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‘I’ve learned to prioritise my friends’: how five relationships were changed by the pandemic

Life and style | The Guardian

From neighbours to spouses, the coronavirus lockdown has taught us to truly value the human connections in our lives

Lockdown was a weird time for all of us – whether we focused on ourselves, homeschooling or simply making it through with our sanity in check. It has seen people get in touch with distant relatives, develop friendships with neighbours and offer help to strangers.

Research released by relationship support charity Relate found that 31% of respondents felt closer to their neighbours and 30% felt emotionally closer to their friends.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:16 am

I want to move back to the UK. How can I convince my husband to give it a try? | Annalisa Barbieri

Life and style | The Guardian

You both need to say how you really feel – and be heard, says Annalisa Barbieri. Only then can you work out what happens next

I met my husband at university, while he was studying in the UK. He returned to his home in mainland Europe and we had a long-distance relationship for some years before I moved to his homeland, supposedly for a year, after which we were meant to settle back in the UK.

My relocation at the time was the sensible option: I could work anywhere, and he had just been offered a good job. It was my idea, which, of course, he welcomed. Eventually we got married and bought a house.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:16 am

I'm all for positive thinking, but my brave face is starting to slip | Coco Khan

Life and style | The Guardian

Seven months into lockdown, it’s impossible to trick the mind into thinking things aren’t rubbish when they patently are

One of my first jobs was flogging double-glazing appointments on the phone. The manager would walk around, pointing at his deranged forced grin as a reminder to smile when speaking. “Happiness is contagious,” he’d say. “If you smile, they smile, and if they smile, they spend.” So even though my hands trembled as I lifted the receiver, I forced a smile, and kept it even when my cheeks hurt.

Perhaps that was the moment I became a believer in the “brave face”. My own brave face is modelled on the duck, both in terms of my Instagram pout (because nothing says “I am coping with life!” like going in for a snog with a screen), and in terms of channelling effortlessness: I try to look as if I’m gliding, even if I’m frantically treading water to keep afloat.

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October 23rd 2020, 9:13 am

I’m a glasses wearer for life, but will a jazzy pair liven things up? | Romesh Ranganathan

Life and style | The Guardian

My new camo specs have got me into all sorts of trouble

I have worn glasses since I was at school. In that era, getting a new pair of specs was a horrendous affair. I would wait for the bus, terrified of the reaction. I’d get on, and see the joy on my friends’ faces as they realised that they wouldn’t be the targets for any banter that day, as I was about to get absolutely destroyed. And then I would sit and listen to them call me everything from the unimaginative “four eyes” to the almost impressive “Romesh Rangogglenathan”.

As an adult, I have grown used to seeing my face with glasses, so much so that I don’t think I will ever go for the corrective surgery that would render them unnecessary. I like wearing them (face-mask steaming notwithstanding), and am pretty sure it’s glasses all the way. But recently I started to think about buying some more colourful options to mix it up.

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October 23rd 2020, 9:13 am

Wash your mask daily: the ultimate guide to face coverings

Life and style | The Guardian

Experts explain the best way to wash masks, how to handle them – and how to prevent ‘maskne’

We hook them on to our faces, laugh, sneeze and sputter into them, then crumple them into our bags or pockets only to retrieve them and do it all again. Yet despite official advice that we should be wearing a fresh face covering each time we enter an enclosed public space, a YouGov poll revealed many people are going several wears between washes – and 15% of Brits don’t wash their reusable masks at all. Similarly, more than half of those opting for disposable masks are rewearing them – 7% of them indefinitely so.

Face coverings are designed to catch the respiratory droplets we emit from our mouths and noses, but given that they’re our own respiratory droplets, is this really so bad? We examine the evidence.

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October 23rd 2020, 7:12 am

Experience: Chrissy Teigen paid my college fees

Life and style | The Guardian

A deposit had been made to my PayPal account. A very large amount of money. I had to sit down. The name on the donation was one I instantly recognised

By my late 20s I’d hit a point in my life when I was feeling lost, struggling to find work, and had to move back home with my family. I’d tell all my friends I didn’t know what to do. One of them reminded me that I’d always loved beauty: I spent my childhood listening to my family’s skincare ailments and dispensing what I thought were appropriate lotions. She suggested I do a six-month academy course to get my beauty licence, which would give me the freedom to set up my own business.

It was exactly the direction I needed. The only problem was that tuition fees were $6,000 (£4,634), which was way out of my budget. I wasn’t eligible for scholarships or funding. To help pay the fees, I got a job as a quality control technician at a construction company. I tested the emulsion that went into the asphalt used to pave roads. It was intense, and I knew I’d have to work long hours to pay the fees for the course. To do both at the same time was going to put me under a lot of pressure. But I’m very stubborn, so I was determined to make it happen, one way or another.

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October 23rd 2020, 5:26 am

My life in sex: the woman who found yoga helped with orgasms

Life and style | The Guardian

I was aware of every muscle in my body and began to understand the interplay with my breathing

I am a heterosexual woman of nearly 30, who had never had an orgasm with a partner until recently. I could achieve one alone, but thought I was psychologically unable to do so with another person. I was resigned to faking it.

A few months ago, I took up daily yoga to cope with the change of pace during lockdown. Soon I was connecting with my body in a way I’d not experienced before. I enjoyed experimenting with my breath. I became aware of every muscle, and began to understand the interplay between these two elements: breath and muscles.

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October 23rd 2020, 5:26 am

From rain hats to Rishi Sunak: this week's fashion trends

Life and style | The Guardian

What’s hot and what’s not in fashion this week

Haute water bottle Hot water bottles, but chic. Like Christopher Kane’s More Joy one.

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October 23rd 2020, 2:11 am

Our options for outside entertainment are limited. Time to dust off the board games | Hannah Jane Pa

Life and style | The Guardian

Playing chess or Scrabble with someone in concentrated but comfortable silence is an understated sign of love

Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Operation, Mousetrap; when a man is bored of board games, he is bored of life. Playing with friends is so relaxing an activity, I can imagine even paid-up gangsters cracking open a few beers and getting out the Connect 4. As wild teens who took a lot of drugs and frequently woke up with hangovers in bathtubs, my friends and I would still enjoy nights gathered round a coffee table playing Bananagrams. I recall, too, a tender moment during a school detention – one of those lax, end-of-term ones – when I taught a tough lad chess and he taught me draughts.

There are people who profess not to like board games, but I feel they have just not met the right game for them. Risk, for instance, has a legion of fans, but if I were an alien dropped into mid-play with no other board game experience, I, too, would think they were not for me. (No shade towards Risk-lovers: I just find political conflict and war depressing enough IRL. I’m much happier strapping a plastic bee on to my head and playing the 90s classic Bizzy Buzzy Bumbles.)

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October 23rd 2020, 2:11 am

From frozen toasties to emergency cookies: a beginner’s guide to batch cooking

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s cheap, it’s eco-friendly and it saves an awful lot of time – it’s time to embrace batch cooking

We should all be batch cooking. It’s a cheap and environmentally conscious way to feed yourself and, in these days of tightened belts and less frequent supermarket visits, it just seems sensible. However, if you are anything like me, your idea of batch cooking consists exclusively of buying a trolleyful of mince and boring yourself rigid by eating bolognese every day for three months.

Sam Gates wants to change this. Her new book, The Batch Cook Book, works to redefine the basic concept of batch cooking. Although it touches on classics such as curries and lasagnes, it also stretches out to encompass exotic new ideas such as make-ahead pancakes, hummus and shakshuka. Here are her top tips for the batch-cooking beginner.

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October 22nd 2020, 11:33 am

From burgers to brunches: five comfort foods (and how to make them healthier)

Life and style | The Guardian

A few of our favourite meals could probably benefit from a little less fat and sugar – here’s how to cut back without going light on flavour

When your favourite comfort food is calling, it can be hard to resist. Crisp and crunchy fish and chips, juicy burgers and decadent chocolate brownies are simply too much of a temptation, no matter that you’ve promised to be good this week. But you don’t have to choose between health and hankering after a little indulgence: we’ve rewritten the cookbook to give five comfort foods a healthier makeover.

Using simple swaps we’ve reduced the salt, sugar and fat content of some of our favourite family meals, as well as increasing the vitamin and mineral content with a few extra portions of veg. What’s more – there’s no compromise on flavour.

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October 22nd 2020, 7:03 am

Yes we can! 17 delicious ways with tinned tuna, from salade nicoise to melts and fishcakes

Life and style | The Guardian

Most of us have a tin of the remarkably long-life fish in the cupboard – and you can do a lot more with it than mix it with mayo

When you think about it, tinned tuna is a miracle. The spoilage window for fresh oily fish is measured in days or even hours, but I bought a tin of tuna last week with a best before date of Christmas 2027. I wish I could guarantee I will still be good to go in seven years.

The original selling point of tinned tuna was its blandness – a less fishy alternative to sardines, it was marketed as tasting like chicken – which makes it a versatile, if not immediately inspiring ingredient. You can pay a little or a lot for tuna – anywhere from 59p to £10 a tin – and it will probably be in the form of steaks or flakes, packed in oil or brine; it may well come in a jar instead of a tin. Most recipes specify what type to use, but I wouldn’t sweat it. Tinned tuna is a culinary compromise, so just use what you have, unless it is the really expensive sort and you are saving it for a special occasion. Something is bound to come up in the next seven years.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:03 am

Leather and lace: Stevie Nicks’ style – in pictures

Life and style | The Guardian

We take a look at the singular style of the Fleetwood Mac lead singer, which has inspired designers and fans alike

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October 22nd 2020, 4:03 am

Best winter adventures in the UK: readers’ travel tips

Life and style | The Guardian

Swimming and bikepacking, walks and wildlife – and even some witchy social history – make for memorable cold-weather trips

Head to Scotland’s beautiful twin islands of Mull and Iona in winter and you will have beaches and caves to yourselves. Take a warm tent, a decent wetsuit and warm clothes for exploring the cliff paths, pristine white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters. Port Ban beach is sheltered and if the sun comes out you are in heaven – you could be in the Caribbean here if the temperature were 20 degrees higher. The surf is good at Ardanalish beach if you are into that – or just walk and enjoy fresh air and open views to the wild Atlantic.
Bill

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October 22nd 2020, 4:03 am

What I learned at man camp, where men get in touch with their emotions

Life and style | The Guardian

In early March, I headed to the California desert to explore my emotions and learn ‘healthy masculinity’ with a group of men

On a Friday evening in early March, two weeks before much of the US went into a coronavirus lockdown, I found myself standing in the California desert, screaming into another man’s face.

