PIGS IN BLANKETS

Everybody loves this traditional Christmas side dish and we’ve got three tasty twists including black pudding, butternut squash and chestnuts – you choose!

Ingredients:

  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 16 chipolatas

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Cut the bacon rashers in half. Wrap a piece of bacon around each of the chipolatas.

  2. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30-35 mins until golden.

THINGS TO DO AT CHRISTMAS

  1. Soak up the festive atmosphere at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. 
  2. See the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London decked out for Christmas with Hogwarts in the Snow.
  3. Discover how Queen Victoria spent Christmas as a child at Kensington Palace.
  4. Join the V&A‘s Victorian Christmas parties and make seasonal decorations.  
  5. Take a romantic stroll through the colourful Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park.
  6. Marvel at the magnificent Christmas tree at Windsor Castle.

Go ice skating in London

  1. Get your skates on at Somerset House‘s glorious 18th-century courtyard ice rink.
  2. Enjoy magnificent views of Henry VIII’s residence at the Hampton Court Palace ice rink.
  3. Skate in the shadow of the spectacular Tower of London.
  4. Glide around the Christmas tree at the Natural History Museum’s magical ice rink.
  5. Admire the London skyline as you skate around the rooftop ice rink at Skylight.

Sing Christmas carols

  1. Sing along to carols around Trafalgar Square’s world-famous Christmas tree.
  2. Support your favourite furry friends at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Carol Concert.
  3. Be part of traditional Christmas carols at the historic St Paul’s Cathedral.
  4. Join in with carols in stunning surroundings at the Royal Albert Hall.
  5. Enjoy carols and concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields church.
  6. Belt along to favourite carols with the Barbican‘s afternoon of festive fun.  

Watch Christmas films at a winter cinema

  1. Cosy up on a beanbag and enjoy a classic film at Southbank Centre‘s hidden winter cinema. 
  2. Venture though a beautiful ball pit river on your way to a festive screening with Backyard Cinema. 
  3. Snack on popcorn at Luna Cinema‘s beautiful screen in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
  4. Watch Christmas films in sumptuous surroundings at the Rivoli Ballroom‘s pop-up cinema. 
  5. Find the secret garden at the South Place Hotel and be rewarded with a festive cocktail and seasonal movie. 
  6. Enjoy a luxurious cinematic experience featuring films, fizz and a three-course meal at One Aldwych

Enjoy a quirky London Christmas

  1. Treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of London’s quirkiest restaurants this Christmas. 
  2. Watch teams in fabulous fancy dress run through Covent Garden in The Great Christmas Pudding Race.
  3. Tuck into festive food during the Aeronaut pub’s Christmas cabaret and be dazzled by acrobatics, fire performers and a virtual reality room.
  4. Join Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince at the Hammersmith Apollo for their annual Christmas mash-up of science, comedy and music. 
  5. Venture to The Vaults and find the Prince’s masquerade ball in a land where fairytales, the bizarre and wine collide.
  6. Discover if Sink The Pink and their team of queer adventurers can save Planet Trash at the Pleasance Islington‘s Christmas show. 

Get cosy in a Christmas winter pop-up

  1. Tap your heels together and arrive at the Queen of Hoxton’s Emerald City rooftop bar for green cocktails.
  2. Enter an adults’ playground at Winterland, with hot tubs, beer pong and fondue.
  3. Re-enact festive scenes from the hit TV show and visit the holiday armadillo’s grotto at FriendsFestive.  
  4. Get cosy in Coppa Club‘s heated igloos decorated with twinkling lights.
  5. Sip on gin in The Winter Forest at Broadgate Circle and listen to live music while surrounded by snow-dusted pines. 
  6. Soak up views of Tower Bridge from the cute winter terrace at The Tower Hotel.
  7. Try highly ‘grammable Christmas cocktails at Henrietta Hotel‘s winter pop-up bar. 

Explore London Christmas markets

  1. Sip on mulled wine and look for gifts at Southbank Centre’s Winter Market. 
  2. Find unusual crafts and tuck into seasonal treats with Christmas by the River at London Bridge City. 
  3. Explore antiques and jewellery under pretty lights at Greenwich Market. 
  4. Browse the wares of independent British retailers at Westfield London‘s Christmas market. 
  5. Go green and join in festive workshops at the Zero Waste Christmas Market
  6. Find gifts and festive treats at more than 100 stalls at the Christmas Fair at Chelsea Physic Garden. 
  7. Wrap up warm to browse the glitzy market stalls at Christmas in Leicester Square. 
  8. Amble around Kingston’s Christmas market, overflowing with foodie treats, lovely decorations and handmade crafts.
  9. Look for stocking fillers at more Christmas markets in London

Find Christmas activities for kids in London

  1. Take the little ones to the magical Snowflake Grotto at Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City.
  2. Help the elves at the Royal Albert Hallget the toys ready, before meeting Father Christmas in his sleigh.
  3. Enjoy a magical blend of pantomime and circus in Goldilocks and the Three Bearsat The London Palladium.
  4. Make Christmas crackers, toys and wreaths at the Museum of London Docklands.
  5. Find Santa in a vintage vehicle at the London Transport Museum and make Christmas decorations to take home.

