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Paris Olympics 2024: Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants Russia banned from Games

The Olympic rings with the Eiffel tower in the background
Paris was confirmed as host of the 2024 Olympics in September 2017

The mayor of Paris does not want Russia to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games while the war in Ukraine continues.

Anne Hidalgo said last month she was in favour of Russia competing under a neutral banner, but has changed stance.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said Russians and Belarusians may be allowed to compete as neutrals.

Hidalgo said “it is not possible to parade as if nothing had happened” while “the bombs continue to rain down on Ukraine”.

She added that a neutral banner “doesn’t really exist because sometimes there are athletes who are dissidents. They march and compete under the refugee banner”.

“The neutral banner was a subject of doping and that was the choice they had made,” she continued. “I am not in favour of that option. I would find that totally indecent.”

Ukraine has threatened to boycott the Paris Olympics if the IOC’s plan goes ahead.

Ukrainian world heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk said any medals Russian athletes won under a neutral banner would be “medals of blood”.

In a video message directed to IOC president Thomas Bach, posted on his official Instagram account, Usyk said: “Russian Armed Forces invaded our country and kill civilians. Russian army is killing Ukrainian athletes and coaches and destroying sports grounds as well as sports halls.

“The medals that Russian athletes are going to win are medals of blood, death and tears. Let me wish you to have peaceful sky above you and to be in good health and happy.”

Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina has called for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from the Paris Olympics.

She recently visited her home country for the first time since the start of the war and said she was saddened to see the destruction and the suffering of people, including athletes.

“Almost all sports venues have been destroyed,” she said.

“When the war is still here and people are still dying because of the Russian army, we can’t go and lead normal lives like nothing is happening.

“I hope we don’t have to make this decision of boycotting the Olympics.”

On Tuesday, the Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Olympic Committees backed calls for the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes to be upheld, saying “now is not the right time to consider their return”.

Last week, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland all voiced their opposition to the inclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus, who were banned following the former’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said it would be “unacceptable” for athletes from the two countries to participate in 2024, while Poland’s sport and tourism minister Kamil Bortniczuk believes as many as 40 countries could boycott the next Olympics – thus making the whole event “pointless”.

The IOC called on federations to exclude athletes from Russia and Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine and banned the nations from the Winter Paralympics in March 2022 – though athletes were allowed to compete under a neutral flag.

Further sanctions were announced across other sports, including football, rugby, Formula 1, cycling and swimming, while Russian and Belarusian tennis players were banned from playing at Wimbledon.

However, the IOC said last month that it would “explore a pathway” for athletes from the two nations to compete at Paris 2024.

That move has been criticised in a joint statement from Athletes for Ukraine and athlete association Global Athlete, which said the decision shows the IOC “endorses Russia’s brutal war and invasion of Ukraine”.

The UK government condemned the plan as a “world away from the reality of war”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says allowing Russia to compete in Paris would amount to showing that “terror is somehow acceptable”.

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A pigeon dyed pink has died from its ordeal : NPR

A king pigeon that was dyed completely pink was named Flamingo after the domestic bird was rescued. But despite efforts to rehabilitate the animal, Flamingo has died.

Alexis Ayala/Wild Bird Fund

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Alexis Ayala/Wild Bird Fund

A king pigeon that was dyed completely pink was named Flamingo after the domestic bird was rescued. But despite efforts to rehabilitate the animal, Flamingo has died.

Alexis Ayala/Wild Bird Fund

The bright pink bird won supporters beyond New York City as people hoped the young king pigeon, dubbed Flamingo, would survive its ordeal of being dyed with chemicals and then released into the wild.

But it was not to be: The Wild Bird Fund rescue group said on Tuesday that Flamingo died roughly a week after a rescuer found him in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park.

“We don’t know why this bird was dyed pink, although many of our followers have speculated that it was for a gender reveal party,” Catherine Quayle, social media director of the Wild Bird Fund, told NPR.

“We believe his death was caused by inhaling the toxins” from suspected hair dye, the group said, adding that birds are highly sensitive to some fumes. Noting that Flamingo was weak and malnourished, the group said he also struggled to keep food down — a potential side effect of ingesting chemicals through preening his pink feathers.

The group also reiterated its plea for people not to release domestic animals into the wild as a prop in their celebrations, stating, “They have no survival instincts and will starve or be preyed on.”

