Reviews

Restaurant Review: Park Chinois

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Address: 17 Berkeley St, London W1J 8EA

Phone: 020 3327 8888

https://parkchinois.com

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Decor: 4.5 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Food: 4 stars

Value for money: 3 stars

Service: 5 stars

Overall: 4 stars

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Ground Floor Restaurant. NHYM 2016.

Park Chinois is located on the golden square of restaurants: Berkeley Square. It all started with Nobu about 10 years ago who replicated its twin in the Met into a more ‘cool’ happening place. And thus began the domino effect of high end, luxury, and super expensive restaurants: Hakkasan, Novikov, Sexy Fish and finally Park Chinois. And Berkeley Square’s members club are also high in demand: Annabel is having a makeover, the Arts Club just recently opened its hotel and there is a new ‘business’ member’s club which also recently opened. But back to Park Chinois.

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The Restaurant

Park Chinois is a ‘lifestyle’ (his words, not mine), dinner and dance experience by Alan Yau, the man behind Hakkasan, Yuatcha and Wagamama. Now, perhaps you could think that there are enough iterations of high end Chinese restaurants, but not Mr. Yau. Here, he has upped the luxury game and created a £16 million + place to compete with the opulence next door of Sexy Fish. From what I gather, Park Chinois divides people: you either love it or hate it. I went for the third time last Wednesday to make sure I knew which camp I was going to root for.

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Lounge Singer. NHYM 2016.

The Design

When you walk into Park Chinois, it successfully takes you to bygone years of dinner & dance, louche Chinese clubs from the 20s and 30s, where everything is opulent and where affairs, business and otherwise, happen in dim light. Upstairs, there is live music, whereas downstairs is the Park Chinois ‘Club’ where the lighting is dimmer and it is the cooler version of the two with club music playing in the background. The favourite colours of this place are decidedly gold and red, and it is everywhere. Every detail is so thought out from the lampshades to the the corniced ceilings.

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The Menu. NHYM 2016. 

The Food

Since I’ve been here three times, I can safely say that I have tried the food thoroughly. The first time I came, it was in a large group with a pre-set menu which included a good sampling of the menu. The Duck de Chine, their famous roast duck, comes at a cool £85 and requires some advance notice. It was good – don’t get me wrong – but frankly, I could get a similar, or better version of it at Gold Mine on Queensway. The other dishes were also good: the fried squid, (which tasted more like batter than squid), the vermicelli clay pot (one of my favourite dishes there), and the dim sum and gyoza were all very good, but again, I could get them at Royal China, also on Queensway, for a third of the price.

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Chilli squid with green papaya salad. NHYM 2016.

The Service

I have to write a special note about the service at Park Chinois; it is really excellent. I have trouble eating at Chinese restaurants because of soy and MSG intolerances and each time I have been the waiters have been really excellent at discussing all my options with the chef. For me, it is one of the standout features of this place.

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Overall

I am definitely in the more-love-than-hate category when it comes to Park Chinois. But, it is true that the restaurant was not full on a Tuesday, whereas Sexy Fish next door was heaving. There are no windows in the whole restaurant and one friend thought it felt like a cruise ship, with its lounge singer and draped curtains on the ground floor, but I still like it even though I prefer the downstairs. I have to give it a lot of credit for what it is trying to do; bold, dreamy and different. And I love that London is a place where risks are taken to create places like this. It is a great place for those who love Hong Kong and yearn for a little nostalgia of bygone years. For the food, you could always go to Queensway.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

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Social Commentary

Hello & Welcome Back!

Hello and welcome back!

Sorry I haven’t posted in a long time, but summer took over and then as soon as I returned to London, within 24 hours, a series of misadventures occurred: I lost my phone (gasp!), my cleaner didn’t show up on Monday when I had a mountain of sandy clothes and suitcases (double gasp!!) and my nanny quit (triple gasp!!!). It has been a stressful return back to London, to say the least. But I am positive that it can all be seen in a positive light. Firstly, a lost phone is a forced digital detox. We all know that we spend way too much time on our phones: texting, phoning, instagramming, photo-taking. So this is an enforced tech abstention, which really should be an annual ritual like going to Mayr’s clinics.