The next day, the smell of burning sage wafted through the air as I took my shirt off and wrestled a guy inside a metal dome.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:03 am

How to make the perfect apple charlotte – recipe | Felicity Cloake's How to make the perfect…

Life and style | The Guardian

Autumn’s answer to summer pudding, made with sweet spiced apple puree and butter-soaked bread

Often described by those who don’t know any better as a “classical French dessert”, apple charlotte is actually more likely to be one of our own – the similarities to summer pudding are unmistakable. Stewed fruit and stale bread is just a very British vibe somehow, especially when it’s served up smothered in custard.

The ever diligent Regula Ysewijn explains in her book Pride and Pudding that, despite attempts to credit it to the superstar 19th-century chef Marie-Antoine Carême, the first print recipe for apple charlotte appears in John Mollard’s 1802 The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined, probably named after the wife of King George III, at a time when Carême was still a mere apprentice.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:03 am

Kim-Joy's recipe for macaron meringue snails

Life and style | The Guardian

These gastronomic gastropods make great slow food

These are a cute and fun treat. There are three components to this recipe: the macarons, the meringue and the orange blossom ganache filling. If you are short on time, you can replace the meringue with fondant. Ideally you would make everything the night before, and then assemble the following day. This is because the macarons benefit from an overnight rest in the fridge, and the meringues are best left in a (switched off) oven overnight. You can serve these as they are, or use them as cake toppers.

Makes 12-15

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October 22nd 2020, 4:03 am

'This would have changed my career': music industry finally acts on artist mental health

Life and style | The Guardian

New initiatives such as Girl & Repertoire and Swim are helping young people – particularly women – overturn the myth of the tortured artist

In 2016, Lauren Aquilina released her first album. The same day, she left the music industry, vowing never to return.

The pressures of burgeoning fame, the loneliness of the industry for the young pop singer and endless meetings full of people (mostly men) twice her age talking over her had taken a toll on her mental health and the only way she thought she could recover was to leave without looking back. Now, she is hoping to revamp the industry’s approach to care with a new independent community group and support system, Girl & Repertoire.

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October 21st 2020, 8:50 am

When it comes to watches – forget being smart and get wise with your time instead

Life and style | The Guardian

As we seek more control over our digital lives, is it time to embrace the Japanese minimalist aesthetic – and trade in your smartwatch for a beautifully simple timepiece?

In the smartphone age, checking the time can easily turn into wasting time. Who among us hasn’t innocently glanced at their phone, seen a notification, and wound up unintentionally tapping and scrolling through the best part of an hour?

In the UK we spend on average 50 days of every year on our smartphones. for many, it’s not just one screen at any one time. As I write this at my desktop, I’m regularly checking my phone, yet it has exactly the same apps and sites as my computer. Six million people in the UK take it a step further, adding a smartwatch to this matryoshka of digital distractions.

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October 21st 2020, 6:35 am

‘This is a chance to smile again’: Strictly’s Jacqui Smith on scandal, divorce and life outside poli

Life and style | The Guardian

The first female home secretary discusses the government’s Covid response, online dating in your 50s – and why the glitterball is within her reach

The last time Jacqui Smith had a dance lesson was when she was six or seven and her mother took her to a Scottish dancing group. She wore a kilt and took a few exams, but that was it. In the intervening 50 years, she says with a laugh, “my dancing has really been about family weddings – discos where you dance around your handbag – and prancing around the kitchen”. Smith – a former Labour MP, the first female home secretary, a scalp of the expenses scandal – is a contestant on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. When we speak on the phone, it is after a long first day of training with her partner, Anton du Beke. “I think he was pleasantly surprised with my ability to pick things up,” she says. “I think we’re going to have slightly more in the dance than perhaps he feared.”

Du Beke, Strictly’s gentlemanly dancer, traditionally gets the show’s “comedy” celebrity (another political entrant, Ann Widdecombe, filled the role in 2010). Did it feel like an insult to be paired with him? The 57-year-old laughs. “Anton got to the final last year and he’s very clear about that and very ambitious for us, as am I.” He is also – how to put this kindly? – not hellbent on stealing his partners away from their husbands. Is she relieved at not having to face the “Strictly curse”, whereby the frisson between the dancers and their partners becomes too much to bear? Smith cackles, then adds: “I won’t have it said that Anton is not gorgeous. But he is happily married and I am in a newish, but lovely, relationship. Trust us, there will be no Strictly curse.”

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October 21st 2020, 4:35 am

I’m 55 with herpes and low confidence – how can I have a healthy sex life?

Life and style | The Guardian

I’ve had a string of failed relationships and I’ve been devastated by an ex-partner’s revelation and an STI diagnosis. I can’t imagine anyone would want to sleep with me again

I’m a 55-year-old woman and in the past 11 years I have had a string of failed relationships. I’ve been in therapy now for a while to address my patterns around men because I really want to be able to commit to a relationship. In the meantime I’ve discovered two things that I am finding quite devastating. One is that a previous partner told me last year that I was the only woman he had slept with who couldn’t achieve orgasm just by penetration. I had had no idea that orgasm without digital stimulation was possible until then. I am very jealous of women who experience this. The second is that I have discovered I have genital herpes. It presents on my lower back and has appeared about three times in five years but has only just been diagnosed. I can’t imagine anyone will ever want to sleep with me again. If I knew a man had genital herpes, I wouldn’t want to sleep with him, so why on earth would anyone want to sleep with me? I am utterly shattered by this.

First of all, your partner from a year ago was probably lying, or perhaps had pressured his previous partners until they resorted to faking orgasms. Sexual health professionals tend to agree that most women require at least some clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm. Some men feel threatened by this fact, and many lack the knowledge, patience, technique or focus to provide sufficient clitoral pleasuring. And some men who tend to ejaculate early have never learned to sustain a lovemaking session that fully satisfies a woman. Your job is to teach a partner exactly how you like to be pleasured – and accept nothing less. And help yourself to achieve orgasm when necessary. Regarding your herpes diagnosis, you are joining the millions of other people in the world who have contracted it – either knowingly or otherwise. It is important to put it into perspective and understand it is manageable – you simply need to learn how.

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October 21st 2020, 4:19 am

Kim Kardashian West at 40: how the queen of social media changed the world

Life and style | The Guardian

By exchanging her privacy for eyewatering wealth, Kardashian West defines our time like no one else. Now, she has dialled back the nudity, presented a family-oriented image – and even appealed to Donald Trump’s compassionate side

In the early hours of 3 October 2016, shortly before her 36th birthday, Kim Kardashian West found herself with a gun to her head, tied up in a rented apartment in Paris, begging for her life.

Over the previous few days, Kardashian West had posted 15 images on Instagram documenting her trip to Paris fashion week, including a selfie showing off a $4m diamond ring on her finger. The thieves took off with more than $9m worth of her jewellery.

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October 21st 2020, 4:19 am

Autumn seems to come later these days – is the climate crisis to blame?

Life and style | The Guardian

The long-running series in which readers answer other readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial flights of fancy to profound scientific and philosophical concepts

I’ve noticed that trees begin turning colour much later in autumn in recent years, and don’t begin to drop their leaves until late October or November. Our mulberry tree was always “last to come, first to go” but not in recent years; the apple trees are later too. Is this another aspect of the climate emergency? Has anyone else noticed this?

Jill Bennett, St Albans, Herts

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October 20th 2020, 12:57 pm

'It’s literally the perfect knife': Dan Hong on the three most useful objects in his life

Life and style | The Guardian

For the chef, getting through the day requires a good night’s sleep and a very sharp blade – here, he shares how he gets both

How does a chef get through one of the most challenging times the hospitality industry’s ever faced?

For Dan Hong, it’s been a chance to get buff.

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October 20th 2020, 12:57 pm

Why won’t Virgin Media complete my broadband installation?

Life and style | The Guardian

The company won’t phone when promised or provide an explanation

I have been trying to switch to Virgin broadband because it is by far the fastest in my area. The installation was booked for mid-August and, as at that point a full connection was not possible, we were connected to our neighbour’s cable with their consent.

Since then, Virgin Media claims it is unable to complete my installation or deal with problems with the service. Apparently its system shows the installation as complete and our account as active. In addition, the company has repeatedly failed to phone when promised, turn up in the agreed time slot, arrive at the right address or provide any explanation for anything. I am unsure what to do next, other than to send another complaint.

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October 20th 2020, 9:07 am

‘We’re like athletes’: the secret lives of giant-vegetable growers

Life and style | The Guardian

From onions as big as babies to pumpkins that weigh more than a car, it has been a record-breaking year for oversize veg. But what motivates someone to grow an 8-metre beetroot – and is skulduggery involved?

The pumpkins are as big as Cinderella’s carriage, and so heavy that a tractor is required to hoist them out of the earth. Immense, pockmarked marrows bulge from the ground like something from a phantasmagoric nightmare. Cucumbers soar to the height of a four-year-old. Onions bloat to the size of a head. You can have your giant vegetables in any size, as long as it is large, extra-large or extra-extra-large.

For Britain’s giant-vegetable growers, 2020 has been a vintage year. Three world records were set on this year’s Grow Show tour in September: the world’s heaviest red cabbage (31.6kg), the world’s longest salsify (5.6 metres) and the world’s longest beetroot (8.6 metres). This month, Ian and Stuart Paton, 59-year-old twins from Lymington in Hampshire, grew the UK’s heaviest-ever pumpkin, which weighed in at a monstrous 1,176.5kg.

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October 20th 2020, 9:07 am

‘Being on the ocean is who they are’: how sailing bonds my partner’s family

Life and style | The Guardian

For my in-laws, family bonds are nurtured on the open water. On my first holiday with them, I realised just how deep their connection with all things nautical ran – and the joy that quality time can bring

Going on holiday with your new boyfriend’s family for the first time is always going to be a big deal. For me, it was a baptism of fire, but also a bit of a dream. It was 2012 and Tim invited me to come sailing for two weeks in the Greek Ionian Sea with his parents, Michael and Anna, and sister Lucy.

