Garnier Hair Food – Chicken Soup For My Curls

If you’ve been following my sporadic blogs, you’ll know that I’ve been vaguely following the curly girl method for several years to tame what once was strange wavy frizz into a decent set of loose curls. If you’ve not come across it, the curly girl method (CGM) aims to help people with wavy to curly hair look after their hair by working with it instead of battling it with brushes & straighteners.

If you’re looking for a pure CG “approved” method, I may not be your girl. I’ve been known to suggest some of the social media groups have gone full CG (never go full CG) and become a bit… Erm.. culty. But, I do follow the general principles of the method and they have led to defined curls and my hair growing much faster:

  • Avoid shampoos containing sulphates (they dry out your hair)
  • Avoid conditioners containing silicones (you need sulphates to wash them out)
  • Avoid drying alcohols (probably best to Google the list)

If you’re going full CG, then there’s a whole list of other stuff to fret about. However, one thing that everyone agrees on is conditioner is to curls what a throne made of swords is to Daenerys Targaryen (in that it will make you obsessed, and could lead to your loving partner bumping you off if you read through the ingredients of that gel one more time!). And there is nothing better in the CG world than finding a really good conditioner.

Enter Hair Food.

Hair food claims to be a 3 in 1 product – conditioner, hair mask, & leave in. And it’s not wrong! I’ve now used the banana hair food as all three for several weeks and it’s just as good, if not better than the separate products I’ve been using at double the price individually.

Here’s a good hair day on my previous products:

Curls are happy, but there’s still some frizz. Then after 2 weeks with this as both a leave in & a weekly hair mask, I noticed a real difference.

Definition! I’m really pleased that I can enjoy my curls without breaking the bank ūüėĀ

For those who are still in their frantic CGM ingredients checking phase (I promise, this too shall pass & you’ll find your thing), here’s the ingredients:

Right now, Hair Food is in shops for around £7, but there are a few offers where you can pick it up for around £4.

This is not a sponsored post. My hair is indeed my own, yes those are filters (It’s exam season – I need filters!). Suggestions may or may not work for you… These & other disclaimers.

My September 2016 Glossybox! All that glitters

Spending a large percentage of your life feeling like crap requires things to make you feel more human. In my world, this includes my monthly surprise in box form.

Note: I am getting no payment or freebies for this review. This is purely a fun thing for me to do when my box arrives! As part of my account, I am given a code for you to get 20% off a box by following this link (this does earn me points towards more boxes)

This is my third month of receiving a Glossybox. A surprise box of goodies that costs me ¬£13.50 (because I pay each month – it’s cheaper if you buy a subscription). July was brilliant, August’s box was a little dissapointing aside from a brilliant eyeshadow pallette, but September has returned to redeem itself.

The box is usually pink, but this month is red to match it being the Red Magazine choice box.

The items in my box included a full size nail top coat, lip stain pen, & eyeliner pen. There was also a sample mascara, a face mask, & a gel face mask. If you wanted to feel pampered, this is your box.

The first big item was actually gifted to my mum. She’s growing her nails back after having acrylic nails removed and is really conscious that her nails stay attractive. I, on the other hand embrace my eccentric academic role with short, unpainted nails which are usually decorated with ink stains. As a full size item, this will last her ages and she tried it out straight away. 

Would I buy this? Not for me, but mum loves it, so it’s on her list!

RRP: £7.99

Next up was the smokey eye pen from Rodial. As an aging goth, I’ve had a love / love relationship with smokey eyes. In my current state of looking a bit like the corpse bride, they have the added bonus of fooling people into thinking you intended to look like this. Since the 90s (yes, I’m that old), a kohl pencil & eye shadow have been my staple eye kit, but this plays the part of pencil without the stabbed in the eye bit & stays smudged without fading. I’m planning on testing this to destruction during parents evenings as I attempt to pass as a professional human from 8am classes through to 8pm end of parent chatter… 

Would I buy this? Hell yes I would! Even at this price.

RRP: £17.00

The final full size product was the pink tint Lip Marker from GOSH. Yes it is a Lip stain. No it is not a highlighter.

