Thursday, 31 March 2011

Satchel of Love

Finally, finally, FINALLY!     

After scouring the likes of vintage shops and eBay and Etsy and Folksy for a satchel, invariably not finding one to my liking or forgetting about being outbid on auctions, I have the satchel of my dreams. Vintage and old it may not be. But massive and leathery it is. And I love it, to a drooling and giddy extent. 

Oh. How I love thee satchel

There is a myriad of satchel sellers for your delectation on the wonder web, from sellers on eBay to Amazon. Yes. Amazon. They sell all sorts of stuff, including curling tongs, shoes and ... satchels. And this is where I found The Leather Satchel Co.

Here commences one of the best shopping experiences I have ever had..... 

So. I initially ordered the 11'' satchel in "Chestnut Brown". I do usually like a bit of tan (not on my skin of course, heaven forfend) but I was not keen on the tone of the colour in the picture. I spent a long time with a ruler on my desk, measuring against the feeble Primark bag I already had. I say feeble, because despite only being 3 weeks old and carrying no more than a book, phone, makeup bag and purse, it was breaking on the strap. You get what you pay for I guess. £6 does not equal quality, evidently.

Anywho -  I am straying from the point. I decided upon my purchase, clickety clicked and waited for the new arrival to my ever growing family of Bag Babies. I did not have to wait long. Less then 2 days in fact. And what arrived was a delightfully packaged leather delicacy. In brown paper. With string. There are few things that get me as happy as brown paper packages, tied up with string, despite "The Sound of Music"  failing to be one of my favourite things. I loved the fact that there was a little square of company stamped leather on the outside showing me the colour. Oooh! I was excited!

And then decidedly "meh". The satchel inside was the wrong colour. The tan I had ummed and aaaared about. The colour I was now certain I didn't like. Drat. But, that was not the worst of it. Despite my valiant efforts of measuring and checking, the bag was too small for my needs. Double drat. I would have to start my satchel search again.

I took advantage of the free post return, citing the issue of colour wrong-ness and my wholly unskillful measuring skills as the reason, and asked for a refund. What I received instead was a lovely email.

A lovely email that apologised profusely for the colour confusion, and by way of compensation, would I be interested in a free upgrade to the 14", in, of course, the correct colour?   

The secret inside of the satchel

Would I? Would I like to end my twitch-enducing satchel search? Would I? You betcha! But there was one small snag -  the width of the 14" would still be too small (apparently I carry a packhorse load of toot about with me on any given day) so I asked if I could have the 15" instead and pay the difference.  Yes, of course I could, but there would be no extra charge. No extra charge.

Swoon. Thump.

Again, 2 days later and the brown paper package arrived again. With a lovely letter from the company and a reminder to ensure I signed up for their 5 year product guarentee. I cannot see this superbly handmade bag having any issues with the rigours of my daily commute and general carrying needs, but it is fab to have peace of mind there anyway.  

It is nice that I, in the end, have a £69 bag for £49 - but I should have been a bit more savvy about it in the 1st place and just bought the large one. I would of happily spent the full amount on a bag that I believe will last me years, if not decades.

If you are interested in checking out this small, family run company for a Satchel of Love of your very own you can buy from them via their Amazon shop and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Truly the best customer service I shall possibly ever experience.

Ahhhhh. True Love Always.

I know that it is not "vintage" in anything apart from looks. But, I kind of like the fact that this bag will show the history of it's time with me. The cup of tea spilt, the rogue un-lidded lippy, the scuff or scratch from some long forgotten encounter with a pavement or wall.

These are the hopes I hold for the Satchel of Love.     


Monday, 28 March 2011

Passchendaele - Review

I had eagerly awaited the release of this on to DVD and snapped it up as soon as I saw it at a reasonable price. I avoided all reviews of it before watching it as I had heard some unsavoury rumors, and I always like to make my own mind up.  

Written, directed, co-produced and starring Paul Gross, I was already pleased. I really like him as an actor and was interested to see how he fared at all the other responsibilities of film making.

Based on memories that his grandfather told him just before he passed away, this film is a moving testament to all the men who fought and died during The Battle of Passchendaele between July and November 1917.

I did not even mind the love story. Normally things like that irk me a little, but I thought that it was heartfelt and believable. It gave me a lot more connection to the characters.

