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Man gets a ‘will you marry me?’ tattoo with a yes or no tick box

Tattoo on chest saying 'will you marry me?'
Cute or corny? (Picture: Gods Of Ink /SWNS)

If you’re engaged, then chances are people will ask you how he (or she/they – it’s 2019, people) proposed.

But this bride-to-be has the advantage of being able to show folks instead of telling them how it all went down.

That’s because her partner decided to tattoo the words ‘will you marry me?’ on his chest instead of, you know, just asking her.

The brave man got inked across his chest and included a yes or no tick box for her to fill in.

Don’t worry, she didn’t get a glimpse of the tat while he recovered. Because she was there when he did it.

But he made her wait outside, then did a grand reveal to which she said yes. Afterwards, she sat in the parlour in Gloucester while the artists ticked the yes box.

The proposal was published on Facebook by the tattoo shop, Gods of Ink. The post said: ‘What an amazing way to propose.

‘His girlfriend who was with him and had no idea what he was having done was shocked by his proposal and she happily ticked the yes box.

‘Congratulations to you both. The ring is on the opposite finger as they are from Bulgaria so wear the ring on the right hand.’

The unnamed couple after the successful proposal.
She said yes (Picture: Gods Of Ink /SWNS)

Several people wished the couple the best of luck on social media. One woman said: ‘Such an amazing couple, so happy for you both.’

Another added: ‘Aww cute!’

But not everybody was so sure – with the inevitable ‘imagine if she’d said no!’ and ‘what a risk’ comments also posted.

Tattoo artist Juris Jurison, who has worked in the parlour for two years, carried out the work.

He said that it wasn’t ‘a common occurrence’- but was still a fan of the idea.

‘It was rather unique,’ he said.

‘It reminded me of being at school when you wrote notes at school, asking your girlfriend if she wanted to go out with you.’

The fiancé had hung around the parlour waiting to get inked. Then his girlfriend arrived and he waited until the main bit was done to show it off to her.

Juris explained: ‘When she came in, she said: “Oh my god I love you” and said yes of course. Then she drew in the heart and we tattooed that on.

‘He was nervous at the beginning, but I think it is a really cool idea. Carpe diem, as they say.’

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Mum cried for days after bleaching and using relaxer meant for ‘African-American hair’

Woman's hair before and after bleaching it at home which made it fall out
This mum’s hair fell out in clumps when she bleached her hair at home and used a relaxer (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

A mum-of-three has revealed how she cried for three days after a home bleaching disaster ‘melted’ her hair and made it fall out in clumps.

Eden Gilliam, 26, decided to dye her hair blonde after years of having dark hair.

After visiting a haircare shop in Tennessee, Eden says she was advised to buy bleach and a hair relaxant – a cream generally used for ‘relaxing’ tight, natural curls.

When she got home, Eden bleached her hair before putting on the treatment – but claims the combination left her locks ‘melting to her head’.

The stay-at-home mum then decided to wash it all off but as she ran her hands through her hair, it fell out in clumps.

She expressed the horror at watching her once luscious locks go from being healthy and long to disintegrating in her hands within minutes.

Eden later learned that the products may be suitable to ‘more resistant’ African-American hair.

Now her hair is short and coarse, so Eden has had to resort to wearing wigs sometimes.

She is now urging other women to visit salons to get their hair dyed and hopes to prove home bleaching is not worth the risk.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: EDEN'S HAIR AFTER BLEACH AND RELAXANT REACTED, BURNING HER SCALP AND LEAVING HER WITH BALD PATCHES) A mum-of-three 'cried for three days' after a home bleaching disaster left her hair 'melted to her scalp' and falling out in her hands. Eden Gilliam, 26, decided to dye her hair blonde two weeks ago after years of being brunette. Upon visiting a hair care shop in Tennessee, US, she claims she was advised to buy bleach and a hair 'relaxant'. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
Eden’s hair went from long and flowing to short and coarse (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘I was running my hands through my hair and the one thing I can compare it to is in movies when chemo patients are in the shower and their hair keeps coming out,’ she explained.

‘The more I brushed my hand through it, the more it was hitting the shower floor.

‘It’s the hardest thing. I went through a phase where I cried for three days solid. It’s so depressing.’

The mum is a natural blonde but dyed it black some years ago. In that time she regularly oiled it and grew it out, keeping it healthy.

When the hair disaster happened, Eden decided to call her hairdresser friend Kristen who helped take it all off.

‘Kristen helped me wash all the stuff out, but my hair was so melted it was almost to my scalp. It just curled up and frizzed to my scalp.

‘I wasn’t supposed to mix [the bleach and relaxant]. She called the lady from the haircare shop, who denied ever selling them to me.’

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: EDEN'S HAIR AFTER BLEACH AND RELAXANT REACTED, BURNING HER SCALP AND LEAVING HER WITH BALD PATCHES) A mum-of-three 'cried for three days' after a home bleaching disaster left her hair 'melted to her scalp' and falling out in her hands. Eden Gilliam, 26, decided to dye her hair blonde two weeks ago after years of being brunette. Upon visiting a hair care shop in Tennessee, US, she claims she was advised to buy bleach and a hair 'relaxant'. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 697 4266
Eden’s hair after using the bleach and relaxant (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

But kindly enough, Eden has now been inundated with offers of help, with her old school even offering to donate money for a wig.

Eden’s children also miss their mum’s old locks.

‘My kids can’t get used to it. They loved my long hair and always want to run their hands through it but they can’t now.

‘I don’t even want it touched, it’s awfully frizzy and hard to deal with right now. You really can’t style it – especially being as short as it is.’

Eden previously had red box died hair
Eden previously had red box died hair (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Kristen added: ‘It was the mixing of chemicals. The relaxer after bleach is what melted it but the bleach over box colour had already damaged it.

‘Box colour is rough on your hair if you try to remove it because it contains metallic salts which doesn’t mix well with bleach.

‘Relaxers are mainly for African American hair which is much more resistant than Caucasian hair. It was just too much for her hair to handle.

‘Anyone with training would have known not to sell someone with bleached hair a relaxer.’

Now Eden wants to pass on a message to women considering DIY hair treatment.

‘I’d urge people not to bleach their hair at home. Wait until you can get help.

‘At least take a step back and know what you’re getting into – or go to a salon. It’ll be worth it in the end.’

Please speak to a professional before attempting any risky hair treatments.

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FAO BBC, this is what sh*tposting actually is

What is shitposting?
(Picture: iStockphoto/Getty)

Yesterday evening, BBC Sounds posted a clip of political editor Laura Kuenssberg explaining a term called shitposting.

She claimed that it was when ‘political parties and campaign groups make adverts that look really rubbish, and then people share it online saying “oh, I can’t believe how shit this is”, and then it gets shared and shared and shared’.

This might be a fair assumption for someone to make, but only if they’d never actually been online and looked at a meme before. That’s because this isn’t what shitposting is at all.

The clip prompted plenty of ‘OK boomer’ reactions, and even actual boomers claiming that they were more clued-up than the commentators on the nature of shitposting.

It’s not the first time the media has been out of step with digital culture. Can anyone remember when Kay Burley had an aubergine emoji mishap and accidentally alluded to her son’s friend’s penis?

Or when ‘alerts’ were issued about teens using acronyms to sext, such as NIFOC (naked in front of computer) and GYPO (get your pants off)?

Basically, normal and serious people can’t understand the outwardly stupid ways that the extremely online get their kicks, and therefore end up woefully misunderstanding us all.

For those of you who didn’t grow up on terrible forums that warped your mind and sense of humour to the point you only find nonsense funny, here’s the actual definition of shitposting.

What is shitposting?

Shitposting is nothing of value. It is the online equivalent of shooting tin cans with a spud gun in a patch of wasteland. It’s repeating what the person you’re with says in a stupid voice until they give up and go home.

The idea that shitposting is some media trick that’s been harnessed by the Tory party with their Comic Sans posters defeats entirely the point of the act; to be stupid with no inherent goal (or at least not a serious one).

Encyclopedia Dramatica, a sort of Wiki for meme culture, defines it as ‘Shitposting is the act/art of producing an online post (or in the case of wikis, creating an article) that nobody cares about, is of low quality/content, and which has no relevance whatsoever.’

You’re essentially just being a buzzy fly, taking people’s serious conversations and sending a meme you created on paint to derail the thread.

It can be an act that ends up provoking a reaction, but is different from trolling in the sense that it doesn’t have to be offensive in nature.

That’s not to say it never is. After all, thinkpieces in recent years have dedicated time to the fact that notorious shitposters on sites like 4Chan and 8Chan have gone on to be figureheads for the far-right, and in worst-case scenarios even terrorists.

