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Crash Course in…

Often I find that throwing myself into the deep end works more for me rather than wallowing in the shallow end for a while, in this case it was straight into the deep end for me.

I didn’t learn to swim until I was about 9 years old and I always hated that all my friends could swim but I hadn’t been taught properly. I always felt silly when we started to go swimming with school and I still had to wear armbands. I have never wanted my children to feel like this and so this week, Leo has been taking part in a swimming crash course.

Back in March when I first saw the course advertised, I decided that Leo was still a little young as he had only just turned 2 but a few months ago we decided that the time was right and we were going to get him booked on. So, I contacted Swimabout based in Cheadle Hulme and got him onto the next available crash course. I figured that doing it like this would help Leo’s confidence, my anxiety and Dan’s worries about someone else taking care of our our boy.

I have literally been pulling my hair out every time that I thought about him taking part in this course since I booked it. Many of you know that I have serious issues with other people taking care of Leo – there is literally only a couple of people that we are comfortable leaving Leo with and even then, it’s never longer than a couple of hours and when we are around the corner.

So handing Leo over to a swimming instructor (that we didn’t actually know) and not being in the pool with him was absolute torture for me. Honestly, I often wonder why I put myself in these situations but this was one situation that I wasn’t going to give in to though and so on Monday, this happened…

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This was the first evening…look at his poor little face. I am pretty sure you can imagine what I was like at the moments like these – especially when he was shouting “mama, dada” in between those cries. The idea is that he is in the pool and mummy and daddy aren’t around, so you literally have to ignore the cries. I was sat on the floor, with tears in my eyes listening to him cry but trying to smile at him if he looked at me – I honestly felt like the worst mum in the world. I can imagine him being in the water thinking, why can mummy and daddy see me but they’re not coming to get me when I’m crying?

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After around 20 minutes, we had our first couple of smiles that lasted a few minutes but then he started again. Cue mummy tears again.

We do take Leo swimming when we can and he swims in the pools on holiday but he always clings on to us and to be honest, we of course let him, why wouldn’t we? No parent wants to see their baby upset and we know that we are even more likely to let him cling on as long as he wants; but this is why we needed this course – the intention was that it was going to benefit all three of us in one clean sweep.

Learning to swim is obviously something extremely important for a child and it’s something that we should all know how to do, as well as being enjoyable and healthy for you, it’s a potential lifesaving skill.

So day 2. Talking to Leo about going in the pool again before we went and he is all excited and laughing in the car and can’t wait to get there – shouting “pool” in the back of the car … although it was a completely different story when he actually realised that we were back at the same place again. Dan putting his Swimfin on resulted in pretty much a full on break down at the side of the pool because Leo must have realised that he was actually getting into the water again and without mummy and daddy. Dan put him on the side of the pool and .. well check out the photo, I think that pretty much says it all – not impressed at all about being plonked there.

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This night didn’t get any better. In fact, he pretty much cried the whole way through the session. Well, I say cry – there wasn’t any really tears – just lots of noise and a very uncooperative child. Let’s just say day 2 was a write off.

Day 3 and we have an excited child again – until Dan hit the changing room and major meltdown Operation Leo commenced, although by the time he made it to by the swimming pool edge, he had calmed down a little and was saying “pool, pool” and actually wanting to get in. Could this be the night it all changed? Actually Leo did pretty well, there were a lot more smiles and a lot less noise. He was still pretty grumpy, although that’s more than likely to be because he doesn’t like being told what to do by anyone.

Leo had some time with Simon this evening who runs the classes. I’m not sure what he actually says to the children when he is with them but he is like a child whisperer and they stop screaming – amazing.  Look at how he has Leo concentrating and listening to him in this photo – I don’t actually think that he has ever concentrated that much on anything that Dan nor I have ever said to him.

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At the end of the pool time, we asked if he enjoyed it and wanted to come back tomorrow …. Result.. see the cheeky smile behind his hand.

