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Are celebrities the best role models for the disabled community? I’m not sure

Selma Blair with a walking stick in a beautiful gown
Selma Blair revealed her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and has been documenting her journey (Picture: OConnor-Arroyo/AFF-USA.com/MEGA)

Are disabled celebrities the best role models for the disabled community? I’m not sure.

While it is great to see people like me on TV and in magazines, and to have the spotlight put on various conditions, I wonder whether celebrities can truly represent what we go through on a daily basis. Are they, with their wealth and privilege, too far removed from the reality of our day to day?

Actor Selma Blair recently revealed her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and has been documenting her journey via her Instagram page. Just this month, singer and songwriter Sia tweeted that she has a neurological disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and is ‘suffering with chronic pain’.

Yet while Selma, Sia and celebrities like them certainly have good intentions, I suspect my life as someone with a disability looks quite different to theirs.

I wonder if celebrities have to contend with benefit cuts or having care provisions removed? Have they had to attend a PIP (personal independent payment) interrogation to prove their condition to a complete stranger?

Have they been left at a bus stop in the rain because a push chair and suitcase was blocking the accessible seating bay?

There is still nowhere near enough representation to mirror the 13.9 million disabled people living in the UK to date. We don’t just need positive role models but also people we can relate to.

Being open and honest about your life and your journey is a great way to open a dialogue about disability but I’d like to see celebrities help fight the injustices faced by disabled people every day.

Have they been left at a bus stop in the rain because a push chair and suitcase was blocking the accessible seating bay?

For instance, Selma has talked about wanting to launch an accessible clothing line – if this transpires I hope it factors in all disabilities, both visible and invisible, because all needs should be represented.

I’d also like to see them use their platform and their voice to change how society sees and treats us, as unfortunately many disabled people aren’t heard and our views are too often quashed.

I have always found a huge deal of comfort from Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Not because I was interested in sport (quite the contrary) but because the news of her giving birth to her daughter still stays with me to this day.

The fact that another disabled woman had given birth gave me hope for my own future as no one had ever told me this was even a possibility.

I would call myself a role model but it is something I do not take lightly. Being a disabled person with a public profile brings great responsibility to be as authentic as I can in everything I do, and I hope that is clear in my writing and campaigning.

I share my daily trials and tribulations in the hope that others find comfort and strength in my words and actions. If I’ve experienced something due to my disability, then I know I am probably not alone.

We all have our own journey and whatever that looks like, I applaud anyone who stands up and helps to bring disability into the mainstream. From what I’ve learnt as a disability campaigner, any conversation about disability, mental health or chronic illness that leads to breaking down stigmas and educating society is positive.

In talking about their conditions, disabled celebrities can be a source of hope. I still get a lot out of following Selma, watching her navigate the world and being candid and honest as she does it. Every time she pops up on my feed I think, I got you girl.

When I was growing up I was made to feel it was not OK to be disabled, that I was a burden on my friends and family. It’s because of this that I know how important positive role models like Selma can be in easing that sense of isolation. But to truly make a difference, they have to be relatable.

Like many amongst the disabled community I have internalised ablism that comes from the external oppression disabled people face every day.

I have found myself longing for acceptance for who I am, not just inspiration from a celebrity who by all accounts lives a privileged existence

Disabled people need aspirational figures yes, but we also need people who understand and talk about the challenges we face – people who really get it.

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Couple have three foot tall Disney themed cake at their wedding

The disney cake
The cake looked brilliant (Picture: Velerado photography / Caters News)

Two Disney superfans got married on 12 October and celebrated with the most amazing Disney themed wedding cake.

24-year-old Siobhan Perdue, and Sean, 29, opted for an unconventional wedding cake to match their film favourites theme.

The cake was 3ft 10 inches tall and each tier was made up of chocolate, red velvet, vanilla, toffee, caramel and carrot cake.

Siobhan from Swansea, Wales, said: ‘When I first saw the cake, I almost cried it was perfect.

‘It was the talk of the wedding, I had so many messages the following day about it – even more than the actual ceremony.

The Disney Cake
The cake was huge (Picture: Velerado photography / Caters News)

‘I was so impressed, every tier was amazing and each one represented our guests table, the Toy Story themed table had figurines and balloons and the same with Frozen, Aladdin and the rest.

‘We still have eight tiers left so I think we will be eating cake for the rest of the year!

‘I am not willing to discuss the full price paid but I can disclose it was in excess of £1000.

‘We both absolutely love Disney, the first film we watched together was ‘Beauty and The Beast’ – it only seemed right to have a Disney themed wedding.

‘The flower girls were dressed as princesses too.’

The challenge was accepted by cake makers at Blissful Bakes and Tea Room in Swansea, who spent 22 hours baking and decorating the cake.

They disney cake
It’s amazing! (Picture: Velerado photography / Caters News)

The manager, Mandy Heskins, 55, said: ‘We have never baked a cake this big before, six tiers is our biggest.

‘We were all so excited to give it ago and were completely up for the challenge!

‘It took six hours to bake each of the cakes and then 16 hours to decorate, it was fun for everyone but I imagine nerve wrecking for those who had to carry it.

‘I would love to make more cakes like this in the future!’

Do you have a brilliant wedding story to share? Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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Mum hails £9.99 sleep spray as ‘magic’ for helping her baby sleep through the night

Mum hails £9.99 sleep spray as 'magic' for helping her baby sleep through the night
Little Joshua now sleeps soundly (Picture: OLIVIA BUNCE/ MERCURY PRESS)

Most parents will know the sheer exhaustion that only having a small child can create.

If you have a baby or toddler who struggles to sleep through the night, it’s likely you’ve spent countless nights surfing the web for tips and tricks of how to get them off to dreamland.

A few years back, a group of parents were ecstatic when they discovered the Lush Sleepy Lotion, which some said got their little ones to sleep for up to 14 hours.

It appears there may now be a new kid on the block when it comes to baby sleep aids, and it’s being touted as ‘magic’.

26-year-old Chloe Bashford was flat-out, with her 6-month-old son Joshua waking every ten minutes throughout the night while teething.

The mum-of-four, from Newhaven in East Sussex, said: ‘I was constantly up in the night with him and it made bedtime really stressful and unenjoyable.

‘He is teething, so he’s been extra clingy recently. He would scream every 10 to 15 minutes and I would be up and down all night without fail comforting him.’

Mum hails £9.99 sleep spray as 'magic' for helping her baby sleep through the night
Chloe now swears by the spray (Picture: OLIVIA BUNCE/ MERCURY PRESS)

As Chloe’s partner Josh works nights, she was tasked with night feeds and comforting Joshua and her other three children all by herself, and was at her wit’s end.

Scrolling the net for anything to help, she came across Bloom and Blossom’s baby Pillow Spray, initially being attracted by the Very Hungry Caterpillar packaging.

At just £9.99, the spray contains Sicilian lavender and ylang ylang, as well as jasmine, amber and mandarin to help baby drift off.

Chloe calls the spray a ‘magic potion’, and now relies on it to get Joshua and her other children to sleep.

‘He nods off almost instantly, sleeping through from 9pm for eight hours every single night I’ve used it,’ said Chloe.

‘My new routine is working wonders – I feed him, give a baby massage, pop him in his pyjamas and then use the pillow spray five to 10 minutes before bed and slowly settle him down for the night.’

It’s so good, she’s even bought it for her husband to help him get to sleep after night shifts: ‘My husband didn’t believe me until I started sending him pictures of Joshua fast asleep and now we’ve bought one for our bed and our other three children.’

Christina Moss and Julia Yule, co-founders of Bloom and Blossom, said: ‘With five children between us, we know the trials and tribulations of settling into a bedtime routine all too well, and we’re delighted that Chloe has found a solution with our pillow spray.’

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Ten practical things to try if you want to give up cigarettes


Whether it’s exercise, meditation or distraction, there are a host of practical ways you can work on quitting cigarettes… for good!

1) Make a plan

Professional male UI web developer working on his project about UX template

The best way to be pragmatic about your quitting journey is undoubtedly to make a plan and try your very best to abide by a clear structure.

Set yourself a quit date. Look at your social engagements in the first few weeks. Gauge when and where you will face challenges. Establish how you will tackle the challenges. Then face every single well-planned day as it comes.

2) Exercise

couple young doing yoga in the gym.Yoga is to practice meditation and determine breath. Health fitness concept

From struggling to run up the stairs to wheezing after missing your bus, smokers can really feel how cigarettes impact their health.

So during the quitting process, a huge allure can be improving your physical health by establishing an exercise regime and seeing how you’re changing.