Much like how memes can be weaponised (RIP Pepe the Frog, who went from silly amphibian image to Nazi signpost) so can shitposting. But it would be reductive to say that’s all it is.

Take a look at the Dril Twitter account, and you’ll see that nonsense can be just that.

Through pathologising internet speak and behaviour we’re at risk of becoming a meta-meme ourselves. Especially when we don’t get the nature of the thing in the first place.

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Single dad adopts three boys after growing up in foster care

Selfie of Barry Farmer and his three kids who he adopted by the age of 26
Barry Farmer and his three kids who he adopted by the age of 26 (Picture: Barry Farmer Instagram)

A man who grew up in foster care and eventually came to be raised by his grandmother wanted to spare other children from the same system.

Barry Farmer, from Virginia, has adopted three boys by the age of 26, starting with his first at the tender age of 21.

This is an accomplishment significant for three reasons, he says: As a single dad raising three adopted boys, as a man, and as a black man, a group which is unfortunately stereotyped as absent.

At an age where most of his American counterparts were legally drinking for the first time, Barry was working on getting his foster parent license.

As soon as he got it, Barry fostered a little boy called Jaxon, aged eight, in 2011. The plan was to take care of Jaxon on a short-term basis until his family were ready to take him back.

But when the youngster asked Barry if he could be his ‘forever dad’, Barry couldn’t say no.

He felt like taking care of another child was a tribute to his grandmother who took him in through a program called Kinship Care, which allows other family members to take over when parents aren’t capable.

Two years later, he decided to give Jaxon a sibling and adopted Xavier. When another little boy, Jeremiah, needed fostering a year later, Barry also took him in.

But as with Jaxon, plans to return Jeremiah to his family changed and Barry decided to adopt him.

Barry with Xavier who he adopted in 2013
Barry with Xavier who he adopted in 2013 (Picture: Barry Farmer)

Barry, who documents his family journey on Instagram and on his radio show, says he knows all too well the importance of growing up with a parental figure.

He writes: ‘Fatherhood has been everything I imagined it to be because I’m the father I wish I had growing up. I’m involved, I’m there when my boys go to sleep and when they wake up.

In another Instagram caption, he writes: ‘Parenting can be stressful, overwhelming, Thankless, unpredictable, yet satisfying.

‘Adopting three children before the age of 26 is unheard of by many. Being a male adopting raises a lot of eyebrows for sure and adopting outside your race as an African American male turns a lot of heads.

‘When you care about the well being of humans in general, the colour of their skin doesn’t come into play when it comes to having compassion.’

Barry Farmer and his three adopted sons pictured in black and white
When the kids were little. The oldest is now a teenager (Picture: Barry Farmer)

Barry says he’s here for all children in need and that others should also consider it.

He continues: ‘Don’t ask “Why did he choose this path to parenthood”, ask yourself “Why haven’t I chosen this path to parenthood?”.’

What a legendary dad.

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Let us all try this man’s genius trick to ensure our lost cameras are returned

Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it (Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Leave pictures like these on your camera to make sure finders know where to return it! (Picture: Andrew McDonald)

If you’ve survived the heartache of camera loss (RIP graduation pics) you may vow to be super careful to not lose the important bit of technology again.

But alas, forgetfulness, sleepiness and just plain-right stupidity can result in losing the device.

One man, however, has a pretty nifty way of ensuring it’s returned back to the rightful owner. And no, it doesn’t include a sticker that says ‘if lost, return to’.

Author Andrew McDonald has created a handy pictorial guide to prevent camera loss. Assuming, of course, that the finder is nice enough to actually return it rather than press delete all.

‘All you have to do is take some photos – which you never delete from your camera,’ he writes on his blog.

‘So when someone finds your camera at the bottom of the gorilla pit they are able to locate you and return the lost property to its rightful owner.’

And he included a set of pictures to go with it.

In a move that we can only assume was inspired by Love, Actually, Andrew is seen holding up a white board predicting the scenarios in which he could’ve lost his camera.

A total of 25 pictures were added to the camera to make sure the finder doesn’t gloss over it (and perhaps guilt-trip them into returning it).

But of course, you have to have the foresight to add all these pics before it gets lost. So start taking those pics now.

And if you want to appeal to the finder’s better nature maybe add a funny pic in there for good measure.

Andrew added one in the bathtub with a rubber duck, just for laughs.

Here is Andrew’s picture guide to stop future camera loss:

Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it (Picture: Andrew McDonald)
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs inducting finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it (Picture: Andrew McDonald)
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)
Man holding signs instructing finder of lost camera to return it
(Picture: Andrew McDonald)

Might we also recommend adding a little note to your phone wallpaper with the same important details?

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Prada and Adidas are collaborating for the first time

adidas shoe boxes inside a prada shopping bag
The two brands have some exciting news (Picture: Adidas)

A new fashion collaboration has been announced – and it’s the first of its kind.

Prada and Adidas have announced they will be joining forces, but are remaining tight-lipped on the finer details.

Yesterday, the two brands posted an image of some Adidas shoe boxes inside a Prada shopping bag on their social media – hinting to the fact that their project will have a strong footwear focus.

The luxury Italian designer and the sportswear giant are set to embark on a long-term collaboration, starting with two Prada for Adidas silhouettes – launching in December 2019.

With pieces for both men and women, the shoes will be made in Prada’s Italian factories, but will incorporate Adidas’s technical footwear knowledge.


The two brands will then follow up with a second capsule collaboration, which is due to land in early 2020.

This is set to include new Luna Rossa performance sailing footwear, which will fuse practicality with haute fashion.

The new collection will touch on themes of heritage, technology and innovation and will draw on the both of the brand’s archives to reinvent classics.

This is not, however, Prada’s first venture into activewear. The luxury brand reissued its sportswear line, titled Linea Rossa, last year – following its debut in 1997.

Adidas is also no stranger to designer collaborations, having previously joined forces with Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Stella McCartney and Yeezy.

Prada said in a statement: ‘The aim of this partnership is to investigate the realms of heritage, technology and innovation.

‘Prada for Adidas is a laboratory for ideas, a new vehicle for creativity.’

One of the hottest recent collabs between fashion giants was H&M x Giambattista Valli, which saw the couture giant making their products ‘available to the masses’.

Kylie Jenner was part of the squad that modelled for this merging of minds, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Adidas and Prada are able to pull some big names out of the bag come their drop.

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All the things that can affect your credit score

All the things that affect your credit score
You should check your score regularly (Pictures: Getty)

Although we’re not quite at the dystopian Black Mirror reality of having our very existence defined by a social score, it’s plain to see that everything we do is controlled by algorithms of suitability.

One of these is our credit score, which is used to decide whether you’re given everything from credit cards to jobs to phone contracts.

You can check your credit score in a number of ways, and will see a number (sometimes between 0 and 700 or 0 and 999 depending on where you go).

It’s worth noting that the number you’ll see on sites like ClearScore and Experian aren’t ever seen by companies that search you. This is more for your guidance.

Instead, those checking credit will see various factors that signpost to them whether you’ll be able to pay for whatever they’re offering.

That’s why it’s not as simple as ‘only scores of X and above will be accepted’.

Of all these variables, some you can fix easily, and some take a bit more work. Here’s what’s taken into account.

How well you pay

This is the main thing lenders will look at when they’re checking your credit.

As they’re looking to see whether you’ll pay them on time in the future, they look at your past payments to see any default and missed payments.

Your credit report will be marked if you miss payments, and this could affect your score for up to six years.

Credit history

This is also important, and can reflect badly on people who’ve had no credit in the past (seems counterproductive, but yet still a thing).

If a lender is unable to see whether you’re good at paying, they can’t exactly vouch for you.

That’s why you might notice your score is low despite the fact you’ve never had any credit cards, loans, or otherwise.

To improve your credit history, a phone contract, credit card with a small balance, or student 0% overdraft (that you know you can pay back on time and in full) could help.

Money illustrations
It’s not just how much you’ve got in the bank (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

How much of your credit you’ve used

On your report, it will be logged how much available credit you have, as well as how much of that you’ve used.

So, if you have a credit card with a £1,000 limit, and have used up £997, you’ll (usually) be less likely to be accepted than someone who’s used £497 of their balance.

This is because a high credit utilisation implies that you’re reliant on credit, and don’t have much spare cash left over to pay them back.

How many different credit accounts you have

In another odd and counterproductive turn, some lenders will see you as a threat if you don’t have something called a good ‘credit mix’.

