Jul 17 2012

Massage to change body shape… bliss!

You’ll know from previous posts that I’m a huge fan of massages. Therefore when I met the lovely Paola at a recent event and she offered to give me a deep tissue massage, I was more than keen to take her up on her offer.

I arrived at The Albany Club (just minutes from Great Portland Street tube station) which is a private members club and was greeted with the warmest welcome. Paola’s passion for massage is contagious and her years of experience shine through. She specialises in deep tissue, manual lymphatic drainage for water retention and slimming and natural facelift massage for rejuvenation and stress management.

I was lucky enough to experience the deep tissue and natural facelift and could really tell the difference. The facelift in particular left me feeling particularly fresh, with a visible difference to the bags underneath my eyes – perfect before a night out. The deep tissue treatment to my back really managed to unknot my back – although you should be prepared that you’re likely to ache the next day (all in a good way of course).

Paola has lots of regular clients and it’s clear to see why – I know that I’ll be heading back for sure. Given her expertise, I asked her to take the time to answer some interview questions which I’ve included before. My words alone wouldn’t do justice to her wonderful treatments. Be sure to check her out for yourself…

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1. How did you first get into massage?

I used to get very stressed in my office job and started getting regular massages years ago. I remember a particular time when my neck was completely stiff and after one deep tissue massage I was back to normal. From then on I was sure that massage can help in many situations.
I went on a charity trip to Machu Picchu in Peru and I had a kind of “epiphany” about how I wanted my life to be and decided to retrain as a massage therapist. That was in 2005 and I haven’t looked back since.

2. Which types of massage do you offer?

I can summarise the types of massage treatments I offer in three main categories: deep tissue for tension and injuries, manual lymphatic drainage for water retention and slimming and natural facelift massage for rejuvenation and stress management.
Also, my signature massage is an indulgent 2 hour treatment called Energya Total Rejuvenation which combines all of these techniques for the ultimate relaxation experience

3. Which is your most popular treatment and why?

Hands down my most popular treatment is deep tissue massage: my clients work long hours in front of a computer and massage can help with the tension in their back and shoulders. Nothing beats deep tissue when it comes to releasing aches and pains.

4. What are the medical benefits to massage?

Generally speaking massage can help in the recovery from injuries, in releasing aching muscles after a workout and in soothing the central nervous system therefore aiding with problems like anxiety and stress.

5. Can massage help insomnia?

More research is needed in terms of scientific benefits of massage but from my own personal experience treating several hundreds of clients over the years, my natural facelift masssage has helped clients sleep better. The more soothing the massage, the more effective it is in normalisting sleeping patterns. Lymphatic drainage is also useful for insomnia. Deep tissue is strong and intense so sometimes your body needs to process what’s going on and depending on the person it can either be reviving or relaxing so there’s no hard and fast rule.

6. What can people do to help themselves at home between massages?

Stretching, stretching, stretching! I always recommend it to prevent the build up of tension. That’s why I post regular video tutorials on my website, like this one on neck stretches:
I also recommend exercise like yoga and Pilates to release muscles and joints and improve posture and alignment.

7. How does the non-surgical facelift massage work?

The natural facelift or non-surgical facelift massage is a gentle technique working on the skin and the muscles in the face. A precise sequence of strokes brings fresh blood to the tissues, helps smooth out fine lines and helps tone the facial muscles. The idea is to provide profound relaxation and a mini workout for the face. The end result is a fresher appearance and the feeling of being on holiday.

8. Can massage be used to change your body shape/tone?

Absolutely. One of the massage treatments I offer is the sculpting massage which combines deep tissue and lymphatic drainage. The technique works on the fat deposits in targeted areas of the body using friction and pressure. This helps breaking down the fat cells so that they don’t bulge in the mesh of connective tissue (the “orange peel effect”). In conjunction with diet and exercise clients have managed to lose inches with the slimming massage.

9. What are the trends that you are witnessing with society and wellbeing? Is health and body awareness increasing in importance from your experience?

In the 6 years I have been practising I have noticed that people are becoming more aware of their health but unfortunately I have also seen an increase in concerns about body image and eating disorders. Also I am slightly worried about people who demand quick fixes: the body needs 6 to 8 weeks to show any changes in shape and size so if you start a new eating and exercise plan hoping to get into a smaller dress size within 2 weeks you are bound to be disappointed.

