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The Subway vegan meatball marinara sub is coming to the UK this week

Subway veggie meatball sub
The meatless meatball marina sub that was launched in the US earlier this year (Picture: Subway)

2019 has been a good year for vegans – and now the meatless meatball marina sub is coming to Subway.

Yes, following on from the Greggs vegan sausage roll and the KFC imposter burger, Subway is the latest fast-food chain to create a plant-based version of an old favourite.

The meatless meatball marina was launched in the U.S. earlier this year but they’ve finally confirmed that it is coming to the UK.

The U.S. version wasn’t fully vegan as it included cheese on top but vegans could ask for a sub with just the meatballs, sauce and bread.

Subway in the UK hasn’t confirmed yet if they’ll be offering dairy-based cheese to top the sub or if vegans will face a similar situation.

The vegan meatballs will be available this week but the bad news is that this is just a trial so it’s only available for a few weeks in stores in Birmingham and Manchester for now.

Subway has been pretty tight-lipped about the details of the trial but said they are hoping to roll it out from early next year though, so prepare for it to come to a store near you in 2020.

A spokesperson for Subway UK told Metro.co.uk: ‘We are currently trialling an exciting new vegan product, our Meatless Meatball Marinara, in a number of stores across the UK.

‘We are hoping to introduce these nationwide early next year, so keep your eyes peeled and we’ll let you know once we have more information.’

A sign posted by Vegan_food_uk said that the meatless meatball marinara sub is available until 20 November.


They haven’t released a list of the stores where it is available just yet so if you’re in Manchester or Birmingham, it’s worth asking at your local branch.

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Couple get engaged with a ring made out of the smartphones that brought them together

Couple get engaged with ring made out of smartphones
James popped the question to Hayley (Picture: O2)

Getting engaged is a very special time for couples – it’s even more special if the ring is made out of something sentimental.

One Wiltshire couple have become the first to get engaged with a ring made out of their smartphones – which they say brought them together in the first place.

James Lawrence and Hayley Orchard first met on Tinder, so credit their phones for helping them to build a relationship.

James popped the question last Wednesday, on a walk around Jubilee Lake – where Hayley spent a lot of time growing up.

The engagement ring in question is made up of the pair’s iPhone 5s smartphones.

The unique piece features the microphones the couple used to talk to one another on, the cameras they took pictures on and the circuit boards that kept their phones alive. The band has also been cast in 9kt gold taken from the motherboard of smartphones.

couple get engaged with ring made from smartphones
James popped the question last Wednesday (Picture: O2)
couple get engaged with ring made of smartphone
The unique piece (Picture: O2)

It’s believed to be the first ever ring to be made entirely of smartphones.

The project was a collaboration between O2 Recycle and sustainable jewellery experts Lylie’s.

couple get engaged with ring made of smartphones
Hayley and her ring (Picture: O2)

James said: ‘I met my fiancée Hayley on Tinder and quickly realised she was the one for me. The foundations of our relationship were built by spending hours sharing messages every day and having long telephone conversations before bed every night.

‘Those foundations turned into a house that we now share with our 10-month-old daughter and I wanted to celebrate the phones that brought me together with the love of my life.

‘Hayley thought the ring looked beautiful and jumped at the chance to show all of her friends, she couldn’t be happier with the sentiment.’

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I wish I’d known how cancer treatment would affect my sex life

Keely on the catwalk in pyjamas
After my diagnosis, nobody mentioned the sexual difficulties that breast cancer treatment can cause (Picture: Breast Cancer Now)

I’ve had a fibroadenoma (a non-cancerous lump) in my left breast since I was a teenager, so I’m really aware of what’s normal for me.

So in August 2016, when I noticed the underside of my breast had changed shape and there was dimpling too, alarm bells went off. I booked an appointment with my GP who referred me to the breast clinic. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

There wasn’t much time between my diagnosis and the start of my treatment, which included a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapies, so I didn’t have time to consider how it could impact my life – including my marriage.

From the start, my husband and I tried to carry on as normal and maintain an intimate relationship, but the treatment took away my libido and caused horrible vaginal dryness and irritation, which made having sex so painful.

Plus, the loss of my hair and breast, as well as weight gain, made me feel unattractive – I remember thinking I looked more like Uncle Fester than myself.

I spoke openly with my husband about these issues and we eventually worked out that I needed more time and stimulation to be ready for sex. He always reassured me that he still found me attractive, too.

A recent survey from Breast Cancer Now revealed that three in four women are not told about the possible impact breast cancer treatment can have on sex and intimacy. This is shocking, but not surprising to me. After my diagnosis, nobody mentioned the sexual difficulties that breast cancer treatment can cause, nor was I offered support.

In fact many of the side effects were a complete surprise. I was told treatment would induce early menopause, which I knew would be difficult to cope with, but I was never told exactly what I could be going through.

Keely during treatment
The loss of my hair and breast, as well as weight gain, made me feel unattractive (Picture: Breast Cancer Now)

While I’m normally the type of person who is comfortable talking about sex and proactive in finding support when I need it, treatment knocked my confidence badly.

Along with vaginal dryness, I experienced four bouts of thrush in three months, which was horrendous and made going to the toilet painful. I was in such a vulnerable place due to my diagnosis that I was uncharacteristically embarrassed and reluctant to reach out for help. It took me months to speak to someone. I thought that I should be worrying about cancer, not having sex with my husband.

After plucking up the courage to get support, I was eventually offered lubricants and moisturisers by my breast care nurse, which made a big difference, but solutions like this should be brought up a lot sooner.

I appreciate there’s a lot to talk about or maybe some health care professionals feel embarrassed about bringing it up. But having someone talk to you about the potential impact on sex and intimacy, and being given information at the beginning of treatment would help take away some of the embarrassment. For me, this was particularly hard after my diagnosis when my confidence fell dramatically.

My marriage was happy but it wasn’t perfect, and the sexual problems we experienced due to my treatment added unnecessary pressure. We separated in February 2018 after 18 years together.

I’ve since dated a few men and have been honest about my needs, explaining that I need more help and time to enjoy sex. This was really empowering and gave me confidence, leading to a more fulfilling experience from the outset.

But four months ago I was diagnosed with secondary, incurable cancer, so dating has taken a backseat for now.

Not only has the vaginal discomfort returned as my treatments have changed, but sex is simply not something I currently want – there are too many other things going on.

However, I know in the future I will be ready to be intimate with someone again- and it’s so important other women who’ve had a cancer diagnosis know that they’re not the only ones experiencing problems with sex and intimacy.

It’s okay to talk about it – just having a conversation can make a big difference.

