Kate Middleton recalls childhood memories with ‘amazing granny’ during first podcast interview



The Duchess of Cambridge has reminisced upon early memories she had with her “amazing granny”, outlining how her childhood experiences help instruct how she parents her own children.

The duchess opened up about the impact her grandmother had on her life when appeared on author Giovanna Fletcher‘s podcast “Happy Mum, Happy Baby” on Saturday.

During the interview, which marked the royal’s first ever appearance on a podcast, Catherine explained that the time she spent with her grandmother “really stood out” among her childhood memories.


“I had an amazing granny who devoted a lot of time to us, playing with us, doing arts and crafts and going to the greenhouse to do gardening, and cooking with us,” the royal said.

“And I try and incorporate a lot of the experiences that she gave us at the time into the experiences that I give my children now.”

The 38-year-old, who is mother to six-year-old Prince George, four-year-old Princess Charlotte and one-year-old Prince Louis, said that spending time outside is something she feels “really passionate about”, as it’s something she did a lot as a child.

“I think it’s so great for physical and mental wellbeing and laying [developmental] foundations,” Catherine stated.

“It’s such a great environment to spend time in, building those quality relationships without the distractions of ‘I’ve got to cook’ and ‘I’ve got to do this’. And actually, it’s so simple.”

Fletcher, who has three children with her husband, McFly band member Tom Fletcher, emphasised that no matter a parent’s background, they are trying their best to look after their children.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have, or where you come from – we’re all trying to do our best with our children while continuously doubting our decisions and wondering if we’re getting it completely wrong. Talking helps unite us all,” the 35-year-old said.

During the podcast interview, the Duchess of Cambridge also spoke with Fletcher about her survey “Five big questions on the under fives”.

The landmark survey, which was launched in January, consists of five short questions designed to help shape public perceptions of the importance of children’s early years through first-hand experiences offered by parents, carers and families.

“What we’re doing with the survey is asking people – what is it that matters for them in raising their children today,” the duchess said of the survey, which has so far garnered 200,000 responses.

“It’s going to take a long time, I’m talking about a generational change, but hopefully this is the first small step: to start a conversation around the importance of early childhood development.

“It’s not just about happy, healthy children. This is for lifelong consequences and outcomes.”

The month-long online poll is believed to be the biggest survey of its kind.

It has been conducted on behalf of The Royal Foundation by market research company Ipsos Mori.



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Jessica Simpson says childhood sexual abuse led to dependence on drugs and alcohol



Jessica Simpson has revealed that she was sexually abused as a child, and that it led to a dependence on drugs and alcohol as an adult.

The pop star, actor and shoe mogul writes in her new memoir that she was “killing myself with all the drinking and pills”, and only sought treatment after hitting “rock-bottom” in 2017. She has been sober ever since.

In Open Book, Simpson theorises that her addictions stemmed from trauma related to being abused by the daughter of a family friend from the age of six.


“It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable,” she writes, in an extract published by People Magazine. “For six years, I was abused by this girl during our family’s visits.”

Simpson says that she eventually told her parents about the abuse, but added that despite being the victim, “I felt in the wrong”.

“We never stayed at my parents’ friends’ house again, but we also didn’t talk about what I had said,” she writes.

Simpson also reveals that she has struggled with anxiety since her teens, and that she was placed on a strict diet after being told by managers that she must lose weight in order to become a star.

“On my 17th birthday, I flew to New York for meetings with record labels,” she writes. “I sang ‘Amazing Grace’ for Tommy Mottola at Columbia and he wanted to sign me. And then he said, ‘You gotta lose 15 pounds.”

“I immediately went on an extremely strict diet, and started taking diet pills,” she continues, “which I would do for the next 20 years.”

Simpson’s memoir additionally sees her recall her shock after former boyfriend John Mayer referred to her as “sexual napalm” in a career-destroying magazine interview.

Open Book is released on 4 February.



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Thanksgiving: Google Doodle celebrates holiday with beloved childhood art project hand turkeys



Google is celebrating Thanksgiving with a Doodle that pays tribute to a childhood arts-and-crafts project honouring the holiday. 

Most Americans will recall creating “hand turkeys” in school when they were children – an art project that involved tracing the outline of your hand with coloured pencils or markers.

The resulting shape sees your fingers become feathers and your thumb become the head of the bird and bares a slight resemblance to a turkey.

The drawing is then completed with beaks, feet and the red skin that hangs near the turkey’s beak called the snood.

In honour of Thanksgiving, which takes place on 28 November this year, the Doodle features crayon drawings of hand turkeys jumping into a pile of leaves. 

