I’ve been tagged in a blog hop – the first one I’ve taken part in – that was started by Susie Orman Schnall, author of On Grace. You can read the original post here

It’s the 40th Birthday Swag Bag Blog Hop, and the premise is that the blogger is going to a friend’s fortieth birthday bash in an exotic island resort (we can dream – this is a creative exercise!) The challenge is to list a few of your favourite things that you’d like to add to the swag bag for everyone in the group.

I was tagged by Debbie Young and you can read her post here. Debbie and I have so far only ‘met’ virtually, through our involvement in the Alliance of Independent Authors. Also based in the UK, Debbie is soon to publish a collection of flash fiction stories – well worth taking another look at her website, where you can find a selection of her stories.

So here’s what I’ve chosen…


My favourite books are I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. But for a fortieth birthday, I thought I’d choose a non-fiction book, Be a free range human by Marianne Cantwell. I was lucky enough to meet Marianne recently, when we were both speaking at the Multi Passionate Women’s Conference and have since been reading her book, which is a refreshing and lively call to action for anyone who feels there may be more to their life than the job they feel trapped in. Quite possibly one for those turning 40!

Beauty Product

Those of you who know me or who have read the chapter on appearance in Bolder and Wiser will know that I am not the person to ask about beauty products on the whole – I am relatively minimalist! However, I have dry skin and so moisturisers of all sorts are a regular feature for me. In a swag bag? I think I’d put a really good lip balm in (perhaps a basic but effective one such as Nivea’s Hydrocare Lip Balm).

Snack food

At the moment, my favourite snack is fresh cherries – they are in season right now and are lovely! I used to buy them on the way home from school at this time of year too – so they remind me of the little treats we give ourselves during exam season. I’m sure there must be some way of packaging them to provide in a swag bag – or perhaps I should stick with a local flavour and put in whatever is in season where we are – pineapples or mangoes perhaps…

(and I’ll enjoy Debbie’s chocolate too!)

Music Album

I have an eclectic music taste but the album that particularly springs to mind in this context is the late, great Kirsty MacColl’s Tropical Brainstorm. Inspired by her visits to Cuba, this holds a special place for me as I visited Cuba in the year I became 40 – so seems especially appropriate for this swag bag. A very feel good listen too.

Any other items?

Well – I might be able to lay my hands on it anyway, but a day without good coffee in it always feels as if something is missing for me. So – a bag of the finest coffee beans would go into my swag bag!

Passing it on

Now that my virtual gifts are added to the bags, it is time to pass this on to others to add theirs!

Henpicked.net is a website founded by friends who met up to chat and realised that their conversations were of relevance to many women besides themselves. I have met one of the founders, Debbie Garlick, on a number of occasions and am delighted to pass this blog on to her!

Serena Simmons is a fellow psychologist in Nottingham. A truly multi-passionate woman herself, she is the driving force behind the Multi Passionate Women’s Conference, the first enormously successful one being held recently. I have great pleasure in passing this on to her!