So not all dating trends are created equal. Most of them tend to fall on the crappy behaviour spectrum, but there are a few that can actually be seen as positive. For example, Grande-ing, which is ‘practicing gratefulness at the end of a relationship and rejecting negativity and bitterness as you move forward with your life.’
However, the latest dating trend has left many people torn because it’s hard to work out whether it’s harsh or fair.
Enter Kondo-ing. As you have probably guessed, it is a term inspired by tidying sensation, Marie Kondo. If you’ve seen her Netflix series, you’ll know that she encourages people to get rid of anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’. But far from just using this logic to decide whether you really need seven Breton tops in your wardrobe, it can be applied to your love life, too.
Time wasters, cheats, gaslighters, the ones who tell you after six months of dating that they’re not ready for a relationship – Plenty of Fish coined the term Kondo-ing to explain getting rid of anyone who doesn’t ‘spark joy’.
Completely cutting out someone who is treating you badly is a good idea, but what if the person you’re seeing is just not right for you? What if they’re lovely but you just don’t have that spark? What if they’re a good egg that you’d totally want to stay friends with? Do they deserve being Kondo-ed? Probably not.
With that in mind, maybe just be mindful of who really deserves to be Kondo-ed.
A recent study has found that women are actually better drivers (ahem, take that sexist jokes), and now new research suggests that when it comes to stamina, women outrank men – and by a pretty considerable margin.
The study from the University of Columbia asked seventeen participants – nine women and eight men – to flex one foot two hundred times as quickly as they possibly could.
The results showed that while the men appeared to be stronger and faster, they became fatigued a lot quicker than women.
One author of the study, Professor Brian Dalton, said: ‘We’ve known for some time that women are less fatigable than men during isometric muscle tests – static exercises where joints don’t move, such as holding a weight – but we wanted to find out if that’s true during more dynamic and practical everyday movements.
‘And the answer is pretty definitive: women can outlast men by a wide margin.’
He explained that while the test was only carried out using participants feet, the stamina theory applies to the whole body.
‘We know from previous research that for events like ultra-trail running, males may complete them faster but females are considerably less tired by the end,’ he continued.
There are so many things to think about when you’re organising a wedding – the venue, the dress, the flowers, the invites, the seating plan, the wedding readings, the food…
But if there’s one thing that’s a traditional (and extortionate) wedding staple, it’s the cake. A vital part of the day, but also one that can end up costing hundreds of pounds depending on the size and number of tiers.
So how do you decide what flavours to go for? Do you copy Meghan Markle and opt for an organic lemon and elderflower bake? Or do you go rogue and choose a rich chocolate sponge?
Or do you forget going sweet completely and get yourself a wedding cake made entirely of cheese? Tesco have recently made this an option, and the best part is that it’s only £30.
The five-tiered cheese wedding cake uses a variety of flavours, from Coastal Cheddar cheese at the bottom, followed by Red Leicester, topped with Blue Stilton underneath a Wensleydale with sweetened dried cranberries and sweetened dried blueberries, with the final layer a delicious St Endellion Brie.
All that cheese for £30 is an absolute bargain.
Sound good? Yeah, we think so too.
The whole cake weighs just under 3kg and Tesco says that it will serve 23 people – so if you’ve got a long list of cheese-loving wedding guests, you might need to consider getting a few in.
If you want to get your hands on one for your big day you’ll have to ordered it six days in advance.
Tesco isn’t the only supermarket to offer a cheese wedding cake. Waitrose has a three-tier offering, weighing 5kg, but it is almost four times the price, coming in at £115. It includes Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar, Cropwell Bishop Stilton and Cornish Yarg and sounds like a delight – so the option is there if you want to shell out a bit more.
Surrounded by 90 acres of countryside, this five star hotel is the perfect Cotswolds retreat
This is a hotel steeped in history. Situated at the foot of the magnificent Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds, which has magnificent views of the county, the original building is over 500 years old retaining many of its features such as solid oak doors, Cotswold stone walls and a breath-taking central hall with roaring fire (where they serve a cracking afternoon tea). Surrounded by 90 acres of countryside that leads down to the world-famous Cheltenham race course, you can see why so many of its clientele come back year after year. Ellenborough Park offers the opulence and setting you’d expect from a five star with flawless service thrown in. Yet the staff are down to earth and the overall vibe is relaxed and welcoming. Did we mention the outdoor heated swimming pool and the spa?
