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Morrisons launches Trick or Treat pizza with fiery ‘roulette’ chillies

FREE TO USE IMAGES Pictured: Morrisons Spicy Roulette Halloween Pizza Contact: Olivia Moor 07772 206 495 PR Handout - Free to use
The ghost chillies are 200 times spicier than Tabasco sauce (Picture: Morrisons)

It’s almost Halloween and that means one thing – trick or treating.

Well actually, it doesn’t, because we’re adults now and we can’t knock on our neighbours doors and demand that they hand over all their sweets. Sadly.

Luckily, Morrisons have created a fun new twist on the trick or treat concept for grown ups to enjoy – in the form of pizza.

Spicy Pizza
The pizza also features scotch bonnets and jalapeño pepperoni (Picture: Morrisons)

The new 10” Trick or Treat pizza serves up a slice of heavenly delight, or a slice of devilish fire – and you have to be brave to take the risk.

Each pizza is dotted with infamous ghost chillis hidden in random slices. And these chillies are no joke. They measure over one million units on the Scoville heat scale, 200 times spicier than Tabasco sauce.

If you fall victim to a surprise devil’s slice, you will also be hit by hidden Scotch Bonnet chillies, which measure between 100,000 to 350,000 on the scale. So

The heavenly slices feature slightly cooler, tangy ingredients, including jalapeño pepperoni, spicy chicken and cheese. So every bite becomes a dangerous game of roulette with your taste buds.

The chilli heat is so intense that the pizza actually comes with a warning label. So even if you end up crying and desperately pouring milk all over your face – you can’t say that you didn’t know the risks.

‘The aim is to give customers the ultimate trick or treat,’ says Shezad Mahmood, Pizza Buyer at Morrisons. ‘The question is will our customers be prepared to roll the dice and face heaven or hell in a slice?’

Are you brave enough to give it a try? Stock up for your Halloween party; each pizza is £3 or you can buy two for £5.

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Debenhams launches £45 beauty advent calendar worth £190

Debenhams advent calendar for 2019 on a golden background
There are 24 doors to explore (Picture: Debenhams/Getty/Metro.co.uk)

In 65 days, you can finally rip open the first door of the advent calendar you’ve hidden in your closet.

Haven’t bought yourself one yet? You’re spoiled for choice this year; from luxurious goodies in the Liberty beauty advent calendar worth more than £600 to 12 days of jewellery from Marks & Spencer for just £19.50.

Debenhams is set to join in on the fun this week too, with the release of its beauty advent calendar this coming Thursday (24 October).

If you’re after decent products at a semi-affordable price, you’re in for a treat.

The festive calendar features over £190 worth of items for just £45, but there’s a catch.

To take advantage of the special price, you’ll need to buy something else from the Debenhams’ beauty range – or be prepared to pay the original price of £90.

On the other hand, this could be the perfect time to get that product you’ve had your eye on and get a hefty discount on your total purchase.

So, what’s inside the calendar?

There are 24 doors, featuring well-known beauty and skincare brands such as Clinique, NARS, Phillip Kingsley and Clarins.

The biggest treat is possibly the full-sized Mac lipstick in the appropriately festive red shade, Ruby Woo.

In a clever move to bring customers through the doors, Debenhams has also included a £5 gift card that you can spend in-store.

Everything inside the Debenhams calendar

1. Kat Von D Mascara, 2.5g
2. Clinique Moisture Surge 15ml
3. Oh K! Mini Masks
4. Watermelon Burst Hydrating Primer, 5ml
5. Philosophy Purity Cleanser, 30ml
6. Filorga Time Filler, 15ml
7. Nars Orgasm blusher, 3.5g
8. Oh K! Masks
9. Handmade Soap Company, 160g
10 .Murad Cleanser
11. Noble Isle Body Lotion
12. They’re Real Mascara, 3.0g
13. £5 Gift Card
14. Buxom Lip Liner
15. Philip Kingsley Shampoo, 60ml
16. NYX Warm neutrals eyeshadow palette
17. Seche Vite Mini, 3.6ml, 0.125oz
18. Superfood facial wash, 30ml
19. Pretty Filter Waterful Glow Cream, 5ml
20. Clarins Lip Oil, 2.8ml
21. Rituals Body Cream, 70ml
22. L’occitane Shower Oil, 35ml
23. Parks Orange, Cedarwood and Clove Candle, 30cl
24. Mac lipstick, full size Ruby Woo

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Grandad becomes fastest 84-year-old in the world – after recovering from two heart attacks

Tony when he was younger and Tony now
Tony when he was younger and Tony now (Picture: SWNS)

Tony Bowman is the fastest 84-year-old in the world – despite having two heart attacks.

He represented team GB at the European Masters in Italy last month and came away with three medals after competing in the 80-84 age category – gold for hurdles, silver in the 400m relay and bronze in the decathlon.

He also came fourth in the 100m and fifth in the 200m.

He said: ‘It is the younger athletes that are beating me. There is no 84-year-old faster than me in the UK – no, the world.’

When Tony, from Leeds, West Yorks., first entered the 80-84 age category he broke 11 British athletics records, one European and one international, for track events including the decathlon and both indoor and outdoor pentathlon.

Grandad-of-one Tony said: ‘I am looking forward to doing this again next year when I get into the next age category when I turn 85.’

Tony Bowman sitting on a race track
Tony still competes in the hurdles, sprints and decathlon (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

Tony still loves taking part even though he had two heart attacks in his 70s and he had stents fitted after heart surgery and has since been treated for abnormal heart rhythm.

‘I can’t let my heart get in the way of my training. When I am sprinting I have to give it my absolute all, my heart is the last thing on my mind,’ he said.

He trains every other day, dances and plays hockey and he recently cut down on alcohol and chocolate.

He hopes his regime will mean he will run 100m at 100 and he wants to live until 120.

He said: ‘I’ve heard alcohol can lead to dementia and I don’t want that. I’ve cut down to one glass of wine every other day.

‘I now have to stay as fit as I can be to keep up my lifestyle.

‘I feel like a 50-year-old and life is good.

Tony jumping over a hurdle
Tony wants to compete for as long as he can (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

‘I feel very blessed I have good genes but I do work hard at keeping fit, of course it helps that I love the feeling of running and sweating – especially when I’m winning.’

Tony, who is married to Betty, 85, grew up in Middlesex and his love for running started when he represented Middlesex schools aged 15-16.

At 27, he gave up running but kept playing hockey and tennis, until at the age of 42, he took up athletics again in the veteran’s category (now known as Masters) which is for ages 35 and over.

Since then he has never looked back.

The only problem now is he has to pay for his events from his own pension.

Tony pictured left running the first London marathon in 1981 aged 44
Tony pictured left running the first London marathon in 1981 aged 44 (Picture: Tony Bowman / SWNS)

He said: ‘It would be great to get sponsorship as I have to pay for everything myself, from paying for tracksuits to travel, to entry fees.

‘I’m doing all of this for my country, a country that I love, and it would be nice to be able to have some help.’

Tony continues to compete in Masters events all over the world, with competitions in Portugal and Toronto coming up.

Masters athletics is a class of the sport of athletics for older athletes in track and field, road running and cross country running.

Competitors are bracketed into five-year age groups beginning at 35 for track and field and 40 for distance-running events.

Men as old as 105 and women in their 100s have competed in running, jumping and throwing events.

MORE: Debenhams launches £45 beauty advent calendar worth £190

MORE: Morrisons launches Trick or Treat pizza with fiery ‘roulette’ chillies

Nine-year-old paints stunning animal portraits to buy resources for shelters

Nine year old boy with paintings of animals
Marvel at this little boy’s talent (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)

A little boy, who makes stunning animal portraits, is not only super talented but is also a young philanthropist.

Pavel Abramov, from the city of Arzamas in Russia, creates exquisite paintings of his pets and other cats and dogs and sells the works in exchange for resources for animal shelters.

The little boy started the project with the help of his mum Ekaterina a year ago.

The whole thing started when one of his pets died. Since then, he could no longer ignore the problem of stray animals in the streets.

He decided to pick up the paintbrush and help in any way he could.

Since he began, he’s sold his art for cat and dog food, medicine, skin products, and tinned goods.

With the help of his parents, Pavel has shared his work on Russian social media site VK.

Images of Pavel’s latest paintings and the animals he’s helped are shared on the site, with the title ‘What can a small volunteer do?’

Pavel Abramov pictured with the cat he painted
Look at the likeness (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)

On the website, it reads: ‘This is the way of a small, indifferent person who wants to be useful and to bring good to the world, to lead others.