It doesn’t mean you should go out and get into all different types of debt, but it does mean they want to see you can handle different types of account.

You could still have a great credit score with just one account on your report (so we can’t stress enough, please don’t go get a loan or credit card to ‘fix’ this factor), but it differs from lender to lender, and could have an affect on your suitability.

Why is there so much shame around debt?
There are many ways to build your credit (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

How ‘credit hungry’ you are

When you apply for credit a ‘hard search’ will be performed. This is when they look at these factors to see whether you’ll be accepted or not.

That hard search leaves a footprint on your report, and too many of them over a short period of time could indicate that you’re ‘credit hungry’.

That’s why it’s usually advised to keep applications to a minimum unless necessary, or only use lenders who check your file via a ‘soft search’ or ‘quotation search’.

Lenders can’t see whether you’ve been accepted for the credit you’ve applied for, and when you check your own credit score this is also done via a soft search. However, it’s still worth being mindful of those hard searches and how they’ve impacted your score over the years.

How long you’ve held credit accounts

If you can prove to lenders that you’re a dependable and loyal customer, this will stand to you in your credit report.

Flitting between products or only having ones for short periods would tell them you’d do the same with them.

Remedying this isn’t as easy for younger people or those who are just starting on building their credit, but you’ll get there in time.

The Electoral Roll

It’s important for companies to be able to verify your identity and address, and the best way they can do that is by matching your application to the Electoral Roll.

If what you’ve said is the same as what’s on there, it will benefit your score.

Other things

Because every lender is different, even having a ‘perfect’ credit score can be seen as a negative in the eyes of some. For example, if you pay off your credit cards in full, you won’t be profitable to them as a business, and may get rejected.

Obviously you should still pay your bills in full and on time if you can, but you should remember that there’s no such thing as a customer who’ll be accepted everywhere all the time.

Everything from the fact you prefer to use your credit card to take cash out or the amount you pay back monthly (whether it’s the minimum or more) can be shared, so don’t worry too much if your score isn’t what you thought it was or your file isn’t matching up to expectations.

The best thing you can do is keep accounts in credit or pay back as much as possible, and keep an eye on your credit score so that if anything changes, you know before anyone else.

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How to find out how much debt you are actually in

Spending illustrations Metro illustrations ella byworth/ metro.co.uk
Get your finances in order (Picture: Ella byworth/ metro.co.uk)

So you know you’ve got debts but you have no idea how much it actually comes to.

When you’re paying off different types in different places, and the interest is building up, it can be easy to lose track.

If you’ve been ignoring your debts as they build up, the total could really surprise you.

But if you are planning to start paying some of it off, it’s important to figure out what you owe and who you owe it to.

This way, you can create a realistic budget plan and you’ll know roughly how long it will take if you pay it off at an affordable rate.

Look through the paperwork

Firstly, if you have kept a record of all your debts but haven’t sat down and totted them up, now is the time to do it.

You can contact the creditors and ask for an up to date statement.

Contacting them can be frightening but you can explain that you want to deal with your debts and ask for some breathing space while you figure out what to do next.

Check your credit file

If you can’t remember who all your creditors are, you can check your credit score online for free or pay a small fee for a hard copy.

Andy Shaw, Debt Advice Coordinator at StepChange Debt Charity, explains: ‘Your credit file contains information about your debts, and other public information shared by lenders, making it the perfect place to start.

‘There are three credit reference agencies in the UK, Experian, Equifax and Transunion.

‘All three offer services that give you access to your credit report immediately for free, but do come with the downside of adverts for products based on your credit rating.

‘You can also request a hard copy of your credit report, but this will take a bit longer to come to you in the post.’

However, not all debts are on your credit file as anything older than six years gets removed, even if you are still paying it off, and not all information is added.

Try looking through emails, letters and bank statements

You can also try looking through old bank statements to see what payments you have made in the past and who to.

Andy says that there are some alternatives to relying on your credit report:

‘Checking letters and emails you’ve received from creditors and your previous bank statements, and getting in touch with creditors are alternate ways to find out your debts.

‘If your debt could be with the Government, such as HMRC or a local council, you can also contact them.’

Once you have the details of all your creditors, you can contact each of them.

Letting creditors find you is the last option

The last option is to wait until they get in touch with you

Andy adds: ‘If none of these approaches work, then the only option remaining is likely to be to wait for credit agencies to contact you, so keep your latest address on your credit file updated.

‘Given that this could risk further action against you, and the balances of your debts could keep going up, we’d only suggest waiting for creditors to contact you as a last resort.’

Once you know, keep everything up to date

Once you’ve pieced together your debt history, keep it in a file and update it regularly so you have an idea of how much you still owe as you make payments.

If you move or change your details, make sure you let all your creditors know so you don’t lose track again.

Debt Month

This article is part of a month-long focus in November all about debt.

Scary word, we know, but we're hoping if we tackle this head on we'll be able to reduce the shame around money struggles and help everyone improve their understanding of their finances.

Throughout November we'll be publishing first-person accounts of debt, features, advice, and explainers. You can read everything from the month on the Debt Month tag.

If you have a story to share, a topic you want us to cover, or a question that needs answering, get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


Strong Women: ‘I crash landed and my life changed in an instant, but I’m determined to make something of myself’


Anna Turney became a Paralympian after she suffered a serious spinal injury in a snowboarding accident – but now she’s looking for her next challenge.

‘My life changed in an instant at the age of 26,’ Anna tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I was passionate about snowboarding and aspiring to compete for Team GB. My event was the boardercross category, which is where a number of competitors race down a course at the same time. During an event in Japan, I crash landed after taking a 30 foot jump.

‘The next thing I remember was coming around in hospital and being told there was a 98 per cent chance I would never walk again. I felt terrified and utterly helpless.

‘It was hard to believe it was really happening to me. I was in terrible physical pain, but that was nothing compared to having to come to terms with spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair.’

Anna Speaking
‘I want to show people, including my three-year-old, that with a little effort and focus, you can achieve whatever you want’ (Picture: Anna Turner)

Anna says that the physical challenges of having a spinal cord injury are enormous. She had to daily physiotherapy and work really hard to try and maintain a positive mental outlook.

‘The mind is very powerful but I don’t know how I would have got through everything without a supportive network around me,’ she says. ‘The medical care in Japan and here in the UK were fantastic.’

After four months in hospital, Anna moved home with her mum and younger brother, Ben, who were there for her all the way. Eventually, she got back into yoga, learned to swim again and even took up wheelchair basketball.

‘I also started working in a local primary school. That helped take my mind away from being a patient and enabled me to focus on helping others,’ she says.

‘I wouldn’t have been able to keep going mentally without my mum’s support: she helped maintain my focus on daily physio exercises.’

When Anna was in hospital, she promised herself that she would get back on the snow, and that dream gave her something to work towards.

‘A year later, I tried adaptive skiing for the first time with my older brother, Luke, and after a few initial struggles, loved it!

‘Twelve months after than I was on the British Para Alpine Development Squad. I also met Pete, who is now my husband.

‘Training my body and mind, going back to work and meeting my future husband, all helped me to realise that, no matter what, with aspirations, a good team around us and routine hard work, we can make something of ourselves and enjoy life.

‘I actually feel incredibly fortunate.’

Sport has always been a huge part of Anna’s life. Her brother Ben taught her to skateboard as a teenager and she decided to give snowboarding a go because it looked so cool. She even got a job at the Snowdome in Milton Keynes so she could practice all the time.

‘I was drawn to the speed, and adrenaline rush of snow sports, and have always loved being outdoors. The spectacular setting of the mountains enhances the experience. I also really enjoy the ethos and friendly culture of the board sports community.

Anna Turney skiing
‘When I am skiing I feel truly free’ (Picture: AP/Dmitry Lovetsky)

‘Not much has changed since the accident,’ Anna adds. ‘I love the fact that I can go anywhere on the mountain, with anyone and that I can still ski faster than most people, despite the wheelchair.

‘When I am skiing I feel truly free.’

Anna says that since her accident, training has become even more important to her. She says that being strong and fit makes her life much easier.

‘I can’t stand up, but I am independent and much of that comes with the confidence you get from learning wheelchair skills and building strength, both mental and physical,’ she says.

‘It’s like anything, the more you practice, the better you become.

‘Being fit and strong is now seen as something to which women can aspire. It is great to have been told I am a role model for girls and women.’

The toughest part of Anna’s recovery was the mental training. Overcoming her fear, anxiety and self-doubt has been one of the biggest hurdles.

‘I remember the first time I sat in a start gate after breaking my back,’ says Anna. ‘I suddenly panicked and couldn’t breathe properly. I wasn’t ready.

