Glam Goo – Slime Just Got Funky!

We have a Deluxe Pack of Glam Goo – a new slime activity with a twist.

Glam Goo contains some slime, a shoulder bag and a ring. Its purpose is to bling up the slime – and get creative. You also get three types of glitter to mix in, some pink and blue powder for colour, some perfume, and a mixing spoon.

Glam Goo deluxe pack

Inside the kit you get a large tub of ready-made slime, and that’s where the fun starts. It can be quite sticky, the instructions suggest adding bicarbonate of soda but we waited. We were mixing in some colour and glitter and scent.

Once the container is open the slime goes white and looks more like the slime we make at home.

Glam Goo Deluxe Pack contents

Having recently made slime at Brownies I know that the consistency can change quite dramatically with just a tiny bit too much of one element. You have to add a small bit at a time and work it, knead it together.

Mixing before adding Glam Goo

We started with less slime than we needed. H wanted to mix one of the concoctions suggested in the leaflet that comes with it – Shimmer Lake. You add some blue powder – start with small amounts and build it up. We added some glitter – Day Dreams – and finally Violet Vibes, a perfume which you can add a drop or two of.

Mixing Glam Goo

 

We mixed everything in a small Ikea bowl to try and contain the glitter which worked well. After a bit of kneading I found the slime gets sticky if you keep it in your hand, but if you keep kneading and squishing it, it has a good consistency.

Glam Goo ring ingredients

Then comes the fun part! Once the slime is ready and how you would like it, you can put into the mould part of the ring – or maybe the love heart of the bag – or even one of the compartments on the back of the bag.

Glam Goo bag compartments

H tried some more Glam Goo, making Purple Rain. This was a mixture of the blue and pink powders with more Violet Vibes – oh, and Unicorn Tears (some really light sparkly glitter circles). It looks really good in a section of the bag.

 

Glam Goo is really easy to use – helped by the slime being ready-made. As you add extra things to the mixture it does change, and it’s quite interesting seeing how much it differs the more you add.

Glam Goo bag modelled by H

The shoulder bag would probably fit a book in it – though it’s more for showing off than being practical. The slime isn’t too runny so it doesn’t gloop out of the bag, either.

zoom in on Glam Goo in bag with different glitter pieces

H says “I really like it – it wasn’t difficult to mix and I liked the suggestions the leaflet has. I want to make my own slime and add that in there too to see what it looks like

Glam Goo bag with three compartments filled

I think it’s safe to say that Glam Goo gets a thumbs up here – at last, slime with a purpose!

Glam Goo Ring

You can buy Glam Goo at all good stores, including Amazon. Their official website is here.

We were sent Glam Goo to review. 

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse – Some STEAM Fun!

H loves Project Mc2 – the Netflix series. She was delighted to try the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse recently. Bry who is one of the gang can be seen with a Pixel Purse – and they’re pretty awesome!

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is cool. Really cool. It has pixels on one side of it, which you can customise. Some are preloaded and others you can upload yourself via an app (Android and iOS).

The app is free and works fine on my Android phone, however wasn’t on Amazon Kids, unfortunately so H couldn’t use her tablet.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse packaging

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is a battery operated purse that includes a cable inside which plugs into your phone headphone socket. You can upload your creations to the purse and show them off.

It really is that simple – and it’s a lot of fun. 8 year old H is pretty good with apps anyway and picked it up straight away.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse phone plugged in transferring design

There are several options – you can create your own design or add a ready made shape – hearts, stars, square, triangle and flower. You can change colour to have all kinds of colourful things going on – it really is a world of colourfun! (my new word I made up there)

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse heart design transferring on phone

Project Mc2 is a series based around STEAM activities with the girls all being pretty smart in their chosen subject. They work for a Government organisation called NOV8 and use their science knowledge to help catch criminals that the police can’t catch alone.

The newest addition to NOV8 is Bry, who wears a Pixel Purse – H was excited when she spotted it in an episode!

The packaging describes what it is about perfectly (and in very small print!).

