A Special Gift From L’Occitane

Mother’s Day, a day of relaxation breakfast in bed and bunches of daffodils… Yer right!

Ok, I’m pretty such the kids have made me some lovely homemade gifts and cards which I prefer! As for the whole relaxation thing… Well… An almost teenage boy with Aspergers Syndrome, a daughter who is fast forming a bit of a chip on her shoulder and an ever demanding toddler, I can most certainly forget that!

As it happens we are actually off to my nieces and nephews Christening this morning, so breakfast in bed is gonna have to wait anyway!

I do love being a Mother! Life Is always full of little surprises and I can’t honestly remember the last time I felt the need to complain that I was bored!

The memories built with my children are all so precious, whether its memories of our first family holiday or the day in which each one of them arrived in the world.

Yesterday I was sent a lovely little gift from L’Occitane & The Millennium Hotel. Their intention being, to make my Mothers Day that bit more specia.The gift, a beautiful little boxed set that contained, 30 ml of Shea Butter Hand Cream, 30 ml of Rose Autore Hand Cream & 30 ml of Spring Cherry Hand Cream. All delicately scented and beautifully presented making them the perfect little treat for hands.

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Earlier in the week the Millennium Hotel had asked me a few questions that I was more than happy to answer, like what’s my most memorable holiday? To which my answer was… Its hard to choose just one whether it be the all inclusive packaged holiday to the Caribbean or the week spent at the Lake District, each one was special in its own little way.

As for family holidays, we had an awesome trip to Oxfordshire a few years back! We were attending the fabulous Wilderness festival, camping in a tent for the weekend. This mini break has to be one of my most memorable. I’d never done the whole outdoors thing, but the kids loved it. There was plenty to do at the festival and if the kids were not enjoying a sessions hola hooping we’d be swimming in the beautiful natural lake that runs through the woodland.

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I’ve actually never stayed in a Millennium hotel but looking at the London hotels on their website I would defiantly consider both the Mayfair and Knightsbridge hotels. Both are in great locations and seem to offer luxurious facilities. I like it when a hotel goes the extra mile by providing its guest with those special little extras to make their stay more comfortable. I’d be extremely pleased to find L’Occitane products in my hotel bathroom and the Millennium Hotels offer just that. Having read some rave reviews on the Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel it would seem L’Occitane and the Millennium form the perfect partnership.

Well, thanks to both the Millennium Hotel and L’Occitane for the beautiful gift. Maybe next year I’ll be in one of your London hotels enjoying a L’Occitane bubble bath for Mother’s Day.

Must dash… A christening awaits.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

No Financial payment was made for writing this post. I did receive the L’Occitane gift free of charge for the purpose of this review. Nonetheless I was under no obligation to write about it. All opinions are honest and that of my own.

Bristol’s Street Art

My daughter won a trip to Bristol which included a night at a 4 star hotel and dinner on the Matthew ship (you can read all about our fantastic trip in a few days when the post goes live)!

This post however, is to share with you some of the images I captured of the incredible street art on Bristols Nelson and Christmas Street.

As many will already know, Bristol is home to Banksy, my favourite graffiti & stencil artist, who’s work can be found popping up all over the world whether it be on the side of a rundown block of flats, an industrial bin or the London underground, it always makes a statement. I love how Banksy uses both words and images to highlight important issues affecting our society. Whenever a piece of Banksy art work appears in london I’m first on the train to see it, so you can imagine my disappointment whenever the council decides to destroy it.

20121124-170612.jpgabove image from Wikipedia

The images I captured in bristol however are not by that of Banksy but a number of talented street artist putting their mark on the city in a truly fashionable sense.

What’s more there is no fear that the art I captured on Nelson street will be removed by council officials as its been carried out as part of an urban art exhibition called ‘See No Evil’ curated by Bristol street artist ‘Inkie’ which took place in August for that of its second year. The exhibition took place with full backing from both the City Council and that of the Art Council.

graffiti and what I also believe to be stencil art can be seen on buildings up to 10 storeys high and the talent displayed is incredible.

