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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Counting The Kicks…aka Zzzzzzzz

I’m 21 weeks pregnant now and my Mini should be awake every hour or so. At this stage, I should be able to feel all the little kicks and stretches that come with my babba’s wakefulness.

Most of the time I get overcome with excitement when I feel something stirring…but then I get awfully disappointed when it turns out to be just (another) fart…

*sigh*

As walking around can often lull the little one to sleep, it’s recommended that you lie on your left side (the best side for your circulation) for two hours and count the baby’s movements. You should feel at least ten individual “kicks”, and hiccups don’t count (not that I’d know the difference).

This is all well and good, but if I lie on my side with the intention of counting kicks, I’m often asleep before I’ve even counted one.

Saying that though…last week I was propped up on my bed reading when I felt an almighty kick from within. I looked down at my belly as another kick followed, and this time I saw it too! I actually SAW our baby’s movements…mind blowing stuff.

It hasn’t happened again since, but I can’t wait to see it again.

Now it’s time for me to lie down and nap count the kicks…

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Pregnancy

 

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My Bounty Mum-to-be Pack…

At our first pregnancy GP appointment (with the nice doctor) I got given a copy of Emma’s Diary: a week by week guide to your pregnancy

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…and then, at my first midwife appointment, I got my Bounty Pregnancy Information Folder…

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…which has another magazine, some free samples (decaf tea and Pregnacare supplements to name two I haven’t used), lots of leaflets and flyers and some information about the local hospital and maternity services.

Both come with forms to fill out to get free packs from Bounty and Johnson’s. I don’t plan on using products from either of those companies, but I’m not one to turn down free stuff so I collected my Newborn Essentials Pack from Boots a while ago…

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(It’s rammed with free products! It’s just a shame they’re Johnson’s!)…

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…and today I finally got round to picking up my Bounty Mum-to-be Pack from Boots today…

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It alleges to have “Contents worth at least £15” inside, but you have to look pretty hard to find the value in it…

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As “free product samples” go, there was a (teeny weeny) pot of Sudocrem, and a pen with a Pregnacare logo. There was also a Baby Product Guide (bounty.com)…

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It’s supposed to cost £3 but I don’t know many people who would pay that for a book of adverts!

The only other freebies I could find amongst the leaflets for ISAs, life insurance and suppliers of baby products was a code for a free Graze box (they’re very good so I’ll probably redeem it)…

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There was also voucher for £20 off an Ocado shop, but I’m not counting that as you have to spend £80 to qualify for the saving.

The only really useful thing in there was a leaflet about my baby’s movements, which was, incidentally, the only thing that wasn’t trying to sell me something.

I am really struggling to see how on earth the contents could be worth more than £15 (unless you include the Ocado voucher) and (although it was free) I’m really not impressed. I’ve had a look online at some forums and a few mums are saying that if you pick your Mum-to-be pack up from Asda you get a free gift from George (scratch mitts or a hooded towel have been mentioned). I wish I’d known that before trundling off to Boots!

According to the mums on the Babycentre forum, there’s also a pack called the Mama Pack which contains ethically sourced products in a biodegradable bag, but it’s proving pretty impossible to find any available. I’ll report back on those when (or if) I manage to find somewhere that stocks them!

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Life, Pregnancy, Reviews

 

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Problem Skin – My Skin, My Problem…

I’ve always suffered with my skin. As a child it was eczema on my arms and legs. In my teenage years my skin was so dry my face looked like it was covered in lichen. As an adult I combined the two and had dry skin that would often break out in eczema when I was stressed…but on my face this time. Over the years I have used more cleansers and creams than I could possibly remember, but nothing has really worked effectively.

I’d always imagined that during pregnancy I would get the oft foretold ‘glow’, and that I would finally know what it was like to have something approaching normal facial skin. Oh, how wrong I was!…

I didn’t think it was possible but my skin got drier, it got red and sore, my occasional facial eczema (stress related) became a permanent fixture on my chin, and something new happened too…I got zits. I’ve never really had spots before, so I didn’t really factor them in and blamed my appearance on eczema alone.

red face collage

These photos (from my 15th week of pregnancy) don’t even do it justice…My skin looked AWFUL.