‘With the right preparation, however, we can all develop confidence. Daily mental training, visual imagery and positive self talk were habits I developed. If we stretch ourselves, the results are remarkable.’

Anna also loves sport because it provides an incredible support network. She also says that since the accident, she knows just how important it is to put her health first.

‘I have always loved sport, I am just better at prioritising it now that I am paralysed,’ says Anna.


‘We are not designed to sit still all the time, so exercising and stretching to develop good posture and reduce discomfort are essential parts of my daily routine. Looking after my body is more important than ever – I need to be in good working order just to get about.

When she’s not on the slopes, Anna delivers corporate coaching, training and inspirational speeches.

Strong Women

Strong Women is a weekly series that champions diversity in the world of sport and fitness.

A Sport England study found that 40% of women were avoiding physical activity due to a fear of judgement.

But, contrary to the limited images we so often see, women of any age, size, race or ability can be active and enjoy sport and fitness.

We hope that by normalising diverse depictions of women who are fit, strong and love their bodies, we will empower all women to shed their self-consciousness when it comes to getting active.

Each week we talk to women who are redefining what it means to be strong and achieving incredible things.

‘People can lose sight of their purpose at work,’ she says. ‘Hearing an inspiring story and then engaging in challenging activities with me helps teams to reflect on their own skills and attitudes as well as raising aspirations.

‘I help them work together more effectively, which in turns leads to improved results.

‘I also turned 40 this summer and made the decision to say yes to opportunities and commit to having fun.’

As part of that Anna has now started training with Team BRIT, a Motorsports company that run adapted cars which can be driven without the use of legs.

‘Some of my teammates at Warwickshire Bears wheelchair basketball did a track day around Donnington Park, it was amazing!

‘I was invited back for a women’s racing afternoon driving around Silverstone Circuit and loved it – nobody knows I’m disabled when I’m behind the wheel of the car.

‘I thoroughly recommend giving it a go, and they are looking for more drivers and sponsorship to back the first disabled women’s team worldwide.’

Anna says that mindset is an incredibly powerful tool.

‘I want to show people, including my three-year-old, that with a little effort and focus, you can achieve whatever you want.

‘Aim high, build a strong team around you and work hard. You choose your own future.’

MORE: Strong Women: ‘My surgeon can’t believe I can play sport after what I’ve been through – but it keeps me going’

MORE: Strong Women: ‘I lost all my hair in my 30s – running without my wig gave me my power back’

MORE: Strong Women: ‘Female jockeys are just as good as men’

A break-up almost killed me but cricket healed my heart


2019 will go down as one of the most unexpected years.

I began it in a healthy relationship with the woman I was convinced I would be with forever.

We were introduced by a mutual friend in my local. I was in a period of narcotic-infused self-destruction following the death of a good friend and a freelance career lull – but then she arrived and from the moment our eyes met, I knew.

Within weeks we were addicted to each other, and I thought ‘yep, this is it Tommy Stew: true love’.

She was spectacular – the funniest person I’d ever met, the most beautiful, and every moment in her presence was a pleasure. She was selfless, and accommodated my struggles with mental illness, which to our collective detriment meant I’d often treat her as a crutch.

The months passed and we rode out the usual bumps of any serious relationship. My career began gathering momentum and I was feeling extremely comfortable with the big three-oh that was looming. We were coasting and it felt good.

Tommy as a young boy in cricket whites
Cricket has always been in my life (Picture: Tommy Stewart)

But after an intense, explosive two weeks period of arguments and inconclusive disagreements on our future, suddenly we were done. One phone call on a Wednesday night was enough for her to call it a day.

I was, and probably still am, shell-shocked. I’m permanently scarred due to self-harming post-breakup, and I’m still drowning in a pool of panic attacks and anti-psychotic medication. Heartbreak sent me to the deepest depths of depression.

However, there was a flicker of hope, an incongruous light at the end of the tunnel that glimmered through, like an old friend welcoming you back to your home town.

It was cricket.

Cricket has always been in my life. My father always was (and still is) a fervent cricket obsessive and his compulsion was contagious.

I captained my primary school team (although we were terrible) and played to an average level until I was 17. I became an England obsessive and would happily sit down with a beer or cup of tea, Test Match Special on, and watch any level of the beautiful game for hours on end.

And as I was in my interminable, dismantled post-break up state, drinking heavily and thinking about what I had lost, the collective imagination of most British sporting fans was simultaneously being captured by cricket.

The cricket World Cup, held in England, began exactly two weeks after my ex-girlfriend broke up with me – a World Cup! In England! That England won!

That was followed by The Ashes, England v Australia, one of the most historic, fiercely competed and entertaining rivalries in world sport. The series was drawn but the drama that unfolded was enough to get the bums of the most casual sporting fan off their collective seat.

Tommy dressed in cricket whites, holding a pint
The ethereal bliss of watching live cricket had a meditative and transient effect (Picture: Tommy Stewart)

With a summer of the sport stretching before me, at first cricket provided me with no more than impetus – maybe even a distraction.

But it quickly became all-encompassing, a reason to get out of bed rather than spending days with the curtains closed in a pool of sweat, tears and self-pity.

Thoughts that were previously occupied by my ex-girlfriend strayed to checking on Jimmy Anderson’s fitness or watching YouTube videos at 2am on how to sand down a Gray-Nicolls bat.

Whether it was the Super Over, Stokes’ heroics at Headingley or the peerless magnificence of Steve Smith – without being too hyperbolic, cricket helped to heal my heart and gave me a reason to live.

Then something astonishing happened. I was offered a position to be the digital producer on a national radio cricket podcast. I may have been given it out of sympathy, which I’m fine with – my colleagues were well aware of what I was going through.

My start on the podcast coincided with the beginning of the World Cup. I must have spent a total of three weeks at the Emirates Old Trafford, whether at drunken Friday night T20 blasts or sitting in solitude at Lancashire matches with no more than 100 other peaceful spectators.

The ethereal bliss of watching live cricket had a meditative and transient effect.

That undercurrent buzz of chatter – of bat colliding with ball, of 26,000 drunk Mancunians shouting ‘HOWZAT!?’ in unison – seeped into my subconscious, gradually getting louder than thoughts of loneliness.

Tommy holding a bat aloft wearing a cricket helmet and pads
Cricket was my go-to fix for stability, joy and companionship (Picture: Tommy Stewart)

My ex had provided me with a sense of belonging and a familiar, comforting presence. Watching cricket gave me that same feeling. Being cosseted by a buoyant crowd replaced my need to be dependent on another person.

Having somewhere to go when times grew cold, when loneliness overwhelmed, helped me get over her. Cricket was my go-to fix for stability, joy and companionship whether that was in the company of friends or just me and the TV.

I also picked up a bat again. What began with a sheepish and timid session with a colleague eventually progressed to trips to the nets two or three times a week. I even mustered up the courage to play a match!

I met new people of different races and ages and played with strangers and old mates I’d not seen for years. It felt like a figurative group hug – friends and colleagues who saw me suffer the severity of heartbreak embraced and lifted me.

My dad told me he’d suffered similarly as a young man and explained that heartbreak is one of the most difficult forms of grief to recover from. The fact that at 66 he could open up in such a way made me feel less alone.

I poured my love into the cricketing community – the fans, the players, the wickets, the shots, the journalists, my colleagues, the WhatsApp groups – and the community loved me back.

I believe love and genuine companionship often strike unexpectedly, so from here on in I’m going to look after myself mentally and if another love story does unravel, I know I can embrace it from a safe and confident place.

Or it may be that cricket is the one true love of my life – and there would be nothing wrong with that at all.

Last week in Love Or Something Like It: The worst heartbreak I’ve ever known was losing my best friend

Write for Love, Or Something Like It

Love, Or Something Like It is a new series for Metro.co.uk covering everything from mating and dating to lust and loss, exploring what true love is and how we find it in the present day.

If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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Home-swapping lets me trade in my London flat for a pool-side villa in San Diego

enjoying the ecopool at a homeswap in Belgium
The family enjoying the ecopool at a homeswap in Belgium (Picture: Mark Piggott/Metro.co.uk)

There is nothing embarrassing or untoward in my wife’s drawers.

I’ll clarify that at the outset, because when we tell friends that we enjoy regular holiday home swaps, their first question is invariably: ‘Aren’t you worried about them going through your drawers?’

Our response is always the same: no, because unlike you filthy people, we have nothing to hide – and if we did, there’s a lockable cabinet.