Think uber luxurious country house interiors in the central hall – huge marble fireplaces, wood panelling and sweeping staircases with velvet curtains and embroidered cushions. Some of the 61 rooms have four-poster beds and roll top baths in keeping with the period feel but in contrast to the communal areas of the property, the rooms feel modern and stylish. Expect sumptuous king-size beds with puffy pillows, hypno mattresses and espresso machines as standard.
Take dinner in the informal brassiere style Horse Box – a gourmet pub- style restaurant where we recommend the slow cooked shoulder of lamb or the traditional fish and chips (although the fresh fish of the day options were pretty good too) all served with fresh seasonal vegetables. Alternatively, sample the 3 course set menu in the more formal main restaurant – an excellent experience not to missed in the oak panelled dining room of the main house (where their great breakfast feast are also served). Amazing value at £55, we were blown away by the quality of the fare here. It’s no surprise that it has the reputation as the best place to eat in Cheltenham. We opted to have each of our courses paired with a wine chosen by the sommelier. Flawless! Stand out offerings included the roast Hake, lemon Veloute and homemade courgette linguine plus the fillet steak with truffle-creamed potato.
A dip in the outside heated pool followed by a hot steam in the spa when you arrive – to relax you into your stay. Also make sure you sample one of their award-winning afternoon teas in one of the ‘snugs’ of the grand entrance hall as you take in the history. Walk it all off by climbing Cleeve Hill – just a few minutes away – which offers incredible views.
It’s popular in continental Europe, but what is it – and how does it work?
Sophrology isn’t exactly a word that rolls of the tongue, but it’s a term that’s growing in popularity. Why? Because we live in an age where ‘wellness’ reigns supreme – on Instagram with the yoga pros and their impossible back bends; in cafes and juice bars where spirulina smoothies are a staple; in gyms where it’s commonplace to flip tyres and drop fifty burpees.
But the buzzword also encompasses mental health and the idea that we should be looking after our minds. Last year, a study published on MentalHealth.org revealed that 74% of UK adults admit they’ve felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Anxiety UK reports that more than one in ten people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life. The 2017 Great British Bedtime Report by Sleep Council showed that only 26% of Brits get the recommended seven hours kip a night.
While there are various treatments and medications available to those who suffer from stress, anxiety and sleepless nights, more and more people are taking a holistic approach to their health – whether it’s using an app like Headspace, reading the best self-help books or taking up yoga.
And sophrology falls into that category.
The sister to mindfulness and meditation, this practice promises to clear and de-stress the mind using a combination of powerful relaxation techniques. A bold claim, indeed.
As someone who practices yoga and meditation regularly, I was intrigued when I heard about sophrology. What is this practice that is being touted as ‘the new mindfulness’? Does it really work? And what exactly does a sophrology session feel like?
To find out more, I spoke to Sophrologist, Wellness Expert and author, Dominique Antiglio.
What is sophrology?
‘It’s a practice for self-development and stress management,’ she tells me.
‘It’s a guided practice, so it makes it much easier for people who have difficulty meditating or staying in silence and focusing the mind. You’re guided through a state of relaxation through breathing exercises, visualisation, body awareness exercises and a type of meditation – so it’s a unique combination of those practices and everything has been designed so that you can tap into your inner resources and bring more awareness to who you are.’
Essentially, the practice is a combination of body, mind and breath awareness which also incorporates physical movement. It’s designed to clear the mind, relax the body, calm your breathing, and focus on connecting all three.
But that sounds rather similar to mindfulness and meditation, I hear you saying. So – what’s the difference?
Difference between mindfulness and sophrology
Mindfulness, meditation, sophrology – isn’t it all just the same thing with three different names?
‘The first difference between mindfulness and sophrology is the aspect of performance. The other one is about positivity,’ Dominique explains.