EDITORS WEEK

It has finally arrived, Christmas week is officially here and I am now starting the wind down ahead of picking the baton back up in January and seeing what we can do with the good ship MANPEDIA.

I’ve been learning that keeping your head down and cracking on is without question the most effective way to make progress. No Bells or whistles, screaming for attention or setting up platforms of ill conceived notions (yes historically massively guilty on that front). I find now that it simplifies things, you remove the expectations and premature opinions and judgements from others. Not that either of those things should ever be on your radar anyway. Do things for you and how you want them done.

The ground I have made up applying this logic is staggering and it’s only here that I’ll mention it otherwise this whole piece is pointless!

So, Christmas. A place for me and my tiny and regrouping family to enjoy each other’s company, eat some delicious foods and have a good laugh. Enjoy the down time and keep watering the seeds that have been sewn for 2020.

Merry Christmas to one and all. Yes, even you..

SD

CALF GAINS

Band-resisted Calf Flexion

Sit on a mat with your legs extended out in front of you. If, in this position, it’s difficult for you to keep your back straight, elevate your hips by sitting on bench or yoga block. Place an elastic resistance band around the balls of both feet. Keeping the knees straight, point and flex the foot forward and upward, maintaining tautness in the band throughout the movement.

Single-leg Standing Heel Raise

Stand on a step with one foot, with the heel hanging off the edge. Make sure the ball of the foot is securely on top of the step. Slowly lower the heel of the standing leg below the edge of the step and then raise the heel as high as possible while keeping the knee straight. Complete all repetitions on one leg before moving on to the opposite side.

Seated Heel Raise

Sit on a chair or weight bench with both feet on a step and the heels hanging off of the edge. Place a dumbbell or plate weight across the tops of the thighs. Make sure the balls of the feet are securely on top of the step. Slowly lower the heels below the edge of the step and then raise them as high as possible.

Plié Squat with Heel Raise

Adopt a wide stance while holding a dumbbell in each hand in the front rack position. The feet should be turned out, but only to the point at which the knees can track in alignment with the toes. Do not allow the knees to cave inward during this movement. Lift the right heel off the floor, but keep the left foot flat. Perform squats with the left foot flat and the right foot balanced on the ball of the foot. Complete all repetitions on one leg before changing the foot position to the opposite side.

Double-leg Standing Heel Raise

Stand on a step with both heels hanging off the edge. Make sure the balls of the feet are securely on top of the step. Slowly lower the heels below the edge of the step and then raise them as high as possible while keeping the knees straight.

CHRISTMAS SONGS

50. John Fahey

The First Noel

Tiring of the fact that no one wanted to buy albums of experimental American primitive guitar music, but they bought White Christmas every year, John Fahey recorded an album of Christmas instrumentals. It was, by a margin, his bestselling record. Atypical of his work, but beautiful.

49. The Sonics

Don’t Believe in Christmas

The Sonics believed some folks liked the taste of straight strychnine, so of course they didn’t believe in Christmas. What happened when they stayed up late to try to catch a glimpse of Santa? “Well, sure enough, don’t ya know / The fat boy didn’t show.” Cheeky so-and-sos.

48. Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

Christmas Day (I Wish I Was Surfing)

Sounding much more like Ash than Emmy the Great – and the loudest, most raucous thing on their 2011 Christmas album – this is a song that sounds joyous, but is really about the desire to escape, to anywhere that isn’t cold. So long as it’s not alone.

47. Little Joey Farr

Rock’n’Roll Christmas

Rock’n’roll and rockabilly are a treasure trove of Christmas novelty numbers (try Marlene Paula’s I Want To Spend Xmas with Elvis), but we’ve only got room for one. So, given Christmas is all about the kids, bless their souls, let’s have a song by an actual kid who promptly disappeared from the pop world.

46. Lou Rawls

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town

One imagines this would be the soundtrack to Don Draper’s Christmas – as creamy as eggnog, with a supple swing that’s nagging but not unobtrusive, it’s exactly the sound of an idealised Christmas from the 60s. Rawls made a ton of Christmas albums, but his first from 1967 is the best.

45. Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Rudy Sarzo & Simon Wright

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

How would Christmas sound reimagined by Black Sabbath? Almost exactly as you would imagine, to be honest. The most oddly foreboding of all the big Christmas songs suits the grinding and roaring. And it helps, naturally, that it contains a reference to “Satan’s power”.

44. Saint Etienne

I Was Born on Christmas Day

From fire and brimstone to prosecco and chocolate, bursting with optimism for the winter: “Getting groovy after Halloween / Mid-November, got back on the scene / I’m so glad that I just got my pay / I was born on Christmas Day!” A song as sweet as a selection box.

43. The Free Design

Close Your Mouth (It’s Christmas)

Probably the song that goes on in Don Draper’s apartment after Lou Rawls, when the hip young kids have arrived. “Get to know the people in your house,” they sing. “You might like them.” Draper knocks back a whisky, raises an eyebrow and shakes his head.

42. Sally Shapiro

Anorak Christmas

A gorgeous bauble from the mid-00s wave of Scandinavian music that crossed electropop with the feyest indie. Sally falls in love on a Tuesday before Christmas, “at a gig with a band that we both liked”. But will she end up by herself “or in the perfect kiss”?

41. Solomon Burke

Presents for Christmas

The king of rock’n’soul pitches himself somewhere between a revivalist preacher and Santa Claus: “We want to give out a present to everybody this Christmas! All around the world for every man, woman, boy and girl!” he exclaims in the intro. One of the few artists whose spoken sections routinely rival the songs (track down a copy of Soul Alive! if you don’t believe me).

40. Joy Zipper

Christmas Song

Blank-faced and affectless, here’s Christmas for the shoegazers from the duo briefly toasted at the start of the last decade. Kevin Shields and David Holmes produced, and you can bet Beach House were listening.

39. Neil Halstead

The Man in the Santa Suit

Truthfully, this version is only here because the Fountains of Wayne original – an homage to the Kinks’ Father Christmas – isn’t on Spotify. But what a perfect, sad song: “And he’s a big red cherry / But it’s hard to be merry / When the kids are all laughing / Saying: ‘Hey, it’s Jerry Garcia.’”

38. The Everly Brothers

Christmas Eve Can Kill You

The Man in the Santa Suit is a laughfest compared to this Everly Brothers number from 1972, about a hitcher alone the night before Christmas. Organ and pedal steel sound like the wind whistling through the trees as our hero trudges on: “The sound of one man walkin’ through the snow can break your heart.”

37. Santo & Johnny

Twistin’ Bells

Do we need cheering up? I think we do. Thank goodness, then, for the twangy guitars of Brooklyn duo Santo & Johnny, the gaudy, overlit shop window that contrasts with the stark loneliness of the Everly Brothers.

36. Run-DMC

Christmas in Hollis

Hip-hop hasn’t been a huge source of Christmas songs, but Run-DMC were on top of it back in the first golden age. What would you do if you found Santa’s wallet on Hollis Avenue? It’s a perennial question. Run decides its best to post it back; he is rewarded for his honesty.

35. Shirley & Dolly Collins

The Gower Wassail

Two of the greatest British folk voices combine for a drinking song that, if we’re honest, is unlikely to be ringing out in pubs this Christmas. The asceticism of the British folk tradition can be a useful astringent amid the sleigh bells and tinsel.

34. Tracey Thorn

Snow in Sun

Originally from Scritti Politti’s sublime 2006 album White Bread, Black Beer and reworked by Thorn on her gorgeous album Tinsel and Lights – which is enough to qualify it as a Christmas song – here is a featherlight breath of winter to freshen your face.

33. Mahalia Jackson

Go Tell It on the Mountain

You can’t really have Christmas without acknowledging that someone significant was born on 25 December – and not just Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne. The queen of gospel wants you to spread the news far and wide, and she imparts her message with due gravitas.

32. Big Star

Jesus Christ

Big Star’s Third is the least likely album to contain a Christmas song, but amid the desperation and despair was this huge burst of fervour. Did Alex Chilton mean it? Was it a joke? Its effect is magnified by the music that surrounds it on the rest of the album.

31. Calexico

Green Grows the Holly

Gorgeous and stern, and undoubtedly the best adaptation by an Americana band of any poem written by Henry VIII. The horns bloom, like the flowers of the song, turning something indisputably English into a desert lament.

30. Jimmy McGriff

Winter Wonderland

McGriff opens with a squall of organ that doesn’t lead you to believe Christmas is coming anytime soon, then takes Winter Wonderland at such a leisurely pace that it takes a moment to recognise it. (If you like this, try Jimmy Smith’s Christmas ’64 as well.)

29. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects

When you live in poverty, certain logistical problems come to mind. Namely, if you’re in a big public housing block, how does Santa get the presents underneath the tree? A fabulous addition to the long line of socially conscious soul and funk Christmas music.

28. Sons of Heaven

When Was Jesus Born?

We all know the answer, but when it’s posed this beautifully, in such impeccable close harmony, the obviousness of the question can be forgiven. There are many versions of this, but it’s a hard song to do anything but beautifully.

27. Thea Gilmore

Listen, the Snow Is Falling

Yoko Ono’s is the original version and Galaxie 500’s rendition is more celebrated, but Thea Gilmore gets the perfect ratio of iciness to wonder – it sounds like a Christmas tree, if such a thing were possible. The 2009 album Strange Communion is highly recommended.

26. The Temptations

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Oh, wrap yourself in the blanket of those glorious voices! Motown took Christmas seriously, with the result that you could probably do this list entirely from Motown tracks. This one gets selected because what is really a fairly dismal song is transformed by a perfect arrangement.

25. Clarence Carter

Back Door Santa

Pure Christmas filth. Back Door Santa can “make all the little girls happy / While the boys are out to play.” But don’t mistake him for Father Christmas: “I ain’t like old Saint Nick / He don’t come but once a year.” I dare you not to dance, though.

24. Ramones

Danny Says

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight) is better known as a Ramones Christmas song, but the sublime Danny Says gets the nod, qualifying on the grounds that the desperate, lonely band are stuck on the road deep in winter and “it ain’t Christmas if there ain’t no snow”.

23. Cristina

Things Fall Apart

No matter how bad your Christmas is, it’s not as bad as Cristina’s. Mind you, given it’s the early 80s New York art underground, she was probably forbidden from liking something so bourgeois. Even a party can’t cheer her: “I caught a cab back to my flat / And wept a bit and fed the cat.”

22. Joni Mitchell

River

Joni Mitchell is bereft, too, on this gorgeous piano ballad, when Christmas just makes her mourn her relationship and flee Laurel Canyon for her home in Canada, where there might be a frozen river she could skate away on, away from everything.

21. David Banner

The Christmas Song

Completing the mini-run of joyless Christmases, here’s the most joyless of all – when the only way to pay for Christmas is to rob and deal and kill. The climactic “jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way” is not intended as cause for celebration.

20. Lindstrøm

Little Drummer Boy

Hans-Peter Lindstrøm takes almost 43 minutes to assemble a Christmas song – from electronic squiggles, through the martial drumbeat, to the melody coming in at eight minutes. It then spends a further 25 minutes warping and mutating, picking up and discarding musical phrases, before exploding orgasmically in its final 10 minutes or so.

19. William Bell

Every Day Will Be a Holiday

It doesn’t actually mention Christmas, but gets counted – and not just by me – as a Christmas song because of the little horn lift from Jingle Bells, for it being about being lonely waiting for his baby to come home (presumably for Christmas), and because its B-side was Please Come Home For Christmas. It’s also a fabulous piece of Stax soul.

18. Belle and Sebastian

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

On the 2000 charity album It’s a Cool Cool Christmas – which was pretty strong – Belle and Sebastian took on the most beautiful of all the Christmas hymns. Something so delicate suited them. Also recommended: El Vez merging Feliz Navidad and Public Image.

17. The Staple Singers

Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas?

The Staple Singers are worried: too many wars, too much space exploration means people are “searching for light and can’t seem to find the right star”. Jesus isn’t just another baby boy, they warn. So show some respect. Glorious.

16. The Watersons

Sound, Sound Your Instruments of Joy

Just listen to the voices: this is Christmas as it must have sounded when it was a religious festival in the depths of winter, rather than an excuse to rack up debt. Make your own fun! Maybe weave an Action Man out of three pieces of straw! And yet it’s so beautiful.

15. Eartha Kitt

Santa Baby

We’re into the start of the big songs now, and Eartha Kitt’s contribution is the precise opposite of the Watersons’ vision of Christmas. She wants a sable, a convertible, a yacht, a platinum mine … She wants every sensation. And what’s Jesus got to do with anything?

14. Otis Redding

White Christmas

Who knew the most famous Christmas hit of all could be so emotionally wrought? Where Bing Crosby sounded as if he was fondly pondering his Christmas, Otis sounds like he’s breaking into a sweat trying to will it into existence through sheer force of desire.

13. The Pretenders

2000 Miles

Sometimes simple is best: Robbie McIntosh’s guitar playing on the Pretenders’ 1984 hit is a model of folk-rock restraint, taking from the Byrds, and offsetting Chrissie Hynde’s voice and lyric with a sense that everything, somehow, is going to be OK.