‘He wants to show by his example that even a small person can be of great benefit if he really wants to.’

The project works by pet owners commissioning Pavel to draw their beloved animals.

Pavel Abramov (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Pavel barters with pet owners for resources needed at animal shelters (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)

He works out a deal with the owners who may agree to donate grams of buckwheat, bandages and medicine, offal, and other treats for little doggos and kitties.

And it’s not a straight-up transaction either. Pavel spends time getting to know the animals he draws and speaking to the owners about how they met.

It helps the youngster capture the essence of the doted upon pet.

Pavel Abramov (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Food he got for somne paintings (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Pavel with two dogs
The nine-year-old spends time with the animals he draws (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)

He then takes the donations to the only animal shelter in Arzamas where Pavel is the youngest volunteer. The shelter currently houses more than 100 dogs.

Each one has benefitted from Pavel’s paintings.

Since news of his art has spread online, people are also interested in buying the works. If you want to see more of Pavel’s art, take a look at his VK profile and enjoy.

Here are a few more of his brilliant creations:

Cat painting
How cute (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Kitten painting
The only kind of art we get (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Cat painting next to cat
Smart kitty (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Cat resting next to a painting of itself
‘Paint me like one of your French cats’ (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Pavel Abramov painting
Hard at work (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Dog next to dog painting
He’s delighted with that (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Cat next to floral painting of itself
Floral cat (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Pavel Abramov at the dog shelter
Pavel is the youngest volunteer at his shelter (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Hamster paintings
It’s not just cats and dogs he paints (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)
Cat next to cat painting
Cutie (Picture: Ekaterina Bolshakova)

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Woman who survived kidney and liver transplants becomes athletics star

Helen Wilson comp
‘During both periods of illness I was not living – I was just existing’ (Picture: Helen Wilson)

A woman who received two lifesaving organ transplants has gone on to win big at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games – and now she wants to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

Helen Wilson, from Wokingham, fell ill for the first time in 2000, and by 2005 doctors confirmed that she was facing kidney failure.

‘I had both my kidneys removed and went on to dialysis, which was debilitating and brought with it massive food and fluid restrictions,’ Helen tells Metro.co.uk.

Donna and Helen opening ceremony
‘To be able to do any sport is, I have found, a luxury’ (Picture: Helen Wilson)

The 57-year-old had to attend dialysis sessions three evenings every week, for five hours at a time, which completely took over her entire life.

‘Thankfully my amazing brother, Steve, came forward and said that he wanted to be a donor and he saved my life in February 2007 by giving me one of his kidneys – which I have named Sydney.’

Helen was delighted to have her life back, but a few years later disaster struck again when she became incredibly ill once more. Doctors told her that this time she had a polycystic liver.

‘My liver became enlarged and body quickly became full of fluid. I was lucky to hold on long enough for a liver transplant in December 2013, and I received a new liver from an amazing donor family – I have called my new liver Lionel.

‘During both periods of illness I was not living – I was just existing.

‘Everyday tasks were too much for me to complete and I was sleeping upright on the sofa as if I lay down I could not breathe. I did manage to continue to work part time, but it was a struggle.’

Sport and fitness has always been really important to Helen, so getting back to being active was high on her priorities after she recovered from her transplants.

‘Before becoming unwell I used to be really active, I even owned horses and rode regularly so discovering I was ill came as a real shock,’ explains Helen.

‘To be able to do any sport is, I have found, a luxury, and there are a lot of people who are not able to do this even if they wanted to.

‘Since my second transplant I have had a go at archery, 100m, 200m, long jump, discus, shot putt and javelin – having done none of these before I was ill.

‘Being able to run, jump and throw has really helped to motivate me as I appreciate being able to do things like this when for a long period of time, even walking was difficult.’

Helen Wilson with her medals, BTG (2)-c74b
‘I appreciate being able to do things like this when for a long period of time, even walking was difficult’ (Picture: Helen Wilson)

This is why Helen was so keen to get involved with the British Transplant Games. She found out about the competition when staff at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust encouraged her to attend in 2014.

‘I went along as a spectator to the opening ceremony and became very emotional when I saw the donor families and listened to them talking about how proud they were to be attending the Games,’ says Helen. ‘I instantly knew that I had to take part and compete in 2015.’

So Helen started training and taking her fitness really seriously – she was determined to prove that she could do it, and also wanted to help raise awareness in the process.

‘I competed in the 100m, 200m and the archery. I secured a bronze medal in the archery and personal best times in the other two events. I was over the moon.’

Over the past few years, Helen has competed in archery, javelin and the 100m and she has taken home three gold, two silver and two bronze medals, as well as smashing numerous personal bests.

‘Since first taking part in the Games, I’ve proved to myself that I can overcome anything and have the mental and physical strength to do things I didn’t think were possible after my transplants,’ she adds.

‘I’m really grateful to have been offered this opportunity to celebrate life alongside other donor recipients and their families.

‘I feel incredibly lucky to have received two organ transplants and I will never forget what my brother did for me or what my donor’s family went through to enable me to receive the lifesaving organ.’

Helen says that the British Transplant Games have opened up opportunities that she didn’t think possible for her.

‘I am now pleased to have as my friends not only other organ recipients, but also members of donor families who have made the generous decision in the hardest of times to honour their loved ones’ wishes to be a donor.

‘Attending The Games is like coming home to a whole new family and the opportunities that the Games bring to help raise awareness of organ donation are invaluable.

‘The Games are now a massive part of my life and that of my family and friends as well.’

Three people die every day because there are not enough donation organs available. This is what Helen is hoping to change.

‘I have been so lucky in receiving both of my transplants and I want to help ensure that more people can have the same opportunities that I have had.’ she says.

‘The gift of life transforms the life of the person receiving the organ, but it goes wider than that and it affects the lives of their family and friends as well.’

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Here comes the bride, in a giant inflatable balloon during extravagant wedding

PIC BY VICTOR SAMUEL/ CATERS NEWS (PICTURED The bride Reverence in a bubble.) A couple celebrated their 10 year wedding anniversary in style as the glamorous wife made a grand entrance in giant inflatable bubble to steal the show. An event planner pulled out all of the stops for her own extravagant 10 year wedding anniversary. As Reverence, 35 and husband Joseph Efoma-Oruerio, 51, invited friends and family to celebrate the special day with them in Warri, Nigeria, no one expected the grand entrance Reverence would make.
You’re having a bubble (wedding) (Picture: Victor Samuel/Caters News)

Weddings have been around for a long time and in the last few decades, we’ve seen so many different styles of nuptial celebrations.

All that means that having a unique wedding has become harder. But one bride envisioned something that’s never been done before. And it involved a large ball.

Event planner Reverence, from Nigeria, wanted to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary with Joseph Efoma-Oruerio in style.

She had the white dress down, the perfect groom, an extravagant venue, dreamy decorations, all of it. But she wanted an entrance like none other.

So she ordered a giant inflatable balloon to enter the venue in. As you do.

Paying $500 (£385)  for the massive thing which she ordered from Dubai, Reverence rolled in with the transparent ball (yes, like the zorbing ones).

And as quirky as it may have been, it certainly made for unique and spectacular pictures.

Bride entering in an inflatable balloon
Can’t touch this (Picture: Victor Samuel/Caters News)

Reverence, 35, and husband Joseph, 51, invited friends and family to celebrate the special day with them in Warri, Nigeria.

None of their guests expected the grand entrance Reverence would make.

 The bride Reverence (LEFT) and her husband Joseph Efoma Oruerio (RIGHT) being served
The couple celebrated their ten-year wedding anniversary (Picture: Victor Samuel/Caters News)

Bursting into the room in a giant inflatable bubble, Reverence looked like she was floating on air as she made her way happily dancing down the aisle in a sight to behold.

She said: ‘The idea came from watching my kids playing in the pool with a balloon. I started thinking of how a bride could make an entrance into her wedding in a balloon.

‘I searched online for life-size balloons and eventually bought one from Dubai for $500.

 Wedding guests all take pictures and stare in amazement of the bride Reverence.
Yep, we’d take plenty of pictures too (Picture: Victor Samuel/Caters News)

‘It was the first time the guests saw a bride in a balloon, they screamed so much with excitement. It was the highlight of the event.’

That’s definitely one way to avoid guests stepping on her wedding dress or, god forbid, spilling something on it.