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Day 4… Well, we ended up being late to the lesson unfortunately due to a huge traffic jam on the motorway coming back from the 999 day that we’d been at. Leo didn’t actually have time to realise where he was before he was changed and in the pool with the teacher again and once he did, he made a lot of noise. At this point we were actually thinking oh no, is it going backwards again? Then the Child Whisperer started to talk to him again and lo and behold, the noise stopped and the smiles started, enough for me to get him smiling in some photos whilst he was in the pool which I hadn’t really managed all week. Smiling Leo led to a happy mummy and daddy.

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Final evening ….. What a turnaround in just a few days, he has gone from screaming and clinging on to the instructors to not minding being in the pool without mummy and daddy, being a little way from the instructors playing with toys in the pool and laughing and smiling.

I’m not sure Leo knew what to make of the bike that was made for him out of noodles judging by the look on his face below – but I thought it was a great way to get his hands off the instructors and onto something else, completely fab for his confidence building in the water.

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The lessons had so much going on in them, it was great for the children, especially the younger ones that by the end of the week didn’t have much time to think about whether they should be crying or not. Ducks, bouncy castles, balls, shark fins, noodles and lovely swimming instructors to keep Leo distracted enough to smile pretty much through his final session of the week. 

So as you can see, Leo had us all smiling by the end of the week. It was nothing but torturous for the first few days and handing our son over to a complete stranger had both of us pretty much in pieces as it was the first time (apart from a small hospital operation when he was younger- click here to read this ) that we had done this. The instructor obviously didn’t know any of this, so it was really good for us to see just how great he was with all the children – not just Leo.

Next step is that we are going to continue to take Leo swimming over the summer and carry on with some of the things that we learnt to do with Leo in the pool to improve his confidence and then to get Leo booked onto regular swimming lessons when the new term starts in September and we will of course be booking with Swimabout – why would we choose anywhere else when we have discovered that the child whisperer runs it? 🙂

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Seriously though,  all the instructors were fabulous with the children and it really did worry us that Leo was pretty much one of the youngest though – but we had nothing to worry about in the end and it all worked out fabulous.

For anyone who is debating whether to do this type of crash course, don’t think about it – get it booked, you worn regret it. X . 

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To read a previous blog Kisses for Big Sister…click here 

Take a peek at this video clip so you can see he actually did enjoy it! 😀

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I promised pregnancy updates ….. 

Come on ladies, be honest with me now … are you team “I love being pregnant and could do it every day for the rest of my life” or team “Come on, this has got to be over soon”

I would love to be one of those women who absolutely adore being pregnant, bloom when they should and sail through it all with no problems …. but just to make all the pregnant ladies feel better that don’t feel like that … I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum …. this has pretty much been me for most of this pregnancy so far…

One of the biggest reasons that I wish I felt good when pregnant is that because I’ve lost Millie and had a miscarriage, I carry this awful guilt around with me constantly were I think I should be thankful I can have more children and I should just get on with it and suffer with these awful illnesses as the outcome is worth it all. 

I’ve suffered from Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) for the majority of this pregnancy. I mean, I have been sick very badly with Millie and Leo but this time has been something else, some days it has been non stop pretty much from waking up to going to sleep. The strange thing is though, is this is the exact reason that I knew something was wrong in my third pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage last November – I wasn’t sick, I didn’t even feel sick once. Don’t get me wrong, I know each pregnancy can be different – that you can be really ill one pregnancy and glowing the next, but I knew. 

Even after 2 awful sickness pregnancies with Millie and Leo and then having the miscarriage, I was hoping to get an easy ride with this one, but nooooooooo – it came back with a vengeance. I’ve been gradually coming out of it over the past 2 weeks and touchwood, I’ve just felt sick all day for 2 weeks – no doubt it will start again.

This smile below … this is what I want to look like 😂 I’ve got no chance 😂 For the record, none of my pregnancies have been easy going.