Google celebrates Thanksgiving with hand turkeys (Google)

“Today’s Doodle celebrates Thanksgiving with a tribute to ‘hand turkeys,’ an easy-to-make holiday bonding activity,” the search engine explains. “A time for gathering with loved ones and giving thanks for the blessings in your life, Americans of all walks of life observe this holiday on the last Thursday in November.”

For more activities to do with your family this Thanksgiving, you can see our guide to the best Thanksgiving movies here or classic Thanksgiving TV specials here



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Adele Haenel: French film industry rocked by childhood sexual harassment allegations against director Christophe Ruggia



The French film industry is reeling after an allegation by award-winning actor Adele Haenel, who says she was sexually harassed from the ages of 12-15 by director Christophe Ruggia

Haenel, who stars in forthcoming drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire, made the accusation in an extensive interview with French website Mediapartand said that the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland had encouraged her to speak out.

She claims the sexual harassment began after she was cast in Ruggia’s 2002 film The Devils. 

After the allegations were made public, Ruggia issued a statement via his lawyers that he “categorically refutes” any misconduct, and claimed the pair’s relationship was “professional and affectionate”. However, he admitted to “errors” in his conduct towards Haenel. 

“I did not see that my adulation for her, and the hopes that I placed in her, might – given her young age – come across at times as irksome. If this is what happened… I ask for her pardon,” he said. 

“My social exclusion is now underway, and there is nothing I can do to escape it.”

The six-month investigation included interviews with more than 30 people connected to Haenel and Ruggia, and also obtained love letters sent to Haenel by Ruggia. 

Ruggia has since been dismissed from the Society of French Film Directors, for which Ruggia had served several terms as co-president. 

A number of French film stars have also spoken out in support of Haenel, including Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard. 

“Adele, your courage is a gift of incomparable generosity…. You are breaking such a heavy silence,” Cotillard wrote in a post on Instagram.

Veronique Le Bris, who runs a website on women in film, said she believed Haenel’s accusation was a “turning point” for the film industry. 

“It is the first time an internationally recognised actress, who is so highly esteemed, has opened up on the issue,” she said. 

Haenel has refused to file a formal complaint, saying she does not trust the French judicial system. However, on the basis of her testimony, an investigation has been opened into “sexual aggression on a minor carried out by someone in authority”. 



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Harry Potter’s childhood home available to rent on Airbnb



If you used to fantasise about living among wizardkind and one day receiving your Hogwarts acceptance letter, you can now live out your dream in Harry Potter’s childhood home. 

While it doesn’t promise a run-in with He Who Must Not Be Named, Muggles can now rent the cottage where Lily and James Potter lived with their son before they were murdered.  

The home, which is available to rent on Airbnb, is not actually located in Godric’s Hollow, but rather the village of Lavenham in the English county of Suffolk.


And although it is not really where the Potters lost their lives protecting their only son, the De Vere House is famous in its own right – as it used to be a former Five Star and Gold Award bed and breakfast. 

The listing itself is for just two guests, who will stay in a private one-bedroom room with a shared bathroom, a private sitting room and a courtyard garden for £110 ($142) per night. 


According to the Airbnb listing, Lavenham is “reputedly Britain’s finest mediaeval village” and features more than 300 protected heritage properties. 

However, the town also boasts all the amenities one could want, including an art gallery, restaurants, a mediaeval church, craft and antique shops, museums, and tennis courts. 

Despite not being the birthplace of both Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore, the house has received five-star reviews from its previous guests. 

It is also in high-demand, according to Airbnb, which states that 825 users have checked out the listing over the last week. 


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But, if Hagrid’s Hut is more your taste, you can also spend the night in a holiday home inspired by the Hogwarts gamekeeper’s house. 



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Jennifer Aniston shares first throwback Instagram photo with cute childhood picture



Jennifer Aniston has shared her first throwback post on Instagram, comparing a black-and-white photo of herself as a child to one of her as an adult.

The Murder Mystery star has taken the internet by storm ever since joining Instagram earlier this week, even causing it to temporarily crash as millions rushed to follow her.

The actor’s first post, a grainy selfie featuring the Friends cast, included the caption: “And now we’re Instagram FRIENDS too. HI INSTAGRAM.”


For her latest post, Aniston participated in “Throwback Thursday”, when Instagram users share nostalgic pictures alongside the hashtag “#TBT”.

She posted two photos of herself, the first of her as a child wearing a bucket hat and the second of her as an adult donning similar headwear.


“#TBT In style, then and now…” reads the caption.

Several of the actor’s celebrity friends commented underneath the sweet throwback post.

“Cutie pie,” wrote her The Morning Show co-star Reese Witherspoon.