12. Bob Seger and the Last Heard

Sock It to Me Santa

“Santa’s got a brand new bag!” hollers Bob Seger, who was a Detroit R&B shouter years before he became a heartland American beard rocker. Sock It to Me Santa is a fabulous explosion – garage rock and soul brought together into something made for the best bar in the city on Christmas Eve.

11. Wham!

Last Christmas

A big Christmas hit that was unlike previous UK seasonal singles – it wasn’t wrapped in sleigh bells, there was nothing consciously novelty about it. Perhaps George Michael had been paying close attention to some of the great US Christmas soul singles, because this was a heartbreak song that just happened to be set in December.

10. Darlene Love

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector codified the sound of Christmas: maximal, filled with signifiers of the season (there is nowhere sleigh bells can’t be draped). Darlene Love’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) was the standout on a record on which the quality didn’t drop from start to finish.

9. Wizzard

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Roy Wood’s enduring contribution to the season owed a huge debt to Phil Spector – there’s almost certainly a kitchen sink section at work somewhere in the mix – but it transcends imitation by its sheer verve. It was recorded in summer, with the studio air conditioning turned down to make everyone feel wintry. Attention to detail, right there.

8. Slade

Merry Xmas Everybody

Christmas 1973 brought not just Wizzard but the most enduring of all British Christmas singles. Forty-six years later, people still bellow “It’s CHRISTMAS!” in Noddy Holder’s face, which, apparently, gets a little wearisome. The whole thing was Jim Lea’s mum’s idea – why didn’t Slade have a song they could release every year? She got her wish.

7. Donny Hathaway

This Christmas

It wasn’t a hit at the time, but took off when it was included on a 1991 reissue of the 1968 Atco compilation Soul Christmas. To which you can only say: why did it take the world so long to notice? It’s a Christmas song that stands up regardless of the season. And according to the publishing body Ascap, it’s now the 30th most performed Christmas song of all time in the US.

6. Tom Waits

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

Probably not one to play when you’re unwrapping the presents. A character study that begins grimly, then offers hope, as the narrator says things are getting better – before ripping the rug away without ceremony. Do you want to know the truth of it, she asks: “Charley, hey, I’ll be eligible for parole come Valentine’s day.”

5. Marvin Gaye

Purple Snowflakes

A song so beautiful it’s almost otherworldly – Marvin Gaye’s flawless falsetto, the unexpected chord changes, the sense of mystery. Yet it’s wrapped up in the most comforting of Christmas imagery – chestnuts roasting, blankets of white – without ever explaining why the snowflakes are purple.

4. The Waitresses

Christmas Wrapping

Like Cristina’s Things Fall Apart, Christmas Wrapping was originally written for the Zé label’s 1981 compilation – the most punching-above-its-weight Christmas comp ever. It’s a fabulous stream of consciousness, during which Patty Donahue talks herself from wanting to miss Christmas to knowing she can’t miss Christmas, that bursts into joy at its horn refrain.

3. Low

Just Like Christmas

Low’s 1999 Christmas EP – released as a “gift” to fans – was one of the most unexpected seasonal delights: ascetic indie band embracing the season without irony. Its lead track was a joy, the discomfort of touring reminding them of when they were young, and it feeling just like Christmas. Just two verses, and a repeated refrain – perfect.

2. The Pogues

Fairytale of New York

There’s almost nothing left to be said about Fairytale of New York, a song that has been impossible to avoid for more than 30 years. Such is the strength of the songwriting and the grace of the performance that, despite the overexposure, it feels fresh every single time. That a scrappy folk-punk band produced something that will endure as long as Christmas itself is a real Christmas miracle.

1. Mariah Carey

All I Want for Christmas Is You

The best Christmas songs should only work at Christmas. They should make you feel festive, in the same way that the 174th repeat of The Snowman does. They should work anywhere – in shopping centres, in bars, pumping out of PAs in gig venues after the band has gone off, on the radio in a cafe, in your home or on your headphones. All I Want for Christmas Is You is all of those things. It’s a shameless pastiche of Phil Spector that’s so brazen and joyful and simple – it took Carey and Walter Afanasieff only 15 minutes to write – that it transcends its lack of originality. It’s the rare modern Christmas song that has become a standard, and deservedly so.

OWNING A CAT CHECKLIST

ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR A NEW CAT

Before you bring your new cat home, you’ll need to buy a few essential items. These include a cat carrier, bedding, food bowls, a litter tray and scratching post. These will also need replacing from time to time.

