Charity shops are swamped with ‘fast fashion’ – it’s time we rekindled a lasting love affair with our clothes

Call me superficial, but I love to shop. On a day off, there’s nothing I like more than to wander around a department store, browsing through rails of clothing. I covet certain pieces that I will never buy, being either too outlandish to be considered office appropriate or too extortionate for me to justify. But I love to touch the fabrics, see how skirts drape, coo over supple leather and intricate lace.

‘Single-use’ is the Collins word of the year – so why are we still using 1m more coffee cups every day?

It would appear that 2018 is the year we all became eco-conscious – at least if the dictionary is to be believed. Collins has named “single-use” as its word of the year, reporting a four-fold increase in its usage as we discuss the problems associated with disposable coffee cups, water bottles and plastic bags. The European parliament has just back a ban on some single-use plastics, and the UK is planning to introduce a tax on plastic packaging. We fret about plastic straws in our drinks, the

‘Killing vegans’ jokes leave a sour taste in my mouth

How do you know someone’s a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Har dee har har. We all like a little joke at the expense of our plant-eating brethren, don’t we? They deserve taking down a peg or two, the sanctimonious lot. The jokes are starting to wear a bit thin, though. William Sitwell, the editor of Waitrose Food magazine and a critic for BBC’s Masterchef, has apologised for jokingly suggesting that vegans should be trapped and killed, in response to journalist Selene Nelson, who had pi

Lay off Generation Sensible: getting wasted is not an essential rite of passage

The youth of today, eh? Far from teenage rebellion, it seems that around a third of them are – brace yourselves – not drinking alcohol at all, while 17 per cent say that they have always been teetotal. Pause for the lamentings of older columnists everywhere, bemoaning how boring “Generation Sensible” has become and beseeching them to give sex, drugs and rock’n’roll a whirl. Hey, Baby Boomers: leave those kids alone. Dare I suggest that the younger generation is getting it right? They may be br

More of us are travelling alone, but I found it more of a challenge than I expected

I’m not sure how it took me until I was standing at a fork in the overgrown path, swatting away dragonflies with my crumpled map, to remember what a bad sense of direction I have. Out here, on the brink of a ravine in the southern Italian countryside, my trusty Citymapper app was useless. I squinted at the map again, then at the path ahead. Time to retrace my steps… I’m one of those irritating people who call themselves a traveller, yet I’ve been mostly shielded from anything resembling a chal

Pret’s move on labelling is a watershed moment for allergy sufferers

Grabbing a quick lunch is something many of us do without a second thought. If you suffer from an allergy, however, you get used to lingering in front of the fridge section, reading labels and scanning ingredients to see if there’s anything “safe” to eat. Some outlets were never too keen on that. In recent years, even as the range of “free-from” products increased, and most retailers upped their game on allergen labelling, there has been a quiet backlash from some “artisan” producers and resta

Turning pensioners into fitness instructors could be just what the doctor ordered – for all of us

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to retirement. Granted, I’ve got about three decades to go (or more if the goalposts keep moving), but by then I’ll be more than ready to put my feet up. Or perhaps not, if the health tsars have anything to do with it. A new campaign from ukactive is encouraging pensioners to consider retraining as fitness instructors to help over-55s feel more comfortable in the gym. I know what you’re thinking – we slog all our lives and then you want us to pra

The secrets of living to 100? We've known them all along

I always wonder if the centenarians are pulling our legs when we beg them to reveal the secrets behind their longevity. Raw eggs, they tell us solemnly. Daily plunges into icy ocean waters. A can of Stella and a packet of custard creams (props to you, Eileen Maher of Blackpool). No wonder we’re desperate for some nuggets of wisdom – barely a day goes by where scientists are not locking horns over the best course of action for a long life. High-fat, low-carb, some say, while others wring their

Pockets are a feminist issue

Women, eh? We moaned about not having the vote, and got it; we whinged about unequal pay and that was alleviated (well, not quite). We lamented being denied pockets by the patriarchal fashion overlords – and were granted them, at least in some items of clothing. Now, it turns out, we’re not satisfied with the shape or size of said pockets. A study published on US website The Pudding revealed that the pockets on women’s jeans are only 60 per cent as deep as men’s, with most unable to accommodate

How I learned to love the over-friendliness of my hometown

Believe the hype: Ireland is awash with friendly cities, according to a recent travel poll. Cork was voted third in Condé Nast Traveller’s 2018 Friendliest Cities in the World, with Galway and Dublin also in the top 10. I could have told you that about Cork: I grew up there. Maybe it’s because you can’t ask for directions without entering into a 20-minute conversation (The “well, I wouldn’t start from here” cliche is made for Corkonians). Or that they call everyone “boy” or “girl”, no matter t

Gerry Adams’ new cookbook could be just what Theresa May needs

Silly season continues apace. Headline writers had a field day this week when former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams announced that he was working on a cookbook filled with the recipes that saw negotiators through the 1998 peace process (because “the British didn’t feed us”, he explained). “Cookie ár lá” was my favourite, with honourable mention for “Good fry-day” and “Give peas a chance”. You might initially think that Adams fancies himself a Paul Hollywood character. That steely glint in his ey

Hey guys! Isn’t it time we thought of a better email greeting?

