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Life concierges and free food among the best work perks employers are offering in the UK

What does the ideal healthy working day look like?
What’s your dream work perk? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Sometimes being paid to be there just isn’t enough to keep you in a workplace.

The work might be interesting, your colleagues might be lovely, but if the office environment is free from any benefits, it makes sense that you’d start looking at working somewhere else – especially as so many offices are offering glorious work perks for their employees.

Now, before we go forth, we urge you not to be overcome with envy and make any rash decisions.

Free breakfast and puppy training classes are great, obviously, but they won’t bring you joy if you hate the work you’re doing. The grass isn’t always greener, and a workplace that’s low stress and decently paid is nothing to be sniffed at.

But just to give you a clue about the sort of work perks on offer – and to provide you with a handy list of recommendations to show your boss – Glassdoor has compiled a list of ten extreme employee perks currently on offer in the UK, based on reviews left by employees on the site.

Arm – a semiconductor and software design company – offers ‘Flexpot’, a generous allowance provided to employees expressly to spend on their own passions and development. These can be entirely unrelated to work. You could use that money for flying lessons, puppy training classes, supplies for entering The Great British Bake Off – whatever you fancy.

Tech company Improbable provides all workers with a Life Concierge, who basically helps to do all that annoying life admin. Workers’ Life Concierge can help to relocate families, organise parties, or even just order pizza.

Facebook gives all staff three free meals a day in the office, plus snacks.

Illustration of a woman standing in front of her boss, who is seated and is holding up a cup of tea
Free food is always appreciated (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Beverage company Diageo contributes 18% to employees’ pensions. That might not sound like the most glamorous work perk, but it’d be incredibly handy for later on in life.

Sky gives its employees paid leave whenever they move house (imagine not having to rush your packing into evenings and weekends).

Travelzoo provides staff £1,000 each year to be spent on Travelzoo deals and offers, so you can enjoy a free holiday.

If you become a dad while working at O2, you’ll get 14 weeks of paid paternity leave.

Skyscanner allows ‘global mobility’, which is a fancy way of saying that employees can work from any of the company’s global offices. Employees also get up to 15 days per year to work from home.

Babylon – the health tech company that provides GP appointments through an app – gives all employees and their families free private GP consultations through the app, so you’d never have to wait on hold to book an appointment ever again.

And finally, First Direct bank has an onsite crèche for working parents. If only this were the norm.

Again, before you get too jealous, remember that no free food is worth doing a job that isn’t remotely satisfying.

Joe Wiggins, Director at Glassdoor, said: ‘Extreme perks might help to get employees in the door, and they’re certainly a good way for companies to get noticed! However, we know that benefits are not the main driver of employee job satisfaction.

‘In fact, according to Glassdoor Economic Research, culture and values, senior leadership, career opportunities and business outlook all score above compensation and benefits when it comes to job satisfaction.

‘While benefits are a great way to make employees feel appreciated, businesses should not rely on them alone to keep employees satisfied enough to stay with the company in the long-run.

‘Rather, they must look at all elements of their offering – from training and development, through to career progression and opportunities – and regularly refine their offering based on employee feedback.’

True that.

Interestingly, the work perks wanted by people of different ages differ quite a bit from the ones on offer.

A recent survey looked at how people’s age affected their dream work benefits, and found that unlimited holiday and flexible working hours consistently came out on top.

The work perks 18 to 24 year olds most want:

  1. Unlimited holiday days
  2. Flexible working hours
  3. Dental care
  4. Free breakfast supplies
  5. One free holiday a year
  6. Access to mental health care
  7. Private health care
  8. Retailer and restaurant discounts
  9. Free coffee and tea
  10. Help with housing
  11. Additional holiday days for long service
  12. Enhanced pension contribution
  13. Free fruit
  14. Free eye tests
  15. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
  16. Clothing allowance
  17. Phone allowance/work phone
  18. Free/on-site gym and classes
  19. First class travel on work trips
  20. Summer hours between May and August
  21. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
  22. Assistance with childcare costs
  23. Free showers
  24. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
  25. Access to an emergency nanny

The work perks 35 to 44 year olds most want

  1. Flexible working hours
  2. Enhanced pension contribution
  3. Unlimited holiday days
  4. Free coffee and tea
  5. One free holiday a year
  6. Additional holiday days for long service
  7. Private health care
  8. Dental care
  9. Free eye tests
  10. Free breakfast supplies
  11. Assistance with childcare costs
  12. Summer hours between May and August
  13. Free fruit
  14. Retailer and restaurant discounts
  15. Access to mental health care
  16. Free/on-site gym and classes
  17. Clothing allowance
  18. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
  19. Help with housing
  20. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
  21. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
  22. First class travel on work trips
  23. Free alcoholic drinks on a Friday
  24. Pets in the office
  25. Unpaid sabbatical

The work perks 45 to 54 year olds most want:

  1. Flexible working hours
  2. Additional holiday days for long service
  3. Private health care
  4. Enhanced pension contribution
  5. Free coffee and tea
  6. Free eye tests
  7. Dental care
  8. One free holiday a year
  9. Unlimited holiday days
  10. Clothing allowance
  11. Free fruit
  12. Retailer and restaurant discounts
  13. Summer hours between May and August
  14. Access to mental health care
  15. Free breakfast supplies
  16. Free/on-site gym and classes
  17. Unpaid sabbatical
  18. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
  19. Help with housing
  20. First class travel on work trips
  21. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
  22. Phone allowance/work phone
  23. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
  24. Assistance with childcare costs
  25. Pets in the office

The work perks people over 55 most want:

  1. Flexible working hours
  2. Enhanced pension contribution
  3. Private health care
  4. Additional holiday days for long service
  5. Free coffee and tea
  6. Dental care
  7. Free eye tests
  8. Unlimited holiday days
  9. One free holiday a year
  10. Retailer and restaurant discounts
  11. Clothing allowance
  12. Access to mental health care
  13. Free fruit
  14. Free taxis if you need to stay in the office late
  15. Summer hours between May and August
  16. Phone allowance/work phone
  17. Subsidised gym/fitness classes
  18. Free/on-site gym and classes
  19. Help with housing
  20. Unpaid sabbatical
  21. Taking paid work days to volunteer at a charity
  22. First class travel on work trips
  23. Free breakfast supplies
  24. Free showers
  25. Pets in the office

MORE: We all know about workplace stress, but let’s not forget self-employed stress

MORE: Workplace stress and rude colleagues could be ruining your sleep

MORE: Employees open up about struggling with their mental health in the workplace

Shopper’s Boohoo order reveals way more than planned

Boohoo advert of pink skirt and crop top next to image of woman wearing it with her boobs coming out of the bottom
Oh dear (Picture: Triangle News/Boohoo)

Picture the scene – you’ve been whisked away to Mallorca by your boyfriend to celebrate your anniversary (the boy did well). You’ve teased him about the sexy satin outfit you’re about to walk out in.

But instead of strutting out like the majestic queen you are, you’re forced to bashfully cover up your breasts dangling out of the top you’re wearing.

That’s what happened to English literature student Bethany Ward, from Wolverhampton, who had a bit of a Boohoo nightmare.

The student, who’s studying in Newcastle, ordered a neon pink pencil skirt and crop top from the online retailer for her two year anniversary celebrations.

But a sizing mishap meant she was sent a small instead of a large. And that resulted in the top not covering up her 34G boobs.

Bethany saw the funny side of the mixup, posing in front of the mirror while wearing the barely-there top and covering her nipples with emoji.

It’s safe to say it all went a bit tits up.

Picture of the dress that didn't fit Bethany Ward on sale at boohoo.com
Expectation (Picture: Triangle News/Boohoo)

‘I’m a size 12 but my top size can vary,’ she explained. ‘I’ve lost a stone and a half in two months to be able to lose some boob because online shopping can be a nightmare.

‘I was a 36HH but now I’m a 34G.’