Then, of course there is the tiredness. Now this is never standard tiredness with me! It completely knocks me out- exhaustion doesn’t ever cover it. I can’t function, I can’t eat, I can’t shower, I can hardly talk. I’ve never seen anyone like it or heard anyone talk about being like this and again doubled with the sickness has left me feeling absolutely horrendous. 

Make me feel a little better ladies, tell me your stories… I know I’m not the only one. I can’t be 😕. 

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It does turn out though, that some tests came back to show that I have a problem with my iron – so much so, that I’m now on quite a high does of medication that has finally gotten me back on my feet, just!

And then I caught a bloody cold! I was so angry, I’d not been out of the house for nearly four weeks and I came down with the world’s worst cold on top of everything else …. made worse by the fact Dan and Leo were fine which one of them had kindly carried it in for me! 

This time has been different too. 

When I was ill with my pregnancy with Leo, I was struggling, of course I was, I’d lost Millie. I was so scared and frightened but Dan was by my side every step of the way, just like he has been this time. 
Except, now there’s a toddler in the equation in the middle of all this illness. Leo being a toddler is not the problem at all – me feeling like I can’t be a proper mum to him because I’m so ill, that’s the problem. 


(Not a care in the world 😍😍😍)

Not being able to pick him up.

Not being able to bathe him.

Not being able to change his nappy on the changing mat as I couldn’t lift him up.

Not being able cuddle him properly when he’s hurt himself.

Missing out on him playing and laughing because I was so exhausted that I couldn’t  keep my eyes open ….

That hurt. In fact it ripped me apart inside. This big beaming smile coming running into me in the morning and I couldn’t even muster the energy to throw him up into the bed with us; actually – this has led to him mastering leg swinging, I’ll class that as helping his skill building 😉. 

But then my black dog came back to haunt me. The feelings of uselessness about not being able to feel like a proper mum. The wanting to close my eyes and not wake up again. The thoughts that Dan and Leo would be better off without me because I am such a burden when I’m so ill and lacking basic human functionalities to get through a day. 

I knew it was bad and I realised I needed some help. I was so close to asking for  anti-depressants again, I wanted that release of feeling numb and the pain going away. I was so angry with myself wanting these tablets again, especially when I’m pregnant. I’m a complete advocate for if you need anti-depressants then there should be no shame in taking them – but my shame was because I was on them for such a long period of time after we lost Millie and that I worked so hard to get off them with the fantastic mental health support from the NHS; that I was disgusted in myself for wanting to what to me seemed was an easy way out. In my head, when I’m feeling okay, I know it’s not any easy way out taking anti-depressants – because even just admitting that you need help is one of the hardest things to do, it’s an alternative way out, not an easy way out. 

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This all gets to me even more so because I never needed anything like this before we lost Millie and now I feel like it’s never going to do away, that at the most difficult times in my life, at any point in the future I could fall again and that’s so scary. It’s really scary and I know that so many of you who suffer from a mental illness feel like this too at the back of your mind. 


As it turns out, my psychologist had left me a voicemail on one of these awful days and when I picked it up, it’s just what I needed to hear. She wanted to know if I was ok with my pregnancy or if I needed any help. I’d never responded to anything as quickly in my life. 

I’d been asked previously at my pregnancy booking appointment if I wanted access to any pregnancy mental health services and I’d said yes because I knew I was going downhill – a combination of mixed emotions about Millie and I was starting to realise that I hadn’t really dealt with my miscarriage well – I’d kept myself busy and distracted after it happened and the effects were now starting to show.

I’ve started to see my psychologist again now. I’m going to be honest. I hate it. Don’t worry, if my psychologist reads this, (I’m not sure if she does read my blog) she already knows this. I hate it because it really hurts, it’s so emotionally painful. We’re doing EMDR again and it knocks me for six and takes me a few days to feel slightly normal again… but …  I know the benefits and I know how it helped me last time.

And just to finish this off on a laughable note for you, I just got my bump stuck in between the side of the bins and our house, go on, have a good laugh.. Dan did 🙈.

