Blue's Simon Webbe to be a dad again as he reveals wife Ayshen is pregnant

Blue star Simon Webbe has revealed that he's expecting his first baby with wife Ayshen, who is due to give birth in April
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What the papers say – July 24
The disruptive impacts of isolation and mixed holiday fortunes are among the stories in the Saturday papers.
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Tokyo 2020 Olympics LIVE: Cycling road race plus Andy Murray, Heather Watson and badminton on Day 1
Follow all the latest from the Olympic Games in Tokyo as the men’s cyclists take on Mount Fuji
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Mum on hunt for kind stranger who found missing autistic daughter on beach
Dannielle Johnston, 28, had taken her daughter Amelie, who has autism, to the popular spot on Wednesday as temperatures soared over 20 degrees
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Thousands protest lockdown in Sydney, several arrested
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Sydney and other Australian cities to protest lockdown restrictions amid another surge in cases
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Tokyo Olympics 2021 live stream today: UK times, TV channel schedule, live stream, radio coverage and more
The Olympic Games are consistently one of the most-watched television events on the planet and this summer’s in Tokyo will be no different.
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'Over 100 rats' leap from grass to attack 'disgusted' mum walking through London park
A MUM has described how she was "attacked by more than 100 rats" in a London park.
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Jadon Sancho finally completes Man Utd transfer, Eduardo Camavinga stance
Manchester United have finally completed the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth £72.9m
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Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine sent home from Olympics after refusing to face Israeli opponent
The International Judeo federation has suspended Fethi Nourine.
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Boy, 13, fighting for life after suffering stroke while playing with his friends
Cain Griffiths was riding his bike with his friends at Maerdy reservoir in the Rhondda Valley last Friday when he suddenly collapsed
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Paige VanZant loses brutal bare-knuckle boxing fight against Rachael Ostovich
The pair squared off in a rematch of their 2019 UFC bout, which VanZant had won by way of submission, but it was a very different fight on Friday night in Florida
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Rep. Luria's pro-Navy, centrist identity may get Jan. 6 test
Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria has built a reputation as pro-military and proudly moderate in one of the nation's most Navy- and Defense Department-dependent swing districts
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Team GB’s Heather Watson out of Tokyo Olympics after first-round tennis defeat
Heather Watson has some happy memories of playing in Japan but this is unlikely to rank among them.
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Man City latest on Harry Kane as Jack Grealish 'agrees personal terms'
Pep Guardiola is looking to build on a season in which the Citizens were crowned Premier League champions by targeting two top English talents but to name a few
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19-year-old man dies after being pulled from the sea near Blackpool
Police, paramedics and coastguard were called to the area by the pier at St Annes around 7.20pm on Friday to concerns a man was drowning
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
‘It’s getting out of hand’: genocide denial outlawed in Bosnia
Move by international body set up to implement post-war peace deal follows attempts to downplay 1995 Srebrenica massacre The top international official in Bosnia has outlawed denial of genocide in the Balkan country to counter attempts by Bosnia’s Serbs to deny the scope of the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, Europe’s only post-second world war genocide.Valentin Inzko, the outgoing head of Bosnia’s Office of the High Representative, or OHR, introduced the changes to the country’s criminal code on Friday, bringing in prison sentences of up to five years for genocide denial and for the glorification of war criminals, including naming of streets or public institutions after them. Continue reading...
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Wildfires blasting through West draw states to lend support
Out-of-state crews are heading to Montana to battle a blaze that injured five firefighters as the West struggles with a series of fires that have ravaged rural lands and destroyed homes
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Female Twitch Streamers Spend Their Lives Online. Predators Are Watching.