Since we first exchanged our modest London home ten years ago, we’ve arranged holiday swaps across the world. We’ve spent midwinter at the Arctic Circle and summer in suburban San Diego, lived it up on Broadway (the doorman tipping his cap as we swept through the lobby) and snorkelled with goldfish in a furry-bottomed Flemish eco-pool. In Vancouver we barbecued on a balcony as a concert took place beneath our feet. In Bonn, our toddler son wandered next door, naked, and entered the home of a German family having lunch: the father greeting him with a hearty ‘Hi!’.

When my wife first tentatively suggested we try a bit of swapping, I was unsure. What if we didn’t like the other couple? What if we had different needs and desires?

When she explained she meant swapping homes, after my initial disappointment I was soon won over. We had always been determined not to let parenting stop us seeing the world, and let’s face it, sharing a hotel room with small children is about as enjoyable as sharing one’s bath with a badger.

Our first swap, to Paris, was a steep learning curve. On arrival the key snapped in the lock – just as my five-year-old daughter declared she needed a poo. This entailed rushing around the streets in search of a toilet, my daughter on my shoulders, farting ominously.

san diego piggott houseswap
The family in San Diego (Picture: Mark Piggott/Metro.co.uk)

Finally, I entered the town hall and approached a prim receptionist. Pointing up at my daughter I smiled cheesily and uttered the only French word I remembered from school: ‘Merde?’

Once the caretaker had fixed a new lock, we entered the flat – where our excited kids immediately began playing with toys, trying on clothes, and smashing plates. Not to be outdone in the naughty stakes, my wife and I were scolded by the caretaker for hanging washing on the balcony – a capital crime in that snooty locale – and throwing empty wine bottles down the rubbish chute in the early hours, causing the sound of clanging and smashing glass to reverberate throughout the block and indeed the arrondissement.

We’ve now swapped homes upwards of 30 times and have had so many bizarre experiences it inspired a comic novel, Kidology. Improbably, considering our socio-economic circumstances, we’ve become experts in swimming pool maintenance: skimmers, tablets, deadly chemical cocktails, the robot in France which scoured the floor of the pool as we drank cold beer. We’ve also become adept in using left-hand drive cars: where once we were too nervous to drive to the Carrefour we now think nothing of cruising through Paris and Los Angeles, and through northern Finland in a blizzard.

a houseswap in San Diego
One of the many homes we’ve stayed in for free (Picture: Mark Piggott/Metro.co.uk)

We’ve rarely had mishaps when driving swappees’ cars – unless you count the time we were looking for Father Ted’s house in County Clare and managed to scuff our hosts’ €80,000 Audi when the satnav sent us up a country lane. Usually we manage to dissuade our guests from driving our ancient C4 through London, loading up Oyster Cards for them instead.

As well as a booklet of instructions, it’s customary to leave your guests local delicacies so that when they arrive, they are made to feel welcome. Whenever we swapped with French families, we always left a bottle of English wine – which remained untouched for a decade. In the end we changed it for English ale and sausages, which were much better received.

On occasion, as we enter a magnificent detached house in rolling countryside, with two cars in the drive, pool, hangar-sized garage with every conceivable tool and machinery diligently labelled and maintained, I can’t help feeling inferior, wondering how our swappees will react on entering our modest home. What will they make of the shabby-chic furniture, the neglected garden, the family next door who spend their leisure hours fighting on drugs?

Then I remind myself – they’re in London, yards from the tube. They really should be grateful and to be fair, most of them are; even the family who got locked in when the front door lock broke.

piggott house in London
We rent a five-bedroom house in London (Picture: Mark Piggott/Metro.co.uk)

Of course, there’s always an exception – in our case that Nantes couple who left a nasty note complaining that our downstairs neighbour smoked and that our cat had pissed in their shoes – neither of which my wife and I felt able to do much about.

The quality of home offers you receive depends on the size and condition of your home, but more importantly, its location. Generally speaking, the closer you are to landmarks, transport or beautiful scenery, the more offers you will receive. We are lucky enough to rent a five-bedroom terraced house in a quiet street yards from Tufnell Park, which might explain why we have to bat off exciting offers from villas in Patagonia and palaces in Sri Lanka.

As well as financial savings there are many advantages to house swapping. You are in a normal family home in a non-touristy area, shopping locally, mixing with real people and having to attempt the language. Plus, if you have cats, there are no expensive cat-sitting or kennel fees (just occasional shoe-cleaning fees).

Of course, that means you might be responsible for your swappees’ pets: like the Jack Russell in Ireland which seemed unconvinced of our right to stay in its master’s home, or the cat which stalked my wife round that Galway kitchen. Or the chickens in Paris that had to be let out of the hutch as day dawned yet refused to provide us with a single egg, or the cockerel in the Lakes which chased my screaming son round a field as my wife and I sipped our drinks in the sun.

There are disadvantages to holiday home-swapping too. By staying in family houses rather than resorts our children don’t always get to meet other kids. And, though it’s nice to be in a residential neighbourhood, sometimes you wish you were closer to touristy bars and restaurants. A lot of your time will be spent together, as a family: reading, playing cards, swimming, laughing, exploring.

It’s also crucial to make sure the people you plan to swap with are genuine. It’s advisable to use a reputable home-swapping website. We signed up to Home Exchange, which has links to over 400,000 homes in 187 countries, but another reputable site is Love Homeswap.

I would recommend avoiding sites that are free to join as they might not vet members. Whether you choose to insure your home for damage is up to you (we hope our standard contents insurance will cover us but, fingers crossed, have never needed it), though insurers might question a claim for damage by strangers you’ve never met.

I understand home swapping’s not for everyone: but for us Piggotts, holiday home-swaps have not only allowed us to see the world, they’ve allowed us to remain incredibly close as a family unit.

If I haven’t persuaded you yet, I believe you can purchase lockable boxes for the contents of your drawers at a very modest price. Just saying.

MORE: Couple pay off all their debts and move into a renovated bus to travel through North America

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Couple completely transform their kitchen for £534 using budget tricks they found on Facebook

 A young couple have managed to create their dream kitchen - for only ?500 thanks to creative hacks. Kirsty Maycock, 31 and boyfriend John Mccall, 30, from Tamworth, Staffs, had a strict budget when it came to redecorating the family kitchen - but the pair were determined to make it look like a professional job.Unable to afford a brand new design, Kirsty became inspired after joining a Facebook group and saw the recent craze of using vinyl for a quick, cheap makeover. SEE CATERS COPY.
The kitchen before the transformation (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

Here’s some proof that you don’t need to spend a load of money to make a house feel more like home.

Kirsty Maycock, 31, and boyfriend John Mccall, 30, from Tamworth, managed to transform their family kitchen for just £500, thanks to creative hacks they discovered through a Facebook group.

How? The makeover was mostly down to using vinyl wraps instead of paying for brand new work surfaces.

By just sticking on vinyl in new colours, the couple gave their kitchen a total refresh.

Kirsty, an administrator, said: ‘We’d been desperate to makeover the kitchen for ages.

‘We’ve been in the house for three years and we’ve already redecorated the other rooms – but we are aware this isn’t our forever home so didn’t want to pour a load of money into it.

A young couple have managed to create their dream kitchen - for only ?500 thanks to creative hacks. Kirsty Maycock, 31 and boyfriend John Mccall, 30, from Tamworth, Staffs, had a strict budget when it came to redecorating the family kitchen - but the pair were determined to make it look like a professional job.Unable to afford a brand new design, Kirsty became inspired after joining a Facebook group and saw the recent craze of using vinyl for a quick, cheap makeover. SEE CATERS COPY.
John managed to remove the tiles and replace them himself (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

‘So my boyfriend became determined, we’d be able to do it on a budget.

‘He set it at £500 and we were determined to get our dream from that.

‘Before, I’d absolutely hated it because even when you cleaned it, it didn’t look good – it wasn’t welcoming.’

John, an automatic door-fitter, who takes on DIY projects as a hobby, set out by himself but with additional help from Kirsty and his dad, Dave, 60, managed to repaint the walls and remove and replace old tiles.

They used around 10 rolls of vinyl, which cost around £10 each from B&Q, using them over worktops and cupboards.

Pictures of what the couples dream kitchen look like after the creative hacks
The makeover cost £534 in total (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

Then they added a splash of paint to the walls and invested in a new sink, hob, and cooker hood.

The couple shared photos of the transformation online, where they received a load of praise.

Kirsty added: ‘Now it’s a warm, welcoming environment with even some little spotlights fitted.

‘I’d spend all my time in the kitchen if I could.

‘I never expected the response I got from it after I posted a photo online, but people are going mad for vinyl.