10. What are the things that you most love about your job?

I chose this “job” (I call it my passion) because I am a firm believer in complementary medicine. Unlike my previous corporate jobs I receive instant feedback and helping clients get healthier is very rewarding. I am a facilitator, not a healer, so it’s all about teamwork: I work with clients to achieve better states of relaxation and wellbeing. The satisfaction of doing a good job and of getting tangible results is the best feeling in the world.

I also enjoy sharing my knowledge with clients and the general public which is why I make sure I spend enough time blogging, writing articles for external websites (for example The Huffington Post) and creating video tutorials.

Finally, it has been an exciting ride so far and getting public recognition for my efforts was thrilling: I won Best Practitioner in 2010 and the Italian Chambers of Commerce gave me a special award in 2011 for services to the industry.

11. How can people get in touch with you?

My website has all my contact details: I aim to reply to all massage enquiries within a day.

Jun 10 2012

A right royal tart!

My good friend Mills happens to be an awesome cook (nothing to do with me being her friend I assure you). In the lead up to the Jubilee she created a video with how-to instructions for making the perfect tart. I liked it so much, I wanted to share it with you here.

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You can check out more of her great recipes at

Of course, if you’d like to send me some to be sampled, this can also be arranged.

Happy Sunday baking!

M xox

Apr 30 2012

Best massage in London town?

A few weeks ago, I discovered the treasure chest that is Wahanda. Yes, I know, I’m behind the times. For those of you who are yet to have this life-changing experience, let me take the credit. I decided to do a video as a review… be warned, it includes me speaking:

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In case you want to check it out, my Happiness Project can be found here and you can find more details about Metta here. Oh and of course, then there’s the lovely!

I don’t want you guys to think that this is an advertorial. Neither the lovely chaps at Wahanda or Metta had asked me to write a review, but having experienced it for myself, I really wanted to share the recommendation with you. If you’re after a bit of pampering, you know where to go! Enjoy.

Big love,

M xox

p.s. An update on my Happiness Project is imminent.

p.p.s Apologies for looking so awful and tired, it’s been a long day at the office and I’ve just got home. What’s that I see? Tiny violins?

Jan 2 2012

My 2012 Happiness Project

As you will have seen from my last post, I recently read The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin and have been keen to create a project of my own. I decided to hold off of starting my own until the new year, it just felt apt.

Having taken a good while to consider ways I want to improve my life over the next year, I’ve managed to come up with a project of my own, cross referenced with my personal commandments. Below I’ve outlined my resolutions below. The idea is that every month you introduce a new element whilst maintaining those from previous months.

Jan – Take better care of myself

– Drink more water
– Reduce alcohol intake
– Get more sleep
– Remove makeup
– Apply moisturiser before sleep
– Keep a food journal

Feb – Take more exercise

– Get off the tube a stop early
– Walk the escalator
– Take stairs rather than the lift

Mar – Be nice

– Do something each day to make somebody smile
– Don’t speak negatively about anyone or anything
– Think of solutions rather than problems
– Offer help

Apr – Take time for myself

– Take a whole day a month where I do only the things that I love
– Keep a night a week free to relax, read and write

May – Take up pilates

– Attend pilates classes
– Take up meditation

Jun – Connect with likeminded people

– Create a career group
– Join a reading group

Jul – Take a break

– Book at least one holiday!

Aug – Create better relationships

– Rekindle relationships
– Make time for others
– Make new friends
– Build stronger relationships
– Pick up the phone

Sept – Go on adventures

– Discover at least 1 new part of London each week

Oct – Invest in happiness

– Go shopping without guilt
– Book massages

Nov – Expand my reading material

– Purchase books from areas of the book store I don’t normally visit
– Purchase a book I see someone reading on the tube

Dec – Appreciate the little things

– Create a list of things I’m grateful for
– Document all of the great things that have happened in the past year
– Plan a happiness project for 2013

I’d love to hear whether you’ve got any resolutions or happiness projects of your own. Use the comments, don’t be shy.

Happy 2012!

M xox

Dec 27 2011

My 2012 Personal Commandments

Merry Christmas! I hope that Santa brought you everything that you wished for and that you spent it with people that you love.