Book that gym class you’ve always felt too unfit for, try and run that extra distance or swim a few more lengths to help see the benefits of chucking cigarettes.

3) Find your ‘non-smoking’ support group

Mid adult woman smiles while discussing neighborhood improvements during a homeowner association meeting.

Social media sites are jam-packed with quitting forums, which are filled with fellow smokers with sage words of advice.

Whether it’s funny memes, tips or encouragements, the groups are a great way to find help from others who are going through a similar battle.

Additionally, it feels great to dish out your own advice and it feels great to help others.

4) Find a hobby

Young woman painter painting while sitting on the floor in studio

For further distraction, why not take up a hobby you have always contemplated? This can give you an amazing outlet to focus on.

Channeling your energies into something other than smoking means you not only develop a new skill but you can also tackle your cravings even further.

5) Change your diet 

Fresh bright tomato salad from red and yellow tomatoes cherry with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar white marble background. Vegetarian and vegan food. Concept for a tasty and healthy meal.

Many foods can be a trigger for smokers, with rich foods or heavy meals known to leave some reaching for their pack of cigarettes.

A practical way to address this is by working out what causes the desire and actively removing this from your diet.

Not only can it help with stopping your need for a cigarette but can also improve your diet in itself – working further in boosting your physical fitness.

6) Keep your hands and mouth busy

Close up of a depressed student chewing his pencil on his desk

Cravings are often rooted in the physical action of holding a cigarette and drawing it to your mouth. You can help recreate this motion in a totally smoke-free fashion.

Some smoker clutch a straw or pencil to replicate the feeling of holding a cigarette while chewing sugar-free gun can help keep your mouth busy.

7) Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine patch and chewin gum used for smoking cessation isolated on white background

Nicotine Replacement Therapy is often the best method for those who cannot face going cold turkey from the cigarettes.

Either heading to your doctors for a prescription aid or utilising over the counter solutions for intense cravings such as nicotine patches, lozenges or gum, you can be placed on the right path for your quitting plan.

If you are concerned about nicotine-based replacement therapies, it is worth asking your doctor about nicotine-free stop smoking medications.

8) Pros and cons

Close-up of Asian business female working stand make a note with laptop on office outdoor.

Again, time to sit down with your pen and paper to best work out the pros and cons of smoking and why you should quit.

As you actively assess the lists, you will find for all your reasons to stay smoking, there are endless reasons to quit.

The perks of stopping come down to expense, health and so much more, so if you need an incentive, gather your thoughts.

9) Meditation

Closeup of lower part of human body in lotus pose. Selective focus.

Mindfulness is widely lauded for helping a multitude of problems.

By clearing your thoughts and working hard on exercising positive thinking, you can help remove your brain from cravings and pesky desires.

There are a number of apps on the market which help promote wellness and positive thinking, so you do not have to independently work towards clearing your brain.

10) Saving scheme

isolated big tree on White Background. Large trees database Botanical garden organization elements of Asian nature in Thailand, mortgage and real estate investment. for saving or invest for a house,

Finances are one of the most alluring factors to turning towards a smoke-free life.

By assessing what you are spending and start putting away what you save, you can realise just how much of a hindrance your smoking habit truly is.

Again, there are a wealth of apps to help assist you in your aims.

It is imperative to explore the Internet, your smartphone and app store for assistance in your quitting journey.

Want to give up smoking?

Explore more about why and how to quit cigarettes at changeincorporated.com

Advertisement paid for by Change Incorporated (VICE) for its Quit Cigarettes initiative. Philip Morris International funds this initiative but has no editorial input, so may not share the views expressed. Find out more: changeincorporated.com

London hotel now has suites filled with houseplants to help you connect with nature

plant suite at leman locke hotel in london
The Leman Locke Hotel in London is opening three plant-packed suites to help people get back to nature (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

Fancy a relaxing stay that lets you get in touch with nature… without having to schlep across the country to somewhere remote?

For London-dwellers who desperately need some greenery, there’s an answer.

From 19 October, three studio suites at Leman Locke, in collaboration with TheJoyOfPlants, will open to the public.

But as you’ve probably guessed, these aren’t your average hotel rooms. Each of the three suites has been transformed into lush indoor jungles filled with gorgeous houseplants, all in an effort to help Londoners reconnect with nature.

The plant-based makeovers are the work of designer and architect Oliver Heath, This Morning’s Mr Plant Geek Michael Perry, and creative designer and founder of Grace & Thorn Nik Southern.

Each suite has a different theme, with the plants and design carefully selected to inspire a certain mood – either productivity, passion, or peace.

the productivity suite filled with plants
The productivity suite is filled with plants that are said to inspire focus and creativity (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

The Productivity Suite is designed by Oliver Heath and intended for business travellers and anyone who can work remotely.

It’s decked out with Boston ferns, peace lilies, and snake plants, all of which apparently have productivity-inducing properties.

Guests in this suite will also get to enjoy ‘soundwave therapy’ designed to sharpen focus and stimulate creativity, and rather than booze the mini bar is filled with plant-based power snacks and a CBD oil shot.

productivity living room
Can you see yourself getting loads of work done here? (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

The second suite is the Romance Suite, designed by Nik Southern.

This one’s all about sensuality, and comes complete with a botanical canopy that cocoons couples (or solo snoozers, if you fancy some self-love) in a lush green blend of cascading plants. There’s also a ‘love-boosting’ cocktail to enjoy.

romance suite at leman locke hotel
This is the romance suite. There’s a leafy canopy above the bed (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)
romance suite at leman locke hotel
It’s meant for couples, but we wouldn’t judge you for booking a solo stay (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

Then, finally, there’s the Tranquil Suite, designed by Mr Plant Geek.

This one’s a full-on indoor jungle with tropical plants, designed to give guests a forest-bathing experience in the middle of London. You’re encouraged to meditate in the bathroom then enjoy a peaceful slumber among the world’s most air-purifying plants. Dreamy.

the tranquil suite
And finally, the Tranquil Suite, designed to bring peace and calm (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)
tranquil suite bedroom
This is the Tranquil Suite’s bedroom. Calming, right? (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)
the tranquil suite bedroom
Guests will be given tips on bringing plants into their own homes (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

Houseplant experts Thejoyofplants came up with the idea of plant-filled hotel rooms after their research discovered that 34% of people spend less than 17 minutes outside per day during the winter months, despite 39% of us recognising that spending more time in nature would make us happier.

So we know we should be spending more time in green spaces – just last week new research suggested GPs should offer ‘nature prescriptions’ for those struggling with mental health issues – but we’re still finding it tricky to spend time outdoors.

Jamming houseplants in every corner of our homes is one solution, but for those with pets (yes, they will eat those leaves. Yes, they will get sick) or cursed with killing every plant they’re responsible for, that’s not an option.

the bathroom in the tranquil suite
The bathroom in the Tranquil Suite has been made to feel like you’re bathing in a forst (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)
bathroom in the peaceful suite at
The living wall (Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk)

A dedicated plant-themed hotel room can provide some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and get you back in touch with nature, without you having to tear yourself away from Netflix or deal with the crowds of teens in your local park.

If you book a stay, you’ll also be given tips for bringing houseplants into your own home, so you can bring that zen back to your flat without worrying about drooping stalks and withered leaves.

The hotel suites will be open for booking from 19 October to 10 November 2019. If you book by emailing thejoyofplants@lockeliving.com, you’ll get 15% off your stay. Exciting times.

MORE: How to prepare your plants for cold weather

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Brandy the dog looks rather proud as owner discovers inky pawprints all over house


A very naughty dog left ink pawprints all around his owner’s house after chewing up a biro pen.

Brandy, a six-month-old cockapoo, was left with blue ink all over his paws after chewing the pen, which he had stolen from his owner’s handbag.

He managed to get the ink all over his paws, and left a trail of blue pawprints all around the house.

His owner, Angela Irving, 44, discovered the trail after turning her back on her pup for just a few moments.

Brandy's paw prints
Oops… (Picture: SWNS)

She said: ‘Brandy is very needy, so I’m trying to give him some space at the moment.

‘I went for a wee, and straight away he ran into the kitchen, got on the table, put his head in my handbag and took out a biro.

‘He chewed it and the ink went everywhere. It was in the bedroom, in the kitchen – it was everywhere. I had no idea that ink could go that far!’

In a hilarious video, Angela surveys the scene as Brandy prances around from room to room showing off the mess he’s made.

Not only did the dog’s inky pawprints cover Angela’s kitchen floor, they also stained her sofa – and are proving incredibly hard to clean.

‘The kitchen was easy, but the sofa looks like it has been attacked,’ she said.