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse H design

“If you were to look at a phone, tablet or television screen with a magnifying glass, you would see it is made of lots of tiny dots called pixels. For example, when something is HD it means the screen has more pixels packed into it. The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse has very large pixels made from LED lights. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and they act like tiny lightbulbs turning on when the microchip inside the pixel purse sends electricity to the LED. LEDs can be found in the headlights of newer cars and most traffic lights. Looking at one LED would be boring so we put lots of them together to create fun patterns and images. Each pixel can change colour and inside the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is a microchip which remembers the images in which order to display them.”

I’ve read some reviews saying the app crashes on Android. We haven’t had that problem, but have found it can run quite slowly. I’d recommend closing all other apps that are open before using. So far we’ve had no problems and have been able to save designs mid-way without any bother.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse I heart you design

“I really like how you can design your own patterns rather than having the ones that are pre-made” says H. “It’s quite fun to do and I enjoy doing it a lot.”

You can’t put anything inside the purse apart from your phone, so its use is limited. However, creatively it’s a lot of fun and gets a thumbs up from H. It isn’t the sort of thing you would get bored of as you can constantly update it.

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is available now from all good retailers. It’s over here at Amazon.

We were sent the pixel purse to review. 

Young Voices 2018

H took part in Young Voices 2018 recently. It was a wonderful, positive experience for all of us – and I’m also claiming it as H’s first gig that she has performed in!

Young Voices 2018 is the UK’s biggest school choir. With showcase gigs bringing the children together to sing at events around the country, it’s a special day. On our night at the O2 there were 7,800 schoolkids performing from around the South of the UK.

Young Voices 2018

H has never been the most confident child. She has never been comfortable speaking out – she can do it, she has to leave her comfort zone.

When the opportunity came to be a part of Young Voices 2018 I did my best to persuade her. An added bonus was her teachers from last year run it. We decided to give it a couple of weeks, see how it goes. That wasn’t necessary – after one week she loved it!

Delights such as ‘Africa’ by Toto, and choruses to ‘Kyrie’ by Mister Mr. Oh yes, my eighties brain said. Add ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procul Harum – my mum and dad’s song – and there’s quite a cross section of tunes.

There has also been a transformation in H – she doesn’t stop singing at home, at all. She has a new-found confidence in other things too. This is all down to Young Voices.

young voices 2018 main show

With our performance at the O2 we decided to travel on the coach with people from school – it still took a while but we had enough time to grab food (top tip, preorder from one of the places inside the O2 – Five Guys was our expensive choice). The biggest delay we had was the security check at the gate to get into the O2 arena itself.

We missed the very start of Young Voices 2018 but only a couple of minutes thankfully. Armed with our National Trust binoculars we soon found H who looked like she was having the time of her life!

The two hours flew by, and before we knew it things were over.

“The children can’t leave until all the adults have gone” is possibly the best, quickest way to get several thousand families out of the O2 in record time. I say that, as some kids were leaving as we got to the main exit/entrance! It was really well done, and well organised.

Young Voices website can be found here. They’re taking registrations for 2019…

A Hearty Winter Soup

It is officially the coldest week this year. Considering this year is only five weeks old, I’ll take it. I also hope that will be it and things will only get warm from here onwards. Monday means swimming for H, which in turn means soup for tea, usually using up our vegetables and whatever else I can find. This week we’ve made a hearty winter soup.

My hearty winter soup is an easy one. We have our Morphy Richards Soup Maker – our second one which alas, is on its way out. The smooth soup function isn’t going so well, though this doesn’t stop us trying a nice chunky soup.

Hearty Literally Winter Soup

When I got to the cupboards they were looking a bit bare. One carrot, half a butternut squash and five medium sized potatoes were the only fresh vegetables we had. The broccoli had seen better days – and because this was chunky rather than blended ended up in the food waste.

Fortunately I had tinned lentils hidden away in the back of the cupboard for days like this. So here’s my hearty winter soup recipe. So easy with a soup maker.

1 carrot
5 medium sized potatoes
Half a butternut squash
Tinned lentils
Bouillon (low salt)
A pinch of sea salt (this might cancel out the previous entry)
Garam Masala

Well, you know how this goes. Peel and chop the veg- but this time into small cubes. Stick them in the soup maker. Add the whole tin of lentils to the mixture, and top up with water.