A CAT FLAP

Giving your cat access to the outdoors can provide them with a huge amount of positive stimulation. Most cats benefit from having the freedom to come and go as they please especially if they’re young and you’re regularly out. We at Battersea recommend a microchip cat flap. These scan your cat’s microchip and only open for your cat. As well as the flap, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation. This will vary depending on where it’s being fitted in your home. For example, installing a cat flap in a double-glazed window will be more expensive than in a wooden door.

FOOD

Cats need their own food to ensure they get all the nutrients they require. Costs will vary significantly by brand, the size of your cat and their lifestyle (e.g. how active they are) but a typical adult needs two pouches of wet food per day and around 20g of dry.

LITTER

Although some cats prefer to go to the toilet outside, we always recommend providing a permanent indoor litter tray. This will need to be scooped out daily to remove any soiled material and a complete wash and change at least once a week. Like food, litters can vary significantly in price.

ROUTINE HEALTH COSTS

Annual vaccination protects your cat against a number of common but serious cat diseases. To keep them free of parasites, you’ll need to treat for fleas and worms regularly, following the advice of your vet.

INSURANCE

Just like us humans, pets also have accidents and illnesses. Many people choose to insure their cat rather than be faced with large and unexpected costs. We recommend looking for policies which cover your cat for the lifetime of any illness rather than a fixed period of time.

PET SITTING

If you go away, it’s important to make sure your cat will be looked after. In many cases it may be possible to ask a friend or neighbour to help, but for longer breaks, you may require a professional pet sitter.

MICROCHIPPING AND NEUTERING

If you rehome from Battersea the initial costs of microchipping will be covered. However, there is sometimes a charge if you need to amend your registration details in future. At Battersea we also cover the costs of neutering. However, this is something to bear in mind if you get your cat elsewhere. Prices range from approximately £50 to £100.

LEGEND: JASON MOMOA

Jason Momoa and action heroes are basically the same thing. The self-described “savage” has many different sides that the world doesn’t know. He is part artist, part big kid and overall softie. But what else do we not know about the rugged hunk?

A Softie Really

He was thrown into the public eye from the second he became Khal Drogo in the first season of Game of Thrones, but now the world knows him as Aquaman. The first Aquaman trailer has created a frenzy, so we will see what the future holds for this character. Yet for now, here are some fascinating facts about him to keep you enthused.

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Growing Up A Misfit

Momoa grew up feeling like a misfit, and this feeling never really left him, even when, he left for the big bright lights of Hollywood. But this would later change.

Game Of Thrones Got Him On The Map

After that season on Game of Thrones, he stated that many casting directors he met, didn’t think he could speak English. However, he says this was definitely an improvement from the years of trying, when casting directors didn’t even know he existed. “People think I just came out of nowhere,” he says, “but I’ve been hiding in plain sight for a long time.”

Back To Hawaii

Momoa’s father was a Native Hawaiian painter, and his mother was a photographer of mixed European and Native American ancestry. He was raised by his mother, and mostly grew up in Iowa, until he moved back to Hawaii to his dad in his twenties.

Love At First Sight

Momoa and his wife Lisa Bonet are couple goals personified, but how they met is an interesting tale. Momoa has had a crush on her since he saw her on TV at the ripe old age of eight, where he said to his mother ‘I want that one’. Years later in 2005, he ended up meeting her at a jazz club through mutual friends. He took her for a meal of Guinness and grits, and he says when he realised she loved Guiness too, it sealed the deal. Now they are now married with two stunning kids. #jealous

Coolest Step-Dad Award

While Momoa has two children with Bonet, he is also the stepdad to actress Zoe Kravitz, Bonet and Lenny Kravitz’s daughter. Zoe has spoken of the love she has for her family, and how their situation may not be conventional, but that they all love each other. Lenny and Momoa are friends and constantly post on social media supporting each other. If he was our step-dad we would be very happy.

Keeping Shtum

Momoa could have been a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) if two other opportunities had worked out. Momoa auditioned for a role in Guardians of the Galaxy, where he auditioned with Chris Pratt. Momoa still hasn’t revealed what role he auditioned for, but we think it was probably Drax the Destroyer. He also remains tight lipped about the role he met with the Russo Brothers (directors of The Winter Soldier, Civil War, and Infinity War) to talk about. He did say he auditioned to be a villain.

Deep Roots

Momoa is proudly Hawaiian and is in actual fact, the first Hawaiian superhero on the big screen. As most Hawaiian mythological gods are water gods, he has said it is a dream to be able to bring Aquaman to life. We can’t really imagine it being anyone else.