Ann Summers and Breast Cancer Now have launched a new partnership to help start the conversation about sex, intimacy and breast cancer: breastcancernow.org/intimacy

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Air Force combat cameraman creates art from coffee given by military


Corban Lundborg spent years in the U.S Air Force as a combat cameraman and he has many memories of his deployment.

But the photojournalist developed one skill that he now uses on a full-time basis – creating art from coffee.

During the little downtime he got serving in the Air Force as a photojournalist, he began to make illustrations from instant coffee beans.

Each member of the squadron is given food entitled Meals Ready to Eat (MRE). Taking the coffee from that, Corban made Christmas illustrations to send to his mum.

He also made other paintings of his life overseas. After serving four years of honorable active service in the Air Force, Corban moved back to the U.S.

But he still serves as a reserve, based out of Charleston, South Carolina and he travels there each month for routine duty.

When he’s not serving, Corban is working as an artist from his studio in Los Angeles, fulfilling his passion.

U.S. Air Force combat photographer pictured during deployment
Corban Lundborg started painting with coffee that the military gave him (Picture: Corban Lundborg)

‘I started painting with MRE coffee while deployed to East Africa with the U.S. Military,’ Corban explains to Metro.co.uk.

‘I had a very busy job but when I had downtime I would grab the coffee from our field rations and paint memories from the deployment with the instant coffee inside.

A rescue squadron helicopter he painted
A rescue squadron helicopter he painted (Picture: Corban Lundborg)

‘At the end of the deployment, I gave the paintings away to my military friends as gifts. I wanted them to go to good homes.’

Corban now lives as a full-time artist in Los Angeles with his wife who also creates art with him.

He is preparing for a few art shows and also making short films with his wife under their production company.

Army truck created by U.S Air Force cameraman
Corban burns the edges to add a rustic effect (Picture: Corban Lundborg)

‘The coffee artwork is very quick to create, each piece might take an hour or two,’ he adds.

Some of his works include a rescue squadron helicopter with an added burnt texture created using matches from MRE packages.

Painting saying Merry Christmas
He developed the artistic skill while deployed in East Africa (Picture: Corban Lundborg)

As well as having a keen eye for photography, the artist has also dabbled in tattoo work, mastered during deployment to South Korea.

You can check out Corban’s vast portfolio here.

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Mum pays out cheating husband’s £5,000 divorce fees in coins

Coins in buckets next to woman who divorced her cheating husband
The only appropriate way to pay out a cheating partner (Picture: Brandi Lee/Facebook)

When American mum Brandi Lee went to divorce her husband, who she claims cheated on her, she didn’t expect to pay him.

The mum says her ex was unfaithful to her when he slept with a family friend and was shocked when she was ordered to pay her husband $7500 (£5845).

So Brandi decided to work around the court’s order and send him the entire fee in coins. A whole ten boxes worth of dimes (similar to 10p coins), weighing 350 pounds. As you do.

Taking to Facebook to explain her move, she wrote: ‘So a man that I was married to, bless his heart, decided to do me the biggest favor of my life and slept with his own FRIEND’S wife.

‘The woman who attended my WEDDING and watched me hold hands and look into the eyes of the man I loved and promise him my forever all while knowing damn well they were sleeping together!

‘Well I busted em and that led us into divorce court, and for some god awful reason, I was ordered to pay HIM $7,500.

‘It is what it is and now I have to pay him. Court’s order. So I’m paying him! The court order, and I quote says I have to pay him “the sum of $7500” That’s it. It does not say how.’

So the mum-of-two went around the system, going to her bank and explaining the whole thing.

Box of dimes
She sent him boxes weighing 350 pounds worth of dimes (10 cents) (Picture: Brandi Lee/Facebook)

Brandi’s bank was on board and agreed to pay out the sum in change.

In the post, she added: ‘I went to our local bank, told them my story and you guessed it, those beautiful little ladies at our bank were more than happy to not only assist but to support me in my payment plan.’

Users on Facebook loved Brandi’s move, commending her for the ‘genius’ plan.

One person wrote: ‘You are my hero,’ while another said: ‘Good for you!! His loss.’

‘I would have loved to see his facial expression,’ chimed another. And honestly, same.

Brandi is so chuffed with the outcome of the situation, she even bought a slogan t-shirt with the words ‘Divorced AF’.

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Newlywed buries wife in her wedding dress four months after their special day

Saima and Michael Heirz on their wedding day
‘Saima was everything to me and now she’d gone’ (Picture: PA Real Life)

In 2015, Michael Herz met Saima for the first time as the pair went on their first date, not knowing that three short years later, he would have to say goodbye to her forever.

Just four months after the happy couple got married in 2018, Saima, 30, died of a rare brain condition called encephalitis, which causes an inflammation of the organ.

At first, Saima, who worked as a nursery manager, thought she had caught a nasty cold and visited her local GP, who prescribed rest and paracetamol. The next day, she felt better and decided to go into work, when tragedy struck.

Michael received a phone call from one of his wife’s colleagues, who told him to come and pick her up. Four days later, doctors told Michael and Saima’s family that they would need to make a decision on whether to turn off the machines that were keeping Saima alive.

Her condition had worsened, and they were unable to find a heartbeat.

‘I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her and that I’d make her proud,’ Michael said.

‘Saima was everything to me and now she’d gone.’

Michael has now decided to open up about what happened to his late wife, in an effort to cherish her memory and raise awareness of the illness that caused her death.

The 29-year-old buried his wife in her wedding dress in December last year.

‘She was buried in her wedding dress, which she’d always said she wanted to wear again one day,’ Michael said.

According to the NHS, it’s not always clear what causes encephalitis, but it can be due to viral infections, an issue with the immune system – which causes the body’s defence system to attack the brain – or bacterial and fungal infections.

It usually presents itself with cold and flu symptoms, but can also include seizures, speaking difficulties and changes in personality or behaviour, among other symptoms.

Michael and Saima pose together
The couple met through the dating app Plenty of Fish (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

The couple started chatting through the dating app Plenty of Fish, and reminiscing of their past, Michael said he was sure he’d met his ‘soulmate’.

On their first date, they got so caught up in talking that they missed their dinner reservation, and date two followed days later.

The following year, in September 2016, they took a trip to Thailand together, where Michael got down on one knee and popped the question.

‘It may have seemed quick, but there was no doubt in my mind I had found my soulmate,’ he said.

‘Saima was my best friend. She was so elegant – the softest, nicest person you could ever meet.

‘We loved travelling, going out to restaurants, seeing our circle of friends – just enjoying and building our life together.

‘So, after a year together, I took her to Thailand on a surprise holiday. We had a private beach with our own photographer, and that’s where I proposed with a ring I had designed myself.’