I’m not going to ramble anymore, this blog is longer than I intended already …. catch up in a few days xxx

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United we are 

The pure solidarity from the people of Manchester last night and today evidently shows what amazing people there are out there in the place that we all lovingly call home.

From the professionalism and passionate determination of the emergency services that took those first awful initial phone calls and that risked their lives to run straight in and began rescuing people; to the men and women on the street that provided first aid treatment to many strangers on the street that they had never come across before; to the taxi drivers that wavered their fees and travelled hundreds of miles to ensure people’s loved ones could get home and to the restaurants, shops, bar and hotels that have opened their doors free of charge to ensure that people could eat and have a safe place to rest whilst they waited to be reunited with their loved ones …. we stand united. 

Not just in Manchester, but the whole country.

As the day has gone on and the details have unfolded of what happened, the enormity of the tragedy coming to light and the lost loved ones photos have emerged slowly in the media , my mind is still completely astonished about the understanding of what cowards could do this, to target an innocent crowd … and more so, an innocent crowd full of children. 

Monsters. 

There is no other word for them. 

The grief of course is not confined to the Manchester community as people had travelled from hundreds of miles away for the concert, communities will be mourning all over the country when details of the further lost loved ones emerge. 

Lost brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, friends but most of all what hits me the hardest is the loss of sons and daughters – children to a mother and father somewhere, no matter what their age – still someone’s child – so many people still so young with their full life ahead of them. 

Many of us do not know these people personally but we have potentially lost future doctors, future fighters, future maths teachers or future (insert what comes to your mind here)…

…Or simply, future friends, future husbands and wives or that person across the street that just smiles at you at the right time when you are having a rough day and when you need it the most.

Today I have cried every time that I have seen a new photo of someone that has had their life confirmed lost because they are so young.

I cried for their parent’s pain.

I cried for the parents receiving that terrible news that their cherished child has lost their life.

I cried for the future that their child has lost.

I cried for the enormity of the grief and the challenges ahead for these parents of living their life without the child that they thought they would see receive their GCSE grades, the child that they thought they would walk down the aisle and the child who would give them beautiful grandchildren. 

I cried for them all, for all that they have lost and for all the future memories that have been taken from them in a split second. 

As a parent, the loss of a child is the hardest thing that you will ever go through, there is simply no comparison and I know that from my own experience. 

I looked at my 2 year old son today sat there laughing on the floor, so innocent and carefree and I was genuinely scared for the future of our children – the scale of the attacks and the technology and ideas in the weapons being used makes my blood run cold when I think about what it could be like for them in 20 years …. I wish the world was a better place for them. 

We could not attend the Manchester City Centre Vigil this evening but we have attended a local one to us earlier this evening and paid our respects. 

My heart stays with the families of the lost loved ones and the injured this evening x


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A little one on the way x 

Some of you know that I’ve been quite ill recently, I think this photo should explain it to you all, I don’t think it needs many words… 

Yep, another Baby Thompson is on the way … a little brother or sister for Millie and Leo xxx

Of course, following my miscarriage last November , we are very happy that I’m pregnant again but it’s been a rough first few months both physically and mentally but we can’t meet to wait our new Rainbow later this year.

I will be blogging throughout this pregnancy about pregnancy after loss, how I get on with this pregnancy in general and of course pregnancy with a toddler in tow! Follow my blog on Facebook to see my most recent ramblings first. Click here to follow 

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xxx

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Without a Child – Mother’s Day 

In a perfect world this 2017 Mother’s Day, I would have my 5 year old daughter Millie running into our bedroom with a plate of toast that daddy made & a handmade card that she’d made at school with some flowers that she’d picked with her daddy; my crazy little whirlwind 2 year old son bringing me in whatever he came across as he ran from his bedroom to give me a kiss and I’d also be extremely tired after having a restless night because I’d be 6 months pregnant.

That’s how it should be, in a perfect world. But it’s not. And actually, not many people live in a perfect reality but many of us struggle to see that. 