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Woman saves ‘about £1,000’ by budget shopping for staircase materials

Split image of Sarah Lindsey sat on the stairs with her son on one side, and the stairs before they were transformed on the other side
The staircase looks completely different (Picture: Sarah Lindsey)

If you ever wonder whether it’s worth digging through sales for good deals, here’s the proof.

Sarah Lindsey has revealed how she gave her staircase a complete makeover by shopping for materials at Ikea, The Range and in the B&Q sale.

Not only has the 37-year-old from Perthshire, Scotland, given this nook of her home a completely new look but thanks to her thrifty skills, she also estimates to have saved ‘about £1,000’.

Sarah had intended to hire carpet fitters to do the job for her, but then decided to do it herself – and at a cheaper cost to boot.

‘Our idea to take on home renovation for ourselves started because we didn’t have huge amounts of money, so we couldn’t afford to pay other people to do the work,’ the heart physiologist told Femail.

To get inspiration for the new design – which features a patterned black and white carpet on top of an egg-shell-coloured staircase – Sarah scoured Instagram and Pinterest before heading out to the stores.

The before photo of the staircase
The before shot (Picture: Sarah Lindsey)
The after photo of the staircase
The mum-of-three completed the job in a few days (Picture: Sarah Lindsey)

She ended up with white paint from B&Q (£4), four small tea light lanterns from IKEA (£2.50 each) and four Sheridan rugs from The Range (£14.99 per rug).

Technically she saved £73.96, but Sarah believes the real value of the discounts is at least £1,000 (especially since she didn’t hire anyone to do the job).

‘I like things that are a little bit different, and am impatient to get them done, so did it myself,’ she said.

‘All you need really is a staple gun and some rugs to get going. I must have saved about £1,000.’

The mum-of-three completed the job in a few days, but said it would have gone quicker if she hadn’t also been looking after her kids – Niamh, 11, Skye, 6, and Toren, 15 months.

Last month, another woman revealed a similar hack, where she spent just £50 and completely revamped her staircase.

There are ways to save money on home renovations, so long as you’re willing to put in a bit of work yourself.

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This UK nature reserve has been named one of the world’s best stargazing spots after residents turn off lights at night

Cranborne Chase and the night sky
Cranborne Chase and the night sky (Picture: Getty)

Sometimes you’re lucky if you can see more than a few stars in a light-polluted sky.

To make sure everyone could get a clear view, residents in Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB), which covers Wiltshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset, have been turning lights off at night.

And their efforts have paid off as the area is the first entire AONB in the UK to become an official dark sky reserve, awarded by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

The organisation celebrates ‘exceptionally starry skies’ and only places where the Milky Way is visible to the unaided eye become dark sky reserves.

It’s the 14th dark sky reserve across the world and it took them 10 years to achieve the status.

Adam Dalton, International Dark-Sky Places Program Manager at the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), said: ‘Cranborne Chase has the largest central area of darkness of any International Dark-Sky Reserve in the UK. It is a huge area of land at almost 1000 sq kms, and less than two hours from London and Bristol.

Other dark sky reserves across the world

Aoraki Mackenzie (New Zealand)

Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales)

Central Idaho (U.S.)

Cévennes National Park (France)

National Park Exmoor (England)

Kerry (Ireland)

Mont-Megantic (Canada)

Moore’s Reserve (South Downs, England)

Nature Reserve NamibRand (Namibia)

Pic du Midi (France)

Rhon (Germany)

Snowdonia National Park (Wales)

Westhavelland (Germany)

‘For those living and visiting this beautiful area, this is something to be celebrated and enjoyed.’

Linda Nunn, Director of Cranborne Chase AONB added: ‘We think of our beautiful landscapes as being on the ground, but 50% of our landscape is above our heads, in the sky.

‘The quality of our night sky is so important and this isn’t just for the benefit of astronomers.

‘There are huge benefits for nocturnal wildlife, our own human health and wellbeing, for education, tourism and for energy saving. We’re thrilled to be playing our part.’

MORE: Here comes the bride, in a giant inflatable balloon during extravagant wedding

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Airbnb introduces ethical animal experiences for tourists worldwide

Couple petting a dog on top of a mountain
This could be you (Picture: Airbnb)

If you’ve been to Thailand or other parts of South East Asia you may have posed with a tiger or other wild animal on your trip.

But reports have revealed the hidden horrors of animals in captivity. In an attempt to curb the tourism that feeds into this unethical industry, Airbnb is offering animal experiences.

Much like the normal local trips and experiences they offer, the brand is allowing travellers to go on guilt-free excursions via their website.

Airbnb will facilitate 1,000 animal-friendly excursions, tours and activities across 58 countries.

So you can go forth and pet elephants and pose side by side with a horse knowing they’re being well looked after.

Or you can stand back and observe the likes of dolphins, lions, bears, penguins, deers and much much more. You can even visit the dogs of Chernobyl.

If you’re more of a doer, there’s also a bunch of activities letting you play with them, whether your choice of play buddy is a corgi to paddleboard with or a goat to hike or do yoga with.

There are even 122 opportunities to care for animals too, allowing you to hug cows, become a beekeeper for a day, be a manatee caretaker.

And good news – all the experiences must follow World Animal Protection (WAP) guidelines, so you can connect with a clear conscience.

Woman paddle boarding with a corgi
Wanna paddleboard with a corgi? (Picture: Airbnb)

Under the WAP criteria, experiences won’t allow direct contact with wild animals, including petting, feeding or riding.

There are also strict rules relating to working animals and no excursions related to marine animals held in captivity.

Businesses running tours or activities which are known to trade illegal wildlife or partake in animal sporting/entertainment will be excluded from the experiences.

Those who meet the guidelines will be awarded a WAP to assure visitors that they meet ethical standards.

Man and dog on top of snowy mountain
All activities have to be approved by the Wildlife Animal Protection group (Picture: Airbnb)

Unfortunately, there’s a limited number of activities available in Asia but the endeavour is still new so it’s hoped more organisations will sign up.

At the moment, you can enjoy horseback riding in Vietnam, bird-watching in India, and swimming with giant whale sharks in the Philippines among others.

‘We know people love animals and want to see and experience them when they travel, but we also know they most want to see animals in a setting that respects their well-being,’ said Alesia Soltanpanah from World Animal Protection.

‘This new animal welfare policy created in consultation with our animal welfare experts combined with the creativity and dedication of Airbnb will ensure that adventurers have many options to experience the beauty of animals in a way that considers their welfare first.’

You can check out the full range of Animal Experiences on the Airbnb website.

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Aldi is selling an electric heated throw that sounds perfect for winter

The Aldi heated throw
The Aldi heated throw (Picture: Aldi)

With the cold nights drawing in, Aldi has a great solution to keep you warm.

The budget supermarket is selling a throw with a built-in heating setting to keep you nice and cosy.

The soft faux-fur throw comes in a brown or grey shade and costs just £34.99.

The controller is detachable so you can use it as a normal throw or when you get chilly, plug it in for a little more heat.

It’s 120cm by 160cm so lots of fluffy material to wrap your whole body up in.

It includes overheating protection, a three-hour auto-off function and six adjustable heat settings.

Aldi recommends using it on a lower heat setting when using it as a throw blanket or laying it out on your bed and using it on a higher setting to warm your bed up before you go to sleep.

It comes with an extra-long cable so you can relax in your favourite position even if it’s not close to a plug socket.

It’s available to pre-order online now and goes on sale on 24 October.

If you prefer a little heat under your sheets, Aldi is also selling a standard electric blanket that fits around your mattress for £14.99.

It comes in a double size and has two different heating zones so you can warm up one side at a time.

There are three temperature settings for the upper, lower and whole body and it also comes with overheat protection to keep you safe.

It automatically switches off after three hours in case you accidentally fall asleep.

It’s even machine washable so you can keep it clean.

Cosy winters await.

MORE: Airbnb introduces ethical animal experiences for tourists worldwide

MORE: This UK nature reserve has been named one of the world’s best stargazing spots after residents turn off lights at night

Six alternative experiences to help improve your mental well-being

Illustration of a woman looking despondent on a pink background
Practice self-care this winter (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Winter can be tough on the mind.

As the days get darker and the weather gets colder, many people suffer from conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or experience a general dip in their mood.

Self-care is important during all months of the year, but winter wellness in particular could make a big difference to your mental health – and hopefully, help counter-act any negative emotions.

We’ve put together a list of alternative well-being events in London, with a wide range of choices beyond traditional yoga and meditation.

Channel your inner vampire

A woman leaning forward in a yoga pose while in a circle with a star in it and candles around the circle
A glass of red liquid included (Picture: Vampire Yoga)

Sometimes delving into darkness can be spiritually cleansing.

