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A dog who has to wear sunglasses to go outside is looking for her forever home

Zoe in her doggles
Zoe looks adorable in her doggles (Picture: Saving Huey Foundation /Caters News)

A dog whose rare condition means she can only go out for walks when wearing special doggy sunglasses is looking for a forever home after being left at an animal shelter by her former owners.

Zoe, a five-year-old Akita, wears her special ‘doggles’ every time she goes out to play, due to health conditions that make her eyes very sensitive to daylight.

She can only go outside during the early morning hours or once the sun begins to set.

But Zoe actually loves wearing her sunglasses and heading outside – and she’s currently being fostered until she finds her forever home.

Zoe in her doggles
Her condition means she can’t look at sunlight (Picture: Saving Huey Foundation /Caters News)

The Saving Huey foundation, an animal shelter based in the US, is offering a lifetime supply of medication to any welcoming home who is happy adopt Zoey and give her a home for life.

Saving Huey Foundation owner, Tracy Lystra, 44, said: ‘Zoe’s conditions include Uveodermatologic Syndrome and Sebaceous Adenitis.

‘Zoe’s conditions cause blindness as well as a sensitivity to sunlight.

‘Zoe can only be outside during the early morning hours, or once the sun begins to set. She wears Doggles to help protect the pigment around her eyes.

‘Zoe has rehabbed around other dogs, including puppies and has done remarkably well.

Zoe in her sunglasses
She loves her sunglasses (Picture: Saving Huey Foundation /Caters News)

‘She is crate trained and lets her foster know when she has to use the restroom, Zoey loves toys and loves to play tug of war with other dogs or her human.

‘She doesn’t get to go outside much because of her conditions, but she loves it, so the ‘doggles’ really do afford her the freedom she deserves, she’s a very loving dog.

‘We understand that adopting a dog with Zoe’s condition is going to take a special person as well as a special commitment.

‘We will cover all of her medical costs for life, it’s our way of showing our gratitude to the person who chooses to adopt an animal with special needs.’

Zoe previously had a loving home until her owner was diagnosed with a terminal illness, which led to her being taken to a kennel with her brother.

Zoe at the rescue
She is looking for her forever home (Picture: Saving Huey Foundation /Caters News)

Tracy said: ‘Zoe had an owner who kept her condition under control with medication, her owner fell ill and was hospitalized with a terminal illness.

‘Although I do not know the steps that were taken by other family members to help Zoe, I do know that Zoe was not given her medications and was eventually taken to the shelter with her brother in horrific conditions.

‘The other dog that was brought in was quickly adopted, leaving Zoe to suffer from a rare condition that few knew about, let alone how to handle.’

Zoe is now looking for her own forever home.

Tracy said: ‘Zoe is a very loving dog, although she has a lot of health conditions, we hope that there’s a family out there who will be able to commit to giving her the life she deserves.

‘We will cover her medical costs for life, and the doggles are of course thrown in with any adoptee willing to help!’

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What’s the best emoji to show forgiveness? A church in Finland is crowdsourcing to find out

forgiveness emojis
Which one says ‘I’m sooo sorry’? (Picture: Getty)

You’ve done something silly, but not so serious that it warrants a face-to-face conversation. Quick, send an emoji to lighten the mood!

But which one do you use? After all, there isn’t really an emoticon to ask for forgiveness.

Yeah, the praying hands and hearts exist but they don’t quite hit the spot. So campaigners from Finland are trying to find the perfect little symbol to represent forgiveness.

A number of charitable and peace-building organisations, led by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland are crowdsourcing to find the ideal emoji (must be a quiet day in Finland).

They’ve asked their Instagram followers to come up with ideas to represent the biblical sentiment – an eye for an eye will make the world blind, after all.

Once the suggestions are pooled together, a proposal will be sent before the end of the year to the Unicode Consortium who decide what to include in standard emojis.

So who knows, in 2020, we might be texting over a yellow hand holding an olive branch.

Forgiveness emoji showing two plasters forming a cross on top of a red heart
Let’s repair this relationship (Picture: Forgivemoji)

Some of the suggestions include a band-aid forming a cross over a red heart, an olive branch on top of a heart and lots of hand-holding.

On the website created to raise awareness for the campaign, hailed #forgivemoji, it explains: ‘At the moment, there are 3,019 official emojis. There’s a kissing cat, an astronaut, a magnet and three kinds of vampires. But there’s no emoji that says I forgive you… for now!

‘This is something the #forgivemoji campaign wants to change! We want to highlight the importance of forgiveness and peace. Peace is not possible without forgiveness.’

And to that end, you can submit your own proposal or simply choose from the ideas floated.

Tuomo Pesonen, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, also added: ‘In our modern digital communication culture, emojis are an essential way of expressing human feelings beyond words.

‘We were surprised to realise that the official emoji selection has dozens of different cats and even two designs of zombies, but there isn’t an emoji for forgiveness.’

At the moment there are thousands of emojis, with regular updates reflecting society, and even really niche ones such as the aerial tramway and the input symbol for Latin capital letters (that’s the ABCD one).

Which made Finnish folks wonder why there was none for a universal emotion – being sorry.

Anyone with any strong ideas can submit their proposal on the #forgivemoji website.

Who knows, it might be one small way you change the world.

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Woman launches game-changing app to help new mums who get lonely at night

Mother holding her newborn baby in hospital room
‘I longed for somewhere to go through the night, where there would be people just like me’ (Picture: Getty)

Any new mum will know just how long and lonely nights can be. Just you and a hungry baby with hours of darkness stretching before you – it can be both exhausting and isolating.

Lifestyle blogger Ruth Crilly struggled with loneliness through the night when she had her second baby, which is why she decided to launch The Night Feed, an app that offers help, advice and connects mums during these difficult times.

The Night Feed includes exclusive content from Ruth herself, as well as talks from paediatricians, Q&As with midwives and stylists’ guides to the best breastfeeding-friendly clothes on the market.

Mother Feeding Baby on Sofa
‘I hope we can call together all the people who are lost in the darkness’ (Picture: Getty)

Another great feature of app is the feed tracker, which allows mums to note the time and length of each feed with how much was given – essentially a FitBit for your boobs.

It also features sleep-sounds to help calm and soothe babies (and mums) back to sleep, articles with a wealth of knowledge on relevant topics and the opportunity for users to connect via messaging, comments or posting questions.

‘The idea for The Night Feed came to me when I was feeding my second baby through the night, which is now over two years ago,’ explains Ruth.

‘I found my second baby harder; I felt more alone and isolated, I was more tired and I really struggled to stay awake throughout the feeds.

‘I longed for somewhere to go through the night, where there would be people just like me – knackered and overwhelmed but still retaining a sense of humour. I wanted to chat with them, share my experiences with them and know I wasn’t alone.

‘From here The Night Feed was born, and I hope we can call together all the people who are lost in the darkness and help them find the light.’

The app has already been really successful, reaching the number one spot on the App Store’s Lifestyle chart and securing one download every three minutes just days after launch.

So if you’re a mum facing endless sleepless nights – you might have just found your safe haven.

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Cats love their owners just as much as dogs do, study finds

Top view of a furry tabby cat lying on its owner's lap, enjoying being cuddled and purring.
Cats are loving animals (Picture: Getty)

For some reason, there’s this idea that dogs are warm and loving and cats are cold – but lots of cat owner know this simply isn’t true.

Cats are sweet animals who love to cuddle up with their owners – and research has proven that cats actually form emotional bonds with their owners as dogs do.

The new study has found that cats actually display the same main attachment styles as dogs and babies.

Most cats and kittens showed a ‘secure attachment’ with humans and were just as interested in their owners as their surroundings.

Only a minority of felines lived up to their reputations by avoiding their owners and showing signs of stress such as twitching their tails and licking their lips.

Study lead author Dr Kristyn Vitale, of Oregon State University in the United States, said: ‘Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof.