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For more great images of Bristol’s Street Art visit the Bristol Street Art Blog

My Amsterdam Look

Admittedly I’ve never been to Amsterdam but that’s not to say I wouldn’t like to! In fact I’d love to that’s why I’m entering this fabulous competition put on by the guys at easyjet.

All I have to do is basically share with you, my readers, what I’d wear to this lively dutch city.

Given I’ve never had the privilege in exploring the city of Amsterdam I can’t pretend to know what the latest trends are in this part of the world but for me this really doesn’t matter. I’m a woman who doesn’t follow the latest trends, I don’t wear something just because its “IN” I’m an individual who likes to express this through her sense of fashion. I wear what suits me, what makes me feel comfortable and confident. Just because I’m a mum it doesn’t mean it’s all oversized baggy jumpers, leggings and school run fashion! I am only 30 you know! I think it’s always better to be wearing the clothes instead of the clothes wearing you.

Now I should also mention the fact I don’t do things by half. Send me shopping and there is a danger I may just come back with the entire contents of a shop! Yes, I can be a little excessive… Not great when it comes to baggage allowance and check-in.

This tends to be the same when it comes to creating a fashion look book, as I’ve discovered during the course of this exercise.

Now that’s all cleared up, and you can’t say you haven’t been warned, here are the pages of my Amsterdam Look Book.

Page 1

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What better way to start an Amsterdam Look Book, then with a little Dutch Inspiration. It became quite obvious relatively quickly when checking out Amsterdam on the net that the Bicycle is a big part of the cities transportation, hence the inclusion of my stunning red bicycle here in my look book. Page one features some very casual but super chic pieces. Perfect for a busy days sightseeing or a bicycle tour around the city’s hot sports. Life in Amsterdam seems chilled and relaxed by day and crazy lively by night. Here i’ve tried to capture this element within my style choices. I feel I’ve done well to capture some of the traditional dutch trends. From the clog style footwear to the stylish wooly red hat, I love them all.

Page 2

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The next page of my Amsterdam Look Book incorporates both vintage, designer pieces and high street trends. All pieces are casual but smart adding this real city sleek feel to them. I’ve even included some real Dutch statement pieces from the necklace to the super sexy stylish gold trainer boots. I’d be more than happy to have all of my chosen pieces loaded in my suitcase. I’d feel comfortable yet stylish as I sip coffee by the canal in an Amsterdam coffee shop.

The vintage pieces really do well to demonstrate my individual style choices. Although I can visualise myself packing these, I can also see myself doing some hardcore bargain hunting around the many vintage stores and markets of Amsterdam.

Page 3

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Page 3 highlights my love of bright colours. The yellow dress and black flat cap make a real statement and ensures you won’t be missed. I love these 60′s retro orange boots and could see myself teaming these with a pair of skinny jeans. Colour blocking is a fun but stylish trend, one I’ve been playing with for years.

I’d wear the above dressed down in the day but teamed with the right accessories I’d hit the bars wearing all of these bright combos come night. Sex In The City… Amsterdam style!

Lastly, no Look Book would be complete without a page dedicated to your night time style.

Page 4

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When it comes to party wear I like to think I can hold my own. For me its all about sparkle, super killer heels and glitzy accessories. Partying in Amsterdam wouldn’t be any different, I know what I love to wear and will party in it no matter where I am.

What’s great about Amsterdam is the fact that there is no “Right” way to dress. From what I’ve read it’s all about individuality and this suits me fine.

Above, you will find some super sparkly heels sporting a good 5 inch heel (whether I can walk in them is beside the point). The dresses I’ve chosen are a little bit quirky, just the way I like them. Oh…Yes, I really can see myself dancing in the ‘Paradiso’ wearing these babies.

So, with a suitcase bursting at the seams with super stylish clobber… The hotel to lay my hat at would need to be really something, wouldn’t it?

The Die Port Van Cleve Hotel sounds like just the ticket.

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With its prime location on the site of Amsterdam’s original Heineken brewery right by Dam Square this 4* Hotel is right in the middle of all the action. With many of the cities best shops and markets right on my doorstep. This coupled with the near by nightlife make the ‘Die Port Van Cleve’ the perfect hotel for me.