“How do you look gorgeous in a floppy denim hat? Makes no sense,” commented stand-up comedian and actor Whitney Cummings.

In less than a day, Aniston’s throwback post has garnered more than four and a half million likes on Instagram.

After the Friends star joined the social media platform, it was revealed she broke a Guinness World Record previously held by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The 50-year-old’s Instagram account accumulated one million followers in just five hours and 16 minutes, beating the previous record held by the royal couple.

In April, Prince Harry and Meghan got a million followers in five hours and 45 minutes when they launched their Instagram account.


Jennifer Aniston reignites the possibility of a Friends reunion

After joining Instagram, Aniston insisted she “didn’t mean to break” the social media platform.

In her second post, which featured a short video clip promoting her upcoming Apple TV+ series The Morning Show, the actor wrote the caption: “I swear I didn’t mean to break it… Thank you guys for the kind, glitchy welcome.”



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Common childhood illness may have killed off Neanderthals



They mystery of why Neanderthals died out may have been solved, and rather than some sort of cataclysmic event, scientists now say it could have something as simple as a common childhood illness.  

A new study has suggested that ear infections were responsible for their extinction.  

Today they can be simply treated with modern medicines like antibiotics, but the Neanderthals contracted many complications from ear infections, including respiratory infections, hearing loss and pneumonia.


The study published in The Anatomical Record journal, found that the ears of Neanderthals were comparable to those of human children and did not change with age, as children’s do.

 “It may sound far-fetched, but when we, for the first time, reconstructed the Eustachian tubes of Neanderthals, we discovered that they are remarkably similar to those of human infants,” said one of the authors Professor Samuel Márquez of the Downstate Health Sciences University in New York. 

“Middle ear infections are nearly ubiquitous among infants because the flat angle of an infant’s Eustachian tubes is prone to retain the otitis media bacteria that cause these infections – the same flat angle we found in Neanderthals.”

Generally considered to have been a distinct human species (Homo neanderthalensis), Neanderthals once inhabited a region stretching from Siberia in the east to Iberia in the west, and from Britain in the north to Iraq in the south.

They first appear around 450,000 years ago and then die out as humans started to settle in Eurasia, after 60,000 years ago

While the shape of a human child’s ear begins to change around the age of five, meaning that they are less likely to contract a ear infections, this did not happen with Neanderthals, the study found.


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“It’s not just the threat of dying of an infection,” Dr Marquez said. “If you are constantly ill, you would not be as fit and effective in competing with your Homo sapien cousins for food and other resources.”

He added: “In a world of survival of the fittest, it is no wonder that modern man, not Neanderthal, prevailed.”



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Mason Mount elated after fulfilling England debut ‘dream’ alongside childhood friend Declan Rice



Mason Mount was elated to not only have fulfilled his childhood dream but also make his England debut alongside best friend Declan Rice.

Just 103 days after lining up for Derby in their Championship play-off final defeat to Aston Villa, the 20-year-old stepped back out on the Wembley pitch as a senior international following a superb start to the season with Chelsea.

Frank Lampard has overseen his progress at both clubs and the England centurion will have been as proud as anyone to see Mount make his debut as a 67th substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Bulgaria.


It marked quite the ascent for the Chelsea academy graduate and looks to be the first of many caps for the Three Lions.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to make your debut for your country,” attack-minded midfielder Mount said with a big grin. “It’s something that you dream of as a little kid.

“I think the percentages of people that do it are very slim, so it’s been a long, long career that I’ve had so far. But I’ve been working hard and obviously it’s a massively proud moment for me and my family.

“I wasn’t really too nervous. It’s a game of football so it’s something that I’ve done all my life. When you come on, you just want to get on the ball, have your first touch, get that out the way and then try to influence the game. It’s been a crazy last couple of months. Making my debut for Chelsea, and now being called up to the England squad and making my debut today. It has been a blur.”

Mount was an unused substitute in last October’s Nations League doubleheader against Croatia and Spain, but there was no sense of frustration from the playmaker – especially as that led his debut to be extra special.

Mason Mount makes his England debut (Getty)

Rice was still a Republic of Ireland international back then, but his subsequent switch to the country of his birth meant the West Ham midfielder was on the field when his former Chelsea youth team-mate entered the fray.

“We’ve obviously known each other for a very, very long time and always speaking about maybe that opportunity of playing with each other again,” Mount said.

“It’s obviously happened today so I went over to him straight away and just said ‘well done, we’re back on the pitch together’, so, yeah, looking forward to the future now.”

Asked if lifting silverware was the ultimate dream for the pair, he told beIN SPORTS: “Yeah, of course. And I think the group we’ve got, the young group, I think we’re definitely working towards that. So hopefully in the next, I don’t know months or years we, can achieve something.”