Baywatch Babe

The beaches of Baywatch were Momoa’s home from 1999-2001. His role of lifeguard Jason Ioane spurred Momoa’s desire to pursue acting full time, but was desperate to rid himself of his Baywatch stigma, so went to study acting full time. The role of Khal Drogo in Game Of Thrones fixed that stigma for sure.

Children’s Names

Although Bonet and Momoa were officially married in 2017, they had two children almost ten years before. Both have Hawaiian names as a tribute to Momoa’s background. Daughter Lola Lolani (2007) means “royal hawk.” Son Nakoa-Wolf (2008) means brave warrior.

Real Life Aquaman

Even though he never finished his degree, some would say that it is somewhat fortuitous that the man who studied marine biology in university is now playing Aquaman. Momoa studied in Iowa for a short time, before transferring to Colorado.

Exercise Regime

Before his Conan role, Momoa never lifted heavy weights. His exercise regimen was running, boxing, surfing and climbing for fun. Momoa. For his diet, Momoa mainly eats lean meat and green vegetables, with some room  of course saved for Guinness. He says he wishes he could have roles that involved eating fries and drinking Guiness. As soon as he finished filming he was back on to bread and butter all day every day and dropped the weights.

Director’s Chair

Momoa’s directing ambitions have come to fruition. Frontier, a netflix series in which he plays a part-Irish, part-Native American outlaw, has been so successful, that the third season is on its way soon for release.  He of course plays his usual character, Game Of Thrones Meets Braveheart.

Hiding A Secret

Momoa Revealed that he found out in September 2013 that he got the part of the coveted role of Aquaman, but couldn’t tell anyone for years about it. He remembers that he was broke at the time, and it was very hard to keep a secret. Now 5 years later the movie is here and so are his abs.

Passion For Music

Momoa’s love of guitar led him to start his own collection, which includes a 1959 Gibson Les Paul previously owned by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. The guitar is a gift that he gave himself for earning the role of Aquaman. According to Momoa, there are only 100 of that particular guitar left in the world and he owns number nine.

Soft And Gentle At Heart

One of Momoa’s favorite past times is pastel painting, which he started while traveling in Paris. Momoa credits his mom for his interest in painting and traveling, since her role as a photographer made her someone who was “always searching, always seeing.” He’s more than just a pretty face and insane abs.

Guiness Lover

His Instagram followers will know that Momoa loves his Guinness, and this fact wasn’t lost on Guinness. The company created their first sour, “Mano Brew” specifically for Momoa back in 2016.

Antics Off Set

Nicole Kidman, who plays Aquaman’s mother in the movie, was one of only a few people who didn’t get the brunt of Momoa’s silliness during filming. Amber Heard had the habit of hiding in a book to avoid Momoa, so Momoa ripped out the last ten pages.

Steals Souvenirs

Momoa always keeps souvenirs from his characters. He still has a prop tongue Khal Drogo ripped out of someone’s mouth in Game of Thrones.

Lover Of The Outdoors

Momoa enjoys the nature when working. He likes the challenge of filming with the green screen, however, he much prefers filming in natural surroundings, “the rain and the dirt and the mud, it makes it easier to act. In comparison, green screen is just months of looking and waving at nothing. ”

Aqua Man Tatts

Aside from being incorporated into Aquman’s design, Momoa’s tattoos actually inspired the heavily tattooed look that some fans have complained about. Director Zack Snyder wanted Aquaman to have Polynesian tattoos since his connection that Polynesian cultures have to water: The kind of connection that led Momoa to say “I’m Hawaiian bro” when asked if he’s a good swimmer.

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

Before nailing a role in Stargate: Atlantis in 2005, Momoa lived in an Airstream trailer in Valencia and didn’t know what he was going to do for money. So if this is anything to learn from, it is never to give up on your dreams.

Friendship Rings

As a sign of respect and friendship, Lenny Kravitz and Jason Momoa always show support for each other. Lenny recently posted on his Instagram, that he was at the premiere of Aquaman, and Jason just bought friendship skull rings for them both. We love their family dynamics.

Getting Down On Screen

The big guy admitted that love scenes are difficult for him to do, and especially in GOT there was a rape scene that he said he apologised to Emilia Clarke for after.

Scarface

Momoa has a white mark on his left eyebrow, where scar tissue now prevents any hair from growing back. Momoa got the scar in 2008 when a man hit him with a pint glass, resulting in 140 stitches. Momoa suspected the attack was part of a gang initiation for the man who assaulted him. Momoa says it helped him to get more tough-guy roles.

The Haka

Jason Momoa just broke the internet, with his rendition of the Haka on the blue carpet of his Aquaman Premiere. He stood with his kids, being the cool father that he is, and orchestrated an impressive rendition of the tribal ritual. Standing there casually in his black vest and merman trident. The video has totally gone viral.