‘I didn’t know whether to laugh or get him re-homed! At first I thought it was soil – then it clicked and I thought “right, get the bleach”.’

The hardest thing to clean, however, has been Brandy himself.

Angela said: ‘His paws were dyed blue! We are three or four baths in now, and his fur is still stained. He has to go to the dog groomer to have his hair cut and cleaned.’

Brandy looking guilty
A very guilty looking Brandy (Picture: SWNS)

She has only had him for six months, but Brandy is already gaining a reputation for mischief.

‘My 19-year-old daughter who lives down south calls him Ginger Nut, because he’s so mad. She always rings up and asks what he’s done now,’ Angela said.

Despite the destruction, she is anything but angry with Brandy. I mean come on, look at that little face.

Angela added: ‘It is what it is. It’s part and parcel of owning a dog. He’s like a toddler, he’s just learning. For him, it was fantastic fun.

‘He can be naughty, but no of course we can’t stay angry at him. He’s only a puppy – he’s only a baby!’

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Cat abandoned with heartbreaking note saying owners ‘can’t afford’ him anymore

Cheeky cuddling up in a blanket
Poor Cheeky has been rescued (Picture: RSPCA / SWNS.com)

A cat has been found abandoned with a heartbreaking note saying that his owners ‘can’t afford to keep him anymore’.

Yes, we are crying right now.

The 12-year-old cat, named Cheeky, was discovered inside a cat carrier by a member of the public on Arran Road in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire on 9 October.

The handwritten note read: ‘Hi my name is Cheeky. I’ll be 13 in February. Unfortunately my family can’t afford to keep me anymore. Please look after me.’

The cat was taken to the Scottish SPCA, which is appealing to Cheeky’s previous owners to find out if he has any health problems or special dietary needs.

Cheeky in the cat carrier
He was left in a cat carrier (Picture: RSPCA / SWNS.com)

Gillian Boyle, Lanarkshire Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre manager, said: ‘We were brought the cat, named Cheeky, on 9 October.

‘He had a note with him which read, “Hi my name is Cheeky. I’ll be 13 in February. Unfortunately my family can’t afford to keep me anymore. Please look after me.”

‘While nobody should abandon an animal, we do appreciate the person who left Cheeky wanted him to be cared for.

‘As Cheeky is an older cat, we would like to find out if he has any health issues or special dietary requirements.

‘We are appealing for the previous owner to get in touch to let us know so we can provide him with the best possible care.’

Here’s hoping the rescue manages to track down his owners, and that Cheeky finds himself a new, loving forever home.

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After being dismissed by doctors, teen discovered she actually had two vaginas

Pictures of Molly-Rose
Molly-Rose knew something was wrong (Picture: Caters News)

A teenager has finally been diagnosed with two sets of reproductive organs after being dismissed by doctors, telling her issues were nothing more than ‘period pains’.

Molly-Rose Taylor, 19, was diagnosed with the rare condition known as uterus didelphys – which caused her to have two vaginas, two cervixes and two wombs.

The nanny suffered with agonising period pains from the age of nine, which caused her to become delirious and frequently faint.

She was misdiagnosed four times and says multiple doctors failed to spot the 2cm thick wall of tissue running vertically down her vagina known as the longitudinal septum – which caused her to have two distinct vaginal passages.

After five long years, Molly-Rose began to thoroughly research online and discovered her condition. Now, she is sharing her story for the first time to raise awareness of uterus didelphys.

Molly-Rose from Gillingham, Kent, said: ‘When I first started my periods, doctors would blame my age and say my body is still young and can’t cope.

Molly-Rose posing in a dress
She was repeatedly dismissed by doctors (Picture: Caters News)

‘But now I know it is because I am having two periods at once, I have been on birth control since 12-years-old to try and reduce the heavy flow and fainting.

‘As I got into my early teens, I attempted to use tampons, but it would fall straight out, I thought maybe it was normal.

‘It wasn’t until I became sexually active with my then boyfriend, I began to worry as it was impossible and very painful.

‘I noticed there was a piece of skin in the middle and two holes and I felt so embarrassed.

‘From the outside, you would never even know, even the doctors didn’t as I had attended three appointments.

Molly-Rose in hospital
Molly-Rose ended up researching for her own diagnosis (Picture: Caters News)

‘Before my diagnosis I was advised to get tested for a sexually transmitted disease due to the bleeding and abnormal discharge.

‘It came back all clear, as predicted – I knew something was wrong and began to research myself which was a challenge itself.’

Molly-Rose says there was a lack of knowledge and awareness in the medical practise and she had to tirelessly research online before finding uterus didelphys.

She adds: ‘There wasn’t any leaflets for me to read nor doctors who could help me understand my condition which is why it took so long for me to get a diagnosis.

‘I told my GP that I know what it is and was referred to a gynaecologist and I requested general anaesthetic for the intrusive vaginal scan.

‘I went on to have general anaesthetic for my second gynaecologist appointment as it was too painful for me having the scan that I had at university college London hospital.

Molly-Rose smiling
It was descovered she had two vaginas (Picture: Caters News)

‘I was desperate to get some answers. It was best for me to sleep during the examination to avoid me tensing up again.

‘Within ten minutes, they confirmed I have two uteruses, two cervixes and two vaginas – I felt so happy to finally know what is wrong.’

In August 2017, Molly-Rose had an operation for the longitudinal septum to be removed at the University College of London Hospital.

She says it would do ‘more harm than good’ for doctors to attempt to remove any of her doubled reproductive organs.

Molly-Rose adds: ‘Although I may face some complications when I am ready to start a family as there is a high chance of miscarrying – at least I can now plan ahead as I am aware.

‘I tend not to dwell on my condition, and I will cross that bridge when I get there.

‘If I wasn’t persistent, then I would still be clueless, and I am sharing my story to raise awareness for other girls and women who may be going through the same.’

MORE: Cat abandoned with heartbreaking note saying owners ‘can’t afford’ him anymore

SPONSORED: Ten practical things to try if you want to give up cigarettes

Girl bursts into tears as she’s reunited with her lost teddy she left thousands of miles away

Millie McAlpine,10 opening up the box with her lost 'Special Dog' inside after she left it in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida
Millie McAlpine, 10, was devastated when she realised Special Dog had been left behind at the hotel on holiday in Florida Picture: SWNS)

Most of us remember having that one toy we absolutely couldn’t be without.

If we were unlucky enough to misplace that toy, devastation ensued.

Yes, I am still miserable about my grandma losing Soft Brown Baby Cow (imaginative name, I know).

Millie McAlpine, 10, was heartbroken when she realised she had accidentally left her beloved teddy, Special Dog, in the room at the Hard Rock hotel in Universal Studios during a family holiday.

She realised too late that Special Dog hadn’t been carefully packed away, noticing his absence midway through the plane journey home.

Two weeks of sleepless nights followed. Millie had had Special Dog since she was born and slept with him every night, taking him on holiday, to sleepovers, and on school trips.

Millie McAlpine,10 with her 'Special Dog' she left it in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida. See SWNS copy SWCAteddy: This is the adorable moment a 10-year-old girl burst into tears after being reunited with her lost teddy that she accidentally left behind while on holiday in the USA. Millie McAlpine had accidentally left her beloved teddy 'Special Dog' in the hotel room during a family holiday holiday with mum Lucy, 41, dad Neil, 51, and sister Sophie, 14. They were enjoying a two-week holiday in Orlando when Special Dog was left behind in the Hard Rock hotel in Universal Studios.
She takes Special Dog everywhere and struggles to sleep without him (Picture: SWNS)

Friends and family tried to cheer Millie up with a new toy, but nothing filled the gap left by Special Dog.

‘There’s no way she could be without him,’ said Millie’s mum Lucy, from Felixstowe, Suffolk.

‘We were on the plane back home when Millie said: “Mummy I wish I had Special Dog”.

“We rang the hotel as soon as we could and spoke to them right up until we had to put our phones away but they said they couldn’t find him. We were completely in their hands.

Millie McAlpine,10 opening up the box with her lost 'Special Dog' inside after she left it in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida. See SWNS copy SWCAteddy: This is the adorable moment a 10-year-old girl burst into tears after being reunited with her lost teddy that she accidentally left behind while on holiday in the USA. Millie McAlpine had accidentally left her beloved teddy 'Special Dog' in the hotel room during a family holiday holiday with mum Lucy, 41, dad Neil, 51, and sister Sophie, 14. They were enjoying a two-week holiday in Orlando when Special Dog was left behind in the Hard Rock hotel in Universal Studios.
Hard Rock hotel went above and beyond to reunite Millie with her beloved teddy (Picture: SWNS)

‘I knew exactly what happened. When we were leaving Millie was tired and didn’t want to get out of bed so she got dressed in bed and obviously just left Special Dog there.

