The Big Birthday Swag Bag

I’ve just been ‘tagged’ by my good friend Deborah Garlick of Henpicked to take part in The Big Birthday Swag Bag Hop.

Here’s the scenario :

You’re going to a friend’s 40th birthday bash on an exotic island resort. The challenge is to list a few of your favourite things to add to the swag bag for everyone in the group.

Coincidentally, I’m going to be spending this year’s birthday in my own little bit of paradise. Not my 40th – that’s long gone! – and not on an exotic island but in small hotel close to the beautiful Italian town of Amalfi. And some of the items below are already on my list for the trip…

The book

me before youI’m an avid reader, probably the best customer of my local library, so choosing just one book was a real challenge. But I finally settled on one of the few that I initially ordered from the library but enjoyed so much that I went straight out and bought a copy so I could re-read it (twice so far!).

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is the story of bright but directionless Lou who drifts between dead-end jobs until she rather reluctantly takes a post as a carer to Will, a young man who has been left in a quadriplegic state following a road accident. He’s bitter and angry, his parents are at their wits’ end and, shortly after Lou is hired, she hatches a desperate plan to try to convince Will that his life is worth living.

Although it deals with the subjects of disability and assisted suicide, there are lots of funny and sweet moments in the book. I laughed out loud in places, stayed up till 3am to finish it in a single sitting and wept my way through the final chapters.

The beauty product

tiger balmAs someone who won’t even venture out to the wheelie bin bare faced, I was tempted just to plump for a fully-stocked make up bag here. Unable to decide between lippy, mascara, blusher and all the rest, I’ve gone for something completely different here…

I’m a martyr to mozzies! Whenever I spend any time in the sun, I invariably end up covered in itchy lumps, bumps and nasty red blotches. And although I’ve tried just about every kind of repellent under the sun – citronella candles, patches, sprays, the lot – so far I haven’t hit on the one that works for me.

But if I’m still searching for a way to prevent the problem, at least I’ve found a way to take the sting out of it. My beauty hero comes in a cute little hexagonal pot, all the way from Hong Kong – used mainly for relieving aching muscles and headaches, a little dab of White Tiger Balm (not the fiery red one!) on a bite works like magic.

Snack food

almondsAn easy one this – it has to be almonds. I buy these by the half kilo from my local independent health food shop, snack on them at home whenever I crave something sweet and always find room for a big bag in my suitcase when I go away.

The music

dirty dancingThe soundtrack to Dirty Dancing, my favourite movie of all time with lots of tunes from my era…

Best one of all has to be I’ve had the time of my life – very appropriate for an exotic island trip and it’s also one of three that will be played at my funeral (the other two, if you’re wondering, being Billy Fury’s Halfway to paradise and Go now by The Moody Blues!)

One last thing

amalfiI’ll be taking my Surface tablet and hoping for plenty of WiFi hotspots so we can all post lots of pictures of our fabulous birthday bash on Facebook, to the envy of all our friends back home. Like this one of the Amalfi terrace restaurant overlooking the Bay of Salerno, where I will be raising a glass or two of Prosecco on my own birthday in September…

Here’s Deborah’s blog – thanks Deborah and thanks to Susie Orman Schnall, author of On Grace for starting this. You can read her original post here.

Passing it on

I’m delighted to pass the swag bag onto Yvette Karan, a motivational speaker and intuitive holistic healer who is an inspiration to everyone she meets – and a very funny (in the nicest possible way) lady too! Over to you Yvette…

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