Birchbox [MAY]: a beauty goodies review

Another month, another birchbox.

I couldn’t resist.

(If you want to see the April one too, I did write about it here.)

The idea of getting a surprise in the post, that it comes in a pretty box and that I’m being introduced to products and brands I possibly have either never heard of or used is too brilliant to turn down. So, I’ve given it a second chance to see if it is worth continuing to invest in this innovative idea. Again, five products and a booklet including information about each one were inside May’s Birchbox. It arrived on Monday, the 8th May, which wasn’t an incredibly long wait 😀 It has a marble and rose-gold design and is the same A5 paper size.

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I have also rated the included products with a ‘happiness factor’ which is how happy I am with the product and how well it does what it says on the tin! This box had:

  • Kueshi Shine & Volume Hair Mask [Bottom Right]

This mask – whether it makes my hair all full of volume or shiny – smells good enough for me to keep it! It says on the packet that you should leave it in for 3 minutes but I’ve found you don’t need to leave it on that long, a minute and a half will suffice! I find it even makes a difference to dyed or bleached hair (which I have) which is an added bonus! 😀

It’s £10.50 for 200ml. Is this worth it? Compared to really popular hair masks, except for a couple of the cheaper brands such as Aussie (£6.99), this is really good value for money!

Happiness Factor – 8 out of 10

  • Doucce Punk Volumizer Mascara [Bottom Left]

The perk about this mascara brush is that the brush itself is big and has long teeth/bristles(?) which give great coverage for your lashes and doesn’t leave clumps of mascara. However, if you want thick ‘volumised’ lashes this mascara isn’t for you. I like to think it is more of a daytime mascara rather than for a ‘night out’ look.

The full size is £18. Is it worth it? I think the price is neither unreasonable nor too bank-breaking but it is not mascara that I feel is life-changing enough to fork out for unless it’s come out best once you’ve done some market research!

Happiness Factor – 7 out of 10

  • Marsk Mineral Eyeshadow – Fifty Shades [Top Left]

The biggest beef I have with this eyeshadow is that the box was not easy to open! I really thought I was going to have to rip it open but fortunately, after tugging at the flaps many times, it opened! The eyeshadow is a dark grey shimmery colour. Yet the powder itself is really light and the amount you put on depends on how dark you like your eyeshadow. It can either be a light silvery shimmer or used for a smokey eye effect.

It is £14.49 (what an odd price!). Is it worth it? In my opinion, I would never spend this much on an eyeshadow as I hardly wear it. Yet I will definitely make use of it as it came in the box! I would recommend it if you’re looking for a dark eyeshadow has shimmers nicely, but you could easily buy multiple eyeshadows or even put it towards an eyeshadow palette.

Happiness Factor – 5 out of 10

This is my favourite product of this months box! It is the tiniest little tube by obsessive compulsive cosmetics and I was very sceptical in the beginning. I did wonder if this sample was a bit of a cop out for birch box to make money… but once I tried it, I withdrew my previous judgements! It is a primer for your lips to then add either lipstick or lipgloss. My lips feel so smooth when I apply this primer and I feel it’s just great for daily usage regardless of whether I am adding another lip product.

It is £15 for 9ml, which is three times the size of the sample I received. Is it worth it? This seems steep but if you are a massive fan of wearing lipstick or lipgloss daily, I really recommend this product 😀

Happiness Factor – 9.5 out of 10

  • Benefit the POREfessional: Matte Rescue Invisible-Finish Mattifying Gel [Top Right]

I have actually had this product for a few years as I have always really liked Benefit products and this one has remained a staple in my makeup bag. I always like to use it as part of my getting-ready process and when applying makeup. If you think this product isn’t the best for oily skin, the primer version is just *thumbs up* as the colour also blends into your skin well.

TIP: to get the best out of the product, wash your wash beforehand to eradicate any oil (if you have oily skin) and apply the POREfessional gel all over to get a matt finish. I have also found this keeps my makeup on at least over an hour longer, even on a night out!

It is £23.50 for 50ml. Is it worth it? I think this product is bigger than you think it is because I only need a bean sized amount each time. I guess one could say that I’m biased towards this product because I have had it for a long time. But this product lasts for ages and I really notice a different in my makeup when I wear it.