- Picture of Bethany Ward, 21 from Wolverhampton wearing the Boohoo.com outfit that didn?t fit TRIANGLE NEWS 0203 176 5581 // contact@trianglenews.co.uk Pics A WOMAN who snapped up a bargain outfit from online retailer Boohoo was horrified to discover that the top left her 34G boobs hanging out. Bethany Ward ordered the neon pink satin combo from the store in a size large but the brand accidentally sent her a size small top. The sexy outfit was meant for her two-year anniversary trip to Mallorca with boyfriend Ainsley Hicks, 25.
Reality (Picture: Triangle News)

She added that companies have a duty to be more mindful of women’s body sizes.

‘I think curvy girls should be wary as these clothes are mass-produced so they don’t care about the girls who aren’t the same size all over,’ said Bethany.

- Picture of Bethany Ward, 21 from Wolverhampton wearing the correct size
Bethany had to re-order in her size (Picture: Triangle News)

‘I’ve always found shopping online an anxious experience anyway because it normally says “out of stock” in sizes larger than a medium.

‘It’s dreadful because the average UK size is something like a 16 but yet still companies don’t want to cater to bigger people.

‘Beauty standards and the need to be aesthetically pleasing are being force-fed to us by these companies and then they don’t even have clothes in size for all, so it’s no wonder young girls suffer from things like body dysmorphia and don’t like the way we look.

‘That’s what fashion survives off – everyone wanting to look a certain way because they’ve been told to but that image doesn’t exist in reality.’

MORE: Shopper calls out Boohoo for sending her a playsuit with no way in or out

MORE: Woman says her Boohoo bodysuit was so small it fitted her seven-year-old cousin better

MORE: Woman confused by top she ordered from PrettyLittleThing that had a Boohoo label

What to do if your friend is pregnant and you’re not happy about it

Illustration of two pregnant women standing back to back
Try not to be angry with your friend for her fortuitous fertility – she can’t control it any more than you can (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

So, your friend is pregnant.

Her belly is swelling, she’s growing a child inside of her and she won’t stop sharing analogies of what size fruit it is each week.

She’ll be nauseous, happy, scared, emotional and hormonal (or a messy combination of all of the above) and for a little while – nine months, let’s say – this may be the main thing she wants to talk to you about.

If you’re straight up happy for your friend and have no issues with fertility or baby-making, then go ahead, enjoy this time with your mate.

However, if her pregnancy makes you feel vulnerable because you can’t have children yourself, are trying to get pregnant but struggling or because you’ve made the decision never to have children, then let’s talk this through.

Someone else’s pregnancy can be a tender thing if you have an accompanying baby-related issue to contend with. It’s going to be OK.

What to do if your friend is pregnant and you can’t have kids

This can be a very precarious and emotional situation.

Maybe you’ve been trying to get pregnant a long while or just found out that you can’t have kids; that longing and grief is going to make it very difficult for you to be around someone who is pregnant.

A gorgeous woman I know is struggling with fertility and she’s had to quietly, gently excuse herself from birthday parties and picnics where little kids are going to be present, just until she feels strong enough to be around them without wanting to fall into a heap and sob.

It’s absolutely OK to protect yourself like this – please do. Take time away from your pregnant friend, if you need it.

The inability to have children can be utterly devastating and you should give yourself permission to mourn it in whatever way feels best. If that means turning down an invitation to a baby shower because it’s too much for you to bear, then do it. Take care of yourself.

Someone else’s pregnancy can be a tender thing if you have an accompanying baby-related issue to contend with.

Explain the situation to your beloved pregnant friend, if you’re able to. Just say: ‘Babe, I love you, but I’m hurting and I just can’t be around you right now. Give me time to find a way to be OK about this’.

You will eventually figure out how to be happy around parents and children. If in the meantime you need to bow out of any baby-related events for a while, that’s fine. You will be forgiven. Keep a little distance, talk to your partner and your other friends about it.

Feel your feelings – there’s no other way through them – and let people who are important to you know what’s going on.

What to do if your friend is pregnant and you’re trying for a baby

You’re busy trying to become pregnant and your friend has already done it.

This happens all the time, because women’s reproductive capacity, timing and luck are so different. You could have been trying for ages, only to watch your best mate gets pregnant on her first try. It can be an agonizing thing, and the jealousy is real.

Try not to be angry with your friend for her fortuitous fertility – she can’t control it any more than you can.

Find a way to be happy for her, even if that happiness is tainted by a serious case of envy. Hopefully, you will get pregnant too, if it’s what you want, but it can take time.

If it doesn’t happen, there are other ways to make a family. In the meantime, talk to your friend. She can listen to you, talk this through and try to understand.

Explain how you’re feeling, if you can. You can also take a little breather from the friendship if you need, but don’t push her away just because she’s pregnant.

What to do if your friend is pregnant and you don’t want to have kids

OK, so you never want to have kids and you kind of resent your friend for getting pregnant.

You’re worried that you’ll lose her to parenthood, that you’ll have nothing in common anymore and that all she’ll want to talk about from now on is babies, breastfeeding and nappies.

I get why you feel this way, but it’s just not going to happen.

Your friend is still your friend; you still have whatever brought you together as mates in the first place.

She will most likely be delighted to have someone in her life who doesn’t want to talk about kids – you can be her distraction and her confidant. Just because one of you has chosen to procreate, it doesn’t suddenly make you incompatible as friends.

Talk to her about work, reality TV, dating, dogs, shoes, politics, books, holidays and dreams. Her entire identity doesn’t need to be swallowed up by the word ‘mother’, so don’t treat her as if it does.

Be there for her, try and get on with her kids, but otherwise just proceed with the cracking friendship you’ve always had.

She may be someone’s mama now, but she’s still the friend you fell in love with however long ago.

MORE: As Anton showed with Molly-Mae, it’s perfectly fine to unfollow your friends

MORE: How to ditch alcohol and keep your friends

MORE: Yes it’s (sometimes) OK to spill a friend’s secret

How I Save: The 23-year-old PR executive earning £23,000 with £1,318 saved towards a house deposit

How I Save: Keira
(Picture: Metro.co.uk)

How do you spend and save your money? And could you do it better?

Our weekly series How I Save aims to answer those questions.

Each week we track someone’s finances and look at how they pinch their pennies and splurge their savings.

Last time we chatted with a 27-year-old copywriter who had £500 saved after managing to buy a house.

This week we’re nosing around the finances in someone in the stage before the bliss of owning property. Keira (not her real name, as people can be mean about money), is a 23-year-old PR and Communications Executive living in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Like many of us, she’s attempting to save enough money to buy her first home.

How Keira saves:

I earn £23,000 a year. I have £125 in my normal savings, and £1,318 in my Help To Buy ISA

I’m saving for…

  • A house – I’m aiming to start looking for a house Summer 2020
  • Holidays/City Breaks – I aim to go on two city breaks a year and I’m saving for a beach holidays with my boyfriend for later this year, and for a one week or a two week luxury holiday (e.g. Thailand, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, India) next year.
  • Car Insurance – I like to pay car insurance annually and want to save ahead of next year’s payment in May
  • Deposit for new car – I’m due a new car in three years and as I want to go to a different dealer, I need to save up deposit money for that but don’t want it to be a last-minute stretch when that time comes.

The main way I save is with a Help to Buy ISA and savings account. A minimum of £50 needs to go in my savings account to keep it active but I can dip in and withdraw without penalty)

I struggle with saving because I’m trying to get out of my student overdraft, pay off my credit card (currently £1,050), and enjoy my early 20s with festivals and city breaks.

Plus as I live at home – as does my boyfriend – we like to get out and go for food, try different gyms up and down the country, or have days out.

I also tend to buy clothes on impulse online. I have got better at this and always try to use my student discount whilst I still can and use apps like Quidco. I do try to compensate this with selling clothes on eBay and Depop.

My weekly shops are slightly more expensive than I would like but this is due to being an avid gym goer so food bills tend to be higher. I buy food in for when my boyfriend, who’s a personal trainer, stays over at my house so he has the food he needs for his lunches before he goes to work. He does the same for me so it levels out.

I also buy the food in for my lunches and very rarely buy out or any meal deals, I make my lunch and bring my own snacks 90% of the time. I shop at Aldi but if I nip for a convenience shop, I tend to go to Tesco as it’s across the road from my work.