‘There’s long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave this way.

‘But the majority of cats use their owner as a source of security. Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed out.’

For the study, researchers had cats participate in a ‘secure base test’ – similar to those used to study baby and dog attachment behaviours.

The test is broken down into three two-minute phases. In the first, the cat is placed in a new room with their owner, followed by a stint alone, before being reunited.

After the caregiver returns from the two-minute absence, cats with secure attachment to the person are less stressed.

They continue to explore the room but still pay attention to the owner.

But cats with an insecure attachment show signs of stress and either stay away from their caregiver or cling to them ‘ambivalently’ by sitting motionlessly in their lap.

The US researchers tested both kittens and adult cats.

Behavioural experts watched recordings of the tests and classified the feline actions with similar criteria used to assess infants and dogs.

Of the 70 kittens tested, almost two-thirds were ‘securely attached’ with the remainder categorised as ‘insecurely attached.’

The researchers then enrolled the felines in a six-week ‘socialisation’ training course to see they could be taught attachment.

The proportion of securely and insecurely attached cats did not budge.

Dr Vitale said: ‘Once an attachment style has been established between the cat and its caregiver, it appears to remain relatively stable over time, even after a training and socialisation intervention.’

Cats, like most domesticated animals, retain several juvenile traits into maturity and remain dependent on humans for care, according to Dr Vitale.

The researchers tested 38 cats aged one year or older and found the results virtually mirrored the kittens’ behaviour.

Again, almost two-thirds were ‘securely attached’ to their owners and a third were insecure.

Dr Vitale added: ‘In both dogs and cats, attachment to humans may represent an adaptation of the offspring-caretaker bond

‘Attachment is a biologically relevant behaviour. Our study indicates that when cats live in a state of dependency with a human, that attachment behaviour is flexible and the majority of cats use humans as a source of comfort.’

Of course, with such a small group, further study is needed but it does tell us more about how some cats see their owners.

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How to care for your lawn in autumn and which vegetables and flowers should you plant in September?

Flowers in rows at a garden center.
So many flowers to choose from, so little time left in September. (Picture: Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Caring for your lawn during autumn and knowing which vegetables and flowers are best to plant in September is not as tricky as it might sound.

The autumn equinox took place at 8.50am this morning, meaning that today is the first official day of autumn this year.

September is traditionally the month of colourful harvest festivals and a celebration of the crops that have grown successfully over the spring and summer, however autumn also marks an important time in any gardener’s calendar when it comes to cultivating their growing spaces and preparing for next year’s vegetable crop or flowers.

Which vegetables and flowers should you plant in September?

National gardening and growing expert Carol Klein, who is a Gardeners’ World presenter, believes that autumn is the perfect time of the year to start planting fruit and planning which vegetables to grow next year.

‘Those people who are interested in growing but haven’t taken the plunge yet, could be thinking now is the right time to start,’ Carol said.

September is a fantastic time to start to plan ahead for winter harvest and next spring, with leafy veg  like cabbages and spinach, as well as peas and broad beans all benefiting from being planted this month while the soil is still warm.

Radishes and turnips are also good to plant in September, as are onions and garlic.

Mustard leaf growing
Mustard leaf seeds benefit from being sowed in autumn (Picture: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

If you have a greenhouse, you can sow seeds for mustard leaf and winter lettuce, but as with all veg that will be growing through the winter months, make sure you cover them in fleece if it’s going to be frosty.

When it comes to sowing flower seeds in September, the best ones to choose are those which fall under the category of ‘hardy annuals’. These include marigolds, cornflowers and poppies, all of which should bloom in spring if planted in autumn.

Cornflowers and red poppies in a meadow
Cornflowers and red poppies are good flowers to plant in September (Picture: PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images)

How to care for your lawn in autumn

Your lawn will need a bit of care at this time of the year, especially if you want your grassy areas to look their best next year.

To care for your lawn during autumn, make sure to rake any leaves up and compost them. Leaves make a fertile compost called leaf mould that you will be thankful for when you’re planting again next year.

Gardener Raking Up Fallen Autumn Leaves
Rake up leaves and use them as compost throughout autumn (Picture: Getty)

If your lawn needs mowing, make sure to raise the blades of your mower so as not to cut the grass too short and as lawn roots like the soil to be free draining, aerate your lawn when possible, either with a machine or with a garden fork pushed in as far as you can. You can then fill in the holes with a gritty compost to aid drainage.

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Asda launches six gin-infused mince pies for £2

The gin infused mince pies
Gin-infused mince pies? Yes please (Picture: Asda)

If you’re excited for Christmas and you absolutely love gin, you’ll be over the moon to know that Asda is releasing some new Mince Pies infused with Sloe Gin.

The gin-infused mince pies come filled with spiced vine fruit and a splash of sloe gin, encased in an all-butter pastry, topped with a sweet sugar dusting. Yum.

The mince pies cost £2 for a pack of six, and come as part of a new range of mince pies which includes Extra Special Mince Pies, Extra Special Nut Topped Mince Pies, Free From Iced topped Mince Pies and Asda Mince Pies.

An Asda spokesperson said: ‘We know our customers love festive treats and we’re constantly looking for ways we can make Brits’ favourite products new and exciting each season.

‘This Christmas, we wanted to take Brits’ love of gin and infuse it into their favourite festive nibble, making the pies the perfect treat for a winter evening!’

Traditional British Christmas Pastry Dessert Home Baked Mince Pies with Apple Raisins Nuts Filling Golden Shortcrust Powdered on Vintage Metal Plate Dark Blue Snowy Background Top View Copy Space
Christmas is coming! (Picture: Getty)

Sainsbury’s is also already selling Christmas foods, including both mince pies and Christmas puddings.

The deep filled mince pies, which are sold with six in a box, are priced at £1.

Three different sizes of Christmas puddings (100g, 400g and 800g) are also available, priced at £1.20, £3.00 and £4.50 respectively – alongside a Taste The Difference Cognac-laced pudding.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘Like many retailers, we start to stock some festive products in advance of the main Christmas period and our mince pies are already flying off the shelves.’

Sure, it’s a little early for all of these Christmas snacks – but hey, its better than being super late.

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World Reflexology Week: Debunking myths around the pressure practice

debunking myths around reflexology
What do your feet say about you? (Picture: Metro illustration)

For those not clued up, reflexology is based on the idea that applying different pressures to the feet (or hands) can give an insight into the workings of bodily systems and organs.

Essentially it acts like a map, with various body parts responding to different pressure points on the feet.

According to the practice, the left foot corresponds to the organs found on the left side of the body and the right foot to the organs on the other side.

There are a number of theories as to how reflexology works, from nerve impulse theories to the idea that pain can be reduced through touch.

While some studies have suggested potential benefits, a lack of extensive scientific research has often left people questioning whether it actually works.

Susan Birbeck, a qualified reflexologist, spoke to Metro.co.uk about the ancient practice – helping to dispel some of the myths around it, once and for all.

Foot reflexology chart with accurate description of the corresponding internal organs and body parts. Vector illustration over white background.
How different part of the feet match up to different areas of the body (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

What are the reflexology myths?

Myth 1: Reflexology can cure diseases or diagnose

Perhaps the most important thing to take away from the alternative therapy is that professional reflexologists do not claim to cure or diagnose medical conditions.

‘Obviously we are not allowed to diagnose things,’ Susan says, ‘but you can tell when things are not right.

‘For example, people have abdominal issues, the reflex point might feel a bit tender.’

While reflexology cannot be used as a substitute for medicine, it can be used alongside treatments.

Studies have previously shown possible benefits of reflexology, particularly in reducing pain, enhancing relaxation as well as helping with anxiety and depression.

Myth 2: Reflexology is a fad

Modern reflexology is based on an ancient form of therapy. There’s even evidence to suggest it was being used in China as far back as 2330 B.C.