Boats had not really been part of my childhood growing up in Canada so to me it all seemed incredibly exotic. I imagined sipping cocktails and eating chilled cubes of cantaloupe on plush sun loungers while cruising around tropical islands, dolphins frolicking around us. The reality was rather more humble, but no less exciting.

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October 20th 2020, 6:23 am

'At 47, I discovered I am autistic – suddenly so many things made sense'

Life and style | The Guardian

Other people’s lives always seemed more effortless, but it took my daughter’s autism diagnosis to realise why

Until last year I had no idea I was autistic. I knew I was different and I had always been told I was “too sensitive”. But I don’t fit the dated Rain Man stereotype. I’m a CEO, I’m married, I have two children. Autism is often a hidden disability.

Other people made life seem easy and effortless while, before my diagnosis, I always operated with some level of confusion. I was able to achieve a lot and I used to attribute this to the strong work ethic I inherited from my dad but now I have no doubt that he was autistic, too.

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October 20th 2020, 4:37 am

How we met: ‘The first time I cooked for him I served the only thing he hated’

Life and style | The Guardian

Giulia Laganà, 39, and Mads Frese, 47, met at a camp for asylum seekers in Sicily in 2011. They live in Rome with their two daughters

In 2011, during the Arab spring uprising, Giulia Laganà’s humanitarian work took her to Sicily in southern Italy. “I was working for a UN refugee agency, helping people who were arriving and monitoring conditions,” she says. Mads Frese, a Danish journalist living in Rome, travelled to the island in October as part of a group of reporters who were producing a film about the crisis. They needed access to interviewees. “I’d called Giulia before we came, through some contacts, hoping that she could help set up meetings,” he says.

After arriving, he drove from Palermo to Cara di Mineo, the largest refugee camp in Sicily at the time. “I remember hearing that Gaddafi had been killed. We had no idea what would happen next,” he says. When the journalists reached the camp, Mads got the chance to meet Giulia in person. “We’d spoken in Italian on the phone, so I think he was a bit taken aback by my English. He was expecting me to be more typically Italian,” she laughs. “I’m from Rome originally, but grew up bilingual and studied in the UK.” Giulia says she found Mads handsome, but he didn’t say much. “She sounded so Roman on the phone that I was just expecting to meet someone completely different,” he says.

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October 19th 2020, 12:16 pm

What I learned about male desire in a sex doll factory

Life and style | The Guardian

If we look at it closely and with compassion, male desire is more complicated than most people assume it to be

As I took in the rows of heads mounted on the wall, my first impression was that I’d stepped into a hunting lodge – only these trophies bore a high-sheen of lip gloss and teased hair. Their static eyes trained on a middle distance, save for one pair, set in an Angelina Jolie-lookalike face, that seemed to be staring right at me. I smiled awkwardly, as if to say “hello”, then quickly stepped away from its lifeless gaze.

I was in the lobby of the sex doll manufacturer RealDoll, beside a pair of busty life-size models propped up by metal stands. This was about what I expected from my visit to the company’s San Diego headquarters: improbable physiques incapable of standing on their own.

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October 19th 2020, 3:56 am

Tree of the week: the beloved Scots Pine that could fall victim to its own success

Life and style | The Guardian

In the water of Llyn Padarn in Snowdonia stands a pine tree that has captured the hearts of many visitors. But should they be swimming out to pose with it?

Dave Jones first heard about the striking Scots pine that stands in Llyn Padarn, a lake in Snowdonia, from his classmates on a local photography course. As lockdown restrictions eased, he decided to visit the tree to get some shots of it. “Everybody kept going on about it,” he said. “So we went and found it. Sure enough, there were four other photographers there.”

Jones, who lives a 45-minute drive away in Rhyl with his wife, Dawn, was stunned by the setting, but had to stay for several hours until the light was right. “I was waiting for the clouds to come and it was all backlit,” he says. “It’s got a beautiful backdrop. It’s about 20 yards out into the lake and it’s grounded in the water.”

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October 19th 2020, 2:09 am

Want a bicycle by Christmas? 'If you leave it till December there will be no stock'

Life and style | The Guardian

Australians are usually able to walk into a store on Christmas eve and walk out wheeling a bike – but that’s certainly not the case this year

The massive surge in demand for bicycles during the Covid-19 shutdown has caused shortages of bikes worldwide, with the industry warning that anyone leaving their shopping too late is likely to be disappointed this holiday season.

Bicycle Industries Australia general manager Peter Bourke said the shortage was affecting all bike retailers, from boutique bicycle shops to department stores. He said: “There will be people who will not be able to get a bike at Christmas. Usually you can go into Kmart or Big W the night before Christmas and get a bike, but that’s certainly not the case this year.”

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October 18th 2020, 8:06 pm

Physiotherapists on the functional exercises everyone should do from home (and they do themselves)

Life and style | The Guardian

Regular strength training can help prevent injury – and you don’t have to leave your house to do it. Four physios share their go-to moves

For the sake of our physical and mental health, GPs recommend that we exercise five times per week. But there can be more to think about than just getting our heart rate up – physiotherapists say it also pays to work on strengthening our muscles.

Related: An apple a day? Four GPs on the top health advice they give and follow

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October 18th 2020, 12:35 pm

Crumbs! A history of biscuits in 15 fantastic facts – from flatulence cure to phenomenal fuel

Life and style | The Guardian

Britons love biscuits. But how much do you really know about them? Here’s how they have been used for booze, breath fresheners and much more besides

No other country buys and eats more biscuits than Britain. In the last month of the national lockdown, shoppers spent an extra £19m on biscuits. There is a biscuit for every occasion: rusks for teething babies, party rings for birthdays, custard creams to dunk in tea, Penguins and Tunnock’s wafers for lunchboxes, water biscuits to eat with cheese. We even assign character traits to different varieties and use them to reveal our personalities. Politicians interviewed on Mumsnet are routinely asked to choose their favourite.

Britain’s favourite snack began life in the ancient world when slices of bread were dried to store them. The Romans called these rusks panis bicoctus (bread twice-baked), and so the original method for making biscuits is embedded in their name. Here are some more fantastic facts about biscuits …

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October 18th 2020, 10:48 am

I lent my mother my old phone. Now she’s read my text messages – and discovered untold secrets

Life and style | The Guardian

After a fall, my mother went to stay in a care home, and she was lonely at first. Then she discovered three years’ of text messages between me and my sister

If you could call anywhere the canary in the coalmine of incompetence and chaos, it would be care homes. At the start of the coronavirus crisis, it was the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and his “protective ring”, which, in reality, meant insufficient testing, inadequate PPE and mass do-not-resuscitate orders because, come on, if you don’t try to save people’s lives, who can truthfully say you failed? By mid-June, care homes were the high-water mark of the tragedy, with more than 16,000 dead in that one setting. Recently, the appalling cost of mismanagement on a human level has been apparent in these homes: patients with dementia losing the will to live without family visits, a government unable to muster a response to Covid and also blinded by it, apparently devoid of feeling for anyone with anything other than coronavirus.

In the midst of it all, my mother ended up in a care home, following an event that we would normally call falling over but, for reasons of endemic ageism (in my view), we now call “having a fall”. The two days she spent in hospital were worse in terms of visiting, since not only could my sister and I not see her, but we could feel the hot anxiety of the nursing staff as we hovered outside the door trying to pass her a power bank for her phone.

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October 18th 2020, 10:18 am

Dogs of woe: the pull of a pooch in Covid times

Life and style | The Guardian

A high demand for puppies has meant a rise in prices, black-market breeding, unhealthy animals and disappointed owners

He was an ex-racing greyhound called Laddie, with an illustrious track record, white socks and a white tail. It was love at first sight. “Are you sure we can keep a greyhound in a flat?” I asked the manager of the dog shelter nervously, as my boyfriend Charlie stared at Laddie with emoji love hearts in his eyes. “Plenty of greyhounds live in apartments,” she reassured us. Charlie and I posed for a photo with Laddie – we look so happy in it, we might explode – and then went home to await our home check, in a few weeks.

As we waited, I browsed dog beds online, considered the merits and demerits of harnesses versus leads, dry food versus wet. I ringed the photo of Laddie with a love heart and texted it to my family and friends. “He looks like such a good boy,” one friend responded. “Would you like to be godparents?” I offered benevolently.

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October 18th 2020, 6:34 am

As a lockdown winter looms, the oodie will fleece us all over again

Life and style | The Guardian

The blanket with a hood follows slankets and snuggies as the latest comfort-wear craze

Every autumn a piece of novelty clothing appears, covering the wearer from head to toe, wrapping them in a feeling of embryonic safety. We’ve had the onesie (as popularised by One Direction and Robbie Williams), the Slanket, the Snuggie, the mermaid tail blanket. And this year we have the Oodie.

Resembling a blanket with a hood and featuring versions covered in doodles of unicorns, cartoon avocados, sloths, pizzas and in shades of tie-dye, it might look like a twee gimmick but its selling point is its comfort level.

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October 18th 2020, 6:34 am

How you can help cash-strapped charities keep up and running

Life and style | The Guardian

Their work is needed more than ever. But with revenues crushed by Covid, they are appealing for funds to survive

When this year’s London Marathon finally took place earlier this month, the slimmed-down field spelled bad news for charities.

For 13 years, the annual event had been the largest single-day fundraiser in the calendar, with 2019 bringing in £66.4m for a variety of good causes.

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October 18th 2020, 5:15 am

Old grief gets some welcome comic relief | Seamas O’Reilly

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s a long time since Granny O’Reilly died, but there are still new and unexpected ways to think about her sad loss

Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of my mother’s death and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Not about the death itself – I’ve been pretty consistent about considering it a bad thing – but, rather, how to compute the fact that it’s nearly three decades ago.

I should know how I feel by now. Not only does that period comprise 95% of my conscious time on Earth, I’ve spent most of two years writing a memoir that goes into this childhood loss in some detail. No greater sign of how oblivious I was at that time is that the book’s title, Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?, is the phrase with which I cheerfully greeted mourners at her wake, unsure what tone to strike.