This isn’t the first time tragedy has truck in Michael’s life.

The widower lost his mum Jane, 37 and his brother Ben, nine, in a car accident when he was 12 years old, in December 2002 when on holiday in South Africa. Michael and his dad survived the crash.

It made Michael hesitant to ‘letting’ people into his heart, but all that changed when he met Saima.

‘Growing up, I had been unsure about relationships and letting somebody in,’ said Michael.

‘With what happened to my mum and brother, I was scared to lose another person – but when I met Saima, I fell in love.

‘We were proper sweethearts, doing everything together. She was such a compassionate, beautiful woman, and if one good thing can come out of this horrendous situation then it’s to raise that awareness of encephalitis and help other families.’

Michael and Saima on their wedding day in August 2018
Michael and Saima on their wedding day in August 2018 (Picture: PA Real Life/Rob Clayton Photography)
Saima in her wedding dress
Saima on her wedding day, four months before her untimely death (Picture: PA Real Life/Rob Clayton Photography)

Michael said: ‘We met when I was 25, and she was 27.

‘At first, she was hesitant, as I was younger than her, and she wanted somebody settled and mature.

‘But we chatted anyway and she soon saw that I am an independent person.

‘With what happened to me, I grew up quickly, and have always been a grafter and hard worker. We spoke online for three months before we finally met in person.

‘As soon as I saw her in real life, I fell in love.’

The pair got married on 26 August 2018 in front of their friends and family at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, before embarking on a two-week-long holiday in Mauritius.

Michael said: ‘I absolutely bawled my eyes out when I saw Saima in her dress. She looked beautiful.

‘We got married under a canopy made from my mum’s wedding dress, so that was really special.’

Michael and Saima on their honeymoon in Mauritius
Michael and Saima on their honeymoon in Mauritius (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)
Michael and Saima
‘Saima was so strong and elegant and never asked anybody for anything’ (Picture: PA Real Life/Collect)

Unfortunately, Michael’s happy ending didn’t last long.

He recalls the day he drove her to the hospital, where she would die days later.

‘I only worked around a mile-and-a-half away, so I raced right over to get her,’ Michael said.

‘She hardly recognised me, and she was struggling to walk, to the point where I had to pick her up and take her to the car.

‘When we got to A&E at Stepping Hill Hospital, she collapsed and started to have seizures. At that point, I knew it was something really bad.

‘I told her that I loved her and begged her to stay awake – but then her eyes rolled back and she stopped responding.

‘At that point, I just fell to my knees, crying in the middle of the hospital.’

Saima was placed in an induced coma while doctors ran tests – a brain scan showed what had caused her seizure: encephalitis.

On 17 December, they gave Michael the news no husband ever wants to hear.

‘Everyone did everything they could, but after four days, during which time they took lots of advice from encephalitis specialists, the medical team told us that her brain and many of her organs weren’t functioning,’ he said.

‘Her heart was only beating because she was hooked up to a machine. If they turned it off, she’d have very little chance. When she was in hospital, I remember praying, saying to God, “If she survives but has no quality of life, please take her”.

‘Saima was so strong and elegant and never asked anybody for anything. I knew she would have hated being in a vegetative state, having me as her round-the-clock carer.

‘In the end we agreed with the doctors to let her go, and so her family and I gathered around her bedside and the machine was turned off.’

Michael and Saima on their wedding day in August 2018
Saima’s funeral took place the day after she died, in keeping with the couple’s Jewish faith (Picture: A Real Life/Rob Clayton Photography)

The couple were of Jewish faith, which dictates that a body should be buried as soon as possible after death – Saima’s funeral took place the very next day.

In honour of his late wife’s memory, Michael has been raising money for The Encephalitis Society, with hopes that more research will prevent deaths.

‘I needed to do something to turn this horrendous tragedy into a potential positive for other people,’ said Michael.

‘Even those that survive encephalitis can be left with horrible side effects. More research will mean that people like Saima don’t just disappear.

‘It’s such a dangerous condition as it’s not like it’s caused by any one thing you can avoid doing. In Saima’s case, doctors don’t even know what triggered it.’

He’s also taking part in a three-day event, cycling from the location of their wedding in Manchester to Buckingham Palace in London, in April 2020.

‘I want to raise as much money as possible so we one day have better drugs and treatments to fight this,’ he said.

‘And I decided to end up at Buckingham Palace, because I wanted somewhere literally fit for a queen, as that’s what Saima was to me.

‘Everybody that met her, loved her. She didn’t have a bad bone in her body, and I know I will never meet anybody else like her.’

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Wetherspoon’s budget hotel rooms rated best in the UK, beating Hilton and Marriott

wetherspoon hotels
The best hotel chain in Britain (Picture: Wetherspoon Hotels)

It’s known for its bargain pints but Wetherspoon has impressed with its budget hotel rooms, too.

A Which? study found that Whetherspoon ranked as the best hotel chain in Britain.

The poll asked 8,000 consumers to rate 34 well-known hotel chains on categories such as cleanliness, comfort, service and value.

According to Which?, it’s the first time the hotel chain has come up stars in the rankings.

wetherspoon hotel room
Spoons ranked joint first with Premier Inn (Picture: Wetherspoon)

Premier Inn has topped the list for the past four years and came joint first this year, alongside Spoons.

Wetherspoon Hotels received praised for their ‘huge stylish rooms’ and value for money – with stays starting from just £39 a night.

wetherspoon hotel room
Wetherspoon hotel rooms were described as ‘stylish’ (Picture: Wetherspoon)

But the pub giant fell short on cleanliness and for communal areas, which received just three stars.

This year, Premier Inn was marked down for facilities in shared spaces as well as food and drink options, but scored well on ‘good quality’ and ‘competitive price’.

Hilton Garden Inn, Radisson Blu Edwardian and Hilton Hampton also made it into the top five for customer satisfaction.

Britannia, on the other hand, was ranked as the world’s worst hotel chain – for the seventh year in a row. Around 31% of guests rated it as poor for cleanliness.

According to the report, a Which? investigator looked at the Britannia Lodge at Gatwick and logged ‘damp smells’ as well as a ‘grubby’ bathtub.

If that wasn’t enough, an ultraviolet light showed stains on the bed sheets and walls around the toilet – which were not visible to the naked eye.

EasyHotel and Ibis Budget also failed to win over participants in the survey.

Hotels with highest satisfaction rating

1. Wetherspoon Hotels – 79%

2. Premier Inn – 79%

3. Hilton Garden Inn – 78%

4. Radisson Blu Edwardian – 77%

5. Hilton Hampton – 74%

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Parents are outraged by ‘beyond inappropriate’ bride costume for girls

Child bride halloween costume
Child bride Halloween costume criticised by parents (Picture: KMart)

Children’s clothing, toys, and books have been slammed in the past for reinforcing gender tropes that may be limited.