Add a tablespoon of the Bouillon to the mixture, and add a sprinkle of Garam Masala (if your child is fussy like H). Finally, a pinch of sea salt because it feels nice.

Stick your soup maker onto the chunky setting, and sit and browse the internet for 28 minutes.

Serve the hearty winter soup with a ciabatta, lightly toasted is good, and complain about how flipping freezing it is out there at the moment.

For all previous soup concoctions, everything is tagged souptastically souper.

a hearty winter soup with ciabatta

That Time We Did Sutton Soup

Sutton Soup is a fantastic community led evening held in Sutton. It’s like Dragons Den without the dragons – indeed, YOU are the dragon. You get some soup and bread too.

Sutton Soup - It's amazing how a bowl of soup can help change our communities logo

Sutton Soup meets every quarter or so, is run by volunteers and is a good fun night out. Four groups pitch on the night and whoever gets the most votes gets to take away all the money. Now, if you do the maths, 200 or so people giving a suggested donation of £5 each works out at… well, a fair bit! At our night the total was just over £950 in the end.

So how does it work? Each group gets four minutes to pitch. After that you are asked up to four questions.

We bravely* stepped up in front of 200 people last week to pitch for some new camping equipment for our Brownie Unit. We also wanted to share with other units in the district, after all money is tight for everyone. In addition, we also wanted to buy a new flag as ours is quite old…. actually, it’s very old. So old that a Conservative councillor in attendance said she had probably carried it when she was a Brownie – and coincidentally she went to our unit!

The four minutes flew by – and what we thought was a carefully timed and rehearsed pitch wasn’t. We didn’t factor in laughter (yay! my joke was laughed at!!) and applause (the song at the start of our pitch) – and went slightly over by a few seconds.

At the end loads of ex-Brownies came up and chatted to us – most glad that Girlguiding still existed. Girlguiding is looking for volunteers so we brought leaflets in case anyone was interested. That’s the other thing – Sutton Soup is good for networking. Not that I’m in any way good at being at all businesslike, mind!

The next Sutton Soup is in April – you can find out more about them over at their website. It’s a great night out, you get soup and a bread roll and a really good feeling inside knowing a local cause has got some well-deserved money.

* I had a tight grip of H’s shoulders I was that nervous. Poor child!!

Vegan Friendly Cosmetics

I’m vegetarian. I have been since around 1983 when I declared to my mum that I would never eat meat again while looking at the turkey on Christmas Day. I can’t go vegan. Mainly as I don’t like the alternatives – and I’ve tried. I’m not at the right place to try.
However, one thing I can do is to look at what I’m putting on my body, and improve that. So I’ve been looking at vegan friendly cosmetics.

Vegan friendly cosmetics are the simplest way of finding what I’m looking for. I want brands that don’t test on animals, a long-standing EU regulation anyway – but there’s a catch.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading on PETA to find brands which are cruelty-free and struggled. A lot of brands sell their cosmetics worldwide – and there are countries who insist on exported cosmetics being tested on animals. They’re off my list – and sadly these include a few brands I’ve always thought were okay – Clarins is one. (sob) Benefit too. The only way they can control this is by not selling their cosmetics in those countries – which of course they’re not going to do as it’s all about the money. So I will no longer be buying any of their products.

Fortunately, some old favourites have brought up favourable results – back in the day I used to buy Eyes Lips Face cosmetics – they make vegan friendly cosmetics. You can buy some of their range in larger Superdrug stores. Superdrug’s own range also carries the PETA bunny – always a good sign.

I’ve recently discovered Fairypants who have a great line in perfume. I bought myself a lipbalm, some dry skin cream and some perfume to see how I got on with it. Already it has made a difference – H had dry skin patches, they always come up each winter. We’d normally rely on Aveeno, but they’re not cruelty free – they sell in China, disappointingly. The Fairypants Vegan Dry Skin Balm has had two applications over two weeks and the dry skin has gone! I’m quite amazed by it. The perfume is lovely too!