Flamingo drew a rush of interest and support online after the bird was rescued from Madison Square Park in Manhattan.

Phyllis Tseng/Wild Bird Fund

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Phyllis Tseng/Wild Bird Fund

Flamingo drew a rush of interest and support online after the bird was rescued from Madison Square Park in Manhattan.

Phyllis Tseng/Wild Bird Fund

” ‘Dove releases’ sound romantic, but take away the decorations and Instagram photos, and they are the equivalent of dumping your helpless pets on the side of the road,” the group said. “This is no way to celebrate anything.”

The Wild Bird Fund operates out of the Upper West Side, where it cares for birds and other wildlife that are hurt, sick or orphaned in New York City. Each year it gets dozens of king pigeons, domestic birds that are naturally all white, Quayle said.

Turning to Flamingo’s case, she added, “King pigeons are naturally all-white, although we occasionally receive one with a small amount of dye or paint. This situation was a first.”

“We have been overwhelmed by messages of concern and goodwill for this poor bird,” Quayle said, praising the compassion of people in New York and beyond who have shared messages of support.

“As sad as we are that Flamingo did not get the chance to live a full life in a sanctuary or home, we’re heartened that his story has reached so many around the world,” Quayle said. “We hope fewer birds will suffer from careless cruelty as a result.”

Google Search Will Soon Offer Blurred Explicit Images By Default


Last Updated: February 08, 2023, 18:42 IST

Search is getting more safety tools

Search is getting more safety tools

Search is a big part of Google’s userbase and the company wants to offer a wide range of safety tools for the product.

Google is going to make a big change on Search for people looking for images in the coming months. The search giant has confirmed that all the explicit images that show up in a search result will be blurred by default. Explicit images basically refer to any visual that contains gore, pornographic or graphic violence and Google says that Search will not show them in full details very soon.

Google is bringing this option as a part of its Safer Internet Day initiative this week. The company says the idea behind having this by default is to make sure that users of all ages do not encounter explicit images on the internet.

The blur option gets activated by default under the SafeSearch filtering method, and even if you don’t enable it, Google will automatically start blurring these visuals for everyone. Google shared the news about this feature via a blog post earlier this week.

Google continues to bring different safety tools every year, which it claims protects millions of internet users.

The company has also devised ways to prevent cyber frauds in countries like India, where you can easily misuse the understanding of digital payments and hack into bank accounts of the innocent victims. Child exploitation is a big concern in countries like the US where the law penalises companies for its negligence towards child protection.

Google is also eager to enter the AI chatbot battle, for which it has announced Bard this week, the ChatGPT rival in the market. Google is also hosting an AI event on February 8 where we could hear more about this product and other improvements that Google could bring to its products like Search, Maps and more. Microsoft has already used its partnership with Open AI to offer ChatGPT on Bing and Microsoft Edge web browser which is available across the globe.

Read all the Latest Tech News here

How Adding Lemon To Your Daily Diet Will Help You Achieve Overall Good Health

Last Updated: February 08, 2023, 19:52 IST

Vegetables and fruits rich in Vitamin C which protects the heart from coronary diseases.

Vegetables and fruits rich in Vitamin C which protects the heart from coronary diseases.

Lemon not only improves heart health but also controls weight.

Do you like adding a slice of lemon to your daily meals? If not, then you might be losing out on one of the most sought-after fruits. But more importantly, you are missing out on its varied health benefits. A fruit rich in Vitamin C, it is known for its taste throughout the world for decades. Today, let’s look at its several health benefits.

As per the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), a normal lemon without a peel has calories 17, protein 0.6 grams of, carbohydrates 5.4 grams, and fibre 1.6 grams. According to a widely known dietician Dr Anita Lamba, lemon is one of the effective sources of Vitamin C. Research has found that vegetables and fruits rich in Vitamin C not only protects the heart from coronary diseases, but also helps in maintaining its overall functioning. Due to the presence of antioxidants, lemon enhances liver’s health to a great extent too. In one of the researches carried out on the effectiveness of lemon, it was found that the liver getting weak due to alcohol can be cured by lemon.

Polyphenols present in lemon help in reducing obesity. The compounds present in it continue to degrade fat in the body, due to which weight does not increase.