Disclosure: This is my Amsterdam Look book for the easyJet holidays competition”

A Tuscan Dream

Sat here in my garden, the warm evening rays of the departing sun warms my skin. A glass of white wine is firmly griped within my hand with the remaining half a bottle sat on the table before me. I’ve been reading a novel, one set in glorious Florence Italy. The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga, has left me in a state of day dreaming, I lose myself as I try to visualise the beauty that is Tuscany! This somehow leads me away from what is proving to be an incredibly written novel!

“No, no … No…”
I’m not running off, leaving the sounds of my giggling children far behind me as I head of to throw my designer wardrobe into my Gucci suitcase in-order to catch the first available flight to Tuscany! Yer… As if! I’m just off to fetch my MacBook so I can ask my good friend Google to show me a couple of images of this italian dream location. Is it as beautiful a place as the one I had now created in my mind?

Italy is full of beauty, it’s a country that is filled with romance, religious traditions, breathtaking scenery and incredible cuisine. My children have been blessed with a touch of the Italian gene through that of their father (Why else would I have given my eldest son a name like Giovanni).

I’ve been to some beautiful places both on the Italian mainland and it’s neighbouring island of Sicily. Though I must be honest, Tuscany is somewhere I’ve not had the pleasure in visiting and it’s only now as I begin to look at it in such finer detail, My eyes are opened to its exquisite beauty and I’m left questioning myself, “Why haven’t I been here before?”.

This is a part of Italy that has now somehow captivated me purely from reading about its existence.

20120825-202959.jpg Sunset over Florence Italy. Image credit Wikipedia

There are many elements of beauty and interest that surround Tuscany, it’s artistic legacy, beautiful wine and outstanding locally produced cuisine. But over all it’s that combined element of cultural, historical, natural and architectural beauty that swings it for me!

I can just visualise myself stood on a cobbled terrace belonging to a beautiful old italian farmhouse that still displays that same originality as it did hundreds of years before. A breathtaking Tuscan countryside lined with vineyards and rows upon rows of olive trees.There is no ending to be seen just miles of natural outstanding beauty.

A picturesque vision, one of Intertwined tones of greens and yellows that form the rolling hills that descend into nothingness. But set somewhere deep within the Italian countryside of Tuscany is that of this small remote but equally as beautiful, dusky medieval village with its narrow cobbled walk ways, lit up by a string of little town house, its quite simply idyllic.

I’m drawn in by it’s culture, the way of life this Tuscan village has to offer. I’ve done the big organised holiday at the all inclusive beach resorts and although these can sometimes be pleasing I still find it difficult to understand how this would offer that fabulous cultural experience that a new place of travel should ultimately bring. Can one really relate when I state that I want to smile at the passing locals as I sit on the doorstep drinking a glass of ‘Vernaccia di San Gimignano’ How about the wonderfully inviting aroma of freshly baked Italian beard that drifts through the old wooden windows while as you rise from your bed on an early summers morning?

20120825-202856.jpg Gimignano view from torre grossa Image credit: Wikipedia

It’s important to me that such a place of cultural heritage, fine architectural beauty and stunning scenery should be fully appreciated for all it has on offer. For me it really isn’t about 5 star beach side hotels. I’d much rather experience villas in Tuscany or that of a traditional Italian farmhouse. When opportunities arise, these should be taken fully for granted in order to experience a new and wonderful way of life that’s a bit different than the one that we’ve always known because who knows if we’ll ever be given such opportunities again! For me a holiday in Tuscany would begin with the throwing away of any itinerary (unless I’m with the children as this would then become one of the most important aspects of our holiday due to my eldest child’s autism diagnosis). I guess this is partly the reason while I seek this degree of spontaneity when holidaying alone or with friends.

Since asking my very good friend “Google” for the run down on this place I’ve uncovered a string of beautiful finds that I’m almost certain I’m destining to be. San Gimignano a hill top medieval village was that of my vision described above. Yet, I’m far from finished. I feel that my description relating to my favourite element of Tuscany lacks the credit it deserves.Though yes, it is clear to see that Tuscany oozes character with its historical villages, beautiful surrounding greenery, fresh water lakes and stunning architecture, Its felt that there is still so much more you really should know in-order of fully appreciating my visualisation of that of Tuscany.