As weird as it felt using what appeared to be a chunky felt tip on my lips, this stuff is lovely! The colour is very pale and just left a hint of pink whilst leaving a nice moisture & gorgeous cherry smell. (It tastes nice too… not to eat, but anything you put on your lips will be tasted). I’m not a huge fan of lipstick, so the tint this created was perfect for me.

Would I buy it again? Yes. I’m already looking for the other shades!

RRP: £5.00

Next came the samples. The first one is a mascara from Too Faced which boldly claims it’s Better Than Sex. It’s a sort of half sized sample, but still with the b rush that helps shape lashes. I’ll admit that mascara is the one thing I can’t go without makeup-wise, but whoever declared this better than night time naughties needs to get laid because they seem to have forgotten where a jolly good screaming orgasm comes in the order of things. (For reference, not below a rather nice mascara that doesn’t run down your face even though it’s the hottest day of the year & you’re in a classroom with 30 shouts kids and no aircon).

Would I buy this? Maybe. I’m still very taken with the mascara from July’s box.

RRP:  ¬£19.00

Finally, two face masks were included in my box this month. The first being a Body shop sample & the second a face covering that made me look vaguely like a serial killer. This claims to moisturise your face for up to 5 days through the power of Korean technology. 

As someone who uses exfoliating washes & masks with salicylic acid in anger (with frankly super results on pores & hormonal breakouts), I was keen to find out what the hype was all about here. I’m saving this one as a Sunday night treat in the bath before going back to work. I’m not in desperate need of deep moisturising as the one perk to EDS and it’s defective collagen is lovely soft skin… that tears, and takes ages to heal. Maybe I do need that mask after all!

Would I buy it? I’m not sure yet. But may even for an occasional treat.

RRP: £7.99 per mask

Overall, that was a rather exciting little package and certainly stuffed with enough to keep the September back to school blues at bay. And if they do raise their ugly head, I shall just hide behind my smokey eyes!

The Glossybox website is here & let’s you order a 1 – 12 months subscription. Or click here to be referred by me & get 20% off of your order.

Note: by clicking any of my Glossybox links, you get 20% off your first order & I will earn glossy dots which I can put towards free boxes. As above, these are my honest & done for fun reviews & I am not paid for them.

My Ruby Slippers Are Defective

Today 

  • I didn’t want to move when I woke up in Dante’s 7th circle of joint pain hell.
  • I didn’t want to keep down breakfast
  • I didn’t want to sit in the car for 3 1/2 hours to Calais
  • I didn’t want to wake up regularly gasping as we braked & my back flew into spasm
  • I objected to paying extortionate prices for toll roads that had appalling service stops 
  • I didn’t want to lay curved into a contorted angle on the train whilst it rocked me side to side & scattered my ribs
  • I didn’t want to remain in the car for a further 2 hours to drive home (see waking up above)

I didn’t want to travel on a flare day. But I did. And now I’m home in our bed set up just for us having had a bath in my lovely accessible bathroom and a cuddle with the cats. 

There’s no place like home.
Addition: 

What made me flare so badly today? It was a combination of being in the car the previous day for nigh on 6 hours, then staying in the worst hotel we’d ever booked. The Sejours & Affaires clairemarias in Reims.

Here is the brochure photo of the 1 bedroom apartment from Booking.com – this is clearly listed under “facilities for disabled guests”.

And another of the kitchenette

So, we were expecting basic, but clean and functional as a stopover. This was billed as a wheelchair accessible apartment which we double checked by email & relieved confirmation of – this roughly translates to “is on the ground floor & has no stairs”.

This is my photo:

Aside from smelling distinctly of the goat farm (?!), the wall paint was peeling, the cabinets were grubby & the kitchenette and general location reminded me of when Mr Geek & I shared a student flat. In its favour, the WiFi was excellent (so, yes, very much like our flat). We slept on the metal sofa bed which had a mattress approximately the depth of a Kardashian which promptly instigated my shoulder coming out as I turned, my pelvis twisting, & a nasty clunk in my neck that made my hand go tingly. I eventually fell asleep laying flat on my back with my legs in a full lotus to lock my hips in place.
My magic touch with hotels was missing on this one. By the next morning, I wanted my Ruby Slippers. 