As kids grow up consuming these messages, parents have voiced their concerns over their children internalising the ideas.

And with Halloween fast approaching, some mums and dads are not happy with some of the costumes available.

One bride costume for girls has recently caught the attention of a woman who called it ‘beyond appropriate’.

The white dress that comes with a veil is aimed at little girls aged between four and six was being sold at a Kmart store in Australia for $6 (£3.19).

But the woman, Shannon B, felt it was insensitive considering  ’12 million children (girls as young as 6 years old — the same size as this “costume”) are sold or married off by their family without their consent,’ she wrote.

So she started a Change.org petition which received 507 supporters.

Details of the petition were shared on Twitter where users were polarised. Responding to the backlash, Kmart then decided to pull the costume from its shelves.

On the Change.org petition, Sharon wrote: ‘One-third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15.

‘Child marriage means child abuse and torture in its worst forms: pedophilia, child slavery, child sex trafficking. Kmart — take this child bride costume off your shelves.’

In response, Kmart wrote: ‘Kmart Australia regrets the decision to range the bride costume. It was not intended to cause offense and we sincerely apologize. We have made the decision to withdraw this product.’

But some people on social media didn’t see the fuss. One person wrote: ‘What is wrong with a little girl wanting to dress up as a bride? Is it wrong for a girl to aspire to be a bride? I was under the impression that girls could be anything they wanted to be.’

Another echoed the thoughts saying: ‘It is sad those things happen, but my daughters used to dress up and pretend to get married all the time. There’s NOTHING wrong with it.’

Some did agree with Shannon, saying: ‘I agree on the recall for a child bride costume. It is not acceptable. How sad it is that society has become so desensitized that they can’t see the forest for the trees.’

What are your thoughts?

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Woman gives birth to healthy baby boy 10 weeks after her waters broke

Lauren and baby Archie (Picture: SWNS)
Lauren and baby Archie (Picture: SWNS)

Most mums-to-be expect they’ll be meeting their baby soon after their waters break.

But Lauren Middleton had to wait a full 10 weeks before her baby boy was born.

The 24-year-old felt a gush of water when she went to the toilet at just 26 weeks.

She rushed to hospital and was told her waters had broken but doctors wanted to postpone labour for as long as possible to give her baby time to grow.

Lauren, who is already mum to Ruby, three, said: ‘I was so shocked, I really didn’t think my waters had broken.

‘I was really scared when I heard because it was so early in the pregnancy and my baby was so tiny.

‘I knew straight away he was in danger of serious harm.’

Normally, the minute the water breaks signals the start of labour and that the baby is on its way, but doctors managed to delay this happening to Lauren, from Leeds, West Yorks.

After spending three days in hospital, she was sent home.

Baby Archie just after being born (Picture: Lauren Middleton /SWNS)
Baby Archie just after being born (Picture: Lauren Middleton /SWNS)

From then on she had to attend the maternity unit at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) twice a week for checks.

Lauren said: ‘It was an incredibly stressful situation because I was worried about the baby’s health the whole time.

‘I was in and out of hospital constantly, having that many checks isn’t normal but I knew were vital for the baby.’

At 34 weeks, tests showed the baby was still doing well and doctors decided she would be able to go to 37 weeks.

But at 35 weeks, she started having contractions.

Ruby and Lauren holding baby Archie
Ruby and Lauren holding baby Archie (Picture: Lauren Middleton /SWNS)

‘The labour itself was really traumatic and very painful,’ Lauren said.

Eventually after 21 hours, at 9pm on 18 October, baby Archie was born weighing 6lb 4oz.

Her elated partner Liam Hopper, 27, was at Lauren’s side.

But their joy turned to heartbreak an hour later when Archie was rushed him to neo-natal intensive care after struggling to breathe.

‘One minute we were having cuddles and everything was fine and the next minute he was gone,’ Lauren said.

They were told he had pneumonia then sepsis and they weren’t sure if he would make it, but after a course of antibiotics, Archie is doing well and has now gone home for the first time.

Lauren said: ‘The NHS have been unbelievable, I can’t thank them enough.

‘If it wasn’t for their amazing work who knows what would have happened to Archie.’

‘I genuinely love all the nurses, they’re more like family now.’

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Fancy a trip? Stay in one of these haunted hotels for Halloween

The 'Ghost Room' at Ballygally Castle
The poltergeist known as Lady Isabella has her own room at Ballygally Castle, where she died (Picture: Ballygally Castle)

For many people, the idea of staying over at a haunted hotel is a nightmare scenario, but then there are those who love historical horrors, mysteries and murderous stories of the past.

Do you fit into the latter category and fancy a trip this coming Halloween?

We’ve rounded up seven of the most frightening hotels to stay at in the UK, guaranteed to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, courtesy of travel experts, eSky.

Just don’t blame us if you hear bloodcurdling screams in the night.

Malmaison Oxford, England

This castle-turned-hotel has housed many vicious characters.

It was built by William the Conqueror – who had a pretty uneventful death – but the real story begins when it was transformed into a prison during the Victorian era, and held some of the UK’s most feared criminals.

Many of the original features still remain, including the dungeons – used for executions back in the day – along with the barred windows and the bare stone walls.

But the creepy characteristics of the venue are nothing compared to who you might encounter in the night: Mary Blandy, a murderer who poisoned her own father, along with monks and former prisoners.

Mary was hanged for her crimes and her spirit is said to remain in the hotel, where she haunts the visitors.

Look our for poisionous vials.

Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland

If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs, because Lady Isabella likes to knock on doors and then vanish into thin air.

When she was alive, the Lady was married to a cruel man known as Lord James Shaw. When she gave birth to their child, he took the baby from her and then locked her in a room at the top of the castle.

As for how she died, there are two theories; one claims that Lady Isabella fell from the tower window while trying to escape and the other, possibly more gruesome ending, says that Lord Shaw or one his men threw her from the window.

Despite how she was treated in life, she’s apparently a pretty nice spirit.

She’s not the only ghost at Ballygally; Madame Nixon, who lived in the castle during the 19th century, also lurks in the shadows.

The ghosts have even taken over a small tower room in the hotel, which is so haunted that it’s now closed off from guests and has been given the name ‘The Ghost Room’ or ‘Lady Isabella’s Bedroom’.

Ruthin Castle, North Wales

You’d never imagine that the picturesque Ruthin Castle, surrounded by greenery and the vast hills of Clwydian Range would be the location of a gruesome murder.