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I didn’t spent enough time thinking about it before – but this year I’m going to be shopping far more conscientiously. After all, if I haven’t (knowingly) eaten meat for this long, I should be looking at the products I use.

Fortunately Sanex seem to be okay which is good as they have one of the few deodorants that works for me. I am ditching my phosphate-free L’Oreal shampoo and have switched to Kind Natured shampoo – they helpfully have a vegan section on their website too. Boots stock Kind Natured and they’re a reasonable price too. H uses their kids shampoo after she has been swimming – it works a treat.

Finding vegan friendly cosmetics doesn’t seem too difficult, so let’s see how we get on…

Hogwarts in the Snow

It’s New Year’s Eve and what are you going to do? Sit at home, relax, have a lie in, right? Or go to Hogwarts in the Snow at 9am that morning? Well of course we did the latter.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Hogwarts in the Snow is on at the moment at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden. We visited a year and a half ago and I felt like this was a big enough gap between visits. H has now seen all the films, with the Cursed Child play being the thing we haven’t seen.

Hogwarts in the Snow runs until late January and has the set decorated to look festive. There is also a chance to feel the different kinds of snow that was used when it was needed – as well as how fire and ice was made.

Hogwarts in the Snow Fire and Ice stall

This consisted of boxes of the three different types of snow used in the films, the special effects used for ice, and how to recreate fire (which was slightly hot but not fire-hot). One type of snow was like grains of sand, whereas the more gloopy kind was the sort which you could make snowballs from. It’s another one of those things you wouldn’t think about when watching a film. A small part of Diagon Alley also had snow on it, showing some disappearing footprints.

Hogwarts in the Snow, Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express
Diagon Alley – Gringotts footprints in the snow (which disappear), Shaun and H chatting, and the Hogwarts Express

For the first time, the set of the Main Hall is decorated like the Yule Ball, complete with Professor Flitwick and an orchestra.

The great thing about the Warner Brothers Studio Tour is how things change. The sets have been moved around to accommodate the Forbidden Forest since we last visited. It wouldn’t surprise me if things are changed around regularly, and indeed on chatting with a staffmember at the end, he confirmed that items from the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies will be joining the Potter Universe. There’s an extension being built which will house it.

Newt & Porpentia costumes - Warner Brothers Studio Tour
In the main ticket area there’s a Fantastic Beasts area – soon to be part of the main studio tour – hurrah! Here’s Newt and Porpentia.

Let’s stop for a minute here. The last film was completed in 2011. Okay, so that’s only seven years ago – but everyone there was enjoying being there. Even Shaun! There is so much to take in that it’s impossible in one visit. There ware different exhibitions and features being added all the time.

The fact that something finished so long ago that still lives on, finding new fans all the time, well, that’s a great achievement.

I noticed changes from the last time we visited – just little tweaks but changes. H read absolutely everything again. Which took a long time – again! I’d love it if there was a guide you could buy at the end with all the information in there.

Hufflepuff in action at Warner Brothers Studio Tour

There were queues, but we were prepared for it after our last visit. I’d say we got through quicker in some areas too. We stopped for lunch at the Backlot Cafe whose only vegetarian burger option was a mushroom one (sob, not all vegetarians like mushrooms!). Fortunately there are sandwiches too.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour Night Bus, JK Rowling Quote and around a table
The Knight Bus, us around a table and a JK Rowling quote.

As before, H got her passport to look for Golden Snitches and stamp each page when she had spotted them, and even though they were in the same places it still took a while to find them (another good reason to leave a gap between visits!).

The Forbidden Forest was great – and a welcome addition to the tour. Inside is a moving Hippogriff (of course) and several moving Acromantula. Not one for arachnophobics – fortunately we’re not!

Forbidden Forest at WB Studios Tour
One of the smaller spiders in the Forbidden Forest and Buckbeak – a brand new model which moves too!

Over in the second part of the studio tour was a section where it showed the different stages where Dobby was animated. I don’t remember from last time – and it was brilliant. Cue loads of happy kids getting Dobby to Dab. Try saying that quickly…

Dabbing with Dobby at the Warner Brothers Studio tour
There was an interactive Dobby section where you could control him. Cue lots of kids making Dobby Dab.