Late one evening in June, 30-year-old Anita was perusing Reddit to unwind after a day spent on Twitch, the livestreaming platform popular among gamers. While searching for a clip from one of her recent streams, she stumbled upon a subreddit claiming to host “NSFW” photos of her. She was baffled: She had never streamed nude. As a star on Twitch, where she has 1.7 million followers, much of Anita’s life is spent broadcasting her every move — playing video games and chatting with her viewers for hours on end under the screen name Sweet Anita. She immediately clicked the Reddit page and was horrified to find thousands of men openly exchanging pictures, collages and slowed-down videos of her while boasting about how often they masturbated to them, and discussing in crude detail what they’d like to do to her body.The images were not explicitly pornographic; most were clipped from Anita’s lengthy livestreams during the precise moments when her cleavage, thighs or undergarments were briefly exposed as she stood up from her chair, or at times when she walked away from the camera or bent over, resulting in a view of her backside. In some cases, men had gone so far as to digitally enhance the pictures to make her clothing appear as see-through as possible, and had used editing software to imagine what she might look like naked and to insert her face into actual porn. They also traded links to channels on the messaging apps Discord and Telegram, where they shared even more explicit content, including videos in which they filmed themselves ejaculating onto stills from her livestreams that had been captured while her mouth was open.Anita, who has Tourette’s syndrome, was used to being sexualised against her will. Throughout her life men had fetishised her verbal outbursts and other tics. But as she sat alone in her U.K. home that night and scrolled through one degrading post after another while watching hordes of strangers talk about her as if she was their collective human sex doll, she felt sick. “No matter what I do or how I dress, they do this to me,” said Anita, who keeps her full name private out of fear for her safety. “I haven’t ever even taken my clothes off in front of the camera and yet I’m still a very successful porn star.”Compilations of content pulled from Anita’s livestreams at inopportune moments have spread from Twitch and Reddit to major pornography websites, where they’ve racked up hundreds of thousands of views in spite of her repeated pleas for them to be removed. Similar NSFW-themed subreddits and encrypted messaging channels exist for just about every female Twitch personality with even a moderate following, including teenage girls who produce streams that are in no way sexual.There’s no social media platform where women are safe from sexual harassment. Mobs of misogynist trolls have chased countless women and girls off of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and lesser known sites. But when it comes to streaming on Twitch, women are exceptionally vulnerable to this kind of abuse, which has become normalised as an intrinsic part of their experience both on- and off-platform, regardless of the nature of their content. Most all women who earn a living on Twitch know what it’s like to have male viewers who, after spending countless hours watching them in real time, develop obsessive feelings of romantic and sexual entitlement. The result is an environment where extreme harassment, rape and death threats, blackmailing, stalking and worse have become regular workplace hazards.Female streamers who spoke to HuffPost said they wish they’d known before joining Twitch that they were also signing up for a torrent of endless, dehumanising harassment with little to no recourse. After futile attempts to get abusive subreddits and other similar channels taken down, some have turned to cybersecurity firms offering content removal assistance — a service that can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.“These people are literally ruining my experience of streaming,” said Anita, who earns a living on Twitch. “It’s basically like having millions of people be your boss, and your boss is allowed to sexually harass you every day.”A Perverse FishbowlSuccessful Twitch streamers are a unique kind of internet celebrity. Unlike most Instagram influencers, YouTube vloggers and other content creators, they typically make themselves available to their followers for hours on end, multiple days per week, in real time. As any professional streamer will tell you, building and maintaining a large audience on the platform is a full-time job that demands near-constant effort. It’s not unusual for Twitch streamers to “go live” for 40 or more hours per week, especially while trying to launch a career on the platform. Streamers can earn money through subscriber donations, brand deals, merchandise and — if they reach theinvite-only status of Twitch Affiliate or Partner, as Anita has — paid subscriptions and ad revenue, too. Many of Twitch’s biggest stars earn six-figure incomes or more. But for women on the platform, success comes at a cost. The streaming marathons that are necessary to both take off and stay relevant on Twitch provide misogynists with ample opportunity to capture recordings or screenshots of women at awkward moments that can easily be recontextualised to seem sexual.