I recently read The Happiness Project which I loved. I really liked the concept of the project as I was reading the book and can honestly say that I thought it would provide more than a slight challenge to me. I’m great at focusing, in short periods. The thought of sustaining new activities and conscious changes to my life, does seem pretty daunting.

For those of you that are yet to read The Happiness Project, let me explain. The idea is that with each month, you introduce an element that will enhance your life in some way. In January, for example, you might decide to take better care of yourself (more sleep, removing makeup etc). In February then, you maintain the activity from January and introduce another element, for example more exercise. Hopefully by the end of the year, you’ve enhanced experiences in your life and are healthier for it.

I finished the book about 6 weeks ago now, but it felt right to introduce the changes that I wanted at the start of the new year. A new beginning. Given that I’m not a great believer in new year resolutions, I’d rather introduce new things to my life to enhance it rather than remove things. As part of the project, I’ve written myself some commandments. The concept of the commandments is that at any point, I can check back to them and make sure that I’m adhering to keep me on track. I thought it might be nice to share them:

  • Be true to myself
  • Enjoy the ride
  • Make the most of every moment
  • Invest in happiness
  • Don’t forget about happiness in moments of sadness
  • Love myself without spoiling or guilt
  • Walk. Every single day
  • Be kind. Always
  • Let it go
  • Be open to love

I can’t wait to see how it goes. As I work on my project over the next few days, I’ll share it here. It would be great to hear whether you’ve tried a similar thing or whether you’re planning your very own project. What are your commandments? I’d love to hear them…

Sep 8 2010

Living in a material world: Culture

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a number of articles on the culture of businesses and the role of the CEO as Chief Psychologist. I love the subject, I’ve read Delivering Happiness ten times over and still I can’t get enough of it. Given that it’s something which affects all companies, their staff and consumers – it’s still an area that is often done badly and worse still, over-engineered.

Who wants to be in my gang?

With the rise of the cool company, more offices than ever before are boasting shiny gadgets, games rooms and beer in the fridge to entice the very coolest kids to their working bunch. I’ve personally worked for a number of companies and don’t get me wrong it’s great. But it’s only great if it’s heart felt and genuine.

Building a business strategy around creating a cool culture is one that, in my opinion, will never succeed. Yes you can have your staff sitting comfortably in a lovely Aeron chair and the latest version of the iPhone in their mitts – but ultimately if it’s not in your core, not what you believe, not what you live and breath – it will never be sustainable.

Clock in. Clock out

To be seen as one of the cool web crowd, founders have stopped dropping vowels from their names and have taken to trying to create really cool working spaces with a “different vibe”. Whilst this is fabulous and beers will never be turned down, the shine starts to tarnish if the culture isn’t sewn through every part of the business. For example, enforcing a strict 9am-5pm regime to a non-customer facing role, when as part of your culture you’d be wanting them to focus on getting the job in hand done (often burning the midnight oil in the lead up to product releases) will start to cause a jar and the strain will begin to show.

Similarly, if you want to become a genuinely transparent company and to give your teams a voice – you can guide them, you can lead by example but you can’t control what they say. Ultimately, if you’re making the right hires for the culture of the business, you shouldn’t have to worry. Nobody is perfect, consumers want to know that there are humans behind the brand and sometimes that means them discovering your staff went for drinks on a school night – they probably do the same too.

Stop shouting, start doing

Not only are many companies now really good at creating their own ecosystems, they’re becoming bloody great at shouting about them. Self promotion has never been easier thanks to the likes of Twitter, Facebook and multiple video and photo sharing platforms.

Whilst this is amazing for communicating your culture and aiding recruitment, unless you really are living the life you’re selling, this can do more damage than good. Nothing worse than someone turning up to work at a weenie startup and being forced to create board packs and Powerpoint presentations (yuck!). Whilst you’ll get great people on board initially, they won’t become your advocates and essentially aren’t likely to stick around for as long as you’d like.

Company karma

Whilst you’re trying to stay cool, you’ll always be chasing for something outside of your control – after all “cool” changes and is very different in different people’s eyes. However, if you live by your “company karma” (I’ve just coined that phrase btw), this IS in your control and will be very hard to deviate from. Initially it will come from your core – the people that know what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it – but in time, through hires that fit, you’ll have a solid base for your company and all of the decisions that you make.