But, that said, I was not keen on the way it was written. A moving and obviously very personal tribute it may be, but I did not like chronology of the movie. I feel it may have been better if the scenes of life before the War had been used as flash backs as opposed to a running narrative.

However. That is my only criticism. And all of my misgivings about the film paled into insignificance any time the battlefield  or trench scenes squelched into view. The details with which the Third Battle of Ypres has been re-created is akin to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, such is its dedication to the truth.

I have not seen a film that has made me think "this is what it was really like". And I think that is an incredibly important thing to have in this day and age of visual stimulation.

How else will we remember?

The research and accuracy of the final scenes of this film painstakingly portray an actual battle fought by 8th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. A brake down in communication meant that a small company had to try and hold the line. It is a battle known well to the history books for it's courage and valor.

The DVD also has a "making of" extra which gives more insight as to how it was made. I found this fascinating and it compounded the fact that Paul Gross made this movie to remember all those who fought and died.

I recommend this film to anyone who can see past any continuity issues that may arise and recognise this film as a personal journey for one man and his family. A journey that so many people will be able to connect with through their own ancestral experiences of "The War to End all Wars".

A 6/10 from me.

No Brown Skirt - outfit post

Yep. You heard it here first.

I don't always wear my trusty brown skirt. You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I do wear it an awful lot to work however. It is my go to item.

But.. what to wear when I am feeling suitably 40's inspired? Why... this ensemble! It always makes me feel incredibly time warp. And it is tres comfortable -  meaning it has plenty of room for cake. Hurrahs!

Jacket & Dress via charity. This is my best ever bargain. £1.79 for the dress. And it's a M&S. Wondrous!
God Bless you out-of-town charity shops!

I promised to make use of my headscarves -  and so I have! Albeit the same one as in this post. Meh. I like what I like on my loaf. But, that said, I am sure I shall pop this one at the bottom of the pile soon. I'm fickle like that.

Ahh.. one of those shots you should delete. But it made me smile when I went through the pics, so I thought I would include it. I hardly take a nice photo anyway -  so you may as well see the worst. This reflects how I was feeling on the day.

I call this... "1940's Bloat"

Hence the roomy frock!

Ciao Bella's!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Homemade linseed setting lotion - a review & how to!

Despite my fairly favourable review of regular setting lotion recently, I have decided that, actually I cannot stand the smell. I have a feeling that it might just be the brand. Others of you out there might not notice it, and I thought at first that perfume would cover it. But, to be honest, it's all I can smell. Even days later.

So, instead of going down the long and potentially expensive route of trying and testing lots of pre mades, I decided to have a go at making my own. There are various threads on The Fedora Lounge advising the use of flat beer and sugar water. The latter is something my Nan remembers her older sister using. And it is one I shall also be giving a go at some stage. Flat beer does not appeal to me on the basis of smell. And the attraction of various flying stinging things in the summer it may cause.  

The home made lotion I am reviewing this time is from a quick google search, which lead me to here. And I have to say that, despite the extra faff involved, it has given me much better results than any pre-made. So -  here's how...

You shall need:-
1 tbsp of Linseed seeds (flaxseed in the USA) - available from health food stores
1 cup of water
small saucepan

Add ingredients to pan. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 15 mins. I tend to watch mine (which invariably means it never boils) as if it bubbles up over, you are left with a syrupy glop all over the hob.

I use double the amount stated as 1) it makes it easier to strain 2) I have a lot of hair! and 3) it keeps in the fridge for an age

Take off the boil and strain immediately over a cup, through a sieve. I say immediately as this does start to become a gel pretty quick and this only makes it harder to push through. Wash off your sieve with hot water, as cold will help it to said gel phase.

Pop it on the side to cool down, or in the fridge.

Do not allow family member to mistake it for tea.

I do become a bit obsessed with pulling this out the cup to see how far I can get it before it breaks.

Once cooled, this is what you should be left with. A kind of gloopy gel. Sturdier than egg whites but it kind of feels the same.

