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You can now buy a 2020 candle with fragrant layers of banana bread, hand sanitiser and more

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2020 candle
Yes, it’s a real thing (Picture: Flaming Crap/Metro.co.uk)

It’s safe to say that a lot has happened this year – and we still have two months to go.

But you can now buy a candle that takes you on a trip through the memories 2020.

Online retailer Flaming Crap is selling a limited edition candle which has a ‘2020 scent’ – four smells to represent this year.

The candle features four fragrant layers for key moments of the year – many of which occurred during lockdown.

The first is designed to smell just like banana bread to pay homage to the budding bakers of lockdown. The next is made to smell like hand sanitiser (we can’t say that sounds as nice) and the third fragrance has been designed to resemble DIY projects people have undertaken this year, with woody musks.  

The final scent is budget aftershave to pay tribute to one of them most recognisable faces of 2020 – Joe Exotic from Tiger King.

Sadly, the scents don’t work together very well. The press release jokes: ‘Do these smells complement each other? Not particularly, but a slightly off scent seems rather fitting for the year of a global pandemic.’

This bizarre candle could be yours for £14.99 and is made with products that are ethically sourced and environmentally friendly, like vegan kerasoy wax as well as recycled labels and packaging.

Oliver Burr, co-founder of Flaming Crap said: ‘Many people have mixed feelings about this year, it’s been tough on many levels, but others valued their time in lockdown. 

‘Our candle is reminiscent and a reminder of some of this year’s most prominent themes, and a completely unique gift this festive period.  A way to remark this year in a fun way!’

The unique candle is available to pre-order now ahead of its release date on 2 November 2020.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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Socialising helps improve our brain health, study says

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people socially distancing
It’s particularly important right now (Picture: Getty)

From Zoom quizzes to the rule of six, socialising has taken a different form in 2020.

But a new study has revealed why it’s more important than ever – particularly for our brains.

New research has found that keeping our social calendars busy can improve brain health.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, showed that older adults who socialise regularly with friends, volunteer or attend classes have healthier brains. 

It suggests that ‘prescribing’ socialisation could benefit older adults in regards to reducing the risk of dementia – in the same way prescribing physical activity can help to prevent diabetes and heart disease.

Participants provided information about their social engagement and researchers scored them, awarding high scores to people who attended classes or lectures, went to church or other community activities, met with children, friends, relatives or neighbours at least once a week, volunteered, worked or were be married/live with others.

Those who reported greater levels of social engagement had more robust grey matter in regions of the brain relevant in dementia. After these cells die, dementia typically follows – so social engagement can increase this grey matter in the brain.

What’s more, even moderate ‘doses’ of socialisation appear to be beneficial.

While the study was conducted before COVID-19, the findings are particularly relevant for all ages during the pandemic – especially with some people suffering from social isolation.

Dr. Cynthia Felix, from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, said: ‘Our data were collected before the Covid-19 pandemic but I believe our findings are particularly important right now, since a one-size-fits-all social isolation of all older adults may place them at risk for conditions such as dementia.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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How to get the perfect squat technique at home or at the gym

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Squat
For best results – don’t cut corners. (Picture: Getty)

The squat has to be one of our favourite moves in the gym.

There are so many variations, so many ways to make it your own. And the fact that you can do it weighted, or just using your own body weight means it’s a really accessible exercise.

Squatting can build power and strength in your leg and bum muscles, while also improving overall stability and balance – but it’s really important that you get your form right.

Far too many people think they know how to squat, when really their poor form is putting them at risk of a whole host of niggles and injuries.

Thankfully, the founders of StrongHer – a London-based fitness space for women – Tig Hodson and Sam Prynn, have shared their top tips to help you nail your squatting form and get the best results.

How to do a perfect squat

Foot position

Whoever you are, whatever your squat goals, start with your feet stuck out at a five-degree angle – always.

However, not all squats are the same. How low you can go (and how effectively you’re squatting) depends on the length of your thigh bone in relation to your shin and torso.

It’s easier to think of it this way – if you’ve got longer thighs, you may need to have a wider stance. If you’re shorter, with shorter thighs, then lucky you because all this just got so much easier, you’ll be able to squat with a narrower stance.

Get low

How low? ‘90°-or-lower’ low.

There’s a squat phenomenon out there we like to refer to as ‘the Instagram squat’. You know, the one you often see on Instagram where someone won’t be any lower than 45°. Why do people do this? Because it’s easier.

Don’t cut corners. For a proper squat, aim to go beyond 90° – remember: you’re essentially just sitting down.

And spread those cheeks (yes, you read that right).

Knees and toes

You’ll often hear that you need to keep your knees from going over your toes while squatting. We’re telling you now that you have our permission to ignore this advice completely.

It’s cool for your knees and toes to align. Don’t sweat it because it’ll give you a fuller range of movement, and that’s only a good thing when it comes to squats.

Ankle mobility

We covered this a bit in our strength training for women article, but it’s worth repeating here: strength training is so much easier when you’ve got good ankle mobility.

But how do I know if I have good ankle mobility? we hear you ask. There are a few ways to find out.

If you’re squatting with a wider position, and still find yourself doing the ‘Instagram squat’, then you can take a simple test:

The test

Facing a wall or mirror, take yourself down into a kneeling lunge position and be approximately 5cm away.

Lunge forwards to see if you are able to get your front knee to touch the wall or mirror without lifting the heel off the ground.

If you manage a knee touch and the heel stays on the ground – your ankles are mobile enough.

If not, measure how much distance is between the knee and the wall, and this will act as a point of reference.

Make sure your lunging knee travels directly forwards over the centre toe; if you allow it to drift inwards, the inner arch of the foot will fall and you will be able to get much further from the wall (giving a false result).

Repeat the test for the other ankle at that distance, see what the difference is and work towards getting that flexion to 5cm away.

Footwear is also super important.

You can invest in weightlifting shoes to help improve that ankle mobility, but you can also put plates under your heels if you’re not quite ready to invest in specialist shoes yet.

Brace your core

You may have heard this one before. We officially hate the term, but sadly the thinking behind it is sound.

When ‘activating your core’ during squats, imagine you’re laughing hysterically.

As always, if you’re unsure on any of this, speak to a trainer. Even if you’ve got your feet positioned perfectly, or you’re squatting below 90°, you can still injure yourself.

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.

Get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.

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Why you should embrace going out for dinner or drinks alone this winter

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woman eating alone
Don’t worry – nobody is looking at you (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

The latest lockdown restrictions mean socialising this winter is going to be pretty limited… and it might get worse before it gets better.

But, just because we can’t meet our friends for dinner (unless you’re willing to brave the elements and dine al fresco) that doesn’t mean we have to shut ourselves away completely.

If you live alone, or with housemates that you’re not necessarily best mates with, it might feel as though your going out options are incredibly limited.

Learning to enjoy eating out alone or going for a drink completely by yourself could be the answer.

No household mixing? No problem. If you can normalise taking yourself out for dinner, it can break up the monotony of nights at home, and experts say it can do wonders for your mental health.

Of course, it isn’t easy for everyone. Sitting at a table in a restaurant alone or walking into a bar by yourself can feel really daunting for many. But there are ways to build up your confidence.

How to build the confidence to go out alone

Nadia O’Boye, business and life success coach, says learning to do things alone can build your confidence in other areas of life.

‘First of all, ask yourself – what is the fear?,’ suggests Nadia. ‘Why are you actually scared of doing things alone? Identify these fears so you can start to address them.

‘Society tells you that maybe it is weird to eat alone, but aside from that, is there any legitimate fear? Once you have all those fears out there, start to go through them and look for evidence as to why these are untrue or not realistic.’

Nadia says you should also think about the potential consequence. Even if people did judge you or think it was strange that you were eating alone – would that really be so bad?

‘Think of what you will gain from doing the activity versus what you might risk happening,’ she adds. ‘People might look at me strange, but I get to go out of the house and have a nice evening, try that new restaurant, and practice some much needed self-care.’

Francesca Specter, author of Alonement: How To Be Alone and Absolutely Own it, has some sure-fire ways to build confidence in the face of solitary activities:

Take a prop

If you’re used to eating with a companion, it will feel unfamiliar not having somewhere to naturally ‘look’, but taking a prop – like a Kindle, or a newspaper, or even a notebook to scribble in or doodle – will help you feel at ease.

You don’t even have to use it, it’s just there for you to glance at every so often if you feel uncomfortable staring into space, and it can be an excellent cover for the solo diner’s guilty pleasure: people-watching.

Treat yourself

This is not the time to deny yourself. Order the nicest wine by the glass you can afford, or make sure you opt for that dessert you’ve had your eye on.

Treating dining alone as a ‘solo date’ will help you enjoy it and make sure it’s an experience you want to repeat.

Plus – you’ll be more mindfully aware of these pleasures, because you’re not distracted by a companion.