‘We had the whole day to remember but we just didn’t!

‘We were really concerned at how we were going to get through it. Family would come round with new teddies but nothing fitted the same, nothing was quite the same although she was very grateful.

‘We tried to find a replacement for Special Dog and thought about pretending it was Special Dog but we just knew that she would notice.’

The family were just beginning to lose hope when they were told the good news from the hotel – staff had found Special Dog and planned to fly him home.

Millie McAlpine,10 cuddling her 'Special Dog' she left it in a hotel room in Orlando, Florida. See SWNS copy SWCAteddy: This is the adorable moment a 10-year-old girl burst into tears after being reunited with her lost teddy that she accidentally left behind while on holiday in the USA. Millie McAlpine had accidentally left her beloved teddy 'Special Dog' in the hotel room during a family holiday holiday with mum Lucy, 41, dad Neil, 51, and sister Sophie, 14. They were enjoying a two-week holiday in Orlando when Special Dog was left behind in the Hard Rock hotel in Universal Studios.
The hotel sent him over along with photos of his adventures (Picture: SWNS)

Days later a package arrived address to Millie. Inside was a Hard Rock Cafe lunchbox containing Special Dog, along with a scarf, souvenirs, and photos of the teddy lounging by the water fountain and playing a guitar.

Millie was overjoyed and promptly burst into tears, in a moving moment captured by her parents on camera.

Lucy said: ‘I think she was a bit overwhelmed with emotion but she was just so happy!

‘We thought that Special Dog was lost forever but the hotel really went above and beyond to bring him home and they took some lovely photos of Special Dog enjoying his holiday!

‘We couldn’t thank them enough for getting our girl smiling again!’

MORE: Mum hails £9.99 sleep spray as ‘magic’ for helping her baby sleep through the night

MORE: Mum gives birth to absolutely huge baby girl who weighs 12.9lbs

Hull is the most affordable place to rent in the UK

What an insomniac does on a normal night of no sleep
Time for a move? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Good news, renters.

A new report from Zoopla suggests that the affordability of rent is improving, mostly because more people are making the move to home ownership.

While in 2016 a typical single earner spent 33.3% of their earnings on rent, now they spend 31.8%.

No, that’s not a massive drop, but let’s just take this as a positive. We really need a win.

Of course, some areas are more affordable than others.

The Zoopla report found that Hull is the most affordable place to rent, with the average single earner dedicating 19% of their salary to rent.

Next up in the affordability stakes is Bradford, where tenants spend an average of 19.5% of their pay on rent, followed by Stoke, where on average 20.6% of a person’s salary goes on rent.

Bear in mind that this ranking is based on affordability – meaning it’s worked out on the area’s average salary as well as the average rent.

So while Hull is the most affordable, it’s Middlesborough that’s actually the cheapest place to rent a home. The average price of rent in Middlesborough is £467 a month, while in Hull it’s £469 (hope you can afford that extra £2), and in Bradford it’s £486.

No prizes for guessing the least affordable place to rent in the UK.

That’s London, obviously, with the average single person spending 46% of their wages on rent.

If you’re lucky enough to be coupled up you can make the affordability of London far better. The majority of renters don’t live on their own, which reduces the costs of renting a property.

Outside of London, the next least affordable place to rent is Oxford, with 44% of a salary spent on rent, followed by Brighton and Cambridge, at 42% and 41.3%, respectively.

If you don’t know what city you want to move to and would prefer a more general estimate, the Zoopla report also looks at how average rent compares in different regions.

Those wanting to cut back on their housing costs are best off moving to the North East, where rent is an average of £503, with people spending 22.3% of their wages on rent.

Rent affordability by region:

Average monthly rental prices followed by the year-on-year increase and the affordability for a single earner, showing how much of their money would typically go on rent, according to Zoopla:

  • England, £900, 2.0%, 32.1%
  • Scotland, £625, 2.9%, 24.2%
  • Wales, £592, 1.9%, 24.5%
  • Northern Ireland, £587, 1.8%, 24.9%

English regions;

  • East Midlands, £638, 3.2%, 25.8%
  • Yorkshire and the Humber, £578, 2.8%, 23.3%
  • South West, £787, 2.6%, 30.8%
  • London, £1,622, 2.3%, 45.9%
  • North West, £599, 1.8%, 24.2%
  • Eastern, £876, 1.6%, 30.2%
  • South East, £1,007, 1.4%, 32.9%
  • West Midlands, £660, 0.8%, 26.6%

Richard Donnell, director of research at Zoopla, said: ‘Renting is more affordable today than the 10-year average.

‘This follows weak rental growth over the last three years, and an acceleration in the growth of average earnings.

‘First-time buyers, 80% of whom exit the private renting sector to buy, has also moderated rental demand.

‘Rental affordability varies widely across the country, reflecting the relative strength of local economies.

‘High house prices increase the underlying demand for rented homes.

‘Meanwhile, in markets where buying is more affordable, rental demand is limited, resulting in lower rental values.’

Across the UK, homes take 17 days to rent on average – down from 19 days a year ago.

But in some cities, the average home rents out much faster than this – including Brighton (13 days), Nottingham (12 days), Edinburgh (11.3 days), York (10 days), and Bristol (9 days).

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places 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.

MORE: What I Rent: Carmel, £650 a month for a four-bedroom house in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire

MORE: What I Rent: Michael and Zoë, £1,100 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Clapton, Hackney

MORE: What I Rent: George and Ross, £800 a month for a two-bedroom flat in Leicester

Mixed Up: ‘Being English is not about what you look like – I’m proud to represent modern England’


Farai Hallam is a senior referee officer for the FA and admits that football has its problems when it comes to race.

But he believes that football also has the capacity to show off the best of a nation united with a common goal.

‘I know the country is going through uncertain times and that extreme views are being aired more commonly than they were a decade or so ago, but I am certain that modern England is a place where you can be anyone in yourself, and still be English,’ Farai tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I use my personal love for football as an example. The country is rarely unified but the World Cup showed how we can live in such a great, united country.

‘Our squad was led by a group of young men of all races, who grew up in normal families and have worked hard enough to represent our country.

‘In that I see myself; someone who grew up in this country, is proud to be English. Part of being English is knowing that my mum was made so welcome here – and that has allowed me to grow up with this sense of pride.’

Farai is English on his dad’s side and Zimbabwean from his mum’s side, and he was born and raised in England. He doesn’t believe that Britishness is synonymous with whiteness.

‘Being English is not about what you look like, it’s about pride and working hard for the country that unites us.

Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk. Mixed Up Natalie Morris
‘I’m well and truly proud of all of my heritage’ (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

‘My dad is half Italian, which comes from my grandma and granddad meeting as a result of WWII,’ he explains. ‘My granddad Barney served in the RAF across Europe and made a lifelong Ally in my grandma!

‘My mum was born in a small Zimbabwean village and has made one huge journey in life to be living with my dad on the outskirts of London.’

Farai’s mum moved to England in her early twenties, completing university and nurse training. In the years before they had Farai, and for the first few years of his life, the family lived in Rugby – which was distinctly lacking in multi-racial families in the early 90s.

‘When we moved to London it was all so different and we just became part of this vibrant multicultural society,’ says Farai.

‘I imagine it must have been hard for my mum at times when we were in Rugby. Standing out can be such a positive, but it can also can be difficult as some people aren’t receptive to people of cultures they’re not familiar with.’

Farai as a baby
‘Standing out can be such a positive, but it can also can be difficult’ (Picture: Farai Hallam)

Farai has always been strict about saying that he is not black and he is not white: ‘I’m as much both and very proud to be mixed-race,’ he explains.

‘Being mixed-race for me is such a blessing. Not only have I grown up within two cultures, I feel I represent modern England. I’m so proud to be English and I get to show how this country is accepting of anyone and everyone.’

Farai is also incredibly proud of his Zimbabwean heritage and the lessons he has learnt from being immersed in his mother’s culture from the moment he was born.

‘I am so grateful to my mum for educating me on her culture,’ says Farai. ‘Growing up in England, I could easily have been closer to my dad’s side, but I’m well and truly proud of all of my heritage.

‘The biggest influences of Zimbabwean culture are respect and family. From as far back as I can remember, I have had it instilled in me to respect my elders and to go above and beyond to help them.

‘Zimbabwean culture can be quite strict and, growing up, you can feel the reigns tighten around you, but when you mature and come in to adult life you appreciate the value of the life lessons.’