“They turn the wrong way to get a bottle of water or they get up to go to the bathroom and suddenly it’s ′click-click-click, save-screen, save-screen,’” said Ryan Morrison, who’s known online as the “video game attorney” and whose law firm, Morrison Rothman, helps individuals and businesses get harmful content taken offline. It’s a service that’s especially popular among female Twitch streamers, he said.The countless hours streamers spend on camera also make women in particular prime targets for deepfake porn videos, in which their faces are digitally superimposed onto porn actors’ heads. To look convincing and glitch-free, deepfakes require a vast dataset of imagery of a subject’s face, and all-day Twitch streamers unwittingly provide the perfect catalogue. The biggest deepfake porn websites on the internet all have sections specifically for videos featuring female Twitch streamers, including each of the women in this story. Doctored but real-looking videos that show them masturbating, performing oral sex and being penetrated have spread across the internet, making them next to impossible to take down for good.Influencers on Instagram, YouTube and other networks tend to share far less footage of themselves online than Twitch stars do, and generally post select images or carefully edited videos, so “they control everything they share, and they’re happy with what’s out there,” Morrison said. “That’s different than a Twitch streamer or really anyone who goes live.”But the platform itself is also part of the problem. Misogyny is deeply woven into gaming culture — and by extension, Twitch culture. Its userbase is 65% male, including a lot of “lonely men and socially inept boys” who grew up “hiding in gaming instead of developing social skills and speaking to anyone, let alone the opposite sex,” Anita said. “It’s really hard for them to empathise with the people that they’re attracted to. And so you get this behaviour in a really concentrated level on Twitch.”Twitch has a policy explicitly prohibiting hateful conduct, which it recently updated to “take a clearer and tougher stance on objectifying and sexually harassing behaviour,” as well as tools to help streamers temporarily or permanently ban abusive users from their livestream chats. But female streamers say they’re still sexually harassed on a daily basis on the platform. “Sexual harassment is a societal ill that is never acceptable in any form - be that in the physical or the digital world,” a Twitch spokesperson said in a statement to HuffPost.“Further, community safety is not an end state, and we must, and do, continually evolve our safety policies and tools to ensure they are comprehensive and account for emerging behaviours,” the spokesperson added. “We consistently engage in industry conversations to combat harm towards women and protected groups, and are committed to collaborating with peers in the industry to more effectively combat cross-platform abuse.” Knowing that people are doing this without my consent makes me feel used, makes me feel assaulted, makes me feel gross.Blaire, 27-year-old Twitch streamerBlaire, 27, a California-based streamer who’s known to fans as QTCinderella, joined Twitch in 2018, shortly after her mother died. She was already spending her free time gaming and figured it would be nice to have an online community to talk to when she felt lonely. Building that community didn’t take long: Within a couple of years she grew so popular that she realised she could make a career out of streaming. She quit her job as an interior designer and made the full-time leap to Twitch in early 2020.As she devoted more and more of her time to her audience — giving them a window into her life for hours on a near-daily basis and responding directly to their chat messages in real time — Blaire noticed a growing number of men seemed to treat her as their online girlfriend, behaving like they knew her personally and as if she owed them individual attention and affection.“It was weird,” said Blaire, who also keeps her last name private, and who livestreams herself doing anything from gaming to cooking to playing online chess and poker. “Some people actually got really angry when they found out I had a boyfriend.”Parasocial interaction (one-sided relationships in which audience members feel as if they have personal, mutual connections with entertainers) isa dynamic that Twitch has propelled to new heights. It poses potentially dangerous implications for female streamers whose male viewers may grow to feel possessive of them — and their bodies. This became frighteningly clear to Blaire last summer when she discovered a subreddit where a sprawling network of men posted supposedly erotic images from her livestreams, such as a screenshot zoomed in on her butt that showed her bending over in her kitchen while putting cookies in the oven.As with Anita, there were also crudely edited photos, looping GIFs of Blaire sitting up and back down to simulate a sexual motion, and links to Discord and Telegram channels containing far worse. “Knowing that people are doing this without my consent makes me feel used, makes me feel assaulted, makes me feel gross,” Blaire said. “I work just as hard as some of the top male streamers on Twitch, but they don’t have Reddits where they’re sexualised against their will.”Gamergate Never EndedTwitch was launched 10 years ago, not long before Gamergate, a horrific harassment campaign targeting female video game developers, some of whom were forced to flee their homes. A decade later, the gaming space is still a boys’ club, and women in the industry, especially those of colour, are regularly treated as if sex appeal is their only value. Twitch is no exception.Across the platform women have been doxxed, stalked, harassed, blackmailed, assaulted, hacked, and threatened with rape and death by their viewers, sometimes mid-livestream. Earlier this year, a German Twitch streamer known as Vylerria said a man threatened to kill her father if she didn’t flash the camera during her stream.“While streaming my ‘Dad’ called me. When I picked up, a guy demanded that I must show my boobs onstream,” she tweeted in January. “He said if I refuse, he will slit my dad’s throat who, according to him, was lying tied up on the floor.” The man kept calling her names and revealed her address — “in order to terrify me even more,” she said. (Vylerria found out almost immediately that her father was safe.)Anita has endured similar threats. A man from her livestream stalked her for months, waiting outside her home with a knife, following her out in public and even threatening to kill her, her pets and her mother, she shared last summer. (Twitch has since introduced an Off-Service Policy, which enforces against severe offences that occur off-platform, including “actions that would directly and explicitly compromise the physical safety of the Twitch community.”)The paralysing fear Anita experienced is familiar to many women on the platform.He stated this publicly last stream. Last time he left messages like this he sat outside my house waiting for me to come out all day, then followed me to a shop. When I asked if he was armed he silently smirked and then chased me. Two men had to grab him so that I could escape. pic.twitter.com/AK8HZpJoTs— Sweet Anita (@sweetanita) July 14, 2020“Simply having a vagina means you will be viciously, incessantly sexually harassed as a streamer on Twitch,” said an American streamer who is also the focus of a subreddit and other channels similar to those targeting Anita and Blaire. She asked not to be named or described in potentially identifying detail, so as not to draw more attention to these pages.