Just in time for Halloween, you can emerge yourself in vampire yoga.

Think less Twilight and more Nosferatu, as you join a group of people in the Queen’s Wood in Highgate for an evening of ‘intention setting, asana practice, guided meditation’ along with a reading from Dracula and other ‘rituals’.

Tickets cost £35 and include charcoal-based pizza and a glass of thick red liquid (wine, not blood).

Choose from two dates: 21 October or 18 November.

Float in a tank and forget your worries

A floating tank at 3Tribes in Borough
The tub is filled with Epsom salts to make you float (Picture: 3Tribes)

If you’ve never heard of a floating tank, let us explain.

You will be in a closed tub, filled with water and Epsom salts (to help you float), completely cut off from the outside world with no sight, sounds or sensory stimulation.

Founders of 3Tribes in Borough, who offer the floating tank experience, say it’s like ‘returning to the womb’.

There are a few things to bear in mind.

Firstly, you’ll be in there for an hour and some people may hallucinate while meditating in the tank or fall asleep, which is normal.

Don’t worry, the tank only contains a small amount of water and the high level of salt will keep you floating, plus you can open the tank at any time.

Floating doesn’t come cheap; two sessions will set you back £100 or get a £50 discount by purchasing five sessions for £200.

De-stress in the company of furry friends

A woman sat at a table in Paws for Coffee with her dog and pooch is looking into the camera
Dogs help lower stress levels (Picture: Paws For Coffee)

There are numerous studies that showcase the mental health benefits of having a pet.

Being in the company of dogs can lower your stress levels and help you regulate your blood pressure.

Head to Paws for Coffee, a dog-friendly café where your pooch can roam free and make new pals while you chat to their humans.

Come along even if you don’t have a pet of your own and just sit surrounded by furry, friendly faces. We’re pretty sure you can convince a few people to let you pet their dogs (but always ask before you do).

The café is located in Hampton Hill, so why not go for a relaxing walk afterwards?

Chill out and listen to the gongs

Two large gongs at Sound Awakening
Listen and relax (Picture: Sound Awakening)

Sound awakening, run by Louise, a sound practitioner, will host a gong bath at the Greenhouse in Stoke Newington in November.

If you’re open to new experiences, go along and listen to the ‘powerful sonic meditation to bring about peace and well-being for improved health’.

Apparently, the vibrations will also help you release ‘blockages’ within your body and heal your cells.

Sounds pretty great to us.

The event will take place on 7 November from 7pm to 8pm or 8.30pm to 9.30pm. Tickets cost £19.

Try restorative yoga with passive poses

Woman doing restorative yoga in a studio, stretching across a pillow with the instructor's legs seen walking beside her
It’s less about effort and more about getting in tune with your senses (Picture: Getty)

This form of yoga is perfect if you want to enjoy the well-being aspect of the practice, without having to put in a lot of physical effort.

It’s slow-paced with passive poses that are intended to soothe your soul with the use of blocks, cushions and belts to provide maximum comfort.

The class is hosted at Frame – which has six locations in London – and is described as follows: ‘As we allow the body to release into these restful, sometimes deeply opening poses we release muscular, physical and emotional tension and aim to move towards a state of deep contentment, so as we still our fidgety bodies we can calm our busy minds and allow our selves just to rest in the present moment’.

Keep an eye on the brand’s website for upcoming dates at your studio of choice.

Meet like-minded souls at a cooking class

A hand chopping red onions on a chopping board with other vegetables on the side including garlic, parsley, shallots, tomatoes, carrots and an orange
There’s a connection between what we eat and how we feel (Picture: Borough Kitchen)

There are reports that explain the connections between what we put into our bodies and our mental health.

Borough Kitchen hosts classes where you can learn about healthy eating and cooking, including which vegetables and fruits to add to your daily diet.

Cooking can be very soothing on the mind and you’ll get the chance to make four dishes: spiced beetroot and coconut soup, salmon and chia seed cakes with avocado and dill salad, vegetable salad with spiced peanut dressing and lentils with butternut, spinach and tomato.

The three-hour class also includes time for dinner so you can eat the dishes you’ve prepared with others in the group.

Choose from a variety of dates up until February 2020, held in Chiswick or Hampstead. Tickets cost £99.

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How to stop ‘cancel anxiety’– the guilt that comes with blowing off your plans

How being unable to decorate the places we live is affecting us Metro illustrations (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)
‘I feel instantly guilty and often end up cancelling my cancellation and going out anyway’ (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk)

It’s Monday, you had a jam-packed weekend, you have a busy week ahead – and you already feel exhausted.

So, you take the proactive step and cancel a couple of plans, because #selfcare. That dinner with your school pal can wait until next week, those networking drinks won’t miss you. You’re tired and rest is important. Pat on the back for you.

But, instead of an evening of restful bliss – a candle-lit bath, homemade nutritious food and a sensible two hours of Netflix – your free evening is plagued with uncomfortable feelings of guilt and regret.

We’re calling it cancel anxiety, and it’s really common.

Why does cancelling plans so often make us feel like this? Why is it so hard to sit with our decision to put ourselves first without feeling like we’ve let everybody down?

All these worries are sabotaging our virtuous attempts to give ourselves a break, and it can become a bit of a vicious cycle.

It’s a feeling that Donna, 30, knows all too well.

‘I wear myself out trying make sure I make time for all my friends, family, the gym and work as well as “living my best life” to the point where I’m often stressed out about how many plans I have,’ she explains.

‘But the minute I take any time off to just rest, I’m filled with anxiety. Am I missing out? Am I being a bad friend? Am I secretly lazy because I want to spend the day at home in my pyjamas watching Netflix?

‘I find that I spend the time when I have plans feeling anxious about how busy and tired I am and wishing I could have a break, and the minute I take a break, I feel anxious about not doing anything.

‘On the rare occasion I do try to put my health first and cancel something as I know I need a rest, I feel instantly guilty and often end up cancelling my cancellation and going out anyway, or deciding that because I cancelled I need to make the most of my “time off” and do one million chores instead.

‘In short, it’s exhausting.’

Sleep illustration
‘It’s about never really feeling like you’ve made the right decision, and it makes me feel like I don’t know myself that well’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

The pressure to be constantly achieving can make you feel as though you have to fill your free time with productive things.

It’s fuelled by social media, and the need to constantly perform to everyone you know how much fun you’re having, how successful you are, how well you’re doing. Cancelling a plan can feel like a missed opportunity to add to this narrative.

Hannah, 20, says she finds it really difficult to explain to her friends why she needs a night off.

‘I’ve missed friend’s birthdays, work drinks, just going out generally,’ says Hannah. ‘Sometimes, hearing “we missed you!” is also really hard. It’s almost as horrible a feeling as deciding to not go out in the first place.

‘It’s so hard to express that you’re just having a really hard time in that moment.

‘I think that it’s about never really feeling like you’ve made the right decision, and it makes me feel like I don’t know myself that well.’

Hannah says the problem comes when she thinks she’s doing the right thing for herself and her body, but then she gets conflicting messages telling her the opposite.

‘It is just a constant struggle to do the “right” thing,’ she adds.

‘I end up really focusing on the event itself – looking on social media to make sure it was as chill as I thought it was going to be, or if it suddenly turned into the best night ever.

‘There’s also the need to apologise to the host and all the friends you’re missing, which can be exhausting – even if the friends don’t really care!’

We’ve all heard of FOMO – the fear of missing out. It can cause us to pack our schedules with things we don’t really want to do, just because the possibility of missing something fun is too stressful.

But cancel anxiety takes FOMO to the next level. We aren’t only afraid of missing out, we often end up blaming ourselves, feeling guilt and shame for not making the right decision or berating ourselves for not having enough ‘fun’.

The accumulative effect of this can leave you feeling completely trapped. Say yes to every invitation and you’ll be hurtling towards burnout, but if cancelling also causes you stress – what’s the alternative?

‘It’s easy to forget that we must put ourselves first,’ explains Neuro Linguistic Programming coach Rebecca Lockwood.

‘If you feel as though you would prefer to be at home, relaxing, honour that. Also remember that if the reason you are declining is due to something else you have already committed to, or you would prefer to spend time with other people or yourself, maximise on that.

‘Remember that it’s OK to want to do other things and you don’t need to explain that to anyone else or even yourself. There will be plenty of other opportunities to do things.’