‘Sophrology is not only learning to be non-judgemental and to look for positive resources – like being more confident, for example. People who practice a lot of sophrology become more positive. They learn to listen to more positive sensations within themselves.
‘We do visualisation to go in the past and look for positive experiences. We don’t often do that; the past is often about the things that have gone wrong and not the things that have gone well, so that aspect of positivity and the fact we work with the future and the past and the present is also a specificity to sophrology.’
Mindfulness encourages you to be more present, to really be aware of everything you can see, touch, hear, smell and taste. If sophrology also involves bringing awareness to the body, why isn’t it the same thing?
‘One aspect is body awareness. We talk a lot about body sensation in sophrology – movement, breath – so all the practices from level 1 to 12 are informed by how you feel in the body, and you learn to dive more and more into the most subtle awareness of the different systems in your body. That’s how you increase your awareness – because you get to know your body in much more depth.
‘The body has got everything, all our good and bad experiences – it’s all stored. So if you know how to access that then you can also release old emotions that you don’t need anymore and program yourself differently for certain situations.’
Instead of being a mindfulness practice, it is actually more meditative and focuses on slowing down the mind. However, where meditation is about silence stillness, sophrology incorporates physical movements, visualisation and is guided.
‘That can be much more relaxing because you know you’re going to be taken through certain steps in a session so a lot of my clients find it much easier than mindfulness,’ she continues.
‘When we meditate it’s extremely difficult sometimes to focus the mind and to let go to be that neutral observer. So we have a step by step practice where we do meditation sitting before being guided into different visualisations, coupled with the awareness of the body and simple moves.
‘The way you’re guided makes you aware of the energy of the mind rather than the sensation in the body.’
Who is sophrology for?
‘People who suffer with anxiety, sleeplessness and stress are the three main types of clients I see. That’s where people start,’ Dominique informs me.
‘Perhaps they have analysed why and how they get stressed, but maybe they haven’t found a tool to actually deal with it.
‘It’s also great for people who are working on self development and lack a real tool to move forward. It’s good for people who are preparing for big events – a competition, speech, interview, giving birth – and I often have people preparing their wedding speech, they are so nervous! It doesn’t have to be used for something catastrophic. It can also be used for a positive day so you can enjoy it and let go of the fear.
‘Sports people on the continent have used sophrology a lot – golfer Seve Ballesteros studied with Alfonso Caycedo (the founder of sophrology), tennis player Yannick Noah, the Swiss ski team prepare with sophrology – it has been really endorsed since the 70s.’
How does a sophrology session work?
‘Usually the client explains the situation and then I tailor a practice to them that’s really connected to what they’re looking for.
‘What is the resource that they’re trying to increase within themselves? Maybe it’s calm, maybe it’s recuperation, maybe it’s confidence, may it’s to have better sleep. Then I tailor a practice and record it as I guide them and send the recording to them so they can practice between sessions. Then next time we add more tools.
‘The method has been created to unveil and to show the resource needed, so it’s a very clever way of working and if people practice they get results. It’s quite mathematic. If you do just one session it’s nice it’s relaxing, teaching a few simple techniques with the breath, but the more you practice it’s like anything – the deeper you go, the more in flow you become in your life.’
So what happens during a sophrology session?
I headed to 58 South Molton Street Wellbeing Centre, London, for an appointment with Dominique. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if it would detangle the many things going on in my head. I had work deadlines coming out of my ears, I was organising a trip to Australia for my best friend’s wedding and to top it all off I had just been ghosted. My mind was a chaotic jumble.
But before we get started, Dominique explains what will happen.
‘Everything you do is practical and the practice usually starts with relaxation through a body scan. You can practice it standing or sitting, and then we have a set of three exercises that we start with. There is the body scan, the clearing breath and the activation of your tuning into your vital power – which is what I call it in my book.
‘After a body scan you change your position and use the tips of your fingers and connect with different parts of the body, which we call systems. We have five, and once we have located tension or blockages in our bodies we use the breath to clear it through each system.
‘Then we will sit back again, relax and welcome the positive intention. Perhaps it’s calm we need, perhaps it’s joy, perhaps it’s feeling more grounded, or confidence, or energy, and as we learn to couple that positive intention with the breath, we also connect the breath with the body.’