Even on the days where it wasn’t sore (and I went about my day mostly unaware of it), it still looked bad enough for people to point it out to me. Just in case you didn’t know, telling someone how awful their totally unavoidable skin problem is does nothing but cause them to become painfully re-aware of what they’d forgotten they saw in the mirror that morning. It does not help. Try not to do it.

Other than special occasions I never really wear make-up other than mascara, but suddenly I was so concious of how I looked that I was wearing concealer and foundation every day. Most of the time it didn’t even make it look much better, but it helped me to want to leave the house in the morning. The stupid thing is that I was so busy at work that I forgot how I looked whether I wore it or not.

...15 weeks pregnant, wearing my Baby on Board badge and LOTS of make up...

…15 weeks pregnant, wearing my Baby on Board badge and LOTS of make up…

Eventually I saw a doctor about it, hoping that he would give me some miracle cure, seeing as I couldn’t use steroid cream anymore because, you know, pregnant. He seemed to take great exception to my self-diagnosis of eczema (oh, I’m sorry! It’s only my body! I can’t possibly know what’s wrong with it after living in it for over thirty years!) and told me that it was acne and acne alone that was causing my problem. He suggested washing in hot (very hot) water, using a harsh cleanser, and only putting oil-free moisturisers on my face.

Ridiculous. I decided to ignore his ‘advice’.

Instead, I treated the eczema because I could deal with the spots (I’m pregnant after all…spots are a common affliction when your hormones are going RARRR) but I couldn’t deal with the angry, sore redness, nor the comments and looks of pity. I tried a few different cleansers and moisturisers until I settled on a combination that felt good on my skin. These now form the basis of my pregnancy skincare regime…

problem skin

The Cetaphil cleanser is brilliant as you don’t need to use water to remove it (sometimes water seems to aggravate the redness) and the moisturiser leaves my skin feeling brilliant, but it can dry out quite quickly, so I top it off with Lush’s Skin Drink (my pre-pregnancy moisturiser).

Palmer’s Stretch Mark Lotion is fabulous for my dry skin (and hopefully for stretch marks!). It’s really thick and although I didn’t used to like the smell of cocoa butter I have gotten used to being chocolate scented. My only problem with it is that

I use the coconut oil in the bath, on my scalp, sometimes under my other two moisturisers…everywhere really! Some people use it on it’s own, but I find that oils don’t do enough for my skin and I need creams too. This isn’t to say that the coconut oil doesn’t work fabulously to support the rest of my skincare regime. I have a little metal dish in the bathroom that I scrape the solid oil into (using a teaspoon), then I float it in some warm water in the sink to melt it down.

All this effort seems to be paying off and the redness/cracking of the eczema has now completely gone, although I probably owe a lot to the fact that I’m now well into the second trimester of pregnancy and am finally getting a bit of a ‘glow’.

problem skin collage

I’ve still got the spots as you can see, but if I try to get rid of those with conventional methods I’ll probably end up aggravating the eczema again. It’s not worth it…I can deal with the spots and the redness that comes with them.

But that’s not all…

As well as dry skin, I’ve also developed a VERY dry scalp (not all over, just a few inches into my hairline from my forehead). It’s not dandruff, and anti-dandruff shampoo dries my scalp out more. I’ve started to use this haircare combo as the shampoo is moisturising for dry scalps…

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…it doesn’t really cure my problem on its own, but it definitely helps to control it (especially if I use it every day). One thing that has REALLY helped cure the dryness is rubbing coconut oil into my scalp and leaving it on for a while (anywhere up to an hour) until I wash my hair. I do have to shampoo a couple of times to make sure it’s all out though.

Once I decided to pour a few tablespoons of liquid coconut oil onto my scalp as conditioner, with the idea of shampooing it afterwards. I don’t recommend you do this. One shampoo was not enough! I had to attempt to dry it to discover this though…I say ‘attempt’ because I could barely get a brush through my oil-laden hair, and it was so slick with oil that it didn’t really dry! Three shampoos later and it was almost verging on clean.