Happiness Factor – 9 out of 10


I guess the main thing you have to consider if you commit to trying Birchbox out is that everything you receive is going to be sample size compared to the products shown individually

You can check out the website here and if you subscribe you get £5 worth of Birchbox points to spend in the online store*! ^_^ Also, I’ve just discovered that students get 50% off their first box, you just need to have your university email signed up to UNIDAYs. 😍

Hope you’ve enjoyed this review and found it useful ❤

GL xxx

*this link means you receive 500 points on your account which is equivalent to £5, it is a referral so I receive the same. You can unsubscribe at any time and are not committed unless you pick the 3- or 6-month option! 😊

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Birchbox [APRIL]: a beauty goodies review

I recently gave into to joining one of the latest beauty crazes called Birchbox. I had happened to hear about this website and its business idea from a friend who went to a talk by a blogger. Birchbox is a website that offers a box of five little beauty goodies a month, ranging from hair products, skin products, make-up and body beauty lotions and potions. It is meant to be personalised to each subscriber depending on the options they selected when filling out the “sign up” questionnaire. The box is £10, with delivery at £2.95 every month.

The website is also like a cosmetics heaven as it has an online shop which stocks a variety of products that aren’t easily accessible in high street shops, or brands that we never come across and are actually pretty awesome!

I decided to sign up because Birchbox launched an offer at the end of April for free P&P and the box at 50% of the price. Bargain, right?! High street goodies for £7 is unheard of these days. Once I happily typed in my card details, I sat in excitement as I waited for the delivery to arrive. [Side note: I didn’t just sit and wait as if it was all I had to do all day, hehe]

And five days later, thanks to the May Spring Bank Holiday, it arrived on the 3rd of May.

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I love that the outside packaging is PINK.

I’ll admit that I thought the box would be a bit bigger, this was just a bit bigger than the size of A5 paper (half an A4 side). Nevertheless, the fancy pattern and bright colours made me giddy with anticipation.

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The box includes the five products and a little booklet explaining each one, it’s RRP price and what it is used for! I have also rated the included products with a ‘happiness factor’ which is how happy I am with the product and how well it does what it says on the tin! This box had:

  • Baïja Paris Crème Moana in Fleur de Tiarè Body Lotion [Bottom Right]

Review: It smells AMAZING. I am always sceptical of hand creams and body lotions as I find quite a lot can either feel really thick to put on or leave you sticky for a while. For at least an hour, if not two, I just constantly caught the scent of the lotion and was really pleased to find it was so fresh even though I was out and about and clothed [obviously…]!! Although I feel the sample size is quite small and won’t last for a good amount of time, I would seriously consider buying it. It’s a Parisian brand and the price definitely reflects that at £15.90 for 75ml.

Before making up my mind, I’m going to see how long this sample lasts to determine whether this is completely worth it! [It is unsurprisingly sold out at the moment anyway..!!]

Happiness factor: 9/10

At first, I thought this was an eyeshadow but it turns out it can be used all over your face to give you a glow. I normally like light eyeshadow powders as I have pretty light skin and anything to make my skin look smooth is welcomed. Yet, this one doesn’t seem to do the trick. The sample is pretty tiny if it is meant to be used for full coverage and it seemed to show any dry or slightly spotty areas on my skin rather than hide them! As it was part of my box, I’ll happily use it as an extra eyeshadow for its colour, but other than that I wouldn’t buy it myself. (It is also £24…)

Happiness factor: 3/10

  • Polaar IcePure Gentle Scrub with Arctic Cotton [Top Middle]

Y’know the smell of a Yankee ‘fresh cotton’ scented candle? This smells just like that and it is genuinely fresh. It sort-of reminds me of men’s skin products but I definitely smell like a man afterwards 😉 The scrub has tiny blue balls in it that didn’t scratch or irritate my skin. I only used a pea-sized amount to cover my entire face and jawline so this small tester should last me a while! After 5 days of having it, my skin is already started to feel smoother which is a miracle as I suffer from quite bumpy skin… I mean, I have some spot scarring and random blemishes that I would dream of not having!