‘It might not last as long but it enabled us to stick to our budget and it looks brilliant.

A young couple have managed to create their dream kitchen - for only ?500 thanks to creative hacks. Kirsty Maycock, 31 and boyfriend John Mccall, 30, from Tamworth, Staffs, had a strict budget when it came to redecorating the family kitchen - but the pair were determined to make it look like a professional job.Unable to afford a brand new design, Kirsty became inspired after joining a Facebook group and saw the recent craze of using vinyl for a quick, cheap makeover. SEE CATERS COPY.
Kirsty and John plan to redecorate their living room next (Picture: CATERS NEWS)

‘It took John maybe about a month to complete because he was working just a few hours a day completely on his own.

‘He even knocked out an archway and re-plastered it to open up the kitchen a bit.

‘We both worked to put the vinyl on the cupboard doors and the work surfaces – it was a bit like applying a screen protector to a phone.

‘We used the hair dryer to melt it a bit and wrapped it round the different surfaces but had to work to prevent bubbles.

‘Now we’ve caught the decorating bug – the living room is next!’

Cost breakdown:

  • Hob £95
  • Under cupboard lights £7
  • Spot lights £45
  • Tap £32
  • Sink £70
  • Cooker hood £60
  • Cupboard vinyl d c fix £40
  • Work top vinyl d c fix £30
  • Hob covers £20
  • Cupboard Handles £20
  • Wall mounted shelf £25
  • Red tiles £30
  • Floor tiles £60

TOTAL: £534

MORE: Mum creates Harry Potter themed bedroom for her son for £150

MORE: Home-swapping lets me trade in my London flat for a pool-side villa in San Diego

What I Own: Bernadette, 45, who owns a five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex

Bernadette Chapman in her five-bedroom house in Essex
Bernadette owns a five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)

In our weekly series What I Own, we’re taking you inside the properties people have chosen to buy instead of rent.

Why? Because while home ownership is held up as a goal, it’s often shrouded in mystery.

How on earth do people afford the deposit? How do you get a mortgage? How do you choose where to live?

We’re hoping to answer all these questions and more by showing you the nitty-gritty of people’s owned properties.

Last week we were with 28-year-old Natel, who owns a one-bedroom flat in Dagenham.

This time we’re nosing around the five-bedroom house of Bernadette, 45.

Bernadette is married with three children and Freddy the Sprocker Spaniel. She’s a wedding business consultant and works from home, working as the CEO for the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners and offering consultancy services through her website.

Bernadette has lived in a five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex, for the last three years.

Bernadette in her home office in five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex
Bernadette runs two businesses from home, so a nice home office was essential (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)

Let’s talk money. How much was this home? How much did you need for the deposit? 

We moved into our current home in September 2016 which ironically is just four doors up from our previous home, which we still own. Instead of selling we decided to get a Let to Buy mortgage instead. This released equity which was used as a deposit on this home

We purchased this home for £400,000.

And how much do you now pay per month?

We pay approximately £2,000 for our mortgage and main bills like insurance, utilities. I have not included our bills for our rental property as not appropriate when I have tenants in there.

What do you have for what you pay?

Five bedrooms, a double size garage which we have outfitted as a gym and storage space, an office, games room, kitchen, living room, dining room but just one bathroom! No downstairs toilet and sadly no ensuite.

wellingtoon boots in bernadette's five bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
The house is home to three kids, Bernadette, her husband, and Freddy the Sprocker Spaniel (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)

What made you choose this house?

With three children including two teenage boys, our three-bedroom house was becoming too small. We felt the boys needed their own space.

We started looking for four-bedroom properties in Coggeshall but they are far and few between. We viewed some but felt we gained an extra bedroom but the living space felt smaller, and in many cases it didn’t have an office, which was essential as I run two businesses from home.

All of a sudden a five-bedroom house on our street was reduced in price. Originally I dismissed it as I had my heart set on a ‘pretty house’. But I couldn’t deny the space we were gaining was immense.

Not only is the living space larger, the garden was double the siz , it had a much-needed games room and a double garage. The only thing it didn’t have – and still doesn’t (yet) is an ensuite and downstairs toilet.

What was interesting is the family we bought from moved into our old home on a short term rental contract. So on the day of the move we were both walking up and down the street with our belongings. Literally swapping contents between the two houses!

sign saying 'all because two people fell in love'
The family owns another property that they rent out (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)

What was the process of getting a mortgage like?

Getting a mortgage when one of you is self-employed is always a tricky situation but our financial advisor was managing both mortgages, for the now-rental property and the house we bought and live in. Thank goodness we had him as at times the mortgage companies were asking for documentation that was simply not applicable!

Why Coggeshall?

We have lived here since marrying in 2001. My husband’s family are nearby, when originally looking for a home we just tried all villages along the commuter route.

How have you made the house feel like home?

We have done a lot since moving in but still lots to do. We needed to rewire the extension part of the house, it was so dangerous our electrician was astounded an accident hadn’t occurred. The kitchen was so dark and had a noticeable slope. So we got a new kitchen and new flooring reducing the slope.

Every time I walked in the door the hallway depressed me, the floor had been ripped up leaving broken tiles, the stairs were in a dirty green carpet, wood chip and dark mahogany rails. I don’t think my husband really noticed! I now love our hallway.

bernadette with a kitchen notes board in her five-bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
They’ve spent around £20,000 making the house feel like home (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)

My office was another depressing room, with stripped vinyl wallpaper, wood chip, mahogany shelves and that green carpet. I remember sitting here trying to work but ended up getting the steamer out to remove more wood chip.

My office now makes me so happy and is the perfect space for creativity. There is still so much to do but slowly we are getting from room to room.

We have spent around £20,000 so far on the kitchen, new flooring, electrics, and decorating.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

We definitely have enough space for our family and for entertaining. We often entertain in the summer.

And what are your housing plans for the future?

We will be here for a long time – we’ve spoken about ways to build annexes for children or parents should we need to! No plans to move for many many years.

Shall we have a look around?

'who let the dogs in' welcome mat
Welcome to Bernadette’s house (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
freddy the dog in bernadette's five bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
Oh hey, Freddy (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
the living room and dining area in Bernadette's five bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
The living room and dining area (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
family photos on the walls of Bernadette;'s five bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
You’ll spot a lot of family photos (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
fireplace in bernadette's living room
A cute original fireplace (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
sign saying 'home is where someone runs to greet you'
Freddy is a very important member of the household (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
the living room in Bernadette's five bedroom house in Coggeshall in Esex
Looks cosy, right? (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
the kitchen of bernadette chapman's five-bedroom house in Coggeshall essex
The kitchen (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
kitchen rules board in bernadette chapman's kitchen in her five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex
Some good rules, really (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
bernadette chapman's home office
This is Bernadette’s office (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
bernadette chapman's office in her five-bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
We like the lime green (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
Bernadette Chapman's five-bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
Upstairs we go (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
Lena's bedroom in coggeshall, Essex
There are five bedrooms in total. As you can guess, this is Lena’s. (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
five-bedroom house in Coggeshall in Essex
(Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
five-bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
The family used to live in a three-bed property (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
games room in bernadette's five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex
Here’s the games room (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
games room in bernadette chapman's five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex
Imagine having a room just for playing (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
games room in five-bedroom house in coggeshall, essex
Quite the collection (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
the bathroom
Finally, the bathroom (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
towels in the bathroom
Colourful towels (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)
toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom
There’s just one bathroom between five people (Picture: John Ferguson/Metro.co.uk)

How to get involved in What I Own

What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people's properties, to take an honest look at what it's like to buy a home in the UK.

If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates! You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you've paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that's pretty important.

If you're renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you'd like to get involved just email whatirent@metro.co.uk.


MORE: What I Own: Lauren, the 32-year-old manager who paid a £24,000 deposit to buy her one-bedroom flat in Sydenham

MORE: What I Own: Vanessa, the 29-year-old photographer who paid a £5,100 deposit on a house in Belfast

MORE: What I Own: Jade, a 26-year-old blogger who saved a £27,000 deposit for a two-bedroom flat in Harlow

KFC proposal prompts hunt for couple, with donations pouring in to fund their wedding


While massive proposals with bells and whistles are all very well, you can’t buy the love that comes from two people deciding to join their lives together in marriage.

That was sentiment from most of the people who saw this proposal in South Africa, in the unorthodox spot of a local KFC.

The moment was filmed by a passer-by, Kateka Malobola, who spotted the man down on one knee in the chicken restaurant in Vaal, and his partner tearing up and saying yes.