Hundreds of years ago, Lady Grey found out that her husband was cheating on her, and blinded by rage, she murdered his mistress.

She was sentenced to death, but didn’t want to leave her castle and so has remained there ever since.

Lady Grey is the hotel’s most famous poltergeist, though other sightings include a soldier with one glove and a little girl, according to Haunted Rooms.

Ruthin Castle in Wales
Ruthin Castle is haunted by Lady Grey, a woman who murdered her husband’s mistress (Picture: Getty)

The Shelbourne, Northern Ireland

Perhaps Stephen King used the ghost of the Shelbourne as his inspiration for The Shining twins.

Mary Masters was just seven years old when she died in 1791, and apparently she can be heard giggling as she runs around the hotel at night.

Whatever you do, don’t follow the sound of her voice.

The Bell Inn, England

Paranormal activity is, er, the norm at The Bell Inn.

A long time ago, an unsolved, mysterious murder took place when the hotel’s landlady was pushed out of the window in room 10 and died.

Her spirit still wants justice and so she has stuck around.

Guests and team members at the hotel have also seen a hooded monk and heard children playing in empty rooms.

The Langham Hotel, England

Do you dare to stay in room 333?

If you do, don’t be surprised if you encounter a man from Victorian times, said to have committed a murder-suicide in the room and who refuses to leave.

Sleep well.

Dalhousie Castle, Scotland

We’re not quite sure why female ghosts tend to be known as ‘grey’, but here’s another one for you and it’s a very sad story.

During the 13th century, a 16-year-old girl now known as the Grey Lady, fell in love with a local stable boy.

Because he was an unsuitable choice, she was exiled to the castle’s tower, where she died of a broken heart.

Look up towards the castle when you arrive, she’s known to wave to guests.

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Why my husband and I chose to take my mum’s Polish surname

Lydia and Luke
There’s no denying I’m British – I was born in Bradford, I have a UK passport but I also identify strongly with my Polish side (Picture: Lydia Smith)

With seating plans to draw up, budgets to be worked with and difficult decisions to be made, organising a wedding can be ridiculously stressful.

I half enjoyed it – being a fan of a spreadsheet – but one thing I found much harder than I expected was deciding on a surname.

For a long time, I never wanted to change my name. My maiden name is Smith – and as mundane as it is, it’s my identity and the name I use for my work as a journalist.

In the run-up to our wedding, though, my now-husband and I decided we wanted to share a last name. We agreed that the fairest way to do that was to double-barrel, but something was holding me back from sticking with Smith.

I was born in the UK but half of my family is Polish and I grew up surrounded by the culture. Birthdays, Christmases and Easter were loud and busy and until she passed away in 2016, my Polish grandmother lived with us – and was a huge influence on my life.

There’s no denying I’m British – I was born in Bradford, I have a UK passport, I love tea and I hate hugs. But I also identify strongly with the Polish side of my family and over the past few years – particularly since the EU referendum – I’ve grown protective of it.

There’s a growing sense that you’re being told to hide your background for fear of offending someone, which only encourages me to make my heritage more visible with my name.

So I decided to use my mother’s Polish maiden name in my half of the barrel, to keep my family’s Polish surname going.

Xenophobia is on the rise. In August, a study by the University of Strathclyde found that 77 per cent of Eastern European pupils in England and Scotland said they had suffered racism, xenophobia or bullying.

Of the pupils surveyed, 49 per cent said the attacks had become more frequent since the EU referendum in 2016.

Although there are many reasons behind the decision, it also feels a little cathartic to visibly display this part of my heritage despite the rising intolerance Eastern Europeans and many others are experiencing. It feels right to recognise this side of my family and keep their history alive, albeit in a small way.

I’m proud of my heritage – all of it. I grew up in Yorkshire, partly in an industrial town, but mostly in a village surrounded by beautiful countryside and rolling hills.

But I was also brought up surrounded by my Polish family and I’m proud of that, too. And so for my husband and I, reflecting this in our surname is the right decision for us, even if it’s a little unusual.

Your name or what language you speak shouldn’t be political but they are. My mum and I often speak English with a smattering of Polish – useful if you want to have a moan about someone on the sly – but in recent months, I’ve noticed people glancing over with a look and I can sense judgement.

There’s a growing sense that you’re being told to hide your background for fear of offending someone, which only encourages me to make my heritage more visible with my name.

Of course, this pales in comparison with the abuse, harassment and violence many people are subjected to, but it’s a small indicator of a very big problem.

Ultimately, what you choose to do with your name is a hugely personal decision. For some women, changing their surname at all is a complete no-no – after all, it once symbolised the traditional transfer of ‘ownership’ from father to husband.

For others, sharing a last name is about family, legacy and uniting identities.

Whatever women decide to do, they should be able to without fear of judgement from others. After all, it’s your name – any decision is the right decision.

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Bubble T’s advent calendar is here so you can take baths for all of December

Bubble T advent calendar
It’s filled with bath delights (Picture: Getty/Bubble T)

In less than five weeks, you can rip open the first door of your coveted advent calendar.

If you’re still browsing for options and don’t fancy the classic chocolate, there’s a new choice to add to the list.

Bubble T has just released its beauty calendar for 2019 and it’s filled to the brim with fragrant delights in the shape of bath products and skincare.

You’ll find bath bombs, body lotions and scrubs, bath fizz and pearls, as well as jelly bath and ‘T-bags’ – everything you need for a relaxing time in the tub.

The brand’s signature fragrances are making a comeback, including the zesty lemongrass and green tea, refreshing Moroccan mint tea and sweet hibiscus and açai berry tea.

There are 24 doors to open, and you get three of each product, in each scent, as well as a pink bath puff.

It’s really quite similar to last year’s offer, but if you like spending time in the bath, it’s a winner.

In 2019, Bubble T has teamed up with Argos, in hopes of expanding its customer base.

‘With a strong presence nationwide and with over 800 access points, Argos is a fantastic company who we’re incredibly proud to work with’, said cosmetics’ founder & director Paul Rogers.

‘We hope this advent calendar makes the festive season extra-special for many.’

Fancy having a bath-filled Christmas?

The calendar will set you back £19.99, which is pretty affordable if you consider that Lush’s bath bomb calendar retails at £195.

To save a few pounds, there’s also B&M, which is selling a bath bomb calendar themed after well-known cocktails for just £5.

Alternatively, why not get a calendar that lets you donate to a different charity every day?

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Man who can’t use his limbs illustrates entire children’s book using his mouth

Ian Parker painting
Ian painting (Picture: Ian Parker/Mouth and Foot Painting Artists)

Every day, Ian Parker sits in front of an easel and paints intricate pictures.

But Ian’s style is very different from most artists – because he can’t use his hands.