Then, the nanny issue happened. That dreaded moment when your life literally starts to fall apart: your nanny leaves you. Even though for reasonable and valid issues (looking after relatives etc…), it is still dreadful. Yes, I know, upper-middle class problems all the way, I really shouldn’t be complaining, but it is heartbreaking. It leaves you bereft and crestfallen, like a break up. It feels like your perfectly controlled and stable life is being hit by a tornado and that respectful relationship you’ve spent so much time creating and crystallising is breaking up.

You want to ask them ‘why?’ ‘Don’t go!’ ‘let’s try to make it work,’ even though you know the reasons are valid and understandable and there is no way to fit the needs of both parties. And then there are the children, who believe that your nanny is part of the family and you know that tears and tantrums are around the corner when the nanny leaves. Not to mention the process of hiring the new nanny: finding her, interviewing her, training her, and then finding out that she had other plans/has been hired/wants more money (one friend just told me yesterday that she had hired a nanny for September and 2 weeks before she was meant to start, cancelled on her. We were nanny-commiserating at Nannies Anonymous).

Anyway, nanny searching is stressful, tiring and emotional. But on the positive side, I probably needed a change anyway because my children have different needs, but it is still difficult to let go. She nudged me in the right direction, so here we are, on the edge of the abyss looking down on nanny agencies, gumtree, word-of-mouth, Facebook nanny pages and aupair world.

On a completely different note, I am probably not going to write much on the blog in the near future sadly because I have been working on an exciting project (well, for me anyway), and as soon as it is ready to be public, you will be the first to know. Of course, I may fall flat on my face with it, prove an embarrassment to my family and friends (and maybe lose all my family and friends), but it is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. But most bold and exciting projects are risky and have a large chance of failing (am thinking of all the entrepreneurs whose success rate is less than 10%).

So here we are at the beginning of a new school year, full of frazzled mums and dads doing the school run (myself included), but also feeling really positive, despite my misadventures. Good luck with it all and have a happy new school year!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

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Reviews, Social Commentary

Serpentine Summer Party 2016 & Gomez – Gracia

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Serpentine Summer Pavilion 2016. NHYM 

The Serpentine Summer Party is the one summer event not to miss – in my opinion. It’s the one time of year when I can pretend that I am still young/cool/fun and get a chance to dance under and with the stars. This year’s Pavilion was designed by Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect, who has won numerous awards and designed the Pavilion to be a ‘solid wall that has been unzipped.’

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As you know, the Serpentine is closely linked to fashion, with fashion models and designers all in attendance, and this year, designer-to-the-stars, Patricia Gomez – Gracia is ‘dressing me.’ Her dresses have been spotted on the likes of Carrie Underwood, Katie Holmes, Kristin Stewart, the Kardashians,  et al… So, when she contacted me for a collaboration, the Serpentine Summer Party was the ideal event.

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I went to her studio and showroom in Notting Hill for a fitting and to choose a dress. I immediately fell in love with her ‘Fairytale’ dress. My choice wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll/hip/cool, it was purely instinctual; I chose it because it was the most beautiful dresses I saw.

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At her studio, I saw the whole creative process and her work in progress, from sketches to mood boards and textures.

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It was great seeing what happens behind closed doors of her design studio, to see the beginning to the end of a finished product. I had a lot of fun choosing and trying various dresses, leading up to the big night.

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I was thrilled to wear my ‘Fairytale’ dress on the big night, it was fun, romantic, glamorous, beautiful and sexy all at the same time. As soon as I walked into the Pavilion, I was accosted by people complimenting the dress. ‘Stunning,’ ‘You are the best-dressed, hands down’ ‘Everyone else should just go home’ ‘We’ve been staring at you all evening, we love your dress’ and finally I even got a ‘Will you marry me?’ Literally, everyone was staring at me as I walked by, which was quite fun. Even the celebrities were coming up to me to tell me how much they loved my dress, from Cressida Bonas to Anna Friel  and Heather Kerzner. It was a show-stopper and it literally made me shine.

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This year’s Pavilion is an amazing geometrical, square themed, structure that you can walk through and had lighting that literally and figuratively ‘lit up’ the space.