Now, instructions I have read advise to "comb this through your hair". And like all setting lotions, it advises damp hair. But, I have found this neigh on impossible on a drying basis. So, after I have separated out my washed, dry locks, I tend to comb the piece through, get some on my fingers and then tease it through my hair. I then comb it all through. The good thing I have found in doing it this way is that the comb removes any excess, whilst coating each strand. I have a towel to hand to wipe off what is not needed.

Set hair in usual way and apply heat. I do about 10 mins all over. I then sleep on it.


The big reveal.

I was a bit worried. I thought it might turn out pap. It has in the past.

But not this time! And not since I have followed the method above. It gives me non-crispy-bits, soft, manageable curls that are scent free and that last.
Yes, ladies, LAST.

This is it styled. I took the saintly advice of Miss Fleur de Guerre regarding brushing out, when she commented on my previous review. I have not gone the whole hog here - and I need to get better at things before I do, but this is from fresh and just combed. It gave me fluffier curls than I am used to, but they do look a lot better!

This is the curls on day 2. I am staggered at how much they have not dropped. And this is after being drizzled on. Yes! I know!! They are still there!! Something I have discovered about using this natural brew is that it fails to be bothered by annoying things like fog, mizzle and wind.

This is day 3 -  after a walk in a rather windy Whitstable. Yes -  they have dropped -  but there is still a definite curl there. I think that this is weight of my hair as opposed to the product.

And this is Day 4. Oddly -  the curls have crept up again? I love this! I really thought that after being exposed to the windy sea air, they would have given up the ghost.

Now, this recipe is not without it's downsides. It does take longer to do. I find about a third longer than a normal spray bottle application. But, for me, it lasts a lot longer. I have no real straggly bits to contend with which needed re-rolling. So that perk alone far outweighs the downsides.

Right. Back to my little comment earlier about it going wrong in the past. Below is evidence of the first time I tried this. I slathered it on. Like an idiot. And this is the result.

I use the word "result" loosely!

Please excuse my doughy upper arm.

I did not comb this through. I just used my fingers. And despite me applying heat-a-plenty and leaving it overnight, it just did not dry.

It didn't even set evenly. To say I was gutted is an understatement.

But. I could see that it had curled. This is when I decided to re-test it, and the results you see at the beginning are it at it's best. If you have shorter hair than me (yes! I know! I need to get it cut before you tell me) then I think this will work beautifully.

I have read that you can add vodka to this to increase it's fridge life and that you can add a natural scent. I am toying with the idea of adding a couple of drops of Rose Geranium to my next batch and seeing how that comes out. I would also suggest that if you are making a batch and keeping some back for further applications, to store it in a air tight container so that it does not pick up any odors and to leave it out of the fridge for about half an hour before you use it.

And there you have it! A natural, odorless, chemical free setting lotion.

If you have any queries or qualms about making or usage, then please comment on this post, or pop me an email.

Until next time folks....   

Monday, 21 March 2011

Ooooooh! Equinox!

I am somewhat of a lax Pagan. And I mean lax. I should be ashamed of myself, but the funny thing is, I’m not. Like I said in a post before -  I am content with where I am now in my spirituality and how much I do or, in most cases, do not do. To me it does not mean I regard it any less or feel it something unimportant. I do the odd healing ritual, the occasional candle spell and continue to make small offerings when I feel the need. But I am no longer out and out “hello world -  I’m a Witch!”. I am over that phase. I am cosy in my own skin and beliefs. Hurrahs!

Pic from here

That said, I do try to regard the major celebrations -  8 throughout the year. 20th/21st March is when I celebrate Spring Equinox. And I like to party on down with some good old fashioned cleaning. Oh, I know how to live alright! Just try and stop me!

It was a glorious day here yesterday, so I took full advantage of a flat to myself. Accompanied by the tepid breeze, I opened all the windows and whacked Buddy Holly on the (mp3) gramophone. On repeat. I have never spent so long de-greasing things. But the sunshine and the blossom coming out of the trees made it all seem better.

Pic from here

As did a visit from Mrs Bumblebee. Traditionally, Bees are seen as messengers of the Gods. The creation of healing (and yummy) honey being the main contributor to this myth, alongside their crafty pollination, which keeps everything ticking. For now. 

For me, this is the Goddess. I do not follow a particular pantheon, I tend to see things in nature and interpret. The Bee is one creature that never falters in making itself known to me when I am in need of  pepping up or I am pondering something serious. Thankfully I am neither down nor dithering at the moment, so I took the Queen Bee as a simple “hello” from Mother Nature.