In my reality. My lovely little whirlwind son will come bounding into our bedroom with a million books just as he does every morning and he’ll give me a big sloppy morning kiss and jump into bed with us. 

Later that morning, we’ll pay a visit to our daughter’s sleeping place and instead of her giving me flowers, I will give them to her and lay them on her resting place to keep it looking beautiful; this I find extremely hard on Mother’s Day but I still do it. 

The cemetery is always busy on Mother’s Day but with people laying flowers on their mother’s resting places – the way it should be. The reason we are visiting the cemetery places us in a minority group on this day, a group that we would give anything not to be in.

I won’t be tired because of a restless night being 6 months pregnant either because I sadly miscarried just before 12 weeks in November 2016. To read more about this click here 

We won’t go out for a meal or go somewhere fun like many families because four years after losing Millie and even after having Leo, I still struggle seeing families so happy on these certain days and I spend all day crying. Daft, I know – especially because many of these families probably have their own sad stories. I find it hard still being around families on these days that have these lovely big families – because we should be a noisy family of 4 (nearly 5) and we aren’t – our card has been dealt much differently through no fault of our own.  I’m not jealous, or angry – it just hurts, so much. 


I know that things will be different in a few years, especially when Leo is at school and he’ll make me things for these special days & he’ll come running out of school with for them, so proud of what he has made. He’ll suddenly one year be old enough to bring me breakfast in bed without daddy’s help & even pick his own card for me and choose where we should spend Mother’s Day together – I can’t wait for this; because it will make Leo happy and in turn it will make me smile and enjoy the day more. I genuinely am looking forward to this. 

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This year is my 5th Mother’s Day without Millie and my 3rd one with Leo. If you do the sums you will realise that I had 2 Mother’s Days being a mum but without a child in my arms. They were the hardest; being a mum but not feeling like one. 


This day is tough for so many who are thinking about their own lives right now and how different they would be if their children had survived, their pregnancy had continued or their infertility hadn’t stopped their dreams. 

Women who have lost children.

Women who can’t have children for medical reasons.

Women who have suffered pregnancy loss.

Women who want nothing more than to be a mum but it’s just not happening for them. 

A mother should never have to experience a Mother’s Day without their child, they should not have to wake up on this day feeling even less of a mother than they already do. I can say that from my heart because that’s honestly how I felt the first Mother’s Day after losing Millie and part of me still feels like that today even after having my gorgeous boy. A part of my being a mum will always be missing, no matter how hard I try. 

Mother’s Day is so commercialised that it is everywhere and you cannot avoid it even if you want to and for many that is tough. 

Think about those close to you this weekend that might be struggling a little not having a child with them for whatever reason that may be and drop them a quick text letting them know that you are thinking of them. 

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Choking Hazards for children 

I keep seeing all these various posts flying around Facebook at the moment about not letting your children eat certain foods because another child has choked on them and they are suddenly now deemed a complete danger to children.

Now, as a policy. On the Millie’s Trust page, we refuse to share anything that has not been officially recalled because if one of these posts just happened not to be true, it could potentially ruin the business of whatever product it was.

So, after seeing a few of these flying around social media this week, I decided to do a little experiment whilst I was doing my weekly shop today (much to Leo’s dismay having to spend 15 minutes back and forth on the sweet aisle). 

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I wanted to have a look at what confectionary products actually came with a choking warning on them because as you all know, certain sweets etc can be a certain type and shape and this may cause an obstruction much more easily. 

So my experiment went like this.

I picked up random sweets on the aisle that I considered to be a choking hazard to a child under the age of 3.

I’m sad to say that in those 15 minutes, I only actually found 4 items that had a hazardous notice on the back of them. Here is a photo below .. I haven’t used the brand names on here as it’s not fair on the manufacturers, some of them could be own supermarket brands and some of them could be nationally well known brands. 


Here are some of the hazard warnings and honestly, it really impressed me that the manufacturers had decided to put these warnings on.