So it certainly isn’t a modern wellness fad.

Myth 3: It’s not suitable for children

‘Babies can have reflexology as well – I do it on my grandson actually,’ Susan says.

‘He loves it and it relaxes him. Obviously we don’t go as deep on a child but you can use it for calming babies, or if they have a problem, but we need to get the “ok” from the GP, because we are not doctors.’

Myth 4: It can’t work because there is little science behind it

Despite there being a lack of scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness of reflexology, there are a handful studies which have shown promising things for the alternative therapy.

One five-year-long study, spanning from 2005-2010, looked into the effects of reflexology on women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy.

Results found that participants who received reflexology treatments saw significant improvements (compared to the control group) in their ability to walk, carry shopping and climb stairs.

‘I would say you don’t know until you’ve tried it,’ Susan adds.

‘People are sceptical, but there’s more and more GPs believing in alternative therapies. It’s worth giving it a go.’

woman having her foot rubbed
Reflexology can reduce pain, encourage relaxation and help with anxiety (Picture: Getty Images/Image Source)

What is reflexology good for?

Reflexology can be helpful for treating a whole host of problems, including stress, anxiety, back pain, migraines, poor digestion, IBS, respiratory problems, asthma, headache, bladder problems, period pain and more.

Susan specialises in lymphatic drainage reflexology as well as fertility reflexology.

Speaking about the latter, Susan said: ‘It was developed by a lady called Barbara Scott. It’s been around a few years with ongoing research, and basically we [reflexologists] work alongside the menstrual cycle.’

In terms of helping with conception, not only can reflexology can help with relaxation and reducing stress, but it can also help with other elements such as hormones.

‘We may feel things, such as cysts or endometriosis. Again, we are not allowed to diagnose, but we can refer to a GP,’ Susan adds.

‘Once a person does get pregnant we can support the pregnancy as well.’

Susan says that someone who is pregnant and has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) might have a progesterone deficiency, and there’s a risk of miscarrying due to the lack of progesterone. She says reflexology can be used to stimulate the ovaries, which produce progesterone.

‘For up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, we will do a treatment plan until the placenta takes over – to help with progesterone. Reflexology stimulates the ovaries.’

Lymphatic drainage reflexology focuses on lymphatic reflexes on the feet, and helps to stimulate the lymphatic system and the flow of the fluid – which can result in a reduction of swelling.

Susan adds: ‘People who may have had breast cancer and the lymph nodes are damaged, they can get swelling in the arm or the leg. We work on the feet for draining the fluid away.

‘We measure before and after treatment and get really good results. If it was arm, we would measure 19cm up from the nail bed and then a further 2cm and then every 4cm to the top of the arm.

‘Then we work the feet and then we re-measure after treatment to see if [swelling] has gone down.’

Who uses reflexology?

Susan’s daughter Gemma Birbeck, founder and director of Leuly Photography and PR, said: ‘When I was younger and anything was wrong, my mum, always used to say, “let me do your feet, that will help”‘

‘I was so sceptical until I finally let her do my feet when I was older. Now, I have it every week.

‘I’ve suffered from migraines for a while. When I realise I’m getting one, I book in for some reflexology treatment. She works certain reflex points on my feet and I tend not to get one after that. Sometimes, I will still have a dull headache, but nothing like the pain I experience with a migraine.

‘I also suffered painful periods after childbirth. A few years ago, she began performing a certain type of reflexology on me and now I don’t experience anywhere near as much pain.’

Lisa Phillips, a body coach and author, said: ‘I love reflexology because, not only do I find it so relaxing, but I know I am also helping my body at the same time. I used to suffer with digestive issues and the reflexology would always help.

‘A good reflexologist will be able to pin point the areas of your body that need some assistance and use their hands to clear any blockages/blocked energy.

‘When living in Singapore, I used to visit a blind reflexologist who was amazing. Within only a few minutes he would inform me where my body was struggling and I would feel fabulous once he had done his magic.

‘You may feel a little pain while he was working on the pressure points, but after a while, you just get used to it.’

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Man sold home and lives with parents so he can sell rechargeable sex toys


Remember when ShagAtUni.com floated around the news for advocating casual campus sex a few years ago?

Well, the brains behind the almost-defunct hook-up website (now there’s Tinder for that) has latched onto a new business – sex toys.

Tom Thurlow claims to have sold his £325,000 Gloucestershire home to fund his passion project – demystifying the stigma of masturbation.

The 29-year-old eschewed a roof over his head (okay fine, he stayed at his parents’) and spent the last three years working on his brand.

And so, he’s come up with Ricky.com which prioritises toys for women, scrapping all devices requiring mains or replaceable battery power and only offering vibrators with recharging abilities.

The three years leading up to the launch of the site has been anything but plain sailing for Tom who’s had some legal issues with rival Ann Summers with the naming of one of the vibrators.

Basically, he can’t use the word ‘rampant’ when trading his trademark product Ricky Rabbit. In that time, Tom was also swindled out of thousands of pounds by a con artist.

With such a tumultuous few years behind him, Tom is now ready to release his work to the world, so we decide to have a chat with him.

Tom’s been focusing on female pleasure and working to destigmatise it. But there are also options for men.

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Sex toys enhance masturbation for both men and women so of course, Ricky.com has some great toys for men on offer (my personal favourite is the ManWand).

‘I have focused a lot of my time on sourcing and marketing female toys only because it’s my opinion that there’s still a long way to go in the battle of normalising masturbation and self-pleasure for women, more so than with men.

‘I really want to help introduce vibrators to women who have perhaps never tried one, don’t really understand them or even to those who are yet to experience the kind of “mind-blowing” orgasm that many women can only achieve through a really powerful electronic device.’

To advertise the products, Tom visited the University of Gloucestershire and asked students to trial the stuff, giving it away for free to those who offered testimony.

When asked how he conducts research into female masturbation, as a man, he tells Metro.co.uk he uses his personal experience with the opposite sex.

‘I am a man, but I’m a man that has tried to watch and learn what a woman enjoys in the bedroom (or at least I’ve tried to!).

‘When I started developing the product range. I understood that it’s not a case of one product fits all.

‘Some women want strong vibrations for internal or external pleasure. My bullet packs a powerful motor to send strong rumblings for a vibe of its size.

‘But other women need something more delicate which is why I designed an ergonomic ridge within the handle that can be pressed against the clitoris for lighter vibrations to enjoy.’

Tom's room, complete with a mattress on the floor and boxes of sex toys on the side
The room he works from in his parent’s house also serves as his bedroom (Picture: Tom Thurlow)

Tom enjoyed the successes of ShagAtUni which allowed him to buy a house, a car as well as luxury holidays.

But he packed all that up and put it into his new business as well as into basic necessities and the odd Nando’s, he tells us.

He also sleeps on the office floor in his parent’s house – but it has a shower.

‘This is certainly not an easy life for me and it’s taken a massive strain on my mental well being but it was my decision to go into this and I’m very proud of the products I sell and why I’m selling them,’ Tom says.

‘My promise in launching Ricky.com is to be unapologetic for promoting masturbation.

‘I ultimately want to de-sensitise the whole activity of buying and using a sex toy, and if I can do my bit to help the environment by preventing the unnecessary and wasteful use of harmful disposable batteries along the way, then that’s fantastic.’

Tom’s toys start from £12.99 and go up to £44.99. You can find the full range on the Ricky.com website.

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McDonald’s is launching an Indian chicken burger with garlic naan as the bun

McDonalds to launch Indian chicken burger with garlic naan bun
This is not a drill (Pictures: McDonald’s/Getty)

Just when we thought McDonald’s couldn’t possibly improve its menu, the fast food chain has announced it will be launching a new Indian-inspired product.

The delicious new creation?

An Indian chicken sandwich served with a garlic naan bun.

The brand new burger will be made up of two Chicken Selects with an Indian-style relish, garlic mayo, red onion, lettuce and cucumber. Delicious.