The next path of this Journey leads us to the beautiful city of Siena. One that boast rich Italian cultural traditions, rare and beautiful original buildings from churches to museums and of course some of the worlds finest art galleries! Although this is a city, it’s cobbled narrow winding roads, pretty churches and amenities make it seem more like a friendly little village. Whats more Siena’s location within the hilly hilltops of the Tuscan countryside add to its rare character and charm.

Siena is a city of many treasures and it’s the spectacularly designed Duomo a glorious gothic cathedral located just above the cities popular historic square ‘Piazza del Campo’ that is home to many. Inside this magnificent cathedral you will discover ancient workings of art, such as original paintings and beautifully crafted sculptures by some of the worlds most famous artist. Here you can view original masterpieces by Donatello & Michelangelo just to name a few (and … No i’m not referring to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so don’t even go there)!

20120825-202320.jpg Duomo Cathedral Siena Tuscany. Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Duomo is a somewhat impressive build which dates back to 1215 and is recognisable for its fine display of Marble black & white symbolic stripes both inside and out. Its arched appearance and spectacular bell tower add to its mediaeval charms! One may actually refer to this historic cathedral as something of an architectural work of art.

Now although this Tuscan city is more peaceful than most there is a period of time when it plays host to a number of popular traditional italian festivals. During the summer months both locals and tourist flock to its stunning medieval square the ‘Piazza del Campo’ to witness the well known Palio, two of Italy’s most spectacular horse races that are followed by a magnificent display in one of its most talked about medieval pageants.

20120825-203205.jpg Pailo di Siena image credit: Wikipedia

As many will know, Italy is a country renown for its religious artefacts, its only logical that it would house some of the worlds most beautiful churches. The Catholic Faith is one taken very seriously, it forms a massive part of Italy’s cultural history and will continue to shape much of its future. My interest and love of architectural beauty can easily be ignited when stood before me is a magnificent house of worship… I’ve stepped inside some of Italy’s most magnificently designed churches, ones that have simply took my breath away.

While researching the churches on offer in the area of Tuscany, it quickly become apparent that it was home to some amazing places of worship. Its really not difficult to paint the picture in ones mind. The sound of church bells can be regularly heard ringing out throughout Tuscany’s towns and cities, each one housing its own historic church yet each defined by that of its own beauty. Medieval churches can be found nestled between the orange and olive groves of the Tuscan countryside, while others sit upon slopping hilltops, the grounds that surround them, a sea of red when the sweet smelling Poppy’s blossom in the spring time.

For me Tuscany has suddenly become an extremely appealing destination that has left me needing and wanting to explore it more. I wish I could continue in writing what i’ve come to learn about the wonderful delights that are florence or the history that surrounds Tuscany’s Pisa home to the extraordinary leaning tower of pisa.

20120825-203333.jpg Leaning Tower of Pisa Tuscany Italy. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Sadly I must now reluctantly return to that of reality! Yes, the whether that was once described as a warm summers evening, has took a rather sudden turn for the worse! It’s now pouring bucket loads and my washing that is hanging from my washing line is dry no more! Oh well, that’s the danger of dreaming.

Kissing boys for “Milkyways”

Morning all… I was recently tagged in a “Meme” by the very lovely Lou (aka @Bobbity666) over at Bloggomy.  Lou has designed the “Meme” to highlight some of her Firsts and has tagged me to do the same! I have to say, I’ve quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane, so thanks Lou. 

 *   Who was your first boyfriend/girlfriend?

I had a silly little boyfriend, when I was age 11. He was a year older and would buy me chocolate with his pocket-money! Apart from the chocolate he grated on me a bit, (Oh no, that’s terrible is that lol)! The father of my children was my first “real” boyfriend (well, the one I got butterflies when thinking about)! I was just 14 years old and people laughed when I said I was in love! Well, who’s laughing now hey, 15 years later his still here lol. excuse the poor photo quality (this was a throw away camera lol, I was 22, so this was taken almost 8 years ago).

 *   First person you kissed?

The chocolate buying kid who grated on me! I only kissed him for his milky way *giggle* Please tell me you know I’m joking, I was never that mean, seriously!