Rebecca thinks that one of the best ways to tackle this kind of anxiety is to make sure that you are fully at peace with spending time alone. She says that starts with the smallest of gestures.

‘Always check in with yourself,’ she says. ‘Use a few minutes in the morning to set an intention for yourself and how you want your day and week to turn out.

‘Be kind to yourself, not only in giving yourself some time to rest, but also being aware of the inner chatter you have in your mind.

‘If you find yourself talking to yourself negatively, just stop for a moment, place your hand on your heart take a deep breath and tell yourself “you are OK, you are proud of you and you will have a lovely day whatever you do”.’

Alex calls himself the FOMO King. He says the anxiety he gets from cancelling plans often means he says yes to everything – no matter how exhausted it leaves him.

‘I’m constantly doing things with various groups of friends, and then when I feel I’m burning out and dedicate a weekend or a few evenings to myself, I feel guilty for cancelling on certain friends,’ he says.

‘Or I feel jealous seeing people out on their Instagram stories.

‘I’m always telling myself’ “once you’re out and have a drink you’ll enjoy it”, but this weekend for example – I can’t decide whether the tiredness from going out again was worth the lack of FOMO.’

Sophie, 29, agrees. She has a manic work schedule, so her weekends are precious – but she feels the pressure to fill them up with plans even though she knows she needs to rest.

‘Society tells us that we need to see our friends, party, go to the gym or any other things that are deemed to be ingredients that together make up a “life” on the weekends,’ she says.

‘When in reality, sometimes all I want to do is spend time by myself. So, I frequently cancel plans because I just don’t have the energy or feel like I’m forced to do stuff.

‘Sadly, it’s a vicious cycle, because then I feel guilty or anxious because I haven’t done anything all weekend.

‘Take sleeping in, for example. I get up around 6am most days during the week, but then when I decide to lie in until 10am on a weekend, I feel sad and guilty because shouldn’t I be doing something?’

woman sleeping at desk
‘I spent years feeling like I was the “flakey friend”‘ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Emma Case is a life coach, she says that in order to shift those feelings of guilt and turn rest into something positive – you have to be completely open with your friends and peers.

‘I spent years feeling like I was the “flakey friend”,’ says Emma. ‘I felt guilty, that I was forever letting people down. I found it hard to be honest about why I was cancelling.

‘The turning point was experiencing a serious case of burnout and exhaustion, and my priorities had to shift.

‘Truthfully, I still cancel from time to time, the only difference is that now I’m completely honest about why. Simply put, telling a friend that you’re tired and genuinely need to rest is honourable and strengthens bonds. It also reduces the feeling of stress.

‘FOMO still occasionally creeps up on me, I’m only human! The difference now is that I’m less concerned.’

How to cope with cancel anxiety

1. Focus on yourself 100%. If you’ve taken the time to prioritise your well-being, don’t spend the evening feeling guilt or regret. Learn to enjoy your party for one.

2. Remember that FOMO is normal. We all experience it at times. My tried and tested affirmation on these occasions: ‘next time will be even better!’

3. Unfollow/mute friends on social media for 24 hours and tell them not to tag you in any photos.

Emma Case, life coach

It’s really important to remember to listen to your body.

If you want to cancel plans and go to bed, that’s not you being lazy, that’s your body telling you to take a break – and being aware of those signals is the best way to keep your body and your mind healthy.

As Emma says, honestly really is the best policy. Chances are, all your mates feel just as exhausted as you do, so normalising the concept of taking a night off without the need for an elaborate excuse might be the best thing for all of you.

Simply saying – I can’t tonight, my body needs a rest – should be enough. And if your friends truly care about you, they will understand.

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Vegan woman married to hunter has a separate fridge and hopes to raise son on plant-based diet

Man and wife holding their baby
Vegan Tandi with her hunter husband Mitchell and their son Brookes (Picture: MDWfeatures / Tandi Rolen)

A mum who’s been vegan for eight years lives a polar opposite life to her husband who is a hunter.

Yoga instructor and plant-based chef Tandi Rolen, 28, from Washington met her husband, gunsmith and fishing guide, Mitchell Rolen, 28, when they were just 16.

The couple has to store their foods in separately with Mitchell keeping his meat in the garage while Tandi uses the kitchen.

But now with a four-month-old son, the husband and wife are struggling with which diet to feed him.

Tandi hopes to raise him on a vegan diet but says she’s open to letting him choose even if he wants to go hunting.

The mum-of-one grew up on a standard diet of meat and processed foods but when her grandma died of cancer, a 20-year-old Tandi started to focus on her own health and went vegetarian.

After researching the dairy industry, Tandi became vegan, a month after her wedding to Mitchell in 2015.

Though she doesn’t push Mitchell to become vegan himself, he eventually started paying attention to her concerns.

Mitchell only eats meat from animals he has killed using a bow and arrow and not for sport, storing the contents in a separate freezer.

Tandi pictured kissing her husband on their wedding day on a beach.
Tandi became fully vegan a month after getting married to Mitchell (Picture: MDWfeatures / Tandi Rolen)

‘When I found out I was pregnant I decided to close down my cafe to focus on my new goal which is raising a conscious human,’ explained Tandi.

‘My husband enjoys bow hunting and hunting for a source of food for himself. Not as sport.

‘I never looked at his hobbies in an objective way before. Hunting and eating animals are so normalised, I never questioned it.

‘But when the veil of animal agriculture was exposed to me in a new way I went through a period of being mad at the world. I felt lied to. And my husband didn’t make the connection right away which was also devastating.

‘What saved my marriage was realising that people will not change if you tell them what they’re doing is wrong. You have to lead by example and lead with compassion and understanding.’

Tandi pictured pregnant
At their month their four-month-old son follows his mum’s diet (Picture: MDWfeatures / Tandi Rolen)

Their son Brookes is currently following his mum’s lifestyle and getting his nutrients from plants.

Tandi admits that the couple is sometimes questioned about their contrasting views on animal product consumption but says that their relationship is proof that both vegans and non-vegans can integrate.

Tandi pictured kissing her husband.
‘Everything is not a one size fits all’ (Picture: MDWfeatures / Tandi Rolen)

‘We eat whole plant foods plus my husband has deer or grouse, it’s quite easy actually. We have dairy-free alternatives as well.

‘Everyone is so far on one side of the spectrum. But the truth is everything is not a one size fits all. Lifestyle and diet included.

‘We have to integrate. And we must take the best options on both sides and practice them.’

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A studio in London is giving away free tattoos on Sunday

Tattoo artist Ricky Williams giving someone a tattoo on their arm
Ricky Williams is giving away free tattoos at his studio in New Cross (Picture: South City Market)

Getting inked can be very expensive, especially if you want a design that is complicated and time-consuming.

If you’re short on cash, here’s your chance to score a free tattoo.

To celebrate the first birthday of his studio, owner of South City Market, Ricky Williams, has just announced that Londoners can get themselves a complimentary tattoo this coming Sunday (27 October).

Ricky is in high demand; the tattoo artist charges over £150 per hour and has a two-year waiting list.

His team will also be on hand, including artists Luke Ashely, Loz Mclean, Peter Laeviv and Jessica Rubbish, all of whom specialise in black and grey tattoos.

So, how does it work?

To nab yourself a free masterpiece, make your way to South City Market in New Cross on the day.

It’s first come, first serve, however you won’t get to choose just any art.

In order to keep timings running smoothly and get as many people through the door as possible, each artist has created a ‘flash sheet’ of options for guests to choose from.

As an example, Ricky’s flash sheet contains an image of a pineapple, a shark, a rose, a heart, a feather and more animals and nature-items.

Tattoo artist Ricky Williams' flash sheet featuring drawings of animals, plants and fruit
Ricky’s flash sheet for the day (Picture: South City Market)

‘For our first birthday we wanted to give something back to our amazing and loyal followers and customers, said Ricky, who opened the New Cross studio in 2018.

‘This whole year has been so great and we couldn’t have done it without the continued support and love from our wonderful client base.

‘We’ll be opening our doors for the whole day and all tattoos will be completely free of charge.’

South City Market is open from 9am to 7pm but it’s recommended that you get there early.

Ricky said: ‘Come down, celebrate with us, enjoy the space and leave with a new tattoo!

‘Many of our artists are fully booked for years, so this might be your last chance to get tattooed by them for a while.’

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Mum creates reward token board with buckets to get her kids to do chores

Shelley's reward board showing the buckets at the top, the house rules, chores, and YES chart
Shelley’s reward board (Picture: Facebook)

A mum has revealed how she easily gets her kids to do their chores with a homemade board.