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Square shaped structures. Fearne Cotton bottom right. 

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Inside the Pavilion with Heather Kerzner

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Sienna Miller and Jade Jagger NHYM 2016.

Of course, there were celebs galore as usual with the usual English celebs & models: Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Naomi Campbell, the Jaggers (Jade and Georgia May), Prince Harry’s exes (Cressida Bonas and Chelsy Davy, who is much taller than I expected), Tommy Hilfiger (hosting the party), etc. etc. etc. but the most exciting star spotting was Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones!

attends The Serpentine Summer Party Co-Hosted By Tommy Hilfiger at The Serpentine Gallery on July 6, 2016 in London, England.

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Beautiful Gabriella Wilde checking me out while I was checking her out. Her friend came to tell me how much she loved my Gomez-Gracia dress. NHYM 2016

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Sophie Dahl NHYM 2016

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As the sun set and the night descended, the colours on the Pavilion became brighter and more colourful, turning into a surreal, fantasy.

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Although this year the music was somewhat of a let down (there were no big performances, which is a shame after great ones in the past by Dizzie Rascal, Pharrell Williams and last year’s Mark Ronson), the Pavilion was stunning and one of our favourites so far. We still had a fun night of dancing, mingling, drinking, laughing and making new friends through the dress.

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I may not have been the most famous person there last night, but my dress was certainly voted the most popular dress of the night. Photographs do not do it justice, you can ask anyone that was there, everyone loved it. For one night, I really was in a ‘fairytale’ thanks to Patricia Gomez Gracia!

http://www.gomez-gracia.com

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@Nhyummymummy

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Social Commentary

Sorry, I can’t meet up, I’m Suffering From Busyness-itis

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The other day, I was sitting at Egg Break catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while when I answered the question ‘how are you?’ with the dreaded words, ‘I am soo busy,’ that vague, annoying, I’m-so-important, type of answer. Not really believing me, she asked me to go through my week, event by event. (I am guilty of overusing those words when I can’t formulate an interesting enough answer to that question in a concise manner). So, I went through my week, play by play, when she said, ‘Oh. Ok. Maybe you are busy.’

Most people look at me like I am humble-bragging when I use those words, I mean I’m just a jobless, stay at home mum with kids in school, but the truth is, it’s really how I feel. Like my life is slipping away out of my control and I go through the motions just to keep up. It’s this time of year, when schools, parents and PTAs go on overdrive and schedule 1 million things for your child/you to do and I have lots of loose ends to finish before summer starts. My children go to two different schools (let’s call them school A and School B), and I usually try to attend most of the events.

I am a ‘YES’ person, who feels obliged to say ‘yes’ whenever someone invites me, because I get really annoyed (as you know), when people come up with ‘veiled bullshit excuses.’ So I say yes. Yes to the parents’ dinner of school A, parents’ drinks of school B, mum’s dinner school A, mum’s lunch school B, mums coffee morning school A, class drinks school B, school drinks of schools A+B, sports day schools A+B, Parent-teacher conference school A+B, readings/assembly/open days/summer parties/birthday parties (oh the last minute cramming-of-birthday-parties-before-summer is an epidemic) etc… etc… etc… And now I know I have completely exhausted you by just reading this.

I haven’t even begun talking about time spent writing the blog/organising Summer 16 Winter 17 holidays/organising playdates and doctor’s appointments/window cleaning/fixing leaks/paying overdue electricity bills (Yes, I am different to the superrich). Everyone always asks me how much time I spend on the blog each week. The answer is a few hours twice or three times a week. I need time to think about the content, write the content, meet future collaborators and think of how we can work together. That last part I really love because I get to meet so many interesting entrepreneurs with a vision, which is one of the main reasons I keep on writing. I don’t make money out of this blog, but it takes up a bloody lot of my time.

Well, that is my constant state of being these days: exhausted. These are not ‘crucial’ life or death events that I need to attend, they are events that are made up by parents and people who try to make our lives more interesting/fun/social, and I respect that. Perhaps, I should learn to say ‘NO.’ (I look at those women who tell me they aren’t going to XYZ school event because they ‘can’t be bothered’ in complete awe. Wow, if I could only do that…) But that’s just not me, and I, for the most part, end up dutifully going to all the events but sometimes (many times) I would rather stay in bed because not only can I not bear to look at my same-old-clothes closet one more time to look for an appropriate outfit, it’s really because I can’t get out of bed from pure small-talk-exhaustion.