It’s finally happened: the backlash has begun against “guys”, and I couldn’t be more delighted. No, no, I’m not on a feminist crusade to wipe out the male gender, nor am I coming a bit late to the Me Too movement, before you all start writing in. I’m talking about the ubiquitous use of “guy” in our day-to-day language. “Hey guys!” chirp group emails. “Can I get you guys anything else?” waitresses enquire. Well, I’ve had enough. No more Mr Nice Guy, if you like. BBC Woman’s Hour host Jane Gar

My childhood memories may be imagined, but they’re real to someone

Whenever I go home to visit my parents, it’s not unusual for us to drag out the photo albums for a trip down memory lane. There’s me, standing beside the cherry blossom tree in front of my childhood home. I loved that cherry tree. There’s Christmas 1985 – I remember being so excited about unwrapping Noelle Lamb, a ride-on fluffy sheep that quickly became my best pal. Or do I? A study has found that almost half of us have memories that probably aren’t real. You know the ones – how many of us

Don’t write off summer just yet: here are some reasons to be cheerful

Remember how summer used to stretch on for ever? Long, hazy days, barbecues and Mr Whippy ice creams, scorched grass and paddling pools? That’s how this summer was beginning to feel, only with a more grown-up flair: we woke up day after day to blue skies, drank cocktails at sunset (on a Tuesday!), and watched England beat the odds to rise through the World Cup ranks. And then, all at once, summer sort of sputtered to a halt. The clouds rolled in just as England crashed out, just as the English

What can we learn from a 16th-century wellness bible? That snake oil has been around for quite a while

The world of wellbeing is undoubtedly a strange one. I must admit I have fallen down the rabbit hole on occasion, spending my hard-earned cash on “superfood” concoctions including outlandish ingredients such as baobab, and spirulina (ugh), and turmeric, and chlorella. Use these ingredients and you could be like us, the wellness goddesses cooed, all glowy skin and shiny hair and flat tummies. So I imbibed, and spiralised, and infused, all with the hope that this was some kind of elixir of youth

City or countryside? A country-lover and a confirmed city dweller debate the pros and cons

Some go for a run, others light a cigarette. When I’m stressed, I go on Rightmove, the internet’s headquarters of broken dreams. Every Sunday night, I indulge myself by looking at properties online. While my friends do this with £10m townhouses in Hampstead, for me the search is for a three-bedroom cottage with a couple of acres in Northamptonshire. Help, I’m a country bumpkin – but I’m trapped in London. Unlike my colleague below, I’m dying to move out of London, where I’ve lived for seven ye

‘Gaslighting’ is a buzzword right now, but use it with caution

It might be a little early to call it, but it seems increasingly likely that “gaslighting” will be a shoo-in for 2018 word of the year. We have Donald Trump to thank for that, to some extent. Newspaper columnists have questioned whether the American president is “gaslighting the world” with his bizarre tweets and actions on North Korea. Meanwhile, the phrase has been chucked around repeatedly on social media by Love Island fans in response to some dastardly moves by both contestants and produc

Thousands of viewers complained – but did Love Island really push Dani Dyer too far?

ITV should have known better than to mess with the nation’s sweetheart. The broadcasting watchdog received more than 2,500 complaints about Sunday’s episode of Love Island, in which likable contestant Dani Dyer broke down in tears after being shown a clip of her boyfriend being reunited with an old flame. Viewers complained that the show was deliberately causing distress to the 22-year-old by manipulating the truth – that lovelorn Jack was in fact sleeping alone in the new villa, counting the

Has Theresa May found a magic money tree to fund the NHS after all?

Could it be? Was the infamous Brexit bus telling the truth the whole time about the £350m-a-week extra funding for the NHS? On first glance, it would appear so, after an announcement that an additional £20bn would be granted for NHS England, with generous boosts for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Indeed, they have bested their pledge, with the weekly figure set to stand at £385m with inflation accounted for. But there was a suggestion it might all be too good to be true – after all, wa
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