Of course, some of these decisions may challenge the norm, some people may think that you’re crazy, some people will tell you that they’d do things differently – but you’ll be confident in your choices, knowing that they’re right for you and your teams, after all, it’s come from your heart.

The companies that I really respect are those entirely focussed on producing amazing products, not those trying to be cool. That’s not something you can manufacture.

I’d love to hear your views on what makes a company successful, what culture means to you and how you think it’s sustainable as businesses grow. Please use the comments below and I promise I’ll respond 😉

One last thought

The cost of a Macbook Pro: £1,649.00.
The cost of a pool table: £1,950.00
The cost of an iPhone 4: £499.00
A sense of belonging and passion: Priceless.

Nov 26 2009

cook the perfect thanksgiving dinner – randommel style!

now then, i may be known for many things… my love of social media, the web, dancing like a loon and a boy-like addiction for gadgets spring to mind… but my culinary skills have never been put to the test.

with thanksgiving upon us, i thought that i’d pay homage to my american friends out there and make a thanksgiving dinner. you might enjoy the process…

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that’s why i eat out!

happy thursday and thanksgiving to you all.

much love xox

May 26 2008

holiday antics – blow by blow caribbean style


drive to gatwick airport, find the carpark, take the bus to the airport, check in our bags without being charged, even though my bag was hugely overweight (he was a lovely man!) and make our way to the departure gate. all too smooth, concerned.

board plane, seats with extra leg room. happy campers, looking forward to the sun. couple in front en route to get married in st lucia – kind of smug – little annoying. spirits still high.

arrive in antigua – bags first off the plane, sail through customs and greeted by sj’s aunt (sj is my pal – not girlfriend and kindly agreed to the girly holiday). picked up jeep and made way to her aunt’s house where we had dinner and caught up over a glass of champagne. all lovely. too lovely. little concerned.

make way to the hotel in the pitch black trying to avoid the potholes and random wandering chickens. find hotel, check in – they don’t have a twin room. after a little wait, given two double interconnecting rooms. decide too scared to be in new country to stay in separate rooms – use one as storage for our clothes. very useful.

go on short exploration of hotel to find bar – fellow traveller spotted singing heart out at karaoke – not a good sign. leave immediately. sleep early, out like a light.


up early to explore the resort – find essentials – restaurant for breakfast, beach and all inclusive bar. all well with the world. spend the day gazing at the beautiful ocean, swimming, listening to ipod and reading book. start to wind down.

buffet style dinner proves to be disappointing. appears fried chicken is one of the main ingredients in many dishes and the antiguans can’t contemplate why you’d be a vegetarian. stick to chef’s special rice and decide it could be a good opportunity to lose weight. make mental note to weigh when back in the room to monitor progress over the weeks.

head to hotel bar where a guy is spotted that was on our flight. guy appears to speak to anyone that has ears and as such earns himself the name of chatty chatterson. discover wonderful local cocktail and vow it’s my drink of choice. aaah.


venture out of hotel to half moon bay – gorgeous beach, totally deserted.

spend time taking a couple of pictures for a random video that i planned to make, not knowing that the internet connection would be crap and i’d never be able to post it anyway, pah! after a few hours another couple of people turn up. kind of put out.

make way to hotel bar to pleasant surprise that the music isn’t awful and treat ourselves to a cocktail. take seat towards back of seating area to people watch (my favorite activity in the world). spot chatty chatterson at the bar talking to a lady. appears to be wearing clothes from the night before, this is slightly disturbing. lady’s dress strap breaks, exposing her bra. she seems unphased by this and continues chatting to chatty chatterson. man walks over to lady and put his arm around her at which point we realise it’s her husband and so name her cocktease.

both men are now fighting for cocktease’s attention – like peacocks showing their feathers. chatty chatterson is still closer and has his hand on her leg which leads husband to reposition himself behind her. husband starts doing random dance which involves shuffling his bottom upwards and thrusting it towards his wife. before we know it, he’s to be known as cockshuffle.

great night of entertainment had by all. spirits incredibly high, possibly assisted by the potent mix of the cocktails. decide it’s time to tick off one of my “before i’m 30 actions” and skinny-dip in the ocean. emerge from the sea to find the beach hadn’t been completely deserted. ack.