As per Dr Lamba, there is a sufficient amount of citric acid in lemon, which prevents the formation of stones in the kidney. It keeps the digestive system in good condition and prevents constipation. Taking lemon juice with mixed lukewarm water in the morning not only cures indigestion. Those with acne problems can use lemon juice and keep acne at bay.

But do remember that its intake should not be in excess. This may cause problems, not only harming teeth but the brain can be affected too. Those suffering from migraine must avoid lemon at any cost.

Read all the Latest Lifestyle News here

Dungeons & Dragons: Justice Smith says film takes lore seriously

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Justice Smith reassured fans his upcoming film Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves wouldn’t disappoint as it stayed true to the lore of the franchise. 

The 27-year-old actor admitted he felt the flick – which also starred Chris Pine and Michelle Rodrigez would make audiences ‘happy’ and explained his excitement for its release. 

Filmed in Northern Ireland, the highly-anticipated cinema adaptation of the popular roleplaying game follows adventurers as they chase after a lost relic and navigate past troublesome encounters. 

Speaking about his expectations for the film, Justice told on the red carpet of Sharper’s London premiere: ‘I think the fans are going to be really happy, it’s really funny, it’s honest.

‘It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it doesn’t make fun of the IP [intellectual property], we take the lore seriously but we’re having fun and there’s humour throughout the story and I think that’s the same experience you have while playing the game.’

The star will take on the role of Simon, the Sorcerer in the fantasy film that’s due to be released March 31, 2023. 

Justice was in London for the premiere of Sharper (Picture: Getty Images)
The actor gushed over his co-star Julianne Moore on the night and credited her for joining the film (Picture: Getty Images)

Justice was on British soil to walk the carpet for his most recent on-screen appearance as Tom in Benjamin Caron’s Sharper

Streaming on Apple TV, the psychological thriller starred big names Julianne Moore, John Lithgow and Sebastian Stan as well as newcomer Brianna Middleton. 

Set in New York, the harrowing script told the story of two con artists as they entangled themselves in the city’s billionaire circles. 

The Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom star shared what it was like acting alongside Oscar winner Julianne.

‘She’s incredible, I’ve wanted to work with her for so long,’ Justice gushed over the actress. 

Justice also acted alongside newcomer Briana Middleton in the thriller (Picture: Getty Images)

He continued: ‘Meeting her was nothing short of my expectations. She’s so nice and kind and an amazing actress, a real craftsman – I learned a lot from her.’

Crediting the Still Alice star for cementing his decision to be part of the project, he went on to outline what he learnt from the Hollywood veteran: ‘She’s really good at crafting a performance right in front of your eyes.

‘She’s unafraid to take risks and make choices that may not work – even though they always work for her.

‘There’s this culture with acting where a lot of your process has to be behind closed doors but she really gave me permission to explore on set and that’s something I apply now to all the projects that I do.’

Sharper is set to be released in UK cinemas on February 17, 2023. 

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MORE : Julianne Moore was drawn to ‘surprising’ twists in script for harrowing psychological thriller Sharper

MORE : Sebastian Stan was left in awe by Sharper co-star Julianne Moore while revealing how they spent time behind-the-scenes

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Mohammed Ben Sulayem to step back from direct Formula 1 involvement

Mohammed Ben Sulayem
Mohammed Ben Sulayem was elected president of the FIA in December 2021

Motorsport boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem says he will take a step back from direct involvement in Formula 1.

The 61-year-old’s move comes after a series of controversies since he became president of governing body the FIA in December 2021.

Ben Sulayem wrote that it had been his “stated objective to be a non-executive president via the recruitment of a team of professional managers”.

This step, the Emirati said, “has now largely been completed”.

Despite Ben Sulayem standing for election on the pledge of being a non-executive president, he has taken a direct, hands-on role in F1 for the past year.

That has led to a series of controversies, including but not limited to:

Ben Sulayem’s letter to teams said that from now on he would “focus on strategic matters with my leadership team”.

Their “day-to-day contact for all matters on F1” would be the FIA director of single-seater racing Nikolas Tombazis, he said.

Tombazis, formerly the head of the FIA’s technical department, was given his new role last month in a restructure of the body’s F1 departments.

This included the recruitment of Steve Nielsen from F1 to oversee race control, with the aim of improving its running after a series of controversies in recent years.