H got Dobby to do the Macarena. Or maybe it’s the locomotion. I have no idea which song was in her head at the time…

We managed to spend six hours at Hogwarts in the Snow in the end. The model of Hogwarts at the end all decorated in one of the types of snow used in the films was as ever, impressive.

Two Dumbledores at the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour. Will there be three soon?
Two Dumbledores at the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour. Will there be three when Fantastic Beasts joins the Harry Potter world?

If you plan to visit and haven’t been for a while, then I think you’ll get a lot from seeing Hogwarts in the Snow. I know we’ll be visiting again once the Fantastic Beasts ephemera has been added, and I can’t wait to see it!

Hogwarts in the Snow Great Hall and Gryffindor common room

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker and Rosaria Costa

Have you ever wondered where swifts go when the seasons change, and they fly away? In Bill and the Little Red Plane, Bill wonders just that. We have been sent a copy of the book to review.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker

Bill and the Little Red Plane tells the story of Bill who is playing outside watching the swifts fly away. He’s wondering where they go, when he sees a little red plane in the sky which does a loop the loop.

He’s taken to an airfield, where he gets to ride the little red plane. The pilot, Edward, wants to know one thing – where would Bill like to go? Bill says he’d like to follow the swifts.

So Bill and Edward keep flying, following the swifts and seeing the different countries they fly over from their plane. Eventually the swifts end their journey in a rainforest in Africa, and it’s time for Bill and Edward to head home.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker illustrations

Bill and the Little Red Plane is a lovely book for nature lovers, written by Jonathan Walker and illustrated by Rosaria Costa. This is a great way to introduce children to birds. There are lots of facts about swifts once the story has finished too.

I would put this book at Reception-age children upwards. It’s one which can be read aloud easily but is also good for a first longer reading book as well.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker swift facts

Bill and the Little Red Plane also has a Story Monsters Approved patch and a five star badge from Readers Favourites. Both awards are voted for by children.

You can find out more here, Bill and the Little Red Plane is published by Chirpy Stories and is available now!

We were sent a copy of Bill and the Little Red Plane for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

Mazuri Kids Haircare Range

We have been trying some Mazuri Kids Haircare products – a shampoo, conditioner and detangler.

bottles of mazuri kids haircare

Mazuri Kids Haircare products are organic. This is important as I’ve often found that what goes onto H’s head isn’t always the best. Shampoos that contain sulfates make my head itch, so I like to keep things as natural as possible for H too.

We don’t use conditioner as often as we should so were delighted to try the Mazuri Kids Olive Oil Sweetie Pie Detangling Conditioner. I loved the waves that came back to her hair; as a baby she had lovely curly ringlets. While the ringlets didn’t reappear, it definitely helped her hair’s appearance.

Wavy hair using Mazuri Kids Haircare natural products

Mazuri Kids Olive Oil Sweetie Pie Softening Detangling Conditioner, has a blend of olive oil, blueberry extracts and silk protein which forms a softening,
detangling conditioner. Considering H’s hair is pretty tangly every day, this has definitely helped.

The Olive Oil Shampoozie Detangling shampoo is really gentle, has olive oil in it and I feel has really improved her hair. It’s always looking nice and shiny and healthy.  Made from hydrating olive oil, honey and aloe vera extracts, it’s very soft and mild and helps her tangly hair. You only need a small amount too!

mazuri kids haircare curls in hair
One thing we have big issues with is how tangly her hair gets. You can often find her screaming at me in the morning if I brush her hair with all the tangles. Add a bit of the Mazuri Kids Snookums 3 in 1 detangler to her hair and I have a happy girl.

Mazuri Kids haircare products are organic and made by mums for kids. They cost £2.97 each and a bottle lasts for ages. Given H washes her hair three times a week, we still have a lot left in our bottles!

We were sent the Mazuri Kids haircare products for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. You can buy the products now from Morrisons and Tesco stores.

2017 – Our Year in Review.