make way towards room and discover pool. pool appears very inviting and before you know it our inner champion swimmers are re-emerging and we’re getting in the pool. security seem very unamused by our swimming and order us out of the pool. sj has to pass me my trousers for me to get out of the pool with dignity. realise afterwards that getting out of the pool with soaking clothes stuck to your body probably isn’t the best way to retain your dignity. oh wells.


hold our heads high when we walk into the restaurant for breakfast. it appears people think we’re the paris hilton and nicole ritchie of the resort – yikes.

much sunbathing is achieved. the effort involved in getting from the sunlounger to the sea appears to be getting greater.

treat ourselves to dinner at warri pier which looks pretty. seated and given the menu only to find no vegetarian dishes. incredibly disappointed. leave table and make way back to hotel restaurant, resigned to the chef’s special rice again.

later in the evening, cocktease, cockshuffle, chatty chatterson and clown (who wears at least 1 inch of sun cream on his face at all times) appear to be on top form. much fun had by all and taught the electric slide on the dance floor. exciting times.


more sunbathing activity. amazed by the amount of people that spend their whole holiday by the bar and yet still tan. suspect there could be fake tanning taking place each night in many of the hotel rooms. the shame.

dinner at “the beach” which is surprisingly hip for a caribbean bar/restaurant. order veggie sushi. yum. enough said. later meet sj’s aunt and friends at coconut grove which is one of the prettiest bars i’ve ever experienced in my life. lots of fairy lights. i love fairy lights.

later develop characters for ourselves as evening entertainment. sj is trace, i’m wonda and we speak with a cockney accent. amazing how much amusement this brings us, especially when introducing ourselves to others.


make way to st johns to meet sj’s aunt and family for lunch. take detour to purchase crocs ahead of our trip to dominica as trainers (sneakers as my american friends would say) that i bought for the trip, i decide are too nice.

journey to st johns surprisingly stressful. distinct lack of road signage. many people beeping for no apparent reason – little intimidating. eventually work out that we’ve been driving down a one way road the wrong way, blush for a while and turn around at the nearest available opportunity. vow never to drive to st johns again.

after lunch, make way back to the hotel for some much deserved rest on a sun lounger. it’s exhausting work being in the caribbean i decide. early to bed given effort required the next day to get to dominica.


up early to make way to airport en route for dominica – don’t know too much about the island other than pirates of the caribbean was filmed there. hoping by some miracle that johnny depp was left behind but fear that isn’t the case.

arrive at hut otherwise known as dominica’s airport. greeted by lovely man with no teeth which is disturbing to me. fear i could be shallow but hope this is not the case. spend 90 minutes getting to the middle of the rainforrest to our 5* spa retreat. shown to huts which are remote and basic to say the least. becomes apparent it’s going to be very different than originally anticipated. 5 other people staying in the resort. the 5 people could be described by others, but not myself of course, as tree huggers, that’s all that i’m saying.

go for deep tissue massage before getting an early night. appears antigua was a safe haven, decide we both feel safer sharing a bed and a bug net, these are scary times.


go for yoga at just gone 7am. love starting the day with yoga. chanting appears more challenging than anywhere else that i’ve done yoga when the instructor decides to introduce different chords – very embarrassing when you don’t know which chord she is going to go for next.

chosen activity for the day is snorkelling at champagne bay, such names for it’s natural oxygen bubbles rising from the sea bed. after the cringeworthy journey to get there (which involved fellow guests waving at locals like a tourist attraction and the most unsubtle jeep in the world) it was like we’d been placed in a fish tank. really beautiful.

return to hut to experience a power cut. try to call someone to find phonelines dead. realise i’m likely to die and then rationalise thoughts to figure i’ve watched too many horror movies. power restored, bug net hung and much clattering from mammoth lizards on the roof. not sure i’m made to live in the wild.


yoga at 7am with chanting in tune. find i can balance on just my hands which is surprising given how clumsy i tend to be.

the day of the hike. much anticipation and anxiety having watched fellow guests psyching themselves up for the exercise, carrying out many stretches by the side of the pool. start trek along the glasse trail (sold to us as a route that is a photographers dream). take first picture, camera dies. much peevement takes place.