The FIA pointed to the employment of a new chief executive officer, the former automotive executive Natalie Rincon, as central to the restructure of its operations.

A spokesperson said: “The president’s manifesto clearly set out this plan before he was elected – it pledged ‘the appointment of an FIA CEO to provide an integrated and aligned operation,’ as well as to ‘introduce a revised governance framework’ under ‘a leadership team focused on transparency, democracy, and growth.’

“These goals, as well as the announcement of the new structure of the single-seater department, have been planned since the beginning of this Presidency.

“The FIA president has a wide remit that covers the breadth of global motor sport and mobility, and now that the structural reorganisation in Formula 1 is complete, this is a natural next step.”

The spokesperson added that Rincon, an American, would oversee F1 as part of her role, and that she “participates in [legislative body] the World Council and will be in Bahrain [at the first race of the F1 season on 3-5 March]”.

Church of England considering whether to make God gender-neutral

There has been debate among priests in the past about using gender-neutral terms (Picture: Getty Images)

Under Christian and Jewish teachings God is considered a ‘he’ but that could all change.

The Church of England is considering whether to stop referring to God as ‘he’ after priests asked about using gender-neutral terms instead.

A commission on the matter will be launched this spring to decide whether to implement the changes.

The final decision rests with the synod, which is the Church’s official decision-making body.

If given the green light the Church of England would join Sweden by using gender-neutral terms.

Bishop of Lichfield, Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave, said the Church had been ‘exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years’.

It is unclear what would replace the term Our Father in the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer which Jesus Christ is said to have instructed his followers to say.

But the potential of God becoming a gender-neutral entity has received some criticism from some traditional voices.

One of these is Reverend Dr Ian Paul, who believes this would mean the Church abandoning its own doctrine.

It has led to some criticism from more traditional voices (Picture: Getty Images)

He said: ‘The fact that God is called “Father” can’t be substituted by “Mother” without changing meaning, nor can it be gender-neutralised to “Parent” without loss of meaning.

‘Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but relate to their offspring in different ways.

‘If the liturgical commission seeks to change this, then in an important way they will be moving the doctrine of the Church away from being grounded in the scriptures.’

A spokesperson for the Church of England said: ‘This is nothing new. Christians have recognised since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship.

‘There has been greater interest in exploring new language since the introduction of our current forms of service in contemporary language more than 20 years ago.

‘As part of its regular programme of work for the next five years, the Liturgical Commission has asked the Faith and Order Commission to work with it on looking at these questions.

‘There are absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise currently authorised liturgies, and no such changes could be made without extensive legislation.’

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UK regulator deals blow to Microsoft’s $75bn Activision deal


The UK competition regulator said Microsoft’s $75bn acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard would harm competition for UK gamers, and proposed the sell-off of the blockbuster Call of Duty franchise in provisional findings that jeopardise the landmark deal.

The Competition and Markets Authority on Wednesday said the deal could “result in higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation for UK gamers” and weaken the “important rivalry between Xbox and PlayStation gaming consoles”. It could also stifle competition in the nascent market of cloud gaming.

The findings are a blow to Microsoft, and put the company under pressure to persuade the UK regulator to accept solutions short of sell-offs before it makes a final decision in April.

The CMA said blocking the deal was the only sure-fire way to get around the competition issues it had uncovered. But it said another option was for Microsoft to sell Call of Duty, which has generated $30bn in lifetime sales for Activision.

Microsoft is also battling regulatory probes in Brussels and the US to push through its biggest-ever deal and become the third-largest gaming company in terms of revenues, behind China’s Tencent and Japan’s Sony. In December, the US Federal Trade Commission sued to halt Microsoft’s Activision acquisition.

The CMA said evidence it had analysed indicated Microsoft would be commercially motivated to make Call of Duty exclusive to its Xbox, or on materially better terms, hurting rival console makers such as Sony. It added that Microsoft had previously bought gaming studios and made their content exclusive to its platforms.

The CMA’s findings come a day after Activision’s chief Bobby Kotick criticised the CMA for “not really using independent thought, or thinking about how this transaction would positively impact the UK”.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Kotick said the CMA “seem like they’ve been co-opted by the FTC ideology”. He added that regulators in the EU had shown “a lot more insight and recognition of what the risks are in the economy from a macro perspective”.