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October 18th 2020, 4:45 am

Nadiya Hussain: ‘I want to blend in. But the truth is, I’m never going to blend in’

Life and style | The Guardian

Five years after winning Bake Off, she’d love to just talk about baking and cookbooks. But then there’s diversity in TV, mental health, the pandemic…

Nadiya Hussain has never published a baking book. She has never fronted her own baking show before either, having had her life changed by appearing on the big one, the one which put her under the national spotlight as she transformed from a shy, uncertain home cook into a Great British Bake Off winner, the best-loved winner in the history of the series. Now, after five years of fame, her career, which has encompassed books, documentaries, cooking shows, a memoir, an MBE, and much, much more, has come full circle, and she is ready to focus on baking again. Surely someone has tried to get a baking book out of her before this?

“It was my choice. I chose not to go straight into baking,” she says. She is in her conservatory at home in Milton Keynes, the week before her three children are due to go back to school. It doubles up as both her home office and the cats’ room; her son is drawing at the kitchen table. Ordinarily, she’d be out in the world, meeting people, and she misses it terribly. “I really miss people. I miss hugging people. Even a handshake would be nice right now. I always overrun on everything, because I’m talking about something else. Shoes, a flavour, it could be anything.” I’m not even wearing shoes, I tell her. “I mean, I put on a bra just for you today,” she grins. She got up late, for her, because she’s been staying up into the early hours, watching Schitt’s Creek in bed. Not that you’d know it. She is as lively and warm as you’d expect from her on-screen persona, happy to dole out advice to this terrible home baker, but she has a pleasing, simmering defiance to her too, that has evolved since her 2015 TV debut.

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October 18th 2020, 4:34 am

Masked monsters and socially distanced spooks: celebrating Halloween at home

Life and style | The Guardian

Lockdown was expected to dampen enthusiasm, but retailers report high demand for costumes and products

Halloween was expected to be a hollow affair this year, with no parties, patchy trick-or-treating and an assumed ban on apple-bobbing. Yet retailers are reporting that this year’s stay-at-home spookiness will be among the biggest Halloweens yet in the UK for an industry estimated to be worth more than £400m.

“Despite the pandemic, Halloween certainly isn’t cancelled,” said Swasti Sarna, insights manager at Pinterest. “[People] are getting creative while staying safe this year by turning to at-home Halloween games and decorating every room in the house. Popular searches on Pinterest include creating a ‘haunted mansion bathroom’ or throwing a ‘Halloween garden party’”.

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October 18th 2020, 4:34 am

Meg Mathews: ‘I feared my colourful 90s life had caught up with me’

Life and style | The Guardian

She felt anxious, depressed and overwhelmed, until she realised it was the menopause. Now Meg Mathews is on a mission to get women talking about it without shame

I am sitting in the road, in Primrose Hill, during a global pandemic, when Meg Mathews starts loudly telling me about her vaginal atrophy. All right, we’re at a café table but, due to the aforementioned plague, the tables have been allowed to stretch into the main thoroughfare, which is half closed to traffic, and Mathews is explaining how the menopause closed down her own private thoroughfare. “I first realised when I was wearing my workout leggings and they weren’t new, but they were starting to chafe,” she says, before describing the laser part of her “vaginal rejuvenation” treatment.

At this point, a voice from the pavement calls out “Meg!” and I can’t help but spin around, just in case it’s Kate Moss shouting from 1997, but it is not Kate Moss, it’s a sweet old lady in a raincoat with a tiny dog. “You’re looking well, Meg,” she says, and they chat politely until Meg can get rid of her neighbour and return to the business of her collapsing genitalia. The menopause is Meg’s new subject you see – the former first lady of Britpop, once married to Noel Gallagher, now has a book, a website and products to launch, all branded as Meg’s Menopause. She’s on a mission to rid us of our hormonal embarrassment and shame.

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October 18th 2020, 4:15 am

Grow moss to give you a green lift all year round

Life and style | The Guardian

Heres’s a horticulture happy pill just when you need it most

I’m a fair weather gardener. As someone who works in horticulture I am supposed to claim that each season has its own wonder and that I embrace all the changes nature offers, but that wouldn’t be honest. As temperatures and light levels plummet, the growth of the vast majority of plants grinds to a halt. This means that if you get a mood boost from living green, winter can be tough. However, there is one much-overlooked group of plants that does the exact opposite, bursting into life just as most garden residents are slipping into dormancy. Moss provides you with a horticulture happy pill just when you need it most.

Mosses are an ancient group of plants that don’t follow the rules of other garden species. Their growth rate isn’t so much determined by light and heat, but by the availability of moisture – and that is something we don’t lack at this time of year. Given the right conditions, their rugged constitution makes them incredibly easy to propagate and establish. And they can be sourced for little to no money.

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October 18th 2020, 3:29 am

How my new baby’s first weeks and lockdown blurred together

Life and style | The Guardian

In the middle of another sleepless night, it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s what

When was 12, I’d go to batmitzvah classes every Friday after school, and the highlight was breaktime, when we would sit crosslegged on the carpet while a formidable lady called Suzanne told us that day’s plot of Neighbours. One day she entered the room with unusual solemnity. She said there had been a terrible bomb at Lassiters and everybody had died, and Neighbours had finished forever. She waited a minute or so before breezily admitting she’d missed the lunchtime showing and so had no idea what had happened, but the joke was lost on us, a gasping room of pubescent Jews for whom Neighbours was our true religion. My main memory of that day is the thought: I have missed something important, we have suffered great loss and time cannot go backwards. Anyway hi, I’m back from maternity leave, I trust nothing has changed?

No, no I jest, I jest! My sense of taste and smell may be compromised, but my sense of humour, never. Pandemic. There’s a pandemic on. Instead of the calm birth and relaxing maternity leave I had planned, littered with pretty cakes and galleries and bawdy chatter about tits, I left work as lockdown started, had a baby at its bitter height and was sent home the same day to wait for death or Ocado, whichever came first.

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October 18th 2020, 3:29 am

Charlotte Mensah: ‘Hair became a form of healing’

Life and style | The Guardian

Charlotte Mensah is the undisputed queen of black hairdressing, with clients including Zadie Smith and Michaela Coel. Here, she tells Funmi Fetto about ‘good hair’, pushing boundaries and the joy of her salon community

Would you like some cake?” I stare, slightly perplexed, at the sizeable sweet treat being presented to me at Hair Lounge. A few questions race through my head. To get through that mammoth piece, how long will I need to leave my mask off? At what point does that become illegal? After over-indulging pre, during and post lockdown, should I really be eating more cake? Overwhelmed by my thought process, I politely, reluctantly, declined. Being served homemade nutmeg cake at a hair salon might seem unusual but this is Charlotte Mensah’s salon. It has a reputation not simply as the place where storied clientele come to have their hair done, but as a place people come for community, conversation and, yes, cake. “I love to bake,” smiles the softly spoken Mensah on the afternoon we meet. “It’s something I got from my grandmother. She had a massive clay oven in her compound in Accra, in Ghana, where she would bake a lot of cakes and breads. She also knew how to do hair.”

To know Mensah is to know that the “doing hair” gene has most definitely been passed down. But to say Mensah does hair is akin to saying the pope does religion. In Afro hair circles, she is a legend. Her experience as a stylist spans three decades and countless awards, including winning British Afro Hairdresser of the Year three times. In 2017, she became the first black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame.

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October 18th 2020, 2:13 am

Sunday with Amanda Holden: ‘A sweet sherry at 11am’

Life and style | The Guardian

The TV presenter and singer on cheese soufflé for lunch, Disney movies and snuggles on the sofa

How does Sunday start? With me gasping for air in a total panic, thinking I’ve missed my weekday alarm. I send my husband, Chris, to make me a coffee as I talk myself down.

A day out? A walk in the Cotswolds, where we spend weekends, and a roast at the Chequers, a gorgeous pub in Churchill, Oxfordshire. I’ll order the double-baked cheese soufflé with all the trimmings, and leave with a tinfoil clutch bag full of meat for the dog.

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October 18th 2020, 2:00 am

Go one step up from the no-makeup look | Funmi Fetto

Life and style | The Guardian

If you want to try the minimal makeup look, give it a glossy edge. Plus, perfect hydrating serums and skincare treats

I love the simplicity of this look as seen at Lanvin AW20. Not that beauty trends should really matter – wear what you like, I say, but push the boat out every so often. However this feels very now. It’s not quite “no makeup makeup”, think of it more like the next step up. You’ll need a skin-like foundation that offers buildable coverage, a mascara that gives you “natural” look-at-me lashes and brows. Oh, and lip gloss. But use a lip scrub first – nothing sits well on a dry pout.

1. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pen £23, anastasiabeverlyhills.co.uk
2. Chanel Le Rouge Duo Ultra Wear Liquid Lip Colour £31, chanel.com
3. Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Fluid Foundation Matte £110, harrods.com
4. Morphe Make It Big Volumizing Mascara £12, morphe.com
5. Tinker Taylor Brown Sugar Lip Scrub £20, tinkertaylorbeauty.com

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October 18th 2020, 1:43 am

Chopping wood and other autumnal pleasures | Allan Jenkins

Life and style | The Guardian

The Danish plot requires plenty of wood work at this time of year, but we still had time to enjoy the changing of the seasons

Do spaces have personalities? Do different gardens speak a different language, demanding you to be a different gardener?

I am not quite saying I am more of a Viking at the Danish seaside plot. I leave that to Bo, the local tree surgeon with his flowing plaited beard and hair and his missing index finger. But I wonder whether he might hear nuances in the language of the land here that I may at first miss.

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October 18th 2020, 1:30 am

I borrowed money from a friend, but the terms were unfair | Dear Mariella

Life and style | The Guardian

Mixing money with friendship is a bad idea, says Mariella Frostrup. It sows resentment and poisons relationships

The dilemma I made the classic mistake of mixing friendship and money which, of course, turned out to be disastrous. Two years back I ended up in a tight spot. My best friend of 25 years offered me a loan that, in her words, I could pay back in my own time. It was a sum that I’d have struggled to borrow, but it would save my business. In return I felt obliged to offer her an interest in my business.

Before signing the contract, she proposed partially merging our businesses, for which she’d knock off part of the debt. I had doubts, but it felt difficult to deliberate the situation properly among the chaos in my life. When I was able to sit back and think, I decided to renegotiate. It ended in disaster. She gave me an ultimatum: go along with her plan or pay the whole sum back in a few months’ time. If not, there would be lawyers involved.