Did you know that the small chocolate eggs had a warning for children under the age of 4? 


There is a reason for these warnings. It is to stop adults giving them to children when they are small. Be it because the actual sweet could cause a full blockage or the toy parts with the chocolate could be a choking hazard (see photo below)


The fact is, is that the manufacturer has put a warning on these products but I still see children under these ages time and time again being given these products, having their lives put at risk by the person who has given it to them because there is a clear warning on the packaging and they have chosen to ignore it. 

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Why? Why on earth would you give in and give a 2 year old a chocolate egg not meant for children under the age of 4.

I was actually shocked that I couldn’t find a marshmallow packet or a hard boiled sweet packet with a choking hazard warning on them – because these products due to the consistency and/or shape are up there on the high risk, just like grapes and sausages that haven’t been cut in the correct way before being given to children.

Then we have the other extreme though, check out the photo below, how many of these products have you happily given your 1 year old child? Don’t worry, it’s fine to do so. So don’t feel guilty when you look at the photo…


My point is, is that everything is a choking hazard to children. Just remember, our daughter choked on mash and passed away and she was an extremely competent eater. We were utterly shocked when we were told it was mash (I can’t stand writing/saying/hearing this word) that Millie had choked on as we had originally been told she had been eating Shepherd’s Pie, we were expecting to be told that she had choked on a piece of meat, but no, it was the mash from the meal. 

Grapes, sausages, toast, fruit, bacon etc etc etc 

A lot of the time, it’s not about the product. It’s about the preparation of the food, it’s about you spending the time to sit with your child and be there with them whilst they eat their meal. 

  • The emails can wait
  • The phone calls can wait 
  • The hoovering can wait
  • The doorbell can wait
  • The texts can wait 

Focus on your child. It is THAT SIMPLE.

  • Prepare food correctly
  • Cut it to the correct size
  • Cut it in the correct manner

Two of my biggest gripes. Now, some of you are going to hate me for saying this, some of you are going to be sat there saying “What is she going on about? I do that!” Maybe you won’t after reading a little further … my gripes are 

  • Giving children food in a forward facing pushchair 
  • Giving children food in the back of a car when there is no adult in the back seat with them. 

Think about this for a second. 

If your child went quiet in pushchair after eating some fruit for example, that you had given them, would your first thought be “they’re choking” … I am pretty confident that most of you would just think that they had fallen asleep… by the time you realise, it’s too late. 

And all because you wanted to keep them quiet for 5 minutes and food would be a distraction. 

When someone is choking and silent – it’s a full blockage, the worst kind. They need help. NOW.

Just as a side note here, Leo had a tantrum whilst in the supermarket today because I wouldn’t let him eat a cake whilst pushing him in the trolley. He literally screamed blue murder for 3 or 4 aisles in the supermarket, maybe less than 10 mins … did it bother me? No. Why? Because I wasn’t going to give in and let him eat something whilst I was distracted shopping. He could wait. He eventually got bored of screaming and started to point everything out in the supermarket. I could see the sympathy from other parents about my screaming child, which was great! These parents had all been there with a screaming child, it’s fine. It will be over soon, don’t give in. I didn’t, he didn’t get the cake. He got it, when we got home for after his dinner. 

Now let’s use the exact same theory in a car;

How long would it take you to pull over on the hard shoulder in moving traffic once you realise that your child was choking? Probably longer than the time needed for the damage already to be done. 

Many people are surprised to hear that Dan and I think like this after losing Millie. The fact is, is that anyone can choke on anything.

Preparation is key.

Take the time out not to rush food.

Learn what to do if the worst was to happen.

I hope that many of you reading this will now consider reading the back of food products before you give them to your small children. There’s nothing stopping you giving them to them but consider cutting them up, just like you would a grape. Consider whether the consistency of the product (particularly sticky) is appropriate for the age of your child. Consider the toy product that might come in a gift set with an Easter Egg.

It’s about thinking. It’s about common sense. It’s about prioritising.

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