My Ruby Slippers Are Defective

Today 

  • I didn’t want to move when I woke up in Dante’s 7th circle of joint pain hell.
  • I didn’t want to keep down breakfast
  • I didn’t want to sit in the car for 3 1/2 hours to Calais
  • I didn’t want to wake up regularly gasping as we braked & my back flew into spasm
  • I objected to paying extortionate prices for toll roads that had appalling service stops 
  • I didn’t want to lay curved into a contorted angle on the train whilst it rocked me side to side & scattered my ribs
  • I didn’t want to remain in the car for a further 2 hours to drive home (see waking up above)

I didn’t want to travel on a flare day. But I did. And now I’m home in our bed set up just for us having had a bath in my lovely accessible bathroom and a cuddle with the cats. 

There’s no place like home.
Addition: 

What made me flare so badly today? It was a combination of being in the car the previous day for nigh on 6 hours, then staying in the worst hotel we’d ever booked.

Here is the brochure photo of the 1 bedroom apartment:

And another of the kitchenette

So, we were expecting basic, but clean and functional as a stopover. This was billed as a wheelchair accessible apartment which we double checked by email & relieved confirmation of – this roughly translates to “is on the ground floor & has no stairs”.

This is my photo:

Aside from smelling distinctly of the goat farm (?!), the wall paint was peeling, the cabinets were grubby & the kitchenette and general location reminded me of when Mr Geek & I shared a student flat. In its favour, the WiFi was excellent (so, yes, very much like our flat). We slept on the metal sofa bed which had a mattress approximately the depth of a Kardashian which promptly instigated my shoulder coming out as I turned, my pelvis twisting, & a nasty clunk in my neck that made my hand go tingly. I eventually fell asleep laying flat on my back with my legs in a full lotus to lock my hips in place.
My magic touch with hotels was missing on this one. By the next morning, I wanted my Ruby Slippers. 

Centreparcs – Les Trois For√™ts (France) : An Accessible Review

A version of this post can also be seen on TripAdvisor.
We visited Les Trois Forêts as a group of 7, with two children under 12 and five adults. Four of our party had varying physical impairments (using a variety of mobility aids from sticks to an actuve user wheelchair), and two who are Autistic. As such, we pre-booked well in advance choosing a VIP cabin highlighted as accessible for those with mobility needs to sleep 8 mid distance from the main centre (cabin 709).

Communication

With Les Trois Forêts being less than an hour away from the borders of Germany & Luxembourg, it is not a surprise to find that all signs are primarily in French with German translation. Most staff speak either. We made a concerted effort to speak in French & when we failed, the staff were happy to translate more complex requirements to English (at one point making great use of the translation app on my phone!). Like most places, a valiant attempt that ends in them just telling you to speak English is much better received than not trying.

Useful lines:

  • Je suis d√©sol√© – I’m sorry
  • Je parl√© petite Fran√ßais – I speak a little French
  • Je ne comprend pas – I don’t understand
  • Vous parl√©s Anglais? – Do you speak English?
  • Pourrais-je double v√©rification s’il vous pla√ģt que la salle est accessible pour mon fauteuil roulant? – can I please double check that the room is accessible for my wheelchair?

Whilst I thoroughly recommend the Michel Thomas method for learning some basics, Google Translate is also your friend!

Contact with the outside world is limited as the phone signal in many areas is absent & WiFi is at a premium. There is public WiFi in the main centre & in the play barn, but it us rather slow. We sent a few texts home just to confirm we were ok, but the disconnection from technology was rather welcome after the initial withdrawal! (Even these blogs were written in the late evenings & stored away until connection to the world was restored).

Noise, Comfort, & Bugs

The main centre was only 1 bus stop away (busses run every hourish around the main circuit with 8 stops on the circuit), and yet there was very little noise near our cabin aside from birds and local church bells. Peace is not at a premium here, and despite housing over 1000 chalets, it didn’t feel crowded until you got to the centre. 

The cabin has an enormous living space with an open plan kitchen, plenty of soft seating and two large dining tables (one inside & one outside) – these were used extensively in the evening for playing cards. The soft seated area has a large TV with news channels in a number of languages and several local French & German channels. This also has a DVD player. There are also TVs in both double rooms.

Although we stayed at the end of July /August, the heat was not oppressive & many of the days were overcast. When the sun came out & temperatures were around 27¬į there is plenty of respite from this in the forest walk. There is no air conditioning in the cabins, so we arrived with some desk fans – these serve several purposes: they kept us all cool at night & deter mosquitos as the breeze moves the carbon dioxide breathed out around and makes it harder for them to find you.