I buy petrol from Sainsbury’s as it’s the cheapest near me and I can use my Nectar card.

Someone online shopping
Keira is a fan of clothes shopping (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

How Keira spends:

Monthly expenses:

  • Help to Buy: £200
  • Savings £75 – 200
  • Car Finance: £136.35
  • Petrol: £50
  • Credit Card: £200
  • Apple Music / iCloud: £5.78
  • Gym: £25
  • Creamfields Festival Ticket: £39.16 – this was the final payment as I paid on finance.

A week of spending:

Monday: I spend £40 on a full tank of petrol, then £22.14 on a food shop.

I order photos for a photo album using an app’s offer of free prints, but it still costs £3.99 for postage.

Car finance comes out today: £136.35.

Tuesday: Sponsorship for friend raising money for charity is £4.

I spend £10 on perfume. A company visited my work with perfume oils that last longer than regular perfumes. My usual perfumes vary from £50-£101 a bottle and I managed to get a similar scent to my favourite perfume.

Wednesday: £3 on fruit pots at Tesco to snack on in the evening while it’s hot.

£6 on concealer and £12.50 on sandals, all bought on my lunch trip to Tesco while I was picking up a prescription. This isn’t a trip I would usually make, these are impulse buys… although I needed a new concealer.

I spend £20 on my nails, as I get these done every three to four weeks.

Thursday: £17.25 on an Aldi food shop – this was a top-up shop so I could cook tea for me and my boyfriend.

I’ve booked a holiday for £517.50 on my credit card. I used my savings of £125 to pay off a small sum straight away and will begin to pay off £100 each month for my holidays from now.

Friday: I went to Birmingham for the weekend with my boyfriend – something we’d had booked in the diary for a while. We tried to split everything fairly, e.g. he paid for petrol to drive down, so I paid for taxis, he’d pay for one meal, me the next etc. we were both on annual leave Friday to Sunday so it was a big treat weekend.

I spent £35 on new gym gear. My old gym gear is getting really tatty and worn and so I treated myself to some new pants and sports bra as they were on a special offer for £35 for both as opposed to my usual prices which are £30-40 for pants and £25-30 for a sports bra/vest.

I also spent £4.04 at Tesco, but I can’t remember what I actually spent this on.

Lunch is at The Lean Kitchen for £17.90.

Saturday: £23.27 on Ubers, then £72 at Primark. All of this is set to be returned this Saturday when I next get a chance to nip to town. I’m aiming to exchange two items so this will cost around £30, so theoretically I should get a £42.00 refund

At H&M I spend £12.99 – again, this dress is being exchanged or returned if I cannot find it in my local store.

At Topshop I spend £18. I only really shop here when stuff is on sale, so I got two bargains.

At Lush I pay £13.45 for solid deodorant and solid shampoo and conditioner.

A meal at Slug and Lettuce sets me back £40.85, then I spend £29.06 at Popworld dance club.

Travelodge wifi costs £3.

I end the day with a PayPal refund to a customer through Depop for £5.60.

Sunday: £6 on Greggs.

Total spent this week: £668.89

How Keira could save better:

We spoke to the experts over at money tracking app Cleo to find out how Heather can save better (and what we can learn from her spending).

Note: the advice featured is specific to one individual and doesn’t constitute financial advice, especially for a London budget. 

Just an all round applause for thinking three years ahead for a car deposit. Do you even need me? Yes.

Main vice:

The night is dark and full of discount leggings. You’re a magpie for deals (your biggest category is shopping and treats – knocking back 96% of your weekly budget on clothes).

The trouble is these temptations pop up anywhere. Your biggest expense on your romantic weekend away? Clothes. Limit yourself to only shopping online so you can stop being drawn in 24/7. Resist! Your one offs are overwhelming you.

Where you’re going wrong:

Minus your monthly expenses and saving goals, you’ve got £683.22 to work with each month. This week you threw down £857.27. (Small problem).

Big goals are great. But you aren’t gonna hit them. Knock one goal off. If you’re not happy doing that – then clip those magpie wings.

Spending plan:

Pay off: £100 a month

Save: £400 a month. Half to ISA, half to holidays and future house costs. I’m forgetting that car deposit

Spend: £430 monthly /£100 weekly £14.35 daily. Anything from groceries to toiletries, to after work pints

Burn: £200 monthly/ £50 weekly /£7.15 daily. This is for online shopping only. Go forth and find juicy deals, young one

How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing ellen.scott@metro.co.uk.

MORE: How I Save: The 58-year-old cab driver earning around £27,000 a year with £20,200 saved

MORE: How I Save: The 30-year-old freelance marketing consultant in London with £21,000 saved

MORE: How I Save: The 30-year-old product development manager earning £28,000 a year with £34,500 saved

Calf Botox is the latest beauty trend that customers are queuing up for

woman caressing her legs
Would you get Botox in your legs? (Picture: Getty)

If you’ve watched as much Embarrassing Bodies as I have, you’ll know that there are a fair few uses for Botox. The botulinum toxin can be injected in various parts of the body and help with things from sweating to severe anal fissures.

You’ll probably know it best as a product used by aestheticians, however, with Botox most commonly injected into the face to reduce wrinkles.

Botox is the most popular cosmetic surgery treatment in the world, with over six million people opting for the procedure every year. Off the back of that, surgeons are finding new ways to capitalise on the trend – and they’re coming for our legs.

PICO are one of the proprietors of the calf Botox treatment, operating from their clinic in London’s Soho as well as from Milan and Shanghai.

People come to them for all sorts of reasons, but more commonly they’re looking for niche treatments such as calf and shoulder modelling, where very specific body hang-ups can be targeted through the use of Botox.

PICO Clinics calf modelling through botox
Legs before the treatment are on the left, after the treatment on the right. Seven people are day are heading to the clinic for the treatment (Picture: PICO Clinics)

A spokesperson from PICO tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The calf is one of the areas that can easily appear disproportionately large due to natural course or physical activity, affecting overall body shape.

‘This treatment is suitable for people who have/develop large calf muscles due to sport activities, or wearing high heels on a more frequent basis.’

To the untrained eye, the results seem almost insignificant, and many people tend to work out to try to gain definition in our legs (hello, Serena Williams wannabes of the world). For those who want to wear boots or simply appear less muscular, however, it can make a big difference.

Calf modelling can also be used to make the legs look more symmetrical.

PICO Clinics calf modelling through botox
Again, before is left, after is right. Customers are looking to make their legs less athletic, for reasons we can’t quite explain (Picture: PICO Clinics)

‘We remodel customer’s calf based on their expectations and doctor’s recommendations, redefine calf shape by targeting specific the muscles, and treat with botulinum solution,’ the people at PICO tell us.

‘It is a non-invasive procedure with no down time and scarring, and regular activities can be resumed instantly after the treatment.’

‘It usually takes at least two treatments within a month to witness results which would last about six months, but longer after repeated treatments.’

PICO Clinics calf modelling through botox
Before: left, after: right. The modelling is not suitable for those with subcutaneous fat in the legs (Picture: PICO Clinics)

Although the risks aren’t major, the treatment doesn’t last forever and it’s not without its dangers. PICO say that this type of contouring can be ‘unpredictable’.

They tell us that ‘deep injections may lead to mild leg weakness and balancing difficulty’ and ‘uneven areas of bulging can occur, depending on botulinum diffusion’. They do say, though, that this will be addressed in any follow-up treatments.

At £1.400 for both calves, it’s certainly not cheap, but they say that at least seven customers a day are coming to them for calf contouring via Botox, compared to two a day when they first opened in April this year.

According to them, the treatment is most popular among women, but not everyone is suitable, as those whose calves are enlarged due to subcutaneous fat can’t be treated in this way.

It really appears as if there’s something out there to ‘fix’ everything we see wrong about ourselves. It’s worth noting on this front, that you should always think carefully about why you want a procedure, and whether you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Plus, as PICO say: ‘Calf modelling is an art. It requires a good artist (doctor) to produce an excellent masterpiece.’

Make sure you always go to a GMC registered clinic and ask your aesthetician plenty of questions to ensure they’re qualified to treat you properly.