Once I know what’s about to happen, I get comfy and Dominique instructs me to move my thumb to the middle of my eyes before closing them. What follows is a guided scan of the body to become aware of where the tension lies, and a combination of guided movements – placing my fingers on my forehead, neck, chest, stomach and belly button; standing up; flapping my shoulders and co-ordinating my breath. Finally, she instructs me to sit back down and the visualisation comes into play as I imagine my favourite comfort place (Cottesloe beach, Perth – FYI).
Does sophrology work?
After twenty minutes, I open my eyes and am instantly aware of how light I feel. Dominique even comments that I slipped into the relaxation really easily (which I feel pretty smug about, not going to lie).
So did it work?
For me, yes, it did. My mind felt clearer, my body felt softer. Leaving the clinic, I felt a renewed sense of calm which I managed to maintain – even while trekking home on the overcrowded Central Line.
However, I can also see how it might not be for everyone. Guided practice can feel either comforting or uncomfortable, depending on how easy you find it to relax and let go with someone else present. The physical nature of the session may also feel a little embarrassing for some (wiggling your shoulders with your eyes closed in front of a stranger isn’t something you do every day), and trying to halt niggling thoughts can feel impossible if it’s the first time you’ve tried it.
But overall I would definitely recommend a session to anyone who is interested in using an alternative method of relaxation. Just try it once, see if it’s for you – and if you’d prefer to go it alone, then you can always teach yourself at home.
How to learn sophrology
There are twelve levels of practice, Dominique tells me.
‘You start with this foundation practice, and then you can dive into level one. That has to do with standing work, so in this state of relaxation we usually stand and we start to activate the different systems with movement – for example a head rotation while we hold the breath, a shoulder pump or arm rotation, or some walking movements. We tune into each system of the body and we activate them so it brings more awareness. People who are stressed aren’t connected to their body, they are all in the mind, all in the future, all in the past, and they’re not able to feel and connect perhaps through that state of stress they feel.
‘It’s very quick, it’s very efficient, it’s all about being aware of these movements and noticing sensations as they arise.
‘Then level two is all about the mind, so once you’re grounded in your body and you know your body better you’ve created some positive sensations through the practice and you’re ready to discover the mind.
‘And then level three we bring the two together. We have more practices with different postures, it comes from the zen Buddhist practice, and we do other exercises that bring the two components together. It’s about learning to understand through experience what the mind body connection is, and how you can use it in your daily life.’
But if you’re someone who doesn’t have time to get to a clinic and practice sophrology with a guide, there’s good news – you can also practice it at home. In The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology, Dominique shares her wisdom so that anyone can become familiar with the practice, and once you have the correct tools it’s easy to implement them in your daily life.
‘I show all the five core principles of sophrology and readers will be taken through a simple step-by-step journey of ten minute practices,’ she says.
‘By the end of the book they’ve already practiced the foundation and level 1, and some ‘super tools’ I call them, which are practices I tailored for the most common issues I see in my practice. They focus on sleep, confidence and success, and you’ll see every time it’s only 10 to 12 minutes. I think in these days of stress your practice shouldn’t have to be too long, and you can extend – but as a starting point ten minutes is enough.’
To book an appointment, or for more information about Dominique’s online sophrology course, visit www.be-sophro.com.
According to a study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a clear correlation between when your birthday falls and how smart you are – and this is how they came to that conclusion.
The research by the University of Toronto, the University of Florida and Northwestern University in Illinois analysed the cognitive development of 1.2 million school children in the US to determine which month seems to produce the smartest people. The participants of the study, named School Starting Age and Cognitive Development, were from public schools in Florida and ages ranged between six and fifteen years old.
It determined that those born in September had a higher grade average than those with birthdays during other months, likely because they are that bit older when they start school. This can reportedly have an impact on development, considering that they are eleven months older than some of their August classmates. Furthermore, those born in August had the lowest average – appearing to back up the theory. Researchers also believe that September babies have a greater chance of going to university as their average could improve over time.
However, it’s not all bad news if you were born later in the academic year. The ‘under performing’ children eventually catch up to their older counterparts, the study reports, so don’t fret if you’re a spring or summer baby.