Instead of a traditional sesame bun, two small garlic naans will sandwich the filling.

Set to arrive in McDonald’s stores on Wednesday 25 September, customers will be able to get their hands on the limited edition burger until 22 October.

The new treat will set hungry customers back £4.19 for an individual burger, or £5.89 if they opt for it in a medium meal.

The mouthwatering new item runs as part of McDonald’s Great Tastes of the World promotion, which explores different flavours from around the globe.

Other burgers on offer in the promotion include old favourites such as the French Stack with garlic mayo, as well as the Jamaican chicken with a spicy jerk sauce.

Maccy D’s will also be releasing a new version of its Canadian Melt – the renamed Canadian Stack (available from 9 to 22 October) – which was last seen on the menu in 2015. It’s set to feature a new bun, maple BBQ sauce, two beef burgers, cheese, and smokey bacon.

Of the new products, the Indian chicken burger is more forgiving for those counting calories, coming in at 590 calories compared to 696 for a Canadian Stack.

We’re lovin’ the sound of it.

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Woman who spent 20 years hiding amputated leg finally learns to love her body

Lianne posing in the mirror
Lianne was once bullied as a child (Picture: SWNS)

A mother-of-two who spent almost 20 years hiding her amputated right leg has decided to bare all – and is now confident enough to wear dresses and bikinis in public.

36-year-old Lianne Forrest was born with spina bifida, and made the decision to have her leg amputated below the knee at the age of nine, following name-calling including ‘squint foot’.

She struggled to come to terms with the fact she was an amputee and would hide her leg from view, wearing long skirts and knee-high socks.

At age 18, she had her leg further amputated above the knee, due to developing osteomyelitis – a rare but serious infection of the bone.

Now, she’s decided to embrace her body after being fitted with a new prosthetic leg 12 months ago.

Lianne, who lives in Tarleton near Preston, has worn prosthetics from the NHS for most of her life but still hated looking in the mirror. She felt embarrassed by her leg.

Lianne posing in the mirror
Lianne had spent 20 years hiding her amputated leg (Picture: Dan Rowlands / SWNS.com)

A life-changing moment came last year, when her 12-year-old twin boys, Finlay and Alfie, started secondary school.

Lianne, who is married to Adam, 40, was determined not to let her sons suffer any abuse at the hands of bullies because of the way she looked.

The teaching assistant was lovingly told by Finlay: ‘mum you’re part robot now’ after being fitted with a metal c-leg – a prosthesis that gives mobility and independence – by Ottobock which became available on the NHS following a trial.

Lianne decided to bare all and posted a photo of her wearing her new prosthetic on Instagram in August last year and hasn’t looked back since.

She purchased a floral patterned cover for her prosthetic leg from a company in Madrid called UNYQ for £1,400 which gave her that extra little bit of confidence.

Lianne showing off her leg
She was born with spina bifida (Picture: Dan Rowlands / SWNS.com)

Lianne said: ‘I hated the fact that I was an amputee. I’d never really met anyone of my own age who was an amputee.

‘There were times when I was at an all-time low, I hated myself for only having one leg. I used to dream of having a prosthetic that would look as real as my other leg.

‘Everybody who knows me knows I’ve got a prosthetic leg but they have just never seen it.

‘I was always bothered about what people might be thinking. I felt trapped behind my leg but then I decided enough was enough.

‘The main factor was me accepting it and coming to terms with it after all these years, I was no longer able to hide it as well with this new prosthesis.

‘I had to stop hiding to feel happy with myself, to stop hating myself and feel proud. Also my main concern was that I had to be comfortable with it for the sake of my boys.

Lianne showing off her leg in a skirt
She now wears clothes that show it off (Picture: Dan Rowlands / SWNS.com)

‘I didn’t want them to go through their school years as I did taking comments like I did. I had to be proud for them to be proud and see that it’s accepted. It was time.

‘I didn’t like the way I looked, I didn’t like the way I walked. It feels like I have come out to everyone.’

Lianne is now glowing with confidence and describes how she is ‘thankful’ to her younger self after giving doctors the green light to remove her right leg.

She has spent the last 12 months embracing her look and has received vouchers from clothing brands after posting photos of herself on social media.

Lianne took the brave step to stand in the sea wearing a bikini for the first time while on a family holiday to Barbados in December last year.

Lianne Forrest, 36, a leg amputee at home in Preston, Lancashire. A mother-of-two who spent almost 20 years hiding her amputated right leg has decided to bare all - and is even now confident enough to wear dresses and BIKINIS in public. See SWNS story SWLEleg. Teaching assistant Lianne Forrest, 36, decided to embrace her ?unique? look after being fitted with a robotic leg 12 months ago. She was born with spina bifida but made the brave decision to have her leg amputated below the knee aged just nine following name calling including ?squint foot?. Lianne struggled to come to terms with the fact she was now an amputee and would hide her leg from view, wearing long skirts and knee-high socks. Her anguish was further compounded when she developed osteomyelitis - a rare but serious infection of the bone - and later had her right leg amputated above the knee aged 18. Lianne, who lives in Tarleton near Preston, Lancs., has worn prosthetics from the NHS for most of her life but still hated looking in the mirror and felt embarrassed by her leg.
She’s finally embracing her body (Picture: Dan Rowlands / SWNS.com)

The clothes she wears have also dramatically changed with her wardrobe packed full of dresses, skirts and sandals.

Lianne even applied to join a modelling agency and last week attended a casting for a short film with Zebedee Management, which is for people with differences.

‘The holiday to Barbados I will remember forever, the holiday my leg came out abroad, from stepping onto the sand to jet skiing with my husband,’ she added.

‘This new C-leg gives me the freedom to keep up with my family, be more active, attend the gym. It does a lot of the work for me.’

Lianne decided to give something back to The Limbless Association at Royal Preston Hospital by scaling Mount Snowdon and has so far raised more than £2,000.

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ABBA fans, rejoice: A Mamma Mia! themed dining experience is coming to London

A picture of Mamma Mia!
Tickets cost £173 (Picture: Helen Maybanks; Rex)

If you’re ABBA’s biggest fan and you’ve seen Mamma Mia! more times than you can remember, we’ve found the perfect event for you.

The Mamma Mia! Party is taking place in London at The O2 from 22 September.

It features entertainment with an ‘immersive theatrical performance’ taking place for around four hours, as well as a three-course sit down meal with a menu inspired by Mamma Mia!.

The event description reads: ‘Created by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, Mamma Mia! The Party is a new and unique entertainment experience that puts you in the heart of the action.

‘Over the course of four hours, you’ll enjoy a spectacular show, a three-course gourmet Mediterranean meal and an ABBA disco all in one unforgettable evening.

A picture of the ABBA night
It’s for the die hard ABBA fans (Picture: Helen Maybanks)

‘Feel the Mamma Mia world come alive through The O2’s purpose-built Greek taverna, where you’ll meet taverna owner Nikos and his family as their story unfolds in a glorious night of singing, dancing, feasting and fun.’

While the evening sounds amazing, it doesn’t come cheap, at £173 per ticket.

But this does include the three course meal and the entertainment, so it’s not too bad – and it surely won’t be too much for the ultimate ABBA fan.

You won’t get to choose your seats, either, but the venue does say that they will automatically assign you the best seats possible, and if you order more than one you will be sat together.

So, if this Mamma Mia! dinner party is your thing, you should probably book ASAP, to avoid being seated right at the back.

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Obesity is ‘not down to a lack of willpower’

Obesity isn’t a personal failing (Picture: Metro / Getty Images)

Obesity is ‘not simply down to an individual’s lack of willpower’, says new research, suggesting that all that fat-shaming really won’t do anyone any good.

A new report from the British Psychological Society argues that people become overweight or obese not due to a personal failing or bad decision-making, but because of a complex combination of factors, including genetics, sedentary lifestyles, responses to stress and trauma from childhood, and a lack of healthy food choices being available.