Farai with the Zimbabwe flag
‘The biggest influences of Zimbabwean culture are respect and family’ (Picture: Farai Hallam)

It’s safe to say that Farai has a pretty enormous family. He has 27 first cousins on his mum’s side – and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

‘The culture is so welcoming to everyone that I have third cousins, lifelong family friends, and children of my mum’s friends that I would also call family,’ he says.

‘This can be a bit chaotic at Christmas, but when it comes to having someone to turn to, or supporting someone in the family in need, you know you have an army of people who are there for you.

‘The family ethic never lets anyone down, whether it be contributing to tuition fees for family back in Zimbabwe, or paying for flights back home for those who need it, the importance and strength of family is never undervalued.’

Farai loves talking to people about his culture, and he always embraces questions about his heritage.

‘Most people are fascinated and want to know more which I’m really lucky to have. I think it all starts with my name, which comes from the Shona language in Zimbabwe.’

Working in football means that Farai is no stranger to the discussion about racism in sport. Just this week England’s black players faced Nazi salutes and monkey chants from crowds in Bulgaria.

But Farai says this isn’t wholly reflective of football in this country, and that his experiences of working and playing in the industry over the years have been largely positive.

‘Yes, there have been challenging moments, some where my race has been an issue, but that doesn’t take away from the people, experiences and memories I’ve had in football with people of all races.

Farai with his parents
‘The importance and strength of family is never undervalued’ (Picture: Farai Hallam)

‘Off the field, football is getting there, it’s not an overnight fix, but any cultural change takes time.’

Farai says that on a personal level he has experienced overt racism only a handful of times in this country, and each time he is always completely taken aback.

‘It hit me out the blue and I just didn’t know how to react. One incident, I didn’t tell anyone about for a few years,’ admits Farai.

‘One was on the field when I was playing – it came from a spectator. The most painful part of it was the man who said what he said was stood holding the hand of a young boy.

‘Whilst what was said hurt and hit me hard, what really got to me is that a young boy is going to grow up thinking that that language and mindset is OK.

‘It took me until full-time to process what was said, and a part of me wanted to brush over it – which is what I did, but that isn’t the right thing.

‘At the time I thought, “I don’t want to be the person that kicks up a fuss”, but I look back at it now and I know I would act very differently and report the issue.

‘Until you’ve had it happen to you, you just don’t know how you’ll actually react. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.’

Farai as a baby with his family
‘A race doesn’t determine who someone is, what they stand for, or their values as a person’ (Picture: Farai Hallam)

Farai knows there are some specific challenges that come with being mixed-race, but he also thinks that belonging to diverse communities and engaging with your family history can help to build a solid sense of identity.

‘Growing up at times it was difficult, there were many moments when people just expected me to be friends with the black boys because I look similar to them, and if I had white friends I was called an Oreo or a Bounty.

‘In reality, I’ve got friends from all races who are just good people. In London, the majority of people grow up with friends of all races, religions, creeds, sexualities, it’s just the norm and it naturally makes you a more well-rounded person.

‘Being mixed-race is a good thing, in the very first instance it has brought two different races together, ending in a person who is as much one race as they are the other.

‘You can’t stereotype mixed-race people as this or that, because a race doesn’t determine who someone is, what they stand for, or their values as a person.’

Mixed Up

Being mixed-race is so much more than just black and white (Pictures: Jerry Syder)

Mixed Up is our weekly series that gets to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.

Going beyond discussions of divided identity, this series takes a look at the unique joys, privileges and complexities that come with being mixed-race - across of variety of different contexts.

The mixed-race population is the UK's fastest-growing ethnic group, and yet there is still so much more to understand about the varied lived experiences of individuals within this hugely heterogenous group.

Each week we speak to the people who know exactly how it feels to navigate this inbetween space.

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Don’t tell me to pick a side – I am mixed-race, so I am both’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Yes, you can still be racist even if you have mixed-race kids’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I have a really unusual mix – I love that no one can ever guess where I’m from’

‘Oppressed people understand oppressed people’: Muslim woman marries off gay couples

Muslim woman sitting down on a sofa
Salma is marrying her third gay couple and she’s loving it (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

When writer Salma El Wardany went to the wedding of a former colleague in Australia in 2017, she didn’t think she’d be back to officiate a gay wedding two years later.

But in marrying a lesbian couple, the public speaker and self-proclaimed ‘shouty woman’ caused waves.

Salma, from an Egyptian Muslim background, ignored critics and went ahead with marrying brides Hannah and Megan, who she’d met at her friend’s wedding.

The couple felt it would be ironic if Salma became their celebrant – a person who can tailor a ceremony to the couple without legal obligations – considering how opposed their communities can be.

Salma tells Metro.co.uk: ‘We joked that Australians don’t like Muslims very much and that Muslims don’t always like gay people very much.’

Their private joke became a reality earlier in March this year when Salma officiated the beautiful vineyard wedding.

She wanted to step up for the LGBT+ community in the way she wishes other folks would be visible allies for the Muslim community.

‘We talked about being othered,’ Salma says. ‘We found a message worth sharing and that we were both allies for one another.

‘Why can’t our communities act like this with one another and get along? How beautiful life would be if it worked like that.

‘I thought it would be a beautiful thing to be part of, so I did it.’

Picture of woman's face
The writer wants to send a positive message of religious tolerance (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

Brides Hannah and Megan campaigned for gay rights in Australia for years. When Salma met them, she wondered why they hadn’t just wed abroad.

But they said they wanted to commit to each other where they live, in their home country.

Fast forward to a few years later, when Australia passed its Marriage Amendment in 2017, and Hannah and Megan were finally able to plan their wedding.

They enlisted Salma’s help, asking her to become their celebrant.

To become a celebrant in Australia, you have to do various courses, need to have lived in the country for six months and then have to do a qualification there.

Realising that this wouldn’t be an option, Salma and the couple found another solution – something called My Celebrant Buddy which allows a qualified celebrant to do all the legal bits while a chosen unofficial celebrant can take on special parts of the ceremony.

Woman laughing to herself on the sofa
‘I thought it would be a beautiful thing to be part of so I did it’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley)

While Salma has experience speaking in public as a spoken word artist, acting as a celebrant was an entirely new experience.

‘I’m used to being on a stage and talking but this is different,’ Salma tells us. ‘This is someone’s wedding day and it was a lot more pressure because I felt like I was holding hearts in my hand.

‘It was a meeting of hearts and they trusted me to marry them in front of all their friends and family. It was nerve-wracking writing and performing it at the ceremony.

‘I wanted to write something that was super personal to them but also spoke to their struggle of fighting past this marriage act and the political significance of two women together.’

Woman posing against yellow door
The spoken word artist went to Australia to officiate the wedding (Picture: Salma El Wardany)

The choice to wed a lesbian couple provoked a strong reaction from Salma’s Muslim community.

‘When I initially posted the wedding, I got messages saying “you’re not Muslim” and “If you want to do these things, fine but don’t say you’re Muslim”,’ she explains.

‘I got a message from someone I’ve known my whole life saying “your values are so opposed to what we believe in”.

‘It makes me so cross because that attitude is exactly the islamophobic attitude we get every day so you should know better than to purport that kind of negativity and acidic attitude.

‘I got a lot of backlash but I just thought “good, feathers have been ruffled”.

‘This innate desire to silence is what immediately comes out but why be annoyed that this conversation is happening? I’m deadset in having those conversations in our communities because it’s so needed.’

Salma isn’t paying any mind to the haters, especially considering she has the support of her family.

She adds: ‘My dad was like “why are you doing it” but I said because it sends a beautiful message of religious tolerance and everyone living together and he was like “yeah okay, just be safe”.

‘The rest of my family thought it was beautiful.’

Salma believes that being a Muslim woman makes it easier for her to understand the plight of other oppressed people.

She says: ‘We (Muslims and LGBT folks) sit on the outskirts of society, it’s why I get along so well with them. There’s something about oppressed people understanding one another’s struggles even though they may be different.’

Woman posing at the beach
But she wasn’t able to get the qualifications to be a legal celebrant so she partnered up with another qualified one (Picture: Salma El Wardany)

The activist wants to be vocally supportive of the LGBTQ community, and so she has since agreed to marry more of her gay friends.

‘I feel like I can’t marry straight people,’ she jokes, ‘I can only do queer weddings!

‘My friend Frank is getting married to his partner and when I was in Australia to marry Megan, he was proposed to.

‘He then asked me to be his celebrant and I said yes. That wedding is in Dallas, Texas, scheduled for 2020. I’m just traveling and marrying people all over the world!’

Last week, Salma’s friend Laura and her partner Emma got engaged. They also said they can’t imagine anyone else marrying them.