“No matter how original or clever or brilliant your content is, you’ll never escape the crowd who wants to strip you of your worth and diminish you to a pair of tits and ass,” the woman said. “It doesn’t matter if you dress like a nun, men on Twitch will find a way to sexualise you and they won’t stop. It almost feels like it’s a sport to them — like they do it because you don’t want them to. There’s so much free porn out there from women who feel comfortable being seen in that way, yet here we are.”Another female streamer who also requested complete anonymity said that when she begged her audience to stop redistributing her content in hypersexualised contexts, anonymous male viewers told her it was their “right” to do so, and that she should feel “flattered” that they found her arousing enough to set up an online network to exchange images of her to masturbate to.“They told me I was asking for it by wearing shorts, by turning around to get up to pee, as if my intention was to show off my butt,” she said. “I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it makes me. I cry every time I read what they say about my body. Maybe it’d be different if it was happening in private, individually, but seeing all these complete strangers come together to cheer on each other’s sexual fantasies about me with these photos — when I’ve never posted anything remotely sexual — is just too much.”The notion that women are asking to be harassed and violated by becoming streamers, or that they’re teasing men, is commonplace on Twitch. A San Francisco man named Erik Estavillo, who claims to be a sex addict, filed alawsuit last year suing Twitch for $25 million because “hot female gamers” on the platform caused him to masturbate so much that he allegedly wounded his penis. Two photos of Blaire are featured in the legal filing, which was dismissed by a California judge. One shows her goofing around while dressed as a bride on stream; in the other, which was pulled from her Instagram profile, she’s wearing a bathing suit. It also features other fully clothed streamers who are pictured bending over or working out. These women “are only streaming with the sole purpose of taking advantage” of sexually addicted viewers who are “enticed to spend money on these women for attention and sexual innuendo,” Estavillo’s suit claimed.No RecourseAs soon as Blaire found the subreddit, she sent a message to Reddit requesting that it be taken down, but she received no response. The subreddit’s moderatorsalso ignored her pleas for compassion.“I know you probably don’t care but please imagine if this was your sister or mother asking you. I really don’t want to be sexualized,” she wrote to them. “I’m begging you to please delete this.”Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal law passed in 1996, protects social media websites and other online intermediaries from liability for things their users post. Platforms are free to decide what content they will and won’t allow, and to implement policies that can be as vague and as inconsistently enforced as they wish.Going after the distributors of the content would likely be futile, too. Lawsuits are often extremely expensive, and to sue for harassment, impersonation, defamation or even misappropriation of image, you’d need to know who you’re suing. The men exchanging Twitch streamers’ supposedly “NSFW” images on Reddit, Telegram, Discord and elsewhere are all doing so anonymously, effectively shielding them from accountability. My only option is to pay to get these taken pictures down or just find a different job.BlaireFeeling like she had no other options, Blaire turned to a firm that provides online content removal and other cybersecurity support, which costs her $2,500 per month. Some months, she said, that’s half her income. And while most of the images shared to the subreddit started getting quickly removed, its members shifted to more heavily posting links to Discord and Telegram channels where they continued to trade photos of her with even more vilecommentary.“It’s insane,” Blaire said. “I literally have to pay so much money just to get photos of my ass taken offline.”Even the takedowns Blaire pays for are limited in scope. Reddit and other platforms will generally comply with DMCA notices demanding the removal of copyrighted material, explained Morrison, the attorney, so content that’s taken from Blaire’s livestream and reposted elsewhere online usually ends up coming down in the face of legal threats. But getting these platforms to take action on the grounds of sexual harassment — and to remove entire channels or subreddits for consistently abusive behaviour — is much more difficult. After HuffPost reached out for comment last week, Reddit finally banned the subreddit harassing Blaire, citing “excessive copyright removals.”“Our site-wide policies prohibit content or behaviour that threatens, harasses, or bullies individuals or groups of people. Users and subreddits that engage in such behaviour will be banned,” Reddit said in a statement to HuffPost. “Additionally, in accordance with Reddit’s User Agreement, we respond to valid DMCA takedown requests for cases of infringing or copyright materials and will action any users or communities in appropriate circumstances.” A new subreddit was created almost immediately and remains active.“My only option is to pay to get these taken pictures down or just find a different job,” Blaire said. “I think about that all the time.”Anita has considered quitting Twitch, too. Before joining the platform, she worked in wildlife rehabilitation.“That sort of thing is probably what I’ll end up going back to one day,” she said. “The mental toll of being at the mercy of these people for the rest of my life would just not be survivable.”
UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
11 Mistakes People Make On Staycations
Travel is picking up again after a long pandemic lull, but for people with serious financial or health concerns, taking a trip may not be feasible at the moment. Enter the staycation.Staycations offer a restorative, affordable alternative to expensive vacations. They also provide the opportunity to explore your hometown outside the grind of your daily routine. But not everyone seizes this opportunity to the fullest. We asked travel experts to share some of the missteps they’ve seen people make on staycations.From failing to unplug to losing out on local discounts, here are 11 mistakes people often make during staycations – and some advice for avoiding these errors during your own “travels.”Missing out on local rate“Don’t forget to ask about a local discount for hotels and attractions. Some hotels, spas, and attractions offer special rates for local travelers. When booking your hotel or experience, ask for a local discount.” ― Jessica van Dop DeJesus, travel media specialist and blogger at The Dining TravelerNot unplugging from your regular life“In-town can be too close if you have trouble disconnecting from your life nearby. Sometimes the very energy suckers we’re taking a staycation to escape from work, family, or other obligations take our proximity as a sign that we’re available on an ‘as needed’ basis. Don’t waste your staycation budget being frustrated ― set your boundaries by turning off email and pressing ‘ignore.’ Airplane mode is your friend!” – Olivia Christine Perez, travel blogger at O. Christine“One mistake is not properly planning for work coverage since you’ll have computer access, so you never end up actually taking a break. Prepare your team in advance for you to be fully out of the office, then shut down your work computer and remove emails/Slack from your phone. You’re the only one who can do that for you, so take control over your time off and follow the guidelines you set.” – Stephanie Huston, entrepreneur and travel blogger at Steph Explores the World Booking at the last minute“Don’t think that because it’s a staycation you shouldn’t book ahead. As travel resumes to pre-pandemic numbers, hotels and attractions are getting booked quickly, and hotel prices are at an all-time high. Make sure to make your reservations at least a month ahead.” – Jessica van Dop DeJesus“Right now, with domestic travel picking back up, staycations are more popular than ever! I know many of us like to just wing it, but you won’t like it too much when you arrive and there’s nowhere for you to sleep!” – Alyssa Ramos, blogger at My Life’s A Travel MovieMissing out on guided tours“Since people are taking staycations in their own city, they often make the mistake of not going on guided tours – as they assume that they know their city and its attractions already. In fact, an expert local guide can introduce them to niche and underground places in their own backyard. Consider joining a specialised tour, such as a guided bird tour in a park, or wine experience at a local vineyard. You may be astonished at what you discover through the eyes of another local!” ― La Carmina, travel blogger and TV hostStaycationing over the weekend“Don’t book on the weekend. Avoid the weekend traveler crowds and book your staycation during the week. Not only will your hotel be less crowded but you can probably get reservations to your favorite restaurants on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday.” – Jessica van Dop DeJesusSticking to your comfort zone“One of the biggest mistakes people make on staycations is sticking with the norm and not venturing outside of their comfort zone. If you are staying in your local town, take this opportunity to discover hidden gems in your area. Join a local Facebook group or search on Pinterest. Go beyond the first page of a Google search. Really take a unique deep dive into what your town has to offer. Perhaps it is an award-winning restaurant you have never heard of. A lesser-known swimming hole. A unique hidden gem. Put in a little bit of effort and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to travel far to find something epic, new, and unique!” ― Victoria Yore, travel blogger at Florida Trippers“One of the biggest mistakes people make on staycations is not exploring beyond what they know. Many stick to areas and establishments they’re familiar with, with the time off work or school being considered the ‘staycation.’ Discovery is one of travel’s most impactful characteristics. So, visit a local museum, shop, attraction, or restaurant that you weren’t aware of before your mini-adventure. Your local tourism board or chamber of commerce is an excellent source of information in this area.” ― Erick Prince, travel blogger at Minority NomadFailing to pack properly“Having taken 10+ staycations in one year in my small country of Singapore, I’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade, as well as some recent trends in the hospitality trade. More and more hotels are ramping up their conservation practices. As such, some hotels no longer provide one-time use toiletries such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. Don’t make the same mistake as I did, assuming that hotels will provide everything. Packing a set of toothbrush and toothpaste doesn’t take any space at all and will save you a ton of hassle having to call room service just to embarrassingly request for a set of those.” – Isabel Leong, travel blogger at Bel Around The WorldSkipping the classic tourist sites“So many people think they need to avoid doing the obvious things that tourists do. Don’t. Being a tourist in your own city or state can be a lot of fun... things are popular with tourists for good reason; they are fun things to do. If you are going to do a staycation, do it properly and approach it like any other tourist would.” – Claire Summers, travel blogger at Claire’s Itchy FeetNot preparing your home“If you’re staying at home, prepare your home to be in staycation mode. Since you don’t have to pack a suitcase and you’re not spending money on flights, spruce up your home with your favourite indulgences ― whether that means buying flowers, stocking up on your favourite wine, or scheduling a cleaner before your staycation begins.” – Stephanie HustonAssuming everyone has the same goals“One of the greatest mistakes we make with staycations is not setting expectations. It’s easy to end up on a girls’ trip, date-cation, or time with the kids and realise that everyone is on a different page. Some people may want to relax – enjoy the pool and spa – and others might want to play tourist in their own town.” – Stephanie Be, travel blogger and founder of BuenaNot researching your ‘destination’“I believe the biggest staycation mistake is not to research the destination just as you would for an international trip. Sure, you’ll be staying closer to home, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new things to discover! It’s interesting that we often ignore the tourist activities closest to home. For example, I often find that tourists who’ve visited my hometown have seen and done more there than I ever did when I lived there! That’s why, for a staycation, I think it’s fun pretending to be a tourist visiting from afar, as it’s sure to turn up a few things. It’s even a chance to do the local ‘cheesy tourist thing’ you’ve always avoided, but which may actually be great. (You can always pretend to do it ironically.) Staycations can actually be quite like cultural trips, at least if you can approach the familiar with a new set of eyes!” – Marek Bron, travel blogger at Indie TravellerQuotes have been condensed and edited for clarity.Related...Holiday At Home: 20 Staycation Swaps That Look Like They’re AbroadHow To Staycation In Your Local Area. No Travelling Required.Hack Your Annual Leave In 2022 To Get The Maximum Time Off
UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
An Ode To House Parties – Freedom Isn't Just About Clubbing
So, nightclubs are officially open again for the first time since March 2020. And whatever your take on so-called ’Freedom Day’, the return of clubbing has been a strong vicarious vibe. Just look at these photos of people gathering together this week, dancing, and generally just letting off some steam. Socially, these past 16 months have been extremely difficult for young people. Your twenties are supposed to be a time for going out with friends, staying up all hours, and roaming the streets. And we’ve been completely robbed of all that. No wonder so many people want to be in the club, physically – and spiritually.But for me? Going “out out” is fun, but while lockdown has officially ended, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be clubbing right now. Being around that many people for the first time in months feel overwhelming, for a whole host of reasons. Which is why I’m running to the house parties instead.Truly, a house party is where I thrive. My love for them was born at sixth-form. Back then, the clubbing scene in London wasn’t too accommodating for Black people (it’s still a bit of an issue now). I heard horror stories of Black women not being able to get into clubs and rumours of extortionate entry fees. I live in outer London, near Essex, so getting home was also a nightmare. I was one of the first in my year to turn 18, yet I didn’t step foot in a club until university. The desire was there, but logistically it wasn’t working out for me.  My first proper house party, however, was a friend’s 18th. Turning 18 meant our parents trusting us enough to throw parties at home. The friend only lived a 10-minute walk away from me, so my girlfriend and I bought some cheap wine from the corner shop and walked to the party. I was wearing a midi dress with some heeled black boots. On arrival, we spotted some people we knew from different schools. I immediately knew this was going to be a sick party and it was. The music was banging, there was room enough to dance, and, crucially, I was in the comfort of friends. I didn’t have to queue up to get in or wait at the bar for a drink for 10 minutes, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the nightlife at all. After that, I caught the house party bug and, with everyone turning 18, that year really stood out for them.University was the peak of my house party adventures. My first uni house party was a memorable one as it’s where I properly met my future housemates and best friends. We bonded over our mutual love of Afrobeats and RnB and our distinct lack of alcohol – we were in a rush and had forgotten to bring any. The night ended with us walking home together to halls and watching a low-level fight break out (what uni party doesn’t have a bit of drama, right?)Typically, those house parties were at the weekend, as weekdays were reserved for clubbing. Our social circles expanded in a way they only do at university and the best part of any night was being able to bounce from house to house. If the first party wasn’t up to much, we’d just make our way to the next, and so on, until it was 6am and time to drift home.  