Plus the fact that I had to rescue her from the window, as she was being beady eyed by a Memphis. Cat + Bee =  vets. Bad times.

Before I enter full on waffle-mode -  I just wanted to wish all of you a lovely Spring Equinox. There is so much horror going on in the world at the moment, I feel the need to share a happy thought of longer days and warm weather to come.

Roll on sandals, painted toes, pretty frocks, beaches and cider!  

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Book Review:- The Lost Life of Eva Braun - Angela Lambert

The blurb
How did a 19 year-old, middle-class, Catholic girl from Munich become Hitler's mistress and what kept him faithful until the end of their lives? Was her appeal sexual, domestic, political - or did he really love her? This biography of Eva Braun is the first in English for 40 years. Angela Lambert has dug deep into Eva's background and brought into sharp focus a fascinating and unexpected relationship, hitherto neglected by male historians. There are more than 700 biographies of Hitler, yet this is the first thorough study of Eva Braun, his secret mistress. Using never before seen family papers and interviews with her surviving cousin, this book will cause a considerable stir. Illustrated throughout with little-known black and white photographs of life at the Berghof, it sheds new light on the man, the woman and the past.


Another one down on the "to be read" list. I am sorry to say that this took me nearly 2 years to complete. Not because it is a hard or yawn-some read, but because I read half of it, fell out of read mode and promptly forgot all about it. I skimmed through the first half again before I finished it.

I have always been interested in Eva Braun. How could a seemingly innocent girl fall in love with, face the shame of her "sinful" unmarried mistress status and commit suicide for, well, Hitler? Was it pure seduction? Was it ladder climbing? Was it hero worship? Or was it just... love?

These are the questions that this book aims to answer. Angela Lambert explores the facts and the rumors that continue to swirl around Fraulein Braun since she took her life by cyanide capsule on 30th April 1945, aged just 33. Did she harbour desires for motherhood to fulfill her patriotic Nazi duty? Did she feel loved and respected by Hitler? Was their relationship intimate or intimidating? Was she actually a Nazi at all?

This book gives not only an insight into all of the above, but delivers it in a thoroughly researched and well delivered manner. There were points in the book when I thought "yes.. yes... I know of all of this" - but that is only because I read this sort of thing all the time. There are also huge chunks of the book that are given over to the history of the Nazi Party, the background of the inner circle and the statistics of murderous activity. I started to think that a lot of the book was straying from the point. But, each page of historical footnotes is essential reading to gain a big picture perspective when trying to conclude who Eva Braun really was and what the world she inhabited was like.

This book may have languished, half read., for a good long while on my bookshelf, but now it is finished, it has given me a more rounded view of  Eva Braun. A major part in the life of one of history's most notorious dictators, and yet unknown until after the war,  this book delves in to the "life" of this young and pretty Bavarian woman. I felt both sympathy and an odd sort of esteem for her by the end of the book. It proves her not to be an evil, Jew murdering Jezebel, as the dogma would suggest, but a simple, sheltered girl who harboured dreams of being a movie star "when the war was over".

If you want  peek behind the history curtain and know more about the inner workings of Hitler through the experiences of his consort, then this is the book for you.

A super-dooper 9/10. 

RND 2011 - outfit post

Due to recent tragic and incomprehensible events in Japan, which I have yet to absorb fully, I was not feeling remotely Red Nose Day-esque today. My mind was on other things - like noticing Japanese made cars in the traffic and thinking "people were in those cars, on another continent, loosing their lives to nature". 

If you have not already, I urge you to donate to the Red Cross in aid of Japan.   

But, in the UK ,it's that time of year again. Red Nose Day -  aka  -  Comic Relief. I feel the gear up to tonight's appeal has been a lot less this year. Or maybe it was just not on my radar. But, from watching it, this has not stopped them from raising literally a tonne of cash for projects that change people's lives, here and in Africa. Hurrah for humour making things as better as they can. It never fails to floor me at how generous we can really be.

And with today, comes the obligatory RND t-shirt. Which, although designed by the ever-so-delightfully Ms Westwood, stumped me outfit wise. I don't do tee's, skinny white or otherwise. Except when I am dying my hair.