MORE: How I Save: The 23-year-old PR executive earning £23,000 with £1,318 saved towards a house deposit

MORE: What to do if your friend is pregnant and you’re not happy about it

First look at Taylor Swift and Stella McCartney’s fashion collaboration inspired by Lover

Taylor Swift x Stella McCartney Picture: taylorswift.com METROGRAB https://store.taylorswift.com/pages/taylor-stella-lookbook
Stella x Taylor Swift is coming (Picture: taylorswift.com)

While you’re getting excited about the official drop of Taylor Swift’s new album, Lover (that’s happening tomorrow, FYI), you’re missing some equally exciting news for all Swifty fans.

Taylor has teamed up with Stella McCartney to release a fashion line inspired by the album’s dreamy pastel aesthetics.

We’re not talking about your average merch, to be clear, but genuinely stylish pieces that even those who aren’t diehard Taylor Swift fans could get away with wearing – think tie-dye hoodies and snazzy jackets.

There are plenty of explicitly Taylor themed items, though, for those who want to wear their standom loud and proud.

There’s a long-sleeved T-shirt with an image of Taylor’s newest kitten, Benjamin Button, a tee with the full tracklist of Lover, and Stella x Taylor Swift is scribbled on most of the pieces in massive graffiti style font.

All the pieces have been made with sustainability in mind, with sweatshirts and tees crafted from organic cotton and a bag made from Eco Alter-Nappa leather, which is made of recycled polyester and oils from vegetable waste.

Prices are far ranging and the items won’t be that easy to get hold of.

The bomber jacket costs £1,335 and the bag is £525, and both will be available to order on Stella McCartney’s website from the evening of 22 August, or in standalone London and New York stores on 23 August.


The rest of the clothing is more reasonably priced for fancy merch, and will be available at a Lover Experience Taylor Swift popup shop sponsored by Capital One in New York, from 23 August to 25 August.

Taylor has said she’ll reveal more about the collection on 22 August, so hopefully she’ll let us know how UK fans can stock up.


While we wait for further info, a lookbook for Stella x Taylor Swift is now online so you can see a load of models wearing pretty clothes in the golden hour.

You can also sign up to be notified when the collection arrives.

The collab came about as a result of Stella McCartney and Taylor Swift’s longtime friendship.

Taylor told Vogue: ‘When I started spending more time in London, Stella and I would go on walks, have cocktails and talk about life. So, when it came time to write this album, I name-checked her in one of my songs and when I played her the album, I said, “Should we do something?”‘

Super casual.

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Painful eczema leaves woman unable to wear a bra or underwear after coming off steroid creams

Emillie's face, skin and feet which is dry and red and blistering as a result of stopping steroid creams prescribed for eczema
Emilie Dunn’s skin condition became so painful that she was left unable to wear a bra or socks (Picture: SWNS/Emilie Dunn)

Emilie Dunn regularly experiences eczema flare-ups which leave her skin so painful she has to bandage both her hands and feet.

The 23-year-old from Hull said the condition has resulted in an identity crisis. She can’t dress how she wants as certain clothes can trigger her skin.

During particularly painful bouts, Emilie can’t even wear a bra, underwear or socks.

She stopped using steroid-based creams that had been prescribed by doctors four years ago as she claimed they were making her condition worse.

Emilie had been using the creams on and off for 18 years and said they left her immune system ‘suppressed’.

Now that she’s off them, she believes she’s suffering from withdrawal symptoms known as Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW).

This is when the body is reacting to no longer being treated by steroid-based medications applied to the skin to reduce inflammation and irritation.

Emilie's face during a flare up.
Emilie’s face during a flare-up (Picture: SWNS/Emilie Dunn)

‘I normally dress like a goth and I had bright blue hair,’ said Emilie. ‘I have had to stop dyeing my hair and had to take all my piercings out.

‘It is only this year I have been able to wear a bra and socks. For two and half years I couldn’t wear a bra or socks as my skin was too raw.

‘I couldn’t wear jeans and had to wear baggy trousers. I can wear jeans now, but I can’t wear them for long as my skin gets too hot.

Emilie's hand one month after stopping her treatment. See SWNS story SWLEskin; These shocking pictures show the horrific extent of a woman's skin condition which became so painful that was left unable to wear a bra or socks. Eczema-sufferer Emilie Dunn regularly suffers flare ups which leave her skin so bad she has to bandage both her hands and feet.The 23-year-old said the condition has left her with a loss of identity as she can not work or even dress how she would like as certain clothes can trigger flare ups. She said: "I can't work, I've got a real loss of identity. "I normally dress like a goth and I had bright blue hair. I have had to stop dying my hair and had to take all my piercings out. "It is only this year I have been able to wear a bra and socks. For two and half years I couldn't wear a bra or socks as my skin was too raw.
Emilie’s hand one month after stopping her treatment (Picture: SWNS/Emilie Dunn)

‘I can’t bend my legs for too long, I have to have them straight.

‘I didn’t think I’d ever miss wearing socks or walking barefoot on carpet.’

Emiie said she noticed her skin getting worse after stopping the creams.

Her eczema began spreading to areas of her body that had never been affected before.

A staph incfection on Emilie's arms.
Emilie had a staph infection, caused by bacteria on the skin (Picture: SWNS/Emilie Dunn)

Emile’s symptoms were at their worst three months after she stopped using steroid creams in 2016. At the time, she developed a staph infection – an infection of the skin – that left her unable to walk.

‘I would sit in the bath for hours and cry because of the pain. I couldn’t stop itching.’

Emilie's foot during her staph infection. See SWNS story SWLEskin; These shocking pictures show the horrific extent of a woman's skin condition which became so painful that was left unable to wear a bra or socks. Eczema-sufferer Emilie Dunn regularly suffers flare ups which leave her skin so bad she has to bandage both her hands and feet.The 23-year-old said the condition has left her with a loss of identity as she can not work or even dress how she would like as certain clothes can trigger flare ups. She said: "I can't work, I've got a real loss of identity. "I normally dress like a goth and I had bright blue hair. I have had to stop dying my hair and had to take all my piercings out. "It is only this year I have been able to wear a bra and socks. For two and half years I couldn't wear a bra or socks as my skin was too raw.
Emilie’s foot during her staph infection which left her unable to walk (Picture: SWNS/Emilie Dunn)

Despite the effects, Emilie says she won’t be going back to steroid-based treatments and is waiting to ride out TSW.

‘I’ve been flaring for a while since last year,’ she said. ‘I am having to bandage my feet and hands, which I haven’t had to do for a year.

‘Bandages can help to lock in the moisture. It’s difficult to sit with creams on your hands and not touch things.

‘They’re really good if you’re weeping as it helps to keep out bacteria.’

Emilie's face during a bad flare. See SWNS story SWLEskin; These shocking pictures show the horrific extent of a woman's skin condition which became so painful that was left unable to wear a bra or socks. Eczema-sufferer Emilie Dunn regularly suffers flare ups which leave her skin so bad she has to bandage both her hands and feet.The 23-year-old said the condition has left her with a loss of identity as she can not work or even dress how she would like as certain clothes can trigger flare ups. She said: "I can't work, I've got a real loss of identity. "I normally dress like a goth and I had bright blue hair. I have had to stop dying my hair and had to take all my piercings out. "It is only this year I have been able to wear a bra and socks. For two and half years I couldn't wear a bra or socks as my skin was too raw.
Emilie’s face during a bad flare (Picture: SWNS/Emillie Dunn)

Emilie wants doctors to be more careful when they prescribe steroid creams and to warn people of the side effects.

‘I want doctors to acknowledge that steroid withdrawal is happening,’ she explains. ‘There is a lack of medical assistance and it is frustrating because it is avoidable.

Emilie's face healing after stopping her steroid treatment.
Emilie’s face healing after stopping her steroid treatment (Picture: SWNS/Emillie Dunn)

‘If I kept using the cream, I would never better. I’d rather go through a few years of this than have skin that will never heal.’

Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body.

More information about eczema is available on the NHS website.

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Lidl is selling a fire pit for £24.99

The Lidl fire pit
The fire pit costs £24.99 (Picture: Lidl)

Summer is coming to an end and it’ll soon be time to sit outside in blankets, toasting marshmallows over the fire.

