John Legend warns social media followers about online scam
John Legend warns social media followers about online scam
Story and video by SWNS An angry lorry driver repeatedly drove in circles round a roundabout sounding his horn in frustration at the shutting of the Channel crossing and trying to force his way through. The irate trucker was so enraged he could
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Fiona Shackleton is the divorce lawyer famous for having represented Sir Paul McCartney and even more famously having had a jug of water tipped over her in court by his erstwhile ex, Heather Mills. She’s made both a reputation and a fortune from helping the very rich split – but now she’s apparently sponsoring an app that she hopes will “do us [divorce lawyers] out of a job.” The Shackleton relationships project at the University of Exeter, which she has been working on in the background, aims to help young people considering marriage to analyse why they want to get wed, to prevent later discord. These, she hopes, will be used to develop an app to nudge couples into asking questions about marriage that go deeper than whether the wedding venue should be Vegas or the Cotswolds. The questions are all very sensible for young people, perhaps less experienced in matters of the heart, to consider: Are we a good fit? Do we have a good friendship? Do we want the same things? Do we see the best in each other? But the things that matter to youngsters are unlikely to matter when they are 50. As the divorce lawyer in my life (my husband) says: “The fun, quirky soulmate you seek while young might well end up as the difficult, mad one later.” After a couple of decades at the marital coalface and looking at the experiences of my friends, some of whom are out the other side, there are far more pressing questions to be asked... Screens at the table, yay or nay? Phones at the dinner table, phones in bed, phones during sex? Many parents draw up screen contracts to limit use for their children (good luck with that one), but what they really need is one for their spouse. “He just doesn’t see anything wrong with gawping at his phone while we eat,” says Bea, “and thinks I’m all old-fashioned and uptight for wanting to keep mealtimes screen-free.” More annoying still is that the excuse is an important work email, when a sneaky peak reveals Twitter or the cricket. Town vs country? In the giddy throes of young love, we are too busy to discuss plans beyond the weekend, let alone for middle and old age. Cities are disproportionately filled with young single people, but we cannot assume that’s where we will be forever. I have friends who live with the conflict of being an asphalt flower married to a wannabe farmer. One of them will always feel like they are living the wrong life. Currently, the city slicker is winning, while the country mouse is whining, convinced that their Xbox-addled teens would be out damming streams accompanied by their pet stoat... if only they could move to Somerset. Hoarder or minimalist? My husband claims that I want to raze his past with my enthusiasm for visiting the local reuse and recycling centre with a boxful of his possessions. The brass flip-flops, the broken lamp made of a crab suspended in plastic and the Theakstons Old Peculier commemorative gift set given to him in 1988 have been targeted by my decluttering fervour. He believes that all hold memories, while I fantasise in living in one of those white spaces with nothing but a cantilevered chair. There is no middle way. How big should your TV be? This one tends to fall along depressingly gendered lines – she wants a discreet TV snuggled among the erudite books, he wants the two-metre surround sound version. Let it go. Give it a few years and you’ll be watching TV in separate rooms on your tablets anyway. Dogs and cats: drooling mess-makers or fluffy angels? When my husband looks at a dog, he sees just that: a dog. I see the fur-covered embodiment of all that is good in the world, who’s such a clever boy, aren’t you the most clever boy, a creature to whom no song cannot be dedicated. The children agree and dinner table conversations revolve around such speculation as to whether or not Matty is gender non-conforming. Studies show that half of all owners let their dogs and cats sleep in their beds but nobody goes into marriage discussing this ménage. Should you arrive at the airport two/three/four hours before your flight? Roald Dahl wrote a short story about a long-suffering wife who leaves her husband to die in a broken lift rather than miss a flight. Fair enough, I say and I’m married to a man who agrees (back when we were able to fly anywhere, anyway). We aim to get to the airport two hours before the two hours before the flight – actually let’s make it the night before. We were once travelling with another couple who we had arranged to meet at the airport, only to discover that they wanted to eat breakfast the wrong side of customs. We lasted 30 seconds before hightailing it to the Carluccios in the departure lounge, thanking god that we had not married into such madness.