The point is that when I tell you I can’t schedule you in until next September (which I have been known to do), it’s not because I am so important, or that I am so popular, or that I-have-so-much-to-do-you’ll-get-FOMO, on the contrary, it’s because I am a YES person, and I always think about the effort people have put into organising school parties or events, and that if it were me, I would want a lot of YES people in my crowd. Is it the schools’ and parents’ fault for over-organising or my fault for saying yes to everyone? I’m not sure. But if you hear me say ‘I’m so busy,’ just know that I am not trying to humblebrag. Most likely, I’ll be sitting in Bramley’s for yet another soft play birthday party thinking that I’d rather be having a coffee with you.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Social Commentary

Brexit: 10 Reasons to Stay

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Brexit is on everyone’s mind, from all the newspaper outlets, to economists and bloggers. To the point that even the yummy mummies have gone from talking about children/exercise/holidays to Brexit at their coffee mornings. So I thought I would give my two (10) cents about it:

10 Reasons to Stay:

  1. The Economy: We’ve just clawed our way out of a recession, and with the impending Brexit, the pound is down, the FTSE is down and the OECD predicts world economic gloom if Brexit happens. Is this really what we want post-crisis?! Even the Brexiters admit it. It is evident that we will be worse off after Brexit.
  2. Jobs: It’s not just the banks who are preparing to relocate 1000s of their staff to Frankfurt or elsewhere, other jobs will be lost along the way, which of course will affect point #1. There are 3 Million EU nationals working in the UK, many of them the top talents attracted to London for its opportunities. They’re not here for the weather are they?
  3. Housing market: The housing market is already in a precarious situation and is doomed to fall if Brexit happens. Already, we’ve been feeling the strain on the housing market with increased stamp duty and other George Osbourne obstacles. Isn’t that enough?
  4. Immigration: London is the most cosmopolitan, international city in the world. It embraces people from all the world and integrates them better than any other city, which is why there are so many expats here (uhm, France/Germany/Italy/US are not known to be the best integrators there are). And can you imagine what it would do to the visa process? Have you ever waited for your nanny/housekeeper’s visa to come through? The UK just wouldn’t be able to cope.
  5. Food: Twenty five years ago, I came to London, and all I remember was a drab, grey city with terrible food. But since then, French, Italian, Spanish and even German food has invaded ‘our’ city (I now do believe that London is ‘my’ city). This is a great thing. The restaurants in London have become so good, we don’t need to fly over to the continent for proper food. All the Europeans in the food industry will suffer. We don’t want London to go back to pre-historic, dark un-foodie ages.
  6. Travel: The open borders mean that travel between the UK and the continent is easy: we all hop on a plane (Easyjet) to fly to Greece/Sardinia/Ibiza/South of France. Being in the UK means that this is easy, fluid and open. Are we really going to need a visa to go to Space?
  7. Tech: If East London wants to contend with Silicon Valley, the UK needs to let the doors open to all the techie-talent coming from Europe. The Google Campus attracts all of these young, talented techies from all over Europe who come to London for its opportunities. Let’s not close down any of these opportunities.
  8. Education: 4 university leaders agree: they are voting to stay. Nobel Laureates also agree. They cite research, staff and funding all as reasons. Surely the most brilliant minds realise the benefits of staying, why can’t all of us?
  9. Research & Science: Brexiters are overlooking the fact that Britain would lose funding for vital research in the science and medical fields. Paediatric research is hugely funded by the EU. Go ask Great Ormond Street. Or other British universities. This threatens the UK as one of the top research nations in the world.
  10.  The Capital of the World: I consider London to be the Capital of the World: it is international, dynamic, you can easily travel to the 4 corners of the world from it, and it is tolerant. Closing down its barriers will make it a worse place. I am biased, but I hope you’ll join me to stay in the EU.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Social Commentary

Playdate Rage

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The other day, I was taken over by what you could call ‘Playdate Rage.’