get to the bottom of the trail to find local man stripping down to his y-fronts and performing many strange actions in the natural whirlpool. so distracted miss everyone looking at the turtle in the ocean and appear in time just to catch it’s bottom. just my luck.

trek back proves our fellow guests might be good at stretches, but less good at actual exercise, much internal smugness takes place. another early night, no power cuts and much excitement about returning to antigua the next day.


yoga at 7am with chanting in tune. swift exit to breakfast before hitting the road to go snorkelling and kayaking. for a girly girl i’m impressed by how much action is involved this holiday. only the two of us were on the excursion and as soon as we arrive at the deserted beach we realise we could be abducted and no one would realise – the horror movies kicking in again.

after much paddling and kayaking around in circles, we make our way back to shore and begin our journey back to the resort and onward to the airport which consisted of one room and definitely no air conditioning. our room in antigua never felt more comfortable and couldn’t be happier to be back.

disappointed to find that chatty chatterson has flown home, leaving much gossip that he was trafficking drugs amongst the other guests, given that he stuck to the same tshirt and shorts throughout. who would have thought such excitement could exist in such a tiny resort.

decide to brave warri pier in the hope that there might be vegetarian options on the menu. Find that this is and always was – turns out we just had to turn the menu over. oops.


much sunbathing. listening to ipod. fewer plods to the sea given the effort involved.


much sunbathing. listening to ipod. even few plods to the sea given the increasing effort involved.

evening consists of another trip to coconut grove. miss nice n sexy’s are the drink of the day. the end of the evening shows that these drinks are potent and the walk along the beach to our hotel has never been longer.


much sunbathing and listening to ipod alone given the impact of the potent cocktails on sj.

an early night, tucked up in bed, painting nails and watching bridget jones. the high life.


up early. boat trip on the navy boat to barbuda which involves seeing a whale. a real live whale. woot! snorkelling is the main activity of the day until i spot a sting ray which sends me into a reel of panick and leads to the least dignified exit from the water ever. everyone could tell it was me, expected nothing less and the day continues as normal.

the journey back should have taken one hour and instead takes 5 after we get stranded having hit coral. everyone’s spirits take a dip, but not for long after dolphins swim alongside the boat. go to sleep that night very happy. very happy indeed.


pack up and go home. had an amazing time, spent with one of my closest friends and experienced some really amazing and humbling sights. i’d recommend it to anyone.

Mar 6 2008

heat and water – austin style…

after an eventful day, i’m just heading out to meet the guys from satisfaction. i’ve included a picture as it kind of sums up my day i feel…

about to head out…

the lobster red – oh yes – it’s my skin, it’s not the light playing havoc with your eyes. you see, i appear to have applied cream, but it doesn’t seem to have done much and i was sat in a breeze so i couldn’t feel it. do not fear though – the tips of my fingers are lily white as they were bent over tapping on my keyboard. yes, i really did work whilst sat in the sun, please can you not make me feel any geekier than i already do.

you see, i had been minding myself working away, when the most humungous cockroach ran across my foot… i kid you not, i swear there are some small countries somewhere that are half it’s size. without thinking, i threw my laptop onto the table and vacated the immediate area (you never know if they’re laying babies as they walk). to my horror the damn thing turned around and headed straight for me. there was no option – i dived straight into the pool. yes i was clothed. no i didn’t take my watch off and yes it’s a sore subject.

to say that people found it slightly amusing would be the understatement of the year. to say i’m that sad the first thing i did was tweet about it would just about sum me up… i think i need margaritas…. WAITER!!!

Mar 4 2008

welcome to austin!

i know how lame i’ve been in updating the site, but it’s been that time of year again where four letters take over my life…. f…..o….w…..a!!! i had an absolute blast, met amazing people and drank way to many margaritas! (non-alcoholic ones mum, honest!).

now that fowa has come and gone, i’ve headed out to austin for sxsw. early i know, but i’m going to get lots of work done before then. infact, i’d planned to get tons of work done today, but there was a slight hitch… i’ll let you see for yourself…

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i’ll keep you up-to-date on my status whilst i’m here – by that i mean how many times i get lost, get in trouble of some kind or a little squidy around the edges… things like that tend to happen to me.

happy monday