A good house party doesn’t have to be crazy big, another plus in these Covid-conscious times. Often they’re just gatherings. My uni housemates and I didn’t actually host many parties due to a fear of our home being trashed – we opted to throw games nights instead. These weren’t as wild as some of the parties we attended, but the same principles applied: get drunk, at home, with your friends, on a budget. These nights are now tradition in our friendship group, something we can’t wait to get back to.There is less pretention and showing off to a night in than a night out. I love dressing up and wearing heels, but I also appreciate the casualness of house party codes. I’m able to wear cycling shorts, a nice top and trainers, and not feel underdressed. In fact, this only adds to the overall vibe, which shifts in every room of the house. The living room is typically the place with the music, the garden is the unofficial smoking area and the place to go for a cheeky gossip. The bathroom, well, that’s self-explanatory. And the kitchen?A kitchen is a special place for me. We all know the Jona Lewie song – except I am good at chatting. The kitchen is for the socialisers, the natter, the debate. Some of the meatiest discussions I’ve had have been in the kitchen at a house party. I’m a natural extrovert and a conversationalist. Perhaps this, ultimately, is why I prefer house parties to clubbing: how much easier it is to socialise and meet new people  – or one new person (I still believe I’m more likely to find the love of my life at a house party than on Hinge).There are so many elements to the house party I’ve missed during the pandemic. That initial awkwardness (yes, even extroverts feel it) when you walk into a room full of people you don’t know; the free alcohol; seeing the boy you’ve fancied for months in the garden; and the joy of staying up till six or beyond, because the best house parties don’t end when the lights come up.And let’s not forget the post-party gossip in the morning! Now that we are (carefully, mindfully) enjoying some degree of freedom again, I can’t wait to make more house party memories with my friends. Catch me in the kitchen – or garden, if you like – at the next house party near you. Related...Why Is Boris Johnson Singling Out Nightclubs For A Covid Crackdown?How To Bring Forward Your Second VaccinationI'm Happier Being A Guest Than A Host. Am I The Only One?10 Photos of Clubbers Living Their Best 'Out Out' Lives AgainHave You Completely Lost The Desire To Socialise? This Is Why
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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Not Sure Where To Start? Here's Our Guide To Team GB's Key Events And Ones To Watch
With all of the buzz surrounding the Euros earlier this month, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that this is also the summer of the Tokyo Olympics.The games are finally, officially underway following Friday’s opening ceremony (and a year’s delay, no thanks to Covid), with the sporting action kicking off this week.The Olympics always manage to draw in loads of us who wouldn’t usually pay attention to sport – but with so many events going on in the next few weeks, it can be daunting working out exactly which ones to focus your attention on.With that in mind, here are the major moments from Team GB to keep an eye out for and the athletes that are ones to watch… Women’s 100m and 200mOne to watch: Dina Asher-SmithWhy? Dina is undoubtedly one of the most exciting British athletes around today. Not only is she the first British woman to win a gold medal for sprinting at the World Athletics Championships (which she managed in 2019), she’s also the fastest woman in British history.She’ll be competing in both the 100m and 200m sprints – and could well be about to be named the fastest woman in the world.When? Set your alarms, folks – the 100m heats are at 3.40am UK time on 30 July, while the 200m heats are on August 2 at 2.30am.Thankfully, the semi-finals and finals are at a more sociable hour, with the 100m finals and semi-finals at 11.15am and 1.50pm on July 31The 200m semi-finals will be at 11.25am on August 2, while the final will take place a day later at 1.50pm. Women’s cycling One to watch: Laura KennyWhy? Laura is already the most decorated British female Olympian of all time with four gold medals, so watching her compete is always exciting.This year is also her first Olympics since becoming a mum, and recovering from an injury.When? First off, she’s competing in the women’s team pursuit on August 2, which begins at 7.30am.The women’s team