Of course, you’ll need a fire pit to do this (unless you plan on making one out of sticks) – and Lidl has got your back.

The super cheap supermarket is selling a fire pit for just £24.99.

It’s made of steel and features a fire bowl and log grate.

It measures 56cm by 39cm and will be the perfect addition to your garden.

Currently, the fire pit is on offer – so you’ll want to grab it while you can.

The fire pit in use
It’s currently £15 off (Picture: Lidl)

It was originally priced at £39.99, but you can now get £15 off – and spend the rest on marshmallows and cosy blankets.

The fire pit goes on sale today, 22 August, and will be available in Lidl stores nationwide.

If marshmallows aren’t your thing but you still fancy a late-night snack, the supermarket is also selling churros, which are back for a limited time only.

Launched on 8 August, the big bags of churros are available for £1.19.

They were released as part of Lidl’s Spanish week, alongside the likes of calamari, patatas bravas and cheese tapas, all of which come at super cheap prices.

You can have the churros with any sweet dip you fancy – but we recommend grabbing a massive tub of Nutella and smothering them in gooey chocolate. Yum.

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Couple watch as their £450 wedding cake falls to the floor the moment they cut it

Chloe and Aaron Bailey's wedding cake fell to the floor
The moment Chloe and Aaron realised their £450 wedding cake would end up on the floor (Picture: Alisa Roberts Photography / Kennedy News)

When it comes to wedding photos, there’s a few key moments every one expects – the bride walking down the aisle, the first kiss and the couple cutting the cake together.

One couple’s slicing of the cake turned out to be more memorable than they expected – after the whole thing fell over in slow motion in front of them.

Chloe and Aaron Bailey, from Hampshire, spent £450 on their dream three-tier macaron covered wedding cake, but it fell to the floor before they even got to taste it.

They’d also paid £100 for the cake – with layers flavoured with Bakewell tart, gin and tonic, and caramel and salted toffee – to be delivered to the venue.

The whole ‘slow motion’ disaster was captured by their photographer Alisa Esfandiari – right from the moment the table started to wobble until the moment the cake was pieced back together and they finally got to cut it properly.

The table titled the moment they made the first cut and they tried to steady the table to stop it falling over but it was too late – the cake slipped forward, causing the macarons and topper to fall first, followed by the cake.

Chloe, 28, said: ‘What could we do? We just had to laugh it off. It was funny. We will remember that, definitely.

‘We barely cut the cake at all. Literally as soon as the knife went into the cake we felt movement underneath it. I think we cut very slightly into it and it went immediately, pretty much.

‘For us it felt like slow motion, as if it were about five or 10 minutes. It’s just that panic of what on earth do you do? I think everyone else felt like that too.

‘It was disbelief initially. We were both just gripping on to the edge of the table thinking, “no, this can’t be happening”.’

The delicate macrons ended up smashed on the floor but some of their guests picked up what they could and ate what they could.

Bridesmaids and the best man helped them pick up each of the tiers of the cake and reassemble them on the table – although it did end up looking slightly messier.

The couple said that although it ended up looking slightly different to what they had planned, it did still taste delicious.

Let’s see it happen in slow motion:

Chloe and Aaron Bailey's wedding cake fell to the floor
The first cut (Picture: Alisa Roberts Photography / Kennedy News)
Chloe and Aaron Bailey's wedding cake fell to the floor
The moment they realised (Picture: Alisa Roberts Photography / Kennedy News)
Chloe and Aaron Bailey's wedding cake fell to the floor
There goes the macarons (Picture: Alisa Roberts Photography / Kennedy News)
Chloe and Aaron Bailey's wedding cake fell to the floor
And it’s gone (Picture: Alisa Roberts Photography / Kennedy News)
Chloe and Aaron Bailey's wedding cake fell to the floor
The couple in disbelief (Picture: Alisa Roberts Photography / Kennedy News)

Photographer Alisa said she’s never seen anything like this happen before.

Alisa, from Southampton, said: ‘Of all the weddings I’ve done, I’ve got a lot of stories but this cake cutting is one of the best stories.

‘Chloe and Aaron thought it was so funny and really memorable. It was absolutely nothing bad, it was just a moment that was hilarious and so unexpected.

‘They were absolute legends about it and so great.’

Alisa added that she wasn’t sure whether to help with the cake or keep snapping – but she decided it was worth capturing the moment.

She added: ‘I feel like this will be a really memorable part of their wedding day. From my perspective, I’m always looking for those natural moments and trying not to force anything.

‘I had made the decision to put my flash on beforehand which would mean I have a faster shutter, whereas normally I’m all about natural light.

‘The best man nodded to me to say they were ready, and I said, “look at each other and when you’re ready, cut the cake and have a kiss and that will be it”.

‘Everyone gathered around with their cameras ready to take a photo. As it started to wobble, there was a split second of “oh my god, this cake is going to fall”.

‘I had to decide if I should run in and help or just keep taking a photo. With anything you think, they’re going to want this captured. This is a memory.

‘I took loads and the best man and a few people rushed over to gather up the cake, but I was really glad I didn’t put my camera down.’

And so are we Alisa.

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All the free food you can get this GCSE results day

Free food on exam results day
She’s just excited about the free food (Picture: Getty)

Today is GCSE results day, which means you’ll see countless news reports focusing on people jumping up in the air with their envelopes and saying how delighted they are.

Even if you aren’t one of those happy students, there is a silver lining out there for you – free food.

Each year on results day, a bunch of restaurants across the country give out freebies to those celebrating or commiserating, so you can have your fill regardless of whether you got what you wanted.

Here’s a rundown of every foodie freebie you can bag today.

TGI Friday’s


Nab a free dessert at TGI’s today, in the form of a slice of their Chocolate Fudge Fixation cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (usually from £6.49).

You will have to buy a main course, but the offer is available throughout England, Scotland, and Wales all day long.

To claim, simply quote CLASSOF2019 when you order your main meal.

Bella Italia


Much like TGIs, Bella Italia are giving you a free sweet treat with any main meal ordered today.

Get one of their sundaes made with Italian gelato simply by showing your results, and you can shoose from Rocky Road, Eton Mess or Banoffee.

This can also be combined with their offer for 25% off mains, saving you even more cash.



If you felt left out when Nando’s gave A-level students a free firestarter of quarter chicken last week, you’ll be happy to know they’ve extended the deal for GCSE results day.

You just need to bring your results slip and ID today to claim (and spend £7).

Frankie and Benny’s


This one’s technically for National Burger Day, but is a pretty good deal for hungry and poor students.

Buy a Coca Cola or Budweiser, and download the voucher from their website, and you can get yourself a juicy burger free of charge.

Of course, you’re likely not old enough for an ice cold Bud, so a Coke will have to suffice.



Show your results and student ID at Chiquito between now and 24 August, and get a free tortilla dish worth up to £13.79.

Options include either chimichanga, tacos, enchilada or a burrito. Lush.

MORE: Lidl is selling a fire pit for £24.99

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Maltesers white chocolate truffles are here for Christmas and suddenly we can’t wait for winter

White Malteasers truffles on yellow background
Can’t wait (Picture: Instagram/New Foods UK )

Swapping out the denim jacket for a parka, sandals for sneakers, Aperol Spritz for hot chocolate is no fun (okay, the last one is pretty fun). It means winter is coming.

While we’re mournful to see the summer go, we’re excited by Halloween and Christmas which seem to be fast approaching.

With winter come seasonal delectable goods, like Maltesers white chocolate truffles.

We went a bit mad for the milk chocolate edition of the truffles when the confectionery brand launched them a few years ago.

Now, finally, they’re being updated with a white chocolate flavour in time for Christmas.

The bite-sized snacks will come with a milk and white chocolate truffle centre, packed with tiny chunks of honeycombed pieces and coated in a white chocolate.


Though they are a Christmas treat, as suggested by the packaging, they will launch earlier in Tesco stores, dropping on 9 September.

You can grab a 200g pack for £4.99.

Instagram account New Foods UK which scouts the latest British treats (doing the Lord’s work) announced the find.