Having read many of the reviews on TripAdvisor, we packed a plug-in insect trap for each bedroom, expecting a deluge of flying beasties. In fact, with the same sticky strip plugged in for the whole 7 nights, only a small number were caught and we were bitten once, if that (and can’t be sure if that was at night).

Our cabin was however, not one that looks directly onto the lake, so that may have an impact on the volume of insects.

We were visited by a fair few insects, a surprising number of baby frogs, several cats, and a multitude of moths ranging for tiny pale ones to literal behemoths! 

Food, Drink, & Entertainment 

We ate out a number of times during our stay. We were rather confused by the reviews bemoaning how expensive the food was – the prices are quite typical of the area and the quality was really quite good considering the volume of people served. The pizza resturant was a pleasant surprise with freshly made pasta & even allowed me to order a children’s portion. The all you can eat buffet had a good selection and was restocked continually until end of service (the kids & adults were very taken with the ice cream & chocolate fountain!). 

The on-site Carrefour was mildly.more expensive than the one 15 minutes down the road, but on a par for things like fresh baguettes, milk, & butter.

One thing we discovered was the delivery service where for ‚ā¨25 they will deliver a whole rotisserie chicken with garlic & rosemary roasted potatoes to your cabin (or you can take them away). They cited that this feeds 4-6 people. We ordered 2 to be sure and eaten with baguettes and some salad, this lasted 2 meals for 7 of us!

There are tonnes of activities on site and whilst many of them are extra, which is expected in Centreparcs & no different to any other site, there are a number of included activities: the train around the park, swimming & waterslides, the petting farm, play areas, & woodland walks. These kept us entertained for most of our time and we topped this up with a few extra activities and a day out. The parc heavily advertises the local animal park & rightly so as it’s very nice. (If you book your entrance through reception, there is an offer of reduced prices).

The Bike Shack offers a range of transport hire from toddler balance bikes, to adult mountain bikes. There are some more unusual machines such as the adult + child tandems. One useful hire for those with reduced mobility is the electric bike which allows you to experience cycling without failing on the hills (of which there are quite a number). In addition to just cycles, there are electric golf carts for either 4 or 6 people. Unfortunately, by the time we had arrived, both the option of electric bike and golf buggy had gone as they had all been hired. We were told that these are bookable in advance online, although are still unable to find how on earth you book them online! Prices are also rather steep for the carts with a 6 seater being ‚ā¨280 for the week with an additional ‚ā¨500 deposit returnable required.

Thankfully, 3 of us brought our own bikes and I had my electric wheelchair trike attachment & off road tyres, so we were able to run errands whilst the others in our party used the little train. Overall, the expense of a bike rack & effort of transporting the bikes was definitely preferable.
Accessibility 

Getting to the cabin was a little tricky as whilst there is step free access, the slope to the cabin is quite steep with a hairpin bend. Navigating up by wheelchair was made easier by using my electric trike attachment, although the walking stick users were unable to get assistance aside from taking it slowly.

Once in, the cottage is very similar to the standard VIP cottage layout. The “accessible end” is the end with a twin & double room attached via a bathroom with Turkish bath (steam room / shower). In here, the bathroom is larger with a toilet rail – this is a single bar on the right, which appears to be standard across all disabled toilets. There is also a shower seat in the Turkish bath. For those with heat intolerance who sigh at the inclusion of a steam room & sauna in the luxury cottages, these both come with adjustable temperature settings, so we were able to enjoy the experience at much lower temperatures!

The layout of the cottage is open plan which makes navigating between areas easy and there is step free access out onto the decking. There is even a ramp down onto the grass. The kitchen is also open plan with the option of storing food in lower cupboards. The surfaces are at standard height, which suited us with only 1 wheelchair user, but meant that I couldn’t use the microwave  (which was above head height) or hob. These were small niggles negated by help from family and the easy to use dishwasher & large handle taps throughout. The addition of a Dulce Gusto machine was actually very useful as I could make my own hot drinks without the need to lift a kettle; buying the coffee & hot chocolate pods for this is highly recommended!