 *   What was your first job?

I worked in a cafe, in Greenwich! I was a teenager on £140 a week, not bad hey! My best job was my summer job when I lived and worked in Greece age 17. I was dancing and loved it!

 *   First pay packet – can you remember what you bought?

Umm… knowing me, it was crap (hangs head in shame)! I swear it was half a pint of cider at “Hotshoots” on a Friday night with my teen friends, gosh we thought we were big women! (Underage and drinking, what was I like!)

 *   First record or CD you remember buying

Oh… Yer… I’ll never forget the answer to this one! It was the album belonging to “East17″ with songs such as “Stay another day” and “Everybody in the house of love” I really couldn’t decided if it was Brain or Tony I fancied more, now I look back and ask myself… “Surly it wasn’t nether one of them!”

 *  First holiday abroad?

English: The village and castle (acropolis) of...

Image via Wikipedia

It was one hell of a holiday, so good I never come home. It was the fabulous year of 1999, just 17 years old working and living in Greece on the island of Rhodes. Amazing and so glad I did it before becoming a mother.

 *   What age were you when you first moved out of your parents home?

I was very young, I was a rebel in-fact, I just wanted to grow up too fast (through I’ve always loved my independence is why)! I was 16 when I moved into a hostel followed by a shared house, which brings some great memories flooding back, I was there for around a year + though I was in Greece for a chunk of the time and on my return I feel pregnant with Little man, now 11 years old. I gave birth to the Little guy at the tender age of 18. I then moved into my own flat in Blackheath and enjoyed daily trips with my baby to Greenwich park. Ah, a trip down memory lane, I love it! 

As not to ruin the creation of this Meme, I’ll tag…

IF HANDBAGS COULD TALK!

I don’t know about you ladies but if my handbag could talk it would likely have a thing or two to say about its owner!

I have a multitude of handbags in a multitude of colours, in an array of shapes and sizes! Is it at all possible, that I do not have a handbag to compliment every single outfit in my wardrobe? Umm… I very much doubt it!

You see, bags and shoes are a love of mine, there my downfall when it comes to spending money, I just cannot resist! My motto of late seems to be, “The bigger the bag the better” though if I’m completely honest, thinking about it, I have to ask myself, “Is my love for the oversized bag, causing me to become more than a little disorganised?”

I swear… Merry Poppins has nothing on me! When I pop my hand in one of my handbags, I tend to lose a whole arm! The depth of the bag becomes endless, which makes routing around at speed, a little difficult.

Now, when purchasing my chosen bag, I want it to have that, “New Leather” smell, the one that screams out… “I’m new!” The right design and colour are of the up-most importance, yet, so is the interior! I like compartments, lots of them, a bag that boast efficient storage space. Though, why this is, I’m not sure, I simply don’t understand!

Why? Well, I may use the main inside zip pocket to store my iPhone, money or anything else of importance, but even this doesn’t happen all of the time! I’ve acquired the most annoying and horrid habit of quite literally lobbing ones belongings into what will undoubtedly become, the inner depths of the Bermuda Triangle!

As I’m stood with hand (oops, I mean arm) wedged into my bag, panic fills me as I say out loud but still to oneself, “Shit, I’ve lost my phone” Only I haven’t (well not really) it’s just buried somewhere between the lip gloss and address book in that oversized bag that seemed the perfect buy at one time, after all it was to be the perfect accessory to them beautiful Karen Millen shoes.

I envision the heads of women everywhere nodding rhythmically as they feel my pain, or maybe not, maybe it’s just me (gosh… I hang head in shame)!

Now although the phone scenario, is one moment that gets the heart racing almost to the point of a heart attack, I ask myself, “Can it possibly be any worse than the Oyster card hunt?”