Each of his paintings is completed by holding a paintbrush in his mouth.

After years of painting pretty scenes and Christmas cards, Ian, from Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, took on his biggest challenge yet two years ago.

And after months of hard work, all 34 of Ian’s paintings have finally been published in a children’s book.

Danny’s Dream, written by Victor Margiotta, tells the story of a little boy who was the fastest runner at his school until he has a terrible accident and he thinks his dreams of achieving an Olympic Gold are over but he ends up going on a life-changing journey.

It’s the first time a disabled artist has been involved in creating a children’s book with a disabled child as the main character.

Ian tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s an inspiring story with some challenging subjects about disability. The idea is that you can still achieve your dreams if you are disabled, even if it takes a variation.’

Ian was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), a condition that means his joints do not move and he cannot use his limbs.

The cover of Danny's Dream
The cover of Danny’s Dream (Picture: Ian Parker/Mouth and Foot Painting Artists)

He says when he was a child he always wanted to draw things and throughout school, he worked to study art, learning to control the paint and improve his skills.

After GCSE and A-Level art, he went to university to study Fine Art, completing the course in 1993.

Since then, he has worked for Mouth and Foot Painting Artists – a group which employs 33 artists in the UK.

Ian explains: ‘MFPA is a cooperative so we work on images throughout the year and they are sold through them.

‘Most of what I do is for Christmas cards so even if it’s blazing hot outside, I’m thinking about snow and robins.’

But in 2016, Ian was asked if he wanted to illustrate the book, being sold through MFPA.

Danny at school before his acciden
Danny at school before his accident (Picture: Ian Parker/Mouth and Foot Painting Artists)

Ian adds: ‘I’d never done anything of that magnitude before but I really didn’t have to think twice. It was a challenge but it was something completely new.

‘It’s always good to try to do something different.’

The words were written by Victor and it was up to Ian to draw what was happening in the story. He admits that it led to some challenges he wasn’t used to with the rest of his work.

‘The thing with a book,’ he says, ‘is that the whole thing needs to not just have a theme, but also remain consistent in look throughout.

‘You need character development and to just make sure that the character on one page looks the same on the next.

‘It took two years to nail down things like the wheelchair. The whole thing took a lot of back and forth with the writer to get to a point where we were happy but it was worth it.’

Danny in his magic chair
Danny in his magic chair (Picture: Ian Parker/Mouth and Foot Painting Artists)

Initially, Ian and Victor were hoping to complete the project within a year but it ended up taking two and a half years as they wanted to ensure everything was right.

The book launched last week and is being sold on the Mouth and Foot Painting website for £10.

Ian adds: ‘So far, the feedback we have had from children has been really good, which is obviously what we wanted.

‘The idea of the book is you can have a gift but you still need to work at it and I see that in this book.

‘It’s been a real team effort – there’s my drawings but the words are by Victor and behind me I’ve had my wife and two daughters and the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.’

Ian is now back to completing Christmas card and calendar designs but says that he would like to do another book in the future.

‘I think if you had asked me at the end of the book, I would have said no because I was absolutely exhausted, physically and emotionally,’ he says.

‘We completed most of the work in March and it’s only just coming out so looking back now, I think I would do it again in the right circumstances. Now that I have the experience, I would know how to approach it.’

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Husband writes book to remind wife of their love story after she lost her memory during childbirth

Woman in hospital next to picture of man and child
Camre Curto gave birth and lost her memory in the process, forgetting her husband and pregnancy (Pictures: Steve Curto)

On the fourth anniversary of his wedding, Steve Curto wrote a book dedicated to his wife entitled But I Know I Love You.

The 38-year-old from Michigan published the book to document their love story, not just as a sweet gesture but to help with wife Camre’s memory.

Disastrously for the couple, Camre suffered a stroke during childbirth resulting in memory loss.

The first time mum had to be put in a medically induced coma from which she woke up and could remember no one, not even her newborn.

So Camre moved back in with her parents while Steve cared for baby Gavin who was born by C-section.

The pregnancy had run with no major issue but after 33 weeks, Camre had a swollen throat making it difficult to breathe.

By the time she was rushed to hospital, she went into a grand mal seizure. Doctors were able to perform the c-section via which Gavin was born weighing four pounds.

Couple on their wedding day
Steve has written a book about their story, most of which Camre doesn’t remember (Pictures: Steve Curto)

But as well as the seizure, Camre had a cataclysmic stroke which affected both sides of her brain. As a result, her long and short-term memory was wiped out.

Camre has began reading her husband’s book and is enjoying it despite not remembering most of it.

She has also moved back in with him and established a routine that helps her remember snapshots of her former life.

Baby Gavin had the toughest start to his life, having spent 36 days in intensive care after being born prematurely.

He was away for his mum too as Camre spent 30 days in hospital.

Doctors later figured out that Camre had undiagnosed preeclampsia – a high blood pressure condition that reduces blood flow to the foetus.

It was then Camre was put into a medically-induced coma. Everything was different when she eventually woke up.

Couple with child
Camre had moved back in with her parents during the first few months of her recovery (Pictures: Steve Curto)

Steve likened the experience to having two newborns.

He told Good Morning America: ‘When they brought her out of the coma, and she started to wake up, something wasn’t right.

‘She had no idea who she was or that she had just given birth. She didn’t know who I was or who her parents were.

‘I basically lived at the hospital. They want the child to bond with the mum after birth but Camre wasn’t able to bet there, so I did skin-to-skin with him and did all the feedings.’

Camre spent the first few months of her recovery away from her husband and child. But in that time she had plenty of contact with both.

Steve remembers one night in particular that meant a lot: ‘We were sitting on the couch and she told me, I don’t who you are but I know I love you.

‘That has always stuck with me. That has been the driving force behind everything.’

Steve Curto/Good Morning America
Now she’s moved back in with her husband and child and is making new memories (Pictures: Steve Curto)

Now Camre is making new memories with Steve and Gavin who is a toddler. She writes things down, role-plays conversations and shares her phone calendar with Steve to aid memories.

She’s trying to focus on what matters: ‘With my husband and son with me, that is what is getting me through all this.

‘Every time I see Gavin and Steve, there’s a huge smile on my face and inside me. The love of family is what means the most and what is getting me through every day.’

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Home Bargains is selling a glittery snow fairy gin liqueur for Christmas

Home Bargains is selling a glittery snow fairy gin
Bottoms up (Pictures: Getty/Home Bargains)

For many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without lashings of booze.

Home Bargains has an extra special treat for this year, to get revelers in the Christmas spirit.

The brand has launched a clear snow fairy gin liqueur, which turns shimmery when its shaken, stirred or poured.