Their wedding will be held in Cornwall in 2021.

‘I think I can only do one a year because they’re so emotional and they take a lot,’ says Salma. ‘I have to be ordained, it’s a big task. I might just have to stop after that.’

The process for these weddings will be easier than the Australian one, and Salma will be able to do the whole ceremony by herself.

Being an outspoken Muslim woman online, Salma has her fair share of hate from trolls who pile on no matter what her views are.

When she’s vocal about her support for gay people, she is told that she is ‘encouraging’ this kind of ‘behaviour’.

To that, she laughs. She says: ‘I don’t have that much power. People are going to be gay regardless of what I do. I have zero sway over the gaydom of the world.’

And, she adds, ‘there are also gay Muslims. By humanising them you let them be gay and also worship God.

‘When we refuse to converse with them and cover everything in sin and damnation, what we’re doing is pushing people outside and they’re going to do the things they want anyway, in ways that are unsafe or don’t cater to their mental health.

‘People have been gay since the start of times.

‘Shouldn’t we try to bolster our faith, not send someone on their way? Isn’t God just love? Who are we to judge?

‘Ultimately Lakum deenukum waliya deen – for you is your religion, for me is my religion.’

In other words, just do you.

MORE: Hindu-Muslim lesbian couple praised for stunning pics that ‘brought India and Pakistan together’

MORE: British Muslims launch first ever pride festival

MORE: ‘Culture suffocates women’: Muslim women talk faith, sexuality, and marriage in It’s Not About the Burqa

Looking for paradise on earth? THIS is where you’ll find it

Paradise found…

If the summer seems like a distant memory then why not start planning your next adventure? And make it somewhere you’ll never forget.

For the ultimate in crystal waters, lagoons and pristine white sand, there’s only one place to put on your bucket list and that’s the Maldives.

This nation of more than 1,000 coral islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean provides the dreamiest of backdrops to a once in a lifetime holiday. Spend lazy days relaxing in luxury, indulge in delicious cuisine and discover a world of colour under the sea, where the reefs are teeming with marine life.

And for a holiday that’s guaranteed to come with exceptional hospitality, look no further than Centara Hotels & Resorts’ two stunning locations in the Maldives.

Centara, the leading hotel group in Thailand is dedicated to providing the warmth and gracious service the country is famous for, so whether you go all-inclusive with all the family at the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa or want to start a love story at the adults only resort, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa, you’ll feel at home the second you arrive in this paradise on earth.

The ultimate all-inclusive holiday

The Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives will be your escape from the world

The Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives will take your breath away. With its pretty white wooden colonial style buildings and rustic walkways, you’ll be able to relax and reconnect surrounded by the clear blue waters of the South Ari Atoll. And with the Ultimate All-Inclusive package your holiday will be carefree, with everything from dining to excursions to pampering all part and parcel of the amazing offers available.

A world of flavours

There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from or why not enjoy a private dinner on the sand?

With an all-inclusive stay you’ll be safe in the knowledge that all your meals (and so much more) are already paid for. And the choice of dining options at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa will mean you can enjoy a whole world of flavour. From champagne breakfasts at Reef to delicious Italian cuisine at Azzuri Mare, and home style Thai food at Suan Bua to light bites and cocktails at Aqua, you can indulge as much or as little as you like. And let’s not forget the convenience and romance of in-villa dining too, which is available 24 hours a day.

Pampering never felt so good

SPA Cenvaree provides the ultimate in relaxation

If you’re looking for a resort that offers luxurious pampering then this is it. The SPA Cenvaree and its skilled therapists will ensure you go home feeling rejuvenated, with treatments ranging from Vichy hydrotherapy to traditional Thai massage. You can spoil yourself with some alone time or take a spa journey for two with your beloved. And why not take part in the scheduled yoga sessions to really foster a sense of well-being? The great news is that depending on your all-inclusive package you can enjoy between 100 and 400 US dollars credit per stay to redeem at the spa, making total relaxation even easier to achieve.

Your exotic home from home

Colonial style over-water villas with pretty thatched roofs will be your home away from home

With seven styles of accommodation to choose from at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa, there’s one to suit all budgets and group sizes. And whether you stay in a beachfront suite or a gorgeous over-water villa built on stilts, you’re guaranteed to wake up with a view you’ll struggle to leave. Families are catered for with bunk beds and child proof locks and how about stepping outside your door into your own private plunge pool? And while you’ll definitely want to make the most of your remote location by switching off from the outside world, Wi-Fi is available in every room so you can stay connected. Plus there’s a television and DVD player if you fancy a couple of cosy nights in with a movie.

Under the blue

The Maldives is all about rest, peace and a chance to really escape from the pace of modern life. But if you’re also looking for something a little more adventurous then you’ll find it here too. Even younger children will be able to explore under the water with the fun of snorkelling in the resort’s lagoon and coral garden, while scuba divers can go further afield with an expedition to a nearby sunken cargo ship where they’ll spot batfish, puffer fish, boxfish and lionfish as well as stunning reef formations and caves. And if you get the diving bug then why not exchange your spa credits for more time in the water? Switch from facials to fish with up to three dives included across a week long stay.

Those in need of adventure can explore a sunken cargo ship on a scuba diving expedition into the blue

On the water

Anyone hoping for a bit more action on top of the water will love the chance to sail, windsurf and canoe and there are plenty of inclusive must-do excursions, not to be missed. Take a sunset dhoni cruise across the calm waters in the beauty of golden hour while sipping champagne and experience even more of the local wildlife on a trip to see whale sharks and dolphins.

The ultimate romantic getaway

Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives is the perfect setting for romance

How do you picture the perfect romantic getaway? Just you and your beloved strolling hand in hand along pristine white sand? Clear waters and endless blue skies? Well if that’s your idea of heaven, it’s all available at the adults only resort, Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa Maldives, in the beautiful North Male’ Atoll.

An enchanting hideaway

Step straight into the lagoon from your over-water villa

Wooden jetties lead you to stylish over-water villas at this dreamy resort where you can retreat inside into luxurious comfort before stepping out onto your own private deck complete with steps leading straight into the lagoon. Or those who opt for a beachfront villa can walk straight onto their own stretch of sand to soak up the sun in peace. With direct access to the water from either style of accommodation you can be swimming in the ocean in seconds. Bliss.

Dinner for two

Enjoy a sundowner or two at Viu Bar

For the ultimate in romance, whether you’re honeymooners or just enjoying some time alone, in-villa dining or a candlelit meal on the beach will ensure you’re undisturbed and can gaze into each other’s eyes all night. But there’s romance and delicious food to be found at all of Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa’s restaurants and bars too. From a taste of the Middle East to the best in Thai and Italian cuisine, you can travel all over the world in a week. And watch the sun go down at Viu Bar where you can sip cocktails while reclining in laid back lounge seating and over water catamaran nets.

More than just a massage

A healing hut and treatment for two? Yes please…

Couples will find even more reasons to fall in love with Centara Ras Fushi Resort at the SPA Cenvaree. There are treatment rooms for two, enlightening Ayurvedic programmes and speciality body scrubs and wraps all to be enjoyed in the beautifully appointed Healing Huts. This is pampering at its best and you’ll leave feeling renewed, rejuvenated and ready for a bit more time taking it easy by the lagoon.

Getting active is easy

Getting active together has never been so romantic

And if you’ve had enough of putting your feet up, there’s plenty for anyone who wants to get active with the Indian Ocean as your playground. Go underwater on a scuba diving excursion to get up close and personal with incredible marine life; stay on the surface on a wakeboard, jetski or pedalo or see this astounding resort from the sky with an adrenaline filled parasailing trip. For something less energetic, but still as magical, take advantage of the once in a lifetime tours on offer. Go fishing, island hopping and shark spotting for experiences you’ll never forget.

Options for all

Every couple is different so one way to holiday doesn’t suit all. But at Centara Ras Fushi Resort Maldives there are a range of board options to make your break as stress free as possible. If you want to venture out and flexibility is key then choose Half Board Plus. This gives you the chance to leave the island and explore while still providing breakfast, dinner and a huge selection of drinks back at your tropical base. But if keeping things simple is important, then go for All inclusive or Gold All inclusive which not only make dining easy and affordable but come with free access to the resort’s water sports equipment and credits to redeem at Spa Cenvaree.

Make your dream a reality

A holiday in the Maldives may seem like a fantasy but at Centara Hotels & Resorts’ two stunning locations, finding paradise on earth is easier than you think.

With Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa providing the perfect spot for families and larger groups and Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa making romantic breaks for two a breeze, everyone can make their dream vacation a reality.