Shelley Kozyra, from Sydney, Australia, took a white board and added a bucket for each of her three children, Leah, Nate and Isaac.

The idea is that the kids earn tokens and they can use them to ‘pay’ for something they want to do.

It’s based on principles outlined in books by Carol McCloud, which encourage kids to make creative choices known as ‘bucket fillers’

‘Aim is to work towards a number of tokens (laminated happy faces) that they put in the buckets and trade-in for something they would really like,’ Shelley said.

‘When ready – [they can get] a special outing (movies, dinner etc) one-on-one time, stay up a bit later, screen time or an item from the shops.’

They earn tokens in a number of ways. Following all the house rules on the board every day, for example, resulted in one token.

If they complete their chores for the week, including two every day and another two they choose each week, they get more tokens and reaching five stars on the YES chart (saying yes when asked to do something) gives them more tokens.

Shelley created the chart using a whiteboard and buckets from Ikea.

She posted the idea on Facebook and other parents loved the idea.

Love this! I love how you put a visual to bucket-filling!’

While another added: ‘This is so thoughtful and cute! Great job, Mummy!’

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MOGA Festival’s home, Essaouira, is the cultural melting pot you’re looking for


It’s hard to convey the ambience of Morocco’s traditional gateway to South America without resorting to cliches.

Clinging to the rocks, Atlantic swell crashes beneath historic coastal walls, ensuring you never forget your first view of this stunning spot.

The vast majority of travellers that wind up here— following in the footsteps of thousands that have wandered before them, not least Jimi Hendrix— will arrive via Marrakech. It takes some three hours drive to reach Essaouira, and the ocean, and the difference between the two cities couldn’t be more pronounced.

It’s also home to MOGA Festival, a weekend-long showcase of local, regional, African and international electronic artists, which emphasises its status as a hub of alternative culture. It’s the definition of an enchanting melting pot.

MOGA festival is set in Morocco’s traditional gateway to South America (Photo: Juliet Airs)
MOGA festival is set in Morocco’s traditional gateway to South America (Photo: Juliet Airs)

The road to the Essaouira comes with endless vistas across open savannah; you’re far removed from Europe’s over-development.

Make the journey at sunset and crimson haze dominates the skies overhead; a preview of the magic to come. 

But there’s no pressure here, nor rush, despite having been on the tourist route for decades. 

You might be here for the music, not to mention the party that comes with it, but spending some time soaking up the town’s ambience is essential. All life greets you walking down any of the Medina’s packed streets.

MOGA festival, now in its third year, benefits from Essaouria’s illustrious past; a music and arts festival, it blends Moroccan, Maghrebian and African national scenes with a swathe of international DJs.
MOGA festival, now in its third year, benefits from Essaouria’s illustrious past; a music and arts festival, it blends Moroccan, Maghrebian and African national scenes with a swathe of international DJs.

Characters run the gamut from young, modern businessmen— wheeling and dealing on WhatsApp— to arched-backed old timers plucked from distant pantheons, faces half-hidden beneath traditional robes. 

The Skala de la Kasbah, ramparts that have long-protected the city from seafaring invaders and Mother Nature herself, are equally enchanting. These stone walls are instantly recognisable as Astapor, one of the settings for the TV smash hit, A Game Of Thrones.

Despite its links to the entertainment industry, Essaouira’s main role remains that of a working port and the base for a thriving fishing industry.

Down at the harbour you’ll find an armada of quaint blue boats moored each afternoon, having returned to shore, catch-of-the-day on board.

It’s possible to commandeer a local to help strike deals with fishermen in the tile-floored indoor market, but thankfully you don’t have to chance on a helpful stranger to experience intoxicating flavours. 

Nearby restaurants serve ultra fresh fruits of the sea, from grilled sardines to oysters.

You’ll also find heavy sub-Saharan and, thanks to the colonial past, French influences without having to look very hard, alongside Arabic cuisine and Middle Eastern street food (shawarma is quite literally everywhere). 

Drafting in global DJs such as Kenny Dope, Blond:ish and Bradley Zero, and pairing these with 50% domestic talent, MOGA makes a strong case for the global reach of dance music today (Photo: Joseph Ouechen)
Drafting in global DJs such as Kenny Dope, Blond:ish and Bradley Zero, and pairing these with 50% domestic talent, MOGA makes a strong case for the global reach of dance music today (Photo: Joseph Ouechen)

The pace of life might be slow, but that doesn’t mean every day has to be lackadaisical; head for dirt tracks and dunes beyond the city limits for high intensity action.

I opted for high-speed quad bikes, hired through Diana Quad, and was guided through steeped corners, sudden twists, sharp turns and— best of the lot— a long stretch of empty beach for full-throttle action. It is not to be missed. 

Essaouira couldn’t feel more removed from Marrakech’s rabid haggling, manic labyrinths and sensory overload. It has plenty of opportunities to barter, too, and the Medina— or historic centre— is a rabbit warren of narrow streets packed with smells and sights. 

Before heading to MOGA Festival itself the so-called Off programme is worth a punt.

From a photography exhibition at cultural centre Dar Souiri (where film screenings and concerts take place throughout the year) to design panels, these side attractions confirm how much the MOGA values aesthetics and artistry.

Hence the look of the site-proper: spread throughout the grounds and interior of the high-class Sofitel, MOGA is living proof that Essaouira is a place where cultures collide. 

Homegrown Gnaoua (or Gnawa) music star Maâlem Omar Hayat— colloquially known as the Jimi Hendrix of the sintir (Photo: Joseph Ouechen)
Homegrown Gnaoua (or Gnawa) music star Maâlem Omar Hayat— colloquially known as the Jimi Hendrix of the sintir (Photo: Joseph Ouechen)

Drafting in global DJs such as Kenny Dope, Blond:ish and Bradley Zero, and pairing these with 50% domestic talent, it’s a reminder for the global reach of dance music today.

A highlight of the festival was live act Parallels with homegrown Gnaoua (or Gnawa) music star Maâlem Omar Hayat— colloquially known, we are told, as the Jimi Hendrix of the sintir; a percussive-guitar instrument that’s as mesmerising as it is commanding live.

Their set was a musical odyssey calling on tribal rhythms, house beats and ambient melodies. Within the lavish setting comprising indoor club, outdoor pool stage (adorned with bedroom furnishings) and otherworldly gardens, you can also find the MOGA Souk selling crafts and products from local and national artisans. 

Against this backdrop the atmosphere is a combination of decadence, debauchery and stylish extravagance— a metaphor for both Essaouira and Morocco overall.

A destination where mysticism and modernism meet, where beauty is found in both the aesthetically overwhelming and the sparsest of views, a trip to Essaouira is up there with the most adventurous you could hope for on a weekend away from rainy England.

Tips for Essaouira

Cash-heavy society Morocco isn’t the world’s friendliest place when it comes to card machines. Alcoholic beverages are also difficult to come by, especially in the Medina, but not impossible. It’s worth noting that the establishments that do take cards and have booze on offer are unlikely to offer the same value as you expect when buying Moroccan leather, spices and hand-carved wooden trinkets.

Leaving town The roads into Essaouira from all direction are stunning, but few surpass the route to Tagenza. Rolling up at this traditional fishing village is even more delightful, making the city itself look like bustling metropole. Forget taxis, though, to truly make the most of this route rent a car and see where the asphalt takes you next.

Flights You can fly one way from London Stansted to Essaouira from £17 with Ryanair, or from London Gatwick to Marrakech from £25 with easyJet. Atlas Essaouira rooms start from €69 per night or you can book a Riad on AirBnb from £35 per night. For festival ticket only, it’s a 3-Day Pass for €120 while a festival ticket, transport and hotel from €206.

Sober October: the best Halloween activities in London that don’t involve drinking

Pumpkins carved into Jack-o'-lanterns lit up with candles at night (Image:Robyn Beck/Getty) 
Carving Pumpkins is just one of the Halloween activities available in London which doesn’t involve hitting the booze (Picture:Robyn Beck/Getty)

Halloween, that spookiest of occasions, is also a time when many people are going sober for October.

Luckily, there are plenty of Halloween activities happening in London which don’t involve (or don’t necessitate) getting drunk.

Going out and getting pissed while wearing a pair of cat ears might be the definitive British Halloween experience, but there’s nothing spooky about getting drunk.

In fact, alcohol decreases your capacity to experience fear, which is really not what Halloween is about.

Unlike Christmas, the failure of Halloween-themed nights out rests on the fact that there are simply not enough good thematically relevant songs to fill out a four-hour playlist.