This discount store will be selling the magical stuff from 4 November – just eight weeks before the big day.

The product, made by Manchester Drinks, says it’s created with ‘small batch gin traditionally distilled and cut with ‘fairy water.’

a Home Bargains store
One of the many UK stores (Picture: PA Wire/PA Images)

As well as mystical ‘fairy water’, the festive tipple contains all the key flavours of the holiday season, including cinnamon, spice and orange. It also has an alcohol by volume (ABV) content of 18.7%.

It won’t break the bank either, coming in at £8 for a 50cl bottle.

Home Bargains fairy-inspired gin
The mysterious gin liqueur (Picture: Home Bargains)

Those looking to get their hands on the fairy-inspired gin liqueur, should pay a visit to one of the 500 UK stores.

The intriguing product will be around for a limited time only – so be sure to snap it up sooner rather than later.

But this is not the first time the bargain store has made drinks sparkle. Earlier this year. Home Bargains released a shimmery pink unicorn gin liqueur, as well as a bright purple parma violet version.

Of course, this is just one of many boozy products available during the festive period.

Last week, it was announced that prosecco Christmas crackers have returned for 2019.

And, in other gin-related news, Debenhams has launched its very own pink gin advent calendar.

Themed beverages seem to be at every turn this year – so don’t forget to stock up, ready for the big day.

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Asda has launched an entire sausage dog collection for Christmas

Asda sausage dog range
Who’s a good boy? (Picture: Asda/Getty)

If you fancy ‘Dachshund’ through the snow this Christmas, Asda has just the collection for you.

The supermarket giant has launched a brand new festive range dedicated to the sausage dog.

The new Christmas collection has a whole host of treats in store for dog lovers, with products ranging from £6 to £25.

Perhaps the best – or at least the most eye-catching item – in the new range is the Dachshund-shaped Christmas light, which comes wearing a Santa’s hat and a sparkly blue scarf. The adorable product is priced at £25.

Another brilliant item is the grey sausage dog cushion, which comes in at a reasonable £6.

Asda launches sausage dog collection for Christmas Picture: ASDA
A cute little box set companion (Picture: ASDA)

The festive season is the time to go heavy on the baubles and ornaments and Asda has delivered with its new white porcelain sausage dog, which comes with a gold top hat.

It’s also giving textiles a doggie makeover this Christmas with both a themed throw and duvet set, priced at £6 and £10, respectively.

Asda launches sausage dog collection for Christmas Picture: ASDA
Festive fun (Picture: ASDA)
Asda launches sausage dog collection for Christmas Picture: ASDA
Santa paws (Picture: ASDA)

But the store’s sausage dog offering doesn’t stop there. As well as festive bits, there are some everyday items in the range, too.

Give your homeware a new lease (or leash) of life with Asda’s sausage dog cotton towel collection or the dog print wipe-clean tablecloth – which has now been reduced to just £4.

There’s also a sparkly purple Dachshund duvet for kids, which features canines sitting on clouds with angel wings.

All products are available to buy online and in-stores now.

The festive news comes after the supermarket announced it would be selling a Baileys Yule Log during the run up to the big day.

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Feeling clean should not be a luxury, but for many in the UK it is

The first time I made a delivery to a food bank, a mum turned to her children and said, ‘look, you can have a toothbrush each’ (Picture: Dave Anderson)

Imagine this: you smell because you don’t have deodorant.

You can’t wash your hair because you have no shampoo. You scrape out your baby’s soiled nappy and put it back on because you can’t afford to change it as often as needed. And when you have your period, you’re housebound because you’ve no money to buy sanitary products.

This is hygiene poverty.

In summer 2018, I watched Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake – a harrowing depiction of UK lives ruined by the failing welfare system. I was struck in particular by a scene in which the character Katie is caught shoplifting, despite having already been to a food bank, with razors, deodorants and sanitary pads all stuffed into her bag.

Watching this propelled me to set up The Hygiene Bank. Through a network of partners, we are now helping thousands across the country who are at risk of isolating themselves.

The Hygiene Bank is a people-powered, grassroots charity, grounded in community. We collect and re-distribute donated toiletries, hygiene, beauty and personal care items via a network of charity partners that include the food bank, refuge, supported housing for 16-24 year olds, hostels and schools. These in turn are then given out to those that desperately need them.

One in five people in Britain are defined as ‘living in poverty’. Two-thirds of children in poverty live in a working family, where earnings and costs of living don’t marry up.

Parents are increasingly prioritising feeding their families over buying hygiene products, while young teens and adults are going hungry to save themselves the humiliation of showing up at college with greasy hair and body odour. Teachers tell me they have seen an increase in the number of pupils coming to school looking unwashed and in dirty clothes.

They have seen families who wash their faces, bodies, hair and clothes in the same washing up liquid used for the dishes, and kids who don’t own a toothbrush.

Free bleeding
Imagine being housebound because you’ve no money to buy sanitary products (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

The first time I made a delivery to a food bank, a mum turned to her children and said, ‘look, you can have a toothbrush each’. They were delighted.

One teen in supported housing told me, ‘I was ashamed, feeling dirty made me feel worthless. I was too embarrassed for people to see me that way, and so I stayed away from college and my friends and my mental health got worse.’

I hear about this crippling impact on confidence, good health and mental wellbeing all the time.

Hygiene and personal care products aren’t life-or-death, but they have a fundamental impact on the way we interact with each other, and play our part in society.

My passion and that of all our volunteers stems from a sense of injustice. Feeling clean should not be a luxury or a privilege in modern Britain.

From universal credit, to employability tests and work sanctions; from cuts to hardship funds, to closures of children’s centres, we live in a crazy world where the very structures designed to help people out of a hole are dragging them further down.

With the rise of the gig economy and the gradual decline of worker rights, the old adage that work is the route out of poverty is no longer true for many people.

We need to look at an approach to children and invest in them as our future. There needs to be a plan to boost living standards and support our towns and cities in building a more hopeful economic future.

Now is the time to demand concerted action to solve it. Government, businesses, employers and communities need to take action so that we don’t  find ourselves in 100 years’ time still reporting that millions of people struggle to make ends meet.

But in the mean time, this is what you can do to help. Drop off new and unused products at one of our 400 collection bins, or if you can’t get to a collection box, order the basics online from our Easho wishlist and they’ll get delivered straight to a bank of your choice.

Help us to provide vital support, because no one should have to choose between hygiene and food.

You can find out more about The Hygiene Bank here. 

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Who can have the flu jab and can you get it if you have a cold?

A doctor administers a flu jab to an elderly patient.
The NHS advises that people get their flu jabs before the end of November. (Picture: Getty Images)

Now that the cold weather has well and truly taken hold and October is almost over, it’s time to start thinking about – and talking to your GP about – the flu jab.