For a 75ml bottle, it is £23.50 which made me take a sharp breath in as I found that a little disheartening. However, it is better to spend a little more on a product that does wonders for your skin rather than go cheap and later regret it. (I’ve done that so many times…)

In fact, many people are selling it on eBay for about £5-7 so if you want to try it, that’s always an option!! 😉

Happiness factor: 7/10

Similar to the body lotion, this product also smells really nice. I’ve always had trouble with the ends of my hair getting quite dry, even after a haircut! After using this conditioner three times, and not having to use more than a ping pong ball sized blob on the ends of my hair, it is definitely softer! According to other reviews, it helps with frizzy hair but as I have quite tame hair, I can’t tell you whether it would do that for me!

On Birchbox, it is priced at £19 for 500ml, whereas on Amazon it is the same price for double the amount!! This has reminded me to shop around for the best deal 😀

Happiness factor: 7/10

I don’t use eyeliner often as it is usually what I use to differentiate my makeup style from “every day” to “night out” as if I’ve gone through a movie-like transformation. Also, as I’m quite pale and have blonde hair, black is not a colour I often wear. I even have brown mascara, again only wearing black mascara when I’m going on a night out. Nevertheless, I gave this eyeliner a try and I’m so glad its a twisty one! I don’t need to carry a sharpener in my bag (hallelujah for the lazy me) and the end of the liner itself is neither too thick nor too thin.

It’s £11 which doesn’t break the bank by I do love my brush eyeliner from Maybelline which is half the price…

Happiness factor: 5/10


I have really enjoyed this whole new experience of not having to pick the products and, instead, receive a surprise. It has taught me to look further than the boundary of my local stores such as Boots and Superdrug, and even department stores and really popular brands for great products.

You can check out the website here and if you subscribe you get £5 worth of Birchbox points to spend in the online store*! ^_^ Also, I’ve just discovered that students get 50% off their first box, you just need to have your unversity email signed up to UNIDAYs. 😍

Feel free to share your thoughts below or have any of these experiences of your own, I love hearing about new and exciting things!

GL xxx
*this link means you receive 500 points on your account which is equivalent to £5, it is a referral so I receive the same. You can unsubscribe at any time and are not committed unless you pick the 3 or 6 month option! 😊

it’s about time: healthy happiness.

Since the 1st of January 2017, I’ve probably written a gazillion to-do lists in various notebooks and mobile phone apps with things I want to achieve. Okay, I’ve been doing that since my teenage years and have wanted to become a better person for both myself and those around me… and I’m not yet where I want to be. I’ve done well at meeting my academic goals, my adventure goals, any form of “bucket list” goals I have… but regarding my fitness, health and nutritional happiness, I can’t seem to leap the first hurdle, let alone cross the start line.

The fitness industry is booming with more people, particularly women, achieving the “look” of being fit, toned and healthy and I want to be part of it. In May last year, I was the closest I have been to being comfortable with the physical ‘me’ in a long time. I was going to the gym at least twice, if not three, times a week, and had been doing hour-long personal training sessions for three months. I could tell I was getting stronger and fitter even though I still grumbled and huffed when I had to do an exercise I didn’t like or if I was just feeling downright grumpy. What can you do? 😀

When I moved to Sheffield in September, I bought a gym membership but have only used it about ten times. It’s maddening. Even when I have it written in stark black ink “START GOING TO THE GYM” or “DO ANYTHING EXERCISEY ONCE A DAY” or more recently, “DO TEN THOUSAND STEPS A DAY”… I’ve hardly hit the goals. I give in to staying within my comfort zone but I know that every time this happens I’m putting off what I really want. And, that should be incentive enough.

Nevertheless, a friend of mine recently posted her fitness goals, her aims to get fit and I know that if I don’t start at some point (I.E. now), I never will. I have tried to keep it as simple as possible because I know that overwhelming myself with pressure will just send me to the nearest McDonalds and a sofa. My incentive is that I share this with you, and will continue to, so then I won’t let my little blog down so-to-speak. So, my goals aren’t to achieve the transformation that girls do in the movies, or imagine I’ll ever be an “instagram” girl standard. (I am not digging at myself here.)