The double rooms aren’t particularly accessible in terms of wheelchair access, although we coped with this by shoving the bed over towards the wall a bit & me not using the dressing table (with 5 bathrooms, there was plenty of alternatives!). The twin room was much more suited to wheelchair access, however this isn’t suited to married couple use! 

Both ends of the cottage have whirlpool baths. With this in mind we packed my inflatable bath lift. Unfortunately, the bathrooms were not big enough to accommodate my wheelchair and close the door so I was unable to get in or out of the tub with any privacy. Neither baths had additional handrails which made this difficult for all people with mobility issues to use them. This was a shame & rather an oversight for a cottage specifically cited as accessible.
The real winner was the accessibility within the swimming pools. There are two disabled changing rooms with full changing beds & accessible showers to compliment the accessible showers alongside the main showers. To access these, you need to take your chalet key card to reception as a deposit & you are handed the key to open the changing room (“avet vous une cl√© pour le handicap√©s vestiaire si vous plait?“). In the pool area, not only was a hoist available, but as the main pool was stepless, a set of two water wheelchairs were provided for use by anybody who needed them. The lifeguards were happy to show us where the chairs were & had a supply of adult floatation jackets if needed (I have my own floatation belt & they radioed to other lifeguards that I was in the water in case I was uneasy about being in the water when the wave machine started). I was able to leave my own chair by the lifeguards station & be wheeled directly into the water, or use my own chair to go around the main areas to watch the children hurl themselves down slides, or the rapids, or along the water climbing wall!

Overall 

This visit has made me a centreparcs convert. The insular nature of the place perhaps stopped us from exploring & experiencing the area in the way that we usually do, and I was utterly content to remain within the parc grounds. However, we never once felt penned in, nor compelled to do anything other than relax and enjoy our time.

I can definitely see us visiting again.

Budget Ibis Hotel, Valenciennes – Accessibility Review

This is an extended version of my TripAdvisor review. I had reviewed this hotel in terms of accessibility with the following in mind:

  • Wheelchair Access: limited
  • Physical Access: single floor / good
  • Disabled Parking: Excellent
  • Sensory: Adjustable lighting / No temperature control / some read noise / linen (plain cotton) / ambient noise – low / reception (strong smell of sandlewood)

Lovely clean room which looked well maintained & had a bath! (Something sorely missed when we’ve travelled before). Fab idea to have one of the kids beds above the double as this saves on room and our youngest was very happy with having her own nightlight. The beds are basic & sturdy (read ‘hard’) which suited me well, but Mr Softie husband wondered if mattress had been optional…

An image of the ground floor family room with a double bed, single bed, & bunk bed width ways over the double bed

Rooms were on the ground floor which meant that you could park right outside the room (lots of disabled bays & plenty of space to get out).

Panoramic image of car parking spaces & entry doors with disabled parking & ramp to doors

The room had a patio door at the back leading to a little patio area & grass, which despite being very close to the motorway, was peaceful and very welcome after hours in a car! The area itself is fenced off which allowed the kids to stretch their legs (with other children doing similar) & us a safe place to store our bikes just outside the door & give us a little more room.

WiFi is included in the price of the room which was very welcome and was a decent speed for general browsing.

Lady at reception was very helpful and took pity on us after our dreadful attempt at chatting in French (I forget words in English, so perhaps a road trip where I attempted to speak French, German, & English was maybe aiming a tad high!). There’s an accessible toilet in reception.

Breakfast was a buffet with coffee, croissant, yoghurt etc. Everything was fresh & very nice. My only issue was using the brilliantly installed wheelchair lift to get to the breakfast bar… which was locked & no one had a key! This was easily solved by sending the family up to the breakfast bar & sitting in the lower table area. This is a potential issue had I been travelling alone.

Wheelchair lift in reception

Getting to reception in a wheelchair is difficult (there is a 2″ step to get onto the ramp which was too steep for me to propel myself manual chair up myself ). Once in reception, there is a lowered desk, although the card machine doesn’t reach it.
Image of tamp to reception with step up get to ramp

There is no resturant on site & if you’re travelling on a Sunday there is very little available. An “emergency” McDonald’s is located 4km up the motorway (about 10 minutes). Usually, there is a resturant available at the neighbouring Novatel.