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October 18th 2020, 1:13 am

JAE at Untitled, London: ‘Punchy Korean cooking’ – restaurant review

Life and style | The Guardian

Rough-plaster walls, piped music and an irritating name can’t dull the zinginess of the cuisine

Editor’s note: we have decided that, while restaurants remain open, we will continue to review them

JAE at Untitled, 538 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AH (07841 022 924). All dishes £4-£12.50, beer £6, cocktails £9.50, wine from £36 a bottle

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October 18th 2020, 1:13 am

Trend watch: how sweatpants became a hot fashion look

Life and style | The Guardian

Jogging bottoms are no longer just for lounging in. Upscale them in a fabric and fit that works for you for any occasion

Jogging bottoms have been the unforeseen wardrobe hit of 2020. They got us all through lockdown and now we are reluctant to relinquish their comfort. Here’s our guide to get the best pair for you, with styling suggestions for work and leisure.

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October 17th 2020, 6:57 pm

How we stay together: 'I was comfortable just to be there and let her cry it out'

Life and style | The Guardian

On the surface, Natasha and Dave Hayes were not an obvious match, but while their interests differ, their abiding support of each other has kept them together for more than 20 years

Names: Natasha and Dave Hayes
Years together: 22
Occupations: government worker and IT team leader

Even the best laid plans go astray. In 1998, Natasha Hayes was planning to move to London. So when her housemate suggested she meet her friend Dave, Tash wasn’t interested. “I’m like, ‘I’m going overseas – I don’t want to meet anyone.’”

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October 17th 2020, 3:08 pm

James Rebanks: ‘I don't want to be soppy, but my father ended up as my best friend’

Life and style | The Guardian

The Herdwick Shepherd on three generations of farm life, the joy of cold tea and earning the respect of Masai warriors

Porridge is the best way to really start the day, usually after the shepherding is done. Sometimes I’ll have bacon and eggs, but I’m on a diet at the moment, after being too sedentary, writing a book. Often I have one of my wife Helen’s amazing soups at between 8 and 8.30am. I come back to the house for sit-down meals three times a day. When the children are not at school, we have dinner together at about midday. Then afternoon tea at 3pm and a proper meal in the evening. Helen loves food and insists we put phones away.

I remember my grandmother making bacon and eggs for my grandfather every morning and she never ever took the fat out the pan, so the egg was freckled brown. Everything out of that pan tasted incredibly sweet as a result.

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October 17th 2020, 11:21 am

Andy Murray: ‘Off court I’m pretty laid back’

Life and style | The Guardian

The tennis player, 33, on difficult moment growing up, hating cruelty to animals and not punching walls

My earliest memory would be when I was about four or five, walking into school on my first day. I don’t remember much about it, though. My brother Jamie and me had some difficult moments growing up: our parents getting divorced, and obviously Dunblane [the school shooting in 1996]. But we played tons of tennis and had a very active childhood.

If I could go back in time, it would be to Barcelona when I was 15 and training there. It was the first time I had freedom. Some people get it when they finish school or move to university. I loved it there and made a lot of friends.

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October 17th 2020, 10:08 am

From dal to butter beans: Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes for legumes

Life and style | The Guardian

Choose from a tangy bean bowl with Persian notes, a rich lamb dish with a buttery Indian dal, or a ruby-red Mediterranean side-starter of butter beans with preserved lemon and herb oil

Legumes: small things, but what a big world. There are thousands of species of legume, and even those we so often have in our cupboards have all sorts of variables: dried, tinned or jarred; whole or split; hulled or unhulled. No recipe calls for just “lentils”: they’re red, green, brown or black. They’ll be dried or tinned; beluga or puy; urad, channa, masoor, toor, moong … And within this vast range comes huge versatility. This week, I’m using a mix of dried, tinned and jarred legumes. They’re all very different, but they all hold their shape, they all soak up the flavours with which they are cooked – and they will all transport you to very different places.

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October 17th 2020, 5:51 am

Crab mac'n'cheese and fried chicken sandwich: Nigella Lawson's new favourite comfort food recipes

Life and style | The Guardian

These recipes, from Nigella’s new book Cook, Eat, Repeat, are ones she comes back to again and again

One of the questions that’s hardest to answer about a book is, “What are your favourite recipes from it?” I’m ruthless about the recipes I include: only those I love enough to cook, with undimmed enthusiasm, on repeat make the cut. But within that, of course, there are categories of fondness, and the dishes that follow are those to which I return with greedy glee whenever I want sumptuous comfort allied with flavour for a supper that bolsters quite as much as it soothes. With thanks to Ash Sarkar and Felicity Cloake for inspiration for the fish finger bhorta and ruby noodles, respectively.

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October 17th 2020, 4:51 am

10 of the best cosy holiday cabins in the UK

Life and style | The Guardian

Cabin life has never felt more alluring. From simple shacks to Scandi-style boltholes, here are 10 to escape to and snuggle up in
Check local restrictions before you travel

As winter draws closer and the world continues to descend into chaos, what could be more appealing than to run away for a few days to a forest or isolated clifftop, where there’s nothing to do but go for frosty rambles, soak in a wood-fired hot tub and sit snug in bed by a woodburner.

Whether you swoon over sharply designed, stark, cantilevered black timber huts of the kind seen on cult architecture website Dezeen, prefer the backcountry Americana of hit photography book Cabin Porn, or fancy more of an off-grid, homemade-shed vibe, it’s never been easier to get your fix.

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October 17th 2020, 4:51 am

The best new concealers for all skin tones | Sali Hughes

Life and style | The Guardian

Superlative colour correctors that blend perfectly without cracking or caking

I haven’t written about concealer in a while, but a new discovery has, very happily, forced my hand. I’d been meaning to try Stay Woke Concealer (£21, 5ml) by Uoma (an independent, black-owned makeup brand) for ages, but a previous experience with another of their products had left me cautious in selecting a colour. I found that everything in Uoma runs a shade darker than most brands, which is no hardship when factored in and shouldn’t be an obstacle in trying what is a superlative concealer. An opportune browse in Selfridges gave me a better look, so I went for Fair Lady T1 and I’m so thrilled with my purchase that I’ve just ordered a spare.

Stay Woke is creamier than most, and blends perfectly, brightening greyness noticeably, before staying exactly where you want it (no chasing around the face, waiting for it to sit still). The finish is what I’d call flexible: it moves comfortably with an expressive face and doesn’t crack or cake, even on dry skin. It’s my dream concealer.

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October 17th 2020, 4:51 am

What links a worm and a whale's tail? The Weekend quiz

Life and style | The Guardian

From antlers to Ascension, test your knowledge with the Weekend quiz

1 Who gave her 1987 Oscar acceptance speech in sign language?
2 In what decade was England ruled by major-generals?
3 Borley Rectory in Essex was once infamous as what?
4 Which gland secretes melatonin?
5 Which estuary is formed by the Paraná and Uruguay rivers?
6 Phil Chisnall in 1964 was the last transfer between which football clubs?
7 Sétanta was the birth name of which mythical hero?
8 What is the only female deer to typically grow antlers?
What links:
9
Camp Dubois, Illinois, and Fort Clatsop, Oregon (1804-06)?
10 Isabel Fitton; Arthur Griffith; August Jaeger; Caroline Elgar?
11 Ascension; Electrified; Above The Below; Vertigo; Buried Alive?
12 Parasitic worm; part of an anchor or whale’s tail; stroke of luck?
13 Kodkod; margay; oncilla; ocelot; jaguarundi?
14 Japanese mushroom; Nordic or Alpine; buried in AD79; US island state?
15 Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; Trollope’s Ferdinand Lopez; Dickens’ James Carker?

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October 17th 2020, 3:21 am

‘He wanted to control me completely’: the models who accuse Gérald Marie of sexual assault

Life and style | The Guardian

Elite Models boss Gérald Marie was one of the most powerful men in fashion. Was he also a sexual predator? As French prosecutors investigate, four women tell their stories for the first time

A special investigation by Lucy Osborne

In the spring of 1980, Wendy Walsh and her mother flew to Paris from their home in a suburb of Toronto, Canada. Walsh was 17, a straight-A student who excelled at maths. She was also an aspiring model whose blond, blue-eyed, girl-next-door look had already got her noticed; at a local hairdressing event, a couple of stylists from a Paris salon had offered to send her headshots to a leading model agency, Paris Planning. Letters and phone calls had been exchanged, and Walsh was invited to Paris.

At the agency’s offices, Walsh and her mother, Ellen, were introduced to the charismatic 30-year-old boss, Gérald Marie. Marie offered to take them to lunch. “So we went to a little outdoor bistro in the Place de la Madeleine, around the corner from the agency,” says Walsh, speaking on the phone from her home in Los Angeles. “It was the first time I ever had a croque monsieur, and he was explaining what it was. I realise now it’s a fancy grilled cheese sandwich. And I remember distinctly him fawning over my mother, and this was surprising to me. She had been an extremely beautiful woman in her youth, but lupus had left scars on her face.

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October 17th 2020, 3:21 am

Tim Dowling: I’ve recently been added to a mystery WhatsApp group

Life and style | The Guardian

I don’t know whether it’s a scam or a mistake, but I find myself intrigued by the name. It is called, simply, ‘Cliff’s situation’

My phone pings while I am sitting at the kitchen table. I take it out of my pocket and discover that I’ve been added to a WhatsApp group by someone I’ve never heard of. This is, I think, marginally preferable to being added to a WhatsApp group by someone I know.

Dozens of other people, added alongside me, have already left the group. I don’t know whether it’s a scam or a mistake, but even as I press the exit button, I find myself intrigued by the name of the group. It is called, simply, “Cliff’s situation”.

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October 17th 2020, 1:34 am

Blind date: ‘He made it clear that he doesn’t share food’

Life and style | The Guardian

Sarah, 29, development officer, meets Matt, 32, HR manager

What were you hoping for?
I’m a bit jaded by dating apps, so was hoping this might bear fruit. Also for good conversation; a bit of a laugh.