Contrary to popular belief, the flu ‘jab’ doesn’t have to be administered via injection. The vaccine can be delivered via nasal spray instead of via an injection, although the nasal spray is usually only recommended for children between the ages of 2 and 17.

Although the vaccine is altered annually to fight newer strains of the flu, there isn’t a 100% guarantee that you won’t catch it after getting the jab, but it is thought to help guard against it.

With experts warning that a stronger strain of flu, known as Aussie flu, could be set to hit the UK this winter, read up on who is elgible for the flu jab and when is best to have it below.

Who can have the flu jab?

The flu jab is offered to groups of people thought to be ‘at-risk’ free on the NHS.

These people include anyone aged 65 or over, pregnant women, children and adults with weakened immune systems and children or adults with an underlying health condition. Health conditions which the NHS deem as leaving you ‘at risk’ and therefore qualify you for a free flu jab include people with long term heart or respiratory issues.

The NHS also recommends that children in primary school and frontline health or social care workers get the jab, although these groups are not offered the jab for free.

While certain people can get the flu jab without cost, anyone can pay for a flu jab privately if they wish to protect themselves or their family.

The NHS say that flu jabs can cost up to £20, but places like Boots offer the flu vaccine for around £12.99.

Dr Clare Morrison, GP and medical advisor at Medexpress told Metro.co.uk that she would advise everyone to get the flu jab as a precaution ahead of winter: ‘Although flu is generally more dangerous in at-risk groups, it can sometimes cause serious illness and even death, in previously healthy people,’ Clare said.

‘This can happen if it leads to pneumonia, for instance. Therefore I recommend that everyone has a flu jab.’

Can you get the flu jab if you have a cold?

The NHS advise that the best time to have a flu jab is between now and the end of November ahead of the main flu season starting which is between December and January.

A woman blows her nose.
Flu season begins soon. (Picture: Getty)

In terms of whether you can get the jab if you already have a cold, it really depends on your symptoms but in general the NHS says: ‘There’s no need to delay your flu vaccine if you have a minor illness with no fever, such as a cold.’

The NHS say that if you are ill and on antibiotics, this won’t necessarily prevent you from getting the jab either, provided you don’t have a high temperature: ‘It’s fine to have the flu vaccine while you’re taking a course of antibiotics, provided you’re not ill with a high temperature.’

One of the main reasons to delay your flu jab is if you have a fever or high temperature, with the NHS advising: ‘If you’re ill with a fever, it’s best to delay your flu vaccination until you have recovered.’

For more information about the flu vaccine, visit nhs.uk or speak to your local GP for advice.

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How to make ethical knitwear choices this winter

Illustration of sheep and wool
Winter has long been associated with woolly jumpers (Picture: Getty)

Winter is fast-approaching and many of us will be looking to purchase cosy, warm garments to see us through the colder months.

But with so many different types of wool to choose from, how can we be sure we’re that making ethical choices?

For years, wool has been the fail-safe textile for winter, but it’s also a material which has prompted much debate, specifically with concerns over the way animals are treated when wool is sheared.

Last year, a PETA investigation uncovered abuse at more than 30 shearing sheds in the US and Australia and according to the animal rights organisation ‘Shearers were caught punching, kicking, and stomping on sheep, in addition to hitting them in the face with electric clippers and standing on their heads, necks, and hind limbs’.

Off the back of animal cruelty investigations, fashion brands such as ASOS have banned garments containing mohair and cashmere.

Staying informed and knowing where materials come from is a great way to help you make a decision on whether you want to purchase wool products.

For those not clued up, below are different types of wool and the main animal welfare concerns surrounding them.


Mohair is made from the wool of Angora goats. It’s known for its silky, resilient properties and is often used for luxury jumpers, cardigans, coats and scarves.

However, mohair has dominated the headlines over recent years due to reports of severe animal cruelty, such as being mutilated in order for the fluffy mohair to be produced, according to PETA. Footage released by the organisation showed the animals being harmed and handled violently at farms in South Africa.

Many high street brands such as H&M, Zara, GAP and more have all pledged to stop ordering and selling mohair products, as a direct result of this investigation.

A woman carrying a pile of jumpers
Do you read the labels on your knitwear? (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm/TY LIM)


Known for its silky fibres, cashmere is widely considered to be one the most luxurious wool materials.

It’s also rare – on average, it takes around three to four goats to make just one regular jumper, which is why the price tag is usually so high.

Research has found that the goats are forced to have winter shearings at a time when they most need their coats. As a result, they are exposed to harsh winter temperatures with little protection.

A number of brands, such a Stella McCartney and Patagonia, have been working solely with a recycled version of the fibre, which involves using post-factory waste. Stella McCartney has even banned ‘virgin’ cashmere entirely.

Swedish retailer Arket has also said that cashmere production must be handled more responsibly and uses ‘recycled’ cashmere.


Merino wool is known for its softness and breathability, as well as temperature-regulating properties.

However, collecting merino wool can sometimes involve a process called mulesing, a practice which involves removing strips of wool-bearing skin from around the buttocks of a sheep, to prevent a condition called flystrike (where flies lay eggs, which hatch into maggots who subsequently ‘eat’ the sheep’s flesh).

It’s a very painful procedure and, worryingly, animal campaigners have said that more than 20 million merino breed lambs are currently mulesed each year.

Of course, there are a number of fashion brands that source their merino wool ethically – without mulesing – and many are keen to be transparent about production.

New Zealand-based brand Icebreaker was the first brand to pioneer a ‘Baa Code’, where customers could track how their garment was made from start to finish.

It’s always worth taking a closer look into the brand you want to buy merino wool from, and read up on the measures they taking to help with animal welfare.

Ethical choices

In terms of wool, alpaca is thought to be one of the most ethical, as the animals are not harmed during the shearing process and can continue to produce wool for many years.

What’s more, alpaca farming does generally not involve harsh chemicals – so the process is safe and natural for both the farmers and the environment.

Buying second-hand wool products is another option to consider, or opting for brands that champion recycled wool.

People Tree, Ally Bee and Flock By Nature are a few brands that promote ethical wool production. Likewise, Cornish brand Finisterre was the first brand to produce merino wool in the UK, from non-mulesed merino sheep.

So, in terms of ethics, mohair and cashmere appear to be the worst offenders, with merino following behind and alpaca at the top.

Some people argue that sheep shearing is a natural process of farming and – as long as animals are not harmed in the process – there should be nothing wrong with wool production.

However, wool is still an animal by-product, so it’s likely that animal campaigners will continue to urge the industry to boycott it entirely.

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