I just want to know and feel that no matter whether I have had a cheeky cheat day or a holiday, I will have confidence to proudly stand in front of people I either know or don’t, in a ridiculous onesie or a bikini, with makeup on or makeup off, and be happy with what I eat and that I’m fit and healthy. 😀

I’m going to use a fitness programme by a now vaiiir famous instagrammer from Sydney: @kaylaitsines as well as doing a variety of exercises that my personal trainers taught me. I’ve chosen to do her programme (because I handily have it off an old friend (thank you)) and more importantly because it can be done anywhere. This may require a few adjustments at times but it means I don’t have to rely on gyms or which country I’m in to do it! This is great for me as one of the challenges I face is my knack for not staying in the same place for a good long period of time… so hopefully, as long as I have my trainers and some form of sports kit, I am good to go!

As another incentive to start, but also to do something that’s close to my heart, I’m raising money for MS Society UK – it is raising money for research for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease which affects the nerves anywhere and possibly everywhere in your body.

My Grandpa was diagnosed with it, and since with Parkinson’s, and although my role is only tiny, I want to do something (as well as mowing the lawns and feeding his birds of course 😀 ) The rest of my story is on my fundraising page

MS Society has launched a campaign, ‘Let’s Kiss Goodbye to MS‘ for May and I’ve jumped onto the bandwagon! Some are giving up alcohol or wearing makeup whereas I’m going to give up chocolate (cries inside) and train to run in Nottingham’s Wollaton Park Run on the 10th June. Two birds with one stone! Yay?

Xo.

Wrocław in 48 hours.

 As a mid-semester “break”, three friends and I decided to take a trip outside the UK, giving ourselves the challenge of going for a cheap weekend away to escape the repetitive student lifestyle of sleeping, eating and studying. Searching on google flights, we found three places that were the cheapest = Copenhagen [Denmark], Poznań [Poland] and Wrocław [Poland].

Continue reading Wrocław in 48 hours.

Wroclaw: A Food Review

The moment I have been waiting for, since I left Montréal in January 2016, was the time I would once again eat ‘pierogis’. These are a Polish delicacy that I haven’t yet found in the UK and definitely scored high points when I visited Michael for a week just over a year ago. (I cannot believe such a short amount of time has passed since then…!)

My recent trip to Wrocław, in south-west Poland, in mid-march has completed this particular ‘food goal’. In the 48 hours we stayed in the city, I’ve had a taste and have reviewed the local food we endeavoured to eat.

Continue reading Wroclaw: A Food Review

A French Christmas #5: the five-course Christmas Lunch Review by Lisa and Georgie

Being our first French Christmas, and being together, Lisa and I decided to do food review like the many that we did back during our three weeks travelling around China!

The places we went to and tried out the food in were: Kunming , Li Jiang , Dali , Chongqing , Chengdu & Jiu Zai Gou & Xi’an and Pingyao.

Now, in the city of Nantes in north-western France, we have taken it upon ourselves to once again review what we are eating! In the festive spirit, we have chosen to review the Christmas lunch we had at a restaurant with Léa’s mum’s side of the family. As well as being asked and braving to read the set menu in french to her family, we had had serious conversations with our stomachs that we were going to make it through the five courses. (I’m kidding about the serious conversations but I was feeling the pressure! 😀 ) 

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the set menu!

Our review works like this: Lisa and I choose three categories – namely Flavour, Appearance, and Texture – and review each course out of ten. We have tried to give the scores of the dish as a whole rather than only marking the bits we enjoyed. Then it’s fair!

I am going to attempt to translate the names of the French dishes as best I can (with the help of Léa at the time and the use of google translate and common sense now!)… but just note that I don’t do French so I do apologise if it is awfully wrong. 

Now, bon appetit!

First Course: 

15878311_10153880916406706_1577535217_o‘Cappucino de la mer et son nuage de crème vanillé’ et ‘Macaron de foie gras à l’huile de truffe’ 

Google translate: ‘Cappuccino of the sea and its cloud of vanilla cream’ and ‘Macaron of foie gras with truffle oil’ … close-ish!