Coolest Dad Award

“My kids are always like, ‘Why do people always want to take pictures with you?’ and I’m like, ‘Because I’m your Dada, and you’re my daughter. That’s why.’ It’s definitely mostly because of Game of Thrones.”’

MESSENGER SERVICES

Since it was founded in 2009, WhatsApp has become one of the apps you’re most likely to find on phones worldwide. 

Today, it has 1.5 billion users in 180 countries – even more than users of its stablemate, Facebook Messenger, which is presumably why Mark Zuckerberg’s company were so keen to gobble it up for an eye-watering $19 billion in 2014.

But lately, the app has come under fire. Back in May, it was revealed that malware had been developed that could potentially open up all of your WhatsApp data to hackers. 

Since then, Facebook has patched WhatsApp so that the current version isn’t impacted – but you can still be forgiven for starting to wonder…what alternatives are out there? Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular.

Facebook Messenger

Two of the most popular messaging services are also owned by Facebook. Facebook Messenger is an integral part of the Facebook experience, but a separate app enables private messaging between individuals and groups.

Until recently, Instagram Direct did a similar job for Instagram, however the app was recently scrapped.

While Facebook Messenger offers a distinctive user experience at present, it may not be the best options for an alternative to WhatsApp going forward. 

This is because Mark Zuckerberg has announced his intention to merge Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct and WhatsApp together – at least on a technical level (which could also be why Instagram Direct was shut down so abruptly). 

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp may continue to exist individually, but they will share back-end infrastructure. On one level, this is a good thing, as it means you’ll be able to message people on WhatsApp via Facebook, and on Facebook via Instagram, and so on (and Facebook has said that eventually both messengers will be end-to-end encrypted) – but it also means that features-wise it’ll be like choosing between Coke Zero and Diet Coke.

iMessage

In response to the growth of WhatsApp, Apple has built out its own Messages app – iMessage – to be just as fully featured. 

Now, when messaging iPhone to iPhone, there are no character limits, you can send pictures, videos and…well, pretty much anything, thanks to a plethora of app integrations. 

Most notably, this includes Apple Pay in some countries, so that you can literally send money over text and, of course, Animojis. Hit a button and rather than type out your missive, you can perform it as a 3D animal puppet, with the fox, monkey or unicorn’s mouth movements matching your own. 

And yes, you can also be a talking poop emoji, but we recommend only using that when, say, dumping someone or telling a loved one about a death in the family.

There’s just one catch: iMessage is, by design, only available on Apple devices, so if you want to chat with your Android mates you’ve got to go back to using plain old 140-character SMS.

Google Messages

In response to Apple not playing nicely with iMessage, Google launched its own Android-only messaging service called…Messages. 

Available on the Play Store, this app also replaces your standard SMS app, and the big point in its favor is that it deeply integrates with all of Google’s apps and services. 

This means that you can easily share images from your Google Photos, or use Google Assistant to make a restaurant reservation with a friend from right within the app.

Telegram

Telegram is perhaps WhatsApp’s closest competitor in terms of functionality – and it even looks almost identical to the Facebook-owned behemoth. 

What sets it apart is that it doubles down on the promises over security: Not only are messages end-to-end encrypted, but it is possible to set messages to self-destruct after a given period of time – leaving no trace of whatever important conversations you were having.

One other nice feature is that, unlike WhatsApp, it’s truly multi-platform – with apps available for desktop, as well as mobile and on the web.

Signal

Many of these alternatives boast about their security credentials but if you’re really paranoid there’s only one option. Signal offers a similar suite of features to its competitors, as well as end-to-end encryption, but there’s one big difference: The app itself is open-source.

This means that all of the code for the app is publicly available to view, making it impossible for the creators to sneak in any backdoors that could give governments or hackers access to your messages. 

The app has also scored a major endorsement to bolster its privacy credentials even further in the form of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Line, Viber, WeChat and others

There are a number of other messaging apps out there which have millions of users. Line, for instance, reportedly has 700m registered users and Viber supposedly has 260m active users every month. 

Some of these apps have some really interesting functionality too – for example, WeChat has an entire mini-app eco-system inside of the app, so that you can shop, order taxis and so on without leaving WeChat itself.

But we wouldn’t necessarily recommend making the switch to these apps as they may not be all that useful. Why? Because they’re mere minnows in the English-speaking world. 

WeChat dominates China, Line is the go-to messenger in Japan, and BlackBerry Messenger is the biggest in Indonesia (no, really) – which are great if you live there. If you’re in the UK, the United States, or Australia however, you’re not going to find that many of your friends on these apps.