You’ll often get offered the worst seat…

But you don’t have to accept it.

Being offered a less favourable seat is often the plight of the solo customer (don’t take it personally) but nothing stops you from asking for a better seat if you’re unhappy with being sat in a draught, or near the toilet.

Remember: you’re worth it, alone.

Own it

You know the ‘fake it til you make it’ mantra? This applies to solo dining too.

If you act like you have a right to be dining alone (as you absolutely do), smile at the waiting staff, ease in and allow yourself to have fun, this confidence will be infectious.

Never forget what a role model you can be when dining alone – you’ll probably inspire the person bickering with their other half at the table next to you to come solo next time, too.

What are the benefits of going out for dinner or drinks alone?

Going out alone can help you build confidence, develop a sense of independence and self-assurance.

Also, during the uncertainty and instability of the pandemic, solo dinners or drinks can provide an outlet that breaks the tedium of spending so much time at home.

If you are working and living at home, getting out for some me-time in a new environment can help to counteract some of the frustration and isolation you may be experiencing.

It can also provide an opportunity to connect with new people – you might find yourself talking to people you would never have spoken to if you were out with your friends or partner.

Jamie* says he loves going on his own. He doesn’t only do solo dinner dates, he even goes clubbing on his own. And he always has an amazing time.

‘Confidence is key and I did walk past the club a couple of times before plucking up the courage to go in,’ he tells us.

‘I was very much out of my comfort zone, but once I got inside and ordered a drink it was a lot easier. Stepping inside the building is the biggest mental hurdle, I think.

‘I’m still in touch with people I’ve met while clubbing on my own.

‘It’s a bit awkward when you say “I came here by myself”, but when they realise you’re not a nutter and you tell them the reason you’re on your own – they let you join their group.

‘Just because nobody else is in the mood to go out shouldn’t stop me from going out.’

Natalie Montgomery, founder of Almara Consulting Group, says she loves solo dining, and even does lots of other social activities on her own – like going on holiday.

‘I dine alone often (simply because I enjoy my own company very much) and I have even got into a consistent habit of sharing my solo experiences on my Instagram stories,’ Natalie tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I even tag my solo dining experiences with “solo lunch date” to further normalise enjoying your own company, which I currently feel is still taboo.’

Natalie says that as a self-proclaimed introvert, her personality type means she is able to enjoy solo activities easily.

‘I have a heightened liking for enjoying my own company regardless of whether in public or in the privacy of my home.

‘As I’ve got older, I’ve realised one of my personality “advantages” is I don’t really give a sod about other people’s opinions of me when it’s about unimportant matters such as who I choose to or to not dine with. Aside from important opinions that shape how I can be of more value to the people in my life and within my community, I don’t let any others define who I am or my choices in life.

‘I fortunately have high self-esteem and have done the inner work to know myself well; two important things that I realised a long time ago that many (but not all) who have an issue with solo dining can struggle with.’

Communications professional Dev Mistry started eating out and going for drinks alone a few years ago. He was travelling for work quite a bit and was sick of eating takeaways in hotel rooms.

‘I love that I can go anywhere I want to go without having to wait for people,’ he explains. ‘I love going out with my friends, but often it gets difficult when we are trying to find times that suit a few of us and we end up pushing out by a month or a few weeks.

‘It’s nice to do something in the moment and I will always try to do it with other people, but if no one is available I’m not scared to go on my own.

‘I think people might feel a bit lonely or feel a bit judged but in all honesty – no one around you cares or notices.’

Dev says he finds it incredibly empowering.

‘Sometimes it’s about not compromising and just doing what you want to do,’ he says.

How to feel confident eating out alone for the first time

My advice to others would be just to choose somewhere small to start with and then just go for it.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing, you can go to the pub or to the cinema or to a restaurant and just enjoy yourself. Take a book, listen to music or just people watch.

I started out just by going to the cinema. I think once you realise that you are in a big dark room where no one else can see you, you don’t feel judged and you don’t necessarily feel like anyone is watching you.

From there, you can build out into whatever else you want to do.

Focus on your own enjoyment and then it becomes easier or more enjoyable the more you do it.

Dev Mistry

Nadia explains that learning to love eating out alone can build your resilience for dealing with other scary situations in your life.

‘If you can cope with the mildly uncomfortable feeling you get when you eat out alone, then you can do more things that might make you feel uncomfortable but that you get something out of. Pushing yourself to grow further,’ she says.

‘Being OK in your own company is a huge advantage,’ explains Nadia.

‘We all need space and time to be alone with our thoughts and having this time means we can assess what’s going on and address anything we need to in the best way.

‘So, doing things alone will help you get into the practice of giving yourself this time, which will help your emotional well-being in the future.

‘Loving being with yourself means you will value who you are and means you are less likely to worry about what other people think, which can reduce your risk of significant confidence issues later down the line.’

All you need to do is make that booking – table for one, please.

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.

Get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.

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Costa launches Quality Street, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and After Eight drinks for Christmas

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Costa Christmas drinks
The After Eight hot chocolate, Quality Street Latte and Terry’s Chocolate Orange hot chocolate (Picture: Costa)

Coffee shop Costa has unveiled a whole new range of drinks for Christmas.

The festive season is just under two months away but the drinks will launch next Tuesday, 3 November.

And the flavours sound pretty exciting.

This year, Costa has teamed up with three chocolate brands to create their festive range.

You’ll be able to get a Quality Street Purple One latte, as well as an After Eight or Terry’s Chocolate Orange flavoured hot chocolate.

The latte, inspired by the chocolate hazelnut sweet in the variety tin, will include a rich caramel chocolate sauce and roasted hazelnut syrup, topped with a light dairy swirl and more sauce on top.

The After Eight hot chocolate is Costa’s classic drink with a splash of cool peppermint syrup, finished with a creamy topping, a dusting of chocolate powder and a After Eight chocolate thin.

Finally, the Terry’s hot chocolate includes a specially created orange syrup, finished with a light dairy swirl and a festive glittery sprinkle. Each drink also comes with a segment of Terry’s to enjoy.

Prices start at £3.10 for each drink.

Other festive favourites returning for 2020 include the Irish cream frostino, Black Forest chocolate frostino and hot spiced apple.

A Costa Coffee spokesperson, said:’We are incredibly excited to bring together the festive icons that are Quality Street, After Eight and Terry’s Chocolate Orange for our limited-edition drinks range to truly capture the taste of Christmas in a cup.

‘This year, more than ever, we wanted to ensure we make Christmas feel that little bit more magical, every sip of the way, so we’re exceptionally pleased to offer returning and new Costa Coffee lovers these soon-to-be iconic additions, plus their classic favourites too. Now to the tough decision of choosing which to try first.’

After announcing the new flavours on social media, lots of people shared their excitement to try them.

One fan commented: ‘Here, I’m not being funny but I think you might just have saved my 2020. After Eight Hot Chocolate? YES. PLEASE.’

Another added: ‘I will be visiting Costa Coffee everyday from November 3rd.’

‘Omggg!!! I hope it isn’t frowned upon to order 2 hot chocolates in one go? (Both for me obvs),’ someone else added.

The drinks weren’t for everyone though.

One person said: ‘Sums up 2020 for me. I wait all year for the Christmas drinks and don’t like the sound of any of them.’

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How to make a two-ingredient cheat’s cake using mayonnaise

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Close-Up Of Chocolate Cake Against Blue Background
Just trust us, okay (Picture: Getty Images/EyeEm)

We already know you’ve read the headline and clicked into this article fuelled by disgust and curiosity. But hear us out.

At the start of lockdown everyone got baking fever, nourishing their sourdoughs like newborns and creating Bake Off-worthy treats to eat on Zoom calls.

However, we’re more than seven months into the ‘new normal’, and for some, that fervent interest may have waned.

So, if you have a lockdown birthday coming up, or simply want to create an extremely simple cake that looks impressive but takes almost no effort, this hack is for you.

This hack involves mayonnaise, but you don’t have to be a fan of the white stuff to enjoy the moist cakes that are made with it.

And when we say low effort, we really mean it. All you need is a box of cake mix and a jar of mayo.

Normally, store-bought cake mixtures require adding oil, water, and eggs (depending on the brand). Mayonnaise is literally oil and eggs, which takes away even having to use precious store cupboard staples that might get better use in other dishes.

Pancake batter and whisk in mixing bowl
There’s mayo in there (Picture: Getty Images/Tetra images RF)

The vinegar or lemon juice in the mayo (again, depending on the brand) should add an extra splash of acidity to the cake, which can intensify flavours like chocolate perfectly.

Simply look at the back of the box of cake mix, and instead of adding the required amount of oil and eggs, substitute the same amount of mayonnaise as the oil measurement.

So, if it says to add 150ml of oil, switch this out for 150g mayonnaise (mayo typically comes in grams).