Me: ‘a cappuccino style vanilla and seafood cream’and ‘a macaroon filled with fois gras and a hint of truffle oil’

The Cappuccino: The flavour is really unique, it is a combination of seaside flavours and cream. It has no cappuccino in it – don’t let the name fool you! – so we decided that that is the way the dish is served (as it came in the tiny beer glasses / mugs. It is creamy and warm (but not hot) as well as salty yet subtle… It could have prawns in it. The texture is smooth and sits on your tongue for a while. Overall, we liked it! 

Flavour: 6 out of 10
Appearance: 9 out of 10
Texture: 7 out of 10

The Macaroon:

It was odd to start with as the macaroon is has a sweet sugared taste yet the foie gras is thick and salty. We thought that the rich savour filling was served in perfect balance with the light and sugary macaroon. We’d never think of it ourselves but it was lovely, and not heavy to digest either!

F: 8 out of 10
A: 8 out of 10
T: 8 out of 10

Second Course:

15750316_10153871647001706_1539001707_n‘Tatin de foie gras à la royale gala arrosée de son givre Nantes’ 

Google translate: ‘Tatin of foie gras at the royal gala Watered with its frost Nantes’

Me: tatin of foie gras with [royal gala] apples cooked in a specific Nantes sauce?

Lisa and I had a slightly different opinion on this course. The cooked but cold apple sat at the top of the little tower, with foie gras layered in the middle, and gingerbread cake forming the base. It is another dish that combines salty and sweet but this time I felt that the flavours didn’t complement each other. Instead, it was rather overpowering. Lisa did note that the texture was moist and creamy and she enjoyed it more than I did. When I cheekily used some of the foie gras on fresh baguette, it was parfait !

Georgie:
F: 3 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 5 out of 10

Lisa:
F: 5 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 5 out of 10

Third course:

15824043_10153880916396706_32694785_o‘Suprême de chapon farci, coiffé de son lard truffé, accompagné de ses pommes de terre fondantes, et de sa crème de pleurotes au piment d’Esplette’

Google translate: ‘Supreme of capon stuffed, capped with its truffled bacon, accompanied by its melting potatoes, and its cream of oyster mushrooms with Esplette’

Me: ‘Stuffed cockerel (formally known as capon) with truffled bacon, accompanied by melting potatoes and a cream of oyster, mushroom and esplette pepper sauce’

The potatoes were the star of the show. They didn’t fall to pieces when we cut them but genuinely melted in the mouth as we ate them. The cockerel meat and stuffing was rather dry, although the skin on the outside was salty and tasty. The sauce was good but Lisa said that it needed more of a “kick” or flavour as well as a more prominent and flavourful stuffing. It was a good sized portion (as my food coma had already started to kick in…) and those potatoes get their own score of 9 out of 10. ❤

F: 5 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 5 out of 10

Fourth Course:

15820162_10153871647236706_1651893622_n‘Curé Nantais et ses graines de sésame, wasabi en croustillant sur sa mâche Nantaise, vinaigrette à la framboise’

Google translate: ‘Curé Nantais and sesame seeds, wasabi by crunching on his Nantes cheese, raspberry vinaigrette’ (HAHA, this made me giggle.)

Me: Curé Nantais [is a well-known cheese specific to the region], fried/crisped with wasabi and served with a raspberry vinaigrette

The cheese had a similar chewy texture as halloumi and had a more cheddar like taste. The layers of .. whatever they fried it in because it was too thin to be pastry .. were thin and crunchy. We didn’t detect any wasabi flavour but the raspberry vinaigrette on the salad leaves was refreshing. Léa’s family members noted that the cheese is meant to be soft and melted rather than a solid block but I really enjoyed it. If it was served to me again, I would definitely devour it. Lisa enjoyed it and said that if the vinaigrette had a bit more of a vinegar flavour, it was be a gooood dish. 

F: 7 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 8 out of 10


At this point, three hours into the meal, Léa says “I’m not too full, it’ll be just the right amount”

My face dropped in amazement… I’ve been full since the main course! You are an inspiration Léa! 😉 


Fifth [and Final] Course:

15857301_10153880916391706_1115808089_o‘Délice Dulcey tuilé sur son croustillant à la praline’

Google translate: Delight Dulcey tiled on her crunchy praline

Me: Dulce de leche [I really struggled to find an english word because I don’t think we even have one…. so here’s a spanish word instead] on a crunchy praline base served with dark chocolate, and a caramel sauce.