My last problem skin complaint is my hands…

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…which, as you can see, look like those of a crone. They are the product of dry skin AND a slight obsession with hand washing (lots of soap and very hot water). I try to moisturise them as often as I can, but it only takes a few washes and a few forgotten applications of cream for them to go back to looking like dusty tissue paper.

I’ve been using this…

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…on the recommendation of my best friend. It was fabulous the first time I used it but I am beginning to find that it’s not creamy enough and it isn’t rehydrating my skin as well as it was. It’s one good point seemed to be that it sinks in very quickly and doesn’t leave your hands oily/greasy as other creams can do (Body Shop Hemp hand cream and Palmer’s Cocoa Butter hand cream to name two), but perhaps my skin needs the oil sitting on it? I don’t really like it’s orange-medicine smell either, and I avoid applying it before eating as I find it so pungent I can almost taste it.

I think that once this (quite expensive) tube is done I shall go back to one of the more oily hand creams and see how that goes…even if I do end up leaving finger prints and smudges on everything…

One thing I don’t do is drink enough water. I know that if I drank more I’d find that my skin (and my energy levels) would be far better. I tell myself I’m going to drink more and make a concious effort to do it, but then I end up engrossed in a book, or the TV, or lying in the bath and I realise that I’ve spent a whole evening without drinking anything at all! I have a water bottle that I carry with me at work but I forget about it and end up having little more than a sip from it while I’m on the shop floor.

Everyone tells me that I need to get better at drinking more, so I’m going to try harder to take their advice. Maybe I can think of some ingenious ways that people like me can get into the habit of having a full two litres a day…

My quest for happy skin continues.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Life, Pregnancy, Reviews

 

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Carrot Cake and (Caffe Nero) Coffee…by My Hubby…

Today Luke decided to try his first carrot cake, so I thought I’d annoy him help him and take photos along the way!

We had a look online and – although we discovered that there is (apparently) NO PLACE FOR RAISINS IN CARROT CAKE – had a go at a BBC Food recipe that we only remastered slightly.

It was pretty easy and went a little like this…

First, heat the oven to 180 degrees, then line and grease your tin(s)…we decided to use loaf tins and liners to save a bit of time/greasing (we got ours from Poundland along with these handy measuring contraptions!)…

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Grate 140g of carrots…

Next, mix 175g of light muscovado sugar, 175ml sunflower oil and 3 beaten eggs together.

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Add the grated carrot and raisins (we omitted to add orange zest at this point as the oranges in Tesco smelt plasticy and horrible) and stir well (Luke had me working by this point so I forgot to take a photo…)

Sift in 175g of SR flour, 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and spices…we used 1 tsp of mixed spice and 1 tsp of cinnamon…

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…stir lightly until well combined and then pour into your tin/tins.

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Pop the tin/tins into the oven.

We followed the time the recipe suggested and left them in for 40 minutes…

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…could probably have done with knocking 5 minutes off the cooking time. The loaves were lovely and moist, but the bottoms were the tiniest bit overcooked.

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While we waited for them to cool, I used a Hummingbird Bakery recipe to make Cream Cheese Frosting for the tops of the loaves.

It’s a really simple recipe, but I found that I covered the whole kitchen in sugar when I tried to combine 300g of icing sugar and 50g of unsalted butter with an electric whisk (as the recipe suggests you do first)…so I mixed the cream cheese in earlier than the recipe suggests and still got a really good result…

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…then, once the loaves were (sort of) cool, I frosted the tops of them both quite thickly…

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…but there was still LOADS of frosting left, so I coated the sides of one of the loaves and then ate a good amount of it out of the bowl. Well, we wouldn’t want to waste it now, would we?!

We picked up some ground coffee from Caffe Nero this morning (£3.25 a bag or £5.50 for two…and you also get a stamp on your Nero loyalty card for each bag you purchase), so we thought we’d give that a try at the same time as taste testing Luke’s cake…

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I let the kettle go off the boil before pouring the water over the back of a spoon and onto the coffee (3 heaped tbsp) in the cafetiere. This yeilded quite a dark crema…

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Then we let it do it’s standing there and brewing thing while we set up a cake, coffee and cups photoshoot (plunging it at the last minute)…

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…and then we poured coffee…

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…and inserted cake in our faces…

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…and it was goooooooood!!