If you want to go wild, you can still add in eggs, as this will go even further to make your cake rich and gooey. Add water if your box mix asks for it.

It may sound crazy, but if the mixture looks like it would otherwise you’re on to a winner – and you’ll be surprised at how delicious and not-mayonnaise-y it tastes.

You can decorate however you want. Just make sure you leave the cake to cool fully before you do so, as it will be quite soft when it first comes out of the oven.

Those online who’ve tried the method extol its virtues, with one person on a baking forum saying ‘it makes the moistest cakes ever’ and another saying ‘It is the best tasting and moistest chocolate cake I have ever eaten.’

You might not want to tell any recipients of these cakes how you made them – but let them judge for themselves when they taste.

Do you have a story you’d like to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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Woman live-streams her wedding to her grandmother’s care home

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dot bash and other care home residents watching her graudaughter's live-streamed wedding, next to a picture of her grandaughter cutting the cake
No, YOU’RE crying (Pictures: PA)

Coronavirus restrictions may have kept her from attending in person, but Dot Bash was able to watch her grandaughter’s live-streamed wedding from her Braintree care home.

The 91-year-old, who lives in RMBI Care Co Home, Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court in Essex, said she was ‘so grateful’ to be able to tune in to her grandaughter Kathryn’s wedding.

Dot and other residents got dressed up to watch the ceremony after staff at the home arranged for the wedding to be live-streamed.

She was able to watch through a window as Kathryn cut her wedding cake outside the home.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates Coronavirus news live

Kathryn was also allowed to see her nana the day before her wedding in the home’s Covid-secure visitor pod.

‘I’m absolutely thrilled that my nana and her fellow residents could join in my wedding,’ Kathryn said.

residents in a care home watching a live-streamed wedding
Dot Bash (front right) said she was ‘so grateful’ to watch her granddaughter’s wedding over live-stream (Picture: PA)
dot bash
Coronavirus restrictions stopped her attending in person (Picture: PA)

‘It added an extra exciting dimension to the whole day and lasting memories to treasure.

‘It’s lovely that the home is doing so much. They’re having a three-course meal and canapes… they’re probably doing more than we are.’

kathryn cutting the cake at her wedding
Kathryn cutting her wedding cake (Picture: PA)

Dot said: ‘I’m so grateful that the home was able to make this happen so I could see my granddaughter getting married.’

‘We couldn’t bear the thought of Dot not being able to see her granddaughter getting married in real-time,’ the home’s manager Aggie McDonald said.

‘They’re such a close family, for her to miss it would have been heart-breaking.

‘We were determined to make it special for her and it was lovely that our other residents were also able to enjoy such an uplifting event.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk

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Aldi is selling a giant Ferrero Rocher inspired Christmas dessert

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The chocolate and hazelnut dome
The chocolate and hazelnut dome (Picture: Aldi)

Aldi has launched their Christmas dessert range and one of the treats looks like a giant Ferrero Rocher.

The supermarket has created a dome with a chocolate and hazelnut coating, which makes us think of the delicious chocolates.

Ferrero has put out a statement to say that the dessert isn’t actually affiliated with them in any way so not to expect the exact experience.

It does include a lot of the same flavours – inside there’s a decadent milk chocolate and hazelnut mousse and cocoa sponge.

The dome costs £5.99 and it’s been well reviewed, even receiving a gold price at the BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Test.

Christmas might still be two months away but the domes have already hit stores and people were excited.

One said: ‘That thing would be gone in one bite if I get my hands on it.’

Another added: ‘If these sell out, we riot.’

Other desserts on the menu at the brand include two twists on the traditional puddings with the Damson Plum and Pink Gin Pudding and Golden Topped Pudding.

Millionaire's Pudding
Millionaire’s Pudding (Picture: Aldi)

Each costs £8.99 and will be available from 1 November.

And if you don’t like dried fruit, they also have a Millionaire’s Pudding – a  soft sponge with Belgian chocolate chunks, pieces of fudge and a lustrous gold sparkle.

Aldi Ferrero Rocher inspired dome Picture: ALDI METROGRAB
(Picture: Aldi)

It costs £5.99 and will be available from 12 November.

The Golden Twist Sticky Toffee Pudding costs £5.99 and the Artic Roulade –  slow-baked meringue, filled with a cherry semifreddo and cherry compote and whole Italian Amarena cherries – costs £4.49.

Aldi Ferrero Rocher inspired dome Picture: ALDI METROGRAB
Artic Roulade (Picture: Aldi)
Aldi Ferrero Rocher inspired dome Picture: ALDI METROGRAB
Belgian Chocolate Orange Melt in the Middle Pudding (Picture: Aldi)

For vegans, there’s a £2.99 Belgian Chocolate Orange Melt in the Middle Pudding –  chocolate pudding made with hidden orange compote, finished with a rich dark chocolate sauce and a gold shimmer.

Aldi Ferrero Rocher inspired dome Picture: ALDI METROGRAB
Sticky Toffee Bowl Dessert (Picture: Aldi)

Finally, the Sticky Toffee Bowl Dessert has layers of sticky toffee sauce, custard and white chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate and butterscotch pieces and costs £5.99. Sadly, you’ll have to wait until 23 December to try it out.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.

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These four Halloween sex positions will (pumpkin) spice up your cold Autumn nights

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Illustration of two people having sex
The nights are drawing in (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

With trick or treating and Halloween parties officially off the table, we all need to find new ways to enjoy the spooky season.

With that in mind, Ann Summers has come up with four sex positions themed around the Autumn – which are certain to liven up those dark evenings in the house.

Laura Whittaker, Senior Manager at Ann Summers said: ‘As most of us will be spending this Halloween at home, we wanted to give you something to help add a little more excitement to the day and ensure you don’t miss out on all the screams and goosebumps that you deserve on your Halloween!’

If you’re planning on making sure things go bump in the night (and not in a scary way) then check these out.

The pumpkin spiced layback

These four Halloween sex positions will (pumpkin) spice up your cold Autumn nights
Lay your legs out in front and pull your partner’s body upwards to create resistance (Picture: Ann Summers)

Sloppy wordplay, maybe, but this position gives you the benefits of a standard cowgirl, with some added spice.

‘Take control of your partner by straddling them and outstretching your legs either side of them, then take hold of their shoulders as they lay back, helping keep you in the driving seat and well in control.’

The balance created should give you enough stability for the receiving partner to grind to their heart’s content with the penetrating partner’s body perfectly placed her to stimulate the clitoris.

Bobbing for apples

These four Halloween sex positions will (pumpkin) spice up your cold Autumn nights
Remix the 69 (Picture: Ann Summers)

Thankfully, you don’t have to dunk your head in freezing water for this position.

A take on the 69, instead of one partner on top of each other, you roll onto your side in the top-and-tails position.

This takes any pressure of one person feeling like they’re crushing the other, and allows you to freely pleasure each other. Ann Summers recommends adding in a bullet vibrator for best results.

Riding the broomstick

These four Halloween sex positions will (pumpkin) spice up your cold Autumn nights
This one takes flexibility, but it’ll be worth it (Picture: Ann Summers)

To ride the broomstick, the penetrating partner might need to muster a fair bit of flexibility and strength – like a Nimbus 2000.

The penetrating partner gets into a ‘crab’ position, ideally with something underneath their back so they can maintain it during sex.

The receiving partner then gets on top with their feet off the floor, before riding into the sunset.

The spine tingler

These four Halloween sex positions will (pumpkin) spice up your cold Autumn nights
Start off in a shoulder stand (Picture: Ann Summers)

‘Lay on your back and have your partner lift your legs up in the air, using your hips to rock you right onto the top of your back.

‘From there they can penetrate you at a deep angle, aiming straight for the G-spot and next level, spine-tingling pleasure!’

This one is all about the G-spot and control, so if you want to up the feeling of submission, restraints or handcuffs are just the thing.

Do you have a story you’d like to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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We were turned down for adoption for being obese

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Illustration of overweight couple - woman in yellow spotty dress holding some scales, a man in a red jumper holding a teddy bear
We were passionate about becoming someone’s mum and a dad (Picture: Jennie Edwards)

What makes a good parent – is it what you do for your child or how you look? 

As far as my wife and I are concerned, it’s down to the way you care for a young person, yet twice now we’ve had our weight brought into question when trying to adopt. 

We only ever considered adoption after trying to conceive for nearly three years and being told we would never be able to have kids naturally. 

The news left us devastated and we left the hospital upset, confused and angry, and feeling as though we’d wasted three precious years trying for a much-wanted child. 

At first my wife and I retreated back to our married, childless life and enjoyed spending time with our six godchildren and the numerous kids in our lives. 

But it still felt like something was missing. 

We were passionate about becoming someone’s mum and a dad, so decided that we’d just need to do it a different way and began exploring adoption. 