Firstly, I’d like to be clear that I do not enjoy organising playdates, with its 15 email trails/Whatsapp frenzy/ texting/organising/re-organising/re-scheduling because of sickness/family in town/unforeseen circumstances. As a matter of fact, in my ideal world, there would not be any playdates, we would just come home after school or go to the local park/playground and play with whoever is there. Even better, I grew up coming home and playing on the beach (yes, I know, what am I doing here in London!?😉 ). So the whole ‘playdate’ thing is foreign to me. But, my children love playdates and they hear about their classmates’ playdates so I organise them for their happiness. And I do actually enjoy the actual playdates, it’s the organisational aspect that can get quite tedious.

One of my greatest pet peeves are cancellations at the last minute accompanied by silly excuses. It shows a lack of thought, respect and manners. So, when one of the mums cancelled my child’s playdate 2 hours before the playdate, I was sent into a ‘playdate rage.’ Let me elaborate: 1) my daughter had been begging for this playdate for months 2) this was the second time they cancelled at the last minute 3) the mother couldn’t be bothered calling me, it was the nanny who called with a veiled bullshit excuse. Not the day before, which could be acceptable, but two hours before so I couldn’t quickly organise a replacement playdate. The problem I now faced was a crying/tantruming toddler who didn’t understand why this child never wanted to do a playdate with her.

Playdate etiquette is that there is no etiquette and sometimes it’s a free for all, when some people forget their manners, respect and decency. Luckily, most people aren’t like this, but this model-gorgeous/celebrity/superrich mum has forgotten those somewhere along the way. I would like to tell her that ‘Yes, I know you may be too-busy-being-papped/have-a-complicated-glamorous-life/only-like-other-superrich, but frankly I don’t care, I care about my child and I’d like a bit more respect.’ But of course, this would be completely socially unacceptable and would send me straight into pariah territory. 12 hours later, I was over it, but it reminded me of all the stories I have heard over the years of ‘playdate rage’ (Just to be clear, not all Glamorous Supermums are like this, many are absolutely lovely, courteous, polite and actually speak to me).

Someone was telling me about a mum who invited her daughter’s 6 best friends to Eurodisney for the weekend. The whole weekend would be paid for, which was quite expensive, and it was planned months in advance. But towards the big weekend, the two girls didn’t seem as close as before, so the mum actually dis-invited the child (and probably invited someone else instead), who of course was absolutely devastated. It’s the type of rudeness I cannot tolerate.

Another friend had organised a playdate for her son and another boy in the class at the boy’s house. It turns out the other boy’s mother had invited another mother and son as well but hadn’t invited her, saying ‘just send the nanny.’ The nanny went along while the two other mums caught up, excluding my friend.

And then there are those who just don’t show up. Period. No excuses. No forewarning emails.

I know it’s not always straightforward and we all cancel or exclude by mistake sometimes. But there’s a proper way and an improper way of handling playdates. At the end of the day, all we want is for our children to be happy and it doesn’t matter who is at the other end of the playdate-organisation-phone. I also hope that I am teaching my children to be kind, thoughtful and considerate. So, in the long term, maybe it’s all for the better.

Let me know your worst playdate stories!

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

 

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Reviews

Art16 in Photos

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Art16 at Olympia. NHYM 2016.

For those who missed Art16, here’s a quick roundup of what was on show last weekend. All photographs taken by NHYM Copyright 2016.

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Amazing head sculpture – one of the highlights of the fair. NHYM 2016. 

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Pearl Lam Gallery. One of the top galleries at Art16. NHYM 2016.

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Loved this piece. Somehow reminded me of someone I know…NHYM 2016. 

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Interactive butterflies. Dominic Harris. NHYM 2016. 

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Interactive flowers Dominic Harris. NHYM 2016. 

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Yayoi Kusama. One of the biggest artists of the moment. NHYM 2016. 

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Am having a thing for Japanese art at the moment. NHYM 2016. 

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The House of Fairy Tales Charity. NHYM 2016. 

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Mickey Mouse Child Friendly Art. NHYM 2016. 

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Purple Dragon even had a stand. Wonderfully family friendly and creative. NHYM 2016. 

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

 

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