Rihanna’s Disturbia is good, we’ll admit, but how many times you can hear the Ghosbuster’s theme song, Thriller or Highway to Hell? Halloween playlists can’t help but feel deeply contrived.

Moreover, the experience of being drunk in a club is profoundly antithetical to the spirit of Halloween – which ought to be spooky, goddamn it.

It makes perfect sense, then, to swerve the booze – whether you’re going sober for October or not.

With that in mind, here are some of the spookiest goings-on in London this fortnight.

Watch a classic horror film

The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, advertising the John Carpenter film 'They Live' (Image:Jack Dredd/REX)
The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, a much-loved London institution (Picture:Jack Dredd/REX)

This is a far better way to honor the spirit of Halloween than going on some God-forsaken bar crawl.

The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square has programmed ‘Thrillers and Killers and Monsters, Oh My! – A Season of Bloody, Scary and Tense Cinema!’

It’s showing a wide range of horror films, but the highlight is a punishing 12-hour long classic horror marathon on Saturday 26, where you can watch The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the dead of night, while intensely sleep-deprived – sounds pretty scary to us.

If this is a little intense for you, they’re also showing a double-screening of Scream and Scream 2 (Tuesday 29) which will be a little less harrowing, and a lot less time-consuming.

If you have kids and don’t want to traumatise them, or you’re a scaredy cat yourself, they’re also showing Caspar and Little Monsters (1989).

Tickets for the marathon are £20, which is pretty reasonable for 12 hours of being terrorised, while entry to a single film is £10 (or £6 for kids). Entry is cheaper if you’re a member, which only costs £10.

For a cheaper version of the same experience, there’s a free screening of 2002 Japanese horror remake The Ring at Flat Iron Square, near Borough Market.

It’s happening on Thursday 31 (Halloween itself) and it takes place outside, so make to you wrap up warm – getting hypothermia is scary, certainly, but not in a way you’ll enjoy.

Go on a ghost walk

The London Ghost bus riding over a bridge at night (Image: Ghost Bus Tours)
The London Ghost bus riding over a bridge at night (Picture: Ghost Bus Tours)

London’s history has been so grim, miserable and violent that it’s no surprise it’s often ranked one of the world’s most haunted cities – although who knows how such things are measured.

As such, there are plenty of ghost tours in London. Many of the walks focus on particular areas – including The City, Epping Forest, and the East End – but if you want a wider overview of Haunted London, you can cover more ground with a ghost bus tour.

Who says learning can’t be fun? (Literally no-one. No-one has ever said that)

If you’re the kind of person who likes to turn their leisure time into an opportunity for self-improvement, why not spend Halloween at a museum, learning stuff?

Lots of the big hitters – including the Science Museum and the Museum of London – are hosting Halloween events, along with a number of smaller institutions.

You might want to check out the Handel & Hendrix museum, so-called because it’s housed in a building once inhabited by both Jimi Hendrix and George Handel.

They’re hosting a Halloween night which promises to explore the darker side of the music of each of these figures, along with Tarot readings, face-painting and a pop-up bar.

London also boasts a number of museums which exist all-year round but are sinister enough to serve as Halloween entertainment.

Take Hackney’s ‘Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities’ which features everything from human remains to taxidermy (including a two-headed lamb) to, um, Happy Meal Toys.

According to  its website: ‘By placing the rare and the beautiful on the same plane as the commonplace, banal and amusing this museum seeks not to educate but to subvert, to show the world not in a grain of sand, but in a Hackney basement.’

Dennis Severs’ House, meanwhile, describes itself as a ‘still life drama’. It’s basically a historic house museum with a twist: each room feels as though it has been abandoned by its inhabitants moments before.

It’s about what you can smell and hear (talking is strictly forbidden) as much as what you can see – all of which makes it one of the most atmospheric experiences on offer in London.

It really does feel like stepping inside a Charles Dickens novel.

Learn how to carve a pumpkin

Pumpkin carving has become the go-to way for couples on Instagram to convey how smugly wholesome they are.

It’s the new ‘going on a date to Kew Gardens.’ We get it, guys, you’re very much in love.

If you want to pick your own, check out Wimbledon Park’s Pumpkin Picking Patch, although if you’re single you might feel like the ghost at the feast.

At the upper end of the fanciness scale, Fortnum and Mason’s are offering a pumpkin-carving session, with a prize for the best one.

If you already feel confident in your skills,  why not put them to the test at Mudchute Farm’s carving competition?

For a truly terrifying Jack ‘o Lantern, just grab a pumpkin and carve in the words ‘no deal Brexit’. The judges will be spooked and amazed!

Attend a Mean Girls-themed dinner… for some reason

‘The Plastics/So Fetch Halloween Cuisine immersive experience’ promises food, Halloween cocktails, fancy dress and a ‘special magician/artist’. All of the ingredients for a perfect night out.

This is all well and good but it does beg the question: just what exactly has Mean Girls got to do with Halloween?

To paraphrase Regina: stop trying to make over-priced immersive experiences based on 2000’s cultural ephemera happen.

Visit a cemetery

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eddie Mulholland/REX (548296d) Nunhead Cemetery, Peckham, London, England, Britain PECKHAM, LONDON, BRITAIN - 2005
Nunhead Cemetery in South East London, the perfect spot for a spine-chilling stroll (Picture:Eddie Mulholland/REX)

London is graced with some of the most beautiful graveyards in the world. Say what you like about the Victorians, but they really did know how to memorialise the dead – and then some!

This is great news if you’re a goth, a fan of the Smiths, or simply someone who enjoys a spine-tingling walk in late October.

Highgate cemetery might be the big-hitter, but it’s worth checking out Nunhead and Kensal Green – both of which are replete with as many mausoleums and tombs as your heart could desire.

Hang out with some dogs

Dog welfare charity ‘All Dogs Matter’ is organising a Halloween dog walk and show, with prizes for the Spookiest dog, as well as for human children and adults.

Here at metro.co.uk, we can’t imagine how any costume could be as funny or cute as the above French bulldog dressed as Chucky – but best of luck to all the contenders.

Buy yourself some Halloween treats

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies is one of the most unusual shops in East London: it sells everything from confectionery (with names like ‘Mortal Terror’ and ‘Escalating Panic’) to dental products (‘fang floss’) to SAD lamps (‘daylight for vampires’).

All of their products have a spooky name and stark, monochromatic packaging. It’s well worth checking out.

For anyone with a sweet tooth, bakeries such as Flavourtown and Primrose make baroque, elaborate Halloween-themed cupcakes. For a cheaper option, so does Gregg’s.

So there you have it. Whether you’re drinking or not, however your wholesome your evening ends up being, we wish you a happy Halloween.

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Why do we apologise when we’re treated badly at work?

Illustration of a woman standing in front of her boss, who is seated and is holding up a cup of tea
Dealing with conflict at work is never easy (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If there’s anything Brits are known for, it’s an obsession with saying ‘sorry’.

We constantly apologise without considering the implications behind the word and a lot of the time we do it when there isn’t actually anything to apologise for.

This is especially true in the workplace, where we are inherently polite to our colleagues for fear of offending people that we might not know so well outside of the office environment.

Being able to admit when you’re in the wrong is a valuable trait, but there is a danger in saying sorry too often – and doing it as a reflex.

Here are a few examples:

You’re assigned to work on a project with a colleague, and you’re both given a deadline by your boss. You finish your work in time but the other person doesn’t.

The boss then yells at both of you and instead of speaking up for yourself, you take all or part of the blame and apologise.

There’s nothing wrong with having each others’ backs at work – in fact, it can create a stronger bond between colleagues – but there are ways to explain the situation to your manager without having to utter the ‘s’ word.

‘So in the case of being blamed for something being partially your fault – by saying sorry, you’re accepting full responsibility. But the fault isn’t entirely ours, and we can’t fix things if we haven’t done anything wrong,’ Karen Kwong, founder of the business consultancy Renoc, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘At times, it would seem childish and churlish to blame others too, especially in particularly sensitive circumstances. However, the other person/people need to bear the responsibility too.’

Let’s look at a different scenario.

Your superior is having a bad day – they’re snappy, rude and unhelpful.

Because you’re afraid of rocking the boat even further, you try your best to be accommodating. Perhaps you apologise for taking a full lunch hour (even though it is your right as an employee) or maybe your boss is in such a bad mood that they give you a task without actually explaining how you should complete it.

‘Sorry, but I’m not exactly sure what you wanted me to do with it, really sorry if I’ve misunderstood,’ you say (or something along these lines).