When we initially approached our local authority we were told we couldn’t adopt through them as my wife worked for them, but they suggested we try the UK’s largest voluntary adoption agency, Barnardo’s, as they were more lenient towards larger people. 

Until that moment, we had never even considered our size, which admittedly is larger than the average as we both fall into the obese category, to be an obstacle in our journey to become parents and were both left shocked and troubled by the comment.

The pressure it placed on us was unmeasurable. We felt guilty whenever we ate and then there would be tension if one of us lost weight but the other didn’t

Nonetheless we made contact with Barnardo’s and at first nothing was said. We were told we’d be perfect for adoption as we were young and had good jobs.

It was only after a meeting with our area manager a few weeks later that she explained we would need to lose weight, as it was a requirement.

She explained that the medical advisor would reject our application otherwise, as it was important to promote a healthy image to the children we would adopt. At first we challenged it, but they agency insisted it was non-negotiable.

My wife and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly hurt and upset, as we knew our body shape could and would never impact our ability to parent.

We were both given a weight target of a stone to lose, which would be confirmed through medical examinations. 

The pressure it placed on us was unmeasurable. We felt guilty whenever we ate and then there would be tension if one of us lost weight but the other didn’t. At times we even considered giving up as it was so hard. But we were determined to do it as we desperately wanted to be parents. 

Once we’d lost enough weight we were approved by a panel and our profile was placed on the national register. Straight away we were incredibly popular and within days we came across a profile of an incredible young child who was looking for a forever home. 

It wasn’t long before we were in the process of adopting and the second we finally brought our child home, all the stresses we’d faced disappeared.

From the off, we enjoyed as much physical activity as our ‘thin’ friends with their children and our size never impacted us as parents in any way.

Almost four years later, we felt we would like to adopt again and that all three of us had a lot of love to offer another child.  

We approached Barnardo’s again and were thrilled to be working with our amazing social worker who we felt became a close friend during our first process and built a strong relationship with.  

It also feels so cruel in a society that is challenging prejudice, promoting acceptance to all and encouraging people to be themselves, that this doesn’t apply when it comes to adoption

Once again, the matter of our weight was raised, as our size had crept up again since our first adoption. It felt so hurtful given we were approved adopters and yet it was still an issue.

Our child is a fit and healthy, and above age related percentiles in every category. We spend countless hours playing in the parks and going for long walks to the beach without issue, so we know that our size has never impacted on them. 

Of course, my wife and I both believe we need to offer the best for our children and that should be a priority to every parent, but surely the potential worth of a mum or a dad shouldn’t based on their body shape?

It also feels cruel that in a society which likes to challenge prejudice, promote acceptance to all and encourage people to be themselves, this doesn’t apply when it comes to adoption.

We both work in sectors where we see a range of parents, and some incredibly poor at the role. Being treated with such discrimination feels quite unnecessary given the number of children who are desperate for forever homes with amazing people who have great abilities to parent – but are held back by this disgusting and unfair treatment. 

But we know these are not just guidelines exclusive to Barnado’s, many local authorities have them, too – although my wife has come across literature online from one local authority that challenges the thinking of size and dismissed such requirements, saying weight couldn’t be a reason to prevent a person from adopting, which makes everything all the more frustrating.

I’ve spoken to other people desperate to adopt who have had to film themselves at the gym to appease the medical advisor that ultimately makes the call on whether they are a ‘fit’ parent. 

While I wholeheartedly agree that the needs of the child is the paramount concern and perhaps matching them with a person with life limiting illness could raise questions, it’s simply unnecessary to do so based on someone’s BMI.

Now, we’re in the process of taking our medical exams again so they have a document record of our weight and then we will then have to demonstrate loss as we progress through the process. 

It’s absolutely devastating to find ourselves in this position again.

However, until the situation changes, it doesn’t matter that we know we’re brilliant parents regardless of our size. My wife and I understand that if we want to adopt another child, we will need to lose weight. We just wish we didn’t have to. 

A Barnardo’s spokesperson said: ‘We cannot comment on individual applications from prospective adopters. When considering whether someone is suitable to adopt, Barnardo’s looks at many aspects of their lives including their health. This will include an assessment by a qualified medical consultant, who may make recommendations for lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellbeing. We have a duty to ensure that prospective adopters are healthy before they adopt as our priority is ensuring long-term stability for vulnerable children who are waiting for a family.

MORE: My mum abandoned me in a toilet cubicle at three weeks old – but I still forgave her

MORE: Can you adopt if you have a dog or other pets?

MORE: What it’s like becoming a single mum by adoption during lockdown

Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else's child into their family to others who were that child.

We'll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at adoptionstories@metro.co.uk.

Dog spooked by firework noise needs emergency treatment after being hit by car

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Penny at home with Sandra
Penny at home with Sandra (Picture: Vets Now)

When Sandra Rolfe rescued her Pug and King Charles Spaniel earlier this year, she was terrified of almost everything.

Over time, Penny realised she was in a loving home and became more relaxed.

So when people in their local area in High Wycombe started letting off fireworks, Sandra was upset to see Penny scared and frightened, like when she first came home.

But the noise then left Penny seriously injured when she bolted and was hit by a car because she was so scared.

She was rushed into Vets Now in High Wycombe where emergency vets administered pain relief and treated her for her injuries. 

Now Sandra is supporting emergency vets’ calls for retailers to stop selling fireworks to take account of the terrible distress and injury caused to animals each year. 

Sandra said: ‘People were letting off fireworks and the noise was just awful. Penny was terrified and it was like she was back to how she was when I first rescued her from Green Acres dog rescue charity in Pembrokeshire. 

‘Her jaw was shaking and she was panting heavily. I drew all the curtains and turned up the sound on the TV to try and distract her. 

Penny, the dog who was hit by a car after being spooked by firework noise
Luckily Penny’s injuries could be treated quickly (Picture: Vets Now)

‘About 8.30pm the noise had finished for a while so I went outside and checked very carefully to make sure I couldn’t see or hear anything. 

‘Then, just as I was letting her out onto the lawn as normal to do a pee, a banger went off what felt very close by and Penny bolted. 

‘I was beside myself with worry and I was calling and calling on her but she didn’t come back.’

Sandra, who lives in High Wycombe, Bucks, was just getting into her car to look for Penny when someone a few streets away called to say Penny had been struck by a car. 

Sandra said: ‘Thankfully I had my mobile number engraved on a tag on Penny’s collar and the people who found her, wrapped her in a blanket and called me.’

‘When I got there poor Penny was in such a state – she’d lost a tooth, she was shaking and she was trailing her hind leg.’

Sandra rushed her to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in High Wycombe where she was checked over and given pain relief. 

Sandra and Penny, who is now recovering at home
Sandra and Penny, who is now recovering at home (Picture: Vets Now)

Luckily, Penny was well enough to return home later that night – but when firework noise resumed the next day she was so distressed that Sandra had to go to her daytime vet to get a prescription for a sedative. 

Sandra is now anxious about this year’s fireworks season – and is so concerned that she is considering sending Penny to live with her daughter who lives in a quieter area for the first week of November. 

Sandra said: ‘I don’t want to stop anyone’s fun – but something needs to be done to restrict firework sales. 

‘Fireworks are so noisy now – they just seem to get louder and louder – and it’s not fair on pets who have such sensitive hearing. 

‘Aside from organised displays, it shouldn’t be possible for people to buy as many fireworks as they like and just run around the streets letting them off without a thought for others.’

Penny is still scared of loud noises after her ordeal
Penny is still scared of loud noises after her ordeal (Picture: Vets Now)

With fears that there will be more private displays this year as big events have been cancelled due to coronavirus, Vets Now is calling on supermarkets to take action.

The RSPCA have estimated that 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, and with a surge in puppy ownership during this year’s lockdown, vets are also concerned that many new pet owners might not be aware  their pet is scared. 

In an open letter, Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now, has issued a plea for sales to stop to prevent animals being traumatised and injured on and around bonfire night. Members of the public can back these calls by signing a change.org petition

How to help your dog during firework season

Before the fireworks begin, you should:

  • Take your dog for their usual walk before the fireworks are set off and ensure they are kept on a lead at all times as the noise of fireworks may cause them to bolt
  • Feed them a good meal well before the fireworks are due to start
  • Ensure your pet is wearing ID so that if they do run away there’s a greater chance of them being returned to you
  • Ensure your dog is microchipped and wears a collar and tag — these are both legal requirements
  • Get your dog used to loud noises. You can do this using sound therapy, which gradually exposes your dog to noises over time. There are many products available, including free sound-based treatment programmes from Dog’s Trust.

Regardless of your dog’s reaction to fireworks, you should NEVER do any of the following:

  • Tie your dog up outside if fireworks are being set off
  • Let them off the lead near a fireworks display
  • Leave your dog alone if they are suffering from firework anxiety — just like us, our pets seek comfort in numbers, so your presence will help reassure him
  • Shout at your dog if they are destructive as a result of distress — this will only upset them more

Vets Now has more advice about dogs, as well as other pets, around Halloween and Bonfire Night

Head of telehealth at Vets Now, Dave Leicester, said cases like Penny’s are typical this time of year.