The couple were smiling from ear to ear as onlookers took photos and videos, and it ended up with KFC South Africa posting the video.

Although there were one or two negative comments, the positive outpouring for the couple was overwhelming, with the majority able to feel the radiating happiness from the pair.

One twitter user stated they were ‘true, real and honest love’, while another branded them the ‘national couple’ of the country.

KFC proposal prompts hunt for couple, with donations pouring in to fund their weddingPicture: KFC South Africa
The emotion is real (Picture: KFC South Africa)

Not only that, but donations poured in from businesspeople across the country, offering services to make sure their special day could go ahead perfectly.

Of those services and goods offered included a wedding dress, a cake, jewellery, transport, couples massages, and even relationship counselling to ensure their partnership is as strong as possible.

Calls also came from a number of people for the whole thing to be broadcast to the country, so people could watch the nuptials and catch the feels all over again.

Brands including Coca-Cola, Audi, and Sony pledged gifts, and it even went as far as them being offered a free house (although whether this will come through is yet to be confirmed).

There was just one small problem – nobody knew exactly who the couple were when the post went viral, which sparked a huge search.

The twitterverse got to work, and within a day had tracked them down; completely unaware that their lives were about to change.

KFC met with the pair, and Tweeted out: ‘Our amazing couple, bhut’ Hector and sis Nonhlanhla, are truly grateful and overjoyed by your love SA’.

They couldn’t believe that the interest in their wedding had gone so crazy and they’d become national treasures overnight.

In Sowetan News, Hector said, ‘I don’t work so I didn’t have enough cash to give wife Nonhlanhla a befitting wedding/jewellery but wanted to do something small… I decided to come to KFC to give her a small surprise with a meal. (I) didn’t tell family anything; wanted it to be a complete surprise with everyone.’

As it turned out, they have been together since 2010 and married since 2012, but were never able to have a proper ceremony. Certainly looks like they will now, though.

Hector and Nonhlanhla are in chats with KFC about how this massive wedding will come to fruition. The chicken chain have promised to keep everyone updated through their channels, though, so we can all see how it unfolds.

Can we get an invite?

MORE: Couple completely transform their kitchen for £534 using budget tricks they found on Facebook

MORE: It’s not fatherly love to check your daughter’s a virgin – it’s abuse

Bride orders dog-themed wedding cake, ends up with one that looks like a ‘dead porcupine’

Dog-themed wedding cake looks like a 'dead porcupine'
The bride’s wedding cake didn’t quite live up to expectations (Picture: Facebook)

Of all the cakes you’d want to be exactly as you’d imagined, your wedding cake is probably the most important.

So it’s fair you’d be a little upset if the peacock cake you ordered turned up looking like a ‘turkey with leprosy’.

Or, as in this case, a dog-themed cake instead looked like one decorated with a ‘dead porcupine’.

At least this bride is able to laugh at her misfortune, sharing the cake fail to the Facebook group, That’s It, I’m Wedding Shaming.

The bride in question explained that she had asked a baker to incorporate a design of her dog into her wedding cake, showing them an example she’d found online.

What the baker created didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Dog-themed wedding cake looks like a 'dead porcupine'
The example cake the bride sent the baker

‘My now husband wanted to incorporate our dog as a little thing into our cake as an inside joke,’ the bride wrote in the group.

‘I gave inspiration pictures for the sculpture and pictures of my actual dog to the bakery, who responded “oh, that’s easy – we can definitely do that!”‘

Spoiler: they could not.

Unfortunately the bride didn’t check the cake before the ceremony (obviously she trusted the baker to have nailed it), so when she beheld her cake on the big day she was pretty shocked to see a smushed dog poking its tongue out of the side of the icing.

Dog-themed wedding cake looks like a 'dead porcupine'
The cake she received (Picture: Facebook)

She compared it to a dead porcupine, and frankly we can see what she means.

She added: ‘So THIS thing was on display for everyone to see during the cocktail hour and the first half of our reception.’

The members of the Facebook group were equally horrified as amused, asking the big questions such as: ‘is that a carrot in its mouth?’

Hey, at least it’s memorable.

MORE: KFC proposal prompts hunt for couple, with donations pouring in to fund their wedding

MORE: Bridesmaids surprise bride with a puppy as a wedding gift after her dog died

MORE: What I Own: Bernadette, 45, who owns a five-bedroom house in Coggeshall, Essex

Unicorn cake fail was so bad it’s ended up in a court case

Unicorn cake
What the cake was supposed to look like (Picture: EyeEm)

Normally, getting a cake made by a professional baker is a surefire way to avoid the ubiquitous cake fails we’ve seen so often.

That wasn’t the case for Alexandra Schroeder, though, who has ended up embroiled in a court case over a botched unicorn cake.

Schroeder, of Lansing, Michigan, was organising her daughter’s fifth birthday party, and decided on a baking themed party at Whipped Bakery.

She claims she paid $370 for use of the bakery for the party, with a unicorn cake included in the price.

It was when they turned up that things apparently went wrong.

According to Alexandra, there was only one table and six chairs provided, with the rest of the 13 guests told to stand.

Then they saw the cake, which was nothing like the unicorn confection promised, and had a decidedly more phallic horn than expected.

This Unicorn Cake Was So Botched, The Bakery And The Customer Are Going To Court Over It
The rest of the piping seems okay? Maybe? (Picture: WILX-TV)

In an interview with local station WILX-TV, Alexandra said: ‘The horn came out in a shape that was so embarrassing.

It had finger prints on it and was not gold. I could tell that it had been handled. When I asked to see the cake pre-party before my guest arrived I was told it wasn’t finished.’

After the interview with WILX-TV was when things got nasty.

Whipped Bakery responded to Alexandra’s claims with pictures that were allegedly from the venue after she left the party. They claimed it had been left in a mess, and that she still owed them money.

Their post read ‘How NOT to clean up after your birthday party. We won’t let one ruin it for everyone. We’ve learned from today’s experience. All future events will have a contract with costs listed, that must be paid for before the event. We won’t allow our staff to be screamed at after asking for the remaining balance at the end of a party. We’re glad everyone enjoyed our delicious cake, cupcakes, and shakes’.

The plot thickens.

‘They are now slandering me saying that I have a balance owed and I’ve paid this bakery $370,’ said Schroeder.

They also blocked the mum on Facebook so she was unable to add a review of the service she received.

According to Alexandra she never asked for a refund, and instead wanted to share her poor experience with others.

Whipped Bakery, however, have taken down their Facebook page, and claimed to media when asked for comment that the matter would be settled through litigation.

All that over a penis-ey unicorn cake. Would probably have been cheaper to stick a cone on a shop-bought cake.

MORE: Bride orders dog-themed wedding cake, ends up with one that looks like a ‘dead porcupine’

MORE: KFC proposal prompts hunt for couple, with donations pouring in to fund their wedding

Adah and Austin predicted to be popular baby names in 2020

little girl trying to put trousers on
What will parents name their babies in 2020? (Picture: Getty)

Pondering what parents will be naming their sprogs in the year ahead?

Worry not, for baby name experts Nameberry have just revealed their predictions for the most popular baby names in 2020.

The list is actually a little different to the names we usually see topping the tables.

While Oliver and Olivia were the top names in 2018, they’re not even in the top ten of the names predicted to be big next year.

Instead, next year you’ll hear of babies named after Billie Eilish and monikers that’ll remind you of Disney princesses. Get ready.

Nameberry predicts the top names for the year ahead by looking at which names saw the biggest increases in interest on the site this year. So it’s not a rock-solid guarantee of the names parents will choose, but the stats do indicate these are names people are considering.

Ready? Let’s go.

Nameberry's predictions for the top girls' names in 2020:

  1. Adah
  2. Reese
  3. Mika
  4. Paisley
  5. Amina
  6. Teagan
  7. Nova
  8. Aura
  9. Pearl
  10. Billie

Other girls names Nameberry reckons will see a boost include Adelaide, Allegra, Aurelia, Claudia, Cordelia, Fia, Harlow, Ione, Kiara, Luna, Persephone, Theodora, and Willow.

Nameberry's predictions for the top boys' names in 2020

  1. Austin
  2. Alva
  3. Acacius
  4. Tate
  5. Diego
  6. Easton
  7. Lucious
  8. Cash
  9. Ash
  10. Luca

Other boys’ names predicted to rise include Ansel, Beau, Casper, Enzo, Ezra, Flynn, Grant, Josiah, Lazarus, Nash, Otis, Ronan, Theo, Titus, Weston, Zane, and Zion.