The experts behind the study say we need to change the way obesity is viewed and spoken about, such as referring to ‘people with obesity’ or ‘people living with obesity’ rather than ‘obese people’.

The report says: ‘Obesity is not simply down to an individual’s lack of willpower.

‘The people who are most likely to be an unhealthy weight are those who have a high genetic risk of developing obesity and whose lives are also shaped by work, school and social environments that promote overeating and inactivity.

‘People who live in deprived areas often experience high levels of stress, including major life challenges and trauma, often their neighbourhoods offer few opportunities and incentives for physical activity and options for accessing affordable healthy food are limited.

‘Psychological experiences also play a big role – up to half of adults attending specialist obesity services have experienced childhood adversity.

‘Whilst obesity is caused by behaviour, those behaviours do not always involve ‘choice’ or ‘personal responsibility’.’

So all those fat-shaming people who claim people who are obese are just ‘lazy’ are overlooking the real causes of weight gain, and are unlikely to be helping.

The report said that we need to address obesity not by placing blame on individuals, but by changing the ‘environment in which people find it easier not to become obese in the first place.’

Dr Angel Chater, one of the authors of the report, said: ‘Adult obesity levels in England increased by 18% between 2005 and 2017, and there were similar increases in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

‘This cannot be explained by a sudden loss of motivation across the four nations of the UK.

‘The increase in obesity can in part be attributed to changes in the food supply and physical activity environment.

‘To address obesity, we need an understanding of all its causes, biological, psychological and social, and use approaches to behaviour change for prevention and weight management that are informed by psychology.’

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Woman’s rare type of cancer makes her look pregnant

Jemily Brown in hospital with her husband Tim and daughter Mayana a week after her huge operation
Jemily Brown in hospital with her husband Tim and daughter Mayana a week after her huge operation (Picture: Caters News)

Jemily Brown, 35, is often mistaken for being pregnant.

The mum-of-one isn’t carrying a child. She’s not bloated, either. What looks like a baby bump is actually due to pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare type of cancer that causes her abdomen to swell.

Jemily was diagnosed with the condition in September 2017, after scans detected fluid building up around her abdomen after a period of feeling unwell.

The tumour, known as ‘jelly belly’, was removed in a 12-hour operation in October 2017.

In total Jemily had ten organs removed: large bowel, part of her small bowel, appendix, spleen, umbilicus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, stripped diaphragm and omentum.

In September 2018 she was told that the ‘jelly’ tumour had begun to grow again. Jemily underwent a course of chemotherapy, but in January 2019 was told this had not been successful.

A woman who is constantly mistaken for being pregnant has spoken out to reveal her baby bump is a rare cancer
Jemily’s tumour means she is often mistaken for being pregnant (Picture: Caters News)

Her only hope is an organ transplant, which will see her stomach, small intestines, large bowel, and pancreas removed along with the tumour.

The procedure has only been carried out 14 times in the world.

Jemily’s family is now raising money to support her during treatment, covering the costs of transport to and from hospital as well as the expenses of recovery.

Jemily said: ‘One of the hardest things for me is how rare this condition is. It’s uncertain territory a lot of the time.

‘The initial surgery took a lot away from me but was worth doing for the 14 months I had afterwards but it now causes me daily problems. I have to take dozens of pills a day and can’t eat solid food anymore.

‘I was in a queue at the bank and the cashier looked at me and asked ‘when’s the baby due?’

‘I said I wasn’t actually pregnant and she got very flustered.

 Jemily Brown in recovery after her huge operation at hospital in Basingstoke
She’s had 10 organs removed and still needs further surgery (Picture: Caters News)

‘I’ve become far more blasé about it. I don’t take it to heart as much, it doesn’t make me cross these days like it used to.

‘It’s not something you ever want to go through but at the same time it’s brought us closer, we definitely appreciate our time together.

‘I’m on edge all the time waiting for the phone call from the hospital.’

Husband Tim, 40, added: ‘Before the operation people came up to us and asked ‘when’s it due?’.

‘Just before she had the operation Jemily and I went out to pick up a new wedding ring as I didn’t want her original one damaged in hospital.

‘The shop assistant looked at us and asked if were getting married because Jemily was having a baby. I was speechless.

‘Jemily said ‘it’s a tumour and it’s coming out on Tuesday’.

‘It’s been pretty life-changing. You have to adapt to what is normal though.

‘She’s kept a positive outlook in pretty horrendous circumstances and she tries to remain positive.

‘It’s hard though to know what she’s gone through and what could still come.

‘Despite that we still try to enjoy things and try and live each day to the full.’

MORE: Obesity is ‘not down to a lack of willpower’

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Couples are paying £50K for wedding photoshoots even though they’re not married

Pre-wedding shoot
Tower Bridge is a hot spot for pre-wedding shoots (Picture: Alex Beckett)

A stunning bride, an immaculate groom, an idyllic backdrop – the perfect photos to remember your wedding day forever.

But there’s one catch – these couples haven’t even had their wedding day.

More and more couples are forking out thousands of pounds to take part in pre-wedding photoshoots. While engagement shoots aren’t that unusual, taking photos in your full wedding gear despite not actually being married yet is a little bit out there.

Pre-wedding shoot
Isn’t it bad luck to see the bride in her wedding dress before the big day? (Picture: Alex Beckett)

Alex Beckett is a London-based photographer who says that the capital is one of the most popular locations for these shoots, and says couples flock from all over the world to get the perfect snaps.

A favourite spot for couples is Tower Bridge. Big Ben glittering is the background as the reflection from the streetlights glint off the Thames – pretty romantic as long as you ignore the fumes from the traffic and the angry commuter trying to get past you.

Alex says the sets of photos can start from £500 but that some are willing to pay up to £50,000, depending on what he needs for the shoot.

Pre-wedding shoot
Some couples pay up to £50,000 for epic European shoots (Picture: Alex Beckett)

And some couples aren’t content with one location. Shoots can involve glamorous locations right across Europe – Alex has even accompanied a couple to the Italian Lakes to get that fairytale shot.

Other favoured locations include the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and some shoots include speedboats and vintage cars. (The £50K price tag is making more sense now).

Pre-wedding shoot
Classic architecture makes for a timeless image (Picture: Alex Beckett)
Pre-wedding shoot
Want good lighting? Try the Northern Lights (Picture: Alex Beckett)

Alex now does two or three of the pre-wedding shoots every week – and the demand for the new trend is growing as couples do their best to show off their love before their big day.

In some ways it makes sense, on your actual wedding day there might be too many distractions to get the perfect pictures – so doing the shoot beforehand could mean you look more relaxed.

But when the average wedding in the UK costs more than £30,000, the extra expense of a pre-wedding shoot might just blow your budget.

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Curious raccoons interrupt couple’s wedding photoshoot

LOW RES Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
Zach and Sarah’s first look wedding photos were interrupted by some unexpected guests (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)

Whether it’s dogs or deer, the key to a memorable wedding photoshoot is an unexpected guest.

Face it: If your gorgeous woodland pictures aren’t the subject of a photobomb from a nosy animal, you’re missing out.

Luckily for Zach Levenberg and Sarah Schaaf, a group of raccoons took an interest in their ‘first look’ photos (those are snaps capturing the moment the groom sees his wife in her wedding dress for the first time).

Sarah and Zach had headed to the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in the hopes of a moment of quiet.

As they posed for photographer Kathryn White, some raccoons wandered out of the bushes and into the shot.

Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
The couple were posing in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park when a group of raccoons showed up (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)
LOW RES Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
Thankfully the uninvited guests were friendly (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)

Luckily the raccoons came in peace.

Kathryn wrote on Instagram: ‘Every part of their day was perfect, but there were some definite highlights… like, when we were taking portraits in the park, and a family of friendly raccoons approached us.