The cake was delicious (hence my weird looking ‘oh my god’ face above) and the coffee was pretty damn awesome too! It wasn’t at all bitter, and tasted much like an Americano from the coffee shop itself. I’d totally recommend it and will definitely be buying it again once we’ve used this batch up.

We’ll be attempting the recipe again too, except maybe with a few changes to the spices, and the addition of the orange zest (if we can find oranges that don’t smell weird)…Luke would also suggest NOT banging the tin/tins on the counter to settle the batter, as he thinks this may have caused our raisins to sink down through the mixture.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Food, Life, Reviews

 

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The Duck Inn…

On the day of Fletch’s epic claw-tastrophe, Luke and I had a reservation at a restaurant in Yardley (a kind Groupon Voucher gift from my beautiful Sister-in-law and her family for Christmas)…we tried our best to get ready but after the debacle of the paw we had neither the time nor the motivation to make our reservation. The restaurant were very understanding and thankfully allowed us to change the date of our table.

So, there we were, semi-ready to go out, no food in the house and both of us feeling too stressed to contemplate shopping and cooking. We had no choice (none at all) but to find somewhere closer to home…

…so to The Duck Inn we went…

...that's where we were!...NOT drinking wine...

…that’s where we were!…NOT drinking wine…

They do FABULOUS burgers and steaks, which was exactly what we needed after an afternoon of worry and stress, and as it was a Tuesday is was nice and quiet in there (they have karaoke and quizzes on certain nights). I’d spent a lot of the afternoon saying things like “NO! STAY! YOU NEED TO ELEVATE YOUR PAW!” (when we were in the garden) and “NO! STAY! YOU’LL FALL OFF THE TABLE IF YOU KEEP LEAPING AROUND LIKE THAT” (at the vets) in a very firm voice, so anywhere where I felt obliged to talk in an ‘indoor voice’ was fine by me.

It’s always been a nice place to visit, but they’ve had a refurb recently (well, since the last time we visited anyway) and I was delighted by the new, very apt, wallpaper…

...brilliant wallpaper...beautiful fireplace...

…brilliant wallpaper…beautiful fireplace…

They’ve also got a new menu which highlights what they do best, and includes a MASSIVE choice of burgers. There’s so many, in fact, that I couldn’t decide which one I was going to have…

…until I saw the specials board.

That was when I learned that such a thing as “The Hench Burger” exists…covered in all of my favourite things. I HAD to have it…

...Hench Burger for me...Oh...My...God...

…Hench Burger for me…Oh…My…God…

It’s a chargrilled beef burger with bacon (best bacon), cheddar cheese, jalapenos, gherkin slices, nachos, honey mustard and sweet chilli in a chilli and paprika bun. It is AMAZING. I heartily recommend that everyone travel to Redditch immediately to eat one of these. I wish I could eat one every day.

Luke was equally impressed with his steak…

...12oz rump steak for the man...

…12oz rump steak for the man…

As well as the awesome food, the service was also excellent. The manager welcomed us, took our order, waited on our table, and generally made sure we had a great evening. we had a brilliant time and I couldn’t wait to go back again for another Hench Burger…

…I think I’m kind of obsessed. When my Aunt asked where we should go out for her birthday dinner I might have insisted suggested that we visit The Duck…

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Food, Reviews

 

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Another Claw Bites the Dust…

I was playing with Fletch in the garden on the afternoon of our lovely woodland walk, when Luke pointed out that Fletch was bounding around like an idiot and was likely to rip a claw off.

…and that’s when I noticed the blood all over the patio.

Luckily I have taken a first aid course, so while Luke rang the vets I was busy in the garden elevating Fletch’s paw and applying pressure with a tea towel. Our dog is an accident prone little monkey so as well as my first aid qualification, I’ve also got lots of vet wrap and many hours experience of bandaging his feet.