So why not book now? Click here to find the best deals, lowest prices and last minute specials that will really make you smile.



Joker-related porn searches are still growing because people want to see a clown getting down

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker with PornHub logo across his genitals
It’s no joke – Joker is making people horny (Picture: Pornhub/Warner Bros/Getty)

Whatever single topic you can think of, there’s porn for that.

Oh, you went to the movies over the weekend? There’s low-budget footage out there on the internet of the protagonist facing obstacles and reaching climax (not the movie’s).

And if you went to watch Joker, then you might have had a gander online to see what the porn world has to offer in the way of lovable villains.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, you clown fetishist (or Joaquin Phoneix stan). Pornhub has revealed that there’s been a massive increase in searches related to Joker.

In fact, the folks at the sex website have told Metro.co.uk that on the second week of the film’s release, there were 2.3 million searches in total.

That’s a lot of clown buffoonery. But you know, they do have big feet. And you know what they say about big feet…

The search seems to be growing stronger too. In the first four days of Arthur Fleck’s reintroduction to the world, there were more than 741,000 searches involving the word Joker.

On the Sunday of that week, Pornhub honchos saw the biggest spike – with 291,628 hits in one day alone.

Graph showing increase in searches for Joker porn
There’s an increase of searches over weekends (Picture: Pornhub)

It seems comic books are very popular for those who are into a bit of role-play.

When fellow DC blockbuster Suicide Squad was released in 2016, rises in superhero porn rose once again.

Only it wasn’t Jared Leto’s portrayal people were interested in. Margot Robbie’s rendition of Harley Quinn stole the show.

In fact, Pornhub revealed that the colorful gymnast reigns supreme when it comes to comic book porn favourites.

Even after two years, Harley Quinn is still the most popular movie or game character on Pornhub with over 10 million searches in 2018 alone.

That number’s probably only going to increase given the latest edition of the franchise, Birds of Prey, is set to drop in 2020.

We’ve added the trailer below to those who can’t get enough of the villainous badass known as Joker’s girlfriend.

But no jerking off to it though.

MORE: Children as young as 7 are seeing porn online, survey shows

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Sainsbury’s is selling Dyson and G-Tech AirRam vacuums for £50

Sainsbury's is selling Dyson and G-Tech AirRam vacuums for £50
You’ll have to be quick to hoover up these deals (Picture: GTech/Dyson)

Next time you’re lugging your big old vacuum around the house and barely getting the crumbs up, don’t say we didn’t warn you about this.

According to the bargain-hunting grapevine, Sainsbury’s are having a major sale on Dyson and G-Tech AirRam vacuums, and you could save hundreds of pounds.

The HotUKDeals page is always the best place to get sale tips, and users recently shared perhaps one of the best yet.

According to the post, a leaked document from Sainsbury’s claims: ‘To clear the remaining DD Stock from Depot and Stores, we have actioned price to clear on the following lines from Wednesday 16th October.’

Included on the same document, are the list of models available for cut prices. If you’re quick, you could bag any of these:

  • Dyson V6 Trigger – £50
  • Dyson DC39 Multifloor Vacuum Cleaner – £50
  • G-Tech AirRam Mk2 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – £50
  • G-Tech AirRam Mk2K9 Cordless Bundle – £75
  • Dyson V6 Animal Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – £50
  • Dyson V6 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – £50

Given that many of these models retail for £200 or more, these are some massive savings.

Members on HotUKDeals have been posting their receipts, with one savvy shopper in Irvine getting their hands on one vacuum first thing this morning.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson has confirmed to Metro.co.uk: ‘A small number of stores have reduced some Dyson models to clear a very small amount of residual stock.

Online claims state that stores with confirmed stock are Cambridge, Sainsbury’s Surrey Basin Store in Kingston upon Thames, Bamber Bridge Preston, and the Darnley Store in Glasgow.

It was also mentioned though that there were plenty of queues, so if you want one you really do need to hurry, as it’s in-store stock only

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Muslim man donates hundreds of designer trainers to the homeless every month

Man posing with designer shoes
Moosa gives away designer shoes to the homeless (Picture: Moosa Nsubuga)

South Londoner Moosa Nsubuga wanted to give back to the community after being raised in a culture of helping out.

When he converted to Islam, his faith gave him a strong personal connection to charity and helping the less fortunate.

Moosa decided to start a small side project with his mates, giving away high-quality trainers to at-risk teenagers and the homeless.

After the horror of the Grenfell fire in 2017, they gave away extra donations to those who had lost everything.

But in the years of his philanthropy, Moosa noticed that the quality of donations – particularly clothes – were not up to scratch.

Feeling ’embarrassed’ to hand over tattered items, Moosa decided to change the nature of his offerings.

So he launched Resole, an initiative that hands out fresh trainers to the homeless and disadvantaged youths at risk of gang violence and drug abuse.

He and his team aren’t just giving away old creps either, they’ve been offering designer brands such as Gucci and top quality Adidas and Nike ones, too.

Man giving homeless people shoes
He realised that sneakerheads keep shoes in perfect condition and encouraged them to give them away (Picture: Moosa Nsubuga)

Having prioritised keeping his trainers looking box-fresh, Moosa noticed he had a lot of barely worn shoes.

He realised that others would be in the same boat and asked them to donate theirs.

On average, Resole gets around 150 to 200 pairs in a good month from donations but it can also be less or more if there’s a massive one-off donation.

‘Faith was a strong personal reason for wanting to give back but also being able to get others involved from the culture that raised me,’ Moosa tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I did at the beginning also collect clothing and shoes but after the Grenfell tower fire, we gave all our stock sneakers and clothing to that community.

‘While doing so I realised it was harder to quality check clothing and felt embarrassed giving some clothing away due to the bad state they came in.

‘As for the sneakers, it was much easier to check for quality and actually distribute to people so I decided to concentrate on footwear.’

Man giving away shoes to homeless
The team at Resole – made up of his friends – hope to take the initiative country-wide(Picture: Moosa Nsubuga)

What started as a side project to help his local community in South London every two weeks quickly became a much larger operation.

Now Resole does two to three drop-offs a week, distributing around 170 pairs of shoes with a value of around £14,450 a month.

‘It gives you great joy to see the self-esteem that a pair of new sneakers can bring to a person,’ says Moosa.

‘Some homeless people we have met are barefoot because they have had their shoes stolen at night while they sleep.

‘One guy was without shoes for two weeks and just had flipflops and it was at the end of the drop when we found him outside a Sainsbury’s in Islington.

‘We gave him a pair of Nike Air VaporMax valued at £185. He couldn’t believe we were just giving it out for free and was so grateful.’

Man posing with shoes
They’ve donated as many as 170 a month (Picture: Moosa Nsubuga)

Moosa hopes to take the initiative around the country.

‘The plan is to do it full-time,’ he continues. ‘We are a small team and we’d like to have access to our own space storage and office.

‘We are planning a UK tour in 2020 from Portsmouth all the way up to Liverpool on a five-city tour collecting and distributing sneakers.

‘Thanks to the sneakerhead community we have wide support across the country.’

Resole has a drop-off point at Copit UK and Vamp LND, a sneaker shop in Brixton with a cleaning service where people can go to drop off donations at the bin located in the store.

Shoes that need cleaning are washed before they’re collected for distribution.

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You can swap tins of beans for free wine at this London bar

People cheersing with glasses of wine
Got a spare tin of beans? (Picture: Vagabond)

Remember harvest festival at school?

Tins of soup, out-of-date tuna and half-opened bags of pasta stacked sky-high in a gaudy Autumnal display in the assembly hall.

Well, the humble harvest festival has had a grown-up revamp – and now you can get wine in return for your tinned goods.

For the entire month of October, urban winery Vagabond in Battersea, London, is running #TheWineSwapShop, and all you have to do is bring in tins or any dried food, and in return you’ll get a complimentary glass of wine. Result.

And you can bring any old tin of beans for a delicious glass of vino – finest, luxury tins or Sainsbury’s basic – anything goes. So have a look in the back of your cupboards to see what you’re willing to part with.

The brilliant news is that every tin is being donated to local food banks – so you can feel slightly virtuous as you down your free glass.

Wine being poured from a dispenser
The swap shop is running for the whole of october (Picture: Vagabond)

Vagabond hand picks the grapes for their wine in Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Oxfordshire, offering guests an innovative way to try wine, through a press of a button throughout their six stores.

Harvest season begins on 21 September and runs until mid-October. So now is the perfect time to clear out the cupboards and ring in the new season with a delicious glass of wine.

But if you’re thinking a six-pack of beans will get you a bottle, don’t bother. It’s one glass of wine per customer – but obviously, if you have more food to spare then do bring it, the food banks will thank you.