I tried this with a skirt. Fail. I tried it with black trousers. Fail. So, jeans it was to be. Slightly less of a fail. Thankfully I have red accessories galore. But I was still not keen  -  so this shall become loafing-about-on-the-sofa apparel for me.

I realise I appear to have pointed people in the direction of 2 charities in this post. I have given to both, but you are not obliged to. Unless you reaaaaaaaaaaally want to. Go on, you know you want to!

Have a lovely weekend folks!  

ps) yes.. I do have a different template -  isn't it sparkly new!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Lippy Win-age!

I have been meaning to blog about this for ages -  but I am a lazy moobag. I have had the pics and the thought -  just not the typing out mentality. Until now.  

I won a beauty of a prize from Retro Chick  -  a Besame Lipstick a la What Katie Did! Ravishing RC had reviewed the product and I had been erring on the side of parting with some cash for this lipstick. And then I won one! Huzzah's and Hurrah's!     

I had a choice of colour -  but decided to go with the Besame Red on the basis that this is what Fleur de Guerre models on the site, and like her, I have dark hair. When I had collected it from the post office  -  (as I was not home when it arrived, and there is a sticker on the packaging to tell the postie to leave a card, which although a hassle for me on a Saturday morning, adds extra security that your paid for goods shant go walkabout.) - I could not wait to open it. In the car. Oh the glamour!

The lovely smell that wafted around is something that I cannot quite put my finger on. But is it luscious. I didn't know whether to slick it or lick it.

Now -  like Retro Chick -  I had an issue with the tip. I am used to modern day tips, which I have been using for many a moon. But, I really struggled with how to use this. And the result, for me, was less than pleasing on the first application. If I had paid for this, I would have been wholly disappointed. And in a grump.

But. I am nothing if not persevering. On second application, I got a bit better, and I am sure that the more I practice, the more it shall give me the lip shape that I like. I did find the formula a little drying -  but it's staying power is better than most and it does not bleed.

So -  here's to winning fairly fab free stuff!!


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ruby Red & Navy Blue - outfit post

I need to step away from the charity shops. This is no longer a pondering question. More of a "i-have-no-more-room-in-my-wardrobe!" kind of thing. I have some recent purchases to share -  but I shall stagger them, so that I still feel like I am shopping. Sharing is the next best thing.

So -  here we have a new navy pencil skirt and red jumper combo. Both via a charity rummage for a whopping £6.50 total.

Sorry for the blur. Blame The Beard. Not my beard -  the one taking the pic.
Wait. I don't have an actual beard. Oh I shall shut up now.

I felt suitability WREN-eque in this skirt, especially with my little fitted jacket on and now must trawl my cupboard for more outfit possibilities for this new favourite. Navy ain't as easy to co-ordinate as black.

Until next time!   

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A weekend of Tubes & Rain & Chums

 Not the type of tubes that stick out of you. The type you ride, through the underbelly of London. This is how I spent the majority of my weekend a few weeks back. Here followeth a long post....


....was a full on day, starting off trekking to The Museum of London. I say trekking because it was raining. All day. So I felt a little glum  -  which makes time go slower. Our usual leafy suburban station was closed and we sat for a full 10 mins thinking "well... what do we do now?". Replacement Bus Service was out of the question. I could not face a sweaty, steamed up bus. On a Saturday. Have I mentioned the rain? So, we drove to the next station and headed off from there.  

Going to a museum on a Saturday, in my book, is never the best of plans. Especially when it is bucketing it down. The place was rammed. With what seemed like the contents of the local swing parks. Speaking of rammed -  so were my ankles. I am not too sure why people insist on taking the under 5's to pretty much un-kid friendly museums? I am all for a family day out. Totally and utterly. And for culture via osmosis type affair of those too young to understand. But not when it reduces children to zombies. Or much worse. Banshees. I love kids, I really do. But on this occasion, in this museum, a rabid pitbull would be more fun.

Anyway -  I appear to be ranting. The museum is ok. Not the best. Not by a long chalk. Maybe I need to return in the height of Summer on a Wednesday afternoon. But, it was worth it, just for the Suffragette artifacts. And the 30s-40's bit.