Blogger Mehreen is one of the lucky few people who have tasted the truffles, after being sent a box.

She wrote: ‘I didn’t realise how popular these were until so many food pages started messaging me!

‘They’re going to be exclusive to Tesco but unsure when they’ll be released (check your local Tesco to see if they’re there!). When I find out I’ll let you know!’

Please do.

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Taylor Swift’s clothing line with Stella McCartney won’t be easy to get hold of

Taylor Swift's clothing line with Stella McCartney goes on sale this week
The Taylor Swift x Stella McCartney collection won’t be easy to get hold of (Picture: taylorswift.com)

Taylor Swift just changed what it means to release merch for a new album by announcing that she has collaborated with fashion designer Stella McCartney on a clothing line in honour of her brand new album, Lover.

The pop star already has merchandise for her seventh album featuring the title and song lyrics as you’d expect with plenty of love hearts, pastel colours and tie-dye patterns to boot.

However, the Shake It Off singer is now releasing a higher-end line of apparel with Stella to celebrate the release of her new album this week.

The entire look book is now available for fans to browse on T-Swift’s website and shows that the 29-year-old is sticking to the rainbow and tie-dye colour scheme of her other merch offerings but combining the look with McCartney’s design aesthetic and commitment to sustainability by making the entire clothing line out of eco-friendly materials. Snaps to that.

When is Taylor Swift’s Lover clothing line coming out?

The Lover clothing line will launch in conjunction with Taylor’s latest album on August 23.

The clothing available includes various Taylor Swift-themed items, mostly revolving around the Lover album.

Models wearing Taylor Swift x Stella McCartney clothes
There is plenty to choose from (Picture: taylorswift.com)

This includes long-sleeved t-shirts and jumpers with the tracklist and the words ‘Stella x Taylor Swift’ displayed on the front and back.

The sweatshirts and tees are made out of organic cotton, and the bag design is made with Eco Alter-Nappa leather, which consists of recycled polyester and oils from vegetable waste.

Where can you buy Taylor Swift’s clothing line with Stella McCatney?

There’s bad news for Taylor Swift fans worldwide, the eco-conscious, candy-coloured clothing line looks to only be available in full at The Lover Experience Taylor Swift Pop Up Shop in New York.

A model wearing a Taylor Swift x Stella McCartney sweatshirt
The clothing will be hard to buy in the UK (Picture: taylorswift.com)

However, for those really keen to get their hands on anything from the collection and willing to part with a bit of cash, two pieces from the line, the bomber jacket and bag — which retail for £1,645 and £655, respectively — will also be available for a limited time at Stella McCartney’s standalone stores in New York and London, as well as online at StellaMcCartney.com.

It’s unclear whether the full collection will eventually be available online like Taylor’s other merch.

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‘Ninja’ and ‘self-starter’ among the most-hated jargon terms included in job adverts

Drawing of someone writing an email on their laptop
We’re looking for a laser-focused self-starter who can hit the ground running (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

When it comes to writing up a job advert, just say what you mean.

Not only are all those buzzwords a speedy way to get made fun of on social media, but they might actually put brilliant people off applying.

New research from online graduates job board Milkround revealed that 59% of the 2,010 participants who graduated in the last two years say that not understanding jargon in a job advert would stop them applying for a role.

The survey also found that 68% of UK workers would like employers to write their job ads with more clarity. We’d imagine that would mean explicit salary listings rather than the mysterious ‘DOE’, an easy application process, and a description that puts in simple terms the sort of candidate a company is looking for.

Some buzzwords are worse than others.

If you include ‘ninja’ – as in, ‘we’re looking for an SEO ninja’ – you’re highly likely to annoy candidates. The same goes for ‘laser-focused’.

Most offputting buzzwords in job descriptions:

  • Ninja
  • Laser-focused
  • Self-starter
  • Entrepreneurial mindset
  • Action-orientated
  • Hit the ground running
  • Proven track record

In addition to not being annoying, you’ll also want to avoid terms that people don’t understand.

Again, just say what you mean!

Most misunderstood job jargon amongst graduates:

Most misunderstood job jargon among graduates surveyed:

  • Open the kimono
  • Cloud-first
  • Growth hacking
  • Blue-sky thinking
  • Thought shower
  • Brand architecture
  • Low-hanging fruit

Just FYI, for anyone else deeply confused, ‘open the kimono’ isn’t anything suggestive, it just means to be ‘honest and open’. Cool. Maybe just say that, then.

The graduates surveyed also reported being confused by classic job advert acronyms, such as SLA (service-level agreement), DOE (dependent on experience), POC (proof of concept in this context, people of colour outside of a job ad), and B2B (business to business).

Fancy job titles like ‘media czar’ and ‘conversion architect’ confused the graduates surveyed, too.

Milkround worked with Language Expert Steven Poole, who said: ‘Research has long shown that business jargon makes people feel oppressed in the workplace, but the news from increasingly jargon-infested recruitment advertising is even worse: this new data shows that companies using jargon in their job ads are actually preventing candidates from even going for a role — and so pushing talent away.

‘For the sake of both employees and employers, it’s time to cancel the buzz words and try saying what we really mean.’

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Look inside this magical Harry Potter castle playhouse with its own wand shop

The playhouse
The playhouse is magical (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

A little girl has quite possibly the best playhouse in the world – a 350sqft Harry Potter themed castle.

Two-year-old Logan’s grandparents Dave and Ruby Dunlop had the incredible two-storey magical Wendy house built in their back garden.

Logan now has her very own Hogwarts Castle, complete with Ollivander’s wand shop, Platform 9¾ and even part of the Dursleys’ Privet Drive.

It also features a broom swing set, a slide, a secret hatch and a wooden bridge leading to an owlery, just like the one from JK Rowling’s books.

It’s a perfect outdoor play home for Logan, her best friends, and two younger siblings when they grow up.

The bedroom in the playhouse
It’s Potter-themed (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

Inside the main tower there are owl-themed armchairs, a beautiful chandelier, and even a slide leading back down to the bottom of the house.

The fortress features hidden Harry Potter nuggets, like broomsticks, a toy basilisk, Hogwarts snow globe, and Fantastic Beasts-style trunk drawer.

Portraits of headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a map of the school grounds, and a framed letter of invitation to Hogwarts, hang over the stairwell.

The armchair
It has owl themed armchairs (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

There is also a bed on the top floor for cool summer sleepovers, and an electric fireplace on the bottom floor to keep warm at winter.

There’s even a cupboard under the stairs for games of hide-and-seek.

It took six weeks for Charmed Playhouses in Alberta, Canada, to build the playhouse in a massive workshop, and then three more days to set it up in Spencerville, Ontario.

Inside the Wendy House
Isn’t it stunning? (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

The family declined to reveal the price tag, but customers pay anything from $15,000 to $250,000 for bespoke luxury playhouses from the firm, headed by Tyson Leavitt.

Dave said: ‘My daughter and her partner are huge Harry Potter fans – but none of us really know how to design a building, let alone a playhouse!

‘We felt it would be so neat if Logan had a special place for her to come and play with at Pa’s and Gram’s. So we gave Tyson full creative freedom.

The swing set
There’s a broomstick swing set (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

‘My son and his wife got a playhouse built for them by Tyson too, and it was delivered the same time as ours – so we’re somewhat loyal customers!

‘It got exactly the reaction we’d hoped for. When our granddaughter came out the second time to play, she asked if she could go to ‘her house’.

‘Even a month since it was set up, every time she comes outside, she spends time in it.

The playhouse slide
The castle even has a slide (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

‘Gram and her absolutely love to have tea in the little kitchen and lose track of the time.

‘You should see her face when she’s using the playhouse. We’re so thrilled with it.

‘All our friends and neighbours are impressed with it too.

‘It’s a popular addition to our community, with many stopping to look and take pictures.

The kitchen in the playhouse
it even has a kitchen (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

‘We hope to have a zip line attached in five to six years, which will go from the balcony of the Hogwarts tower down to the ground.’

The fortress was designed in a few hours, and took two days to render in 3D and produce blueprints for building.

It took six weeks to construct and three days to set up outside the family home in Eastern Ontario, from June 12 to 15.