pursuit continues the following day at 7.30am.She’ll later compete in the women’s madison final at 7.30am on August 6, and the women’s omnium, which will take place at the less sociable hour of 2am on Sunday August 8.Men’s cyclingOne to watch: Jason KennyWhy? Like his wife Laura, Jason is a big deal in the world of British cycling. At Rio 2016, Jason equalled Chris Hoy’s gold medal record, and could well be about to surpass it at the Tokyo games.When? The men’s team spring will take place first, beginning on August 3 at 7.30am.After that, Jason is set to compete in the men’s sprint, with its various stages being held on August 4, 5 and 6 at 7.30am.Finally, the first round of the men’s Keirin event will be at 7.30am on August 7, with the next stage taking place at 2am the following morning.Women’s swimmingOne to watch: Alice DearingWhy? Alice has made history as the first Black woman to represent Britain in the field of swimming at the Olympics, and says she hopes to use her platform to get more people from the Black community interested in her sport.“If I can inspire one little Black girl or one little Black boy, anybody, to get into the water and give it a try, I’ve done myself proud, genuinely,” she recently told The Times. “That is the aim in it all.”When? The women’s marathon swim is scheduled for August 4 at 10.30pm.Men’s boxingOne to watch: Frazer ClarkeWhy? Frazer’s road to Tokyo was a particularly tumultuous one. After not qualifying for the last two Olympic games, he had considered giving up on his hopes of competing altogether.Since Rio 2016, Frazer witnessed the London Bridge terror attack and was stabbed three times in an incident at a nightclub, so he’s truly defied the odds to finally reach Tokyo.When? His first match will be on July at 4.30am, when he goes up against Ukrainian boxer Tsotne Rogava.Women’s boxingOne to watch: Charley DavisonWhy? Growing up, Charley won a gold and silver medal in European and world championships for boxing, but took a seven-year break from the sport when she became a mother.Now back in action, she’s hoping to take home the gold for Team GB, a dream she’s held since she was eight years old.She previously told the BBC: “I didn’t think I would come back to boxing after having children but as soon as I stepped back in the boxing club I thought I’d see how far I could take it.”When? Charley will go up against Morocco’s Rabab Cheddar on July 26 at 12.03pm.Women’s rowingOne to watch: Helen GloverWhy? Helen has made history already as the first mother to be selected for Team GB’s rowing team, having welcomed three children since winning gold in Rio five years ago.It was lockdown that made Helen want to pick up the oar again, telling Inside The Games: “When lockdown came it meant more hours on the rowing machine than I had anticipated.“As my scores and times started getting better, I began to wonder if I could be the first woman in British Rowing history to make an Olympic team after having children.”When? The women’s pair rowing heats kick off in the early hours of July 24, at 2am.Men’s divingOne to watch: Tom DaleyWhy? He’s one of the UK’s most famous active Olympians, but Tom Daley has repeatedly said that the 2021 games could well be his last.With an impressive two bronze medals already to his name, the Tokyo Olympics look set to be Tom’s last chance at bringing home the gold.When? Tom’s first dive will be in the men’s syncronised 10m platform final on 26 July at 7am.Following this, the men’s 10m platform event will take place on August 6 and 7.SkateboardingOne to watch: Sky BrownWhy: Teenager Sky is undoubtedly one of Team GB’s most talked-about competitors this year.At just 13 years old, she’s the UK’s youngest Olympian ever, and is representing her country in the field of skateboarding in the first year that the sport has been recognised at the games.She can also boast Mattel having already released a Barbie doll in her image, as well as having taken part in the first ever junior season of Dancing With The Stars over in the US.When? The Olympics are yet to announce the schedule for the skateboarding event, but Sky has already proved so popular that we think it’ll be hard to miss when her event gets underway.Men’s tennisOne to watch: Andy MurrayWhy? He’s Andy Murray, tbh.When? He and Joe Salisbury will play their first game in the men’s doubles on July 24. Women’s footballOnes to watch: The whole team.Why? This year, Team GB’s hopes of a football win rest solely on the women’s team – and they’re off to a cracking start, beating Chile 2-0 in the first match of the 2020 Olympics.They also won praise for taking the knee prior to their first match.When? Team GB will next be going up against Japan on July 24 at 11.30am.Men’s 100mOne to watch: Zharnel HughesWhy? Zharnel is another of Team GB’s first-timers in 2020, and he’s been tipped for big things, competing in both the men’s 100m and 100m relay.Of the trio taking part in the relay, he has the fastest personal best, and we’re looking forward to seeing how he fares on the track when he makes his Olympics debut this month.When? The men’s 100m heats get underway at around 3.30am on July 31, with races continuing over the course of the day. 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