Rival Sony has accused Microsoft of misleading regulators about its commitments to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation consoles following its Activision acquisition.

Microsoft has always argued that it would not reduce rivals’ access to the game and has also promised that any online games stores it runs would remain open, giving rival game markers an equal chance of finding an audience.

Martin Coleman, chair of the CMA’s independent panel of experts conducting the phase-two investigation, said: “Our job is to make sure that UK gamers are not caught in the crossfire of global deals that, over time, could damage competition and result in higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation. We have provisionally found that this may be the case here.”

Microsoft is now expected to try to persuade the UK regulator to accept a behavioural solution in the form of licensing deals, like the agreements it has signed with Nintendo and offered to Sony, according to people familiar with the matter.

In December, Microsoft signed a 10-year agreement with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty back to its platforms for the first time in almost a decade. It has made a similar overture to Sony to offer the game on console, subscription service and cloud game streaming, as well as a better revenue split than it currently receives from Activision.

But the US tech giant faces a battle to persuade the CMA to accept such a solution, because of the regulator’s general reluctance to accept behavioural remedies over structural solutions such as sell-offs.

A lawyer with knowledge of the deal said there remained a slim chance that the company could successfully argue that licensing deals would be effective.

Rima Alaily, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, said the company was “committed to offering effective and easily enforceable solutions that address the CMA’s concerns. Our commitment to grant long-term 100 per cent equal access to Call of Duty to Sony, Nintendo, Steam and others preserves the deal’s benefits to gamers and developers and increases competition in the market.”

Activision said it hoped that it would be able to help the CMA “better understand our industry” between “now and April” so that the “whole UK economy can grow productively and sustainably”.

Additional reporting by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson and Patrick Temple-West in New York

Valentine’s Day: The best meal deals from Aldi to M&S

We tried them all so you don’t have to (Picture: M&S)

Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching, which means supermarket shelves are once again stocked with corny cards, bargain presents and the pièce de résistance: easy-cook meal deals.

Each year, retailers across the land compete for the unofficial accolade of the best dine-in dinner, with the likes of M&S, Tesco and Aldi going head to head.

But before you splash your hard earned cash, it’s worth getting clued-up on the latest launches.

To help, the team here at bagged previews of the meals available and spent the week eating heart-shaped foodstuffs for your benefit (it’s a tough job…)

Here’s what we thought about the options out there.

Waitrose: ‘You get a lot for your money.’ 4/5 stars

You might need some finishing touches (Picture: Aidan Milan)

What’s in the deal?

‘For £20 you get to choose one starter, one main, one side, one dessert and a bottle of wine, available from February 8 to February 14.

‘My partner and I tried the cheddar and emmental souffles, the truffle and parmesan chicken Kiev and potato gratin as a main, the melt in middle chocolate puds for dessert, and the wine was the Yalumba Galway Vintage Barossa Shiraz.’

Is it any good?

‘It was all very easy to prepare. I didn’t even have to change oven temperatures between courses.

‘The souffle was tasty, but it really wanted something sharp to go with all that cheese. As a part of his ongoing campaign to ensure I get the proper nutrients necessary to stay alive, my partner added a salad with vinaigrette and some chutney on the side that went down a treat.

‘The gratin was similarly one-note but if, like me, you’re a fan of anything covered in cheese, you won’t mind too much. We really enjoyed the hint of truffle in the chicken Kiev – it helped elevate it from a bog-standard ready meal to something a scooch more special.

‘The wine and the puds were my favourite parts of the meal – the former smooth and light, the latter super gooey and moreish. Dessert would have been perfect with a bit of cream.’

Overall verdict: ‘The food was good, the wine went down easy, and you get a lot for your money. If you can add some finishing touches of your own, you’ll be on to a big winner.’ – Reviewed by Aidan Milan, lifestyle reporter

Asda: ‘A stress-free, romantic night in.’ 4/5

The end result (Picture: Jessica Lindsay)

What’s in the deal?

‘£15 gets you a starter, main, two sides, dessert, and a bottle of wine or box of chocolates, between February 9 to February 14. The deal also comes with a code for a free movie on Sky to make a proper night of it.

‘We went for tempura prawns with a sweet chilli dip, braised beef cheek parcel with a porcini mushroom and peppercorn sauce, dauphinoise potatoes, chantenay carrots with citrus yuzu, and dark chocolate hearts with raspberry to finish.’