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October 17th 2020, 1:34 am

I went out to buy a bed and came back with a spoon – am I really that disorganised? | Coco Khan

Life and style | The Guardian

I used to think the mental block I have around life admin was to do with an innate lack of focus. But then I discovered ‘decision fatigue’

Recently my mother paid me one of her quintessential “compli-sults”: a lashing of praise that somehow leaves a bruise. I’m moving flat, and mentioned that my poor organisational skills were sure to wreak havoc with the process.

“Stop putting yourself down, you’re the best at sorting things when you need to be – it’s why I call you in a crisis,” she said. “It’s just the basic, obvious stuff you can’t handle.”

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October 16th 2020, 10:56 am

If I say I'm a YouTuber fan, do I sound like Matt Hancock pretending to like grime? | Romesh Rangana

Life and style | The Guardian

My kids have introduced me to Chunkz, Yung Filly and LazarBeam. But I’m clearly not their target demographic

People often ask what my children think of me being on television. By people I mean one bloke, and by often I mean just once, but I wanted an introduction to this piece. The truth is, my children have very little awareness of what I do because they don’t watch television. They’ll watch some of the family stuff, such as Saturday Night Takeaway and Strictly, but beyond that, they are not very interested; they would treat a request for them to watch an episode of The Misadventures Of Romesh Ranganathan in the same manner they would an instruction to finish their broccoli.

What they consume by the bucketload instead is YouTubers, an area of entertainment that my grandpa brain is yet to completely fathom, despite my best efforts to slow my decline into obsolescence. The recent SoccerAid match was blessed by the presence of Chunkz and Yung Filly, two genuinely hilarious British YouTubers. Some people who were watching questioned the fame of the two online megastars because they hadn’t seen them on television before. But they’re out of touch: TV is no longer the default format.

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October 16th 2020, 10:56 am

My in-laws are manipulating our children. How do I stop them? | Annalisa Barbieri

Life and style | The Guardian

Have faith in your children. They won’t be turned against you so easily, says Annalisa Barbieri

I am worried my in-laws are trying to turn my children against me. They are mainly civil on the surface, but they’ve never liked me and I have had years of passive-aggressive comments, in particular from my mother-in-law. My husband and I are often excluded from family gatherings, which are regularly organised when they know we can’t attend.

My husband is a lovely man who views asserting himself with his family as confrontation. It took a long time for us to find success but we are now quite well-off. We come from very humble beginnings and do not brag, but the jealousy from the family has been evident. Every single time we take a holiday, we have to listen to comments about how children don’t like holidays and want to spend time at home instead. It’s purely jealousy, and of course the children love our holidays. I frequently invite my in-laws over and have also invited them to join us on holiday.

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October 16th 2020, 10:56 am

Cluttercore: the pandemic trend for celebrating stuff, mess and comfort

Life and style | The Guardian

Chuck out your decluttering manuals. As we’ve been forced indoors by the global crisis, clutter has emerged, dusty and triumphant

In the past few months, the pavement outside my flat has been taken over by stuff: baby baths, filing systems, books, stools. People leave them, others take them; no money exchanges hands. It’s a well-established, sustainable micro-economy – and, according to my neighbour, whose bedroom window opens on to this pavement, it’s becoming a problem. “You have to ask: where did this crap come from – and where’s it going to go?”

Clutter has emerged, dusty and triumphant, as a defining byproduct of the pandemic. Yet we are undecided on what to do with it. “Forced inside, some people have been decluttering, absolutely, but I’ve noticed others actively re-embracing their stuff,” says Jennifer Howard, author of Clutter: An Untidy History. “The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate what we have, make better use of objects and space ... and also see their value, often for the first time.”

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October 16th 2020, 10:56 am

'Dare I wear my gold and pink jumpsuit?': why women should never worry about being 'too much'

Life and style | The Guardian

Whether it’s being true to your style or having the confidence to speak your own mind, a bit of bravery goes a long way, says stylist Natalie Lee

During lockdown I still found myself reaching for bold lipsticks – reds and bright oranges and hot pinks. It was one of the things that made me realise that I really do dress for myself. I was wearing those vibrant lipsticks because it made me feel good, not because I wanted validation from other people.

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October 16th 2020, 6:40 am

Working from home: could you be eligible for up to £125 in tax relief?

Life and style | The Guardian

HMRC gives the option to claim online without receipts as Covid keeps more away from offices

Millions of people who have spent the last few months working at their kitchen tables are being encouraged to apply for tax relief using an online form that could return them up to £125.

At the beginning of October, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) launched an online portal offering employees a hassle-free way to claim the relief without the need to provide receipts or to make complicated calculations.

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October 16th 2020, 5:37 am

Experience: I made a friend in Antarctica

Life and style | The Guardian

Trust quickly grew between us. Within a week we’d discussed deep and intimate topics – big ideas are hard to avoid when confronted with nothing but nature’s beauty

I’m a geologist. Studying rocks is something I’ve been interested in since childhood, looking for fossils on the Dorset coast. For the past 18 years, I’ve been working for the British Antarctic Survey, researching changes in the Antarctic ice sheets to help governments plan for floods and other consequences of a changing climate.

I first met Tom the night I arrived at the Rothera research station on the tip of Antarctica. He is a professional mountaineer who assists geologists with their research. It had been a long trip from Heathrow to Punta Arenas in southern Chile, followed by another five-hour flight. Tom had been at the station a while, coming straight from another polar mission. We spent a few days training and testing our kit, then, on 21 November last year, we boarded a small ski-clad plane for a seven-hour flight south-west to our new remote home. Earplugs in, I got on with my knitting.

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October 16th 2020, 5:37 am

I don't need to climb Everest. Even a modest summit brings big rewards | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Life and style | The Guardian

Nothing but sky above and unbroken views all around – there is something so glorious about getting to the natural end of a climb

I’ll start by saying this: the Sherpa people do not get enough credit. They have been climbing Everest since for ever, like it’s nothing. The man who has climbed Everest the most times is Kami Rita Sherpa (24 times) who I imagine files his nails as he does it. Lhakpa Sherpa holds the record for most summits by a woman (9) and, incredibly, now resides in the US and works a minimum wage job at 7-Eleven.

I doubt I will be summiting Everest (never say never!) but I was schooled in climbing early on. Both my parents were climbers (my mother even free-climbed while pregnant which… maybe don’t do that). I reached the top of Moel Famau in Wales, aged three (OK, it’s 555m high to Everest’s 8,850 metres, but it was baby steps, quite literally). At seven, I topped Snowdon (1,085m). I crawled up and cried a lot. I recall being extremely unimpressed by a crappy cafe on the top, a little like when I first went on the internet and it was just a browser window rather than an actual portal to another world.

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October 16th 2020, 5:37 am

'I’m 26 and my partner is 61. His adult children act as if I don't exist – what can I do?'

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s important to understand why your partner’s children are baulking, writes advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith, and not get sucked into a familiar courtroom drama

I’m 26 and my partner is 61, we have been together for nearly four years now with our own home and everything has always been great, he is a successful businessman, and we have no problems, apart from his kids.

They are 25 and 27 and have never given me the time of day. I have never met them properly, and they express no interest in me at all. I have tried to make contact with his daughter which was ignored, and she subsequently complained to her dad that I had tried to make friends. He has made hardly any effort in resolving this, which really angers me as I’m sick of being treated like I don’t exist by two grown adults. I feel like I’m coming to the end of my tether with this disrespect, every time I mention it he says he is sorting it but nothing ever changes. What do you recommend?

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October 15th 2020, 1:18 pm

How do I mark the strangeness of 2020? I check my spice shelf | Jay Rayner

Life and style | The Guardian

To stave off the boredom of lockdown, I went shopping for new ingredients – tamarind concentrate, a vast bottle of mirin. Now what do I do with them?

Finally, the pandemic has come to my door. It has impacted upon my family’s life in ways which, just a few months ago, would have been unimaginable. I’m not quite sure how we’re going to cope, but cope we must. We are just going to have to deal with the cinnamon stick glut. And an overstocking of cumin seeds and coriander seeds, of curry leaves and cardamom pods and cornmeal and the rest. If I’m asked how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected me, I merely need open the spice cupboard, and shout, “Just look at the bloody mess in there.”

Here’s what’s happened. As a result of the full lockdown, and the shrunken world of curfews and reticence that followed, I have become intensely bored of myself. I have become bored of my own cooking in particular. I thought I had a fathomless repertoire of dishes for domestic consumption. There’s my roast chicken in a mustard sauce, my butternut squash with chilli and caramelised onions, the puy lentils I do to go with sausages or lamb racks, the wine-steamed clams, my roast chicken thighs in a mustard sauce. Or did I already mention those? It turns out I have less a full repertoire of dishes, than a couple of clumsily phrased verses.

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October 15th 2020, 11:02 am

Stuck at home, I discovered the joy of identifying trees

Life and style | The Guardian

My mother never quite got round to learning the names of the trees she loved. I’m trying to fulfil the commitment she could never keep

Every few years my mother would buy a different version of the same book, only to abandon it after several weeks: How to Identify the Trees of Northeastern America. With the regularity of a trans-hemispheric weather cycle she’d come home, drop what appeared to be a travel brochure to the Republic of Trees on the table, and proclaim: “This time I’m going to learn the names of the goddamn trees.” She never did.

Related: My friend left this world – and I learned to let him go

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October 15th 2020, 6:29 am

How to make baked beans – recipe | Felicity Cloake's masterclass

Life and style | The Guardian

How to turn a bag of humble dried haricot beans into that special, sweet tomato toast topper we love

A great British tradition with its origins across the pond, but molasses-sweet Boston baked beans wouldn’t pass muster as a toast topper in Boston, Lincolnshire. Instead, we like our beans in a bright, tangy, tomato sauce – just right for spooning over a jacket potato with a handful of cheese or, if you must, ruining a fry-up.

Prep 10 min, + soaking time
Cook 1 hr 15 min (depending on the age of the beans)
Serves 6

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October 15th 2020, 5:13 am

'The cliches are plentiful' – a French view of Emily in Paris

Life and style | The Guardian

The author of Je Ne Suis Par Parisienne asks why the creator of Sex and the City filmed the Wikipedia version of French life in the Netflix show

The Sex and the City creator, Darren Star, has struck again. This time, it is in the shape of a Chicago-born, Paris-hailing twentysomething American working for a luxury marketing firm (what else?). Netflix’s Emily in Paris has taken viewers to the City of Lights, and one thing is certain – the cliches are plentiful.