Within a few minutes (a few shouty, stressed minutes that seemed to go on forever) we had him bandaged and in the car on the way to the dog doctor.

Sadly, despite my best efforts to stop him bleeding, walking to the car and into the vets (through Pets At Home) caused his poorly paw to start bleeding again and nothing the vet could do would get it to stop.

...looking very sorry for himself...

…looking very sorry for himself…

...my bandaging skills in action...

…my bandaging skills in action…

She tried her best to stem the flow with Potassium Permanganate so she wouldn’t have to bandage it (saving us money and herself the problem of bandaging our strong, wriggly dog), but it just wasn’t to be. No matter how much she put on him he was still leaving little spots of blood around the room and I wasn’t happy to take him home and have it start gushing again.

Thankfully she didn’t want us to hold him while the bandaging went on like we had all through the examination and the injections (anti-inflammatory and antibiotic) so we got to sit down and worry about him, which was less stressful than having to wrestle with him.

And that was that!

He emerged shortly after wearing a smart bandage and a cone of shame. Poor puppy. Guilty dog-mommy.

...pleased to be going home...and to have daddy in the back seat with him...

…pleased to be going home…and to have daddy in the back seat with him…

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...wearing his 'going outside' boot...

…wearing his ‘going outside’ boot…

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We shan’t be playing boisterous games in the garden again!

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Animals, Life

 

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Into The Woods…

Due to aches and pains and general exhaustion (and laziness) I’ve not been moving as much as usual, and my waistline has started to expand suffer…more about that in another post.

To begin to remedy this lack of movement I decided to take Fletch a bit further afield for our walk a few Tuesdays ago. Nothing too exotic of course…we went to the park.

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Normally I hate taking him to our local park. It’s endless paths through endless fields with endless amounts of dogs careening about off their leads. Fletch has to stay firmly on the end of his lead as he refuses to listen to me when other dogs are around, preferring to charge around like a maniac, bowling them over, treading on their heads and usually getting snapped at for his trouble.

So on the lead he stays…and I get pulled and dragged, and I get treated to a bevvy of judgemental stares from the owners who let their dogs run free. I usually want to yell “HE’S NOT DANGEROUS! JUST STUPID!” at those people.

Sometimes I do.

Tuesday was just too beautiful though, and I was just too desperate to get my fat self moving. There was an ominous black cloud hanging on the horizon so I didn’t want to go too far, and I’d remembered the beautiful strip of woodland that runs down the side of the park. I’d hoped that it’d be more pleasant than the park itself, and a bit quieter too. I was right. We didn’t see a single dog during the 45 minutes we were in the woods…a sharp contrast to the fifteen dogs that Fletch tried to stamp on play with in the 10 minutes we spent in the park itself. It was shadey wodded bliss.

For the most part the sun shone down through the trees. We saw a dragonfly and a buzzard, magpies chasing each other through the treetops, and legions of pigeons.

heard a woodpecker and some bumblebees, but we didn’t see fur nor feather of either.

We had a lovely time. It was even lovely when it rained. It was that weird kind of rain where the sun keeps shining and the dark cloud seems miles away, but the drops are falling on you anyway. The trees are all still bare and skeletal but they did a pretty good job of keeping us protected from the shower.

...beautiful clouds...

…beautiful clouds…

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…traversing the park pathways…

 

...more beautiful clouds...

…more beautiful clouds…

...slightly ominous clouds...

…slightly ominous clouds…

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…into the woods…

 

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…listening to dogs in faraway fields…

 

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…smiling dog…

 

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…this will be a beautiful bank of bluebells in a few months…

 

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…pond!…

 

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…back in the park, under the clouds…

 

...the hedgerows were filling in nicely with teeny green buds...

…the hedgerows were filling in nicely with teeny green buds…

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…and back into the woods!…

 

...blue skies after the rain...

…blue skies after the rain…

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…and back to the car…

 

It felt great to be out and exercising and even though I was still in pain I could have walked for hours…but I’d forgotten to take a drink for either of us. Fletch is happy to drink from puddles but I am not, so after almost an hour we wound our way back down through the woods and to the car.

 

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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