The ‘dulce de leche’ itself was light, not too sweet and melted in the mouth. They praline base was crunchy and not too sweet either. Lisa would have preferred a thicker base for a greater crunch to accompany the creamy flavour of the ‘dulce de leche’. The biscuit stuck in the side seemed a bit unnecessary as it was a little soft and didn’t add any particular or exciting flavour. The combination of the cheesecake and chocolate was delicious as the dark flavour cute through any sweetness. However I found the caramel sauce to make it overpoweringly sweet. We both agreed that if the dessert had been accompanied by a fruity sauce or coulis it could have given more flavour than just sugar. In the end, it was tastyyyyyy. The scoring may seem like we are contradicting ourselves but as I mentioned earlier, we try to review the whole dish with all its components, not just the bits we liked. Therefore…

F: 6 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: Lisa 6 out of 10   — Georgie 8 out of 10

And that’s our French Christmas Lunch!

I hope it’s given you a bit of an insight of what French cuisine is like and maybe some ideas for you to try at home for yourself! We are so grateful to Léa and her family for sharing Christmas with us and our stomachs are almost ready to forgive us for eating so much… so for now:

Happy New Year everybody!

Xo.

new year, new me. (lol jk jk)

Happy 2017 Everybody!

I hope you all had a cracking evening, whether it was lying on the sofa, out partying, cooking up a storm or even working (as some of my dear friends did, you are amazing, girls!). This year one of the big newspapers issued an article that said that around 70% of the UK population were staying in for New Years this year. While many of my friends were staying at home… I wasn’t going to be one of them. 🙂 

But… I had no plan whatsoever. Danny and I just said to each other that we’ll celebrate in Nottingham. Okay, I should rephrase so I report accurate information: I decided we were celebrating at the house in Nottingham. It was looking like it was going to be a little house gathering with a couple of friends, when I happened to come across an advert on instagram (of all places) of “New Year’s at Revolución de Cuba”. Excited by the idea, I immediately sent a screenshot of the advert to Danny and we gave them a call! It was £25 for the evening per person. The wristband included three free cocktails or double shot drinks, cloakroom usage, food that was served and a chance to dance into the New Year. I was sold. 

On Saturday 31st December, Danny and I headed out to town for lunch, then to meet Danny’s friend Chris at the station, then to wander around until Hannah arrived at 16:30. I was on a hunt for something fun to wear for the night out and managed to find a sparkly top on sale in River Island. We bought ingredients to make fajitas and inflated helium balloons saying happy new year on them! The house in Notts is very well decorated and maintained this year. 😄

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Once home, we sat down on the sofas to relax for a bit. We waited for Karmen to return from work, her friend Vivien and another friend of ours, Max, to show up for food. They arrived and we sat down to our stomachs’ delight to eat the feast we had made. With a bottle of prosecco open, the atmosphere was nothing but festive.

Without really looking at the clock the girls decided to head up stairs to get ready for the night ahead. What we didn’t know are two things: It was 20:30 and it would take us an hour to get ready. We didn’t even have to shower, just apply some makeup, brush our hair and put shoes on!

Yes, we fell into the trap the typical “girls take forever” argument and we were gutted. The photo opportunities in front of our decorations were snapped away from us as we were meant to be getting the 21:50 tram to the centre of town. We managed to desperately take three polaroids but no electronic pictures until we reached the restaurant/bar/ party venue. 

Both floors were open, playing different music (mostly pop), and there was a group of drummers at the beginning which were really good!!

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

confetti canons fired, everyone yelling, hugging, dancing, it was a brilliant 00:00 for January 1st 2017.

The rest of the night was a mix of tequila shots, deep conversations, and my favourite moment of the new year so far: finding a £1 coin down the side of one of the sofas. I am notorious for finding one pennies on the ground when I am out and about, and firmly believe in the saying:

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So if I’ve found a £1… how much luck have I just cashed in!?

Who knows. Nonetheless, I hope this year brings you all the best health, happiness and luck towards doing what you love, being happy and just having a cracking year. 

Ta ta for now!

Xo.