Pictures of things the made me want to smash the glass and leggit to follow..... 


A hand made piece of social history. Want!

Nasty stuff

Someone lied to the sign maker

Count me in!

I have no room for it - but I need it nonetheless

I would cut off all my toes to make these fit

Much better than the 70's version

The Beard prevented a smash/grab/prison scenario

There were some really interesting artifacts to be peeped at, but I was only really interested in the above sections. However, what was more interesting was the utter cock I encountered. He proclaimed loudly to his girlfriend, in typical "this-is-our-third-date-and-I-am-going-to-seduce-you-with-my-astounding-knowledge-of-buggar-all" voice:-

"..The Blitz Spirit is a myth, you know. Absolute propaganda and spin. Total lies. The nation was falling apart at the seams, begging for Churchill to surrender.."

I just stared at him. And stared. And stared some more. And then I sidled up to him and said "I think you need to read more books".

No spirit, eh? Do one Mr .

Now. It could have been the fact that I looked like a 1940's ghost, resplendent in soggy headscarf and suit -  but he turned quite pale. Then red. Then he muttered something and stalked away. Now. I am sure that people did fall apart to a certain extent during The Blitz. And I am sure that not everything was reported as honestly as it could have been in the media. Pretty much like today then. But to declare that our nation's gumption didn't exist? Like I said -  cock.

Anywhos -  when we could take the sauntering uber cools and the screaming little people no more, we trundled off to The National Theatre. Or -  the vicinity of. We nommed a pizza (oh how I've missed you -  doughy, cheesey goodness) and pudding (oh how I have also missed you -  claggy, roof sticking cheese cake) and then whizzed across to the theatre to see the new production of "Frankenstein".

It. Was. Awesome.

Apart from the over indulgent Danny Boyle addition of a steam-punk-esque train scene, which bore no part in the rest of the play at all and the hideous wooden acting by George Harris, who plays the father. But, that aside, this play was fantastic. Johnny Lee Miller (naked for the first 10 mins - definitely something to write home about ladies  -  if you catch my drift) was playing The Monster and Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Sherlock... I mean Victor.

I love Mr C. I really do. But he was a little samey, a little too like everything I have ever seen him in before. So. I prove to myself that he is the wondrous actor I believe him to be, and because production tickets are rarer than rocking horse turd -  I have booked tickets for it again via The National Theatre Live scheme. To see him play the flip side.

And, obviously, to compare his downstairs bizznizz with JLM's.


More mizzle. Which would never do for curls. So a whopped my hair up and shoved in some rolls.

And off I went to Camden for my first blogger meet up. I have to admit, I was nervous. The kind of nervous where you feel a bit sick. I stood outside the station, looking about for a group of lasses I was hoping to recognise. I could not see anyone. I started to panic a little bit, thinking "..maybe they saw me and thougt EUGH! and decided to melt into the crowd...?" However, I soon kicked my Paranoid Polly into touch, by a quick glance at the clock and realising that I was early.

I did not have to wait long until I was joined in my loitering by the flame haired Claire of Lady Cherry Loves. Just as lovely as her blog, we chatted until we spotted Gem from Bake Do And Mend and her glorious friend, non blogette (for now!) Claire. Last, but by no means least was marvellous Margaret of Penny Dreadful Vintage.

I basically bought headscarves and pottery it would seem. I spent under £15.

On toast anyone? This came with it's original strainer. I love the fact that there was a purpose made jar for this stuff.
This one now houses used tea bags.

I took NO photos of the day. Because I am lame. And I made so much effort to remember my camera too. And then left it in the bottom of my bag. So -  I only have the above snaps of our charity shop escapades and the fruit it bore me. We enjoyed tea and various cake-age at Yumchaa and then tottered in a local pub for some much needed spirit-ual refreshment. A little bit more shopping -  and then home.

I have to say -  I should have slapped Paranoid Polly and told her to stop being so stupid. Because, I have yet to meet a group of lovelier ladies. It is interesting how we all remarked that it felt like we had all already met, because we peek into one another's lives so often.

Personally, I think it is a testament to how we write  -  the way we witter, whinge and whoop about the things in our lives - that makes that sense of knowing someone all the more tangible. Long may meet up's continue!

And thus ended a tres busy weekend!


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