He added: ‘Fireworks can be hugely distressing for pets, livestock and wildlife, especially when they’re let off unexpectedly. 

‘They are also too noisy and too easily available. To reduce the distress caused to pets we urgently need supermarkets and other retailers to take action and stop selling fireworks for private use. 

‘We believe fireworks should only ever be used by professional operators in organised displays around traditional dates, such as bonfire night.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.

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These are the most popular sex dreams for men and women, survey says

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illustration of woman stretching in bed after a good night's sleep
Men and women’s most popular sex dreams are quite different (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Sex dreams can hit you by surprise and it’s interesting what your sub-conscious comes up with.

According to a new survey of 1,000 men and 1,000 women, the most common thing for women to dream about is sex with someone close to them – a friend.

But the most popular dream for men is something completely different – sex with an ex.

Of course, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t take your erotic dreams too seriously as it doesn’t necessarily mean you want that thing to happen.

Just under three quarters of women surveyed said they have dreamt about a pal, while 68% thought about having sex with a work colleague.

Women’s ten most popular erotic dreams

  1. Sex with friend 
  2. Sex with a work colleague
  3. Sex with a stranger
  4. Sex with my current partner
  5. My partner cheats on me 
  6. Sex with the ex 
  7. Sex with a celebrity
  8. Sex with the boss
  9. Group sex 
  10. Sex with someone you hate

62% of women surveyed said they had thoughts about sex with a stranger, and just 58% had dreams about their current partner.

Fifth place went to a dream about their partner cheating on them – just over half of women (57%) have had this dream.

The survey, by IllicitEncounters.com, showed men’s choices were quite different.

Top choice for men was an erotic dream about sex with an ex-lover – 92% of men of have had this dream, compared to 54% of women.

The second most popular male dream is when a sex session with anyone goes embarrassingly wrong – 76% of men have had this dream.

Men’s ten most popular erotic dreams

  1. Sex with an ex
  2. Embarrassing sex dreams where something goes wrong
  3. Group sex
  4. Sex with a celebrity
  5. Sex in a public place
  6. My partner cheats on me 
  7. Sex involving BDSM
  8. Sex with a work colleague
  9. Sex with a friend
  10. Sex with a stranger 

In third place for men was an erotic dream about an orgy, experienced by 72% of men, but it only came ninth on the women’s list.

68% of men thought about sex with a celebrity and 59% about sex in a public place.

Erotic dreams also proved to be pretty popular with 93% of those surveyed saying they had them regularly.

More than a quarter of people said they have them every few days.

How often do you have erotic dreams?

  • Every few days – 26%
  • Once a week – 16%
  • Once a fortnight – 12%
  • Once a month – 14%
  • Few times a year – 20%
  • Never – 12%

Sex and relationship expert Jessica Leoni said: ‘We all love having erotic dreams and they definitely provide a pointer to our real desires.

‘Women are much more likely to dream of sex with someone close to them that they secretly desire whereas men prefer to revisit their greatest hits – reimagining past sexual encounters with their first love and other ex-partners.

‘Both sexes have similar insecurities about their partners cheating on them.

‘Men desire group sex more than women and are also more likely to be haunted by past sexual failures such as an inability to perform.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.

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Student who lost her leg to cancer stops hiding her disability online to inspire people to love their bodies

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felicia cantone, amputee and body positivity advocate
Meet Felicia Cantone, the body positivity advocate who lives with Ewings’s Sarcoma (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

After being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma (a type of bone cancer) at the age of six and undergoing three years of gruelling treatment, Felicia Cantone came to a decision.

At the age of nine, she told her parents ‘let’s get rid of this useless thing’.

That ‘useless thing’ was her right leg, which she had amputated above the knee.

Doctors had told Felicia’s family that amputation was the only way she would survive, but the moment her parents had to choose to have her leg removed was still incredibly difficult.

‘It was a big shock to us all,’ says Felicia. ‘Being a minor, I was too young to make the decision, so my parents made it for me. But they did give me the option.

‘When I woke up from the operation I remember being surrounded by family members and flinging off the covers to see my missing leg.’

Felicia, now 22, doesn’t remember much about experiencing illness at such a young age.

Felicia Cantone
Felicia was diagnosed with bone cancer when she was just six years old, and at nine she had her right leg amputated (Picture: Courtesy of Felicia Cantone)

‘I’ve just chosen to block out the memories,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘I can imagine it was quite hard for my parents trying to tell a child that they are different and things will be different.

‘I remember when I was told about my leg amputation. I screamed and cried but dad gave me some money to go to Hamleys and I soon calmed down.

‘I always wished I was older before loosing my leg so I could have more of a normal lifestyle. But losing my leg so young was probably a good thing as children learn to adapt quicker.’

While Felicia adapted quickly to getting around with one leg, she felt a lot of shame about her body.

felicia cantone, an amputee and body positivity advocate
She spent a long time feeling ashamed of her body and hiding the fact she was an amputee (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

Growing up, she wanted to be ‘like the normal kids’, and as she grew older and started using social media, she found herself consciously hiding her disability.

‘I would never post pictures where you could see my disability,’ Felicia explains. ‘Even on dating apps, I’d hide it too.’

Felicia started a separate Instagram account, hidden from her friends, family, and anyone she knew, where she was comfortable sharing photos embracing her disability because she thought no one who knew her in real life would see them.

But then she began to get positive feedback from the strangers who followed her page.

felicia cantone amputee in her living room
Felicia began to share photos that showed her disability – and was amazed by the response (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

Soon, she was building up followers and receiving comments and messages from people thanking her for her openness.

In 2017, Felicia made another decision: to make her body positivity page her main Instagram account and ‘come out’ as an amputee.

‘I’ve never looked back,’ she says. ‘It’s who I am – why hide it?

felicia cantone wearing a pink wig
Felicia is now a body positivity advocate (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

‘It’s something I wanted to do for my own self-esteem but also, I’ve realised there are so many people in the same position as me before, that are insecure and scared to show there disability.

Now, Felicia is a body positivity advocate, and shares photos with her body on show, to inspire people to embrace their differences.

She tells us: ‘It’s really empowering to know that I’m helping other individuals in a similar position to me to gain confidence within them self.

‘I didn’t realise how much I had an influence on other disabled people.

felicia cantone
The student wants to inspire people to love their body (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

‘I don’t plan to stop and I hope my page will help more disabled people become more confident just by looking at me doing it.’

Felicia, from Essex, has ditched the prosthetics, in part to stop hiding that she is an amputee, but also because they’re simply too uncomfortable.

‘I don’t use my leg because it hurts too much to wear,’ says Felicia. ‘I’d love to use a leg and not using my crutches as I hate being reliant on people to carry things for me.

‘But I feel restricted in my prosthetic leg and I get sores in my groin so I’ve decided not to wear it anymore and embrace my disability.

‘Day to day I use crutches, for long distances I’ll use a wheelchair and I rely heavily on my car.’

felicia cantone wearing purople wig and using crutches
Felicia uses crutches and a wheelchair to get around (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

While Felicia has overcome the struggle of feeling ashamed of her body, she still has to battle against her illness.

The student has been told that her condition is incurable, and while she has had multiple chemotherapy and gone through alternative treatment in Mexico, her tumours continue to return and grow.

For now, she’s on chemotherapy tablets, which cause the skin around her mouth to break and become sore.

‘At the moment it’s not my illness that affects me too much, it’s the side effects from the chemotherapy,’ Felicia says. ‘I’m constantly neutropenic, which mean my immune system is low and I’m susceptible to infection. I’m constantly tired and can’t do too much physically. Also, my mouth gets bad ulcers, which affects eating and talking.’

felicia cantone
Felicia has been told her condition is incurable, but she continues to undergo treatments (Picture: Courtesy for Felicia Cantone)

Felicia is now raising money on GoFundMe to go towards alternative treatments that will help her live with less suffering.

‘I only have two more options once my chemotherapy tablets stop working, and I’m worried about my options in the future,’ she explains. ‘Having the funds will allow me to potentially find a cure and stop chemotherapy once and for all.

‘Any contribution will really help my future plans to being cancer free.’

While she waits for further treatment and raises money, Felicia refuses to let her illness hold her back.

felicia cantone
She refuses to let her illness hold her back (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

She says: ‘I could be worse. I try to not let my illness affect my life as I still crave a good quality of life.

‘I socialise as much as possible and I’m in my last year at university.