The study also found that those born in the ninth month of the year are less likely to go to prison.
And then (yep, there’s more) there’s even a cheese Easter egg for anyone who doesn’t fancy chocolate.
If you thought you’d seen it all, guess what? You haven’t. Because there’s an absolutely incredible egg out there that you’re going to want to know about.
Enter the Creme Egg and Ferrero Rocher cheesecake Easter egg.
The Cottage Coffee Shop & Lunch Bar have made these utter delights – and they’re going viral for good reason.
Filled with biscuit crumb and chocolate flaked Creme Egg cheesecake, they are then topped with more Creme Eggs, or Ferrero Rocher which is also mixed with Nutella. Yum.
There are also two new flavours this year – Oreo and Biscoff.
The shop in Rhondda, Wales, started selling the eggs last year and they were so popular that they have decided to introduce them to the menu once again. People travelled for miles to get their hands on one, and on the first day they sold out in just half an hour of opening with people queuing down the street.
Not only do they look incredible, they’re also unbelievably inexpensive, costing just £3.50 for half a shell and £6 for a whole egg.
Apparently, they’ve made as many as possible so that everyone can enjoy one but they are warning customers to check whether or not there are any in stock before heading over to the shop.
WalesOnline.co.uk reports that they’ll be available from Tuesday 16th April to Saturday 20th April.
Shop co-owner Josie Staple told the publication: ‘Some people even had flasks and would be waiting there from around 8.20am.
‘It was crazy – we’d open the doors and everyone would pile in. Around 15 minutes later everything would be gone.
‘We’d book around 100 in a day, and then make extra to sell in the shop. But, we’d still sell out.’
So you’ve got a week in the run-up to Easter Sunday to try and get one.
If you’ve got a dog, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like a snuggle on the sofa while binge watching Queer Eye and eating your body weight in Easter eggs (yes, the official day isn’t for a good few weeks but who’s to say you can’t get your chocolate fix early?).
But back to dog talk. We love them. If you take a look at the best alternative festivals of 2019, there’s even a dog event (called Dogstival, naturally) that sounds like an absolute dream. Plus, they look adorable when they’re sleeping, our entire camera roll is basically delfies, and they give the best cuddles.
The latest scientific study by Dr. Christy L. Hoffman, a professor in Animal Behaviour, Ecology, and Conservation at Canisius College in New York tracked sleeping habits to find out whether sleeping next to a pet affects women’s sleep patterns.
And the results showed that those who slept next to a dog reported a better, more restful sleep than those who slept next to a cat, or another human. Apparently, dogs are less disruptive and we experience feelings of comfort and security when cuddling a pet pooch.
Dr. Hoffman told Broadly that the ‘keyword here is perception, this study is based on individuals self-reporting how they feel their sleep is affected.’
She added that it is ‘important to note that this is based on aggregated data and an average of responses, so getting a dog won’t solve everyone’s sleep problems.’
If you haven’t got a dog, don’t worry – this is probably the most perfect excuse to get one.
Whether you’re a coffee drinker, dog lover or yoga pro
Looking for the best alternative festivals 2019 has to offer?
This year we’re being treated to a calendar of brilliant events for absolutely everyone – no camping in a muddy field necessary.
Whether you love dogs, coffee, yoga or vegan food, there are lots of alternative festivals 2019, and you won’t want to miss them.
Alternative festivals 2019
So where do we start?
Balance Festival – London
Credit: Balance Festival
What is it?
Balance Festival cherry-picks the country’s top boutique studios, delicious food and drink suppliers, expert trainers, yogis and wellness and athleisure brands to join forces under one roof. Expect high-octane workouts from the likes of KXU, BLOK, Another_Space, Third Space, Barry’s Bootcamp, F45 and UNIT, as well as the chance to try some delicious food and meet like-minded gym bunnies.
If you’re partial to a bit of yoga, you’ll be excited to know that there will be a FLOW yoga studio for you to settle into savasana. Sessions are free to festival goers and include some big names in the biz, from Patrick Beach to Marc Hatvani.
When is it?