‘I was freaked out at first, because they’re usually vicious and don’t hang out in the daytime… but apparently city raccoons are super used to people, and just wanted to get in on some of the portraits!

‘It was one of those moments I’ll never forget… a good omen, I think!’

Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
Maybe they wanted a closer look at Sarah’s Marchesa dress? Kathryn White Photography
Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
After the couple moved, the raccoons simply followed them along the path before scurrying away (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)
 Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
What a magical moment (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)

Kathryn suggested leaving the area to escape the raccoons, but when Zach and Sarah stepped away, the intruders simply followed along. Clearly they were really keen to be involved… or they just wanted to take a closer look at Sarah’s gorgeous Marchesa gown.

The couple decided the raccoons simply wanted to give the marriage their blessing. Agreed.

The resulting photos are like something out of a Disney film, and have since been shared thousands of times.

Anyone else crossing their fingers and hoping some cute animals will show up on their wedding day?

LOW RES Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
Even without the raccoons, the photos are lovely (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)
Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
But photobombing animals do make photoshoots more memorable (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)
Raccoons photobomb wedding photos
Congrats to the happy couple! (Picture: Kathryn White Photography)

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What I Rent: Jamie, £895 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Brighton

What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment
Jamie rents a one-bedroom flat in central Brighton for £895 a month (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)

Have you noticed a load of Londoners ditching the city and racing over to Brighton?

Blame the delightful nightlife, the excellent fish and chips, or all the influencers buying fancy property by the sea, but Brighton is increasingly seeming like the place to go if you’re priced out of the capital.

But is it actually a wonderful place to be? And is renting there that much cheaper?

As part of our weekly series, What I Rent, we hung out with Jamie, a creative consultant who rents in Brighton’s centre.

Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
He’s lived in Brighton for 12 years and has been in the flat for four (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)

Hi, Jamie! How much do you pay to live here?

Rent is £895 per month, bills are roughly £200 per month including council tax, utilities, and internet.

What do you get for what you pay?

An open plan living room and kitchen, one bedroom, and one bathroom.

Do you think you have a good deal?

I think it’s a good deal for central Brighton but I don’t want to think about comparing it to the rest of the UK! I guess it’s expensive in comparison (apart from London).

Why do you live in Brighton?

I’ve lived in Brighton for 12 years and in this flat for just over four years. I came here for work and have not looked back. It’s an amazing vibrant city where anything goes!

Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
The creative consultant is a big fan of statement lighting (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)

Are you happy where you live?

Yes, I love it. It’s in a great location in the centre of the city, I have bars, clubs, restaurants and shops literally a few seconds walk away, the seafront and beach are less than five minutes away.

I love being in a cool busy city, but the flat is also quiet and chilled (except when friends come round to party).

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Yes, it’s a well laid out space and the large front window and high ceilings make it feel spacious and airy.

There’s not a massive amount of storage space, but that helps me keep the place minimal and clutter-free – which I like.

Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Everyone needs their own name spelled out somewhere (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)

How did you find the flat?

Through a letting agent – you have to be quick in Brighton if you like somewhere. I was the first to view and signed up immediately.

What’s it like living alone?

I’m an only child so I’m used to having my own space/ I love living on my own as I have more freedom in the place, if I get bored or lonely I’ll pop across the road to a coffee shop, and I have a great friendship group so there is always something to do.

Failing that, there’s always Grindr!

How have you made the flat feel like home?

All the furniture is mine, I’ve invested in some art and I’m slightly lighting obsessed. I’ve used automated lighting throughout the flat that enables me to create various moods, my favourite of which is the 25 LED light tiles that can be synced to music (it’s great for parties).

Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Those lights change colour and can be timed to music (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)

Are there any issues with the place?

No major issues – it can be a little cold in the winter, but the landlady agreed to an extra radiator that, along with a Dyson fan, has sorted that out.

Are you planning to move again?

No immediate plans to move – I’d always want to remain centrally located.

Have you considered buying a place?

Yes I’d love to own a place in Brighton but financially that’s just not going to work currently!

Same. Shall we have a look around?

Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
The living room, complete with plenty of cushions (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
We like a nice pop of blue (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
We imagine Jamie sits there and reads (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Look, here are some books to confirm that theory (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Here’s the kitchen. Note the fancy lights under the cabinets (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
And a magnetic knife strip. Posh. (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
There’s a decent amount of storage (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Here’s the bedroom (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
For someone who lives in Brighton, Jamie has a lot of London references in his flat (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
But where are the towels? (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Handy for planning out your commute… if you live in London (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)
Metro, What I Rent: Jamie Greaves, of Brighton, East Sussex, and his one-bedroom apartment.
Toothbrush by a reed diffuser. Very nice. (Picture: Andrew Hasson/Metro.co.uk)

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property.

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

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Kylie Jenner announces Balmain beauty collaboration – and it’s going to drop at Paris Fashion Week

Kylie Jenner with Balmain
The Instagram post suggests the collection will drop this week (Picture: Kylie Jenner/Balmain)

Kylie Jenner is partnering on a new line of cosmetics with Balmain – according to an announcement on Instagram.

The 22-year-old reality TV star turned beauty mogul posted a gorgeous picture on her Instagram page, posing with Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing.

‘Paris is always a good idea,’ she wrote in the caption.


‘Surprise.. KYLIE X BALMAIN @kyliecosmetics collection launching this Friday 9.27…’ suggesting that the collection is going to drop on the day of the label’s Spring/Summer 2020 show at Paris Fashion Week.

This is huge news for Kylie Cosmetics fans – but at the moment we are pretty scant on detail. Kylie didn’t reveal what the collection will include or how it will differ from the rest of the products in her range.

But the collaboration news might not come as a huge surprise for Kylie fans as the entrepreneur is known to love the French brand. She was even seen sporting a black sequined Balmain dress and one of the brand’s classic handbags on Wednesday last week.


It’s a big step for Kylie’s brand, which started off in 2015 as a line of Lip Kits, but has since expanded to include makeup for the eyes and face, and even accessories.

And for a first brand collaboration, Balmain is a good place to start. The fashion label is no stranger to high-profile partnerships having released lines with L’Oreal Paris, H&M and Victoria’s Secret in the past.

So beauty obsessives will want to keep a close eye on all of the news coming out of London Fashion Week.

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Drag acts swap high heels for trainers as they play rugby for mental health charity

Action from the game at Cardiff Arms Park. where Drag Rugby played Cardiff Lions RFC.
You go Snow White (Picture: Richard Swingler)

Welsh drag acts who played a charity rugby match turned up the only way they know – in glitzy costumes.

The Diff Drag, made up some of the finest drag acts from Cardiff, swapped their high heels for studs as they played against the capital’s most LGBT+ inclusive rugby team.

Wearing dazzling frocks, extravagant wigs and their signature bold makeup, the artists put up a tough fight against Cardiff RFC, a rugby union team that has been around for 15 years.

It was all for a good cause, raising funds for the drag community and mental health charity Mind.

The self-described queens cited professional rugby player Gareth Thomas as an inspiration, especially since he’s revealed his HIV status.

Hoping to channel the same skills as him, the Diff Drag prepared for the match with dance routines in their jazzy outfits (one of them dressed as Snow White), performing Eye of the Tiger.

As you do.

Drag acts preparing for charity rugby match in changing rooms
Talking tactics (Picture: Richard Swingler)

One of the drag queens, Mary Golds, 65, explained why the event is so important to the group.

She said: ‘Last year it was to raise money for the charity and raise awareness of our community. It helped bring members of the community together too because the queens don’t all work together so it was nice.

‘It’s an amazing way of raising money. Our community is massive so we should all support each other. It’s important to show that we can come together and talk to each other, social media is great but this is different.

‘No matter who you are, how you live your life, everyone faces some sort of discrimination. It’s not often drag queens come together and play rugby, in fact never, so why not come together and have a laugh?