‘I find it hard to say I’m proud of myself. Even when people say I’m an inspiration I find it hard to acknowledge because it’s just normal to me how I do things.

felicia cantone without a wig and wearing makeup
‘My dreams are to become cancer-free’ (Picture: Felicia Cantone)

‘I’ve been told I manage so well, but it’s life for me. If I complete uni and get the grades I want I will be proud of myself for that because I’m not that academic, and if I can do it anyone can.

‘My dreams for the future, first and foremost, are to become cancer free.

‘I’ve always wanted my own business. I just want to be really successful so I can enjoy life to the fullest – because being ill makes you realise that anything can happen at any time.’

Proud Of What We're Made Of

This article is part of our weekly series, Proud Of What We’re Made Of, celebrating inspirational women with powerful stories.

Each Wednesday we’ll share the story of a woman who’s overcome challenges to achieve something amazing. You can read every Proud Of What We’re Made Of article here.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

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Hospital staff perform dance routine for ballet-obsessed girl battling cancer

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Five-year-old Isobel Fletcher was left beaming with joy after kind-hearted hospital staff performed a ballet dance to cheer her up as she battles cancer.

The youngster laughed away as Dr Baylon Kamalarajan and Emma Mander tip-toed onto the ward while wearing multi-coloured tutus.

The pair attempted to spin and pirouette to the Swan Lake theme music as delighted Isobel laughed on in the background at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Emma, who is a senior play specialist, said she wanted to surprise Isobel with the routine and enlisted the help of consultant paediatrician Dr. Kamalarajan.

The ballet-mad youngster is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after she relapsed earlier this year.

Sharing footage of the pair’s routine online, the hospital wrote: ‘When Ballet-mad Izzy came into our Children’s Clinic for her cancer treatment, two of the team surprised her with a very special routine.

‘Huge thanks to Baylon and Emma for the lovely surprise, and well done Izzy for *literally* keeping them on their toes!’

This is the heartwarming moment hospital staff performed an impromptu dance routine to cheer up a ballet-obsessed five-year-old girl battling cancer.
The performers only had two minutes to get the dance ready (Picture: Worcestershire Acute Hospitals SWNS)

Isobel, from Worcester, had previously completed two years of treatment last year after she was originally diagnosed in May 2017.

Dawn Forbes, the children and young people’s oncology nurse at the cancer unit at the hospital, said: ‘Izzy is a delightful little girl and is taking everything in her stride.

‘We thought it would be a nice way to cheer up. She always has ballet books with her and brings them in to read during her treatment.

‘She was in to have a dressing changed last week, which can be quite anxious for a child, so we thought it would help relax her a little.

‘They both did a very good job, they showed some impressive moves. They only had a quick two-minute chat outside the room before coming up with the routine.

‘Both of them have children of a similar age I believe, so they knew what they were doing – sort of. The video has been received amazingly well online.

‘Izzy continues to smile throughout her treatment, which is going well so far, and is an inspiration to us all.’

Izzy Fletcher with her parents Vicky and Dave at home in Worcester. (file photo) This is the heartwarming moment hospital staff performed an impromptu dance routine to cheer up a ballet-obsessed five-year-old girl battling cancer. See SWNS story SWMDballet. Isobel Fletcher was left beaming with joy after kind-hearted staff members pulled out their best ballet moves when she arrived at hospital for chemotherapy treatment. Comical footage shows the schoolgirl giggling away as Dr Baylon Kamalarajan and Emma Mander tip-toe onto the ward while wearing multi-coloured tutus. The pair can be seen attempting to spin and pirouette to the Swan Lake theme music as delighted Isobel laughs on in the background at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Isobel with her parents at home (Picture: SWNS)

Isobel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in January 2017 – three days before her second birthday.

Parents Dave and Vicky found out she had cancer after a cute photograph of her falling asleep in a swing made them worry about her energy levels.

They also became worried when she seemed to suffer from a never-ending series of colds and their fears worsened when spots appeared on her skin.

This is the heartwarming moment hospital staff performed an impromptu dance routine to cheer up a ballet-obsessed five-year-old girl battling cancer.
Isobel loved the surprise (Picture: Worcestershire Acute Hospitals SWNS)

In the next two years of treatment, Isobel had to take 752 doses of chemotherapy, visit clinics 45 times, and have 94 visits from community nurses.

She also had to undergo sedation 14 times, endure six blood or platelet transfusions, and spend 55 nights in hospital.

Dad Dave, 41, an auditor, said previously: ‘She has grown up very quickly and been subjected to medicine she doesn’t like but has taken everything in her stride so far.

‘When she was diagnosed it came out of the blue. We were both in real shock as it happened so fast.

‘It was a big unknown. We didn’t know what was going to happen at that stage or what the future held.

‘You get a bit sentimental, looking at pictures of her before she was ill – you just realise how much she’s been through since at so young.’

Do you have a story you want to share?

Email metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk to tell us more.

MORE: Student who lost her leg to cancer stops hiding her disability online to inspire people to love their bodies

MORE: Thousands turn up to celebrate early ‘last Christmas’ with cancer-stricken boy, 14

A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween

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Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
Look at all that space (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)

A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on the market – just in time for Halloween.

The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green, London, and has been transformed into a stunning four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at £5.95 million. A bargain.

Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is creepily close to Kensal Green Cemetery – so you can fill your evenings with spooky sightings and scary walks.

Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout – from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows.

Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above.

Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
Serious curb appeal (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)
Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
A stunning bathroom (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)
Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
The flooring and the arches are nice touches (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)

The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths.

Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light.

There is also a nursery connected to the room, if you’re not too scared to bring a child into this terrifying home.

Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
Furnishing all this space might be a challenge (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)
Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
We can’t get over these windows (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)
Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
Hello private outdoor space (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)

From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space – which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas – and the guest WC.

The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating.

There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm – which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden.

Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
High ceilings, beams and sky lights (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)
Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
We’ve always wanted a spiral staircase (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)
Story from Jam Press (Gothic Church Home) // Pictured: A breathtaking gothic church conversion that is up for sale in Kensal Green. // A spooky converted Gothic church has gone on sale just in time for Halloween // A spooky converted Gothic church has become available????? just in time for Halloween. The impressive property can be found in Kensal Green and has been transformed into a four-bedroom house with over 6,000 sq ft of space, available at ??5.95million. Following on with the ghostly theme, the property is but a hop, skip and a jump from Kensal Green Cemetery. Known as Kenmont Gardens, the former church has original features preserved throughout????? from elegant internal arches to gorgeous stained-glass windows. Additionally, at the northern end of the building, you can marvel at the conical-roofed turret which forms the entrance hall and bespoke bronze spiral staircase which leads to the galleried study above. The upper floor also features two bedrooms, each with en suite bathrooms and free-standing baths. Meanwhile, the master bedroom can be found on the second floor, accessed through a dressing area and with a vaulted ceiling and skylights providing ample natural light. There is also a nursery connected to the room. From the hall, make your way across the Italian-tiled floor to the pantry, reception space ??? which includes a custom-made kitchen by designer Rupert Bevan, dining and both formal and informal living areas ??? and the guest WC. The property might be old but it has modern finishes including blackened oak-parquet flooring that extends to the ground level, with underfloor heating. There is also a fireplace with a beautiful herringbone-brick back and honed-marble surround in the reception space to keep you warm????? which leads on to one of the guest bedrooms which features an en suite shower room and access to the garden. There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym. The home is eerily quiet,
You can make it your own (Picture: Zoopla/Jam Press)

There is also a versatile room to the right, which is currently being used as a gym.
The home is eerily quiet, located at the juncture of two no-through roads, and the courtyard has five access points through towering double doors.

There are plenty of amenities nearby, with Chamberlayne Road within easy reach, offering a selection of independent cafés, restaurants, delis, pubs and shops – including a butcher, greengrocer, specialist bakery and a popular London florist.

So, if you have a few millions lying around this autumn, this could be your new home of dreams (or nightmares).

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.

Get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.

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Eight marketing myths busted and everything you need to know instead

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Business people analyzing marketing reports. Managers presenting diagrams vector illustration. Business and analysis concept for banner, website design or landing web page
Have you been duped by marketing myths? (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Visibility is everything in business and that means making sure customers know where to find you.

But spending on marketing can be hard when cash flow is tight so every penny needs to have the biggest impact on your income.

To make things even harder, most business people don’t have a marketing background. That means it is easier to be sucked in by marketing myths, spending money on things that won’t make a difference and ignoring things that really will.

With this in mind, here are some of the biggest myths surrounding how to market a business, together with the truth, according to industry experts.

All publicity is good publicity

Being well known is good, whatever it’s for, right? ‘Absolute rubbish’, says Rachel Allen, who runs social media marketing agency Making Recruitment Social. She points out that in the internet era, any mistakes you make will haunt you for years to come.

‘I know of a business owner who is very concerned about his reputation. When a business deal went wrong, a large sum of public money was lost when they couldn’t deliver the contract,’ she says.