2017 hasn’t been our best year. I’ve been the one who has sucked the joy out of the party like a death eater (Harry Potter reference there, folks). I’ve been the one who when asked how I’m doing, has someone close to me who isn’t doing well. It has been one of those years. Something I’m very conscious of. So from now onwards, let’s focus on the good, or at least try to.

hever castle

In 2017 we took out a Historic Houses Association membership and discovered loads of new places. That was a REALLY good move, and one I’d recommend. We still have our Royal Historic Palaces, English Heritage and National Trust memberships too. We’ve been to Hever Castle and rowed on the lake for my birthday, to visiting Alnwick Castle and doing Harry Potter related things.

Alnwick Castle Broomstick training

Australia will have to be mentioned because, well, it’s Australia. We had an unexpected trip after a death in the family. My work were brilliant, and I managed to work remotely from there while doing everything else. We were able to visit places in between working and I found a happy medium without having to dump everything on my workmates while we were out there. I love Australia and still dream of moving out there one day.

cuddling duck at Coombe Mill

The summer holidays felt like they were a long way away, so when they came it was good to stop.

Coombe Mill was our Cornwall base, followed by Woodspring Farm Hut near Weston Super Mare. It was where H grew in confidence – and she wasn’t pushing herself, just following her own instincts.

Woodspring Farm Hut

H started in Year 4 and for a short while I became “that mum” – the one who insists she stepped out of her comfort zone and attend an after school club, doing Young Voices. Up to now she hadn’t had any interest in singing in public so it was quite a jump. The added bonus was her teachers from last year run it.

She came out having had the most wonderful time and is looking forward to joining lots of other schoolkids and singing at the O2 in January. I’m really looking forward to trying to find her! It works out cheaper than a gig too, so I think it’s a win-win situation.

 

H is still swimming and switched classes again. By the end of 2017 she had gained her Bronze award. I know she’s ready to move onto a bigger pool and depths, though she has swimming with school this year so we’re holding off until September. At the moment she’s working on her 800 metre badge, so we’ll see how that one goes!

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It goes without saying, football has played a big part of our lives in 2017.

We worked with the FA to help promote women’s football, and H started playing every weekend with Crystal Palace Wildcats.

SSE Wildcats Girls Football Club, FA Girls' Football Week 2017

She’s starting a new term there from January, has made lots of new friends and they all even got to be mascots at a Crystal Palace Ladies game which was great fun (and very cold). While she may never play football competitively, she’s having so much fun. I like that she’s doing an activity where she didn’t know anyone at all and has made new friends.

We’ve watched Tottenham Ladies a couple of times now and our aim for 2018 is to catch a Tottenham game at Wembley just the once.

We bought a new car in 2017. After having had an old Vauxhall Astra, we switched to a Skoda Fabia. I love it! The car suits me and my driving – it’s not too big and not too small. It fits quite a lot in it and has sensors for parking too. My downfall in our last car was when I reversed into a bollard and dented it…

We took out a PCP deal to buy the car, and with Shaun working from home this meant the money we save in him travelling to the office now pays off the car. We’ll do more trips next year as my biggest problem with getting anywhere was whether our old car could do it. Oh, and we had a carbon monoxide problem with the car too.

Gas Safety Week 2017 poster, 2017

Carbon monoxide. That was a busy week. I was one of the case studies for Gas Safety Week 2017 (it doesn’t mention this blog at all so you wouldn’t know), speaking about my experience of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. I intend to work with Project Shout Co in 2018 too. We have to keep shouting.

Our year ends on a quieter note, with a visit to the Roald Dahl Museum and a trip to see Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brother Studios. There will be reviews to follow in the new year, and always photos on my Instagram.

I get the feeling that while I will never stop blogging, this slower pace of updating is where we are. Essentially I am now working four jobs – my dayjob, this blog, my PTA responsibilities and finally of course the work I do with Brownies as a Leader in Training. Oh, and parenting too.

2018 will be about finding a better balance in my work – home life. We’ll get out more and I’ll blog about it more.

We’ve enjoyed staying in a yurt and a shepherds hut this year. I’d love to think we’ll go camping at some point too.

I never do resolutions, mainly as I’d forget them. We can leave 2017 with our heads held high and know that we’re out of it intact and that’s all that counts.

Happy New Year, and all the best for 2018!