‘The importance of today is throwing down those barriers. You look at Gareth Thomas and what he’s done for these communities, it inspires us and this event and other gay people.’

Drag acts fraternizing with rugby player
No hard feelings after the match, clearly (Picture: Richard Swingler)

The queens got ready for the match at a local bar before strutting into the stadium, cheered on by a hundred fans.

Diff Drag hit Cardiff RFC with their best shot – using their handbags.

And all after working until 3am the previous night. Good game.

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Fireworking is the latest dating trend to describe your rubbish love life

man watching fireworks exploding in the sky
If they’re only lovey-dovey in front of an audience, you’re being fireworked (Picture: Getty)

Let it be known that as long as people keep getting romantically entangled, there will be terrible behaviour designed to bring you pain and misery.

And, of course, there will be catchy dating terms created to describe this sh*t behaviour, because it’s nice to know that our seemingly unique experiences are in fact common enough to warrant their own name.

The latest term is fireworking.

Fireworking, as created and defined by Grazia, is essentially the opposite of stashing.

To firework is to date someone for the purpose of putting on a display to other people. A fireworker might be trying to make an ex feel jealous, impress their friends, show their parents that they’re not horribly alone, or seem impressive on social media for general clout.

If you’re being fireworked, you’re being used to show off. That’s sort of flattering because it implies you’re hot enough to be an effective way of showing off, but also soul-destroying, as the fireworker is more concerned with other people’s opinions of them than with actually being in a healthy, loving relationship with you.

Signs you’re being fireworked include spotting your photos all over their social media feed, especially in fancy locations designed to inspire envy from their followers.

Illustration of couple lying in bed together, the woman's skin is pink and the man's is orange and the bed is blue
Have you been fireworked? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

You might notice that they’re not that affectionate IRL, but will suddenly be very cute and cuddly in front of cameras, in front of other people, or when expressing their affection on social media.

Now, this isn’t an openly evil, callous act, unlike lots of other dating trends.

Some people are just over-sharers on social media – that’s fine, and not the same as fireworking. The issue comes when the affection is only being put on when it’s for show, while your date is cold and withdrawn when it’s just the two of you. Essentially, do they treat you like they actually like, care about, and respect you? Or do they only care about looking like the perfect partner?

We all do fakery on social media to some degree, only sharing our most interesting bits and the most flattering photos, but when the difference between your relationship online and your bond IRL is making you miserable, it’s time to have a serious chat.

Sit down and ask your partner what’s going on. If the way they’re posting and acting is making you uncomfortable, say so – it’s perfectly reasonable to have your own boundaries when it comes to what’s kept private and what’s open to the public.

You’re not a reality TV star who needs a relationship to get sponsorship deals and you’re also not a character in a zany romcom – there’s really no reason for you to stay in a relationship that’s neither real nor fulfilling.

If you’re being fireworked, get out of there before you get burned.

Dating terms and trends, defined

Breadcrumbing: Leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ of interest – random noncommittal messages and notifications that seem to lead on forever, but don’t actually end up taking you anywhere worthwhile Breadcrumbing is all about piquing someone’s interest without the payoff of a date or a relationship.

Caspering: Being a friendly ghost - meaning yes, you ghost, but you offer an explanation beforehand. Caspering is all about being a nice human being with common decency. A novel idea.

Catfish: Someone who uses a fake identity to lure dates online.

Clearing: Clearing season happens in January. It’s when we’re so miserable thanks to Christmas being over, the cold weather, and general seasonal dreariness, that we will hook up with anyone just so we don’t feel completely unattractive. You might bang an ex, or give that creepy guy who you don’t really fancy a chance, or put up with truly awful sex just so you can feel human touch. It’s a tough time. Stay strong.

Cloutlighting: Cloutlighting is the combo of gaslighting and chasing social media clout. Someone will bait the person they’re dating on camera with the intention of getting them upset or angry, or making them look stupid, then share the video for everyone to laugh at.

Cuffing season: The chilly autumn and winter months when you are struck by a desire to be coupled up, or cuffed.

Firedooring: Being firedoored is when the access is entirely on one side, so you're always waiting for them to call or text and your efforts are shot down.

Fishing: When someone will send out messages to a bunch of people to see who’d be interested in hooking up, wait to see who responds, then take their pick of who they want to get with. It’s called fishing because the fisher loads up on bait, waits for one fish to bite, then ignores all the others.

Flashpanner: Someone who’s addicted to that warm, fuzzy, and exciting start bit of a relationship, but can’t handle the hard bits that might come after – such as having to make a firm commitment, or meeting their parents, or posting an Instagram photo with them captioned as ‘this one’.

Freckling: Freckling is when someone pops into your dating life when the weather’s nice… and then vanishes once it’s a little chillier.

Gatsbying: To post a video, picture or selfie to public social media purely for a love interest to see it.

Ghosting: Cutting off all communication without explanation.

Grande-ing: Being grateful, rather than resentful, for your exes, just like Ariana Grande.

Hatfishing: When someone who looks better when wearing a hat has pics on their dating profile that exclusively show them wearing hats.

Kittenfishing: Using images that are of you, but are flattering to a point that it might be deceptive. So using really old or heavily edited photos, for example. Kittenfishes can also wildly exaggerate their height, age, interests, or accomplishments.

Lovebombing: Showering someone with attention, gifts, gestures of affection, and promises for your future relationship, only to distract them from your not-so-great bits. In extreme cases this can form the basis for an abusive relationship.

Microcheating: Cheating without physically crossing the line. So stuff like emotional cheating, sexting, confiding in someone other than your partner, that sort of thing.

Mountaineering: Reaching for people who might be out of your league, or reaching for the absolute top of the mountain.

Obligaswiping: The act of endlessly swiping on dating apps and flirt-chatting away with no legitimate intention of meeting up, so you can tell yourself you're doing *something* to put yourself out there.

Orbiting: The act of watching someone's Instagram stories or liking their tweets or generally staying in their 'orbit' after a breakup.

Paperclipping: When someone sporadically pops up to remind you of their existence, to prevent you from ever fully moving on.

Preating: Pre-cheating - laying the groundwork and putting out feelers for cheating, by sending flirty messages or getting closer to a work crush.

Prowling: Going hot and cold when it comes to expressing romantic interest.

R-bombing: Not responding to your messages but reading them all, so you see the 'delivered' and 'read' signs and feel like throwing your phone across the room.

Scroogeing: Dumping someone right before Christmas so you don't have to buy them a present.

Shadowing: Posing with a hot friend in all your dating app photos, knowing people will assume you're the attractive one and will be too polite to ask.

Shaveducking: Feeling deeply confused over whether you're really attracted to a person or if they just have great facial hair.

Sneating:When you go on dates just for a free meal.

Stashing: The act of hiding someone you're dating from your friends, family, and social media.

Submarineing: When someone ghosts, then suddenly returns and acts like nothing happened.

V-lationshipping:When someone you used to date reappears just around Valentine's Day, usually out of loneliness and desperation.

You-turning: Falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind and dip.

Zombieing: Ghosting then returning from the dead. Different from submarineing because at least a zombie will acknowledge their distance.


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Meet The Travelling Menagerie: Two people, nine dogs and five cats exploring Europe in a caravan


With a seven-month trip planned, Nicole Strauss had a lengthy packing list.

Clothes, check. Suncream, check. Toiletries, check. Oh, and don’t forget the 14 animals.

Fortunately, Nicole, 32, didn’t need to hide them all in her suitcase. All nine dogs, five cats and her cousin Travis were planning to spend the next seven months in a Jeep Cherokee towing a four-berth caravan.

The Travelling Menagerie, as Nicole calls them, set off on their trip earlier this month. They plan to take in about 20 countries in the months they are away.

This trip isn’t their first – last year they did 20 countries in eight months, and they are planning to return to some of their favourite places and see some new ones along the way.