10th – 12th May 2019
Where is it?
The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London.
How much is it?
Standard Admission tickets to Balance Festival are priced from £24.50 for day tickets and from £50 for VIP day tickets. Weekend entry is currently priced at £90.
The festival has been set up for people to celebrate and enjoy all things vegan – there will be 230 stalls selling their wares, from vegan meats, cheeses, chocolates, cakes, alcohol, supplements and sauces, to clothing, footwear, bags, cosmetics and jewellery.
Expect talks on various vegan-related talks on fitness and health as well as cookery demos, an art exhibition, live music, comedy and panel discussions.
When is it?
23rd – 24th March 2019
Where is it?
The Brighton Centre, King’s Road, Brighton
How much is it?
Advance day tickets are £8. Weekend Tickets are £13.20. On the door day tickets are £10.
Whether you’re a beginner or a yoga pro, the OM Yoga Show is the chance to immersive yourself in all aspects of the ancient practice. From free open classes and workshops to over 100 exhibitors – showcasing yoga accessories, clothing, jewellery, super food and retreats – there’s something for everyone.
Soak up the atmosphere and get ready to perfect your crow pose.
When is it?
11th – 12th May 2019
Where is it?
EventCity, Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Trafford City, Manchester
How much is it?
Day tickets £7.50, two day tickets £12.50. OM Yoga Ticket bundles, including entrance, 1 year subscription to OM Yoga & Lifestyle magazine, and a goody bag £39.99.
This is the ultimate festival for you and your pooch. With everything you would expect from a great dog day out, the event will bring dogs and dog lovers the Dogstival Display Arena, the Dog House Behavioural Stage, Get Your Paws Involved Activities, K9 Aquasports Pool, Canine Chill Out Den,live music,artisan food and drink, a Vintage Fun Fair and Pylewell House’s dog-friendly beach.
When is it?
18th – 19th May 2019
Where is it?
Pylewell Park, New Forest, Hampshire
How much is it?
Adult one day admission costs £15.44, and a child ticket costs £9.11 (includes booking fees).
The annual festival will welcome coffee-lovers from all over the world to taste some of the finest artisan coffee from burgeoning start-ups, industry pioneers and long-established companies.
Over 250 exhibitors are expected to join the celebration for a jam-packed schedule of coffee tastings, espresso martinis, workshops, latte art and showcases from world-class baristas, all to the soundtrack of live DJs and musicians.
When is it?
28th – 31st March 2019
Where is it?
The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London.
How much is it?
Standard admission is £18.50, VIP admission is £30 and includes entry to the secret garden, a coffee cocktail token and fast track entrance. Full weekend admission is £90.
Easter is fast-approaching, meaning hot cross buns, gold Lindt bunnies and creme eggs are returning to the shops.
Are we excited? Just a little bit – especially those of us who have given up chocolate for lent.
Disclaimer: For those people this might be a difficult read.
The most exciting part of Easter shopping is of course the selection of the dream Easter Egg, with 2019 serving up some cracking (get it?) offerings.
Are you shopping for a loved one? A child? A parent? A co-worker? Your boss? Or, like most of us, yourself? Well, whoever you’re buying for and whatever your budget, we’ve catered for everyone.
And whether you’re looking for the super luxe dark chocolate designer shells (you know, the ones that are more like artwork than food) or the classic Cadbury’s eggs that come with a mug (#nostalgia), we’ve got you covered.
Not to mention vegan chocolate lovers, there’s a whole other round up for you on the best vegan easter eggs to scour through – you’re welcome.
And the prize for the most millennial offering has to go to Waitrose for their chocolate avocado (thankfully only avo-like in shape).
For Game of Thrones fans, there are dragon eggs – yes dragon eggs. And as always there are also some boozy offerings, from Baileys to even Prosecco infused shells.
But for the crème de la crème of Easter eggs, we’re going artisanal with this year’s offerings. We’re talking hand-piped shimmery pink shells from Betty’s, Venchi dark chocolate choco caviar and Booja Booja decorative eggs stuffed with powdered truffles.
We would recommend eating or being near chocolate while scrolling through the following – you are about to feel very hungry.