We booked a stopover here for a family room clearly stating that one person was a wheelchair user at the time of booking. On arrival, we were told that room layouts were either wheelchair accessible for 2 people, or family rooms. As I need physical help from my husband during the night, we couldn’t make use of the suggestion to book 2 separate rooms, so stuck with the family room.

There is a clearly signed wheelchair access route to the rooms from the car park, however this also contains a 1″ lip in order to get up to the walkway. The doors were wide enough to push my manual wheelchair through if my husband helped lift me over the raised frame, and aside from not being able to close the bathroom door & there being no grab handles (remember that this was not billed as the accessible room), the hard floors and clean layout meant that I could scoot about in my chair with relative ease. For those with anything bigger than an active user chair, this wouldn’t be an option.

Overall, it was perfectly pleasant as a stopover with our only grumble being the mildly terrifying ramps & the assumption that a family wouldn’t require an accessible room.

Jersey Duvet – For Sensory Overload.

When Paddington Bear spent his first night with the Browns, he wakes up the next morning and stretches out his legs across clean, cold, white sheets and feels a sense of tremendous calm.

Beanpole & other dear family members have Aspergers, a form of Autism that can leave them with sensory overload from sound, light, or touch. Interestingly, that overload is also common in people with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The difference is our self soothing behaviours. My poor Beanpole hasn’t reached the stage where she is aware that things are building and will meltdown when it all gets too much- her triggers are sound, textures, and people, she’s much better with visuals. I become overwhelmed by visual stimulus which causes headaches and a knock on of this is sensory overload from just too much bloody pain. I don’t scream & cry, but boy do I ever get snappy. I’m working on this.

Beanpole needs to be cocooned in bed (we rather unkindly refer to her bed as the rats nest as it’s built up with blankets, toys, & “important things”), I need contoured space; Beanpole loves nothing better than to be hugged tightly, I become overwhelmed by hugs as they cause pain; Beanpole craves coolness, I crave heat (Then complain that I’m potsie). Both of us find soft fabrics soothing.

Enter the Jersey Bedset.

(Note – this does contain a review of the Bedset from Dunelm Mill. I bought these myself without prompting & have received no payment or gift etc.)

The Bedset we bought was the Jersey Marl set from Dunelm Mill (at time of posting, these are 50% off, so ¬£15 for a superking duvet set). As we had recently bought twin electric adjustable beds (now bolted together), we bought the superking duvet set which is the duvet cover & 2 pillowcases, 2 extra pillowcases, and two single fitted sheets. The adjustable bed has been one of the big purchases, but one we didn’t regret. We pretend that we have a mahoosive bed as two 3ft beds bolted together make a superking, but generally stick to our own mattress and my constant thrashing no longer disturbs sleeping beardy. (I considered taking a photo of snoozypants for this section, but thought better of it)

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Buying sheets for an adjustable bed is a pain in the posterior as the mattress length is 200cm instead of the standard 190cm. However, the fabric is stretchy and fitted the mattresses perfectly. Previously, sheets have come from le internet & at a premium because adjustable beds come under “disabled equipment”. I tend to imagine Jafar making the pricing decisions for disability gear.

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Mr Geek looked at them the first time and sighed as they are “a bit beige”. Agreed, there’s no pattern and with everything one colour it’s not the most exciting bedset. The difference is tactile. When you live with chronic pain or sensory overload, the last thing you need at night is something scratchy or starchy and uncomfortable. These are neither. Just like Paddington, I can stretch my feet out & feel soft sheets that never have that sharp coldness of cottom, but also rarely cause me to overheat.

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When you wear a tshirt, it folds and stretches with your body, and similar can be said for these. The down side of this is the duvet having a life of its own with baggy bits of cover appearing at the edges. Mr Geek reliably informs me that this does not affect the ease of putting it on the quilt, although getting it perfectly straight is nigh on impossible. Beanpole and her rats nest see this as a bonus feature.

From a sensory perspective, these are particularly calming as there is a single very soft texture, a single neutral colour, and don’t create extremes of temperature. For Beanpole, this means she can turn herself into a super soft sausage roll, and for me, I can focus on mindfulness allowing a bit more restful sleep which is a blessing in itself.

Personally, just in case they stop selling them (please don’t!), I’m going to buy an extra set of sheets. I guess that’s my vote for these as an excellent purchase.

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