Nicole, who is originally from Norristown, Pennsylvania, adopted the first of her pets while she was in the U.S. military.

She was stationed in Lakenheath, England in 2014 and her pets came with her across the Atlantic.

Nicole with the dogs in Italy
Nicole with the dogs in Italy (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

When she left the military later that year, Nicole decided to stay in the UK, basing herself in Boughton, Norfolk, as she had fallen in love with the area.

And from there, she started to adopt other animals who needed homes, creating her own family of pets.

When her marriage broke down shortly after, Nicole went home for the Christmas holidays and her cousin Travis Miles, 26, agreed to come over to help for a little while.

The route they took on their first trip



The Netherlands



Back to Germany


Czech Republic



Back to Austria


Back to Austria again




Austria again



Bosnia and Hercegovina










And finally back to England

He soon fell in love with the place and the work Nicole was doing caring for horses, so he decided to stay with her long term.

The pair love living in England but without a residency visa, they are only able to stay there for 180 days a year, so last year they decided they would spend the rest of the year travelling Europe, moving from country to country, and every animal would come with them.

Just before setting off on their latest trip, Nicole told Metro.co.uk: ‘England is where we consider home.  My horses are in England and before my residency visas ran out, I lived there for nearly five years so have a complete life there.  

Benefsi, Wasili, Syn, Nibble, Moomkin and Raj’aa
Benefsi, Wasili, Syn, Nibble, Moomkin and Raj’aa (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

‘Our travels are really just sort of our way of making the best of the time we have to be away from home and I’d say we do a decent job of making the best of that time.

‘It never occurred to me not to bring all of the dogs and cats along with us when we decided to travel; they’re family and once an animal has a home with me, it’s for life.’

Lager the cat has been with Nicole the longest. She adopted him as a kitten from a shelter in California when she was serving in the airforce. 

Also from her time in the U.S. was Syn is a seven-year-old German Shepherd, who shares an incredible bond with Nicole. When Nicole suffered a mental breakdown and decided to end her life, Syn sat with her and comforted her. The next day they went out together and Nicole started to turn her life around.

Then came Nefsi, who worked as Nicole’s assistance dog, helping her cope with living with complex PTSD following sexual abuse.

Nibble and Travis
Nibble and Travis (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

These three were her first animals, who all came with her when she moved from Monterey, California to Valdosta, Georgia.

From there, she adopted Mead, a mink Ragdoll cat and Moscato, a purebred Ragdoll.

Nicole and all five animals moved to England when she was stationed there in 2014 and a year later, in October 2015, Moomkin came along. Moomkin was rescued from the meat trade in China. 

Nibble was rescued from the same truck and was initially going to be rehomed elsewhere but when that failed, Nicole took her in too in early 2016.

Jäger, Kamikaze, Moscato d’Asti, Chaucer’s Mead and Lager
Jäger, Kamikaze, Moscato d’Asti, Chaucer’s Mead and Lager (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

In 2018, she adopted two more cats Jäger and Kamikaze from the horse yard where she was working. Sadly, in the days after Nicole spoke to Metro.co.uk, Jäger passed away, at the very start of their second trip.

Wasili is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, the only dog who is not a rescue. He was imported from a breeder in Slovenia so he could replace Nefsi as Nicole’s assistance dog, as the older dog needed to retire.

Finally, the menagerie includes four puppies – Dobre, Sladoled, Balkan, and Zimata. They were born in the caravan in Bulgaria after Nicole and Travis rescued their pregnant mum from the streets. 

During their travels, the pair also pick up injured or poorly animals but they try to rehome as many as possible as they go.

Nicole explained: ‘We often end up picking up animals and rehoming them along the way.

‘The animals have to be in critical condition (starving, injured, clearly unable to survive due to condition and/or weather).

‘Last year we rescued ten dogs, rehoming seven successfully to new homes in Italy, Germany, Scotland, England and the United States (and we kept the four puppies, though one is going to go to a new home).

‘We also saved a hedgehog and countless kittens that were rehomed in Bulgaria, where we found them.’

Jäger and Nefsi
Jäger and Nefsi (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

Although it might seem impossible to get so many living creatures in a caravan, Nicole and the rest of the menagerie love their trips – but there are things that make it challenging. 

She explained: ‘It’s definitely very cramped when we are all stuck inside. Thankfully all the cats and dogs get along well. 

‘We avoid campsites and instead do a lot of wild camping, bouncing from truck stop to truck stop, or staying on the land of friends or friendly locals that don’t mind having a menagerie around.’

Wasi and cats in the caravan
Wasi and cats in the caravan (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

Although they’ve seen many countries together, travelling with animals does affect what they can do when they stop.

Nicole added: ‘We rarely enter major cities or visit the normal tourist hotspots. If we do go for something touristy, it’s normally something like a hike with views or a castle ruins off the beaten path so we can take at least some of the dogs along.  

‘Very occasionally, usually when a friend or family is visiting and we have secure accommodation where the caravan can be safely left unattended and the weather is cool enough that the animals will stay comfortable, we may take a few hours away to see some tourist spots, but those are few and far between.  

Wasi in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Wasi in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

‘We’re both outdoor people that would usually rather spend time with animals than surrounded by too many people but it does mean that our expectation and focus for travel is very different.’

Beyond what they can see and do, the logistics of having so many animals travelling for so long also means they need to be flexible with their plans.

Nicole added: ‘Dogs shouldn’t be subjected to endless hours locked in cages in the car or caravan, so even when we are “on the move” we spend a lot of time stopping for potty breaks, walks, even just naptime where they can snuggle up in bed. 

‘I can’t count how many times we were aiming to be somewhere by a certain date and time and we had to just adjust our plans.’

Puppies at one week old
Puppies at one week old (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

And of course with so many animals in a small space, it takes a lot of upkeep to make sure everyone is clean.

Nicole said: ‘With 14 animals in that small of a space, there is dirt and hair and mud, accidents and cat litter.

‘Because we travel in winter and often in cold climates, the mud is what gets to me the most. It’s everywhere all the time, and sometimes I just want to tear my hair out. 

Nicole in bed with all the dogs
Nicole in bed with all the dogs (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

‘We clean, a lot, every day. Last year we made the mistake of having carpets in the caravan; we’ve rectified that issue with our new caravan this year – laminate, easy-clean floors all around.  

‘There are no soft furnishings other than the bed, it just collects mess. 

‘We have altered a lot of the caravan to accommodate the needs of the animals rather than ourselves. It’s amazing what you can live without – like a shower for instance. It’s so much easier to shower at a truck stop and use that valuable space in the caravan for something else.’

All the passports carried on the way home on the last trip
All the passports carried on the way home on the last trip (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

The dogs are all groomed by a professional before they set off but they are brushed every day on the road to minimise shedding and bathed as often as possible.

All of them are treated for fleas, ticks and worms monthly and the cats get a weekly brush.

Another problem is pet food as it’s hard to carry enough for all the animals for such a long time.

Nicole added: ‘Our animals eat better then we do but one of the challenges we face is not being able to carry enough of their regular diet to last our entire trip.  

The dogs ready for this year's travels
The dogs ready for this year’s travels (Picture: Nicole Strauss)

‘That means finding alternatives on the road, and that is hard when you’re moving around so much and each country often sells different brands that are differing quality.  

‘We spend a lot of time trying to find consistent brands across countries, and aren’t always successful.’

Most of the time, they can travel through the Schengen area, where they can travel freely without border control but they do travel beyond that from time to time, which means dealing with borders and customs.

Nicole and Travis have become experts in administration, ensuring that not only their documents are in order but also keeping 14 pet passports, which require up to date vaccinations and mandatory health checks.

Although it’s an unusual way of life, Nicole and Travis love the animals and the life they have with them.

‘It’s the adventure of a lifetime,’ says Nicole.

You can follow the Travelling Menagerie on their latest trip on their blog, Facebook or Instagram page.

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