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October 15th 2020, 5:13 am

A man tried to body shame the gloriously unabashed Billie Eilish. It didn’t go well

Life and style | The Guardian

The six-time Grammy-winning singer has largely rejected the societal pressure placed on women to be quiet, feminine and pretty

Today a paparazzi photo of Billie Eilish without her usual baggy clothes has been shared on the internet, revealing – shock, horror! – the 18-year-old looks like she has a regular body like you or me.

The photo showed Eilish wearing shorts and a tank top, rather than her signature baggy clothing. And so a butt hurt man (apparently 29 and from the UK) took this opportunity to announce on Twitter: “In 10 months Billie Eilish has developed a mid-30’s wine mom body.” (The backlash was mercifully swift.)

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October 15th 2020, 5:13 am

How much is that doggie (coat) in the window? The rise of pet fashion

Life and style | The Guardian

Retail analysts say so-called ‘anthropomorphism trends’ are on the increase in lockdown, driving a raft of product launches in canine clothing

“I just want to stay really strong with my brand and keep being a positive light for people. The more I can be recognised as a fashion icon, the more that dream gets closer and closer,” the influencer Boobie Billie recently told The Insider. Billie’s near-daily stream of selfies show her sitting glamorously in catwalk-ready poses, dressed in Jacquemus, Ganni and Chanel, for her 257,000 Instagram followers. It should also be noted that Billie is … a dog. A greyhound-chihuahua mix, to be specific. “I don’t wear dog clothes,” “she” told Women’s Wear Daily, on the eve of the launch of her own fashion range featuring silk scarves and purses, explaining: “It’s a serious fashion brand – without the serious attitude, of course.”

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October 15th 2020, 5:13 am

Where to be spooked this Halloween in the UK: readers' travel tips

Life and style | The Guardian

Things don’t just go bump at our tipsters’ spooky sites: a medieval abbot wanders, spectral soldiers march and the Barghest prowls …

For Halloween visit medieval Thornton Abbey, sitting impressively in its lonely location in north Lincolnshire. A strong sense of the past accompanies you across the 1139 site. Tales of ghosts have been intensified by the discovery of a plague pit in 2016. Thomas de Gretham, a 14th-century abbot was supposedly bricked up alive into the cellar walls following accusations of witchcraft and today he wanders the gatehouse, possibly still practising his black arts. If you see the gatehouse lit by the evening sun it magically glows in welcoming gold, but its appearance after dark suggests a return the next day.
Adult £6.90, 5-17 years £4.60, booked timed ticket in advance, mask obligatory in indoor spaces
Vivienne Sewell

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October 15th 2020, 5:13 am

Crocs bounce back as 'comfy becomes new norm'

Life and style | The Guardian

Once uncool rubber shoe’s comeback strategy includes Justin Bieber collaboration

From collaborations with Justin Bieber to Bad Bunny and Post Malone, the frequently mocked Crocs may finally be cool.

“I wear Crocs all the time, so designing my own pair came naturally,” Bieber told Women’s Wear Daily about his much-hyped collaboration with the brand, which was released on Tuesday. “With these Crocs, I just focused on making something cool that I wanted to wear.”

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October 15th 2020, 5:13 am

Hidden gems: here's a list of great things you can buy on local high streets

Life and style | The Guardian

Independent retailers have proved to be treasure troves of delightful everyday items

This year, we’ve all been shopping closer to home, discovering or rediscovering our local high streets. And what we’ve found there has been something of a revelation: treasure troves of everyday hidden gems. So, to help inspire your own local lucky finds, here’s a showcase of secret discoveries from local high streets across the country, along with the shopkeepers who explain why they’re so passionate about stocking them.

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October 14th 2020, 8:14 am

‘Napkins are the new fashion’: the improbable rise of tablescaping

Life and style | The Guardian

In lockdown and beyond, people began to nest in whole new ways, with some joining the trend to dress up their dinner table – or even just their dinner tray – in eye-poppingly elaborate and entertaining ways

In August, Dawn Batten, who runs an interiors Instagram account focusing on thrift and upcycling, found herself layering her favourite willow-pattern crockery with blush-pink bowls and plates from Poundland. “It was just me playing around with layering the plates to see what I could create from what I had,” she says. She didn’t know “tablescaping” was a term until she looked for a hashtag for the resulting picture. “I was hovering on one leg to take that photo,” adds Batten, which is classic tablescaping behaviour.

Layering crockery is classic tablescaping, too. As it sounds, tablescaping is “a decorative arrangement of ornaments or other objects on a tabletop”. For the past few years, the trend – and the posting of the pictures of your dinner table groaning with tasteful crockery, candles and other accessories online – has mushroomed.

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October 14th 2020, 7:29 am

My partner is very reserved with me – for good reason. How can we have a more satisfying sex life?

Life and style | The Guardian

He has been wonderfully supportive as I have recovered from an abusive relationship. But now I want to get back to the sexually confident woman I used to be

I met my partner shortly after leaving an abusive relationship, which ended with an aggressive sexual assault, followed by months of harassment. My partner has been wonderfully supportive throughout my healing, including with our very intermittent and difficult sex life. Prior to the abusive relationship, I was very confident sexually and enjoyed sex with men who were fairly dominant and rough. My concern is that I don’t think my partner can separate the fragile, traumatised me that I was at the start of our relationship from the confident version to which I am trying to return. As such, he is (understandably) very gentle and reserved in bed, which leaves me unsatisfied. We are in agreement that this is the one part of our relationship that needs work, but I am not sure how to proceed.

You may need to help your new partner understand the difference between being abusive and “taking charge” in an erotic situation. But first you must be very clear about the distinction yourself – and make sure he knows that. The term “rough sex” can imply varying degrees of consent and even a lack of it. As a survivor of abuse, you will feel safer if you maintain control in any kind of sexual situation. Your new partner understands that, but he may think that means he must be passive. In fact, passivity is a kind of control and that is why you are uncomfortable with it. Give him permission to experiment with taking the initiative more. In turn, you should practise letting him know frequently exactly how you feel. “Safe words” (codes for comfort levels) could be useful. If you and your partner agree to mutually and consensually experiment with different degrees of erotic power balance, he will be less afraid of hurting you. First, though, you must have a fundamental conversation about what exactly constitutes consensual sex.

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October 14th 2020, 7:29 am

‘Nature has healing power’: Britain's Covid heroes share their favourite outdoor spaces

Life and style | The Guardian

From an 83-year-old coronavirus survivor to choir and food bank founders, six people who inspired us in lockdown tell us where they reconnect with nature

The 83-year old author and explorer recently climbed the highest peak in Cornwall after surviving Covid, raising £37,000 (so far) for NHS hospital gardens

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October 14th 2020, 1:42 am

Former Marie Claire editor Trish Halpin: 'Individuality is the only trend that matters'

Life and style | The Guardian

The one time magazine boss spills the secrets of timeless, feelgood style – and explains how to be comfortable and confident in your own skin, in your 40s and beyond

A legendary magazine boss I once worked with planted an idea in my mind that, when I was 30 years old, didn’t resonate. She was in her early 40s and talked about being comfortable in her skin, content with the way she looked. She had a distinctive style: all slouchy, expensive trouser suits worn with loafers and cool T-shirts.

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October 13th 2020, 12:38 pm

Wanted: healthy homemade snacks for homeworkers | Kitchen aide

Life and style | The Guardian

Step away from the biscuit tin and dig into these suggestions for nibbles

What snacks can I make to keep me away from the biscuits while working from home?
Jess, London SE17

Snack enthusiast Melissa Hemsley suggests rolling “happiness” balls: “They’ve got sweetness, saltiness and whole ingredients.” The cook and author of Eat Green melts four tablespoons of coconut oil, then adds the same of maple syrup, six tablespoons of cocoa powder, eight of nut butter and a pinch of sea salt. “Stir for about a minute, until it melts, bung it in a plastic box and freeze,” she says. “It sets in half an hour. Scoop out spoonfuls, roll into balls, then coat in coconut, cocoa or toasted hazelnuts.” You could add peppermint or orange extract, or replace half the nut butter with tahini.

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October 13th 2020, 11:50 am

Bear, wolf, lion or dolphin: how understanding your sleep type could change your life

Life and style | The Guardian

Do you sleep soundly like a bear or doze restlessly like a dolphin? Learning could help you maximise your rest – and help you avoid getting shot by a trophy hunter

Name: Chronotypes.

Age: The word was coined in the 1970s.

What does it mean? Literally, time type.

What’s that? It’s a concept in sleep psychology. A chronotype describes your “circadian typology or the individual differences in activity and alertness in the morning and evening”.

Circadian? A 24-hour cycle. It’s your body clock. Sleep psychologists reckon they can determine our natural sleeping patterns. By understanding our own, we can have a happier, more productive life.

Sounds a bit simplistic. Perhaps. But sleep is big business these days – one in three people are believed to experience sleep deprivation – and everyone is keen to latch on to the latest fashionable theory.

And what is the latest fashionable theory? That there are four basic chronotypes, each of which has been assigned an easy-to-remember animal name.

Larks, owls, roosters? That sort of thing, though the psychologists have moved on from bird life. The Australian sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo is plugging what is fast becoming the new orthodoxy: bears, wolves, lions and dolphins.

Can you describe the sleep characteristics of each animal type? Well, bears account for more than half the population. Rather boringly, they follow the solar cycle, rising with the sun and winding down in the evening. They also tend to be useless immediately after lunch.

Nothing to do with large men with beards and tattoos? That’s a different type of classification.

Ah yes. Wolves prefer to get up late and are more energetic at night.

So not a great time to be a wolf. Not with pubs and restaurants shutting at 10pm.

What about the others? Lions get up early, work furiously in the morning, tail off after midday and are in bed just as the wolves are coming out to play.

And dolphins? The most unfortunate category of all: poor sleepers who are often irritable and find it hard to work in the afternoon. Arezzolo says they account for 10% of the population.

What jobs can they do? She suggests something entrepreneurial to match the dolphin’s short attention span and dodgy time management, though prime minister may also be an option.