Mount will be hoping to get another chance to impress when England host Kosovo in Southampton on Tuesday evening.

Gareth Southgate told the post-match press conference that the 20-year-old has already shown to be “a threat to the starting team” and was quick to go over to the player at full-time.

“He just said congratulations for making your debut and well done,” Mount added. “All the boys came up to me after the game in the dressing room saying well done.

“You can feel how tight the group is. It’s a young group, fired up to win games and to learn. I felt it was very nice and to have all the boys around me.”



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How the food of her childhood saved chef Romy Gill



“Food really saved me,” Romy Gill, chef, food writer and author of her debut and newly published book, Zaika: Vegan recipes from India, says.

When she moved from India to England in 1993, she was lonely. “I missed my family and the food I grew up with and I terribly missed my friends,” she says.

So she cooked. She cooked the stuffed bitter gourd her mother made for long train journeys from West Bengal to Punjab.


She recreated the momos and samosas she bought as a child from street food vendors. And she transformed strange new ingredients like avocados into avocado chutney, so they tasted more like home.

“For me at that point, food was something that really gave me hope,” she says.  It also signalled the start of what has become a stellar career.

Gill was the chef-owner of Romy’s Kitchen, a popular restaurant in Thornbury, outside Bristol, for X years which closed in July so Romy could focus on other things, a frequent contributor to Radio 4’s Food Programme, a recipe writer for many newspapers and magazines and she received an MBE in 2016. As Alan Jenkins, editor of Observer Food Magazine, says in the forward to Zaika, “Romy Gill is not just one of the UK’s finest Indian cooks, or even one of the best female chefs. She is simply one of our most gifted cooks and teachers.”

Heady praise indeed, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s all true. She’s incredibly hard working – starting her career selling her food at markets and farm shops, catering for parties and teaching.

When she wanted to open a restaurant, she was turned down for a loan so sold off her jewellery instead. “The challenges were huge, but I overcame them and I really enjoy cooking. I think this is where I belong. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

(Del Sneddon)

When she wanted to write a book she was told no too. “Everyone said ‘No, we don’t want your book, you’re not famous enough, you’re not on TV, you’re not this, you’re not that.’” She persisted and Zaika – meaning taste or flavour – was picked up by Seven Dials and is published this month.

Listening to Gill, you get the feeling that she is a product of both talent and tenacity – a trait she says she inherited from her mother.

“She was a very strong lady, and I think I get lots from her,” she says. What she didn’t get from her mother – at least at first – was a love of cooking.

Gill confesses she was more interested in cricket. But she says, “I would know exactly what time my mum would finish cooking and I would come and eat the food.”

(Del Sneddon )

Living in England – far away from friends and family – she found herself wanting to recreate the food she grew up eating. Many of the recipes in Zaika were inspired by her mother’s “simple yet delicious” cooking.

Dishes like sabut matar – freshly podded peas scented with a blend of masala, turmeric, Kashmiri chilli and mango powder – is a potent reminder of shelling peas as a child. “Mum would buy two or three kilos of peas when they were in season. And she knew, half of the peas would be eaten while we were taking the peas out of the pod,” she laughs.

The choice to make her debut cookbook vegan was a natural one. In India, she says, meat was reserved for celebrations and special occasions and even then, it was a small part of the meal. “Meat is a side dish because you’re eating rice or naan, you have daal and pickle, you have poppadoms, fermented things – the list goes on,” she says.

In Zaika, Gill includes chapters such as snacks; “labours of love” – recipes that take a bit longer like her samosa chaat – an over the top and addictive dish of fried, chopped-up samosas with chickpeas, sweet chutneys and yoghurt; and “light and breezy” – quick and easy dishes like her watermelon and mint salad that she promises, “…will change your perception of watermelon!”

There’s a whole chapter on bread, including roti, naans studded with nigella seeds, fluffy pillows of deep fried bhature and parathas. It reflects the importance of wheat in Punjabi cooking as well as the roll of bread not as a side dish, but as an integral part of an Indian meal.

And while many of the recipes reflect her Indian roots, they also show that she’s firmly planted in England now. “There are things I grew up eating in the book, and things I learned from this country.”

As for the future, Gill says the lease on her restaurant ends this year and she’ll take a break, but hopes to open another one, perhaps next year. She wants to do more radio, food and travel writing, and dreams of doing a television series with her father. A pipe dream? For anyone else perhaps, but for Romy Gill, it sounds like a plan.

Zaika: Vegan recipes from India‘ by Romy Gill, published by Orion Books is out now. Photography by Del Sneddon



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