Handbags on Southbank

Handbags on Southbank (Photo credit: The Style PA)

In my head I hear this voice, it tells me “Now place the Oyster card in the inner zip pocket of your bag… place the Oyster card in the inner zip pocket of your bag…” over and over again! So, how comes somehow, having been stood calmly at a freezing cold London bus stop for the past 40 minutes, when that bus does finally arrive, having slipped a hand in that inner zip pocket, I make the horrid discovery that I have once again ignored the inner voice and the Oyster card is anywhere but that inner zip pocket. I deluge in, gearing up for what now seems like a man hunt, I hear the tutting and sneers coming from those stood behind me, the tired peed of shoppers and worse, on a really unlucky day, I may even find that the backs of my legs are being rudely crippled by that inpatient mother stood behind, the one who’s just used her toddler and his oversized 3 wheeled pushchair as a weapon of mass distraction (No offence to mothers who use public transport as I’m proudly one myself).

So… ladies, my question to myself and you too, “Is the oversized bag designed to make one’s life easier doing the job it claims to do, or is it time to downsize that bag? After all, I’m pretty sure the bigger bag just results in me overloading it with my own or even the families crap. They see a big bag you end up carrying everything and anything. Though yes this is all simply unacceptable, the prospect of my oversized beauties transforming into tiny smart clutches’, is quite honestly very unlikely at all!

30 things to do once I hit 30

I was inspired to write this post when I came across a wonderful bucket list entitled “2012- my 50th Birthday year bucket list” on the fabulous blog ‘All about the boys‘  authored by the lovely Karen (a wonderfully entertaining must read list)!

So… being the true copy-cat that I am, I’ve compelled my very own list consisting of the TOP 30 things I must do when I hit 30! Anybody who knows me will know that I loath the idea of getting older and leaving my twenties behind me! This is therefore me being extremely positive (well, trying to a least)!

  1. Shoe shop in New York City by day & drink Manhattans and cosmopolitan’s by night (aww… the life of Carrie Bradshaw)New York City
  2. Sleep more (One can only but wish!)
  3. Swim with Dolphins someplace hot
  4. Completely ignore my fellow shoppers in Sainsbury when the finger-pointing starts as I shop with my son on the autism spectrum
  5. Eat a fruit picked fresh from a tree/bush without washing it first
  6. Manage to do my zipper of my jeans all the way up without catching my mummy tummy in the process.
  7. Make this blog as successful as my signature blog ‘A boy with Aspergers’
  8. Buy less anti-ageing creams (I finally admit defeat)
  9. Walk on a beach in Cornwall (Ok, it’s not the Caribbean Islands, but my mother informs me that Cornwall host some of britain’s top beaches)

    Cornwall

    Image by joeflintham via Flickr

  10. Learn to speak Italian (well, some at least)
  11. Stop being so frighten and put my ideas out there!
  12. Wear my best pair of heals while supermarket shopping
  13. Wear something other than black (inject a little colour in my life)
  14. Treat myself to treatments at the Dove Spa (no one else will)!
  15. Have a fish pedicure (I quite fancy the idea of lots off little fishes nibbling the dead skin from my tired feet)
  16. Start writing my book
  17. Somehow manage to afford to take my three beautiful children to the magical Disney Land in Florida (that’s if little man will agree to board a plane)
    English: Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdo...

    Image via Wikipedia

  18. Beat myself up a little less when parenting becomes a challenge (No, not literally)
  19. Dance in the rain in my knickers (yes, I may get locked up in the process, and No, I wont post a picture of me doing it)!
  20. Have a professional family photo taken, then have it displayed on the wall of my living room
  21. Give up the lie, when telling my 8-year-old daughter that she’s still on that waiting list for dance and drama classes and actually get around to enrolling her in somewhere!
  22. Dance from midnight to 6 am (Yes, like I used too)
  23. Learn to laugh at the world a little more
  24. Buy my first pair of beautiful Jimmy Choo‘sJimmy Choo shoes.
  25. Get myself another tattoo
  26. Horse ride on a beach as the sun sets
  27. Eat a family sized bar of Cadbury Caramel without giving a S##t
  28. Try my hardest to give up the Red Bull (I did say try)!Red Bull
  29. Find the magical solution that creates clam and happiness amongst three screaming children
  30. Read a whole book in just one day (with no one interrupting me)!

So… there you have it! 30 things to do when I hit 30 (which I regrettingly must add happens in April of this year) Here’s hoping I don’t gain 30 new wrinkles for my birthday… that would be just my bloody luck, wouldn’t it!