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Mum shares how she got £1,000 worth of freebies

 Ana Maria Macovei's haul of freebies
Ana’s haul of free stuff (Picture: Ana Maria Macovei)

Ana Maria Macovei is somewhat of a freebie expert.

She’s received thousands of items over the years – all entirely for free – and is now sharing her top tips for bagging everything from mattresses to beauty products without spending a penny.

The stay at home mum’s biggest freebie so far has been an £800 mattress and pillow set, and she hasn’t bought skincare for years as she gets it all for free.

Some of the other items Ana has bagged include a car seat worth £350, a water flosser worth £60, a Logitech crayon worth £60 and lots of food and drink.

So yes, we’re paying close attention to her wisdom. Imagine the money you’d save if you never bought moisturiser again.

‘I have been applying for freebies for a very long time,’ Ana, from Essex, tells LatestDeals.co.uk. ‘Now that I stay at home, even more than before, especially when my son has his naps!

Ana Maria Macovei with her son
Ana is a mum to two-year-old William (Picture: Ana Maria Macovei)

‘It’s something I really enjoy doing. I only apply for the ones I know I would use myself, or I know I can gift to family and friends.

‘I mainly apply on the links shared on Latest Free Stuff group. Freebies range from skincare samples, food and drinks, to baby car seats and other gadgets.

‘I have also registered to many product testing sites, such as TryIt sampling, Home Tester Club, Clicks Research, Alba Science and Swift Research.

‘Product testing sites often give out full-size products that you can keep in exchange of an honest review. Sometimes they also pay you with Amazon vouchers once you complete a study. I also do surveys – Populus Live is the main one I use as I feel it pays the most.’

To be clear, getting a haul of free stuff like Ana’s takes a significant chunk of time out of your day. She recommends signing up for lots of sites that offer samples for review or that alert you of special deals.

Ana's biggest freebie so far has been a mattress and pillow set worth £800
Ana’s biggest freebie so far has been a mattress and pillow set worth £800 (Picture: Ana Maria Macovei)

Ana applies for freebies every day. Some days are quiet, while other days she’ll be lucky and get six or seven offers in a day.

And a lot of that time goes to waste – not every freebie offer will pay off.

You’ll need to be ready to get a lot of emails – Ana says it’s best to set up a distinct email address just for freebie applications so your main inbox doesn’t get flooded.

She advises: ‘Stay away from offers that ask you to pay for P&P, unless they are from a reputable company.

Ana Maria Macovei;s free food haul
The mum often gets free food (Picture: Ana Maria Macovei)

‘Like as many companies as you can on Facebook, and other social media, as you will often get offers to apply for samples and competitions by doing this.

‘Join LatestFreeStuff.co.uk and the Free Stuff Facebook Group: there is an amazing community of freebie hunters that share offers all the times and also offer advice on what to stay away from (as there are some scammers out there too).

‘Keep an eye on your emails as product testing invites need to be answered quickly.

‘Companies have a limited number of samples, so the quicker you can apply the better.

‘That’s why I check the Free Stuff group few times a day. I also check emails regularly to be able to accept products testing invites on time. Apply as soon as you see the links, as the quicker you apply, the more chances you have of getting it.’

Are you an expert bargain hunter? Are you brilliant at saving money? Share your wisdom by getting in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk

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There’s a new Starbucks secret menu option inspired by the Joker

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (image:Warner Bros. Pictures)
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (image:Warner Bros. Pictures)

By now, you’ve probably heard a lot about the film Joker. You may have heard that it risks inspiring real-life acts of violence, or that it presents a surprisingly nuanced view of mental illness.

Adding to the hype, there’s a new Starbucks secret menu option inspired by Batman’s arch nemesis – a character who has now been played by so many prestigious actors that he’s been described as ‘America’s Hamlet’.

Now there’s an iced beverage to really put a smile on your face… as in an actual smile, not a terrifying clown smile.

If you’re not familiar with how Starbucks’ secret menu works, it’s basically a cocktail that you ask the barista to make by combining preexisting drinks on the menu.

If you stroll in and demand a ‘Joker Frappuccino’, they almost certainly won’t know what you’re talking about.

To make the drink you have to ask the barista to draw a smile inside the cup using strawberry drizzle (although it’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of 12 being able to do this without dying of embarrassment).


Then, if your barista hasn’t demanded you leave and never come back, ask them to fill the cup to the brim Matcah Green Tea Creme Frappuccino, before topping it all off with some chocolate drizzle.

According to the blog which invented the drink, ‘Totally the Bomb,’ the finished product will be a ‘masterpiece…that looks like it’s smiling (sort of like the creepy smile the Joker has).’

I mean, I guess!

If you think the above drink is worth the trouble and are dead set on doing this, please don’t ask for it when Starbucks is busy – your barista will definitely hate you, and rightly so.

This isn’t the first time an evil clown has inspired a Starbucks drink; earlier this year the coffee chain released a frappuccino inspired by Pennywise, the evil clown from It.

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Costa’s Christmas menu and festive cups are here

Christmas drinks at Costa
Irish Velvet drinks are the showstopper (Picture: Costa)

‘Tis the season to try all the festive drinks.

Costa is hooking you up with its new Christmas range, bought to you in their latest coffee cup designs.

The coffee shop has unveiled its latest items, including hot drinks such as the non-alcoholic Irish Velvet coffee, latte, and hot chocolate, which all have hints of caramel and vanilla.

Its showstopper – the exclusive Terry’s Chocolate Orange Muffin – also makes its debut.

Back by social media demand, British Pigs & Blankets Mac & Cheese returns.

Also on the delicious new list is Good Housekeeping Institute Taste Approved Mince Pie & Mince Tart (with vegan and gluten-free options available).

The vegans out there can get their hands on the Veggies Under Vest Sandwich and Rocky Road bites.

And just to get you in the festive mood (and to add seasonal aesthetics to your Insta), the cups are designed with cute penguins, bears, reindeers and, of course, Santa himself.

Costa's new Christmas cups
The new festive cups (Picture: Costa)

Costa's Christmas drinks

Coffee Blends

  • Winter Character Roast – 25p New


  • Irish Velvet Latte (Irish Coffee Flavour Latte in Ireland) – from £3.30, New
  • Hazelnut Praline Latte – from £3.30, Returning
  • Gingerbread Latte – from £3.30, Returning


  • Irish Velvet Cappuccino (Irish Coffee Flavour Latte ROI & NI) – from £2.95, New
  • Festive Spiced Cappuccino – from £2.85, New

Costa Christmas range
The coffee shop is also returning some festive favourites (Picture: Costa)

Hot Chocolate

  • Gingerbread Hot Chocolate – from £3.35, Returning
  • Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate – from £3.35, Returning
  • Irish Velvet Hot Chocolate (Irish Coffee Flavour Hot Chocolate in ROI & NI) – from £3.35, New
  • Black Forest & Cream Hot Chocolate – from £3.35, Returning

Christmas Frostino

  • Irish Velvet Frostino (Irish Coffee Flavour Frostino in ROI & NI) from – £3.45, New
  • Hazelnut Praline Frostino – from £3.45, New

Christmas Tea

  • Christmas Tea (UK & IRELAND ONLY) – from £2.30, New
  • Hot Spiced Apple – from £ 2.50, Returning

Among the food staples is a Santa Claus gingerbread for £1.95, Penelope Polar Bear cake for £2.65 and the Peter Penguin shortcake for £1.75.

The new White Chocolate & Honeycomb Trillionaires is also available for £1.95.

In savoury foods, you can expect British Turkey & the Trimmings Toastie for £3.95 as well as the British Turkey Feast Baguette for £3.95.

Terry's Chocolate Orange muffin
Terry’s Chocolate Orange muffin – looks and tastes delicious (Picture: Costa)

Also in the lineup is the British Turkey, Bacon & Stuffing Wrap for £3.50.

Plus, Costa is offering a range of reusable coffee cups this Christmas.

Perfect for stocking fillers, you can get a collapsible silver and Costa Coffee red design cup or opt for a rose gold tumbler.

Eric Tavoukdjian, Commercial Marketing Director at Costa Coffee said: ‘Christmas is always such a magical time of year at Costa Coffee and we’re incredibly excited to launch our best menu to date.

‘The new Irish Velvet family is sure to be a big hit and the Terry’s Chocolate Orange Muffin will be making thousands of Chocoholics wishes come true.

‘We hope families and friends are inspired to come together and enjoy a Christmas treat in-store this season.’

Costa Coffee’s Christmas menu will be available in stores nationwide from Friday 1 November 2019.

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