Tyson, who runs the small family business Charmed Playhouses, builds luxury playhouses for people in North America, as well as the UK, China, and Mexico.

Inside the playhouse
Can we live here please? (Picture: Holly Howard / SWNS)

He described the playhouses he makes for children of all ages as ‘custom homes, but smaller scale and with way more fantasy’.

Past designs have included a Disney-themed princess castle attached to Rapunzel’s tower, Captain Hook’s pirate ship and Neverland, and a Hobbit hole.

Tyson said: ‘The Dunlops are elated to have the playhouse in their backyard as it will become the pinnacle of family memories for years to come.’

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Pictures show Chinese trend of taking wedding photos in fake sets before the big day

his picture taken on June 20, 2019 shows a bride posing for a picture on a waterfall-themed set during her pre-wedding photo shoot at the Love Story in Rome Studio in Beijing.
Increasingly elaborate pre-wedding photos are a booming industry in China  (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)

Wedding photos don’t always go to plan – an inconsiderate guest might get in the way, you can get pooed on by a bird, you might poo on yourself. Loads of things can go wrong.

Ahead of the game are Chinese couples who sort out all their wedding pics before the big day.

Like a dress rehearsal, they get into their extravagant outfits and head to indoor studios, which are purposely built to look like the outdoors, and pose away.

The Love Story in Rome Studio in Beijing is one such complex that fits everything under one roof.

‘It’s really tiring to shoot outside, moving from one place to another place,’ says bride Zhao Tianyou. ‘This wedding shoot centre is indoors and it provides everything you want.’

The 25-year-old had been shooting since 8am that morning.

This picture taken on June 4, 2019 shows couples posing for pictures on an Angkor Wat-themed set during their pre-wedding photo shoot at the Love Story in Rome Studio in Beijing.
It’s all a set. This bride is not in Angkor Wat, Cambodia (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)

Guests of the studio can expect tropical gardens, autumnal fields, waterfalls and starlit skies.

‘Chinese wedding photography has become more customised,’ said general manager Zhao Rongchang.

‘Chinese people used to love to go on trips for shooting their wedding photos… But now they prefer to shoot indoors and prefer a more precise photography style.’

This picture taken on June 5, 2019 shows a bride waiting between pre-wedding photo shoots at the Love Story in Rome Studio in Beijing.
An army of helpers are on standby (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)

He adds that 50 to 60 couples go through the studio each day, donned in traditional, western and other styles of clothing.

An army of helpers who manage the set, hair, makeup and accessories are on standby.

Package prices vary but young couples are willing to fork out some big bucks.

Here are some more pre-wedding photos from Beijing:

a bride poses during a pre-wedding photo shoot at the Love Story in Rome Studio in Beijing.
Not her wedding day (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
This picture taken on June 11, 2019 shows a couple waiting between two pre-wedding photo shoots
Don’t sweat too much – gonna have to wear it on the actual wedding day (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
This picture taken on June 11, 2019 shows couples pose for pictures on an Angkor-Wat themed set for their pre-wedding photo
The fake Angkor Wat stage again (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
This picture taken on June 25, 2019 shows a couple waiting for their pre-wedding photo shoot at the Love Story in Rome Studio
This studio sees 50 to 60 couples a day (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
This picture taken on June 4, 2019 shows a couple posing on a set during their pre-wedding photo shoot with a backdrop of stars
Almost looks real (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
This picture shows a stylist styling a bride before a pre-wedding photo shoot in the VIP room
Helpers are on standby to offer hair and makeup (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
a hairdresser styling a bride for her pre-wedding photo shoot
There’s a VIP room for guests (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Bride posing in front of a pink flower wall in different outfits
They’ve got all the Insta-worthy backgrounds (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Assistants of the Love Story in Rome Studio attending a debriefing
Assistants of the Love Story in Rome Studio attending a debriefing (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Two different couple photos being taken
Like pictures on graduation day, loads of photos are taken at once (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Couples pose in two different pre-wedding photo shoots
See (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Assistants preparing gowns for pre-wedding photoshoots (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Assistants preparing gowns for pre-wedding photoshoots (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Wedding gowns pre-wedding photo shoot
Some of the options (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
A bride posing for a picture on a waterfall-themed set
Results (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
A bride looks at her gown before her pre-wedding photo shoot
Beautiful (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
A bride posing in traditional Chinese wedding clothing
Traditional bride (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
A manager showing pictures from a pre-wedding photo shoot
You get to decide how they come out (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
A bride choosing her gown
A bride’s dream (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)
Couples taking part in their pre-wedding photo shoot at a fake waterfall
Don’t fall now (Photo by Fred Dufour / AFP)

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Cadbury offers four-in-one chocolate bar to ‘unite’ India

Cadnbury's new chocolate featuring four flavours
Cadbury created a ‘Unity Bar’ that combines four different types of chocolate into one bar (Cadbury’s/Ogilvy)

If you’ve been keeping up with worldwide politics then you’ll know there are tensions in India.

Hoping to get its Indian customers together, Cadbury’s has launched a four-in-one Unity Bar.

The chocolate brand hopes to unite the country on its divided lines of caste, language, religion and region.

It combines four different flavours: dark, blended, milk, and white.

On Indian Independence Day, 15 August, Cadbury’s teamed up with PR communications agency Ogilvy India to introduce the snack.

They hoped to encourage buyers to celebrate ‘a rainbow of brown, a giant bouquet of mother tongues, a churring confluence of cultures’.

Cadbury created a 'Unity Bar' that combines 4 different types of chocolate into one bar Picture: Cadbury METROGRAB
Some YouTube commenters questioned why the dark chocolate is at the bottom (Cadbury’s/Ogilvy)

The image of the packaging shows a group of Indian people from various backgrounds.

Illustrations of Muslim women in headscarves can be seen holding hands with Sikh men holding hands with dark and light skin people.

On its website, Ogilvy wrote: ‘India is a diverse country, with people of different castes, creed, languages, regions, religions’.

‘Everyone living together, but not always with love. Cadbury Dairy Milk, which is loved by everyone, wanted to send a powerful message of unity.

‘So we worked with the brand to create the Unity Bar: India’s first chocolate made of dark, blended, milk and white chocolate—all united in one bar.’

Consumers in India who have tried the chocolate bar had good words to say.

One person who commented under Cadbury’s YouTube video wrote: ‘Received this AMAZING chocolate. And it’s packaging is mind-blowing. Limited edition gives me 100% satisfaction. Thank u Cadbury for making this special chocolate on Independence Day.’

Some, however, were not on board and questioned why the dark chocolate was placed on the bottom.

‘So basically a racist chocolate,’ wrote one person.

‘They are still divided into sections.’ wrote another.

We’ve reached out to the brand to ask for their thoughts on the matter. We will update the article once they respond.

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Ben & Jerry’s launches new Chocolate Cherry Garcia low calorie ice cream

The new ice cream
This looks AMAZING (Picture: Ben & Jerry’s)

Attention, Ben & Jerry’s fans: Your favourite ice cream brand has just released a new flavour, and it sounds dreamy.

The Chocolate Cherry Garcia comes with chunks of chocolate and cherry pieces all swirled into a rich chocolate ice cream. Amazing.

Ben & Jerry’s has launched the new chocolate ice cream as part of its Moo-phoria range, which is lower in calories than the regular ice cream, with each 100ml serving containing 117 calories.

The tubs also have 70% fat and no sugar substitutes.

Tsega Abate, Ben and Jerry’s’ ‘flavour guru’, said: ‘We think this new addition to our Moo-phoria light family will be music to the ears and the taste buds.

The chocolate ice cream
It comes as part of the Moo-phoria range (Picture: Ben & Jerry’s)

‘We’ve given our musically-inspired classic Cherry Garcia an all-new chocolatey twist giving ice cream fans a tub which is light on fat but loud on flavour.’

The new chocolatey tubs are due to launch this September, with each tub costing £5.49.

It will sit alongside other Moo-phoria flavours such as Mocha Fudge Brownie and Chocolate Cookie EnlightenMint.

In other Ben & Jerry’s news, B&M is selling vegan tubs for just £1.50.