Was it any good?

‘It was easy to cook as everything went in the oven at the same temperature, and the metal trays helped save on washing up (always welcome after a romantic night in).

‘The prawns were lovely and crispy, with a light batter that didn’t overfill you before the main. There were three per person, which avoided any faux “no, you have the last one” insistence.

‘For the main, I was pleasantly surprised by how flavourful and peppery the parcels were, which nicely off-set the creaminess of the dauphinoise potatoes. We left the yuzu dressing off the carrots because it seemed like a strange combination, but they were still tasty with plenty of seasoning regardless. I would advise cooking the parcels on some grease-proof paper, though, as the pastry slightly stuck to foil and left a bit of a soggy bottom.

‘The dessert was lovely – and vegan, despite a deceptively thick mousse-like texture. The raspberry compote went well with the wine – a malbec merlot blend – which had notes of berry and also complimented the richness of the main.’

Verdict: ‘It’s great value and quality, and there are loads of options to choose from – including plenty for vegans and veggies. Along with the movie voucher, it makes for a stress-free romantic night in.’ – Reviewed by Jessica Lindsay, lifestyle reporter

Marks & Spencer: ‘BYO vegetables.’ 3.5/5

Vegetables = model’s own (Picture: Rachel Moss)

What’s in the deal?

‘Choose a starter, main, side, dessert and a bottle of booze (or alcohol-free fizz) for £20, available from February 9-14. There are lots of options, but we went for the Coquille St Jacques, followed by steak and chips, then melt in the middle chocolate puds and the Conte Priuli Rosé Prosecco.’

Is it any good?

‘The Coquille St Jacques (aka scallops in a creamy sauce with mash on top) did not disappoint. It was packed with delicate, delicious fish and had a gorgeous luxurious texture, which felt like a real treat.

‘My husband and I were less enthused about the steak and chips, which didn’t come with any veg, so we improvised with some sad-looking sweetcorn from the freezer. But what it lacked in greenery and inventiveness, it made up for elsewhere. The steak was tender, the herby butter full of flavour, and the triple cooked chips were genuinely the nicest ones I’ve had outside of a pub. 

‘Pudding was similarly lacking that extra touch (we added our own vanilla ice cream to break up the indulgent chocolate). Still, it was delicious, helped by the light rose Prosecco, which provided the perfect level of acidity for cutting through all that fat and cream.’

Verdict: ‘You’ll be full until next Valentine’s Day, but be prepared to add your own sides to make the meal feel complete.’ – Reviewed by Rachel Moss, lifestyle editor

Co-op: ‘Perfectly adequate.’ 3.5/5

You might want to add a side salad though (Picture: Lizzie Thomson)

What’s in the deal?

‘A starter, main, side, dessert and drink for £12 with a Co-op member card, and £15 without one. There’s also the option for booze (wine or prosecco) bumping it up to £20, or £15 as a Co-op member.

‘We sampled the Scotch Egg starter, the Hereford sirloin steak main and triple-cooked chips as a side, as well as the dark chocolate and raspberry velvet tortes.’

Is it any good?

‘You can’t really go wrong with a Scotch egg starter and this one definitely had a few selling points. Once heated up in the oven, I was impressed that the egg yolk was runny in the middle and the ratios of pork to egg were on point – so each mouthful had a good amount of each. However, the pork filling itself had very little flavour. 

‘The steak came on its own, with no sauce or butter accompaniment, which I thought was a missed trick from Co-op. It was also slightly on the thinner side (so was done in a flash if you like it medium-rare), but for supermarket steak at that price, it was perfectly adequate. 

‘Co-op’s triple-cooked chips, on the other hand, were a whole other story. These stole the show by far. Perfectly fluffy on the inside, beautifully crispy on the outside, I don’t think I’ve had supermarket chips quite like them before. 

‘The dark chocolate and raspberry velvet tortes were a delicious finish – but are incredibly rich after such an indulgent dinner. If you love Gu dessert pots, you’ll adore these, trust me.’

Verdict: ‘Decent for a supermarket steak dinner for two, and still dreaming about those chips.’ – Reviewed by Lizzie Thomson, assistant lifestyle editor

Tesco: ‘It’ll do the job.’ 3/5

(Picture: Alice Giddings)

What’s in the deal?