“There she is,” says Jennie, as we crane our necks skywards. “Cassiopeia – the queen seated on her throne.” Five bright stars pop against the velvet night in a distinctive M shape. “You want to park her in your mind, because she’s the answer to finding your way around a lot of the sky.” We’re on the brow of a hill fringing Exford, in deepest, darkest Exmoor National Park. Jennie, who leads stargazing walks up here with her tour company, Wild About Exmoor, is navigating me around the heavens. With warm enthusiasm, she creates constellations out of scattered dots and draws together sections of the cosmos with animated tales of Greek mythology. The result is mind-blowing, a Eureka moment – I’m looking at something I’ve seen a thousand times afresh. With Cassiopeia fixed on my horizon, Jennie shows me how to use the brightest point of its M to find the Andromeda galaxy, a whirligig of stars and gas spiralling 2.5 million light years from Earth. It helps that the skies above Exmoor are dark enough to see Andromeda with the naked eye. They’re so pitch black, in fact, that in 2011 Exmoor was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve by the International Dark-Sky Association. The reserve consists of a core darkness area of windswept heather and grass moorland and a protective buffer zone made up of farmland and small settlements. There are only two buildings in the whole of the core area, which stretches for 32 square miles from Wootton Courtenay in Somerset across the border to Challacombe Common in Devon. The upshot is a night sky the likes of which, unfortunately, can be enjoyed in few other parts of the country. “A lot of children in Bristol have never seen a constellation,” Jo Richardson, Exmoor’s Dark Sky Tourism Officer, tells me, who as the founder of Space Detectives runs astronomy workshops for schools throughout the South West. “Everywhere you look – in towns, cities and villages even – light pollution is increasing.” In its annual star count in February this year, the Campaign to Protect Rural England found that 97 per cent of the UK’s population was unable to experience a truly dark sky. Light pollution – the unnecessary, inappropriate or inefficient use of artificial light – leaches into our nights from streetlamps, office buildings, security lights and supermarkets, hanging in orange fogs of sky glow above our urban areas and spreading deep into the countryside beyond. Perhaps that’s why we’ve sought solace this year in dark spaces as well as wild places. Nearly a third of Exmoor’s visitors since the first lockdown in March have been drawn by the park’s dark skies. Stargazing is an activity that can be enjoyed in a socially distanced and low-risk way, but Jennie believes there’s more to it than that. “I think people have had the time to look up during lockdown,” she says. “Covid-19 has made people more aware of their own mortality, and seeing our universe in greater detail brings everything into perspective.”
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To celebrate the festive season our 2020 Travel Advent Calendar is offering readers the chance to win a £200 holiday voucher every day until Christmas. It has been a year to forget for both travellers and holiday providers, but thanks to positive news about a Covid vaccine there's good reason to be optimistic about 2021. So to help you book that much-needed escape, and to give a boost to the beleaguered industry, we are giving away nearly £5,000 worth of vouchers to spend with members of AITO, The Specialist Travel Association. To enter the prize draw for today's £200 voucher, all you need to do is answer three questions, and leave your contact details, using the form below. One winner, chosen at random from all correct entries, will receive a £200 AITO holiday voucher to spend with the tour operator of their choice. Furthermore, you are free to enter every daily competition, giving you 24 chances to win. See the full terms and conditions. Day 1: Questions about Sweden Day 2: Questions about Kenya Day 3: Questions about Argentina Day 4: Questions about South Africa Day 5: Questions about Croatia Day 6: Questions about Greece Day 7: Questions about France Day 8: Questions about Spain Day 9: Questions about Brazil Day 10: Questions about Japan Day 11: Questions about Austria Day 12: Questions about Thailand Day 13: Questions about India Day 14: Questions about New Zealand Day 15: Questions about Egypt Day 16: Questions about Australia Day 17: Questions about America Day 18: Questions about Canada Day 19: Questions about Norway Day 20: Questions about Finland