The dairy-free ice cream is available in stores for a limited time only, with four mini cups coming in each box.

Currently, chocolate fudge brownie and chocolate chip cookie dough are available – two of the brand’s most popular flavours in vegan form.

B&M said: ‘It’s perfect if you’re a sweet toothed Vegan; with 4 cute mini cups.’

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Woman with Down’s Syndrome completes her dream of being a mail carrier

Woman with down syndrome seen in her postal service work uniform
Grace Flannery completed her dream of being mail carrier (Picture: Michael Flannery)

A woman with Down’s Syndrome is ecstatic after landing her dream job.

Grace Flannery from Ohio, U.S, always admired postal workers and for one day only, she got to be one.

The 21-year-old was able to tick off her life-long ambition thanks to the United States Postal Service.

During a four-hour shift, Grace geared up and followed the route of The Westwood Post Office.

Donning the light blue uniform and navy shorts made by her grandmother, Grace joined forces with mail carrier Melissa Tilton.

Together they completed the morning shift, walking around and delivering letters and packages in the designated neighbourhood.

And they did it all in 90-degree (Fahrenheit) heat.

Woman with down syndrome seen in her postal service work uniform
Pure joy (Picture: Michael Flannery)

‘I’m good at finding addresses and different roads,’ Grace explained to Yahoo.

Ahead of the shift, Grace prepared to meet the residents, hoping to chat to them.

‘I’m gonna say my name and I’ll shake their hands, and I’ll look them directly in the eye,’ she added.

She stayed true to her words, saying hello and introducing herself to everyone in her path. Her favourite moment was when she met a dog called Jay.

And it’s not her first time in the rodeo – Grace has mail experience. During school, she was on a paper route and also did an internship at a children’s hospital.

As part of her job, she delivered packages to 32 different departments in five different buildings.

Her partner for the day Melissa, was chuffed with Grace’s performance.

‘Grace’s attention to detail was spot-on — she did a great job matching the addresses on the letters to the correct homes,’ she said. ‘We need more carriers with her focus.’

Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service did not offer her a full-time job but who knows, maybe in the future.

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Blue-stalling is the dating phenomenon that will leave you romantically frustrated

metro illustrations
‘My feelings are just too strong, this is too frightening’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

The situationship (not quite nothing but not quite an official relationship) has long been something that we’ve debated.

Why does it exist? Who actually wants to be in this advanced state of dating limbo where nobody can truly settle down? And so on, and so on.

This paradigm sees daters in this endless halfway house of ‘seeing each other’, where no one is brave enough to make the first move or commit.

A more worrying trend, however, has hit the dating world hard in recent times; that of blue-stalling.

Where a situationship precedes the ever-important define-the-relationship talk (and sometimes lasts a lot longer than many of us would hope), blue-stalling is the act of one person in the partnership actively dating while claiming to be unready for any sort of label or commitment.

You may hang out all the time, send texts to each other saying good morning every day, and have met their parents. Perhaps you’re even making plans for the future. When you dig a bit deeper to see if they’d like to put a label on it, though, they retreat and say they never wanted anything serious.

Like the (made up) problem of blue balls, you’re left stuck at the starting line, having been given the go-ahead, only to question what was actually going on. It will also leave you feeling extremely blue.

This is what happened to Eilish, 27. ‘We dated for months, met each other’s friends, did all the typical coupley things – weekends together and such,’ she tells Metro.co.uk about her most recent boyfriend-not-boyfriend.

Ella Byworth
‘I didn’t want a relationship, even though I’m on this app for folks to find relationships’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘We talked about going away together, and he told me how much he cared about me and all that,’ she continues. ‘Then one day, seemingly out of the blue he completely flipped and said he was scared and not ready to be in a relationship.

‘It was so unexpected that I felt blindsided when it happened. It made me doubt everything he’d said, and I just felt I wasn’t enough.’

It’s not just a one-off, though. Relationship guru James Preece says that it’s something he encounters all the time when coaching people to find love.

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘As a dating coach I know it’s incredibly common. This has always happened, but dating sites/apps have made it worse.  That’s because people are often never really clear about why they are meeting in the first place. Are they going on a date, catching up, testing a friendship or simply hooking up?

‘As nobody really knows it can be a confusing time and nothing ever really gets decided.’

That will likely ring true for a number of people, with blurry lines across the meanings of the likes of exclusivity and commitment. Surely dating sites should make things easier, with people being able to state clearly and honestly that they’re just after a friend with benefit or sex partner? Not quite.

‘There’s also the temptation to keep flirting with others on the app “just in case.” Some people just don’t want to commit as they enjoy the chase more than the catch,’ says James.

‘They are perfectly happy withing having to decide, safe in the knowledge they can escape if necessary.’

Therein lies the problem with the whole thing. One person can swan about and feel no remorse about being dishonest. After all, they can then simply claim that they were never ready in the first place when anything more is asked of them.

‘I think people are on dating apps who don’t want to date, as ultimately it’s about power – the want to be wanted. There seems to be an epidemic of people not being ready to ‘commit’ for whatever reason – whether that’s because they think there’s someone better still out there, or they want to sleep around,’ says Eilish.

‘But people who do this toy with others’ emotions. You can ask all the right questions in the early days of dating, and they’ll answer all the right questions.’

It paints a bleak picture, which is probably because it is. Eilish has been blue-stalled by every man she’s dated seriously over the last four years, and your single friends will no-doubt have a laundry list of similar tales (unless they’re the blue-staller, that is).

So what do you do if you’re stuck in this continual cycle of edging towards something concrete before being told the person you were dating never wanted anything at all?

Here’s James’s advice: ‘If you’ve been seeing each other for a while it’s fine to want to take things more seriously. Emotions have come into play and you want to make sure they are being reciprocated. So if it’s worrying you, there’s nothing to lose by asking.

‘If they want to be an official couple then great, but if they need more time at least you’ll know. If weeks drag on to months with no change then it’s time for them to make a decision. You can’t go on not knowing, or you’ll end up resenting them.’

Honesty is always the best policy, which works both ways. Keep in mind, too, that if you’re having to beg someone for some sort of affirmation right at the start, then they might not be the one for you.

The old rules of ‘fool me once’ don’t really apply here either, as like Eilish says, you can’t pre-empt things going south when you’re being given all the right signals. All that’s left is to move on and get back on the horse (or the Hinge).

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A house that’s actually featured in Peaky Blinders is on the market for £550,000

The Peaky Blinders house
The house costs £550,000 (Picture: Rightmove)

Ever fancied living life like a real Peaky Blinder? Well, now you can – as a house used as a backdrop in the show is now on the market.

The listing comes ahead of the return of Peaky Blinders, with the latest season airing this Sunday.

The house is located in Northwich, Cheshire, and has featured in several Peaky Blinders scenes despite the show being set in Birmingham.

It has also been featured on Antiques Roadshow, Real Housewives of Cheshire, Coronation Street, and Sherlock Holmes.

The bedroom
It has four bedrooms (Picture: Rightmove)

The property is listed for £550,000 and is set in an ‘attractive countryside’.

It has been owned by the same family since the twelfth Century and they have lived there since the fifteenth Century.

The house features four bedrooms, all of which have high ceilings, original solid doors, locks and keys.

The breakfast room
It’s featured in the backdrop of Peaky Blinders (Picture: Rightmove)

There is also a spacious dining area with large windows and a sitting room with a fireplace, both of which come with book shelves.

Through a lounge area is a breakfast kitchen, and there’s also a ‘morning room’ which could become an extra breakfast room, sitting room, bedroom, TV room or office.

Or a bar, if you’re really wanting to live like a Peaky Blinder.

The amazing garden
It’s set in an ‘attractive’ countryside (Picture: Rightmove)

The property also features a large garden, with views of a fourteenth Century barn, a clock-tower and a nearby restaurant.

The bedrooms come with fitted wardrobes with one even featuring a dressing area and en-suite, and there’s a large attic also.

The property is currently being listed on Rightmove, and is being marketed by Yopa.

If you’ve got £550,000 to spare and fancy living life as a real Peaky Blinder, here’s your chance.

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