Your workplace should be a safe space where you feel able to speak up if you need help – without having to feel guilty about it. It’s part of a manager’s job to assist his or her employees, so if anything they should apologise to you in this scenario.

Alexandra Lichtenfeld, a business mentor for Client Matters, tells Metro.co.uk that constantly admitting fault can be connected to fear and insecurities.

‘Employees often feel the need to apologise for a number of reasons,’ she says.

‘Fear of losing their job if they speak out, not knowing what to say or how to say it with confidence, worries about being singled out or concerns about not getting a reference if they make a complaint and choose to leave the company are all key factors.’

This guilt doesn’t jut affect junior team members. A new manager might also find themselves apologising, because they are afraid of asserting themselves for fear of their team pushing back.

‘Experiencing unpleasantness at work is not just confined to junior staff – many senior staff fall victim to unfair treatment too,’ says Alexandra.

‘Knowing that you are being treated badly at work can place employees in extremely challenging positions, and is likely to knock their confidence.’

Regardless of which position you’re in, try your best not to throw the word around because it can have very real consequences.

Karen explains: ‘Because while you’re too busy trying to be an upstanding citizen in the workplace, you’re actually undermining yourself, one “I’m sorry” at a time.

‘In the first scenario, not evading responsibility is a good thing. However, by apologising so quickly and on behalf of others merely points to you being insecure and a weak link in the argument. This then detriments all the good work you have done.

‘In the second, by apologising for something that you have nothing to apologise for subconsciously reiterates to your boss that he/she is superior and he/she can get away with saying anything and you’ll take the fall for it and apologise.’

If you recognise this behaviour in yourself, it’s time to make some productive changes.

Helen May, an executive coach with learning and leadership experience, explains how you can become better at not saying sorry.

‘The first step to stopping this is to recognise when it is happening,’ she tells us.

‘Become mindful of the situations where your esteem is low and you feel that you should apologise. Then, remove yourself from the situation in order to give it consideration before you respond.

‘So, for example, if you have received criticism or negative feedback, thank the other person and say that you would like time to think about what they have said before you respond.

‘Speak to a trusted colleague or friend and recount the feedback, as well as your feelings about it. Allow your colleague to help you see the situation objectively.

‘You can then return to the individual who gave you the feedback and give a considered response, admitting where you feel you were at fault and where you feel the feedback is unfair.’

This applies to emails, instant communication and texts – don’t write a reply in a rush if it’s a sensitive matter.

Compile a response, then step away from your desk for a few minutes or just take a break by looking at something else, and re-read the email afterwards. Look for apologetic words like ‘just’, ‘sorry’, ‘apologies’, ‘I’m afraid that..’ and consider if they should be included.

Avoid being confrontational or passive aggressive – it will only make you appear petty and may backfire.

Karen says: ‘If your boss calls you out for something you did not do, ask them questions around why they have made such accusations and how they came to those conclusions.

‘It need not be confrontational. You’re merely gathering facts.

‘You may wish to suggest that your understanding is not theirs and if you are really under pressure, just say you’ll investigate and revert. Again, showing that you are responsible but you have healthy boundaries and you won’t be messed around.’

Just remember that whether it’s at work or in your personal ife, you deserve to be treated with respect – but you also need to assertive and demand that respect for yourself.

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Mum’s ‘rainbow baby’ photoshoot aims to give hope to those grieving after baby loss

Baby's feet covered in rainbow paint
A mum organised a rainbow shoot to honour a child she previously lost (Picture: Stephanie Capps)

TW: Baby loss

One of the hardest things a person can go through is losing a baby, and it can be incredibly isolating, with it feeling like no one else can understand.

For Kasey McComas, that was the case when her little girl passed away. Now, however, she’s trying to make other parents going through the same thing realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

After Kasey’s unborn daughter, Phoenix, was stillborn at 21 weeks (after an anatomy scan at 15 showed that she had died), she was devastated.

She told CafeMom about her experience: ‘I was very unaware of many things involving miscarriages and stillbirths until I experienced it myself.’

It was through researching pregnancy loss and trying to make sense of her grief that she found out about the term rainbow baby.

This refers to a baby born after miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death, and is meant to signify the beautiful things that can happen after a dark time – just like a rainbow after a storm.

One year after the scan that showed Kasey that Phoenix had died, she conceived her very own rainbow baby, Ezra, and decided that she wanted to honour Phoenix as part of celebrating her new son’s birth.

Baby's feet covered in rainbow paint
Kasey had the photoshoot after her ‘rainbow baby’ Ezra was born (Picture: Stephanie Capps)

She did this with a photoshoot with photographer Stephanie Capps, which showed Ezra’s tiny newborn feet painted to look like a rainbow.

‘I cannot remember exactly how I came to the idea, but I did a lot of Google and YouTube searches about rainbow baby births,’ Kasey says.

Kasey came to Stephanie with the idea, and the photos were taken not long after Ezra was first brought home from hospital.

Baby's feet covered in rainbow paint
‘Women deserve to know that there are others that can relate to their journeys of loss and know their pain’ (Picture: Stephanie Capps)

They also decided to stamp his tiny toes on a piece of paper, which could then be put into his memory box and be treasured for the rest of their lives.

It wasn’t just for them, though. Part of the reason Kasey and Stephanie decided on this particular shoot was to show that parents who have experienced baby loss are not alone.

Kasey said: ‘I am always willing to share about my journey of loss. Women deserve to know that there are others that can relate to their journeys of loss and know their pain.’

Baby's feet covered in paint with wedding rings in big toe
She wanted to honour Phoenix who she previously lost at 21 weeks (Picture: Stephanie Capps)

‘Any time that I can use anything we experienced or learned in my journey of loss, grief, and joy of welcoming a rainbow baby is an opportunity for Phoenix’s short existence to make a difference and to live on.

‘I hope that others can find in our story that bit of hope that you can rise from the ashes as something beautiful and that rainbows do come after storms. I truly treasure these photos because they are a reminder of that.’

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Dad chaperoning five-year-old’s school pumpkin patch trip has new-found respect for teachers

Dad Clint with daughter Aspen
Exhausted dad smiling through the pain (Picture: Clint Edwards)

Teachers are proof that not all superheroes wear capes.

One dad volunteered to chaperone a school trip with his five-year-old daughter and soon regretted signing up.

Dad-of-three Clint Edwards, who regales his followers with funny and educational parenting stories, recently visited a pumpkin patch with more than 20 other kids.

The blogger, who writes on Facebook page No Idea What I’m Doing: Daddy’s Blog, thanked teachers that can look after screaming children quickly and efficiently.

After a day hanging out with his daughter Aspen and all her friends, Clint, from Oregon, decided to hang up his chaperone boots.

The exhausted dad said those who can handle all of that are ‘remarkable’. He then took to Facebook to marvel at the teachers, in a post which soon went viral.

Clint told Metro.co.uk: ‘My five-year-old takes everything I’ve got.

‘Watching someone manage 20 plus five-year-olds was pretty remarkable. And for her to do it with such care and compassion was pretty amazing.

‘It takes a pretty special person to love and care for other people’s children like teachers do.’

Dad Clint with daughter's dolls
It’s tough being a dad (Picture: Clint Edwards)

Clint was particularly impressed by one teacher who managed to get all 20+ children to take off their shoes unaided and get on the bus without putting mud all over the floor.

He wrote on Facebook: ‘I’m pretty sure if she listed this act on her resume, she’d be as respected as any military general. I mean, wow! No child lost a shoe and she smiled the WHOLE TIME!’

Clint added: ‘Let me just say, I haven’t had a drink in 16 years, but I wanted a drink today. I wanted one real bad.

Little girl playing with seeds in the ground
Little Aspen exhausted her dad during the school trip (Picture: Clint Edwards)

‘I love my daughter, but other people’s kids are a bit much. This trip left me with incredible respect for people who work with young children all day.

‘I only had five in my group, and they listened about as good as goldfishes. The whole time I was afraid I’d lose one in the cornfield, they’d never be found, and ultimately end up as the premise for a Steven King novel.’

Clint then wrote to teachers, saying: ‘If you are a teacher reading this, give yourself a huge pat on the back. You are incredible. And if you know a teacher, give them a huge thank you.’

He ended with: ‘And if anyone needs need me, I’ll be right back. I’m heading to the store for more cookies, and maybe some ice cream, to keep from having that drink.’

You can marvel at Clint’s parenting stories in his forthcoming book, Silence is a Scary Sound.

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