming (CIWF).

In addition to leading short lives, fast-growing chickens are at risk of several health concerns, such as leg deformities and heart problems. They are also kept in cramped spaces, which ‘prevent them from behaving naturally’.

Further to the call for Nando’s to review its current chicken welfare policy, the WAP has also issued several  ‘Nando’s Red Cards’ – a play on the elusive Nando’s Black Card, which is reserved for celebrities.

The Black Card allows the owner to enjoy unlimited free chicken for themself and five friends. It’s rumoured that Ed Sheeran has one.

‘Nando’s has a much-hyped Black Card for VIPs, but today World Animal Protection has launched the cheeky ‘Nando’s Red Card’ to highlight the restaurant chain’s poor chicken welfare policy,’ Ian Woodhurst, UK farming campaigns manager at World Animal Protection, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Nando’s uses fast-growing breeds of chickens which grow so quickly they often end up with painfully deformed legs and failing hearts and lungs that struggle to keep up.

‘They are also kept in cramped conditions with little space to move or behave naturally.

‘The ‘Red Card’ is part of #TheRealCheekyNandos social campaign, encouraging concerned customers to spread the news and sign our petition to help persuade Nando’s to urgently improve its chicken welfare policies.’

Plate of Nando's chicken with chips and peas
(Picture: Nando’s)

We approached Nando’s to find out if the company does indeed use fast-growing chickens and what the current policy is for chicken welfare.

A spokesperson from Nando’s told Metro.co.uk: ‘Nando’s has been working hard with a range of independent experts on our strategy to address the complex relationship between higher welfare standards, environmental issues and supply-chain management.

‘We know that as a chicken restaurant group we have a desire and responsibility to overcome these challenges, identify opportunities and ensure that every aspect of how we source our chicken is done in the best possible way.

‘We welcome initiatives like the Better Chicken Commitment and share the aspiration and recognition of the need to change, which we believe needs to be a combined effort across the industry.

‘We look forward to keeping everyone updated on our plans as we move forward on this important issue.’

Nando’s also pointed out that its chicken is ‘the most popular breed in the world’ and that the company adheres to the Red Tractor Standards, which feature rules on poultry housing, facilities, diets and more.

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Five of the weirdest trainer collabs of all time

Stranger Things x Nike
The latest in Nike’s series of Stranger Things collabs, inspired by season 3 location Starcourt Mall…not that you would know it (Picture: Nike)

This week, Nike has released trainers in collaboration with both Stranger Things and Spongebob Squarepants (designed with basketball player Kyrie Irving).

Stranger Things inspired trainers, I can understand: it has a clearly defined visual aesthetic and it’s got the whole 1980s thing.

But Spongebob? Who are these aimed at? Surely no self-described ‘sneakerhead’ would go near them. So… stoners?

To any adult spending upwards of £100 on footwear inspired by a kooky children’s cartoon, I have one thing to say: go buy some age-appropriate desert boots from Clarks.

The Spongebob trainers are merely the latest in a long line of weird collabs. Here are some of the most bizarre ever to have been spat out onto the market.

Adidas X Marvel Avengers

Adidas X Avengers (source: Adidas)

Released earlier this year, ADIDAS’s ‘Heroes Among Us’ collection features trainers inspired by six Marvel super heroes: Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, and Thor.

The issue here isn’t so much the designs themselves — the colour scheme of the Hulk trainers are horrible but Captain America and Thor actually look pretty decent.

I just can’t imagine leaving the house with superhero logos on my feet without dying from embarrassment, because I am a grown man.

Adidas X Jeremy Scott

ADIDAS X Jeremy Scott
Adidas X Jeremy Scott ((source: Adidas)

Fashion designer Jeremy Scott has made so many outlandish trainers with Adidas that it’s extremely difficult to pick just one.

There was the fluffy pink poodle trainers (complete with white sunglasses), the leopard print trainers with a tail attached, and the pair with shiny, gold wings — looking like something Hermes would wear if he was off to a hen night in Brighton.

Out of all these tasteful and understated designs, I have chosen the ‘Eagle wing’.

This is because, as well as being kind of garish and vulgar, it’s also offensive on a different level than the purely visual – upon their release, Jeremy Scott received criticism for appropriating Native American totem pole designs.

Concepts X Nike SB – Ugly Christmas Sweater

Nike Christmas Sweater
Nike’s ‘Ugly Sweater’ (Source: Nike)

Reader, I have a terrible confession… I would absolutely wear these shoes.

Can you imagine turning up to your office Christmas party wearing these bad boys? You’d be the belle of the ball!

If there’s one time where garishness it’s acceptable, it’s Christmas.

Nike X Honey Nut Cheerios X Nelly

Honey Nut Cheerios x Nike LeBron
Why are these a thing that exist (Source: Nike)

Released in 2013 and titled ‘Must Be the Honey’, this is surely the most convoluted trainer collab of all time.

The three different elements – the biggest sportswear brand on the planet, a sugary breakfast cereal, and a rapper who peaked in the early 00’s –  are so disparate that I struggle to get my head around why this is a thing that exists.

They are also, we can all agree, absolutely hideous. Just as well that only 250 of them were ever released, meaning you’re unlikely to stumble across a pair in the wild.

Adidas x Star Wars

Adidas x Star Wars ‘Stormtrooper’ (source: Adidas)

As with Stranger Things, Star Wars has a distinct enough visual aesthetic that taking fashion inspiration from it makes sense.

These trainers, inspired by the sleek monochrome costume and set design of the bad guys, come close to looking good. But actually having the face of a Stormtrooper plastered on the front is a step too far.

Maybe it’s stupid to object to trainers on the basis of them being ‘childish’ – it’s not like they’re a form of footwear associated with adulthood. Unless he worked for a creative agency in Shoreditch, your dad probably didn’t go to work wearing a pair of sweet sneakers.

And yet, if I saw someone wearing these Stormtrooper trainers, I would have no choice but to conclude that they had never had sex before.

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