‘With a Clubcard, for £12 you can choose one main, one side, one dessert and a bottle of Tesco Finest Prosecco. The deal also includes wine and soft drink options, as well as vegetarian and vegan dish – available from now until February 14.

‘We sampled the Dauphinoise potatoes, the smoked salmon gratin and the white chocolate and raspberry pots.’

Is it any good?

‘The dauphinoise potatoes and smoked salmon gratin did make for a yummy combination. It was tricky to get my hands on a completely gluten-free meal, so if you’ve got a gluten allergy or intolerance you may have to think twice before indulging in a meal deal.

‘The dauphinoise potatoes were creamy, although they could have perhaps been slightly more flavourful. The smoked salmon gratin, while yummy, wasn’t necessarily big enough for two people with big appetites – maybe more generous portion sizes would be beneficial. The star of the show was the pudding. Although a very small pot, it was just the right amount of sweetness and the white chocolate balanced out the sharp raspberry very well. It was a shame there was only one each.’

Verdict: ‘For someone who struggles with a gluten allergy this meal deal wasn’t the best for me but what I could eat I would definitely buy again (my housemate ate the rest). Will it blow your mind, no. Will it do the job, yes.’ – Reviewed by Alice Giddings, trainee reporter

Aldi: ‘Lackluster, but can’t be beaten on price.’ 2/5

Dig in (Picture: Rachel Moss)

What’s in the deal?

‘Aldi’s Valentine’s offering works a little differently to the rest. Instead of a set price, the elements are all mix and match, to help shoppers stick to their personal budget. Meals start from £3.84 per person without wine, or £5.83 with. 

‘We sampled the Heart Shaped Lobster Filled Pasta (£2.99) with a bottle of Grapevine Pinot Grigio (£3.99).

Is it any good?

‘Aldi immediately gets a bonus point for price in this economic climate. No, our meal doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of the others, but it’s also a damn sight cheaper.

‘The lobster pasta is cooked within a few minutes – perfect after a long day. I’d have loved a sauce, but we stuck to the serving suggestion and of a swirl of butter, though we embellished a tad with parmesan, cracked black pepper and basil leaves.

‘Sadly, the dish wasn’t identifiably “lobster flavoured” and reminded me of every other mid-week meal. It’s also a fairly small portion, so I’d recommended spending extra and buying a pud. Considering the price though, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine, which was not too shabby at all. 

Verdict: ‘It won’t blow your socks off, but it can’t be beaten on price.’ – Reviewed by Rachel Moss, lifestyle editor

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Coronation Street star Sue Cleaver apologises for ‘resting b*tch face’ | Soaps

Sue apologised for her ‘resting b*tch face’ (Picture: ITV)

Coronation Street star Sue Cleaver has apologised for her rather frosty natural expression, claiming that she has ‘resting bitch face’.

The actress, best known for playing Eileen Grimshaw on the ITV soap, spoke to Seann Walsh on his podcast What’s Upset You Now?, where she revealed that what people see doesn’t often reflect how she’s really feeling, but that she can’t help the expression on her face.

‘I’m really sorry if it offends you, but there’s not much I can do about that.

‘Sometimes I’ve caught sight of myself in a shop mirror and I’ve thought “Oh my Lord, I look miserable”. I’m quite happy and jolly inside.’

Sue, 59, has a lot to be jolly about, having just had what she has referred to as the happiest decade of her life.

‘My 50s have been the happiest decade of my life. I’m happy with me and where I am, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the next decade brings.

‘Then again, if it doesn’t bring anything, I’m just going to have to make something happen myself. Since doing I’m A Celeb, my eyes have been opened to all these new experiences. Now, I’m just thinking, “Right, what’s my next challenge?”‘

While Sue is enjoying life, character Eileen doesn’t have much to smile about.

She has recently been warned to keep friend Sean Tully (Antony Cotton) away from his boyfriend Laurence, and tonight she is set to discover why.

Eileen and Todd (Gareth Pierce) are horrified to hear that Laurence supposedly killed his wife by pushing her off a mountain.

They are even more disturbed when they realise that Laurence will soon be taking Sean for a romantic getaway to… You guessed it, the mountains!

As Eileen and Todd give Sean a stark warning, will he take heed of their words?

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