Rachel Allen
Expert Rachel Allen warns of the power of a damaged reputation (Picture: Rachel Allen)

‘There is a journalist who is always keen for a negative story about this individual and their name will always be associated with this story.

‘It comes up whenever you Google their name – they will not be able to shake it off for a number of years.’

The moral of this story is that you should always think about how your actions will affect your public standing, no matter how inconsequential they may seem.

‘Some publicity is bad publicity and it can damage your reputation for a long time, no matter how much good PR you get,’ Rachel says.

What works for others will work for you

It’s easy to look at competitors and think that if you just do what they do, you will have the same success.

Not so, says Karen Webber, ethical marketer and trainer. Karen runs Goodness Marketing and a training course called Unlearning Marketing, where she teaches people they don’t always have to follow perceived marketing ‘rules’.

Karen Webber
Karen Webber knows its important to have a niche (Picture: Karen Webber)

‘If you see a competitor use Instagram and they’re really successful, then it is easy to think you also need to be on Instagram and post the same sort of content and the same success will follow,’ she says.

‘Instead, you need to try to be a voice, not an echo. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, you need to be clear on your purpose, values, USP and who you’re speaking to, and own that in your marketing.’

Everyone is your customer

There are very few products that work for everybody, and those that do are probably out there already. Instead, you need to find your niche, and market to it.

‘Don’t try to be for everyone, because that way lies mediocrity,’ says Karen at Goodness. ‘Nobody hates vanilla ice cream, but nobody loves it either. A tub of supermarket vanilla ice cream is nobody’s first choice.

‘It doesn’t get Instagrammed or talked about among friends. Same with your marketing. If your marketing is vanilla, it will be instantly forgettable. If you try to be for everyone, you won’t move anyone.’

I have a website so I don’t need social media

A website is useful but by leaving it at that you’ll be losing out, says Naomi Osei, business coach at Naomi Empowers.

‘With over two billion active social media users, by choosing to avoid building a presence on social media, you’re leaving money on the table,’ she says.

Naomi Osei
Don’t underestimate the power of social media, says business coach Naomi Osei (Picture: TAMIYM)

By knowing your customer, you can instead ensure you build a targeted presence to find them where they are.

Your ideal customer may not be a Snapchat user but you may find they regularly consume content on YouTube, for example,’ she says. ‘There is value in showing up where your customers are.’

Marketing, branding and sales are all the same

It’s confusing to work out what the difference is, but marketing coach Simon Ong says a good analogy is speed dating – marketing is what you say to the person sitting in front of you to capture their attention, branding is how you look and come across, and sales is getting results from those conversations (a second date?)

‘If your branding is off, you won’t attract many interested people even if you have a great patter with your marketing,’ he says.

Marketing is only for extroverts

Many people think that, when marketing your brand, it’s the loud voices that get noticed. Jennifer Corcoran is a LinkedIn trainer and marketing strategist, and says that a quiet one-to-one approach can often get the best results.

‘Introverts can mingle online for sure and you don’t need to be the loudest in the room to cut through the clutter online,’ she says.

‘The introverted approach of one-to-one messages always reaps rewards, whether it is on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.’

Jennifer Corcoran
LinkedIn trainer Jennifer Corcoran reccommends sending a friendly direct message

She says that, when you are using LinkedIn to market, direct messages are particularly powerful, and a similar approach can be taken to other platforms.

‘Everyone looks at a direct message whereas the algorithm doesn’t show the content on the home feed to everyone.

‘Most marketers bang on about the kind of content to create which puts off a lot of people but in my experience having a solid profile and using DMs is just as powerful if not more. ’

You need to broadcast constantly to get results

Smaller businesses find it hard to put out new content all the time, but business and marketing coach Niki Hutchinson, says it is possible to be successful by changing your focus and adding a personal touch.

‘Instead of constantly broadcasting on social media – and often feeling frustrated at not getting the results you expect – try focusing on building relationships, engaging in conversations with people, like you would if you met them in real life, being interested in them, what they do and what they want to hear about, not just what you want to say to them,’ she says.

Niki Hutchinson
Business coach Niki Hutchinson believes in a personal touch

‘Ask questions, then act on their answers. For example send out a survey to your mailing list and personally thank everyone who answers, including details of how you’re acting on the information they’ve provided.’

If you’re bogged down, she advises concentrating on something specific. ‘If you have to pick one thing, grow a mailing list. And ask people to hit reply to get conversations going.

‘A mailing list is yours, it’s your property, rather than social media which is land you’re only renting,’ she says.

What if you don’t have lots of money?

Marketing is partly a state of mind, says Lucinda Bray, who runs FUTRSMPL.

‘All marketing really is, is sharing your passion for your business with people who need your product or service,’ she says.

‘If you spend a little time understanding who your customers really are and write on your website as if you are having a conversation with that person, you are much more likely to connect with them than you are using the glossy statements on billboards that you feel you’re supposed to be doing because that’s what the big guys use.

‘Think small first. Networking is marketing, spending extra time chatting to customers and getting to know them is marketing, explaining a bit about what you do while you’re dropping the kids off at school is marketing,’ she explains.

‘Connecting with ten people who are likely to engage and buy from you is way more valuable than spending a fortune shouting at everyone possible only for nothing to stick.’

What does marketing jargon actually mean?

Analytics: This is the act of measuring the performance of your marketing to work out how effective it is.

B2B: This stands for ‘business to business’ and means you are marketing your products or services to other companies instead of individuals.

B2C: This stands for ‘business to consumer’ and means your business is marketing directly to households.

Bounce Rate: The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website who visit the first page and ‘bounce’ straight off, rather than engaging with other pages too.

Call to Action (CTA): A call to action is a button or link on a website or social media post that prompts a potential customer to do something, such as fill in a form for more information.

Click Through Rate: The percentage of people who land on your site or social media post and click through to find out more.

Content Marketing: Content marketing is where you try to create pieces of writing or videos that answer useful questions for customers while marketing your product at the same time.

Evergreen Content: Pieces of marketing that remain relevant at all times, rather than being about a particular season or piece of news.

Inbound Marketing: Marketing that is designed to bring customers to you by creating experiences or content that is tailored to them, for example webinars, ebooks or topical blogs.

Infographic: A graphic representation of a topic containing charts and minimal text that promotes greater understanding.

Keyword: A keyword or phrase is a word that people search for. If your content contains a specific set of keywords it will help it to be ranked at the top of a Google search.

Listicle: A marketing article in the form of a list, such as ‘Ten ways to sleep better’, designed to grab the attention of potential consumers.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): This is a way of improving traffic to your website by inserting key words and phrases that are popular with those searching the web for topics relevant to your product.

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Mum quoted hundreds to redo stairs does it herself for less than £100

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a mum's staircase before and after her DIY makeover
Before and after (Pictures: Facebook)

After being quoted hundreds of pounds to get someone else to breathe new life into her staircase, a mum used her DIY skills to redo it herself and spent under £100.

The woman posted the results on a Facebook group called Money saving hints, tips and ideas.

The post read: ‘I wanted to decorate my hall and stairs, quoted hundreds (literally hundreds). I did it myself for less than £100.’

She said she bought a tin of Frenchic paint in Dazzle Me & Smudge from a local store.

She also got three packs of floor tiles for £15 each to use at the bottom of the staircase.

The walls and spaces around the staircase are decorated with floating shelves holding black frames and fake plants from places like eBay, Argos, and B&M.

a mum's staircase before she gave them a DIY makeover
The staircase before (Pictures: Facebook)
a mum's staircase after she gave them a DIY makeover
All this for less than £100 (Pictures: Facebook)

The woman used white paint and black gloss for the skirting that she already had lying around the house.

Commenters praised her work, with one writing: ‘You have done a brilliant job.’

Others wrote that her DIY work was ‘amazing’, while one quipped: ‘Please come around and do mine.’

a mum's staircase after she gave them a DIY makeover
The staircase from above (Pictures: Facebook)

In related home improvement news, one couple was quoted £1,000 for under-stair storage and did it themselves for under two-tenths of the price.

Thomas and Kayleigh Firth spent just £175 and used items from Wickes, Screwfix, Homebase, and Toolstation to get the job done.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk

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Woman uses brilliant cooling rack hack to hang jewellery in wardrobe

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cooling rack hanging jewellery
No more tangles (Picture: Kmart Home Decor & Hacks/Facebook)

This year, lots of us have had extra time on our hands for decluttering and reorganising our homes.

Recently, we’ve seen all kinds of helpful home hacks, like the woman who transformed her kitchen for just £144 using an incredible DIY tile trick and the person who revealed how to a hide guest bed with a radiator cover.

Now, one woman has come up with a brilliant jewellery storage hack using an unusual kitchen accessory – cooling racks.