Gender neutral names will continue to go strong, too.

Nameberry's predictions for the top gender neutral names in 2020

  • Ellis
  • Phoenix
  • Remi/Remy
  • Marlowe
  • Shea
  • Zephyr
  • Darcy
  • Rowan
  • Quinn
  • Emerson

MORE: Unicorn cake fail was so bad it’s ended up in a court case

MORE: Bride orders dog-themed wedding cake, ends up with one that looks like a ‘dead porcupine’

MORE: Couple completely transform their kitchen for £534 using budget tricks they found on Facebook

New research reveals the best and worst drinks to order during a flight

glass of ginger ale and glass of diet coke
What is your go-to beverage? (Picture:Getty/Metro.co.uk)

When it comes to flying, everyone has their own tipple of choice – be it a celebratory prosecco to mark the beginning of a trip, or a soothing cup of tea to calm nerves.

But new research has found the best and worst drinks to order on a plane – and there are some surprising results.

Research carried out by Travel + Leisure found that ginger ale is the best drink to order when in the air, because you’re more likely to actually taste it.

This is because our taste buds change when we are on a plane, due to dry air and cabin pressure. It’s also the reason airplane food often contains copious amounts of salt (so you can taste something).

Ginger ale is likely to taste less sweet in the air and will come across as sharper instead.

While other drinks lose their flavour whilst they are airborne, ginger ale retains it.

It also has medicinal properties which could help to ease nausea and indigestion during a flight. So it’s a win-win.

Someone drinking a glass of coke on a plane
Fizzy drinks are bad news (Picture: Getty)

The research also found that fizzy drinks such as Diet Coke are not practical for planes.

This is because they tend to foam up under the increased cabin pressure, so can take a while to settle when pouring.

Fizzy drinks of any kind are therefore the worst beverages to order from a flight attendant, because they can slow down the drinks service.

Airline staff often waste time waiting for the excess bubbles to settle while they are serving passengers – this can cause delays.

It’s also worth pointing out that alcoholic drinks have been found to have an adverse effect on your health during a flight.

For those not clued-up, this is because boozy beverages can dehydrate an individual even more than usual, due to cabin pressure.

So if you’re planning to order alcohol on a flight, be sure to take it slow and stay hydrated with plenty of water.

MORE: Easyjet trialling new way of boarding the plane that could make it much faster

MORE: Artist’s anger as Virgin’s ‘flying lady’ logo is replaced with black woman

MORE: Woman spends £8,000 flying globe to visit death row killers

It’s great to see ‘non-binary’ added to the dictionary – but there’s so much more to change

Jamie Windust is a non-binary campaigner fighting for greater gender options on passports
The inclusion of ‘non-binary’ in the dictionary simply shows that the way we talk about people who exist outside of gender constraints is evolving (Picture: Courtesy of Jamie Windust)

Although small, the decision to include the word ‘non-binary’ in the Collins Dictionary is definitely a step forward for non-binary representation.

It’s good to celebrate these wins where we can, instead of always harking on about the fight and the struggle for non-binary identities to be recognised.

However, it’s also important that we acknowledge that the inclusion of ‘non-binary’ in one of the English language’s biggest institutions isn’t great because being non-binary is anything new.

A lot of the rhetoric around non-binary people over the past three years has focused on our identities being a new thing. We frequently see the argument that our cisgender counterparts are not educated about non-binary identities because it’s a ‘new phenomenon’, brought about by the creative industries and ‘snowflake culture’.

The truth is, people have existed outside of the binary for centuries. It’s a conversation that is absolutely ancient – this latest development just reflects how we are talking about it now. The inclusion of ‘non-binary’ in the dictionary simply shows that the way we talk about people who exist outside of gender constraints is evolving. 

With the Hijras of India, and the two spirit communities of Native America, the language has always been there to identify our community.

However, colonialist practices across the commonwealth meant that the indigenous terminology that these sacred communities used was dismissed, and binary systems of gender were introduced as a way to police our bodies. 

So the decision to include ‘non-binary’ in the dictionary doesn’t signify that non-binary people only just appeared. Rather, it’s an affirmation and reclamation of our already brilliant existence. 

We need to be moving on from this conversation around language. Instead, we should be tackling the institutional problems

It’s a meaningful gesture, but realistically, I’m sure if you asked a gaggle of non-binary people whether or not our inclusion in the dictionary is one of the top priorities for our safety in society, they’d all give you a collective head shake. 

This fascination with language when it comes to non-binary identities is something we should definitely all be engaging with. Language is important – for example, in the case of using the correct pronouns for people. It’s significant to see gender neutral pronouns finally being accepted in the mainstream.

However, debates about language are also used as a smokescreen for right wing commentators and members of society to ‘disprove’ that we are actually what we say we are. 

We need to be moving on from this conversation around language. Instead, we should be actually tackling the institutional problems with accessibility that non-binary people face within our NHS, our job market, our transport systems and our social housing groups. 

Although seeing ‘non-binary’ in the dictionary is a small win for our flourishing community, it’s important we don’t allow incendiaries like Piers Morgan to get this between their teeth and use it as a catalyst for a ‘debate’ about our identities. 

We can appreciate this as a moment of historical change, while also continuing to actually talk about the issues and real life challenges that non-binary and gender non-conforming people face every day in society. Let’s not let this be a distraction. 

MORE: The problem with calling the new androgynous emojis ‘non-binary’

MORE: Sam Smith coming out means so much to non-binary people like me

MORE: I’m 10 years into my transition and I still face transphobia every day

Cleanfluencers are debating whether you should leave lines on your carpet when vacuuming

Cleaning queens claim vacuuming should leave lines in the carpet to prove it?s been done right, but not everyone agrees
War of the cleaners, 2019 (Picture: Cleaning Tips & Tricks/Facebook)

From Mrs Hinch to Marie Kondo, the cleanfluencers we see on our social media feeds have all got their own special ways of doing things.

Mrs Hinch is a big fan of the cushion ‘chop’, while Marie Kondo prefers for clothes to be stored in a particular way, folded small and sat vertically in a drawer or wardrobe.

A new ‘right’ way of doing things is now being debated on online cleaning groups, with two warring factions having their say on the correct method to vacuum the carpet.

After one professional cleaner shared a photo of how she likes a carpet to look after a vacuum, the debate began.

The original poster, on the Cleaning Tips and Tricks group on Facebook, said: ‘Don’t know about you, but this give me so much satisfaction.

‘This is a client’s living room I did today.’

Cleaning queens claim vacuuming should leave lines in the carpet
Do you find the vacuum marks satisfying? (Picture: Cleaning Tips & Tricks/Facebook)

One one side, we had plenty of commenters who claimed that this technique was the only way to ensure the floor looked ‘done’.

One said: ‘I love it when I put the lines in my carpet so satisfying.’

Another person said: ‘The funny thing is the lines show you are doing a proper vacuuming job because that’s how you are supposed to vacuum.’

There were dissenters, though. On the opposing side, a commenter stated: ‘Am I the only one that thinks these look awful!’ while another said, ‘Don’t want to pay a fortune for a carpet and find it covered in triangles.

‘Want it to look the same thanks.’

Cleaning queens claim vacuuming should leave lines in the carpet
Pesky grey carpets seem to be a fave for people trying this look (Picture: Cleaning Tips & Tricks/Facebook)

It appeared that those who disagreed with the patterned look felt that they wouldn’t be happy paying their cleaner to ‘make pretty patterns on my carpet rather than them cleaning something else’.

We asked Nicki Rodriguez, who runs her own cleaning and interior design business, LHR Interiors, her take on whether this was the right way.

‘Oh yes!’ she told Metro.co.uk, but added, ‘I tend to hoover when the lines show in a carpet in a semi circle, as I feel for the visual eye it’s less like a garden lawn.’

According to Nicki, she makes the patterns to satisfy her her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and says that she wants to make sure it’s neat as a pin for clients as she ‘sees dirt like no others’.

When pressed about whether it would be a finicky look that would be instantly ruined when anyone walked over it, she told us: ‘I go to lengths of making my children walk around the edges so there’s no footprints’.

With people opting for immaculate grey and mirrored interiors recently, as well as plenty of crushed velvet that looks different depending on which way you brush it, it’s understandable that the tessellated design can keep everything in order.

Plus, for professional cleaners it makes sense to show clients that you’ve really gone to town and not just run the vacuum over as an afterthought.

It’s always about personal taste, but this could be the next big cleaning trend to divide the nation.

MORE: Unicorn cake fail was so bad it’s ended up in a court case

MORE: New research reveals the best and worst drinks to order during a flight

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