Are real dolphins poor sleepers? They are very light sleepers. Only half their brain is asleep at any one time – “unihemispheric sleep” – so they can carry on breathing and watch out for predators. They sleep with one eye open.

How extraordinary. That’s the natural world for you.

Can you change your chronotype? No, but a healthy diet, less booze, some meditation and hiding your mobile phone will help give you a better night’s sleep, regardless of your animal type.

Do say: “To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, unless you happen to be a dolphin, of course.”

Don’t say: “Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

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October 13th 2020, 11:50 am

I've always loved fried chicken. But the racism surrounding it shamed me | Melissa Thompson

Life and style | The Guardian

It should be a source of pride for black people. It’s complicated, though …

Growing up as a black kid in England’s white West Country, a car trip east to the busier, more exciting parts of the country meant one thing: KFC on the way back.

No matter how thrilling the purpose of our trip, the promise of salty, greasy chicken on our return would be the highlight of our day. My brother and I would get excited in the back seat just as the colonel’s bright face was due to make an appearance on the horizon. We knew what was coming.

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October 13th 2020, 11:50 am

'I worked in horror films. Now I'm an undertaker': arts workers who had to find new jobs

Life and style | The Guardian

A DJ turned shaman, a lighting designer turned railwayman, a dancer turned gayrobicist … as the government causes fury with a ballerina job ad, we meet workers forced to retrain due to Covid

Last week, Rishi Sunak’s misreported comment that people in the arts should consider retraining rightly caused widespread uproar. He has since clarified that he had meant across employment generally, though a government ad from 2019 suggesting that a ballerina should retrain in tech, caused widespread fury on Monday as arts organisations found out whether or not they had been selected for a DCMS grant.

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October 13th 2020, 11:18 am

Nigel Slater’s recipe for a salad of smoked mackerel and potatoes

Life and style | The Guardian

A tasty fish and potato supper

Scrub 300g of small, waxy potatoes and bring to the boil in deep, salted water. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until tender to the point of a knife. Remove the skin from a whole smoked mackerel and ease the flesh from the bones.

Make a dressing by putting 2 tbsp each of red wine vinegar and olive oil in a mixing bowl, then stir in 1 tsp of smooth Dijon mustard, 100ml of crème fraîche and 100ml of natural yogurt. Season with salt and pepper, 8 sliced cornichons and 2 tsp of drained capers.

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October 13th 2020, 7:19 am

How to eat sushi: lay off the wasabi and dip the fish – not the rice – into the soy sauce

Life and style | The Guardian

Nobu’s first female head chef has told us we’re doing it all wrong. Here are some of her tips for getting the most out of the Japanese dish

Name: Sushi.

Age: Fresh. Because sushi often involves raw seafood, it needs to be.

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October 13th 2020, 6:32 am

Tania Unsworth: ‘My father was almost heroic to me. Then he cut me out of his life’

Life and style | The Guardian

I spent years writing stories for the approval of my father, Barry Unsworth. But when I published my first novel our relationship changed for ever

After my father, the novelist Barry Unsworth, died, my uncle asked us if we wanted any of his clothes. He led my two sisters and me to the bed where he had laid them out. It was an awkward, overwhelmingly sad moment. We had no practical use for these tweed sports jackets, M&S jumpers and lone Burberry mac. No sentimental attachment to them either, apart from the fact that they had once held his shape. Even so, we took a while to make our selections.

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October 13th 2020, 6:32 am

Why professionals, depressed and anxious, are developing substance use disorders

Life and style | The Guardian

The Covid-19 pandemic, with its own deadly consequences, is making the US drug epidemic even worse – and many of its victims include white-collar professionals

Being a civil litigation lawyer is stressful in the best of times but during the pandemic, that stress became overwhelming for Russell, a young attorney in Minnesota. When the lockdown began, Russell was already facing a crushing workload and multiple deadlines. By mid-March, he was also isolated, working from home without the support of colleagues or the structure of an office.

Related: ‘There was nothing to help me’: how the pandemic has worsened opioid addiction

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October 13th 2020, 6:16 am

'It’s been very ugly': dog owner wins court battle to keep pet in Sydney apartment tower

Life and style | The Guardian

Appeal court’s ruling in favour of singer, who says she was abused for wanting pet ban changed, could have far-reaching consequences for apartment blocks

The owner of a miniature schnauzer has emerged victorious after a long battle with the strata corporation of a luxury Sydney apartment block that wanted the pooch out.

The NSW court of appeal found in favour of the soul singer, Jo Cooper, who had argued a bylaw that banned pets – including her dog Angus – from the block of flats was unfair.

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October 13th 2020, 5:04 am

Thomasina Miers' recipe for tequila-spiked chocolate pots | The simple fix

Life and style | The Guardian

Those shop-bought treats are actually a cinch to make, and they’re even nicer with a twist of tequila ...

My chocolate consumption reached new heights over lockdown, and I know I was not alone. Those little chocolate pots in the shops became a rather too frequent pleasure, even though they’re often expensive, a bit sweet and, annoyingly, contain palm oil, which I am trying to avoid. A homemade version is very simple, however: something suitably naughty, but comforting, and with a little Mexican twist. But be warned: they are totally irresistible.

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October 12th 2020, 1:01 pm

'Every page makes you hungry': 20 chefs pick their favourite starter cookbooks

Life and style | The Guardian

What would an expert like Tom Kerridge or Gizzi Erskine recommend to someone just starting out in the kitchen? This fantasy bookshelf would help you tackle everything from kimchi to anchovy butter roast chicken

Leith’s Cookery Bible, by Caroline Waldegrave and Prue Leith
Gizzi Erskine, chef and food writer
I trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine and this book has every base recipe you could possibly think of in its most pure form, which allows you to be playful with it. It’s been invaluable to me – whenever I’m redeveloping something, it will always be on my table for reference. It’s useful when you need the quantities for making a proper jus, for example, or the recipe for a perfect hollandaise, and for getting to grips with cooking terminology.

World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey
Melissa Hemsley, chef and cookbook author
When I was about 19, I went to Devon with vegetarian friends who brought a battered copy of this book and started cooking from it. When we left, they forgot to take the book with them – so I kept it. It’s ginormous and has no pictures, which can be off-putting, but Jaffrey’s writing sucks you in and there are loads of great recipes you can make using everyday ingredients. I find her spicy punjabi red kidney bean stew very comforting.

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October 12th 2020, 1:01 pm

‘What’s your favourite pasta shape?’ – 10 successful dating app conversation starters

Life and style | The Guardian

Not sure which openers will help you stand out? Here’s some to get you rolling

Eight years. That’s how long I spent on dating apps before I met my partner (yes, on a dating app), so I’ve had more than my fair share of “heys”. There is one particularly epic week that still lives in infamy among my friends, when I got 13 consecutive “heys” from 13 consecutive matches. And – as appealing as a “hey” is from someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with – you’ll be unsurprised to hear I didn’t respond to a single one.

Now, research from dating app Inner Circle has confirmed what we all suspected; “hey” as a conversational opener is officially dead. The dating app surveyed more than 1,000 single people, who universally slammed it as lazy. Also: “unimaginative”, “unmemorable” and “boring”. In fact, one-word openers – despite 91% of us having received them and more than 90% of users saying the first message is important – have only a 12% response rate. Inner Circle is so over the word that it has just introduced a new messaging feature that will autocorrect your “hey” to something more imaginative. So if you actually want to meet someone you match with and could spend a considerable amount of time with, here are 10 way, way better conversations starters …

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October 12th 2020, 12:43 pm

My friend left this world – and I learned to let him go

Life and style | The Guardian

Ojibwe traditions said we should celebrate – ‘mirror joy’ – so he could pass to the spirit world. This time I wouldn’t let him down

I used to think “letting go” was for happy people who did yoga and wore shirts that said “Good Vibes Only”. I thought it was for people who read the self-help books I never finished. When my friend Bryan died this August, the phrase took new meaning and helped lift me up.

Bryan was Ojibwe, a poet, a blackjack and poker dealer at a Native American casino, and he was unwell. He had survived kidney cancer, a transplant and years of dialysis. He also had a seasonal sadness that overtook him eventually. One late night, he asked if he was a mediocre poet – and if he should take an overdose or call a crisis center. I didn’t see the messages until the next morning, and it was too late.

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October 12th 2020, 6:58 am

How we met: 'He asked if I'd like a fork for my chips'

Life and style | The Guardian

Rachael and Lewis Simpson-Jones met at a battle reenactment event in 2010. They are now married and live together with their pets in Hertfordshire

When Rachael Simpson was invited to a battle reenactment held by The Sealed Knot, a historical association, in May 2010, she jumped at the chance. “My friend turned up to a fancy dress party in this 17th-century gear,” she says. “I found out it was a costume for one of her battle reenactments and decided to join her for an event at Edzell Castle.” At the time she was studying nearby in Aberdeen and working as a horse-riding instructor.

Meanwhile, Lewis Jones, a student, was also making his way to the reenactment from London. “My dad got me into the events when I was a kid, and they were always fun. You can join a regiment like you can a football team and every battle has a theme. They’re often educational events for the public,” he says. “As well as the reenactment, we would show weapons from the period and talk to children. They are hands-on history lessons.”

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October 12th 2020, 6:58 am

Tree of the week: the crab apple tree that makes booze

Life and style | The Guardian

This owners of this tree think of it as an old woman who keeps changing clothes – and has a sideline in liqueur …

Annie Frazer moved into her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a year ago and was immediately smitten with the crab apple tree that lives in her garden. “We’ve not been together that long, but we love her,” she says. “She’s gorgeous.”

The former linguist, 52, who is originally from Sheffield, lives with her husband, Greg, and their teenage son, Benjie. She loves how the tree blooms a deep pink for two weeks in May – a brief but impressive transformation. “It’s a stunner. Behind it is a very large cottonwood tree, so just after the crab apple has blossomed, there’s cotton that floats all around the place. It’s really lovely.”

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October 12th 2020, 6:13 am

My working week: 'A pupil has OCD and is terrified of people in masks'

Life and style | The Guardian

Return to school after lockdown is difficult for the children I help with special educational needs and disabilities

Our inquiry line is ringing constantly. We thought returning to school after lockdown would be difficult for many children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send), and we were right. The coronavirus rules mean that what they’re used to has changed.

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October 12th 2020, 3:58 am
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