It turns out that hanging jewellery on cooling racks inside a wardrobe is great for keeping things separate and prevents pieces tangling.  

the cooling rack before
The rack before (Picture:Kmart Home Decor & Hacks/Facebook)
the cooling rack hanging jewellery in the wardrobe
The cooling racks in action (Picture:Kmart Home Decor & Hacks/Facebook)

Sharing some photos in the Facebook group Kmart Home Decor & Hacks Australia, the woman showed how she uses paper clips attached to the cooling racks so her pieces can hang. She also decided to paint the cooling racks white to blend in with her wardrobe.

Her racks were from Australian bargain store Kmart, but it looks like the same effect can be achieved with similar products from other retailers.

She posted: ‘Thank you Kmart! Love the final outcome of my hack. Cooling racks spray painted and paper clips to attach necklaces. Love it.’

It wasn’t long before her creative idea caught the attention of fellow group members. 

One person replied: ‘Wow. I’ve been trying to think of something for my necklaces. That’s it thanks so much.’

While another gushed: ‘Now that’s a cute idea. Will work with some earrings too.’

Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed a number of incredible DIY projects, from a grandma altering her 1970s style bathroom for under £60 to a mum transforming her beach hut into a bar.

We love to see it!

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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Instagram account guesses whether people are siblings or a couple

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Images of two pairs of siblings
The pair on the left are dating while the pair on the right are siblings (Picture: Instagram)

When couples spend lots of time together, they might end up adopting each other’s style and becoming more and more alike.

Sometimes, you don’t quite notice how similar you’ve become.

With that in mind, one Instagram account has decided to spot the difference between lovers and siblings.

The @siblingsordating account inspects pics of two people together and asks people to guess their relationship.

The idea has been pretty successful as the account now has 200,000 followers.

In some of the images, pairs can be seen embracing one another in a way that may make you think ‘lovers for sure’ or ‘just really close siblings’.

In others, you might be sure and think they’re related due to shared features but then realise they’re actually romantically involved.

Take your guesses and then simply swipe to see if you were right.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEmPLFdBqKp/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGTRzXFhOjm/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGgKnq-BiOA/

Followers can also vote and decide whether the pair are siblings or dating on some of the pictures.

But often people end up getting it wrong, which adds to the fun of the whole thing.

Some of the images feature two people of the same sex, meaning that guessing whether they’re just close brothers or sisters or a couple becomes just that little bit harder.

We could probably spend hours on the account, just analysing who is who.

But we have work to do, so we’ll leave a few more of these here for your enjoyment.

Can you correctly guess the relationship?

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGbUv_VBF24/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CG1GbsIh83G/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFA8tX2B_5e/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGkSUhTBgCv/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CF7zXm3hGiZ/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFlEgqyBK-G/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFZIsjRha9V/

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEp8PkNhWZ8/

Do you have a story you want to share?

Email metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk to tell us more.

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MORE: Only child makes shocking overnight discovery he has 25 siblings

I’m not scared of my kids having a relationship with their birth family – in fact, I encourage it

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Adoption Month twins
I wanted Emmeline and Joseph’s birth mother to very much feel part of their lives, as much as she possibly can (Picture: Jennie Edwards)

‘I wonder what Max is up to right now?’ my daughter Emmeline asked me one afternoon, as my son Joseph played on the computer (none of their real names). 

She was talking about the oldest of her two biological brothers, who was adopted by another family.

But instead of this being a startling, awkward conversation, we pondered over how Max might be spending the day with his parents.

Even though they live separately, I’m determined that my children stay in touch with not only their biological brother, but their birth mother, too.

Five years ago, my husband and I were ready to expand our family, and found we couldn’t do it naturally. After a cycle of IVF resulted in miscarriage, we decided to adopt. 

In the early stages of the process, we, like most others, had the idea in mind to adopt a baby. But at our adoption preparation meetings, we learned about the ongoing struggle to place slightly older children and sibling groups.

It broke my heart thinking that a little one, only aged five, could be considered ‘too old’ to be adopted. Plus, as a primary school teacher, I have a bit more of an understanding of kids above the age of four.

We had the time and the finances to handle multiple children at once – so, we decided to go for it, and five-year-old Emmeline and three-year-old Joseph came into our lives, while their middle brother Max was adopted by another family. 

Max, who is 10 months younger than Emmeline, has Global Developmental Delay, meaning that he takes longer than other children to reach milestones such as talking, walking and learning new things. 

Because of this, it was very important that he was adopted by a family who had the time to spend just with him. Whenever all three were in the same foster home together, Emmeline and Joseph would miss out on much-needed attention and emotional care.

So, they came home with me and my husband, while Max was adopted by his parents a few months later. 

At the start, the separation didn’t phase them – Emmeline and Joseph had been apart from him in different foster homes before, and I think it helped that they were still together.

Plus, we’d still see him every single week, meeting with his parents at a soft play centre for three or four hours so that they still felt connected.

Though they were too little to understand what was going on, we wanted to ingrain the idea that everything was okay, and that they were still family.

As they’ve gotten older, they’ve been able to understand why the decision to raise them separately was made and that their brother needed to be adopted by someone else – and they’ve completely accepted it.

An illustration of a woman smiling and holding the hand of a young boy
Emmeline and Joseph are in contact with their birth mother and brother (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Now that Emmeline is 10 and Joseph is eight, we take the lead from them when it comes to how often we’re in contact, as they’re old enough to take some responsibility for their relationship with him. 

Every three months or so, we’ll meet up. During the pandemic, they haven’t been able to see each other in the flesh, but I make sure they’re in regular contact with phone and video calls.

Though it’s not easy for Max to communicate, Emmeline and Joseph will tell his parents all about their lives, so that they can relay it to him later in a way that he can grasp.

And from my children’s perspective, it’s lovely – Joseph will say ‘I’ve got a brother and a sister’, and Emmeline will say ‘I have two brothers, but we live in different houses’ – and it’s as simple as that. 

Something that people find harder to understand, though, is our determination to keep their birth mother as much a part of their lives as possible. 

She was very young when she had the children, and it was difficult circumstances rather than anything else that meant she could no longer raise them. If I’d have known her personally, I would have done all I could to help her – I felt sorry for her. 

So, I knew straight away that I wanted Emmeline and Joseph’s birth mother to very much feel part of their lives, as much as she possibly can. 

Every few months, we keep in touch through letters sent through Social Services, and I make sure that they are always sent on time and with as much detail as possible.

‘What would I want to know, as a mum?’ I think. Sometimes, the kids have questions, like ‘What was my first word?’ and she’ll answer them in ways that only she can. 

Legally, letters in the post is the only way we’re allowed to communicate, and that’s the frustrating part. If I could, I’d do a lot more, because she deserves to feel involved, as well as the children having the right to experience her love as much as possible. 

I want them to be able to hear stories from when they were babies, because I can’t tell that part of their tale

I never would have let it happen, but it’d be very easy for us to never have contact with her at all with the way adoption is handled here in the UK – and I don’t think that’s right. 

To me, the idea of hiding the fact that they’re adopted, or ignoring their birth mother, makes no sense.

The truth is, they’re not biologically mine, but we’re a family unit all the same – and that won’t change with the constant reinforcement that there are other family units they belong to as well. 

Some people ask if I’m ever scared that they’ll start taking more interest in their birth mother and want to find her – but why would I be frightened of that?

I think that’s very healthy, and I would be delighted if that’s what eventually happens, when they’re old enough. After all, she’s their mum too.

I think we’re in a fortunate position where I understand what happened with their mum – not all adoptive parents have the background information, so might be legitimately hesitant at the prospect of any involvement from their birth family throughout their children’s lives.

As their parents, my husband and I have no fear that their birth mother will bring them any harm, and that’s truly our only concern. As long as nothing threatens their safety, I’m happy for them to be fully in the know.

We’re very aware that when they hit their mid-teens the kids could use social media and probably find their mother without too much difficulty.

But part of the reason why we’re so open is so that they never do that behind our backs – we want them to feel comfortable enough to come to us and let us make sure that they’re safe, and let them know that we have their backs if anything were to go wrong.

This open contact with their birth mother and brother may sound unconventional to some, but I think not many people really know what adoption is like.

Adoption can be a beautiful thing that can support the birth families as well – it doesn’t have to be so closed off, and I wish the process in the UK could have freer contact channels.

Emmeline and Joseph spent three and five years with their birth mum, and that’s given them something of a golden string that pulls them together, forever.

I’d never want to get in the way of that, because my husband and I have our own unbreakable bond with them – different, but just as precious.

I want them to be able to hear stories from when they were babies, because I can’t tell that part of their tale. But I can do the middle bit and the years to come, and that’s what’s important. 

In many ways, our kids are very lucky because they have two mums who adore them, as well as multiple sets of grandparents and other relatives, and not a lot of people can say that. 

Growing up with the knowledge that there are so many people who love you is not a bad place to be. 

As told to Nicole Vassell

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Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else's child into their family to others who were that child.

We'll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at adoptionstories@metro.co.uk.

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