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Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
11:47 am - The round way wrong
When you climb a hill you should get sore legs, not sore arms.

current mood: sore

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Saturday, October 13th, 2018
7:02 pm - To Rothesay in the rain
Obviously writing down my troubles was the right thing to do, because on Thursday I slept All Through The Night (with dreams that were no more than normally odd), and although I didn't quite manage that last night my dreams still seemed to be back to normal. It's amazing the difference even one good night made.

I did still get up ridiculously early this morning in order to go to Bute in the pouring rain, but less because I had planned it and it was easier than making a new plan (although it was) than because the thing I really couldn't face was getting halfway through a long wet afternoon and wishing I had gone out for the day after all - once I was out I could always wish I was inside, which is a much easier wish to fulfil.

So I went down to Kilchattan Bay at the end of the bus route, just because I could, and walked down not quite as far as the lighthouse, and then had a very 'island' lunch in the tearoom in the shop there.

The lady said she had fresh rolls, but that not everything on the menu was available, because it was into the winter season. So I asked if she had tuna, and she had a look and said yes, there were tins of tuna there - "but he never leaves me the tin opener". So she would have to go to her house and find hers, which she did - she said it was only next door - and made me a very tasty roll.

It later transpired that 'He' never leaves her a proper float either, so I can't help wondering what amazing adventures this unknown man is having every Saturday with a tin opener and a lot of small change...

current mood: amused

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Thursday, October 11th, 2018
6:42 pm - In which nothing is restful
For two or three weeks now I have been having unusually vivid dreams - I'm a good dreamer at the best of times, and generally quite enjoy my adventures, but this is a level up again - not necessarily bad dreams, although some of them have been, and some the kind where you run around all night trying to get somewhere or find something, but detailed to a level I'm both impressed and surprised my brain can produce, because I don't have a very visual memory when I'm awake.

There didn't seem to be any particular reason for the start - when it happens for a single night it's usually physical exhaustion, as if I'm trying to fit a lot of intense sleeping into a short space of time - although since I find it very tiring to be so *busy* all night I can't really tell cause from effect at this point. It might have finally started to fade in the last night or two, although I did wake myself up ridiculously early this morning dreaming that I was choking to death, and then went back to sleep and dreamt something equally odd...

I am too tired for making decisions, which is unhelpful, because the Waverley sailings are cancelled this weekend and I will have to find something else to do instead - it's better if I just have a plan already, because then doing it is easier than deciding not to do it.

I could go and be a hillwomble, only I think it's going to pour with rain, and I told a Newcastle friend that if the Waverley was cancelled I would go to the dance he's in charge of, but the trains are all going round by Carlisle again. And I could go anywhere else, or climb a hill, especially on slightly drier Sunday, but it's not quite the same - the Waverley is restful in a way that even staying at home isn't, because you can just sit there and read and knit or think while it brings pretty scenery past you.

Bother you, Waverley. This is the second year in a row, never mind the Steaming Round The Island!

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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
10:03 pm - August stats
I seem to have done July and then forgotten about August, which wasn't very clever - I'll try to catch up with September in the next day or two!

Miles walked: 113.7
Fiddle days: 29/25
Blog posts made: 3/4 (Along the Crinan Canal, Throwback: Trinity House Newcastle, Old College)
AoS books read: Started one about Admiral Purvis
Fic written: None
Decent walks gone on: (Most of) Marsco, the Hopegill Head ridge, Sail Beck and Rigg Beck.
Walk reports written: Beinn Shleibhe and the start of a Berneray adventure, Maireabhal from coast to coast, Ceapabhal and Northton, Morning on Crogearraidh Mor, We watched the airwaves over Eaval, Aird a' Mhorain (a shaggy dog story), Lost on Beinn Sgiathain (the last one was finished in September, but I'm not going to split up the Uist trip!))

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Saturday, September 15th, 2018
2:59 pm - Impressionistic views of the IOW coast path - belated Tuesday edition
I keep remembering things that I forgot to mention from other days, like the pleasing number of people eating brambles on day 1 - it seems to be a good bramble year - or the large number of cracks in the path on day 2, mostly the kind that come from the earth drying out, but sometimes possibly not!


  • Needles visitor park clattering in the wind, and preparing for the day by sending half its people home.

  • Views of the Needles, hooray!

  • Headon Warren is surprisingly pretty, a winding heathery place which reminds me of the central Lake District.

  • Onto the sea front at Totland, with wild Atlantic waves crashing in.

  • Despite this being my latest start, I managed to come away without any breakfast, couldn't face anything on offer at Colwell, and then started to really regret it. An unexpected but friendly holiday camp shop past Brambles farm finally kept me going with tea and chocolate.

  • The mainland coast has crept surprisingly close since yesterday.

  • *Another* solar system in the woods at Fort Victoria, once again interrupted with butterflies. Other sculptures abound, from surreptitious snakes to a wooden sailor sitting on a bench.

  • High tide, and all the exciting wiggly bits around the Yar are hiding.

  • Into Yarmouth just before 12, and I decide I really need to stop and eat something properly! Waverley cancelled. 5 people in succession decide 50p is too much to pay to walk on the pier and turn back rather than walk on it for free.

  • Great scenes of destruction at Bouldnor, with whole trees lying in the water.

  • Diverted into a field with dozens of signs warning of grazing cows, and no cows. It would be hard to fit them in, as about 75% of the field is gorse!

  • Tempting to cut the corner at Hamstead and guarantee finishing in time, but that loop seems to be the only place the path actually touches the Newtown estuary, which I want to see.

  • Tiny wooden walkways and a strange mix of land and water.

  • A long walk through the woods. So-called lake, another arm of the estuary, is for some reason bright green.

  • Geese everywhere, not yet leaving in Vs, but apparently practicing for it.

  • The church at Shalfleet is giving away apples.

  • Decision time - Shalfleet is basically the last place I can drop out by bus, although there's the option of going on through Newtown and cutting back to the main road from Clamerkin or Porchfield. I might just have made it to the end, but I'm horribly tired after the late finish the night before, and don't trust my speed at all.

  • I do want to see the town hall at Newtown, but just miss the bus hurrying back, which puts me onto the quick ferry rather than the big slow one.

  • Negotiating Southampton is so much easier when a free bus is sitting outside the terminal waiting for you! Station and airport much earlier than expected, only for the flight to be delayed.


    Anyway, sore feet and all, it was great fun, and if I make a third attempt to Steam Round The Island I'll try to come back and fill in my gap - although it might not be next year, because I've managed to remind myself that I haven't been to Lundy yet!
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    Friday, September 14th, 2018
    8:46 am - Island musings
    It is proving surprisingly difficult to find or make a list of English islands - I've been to Lindisfarne and Sheppey and now Wight, and to Portsea although I was slightly doubtful about its status, and I knew about Walney at Barrow, and Piel (possibly another edge case), and I knew that the Waverley went to Lundy although I had no idea whether it was inhabited by anything except puffins, and had a vague idea there were more islands at Portsmouth.

    In Scotland you can get a decent list by counting islands with a regular ferry (even if strictly speaking it would exclude Benbecula), but England either clings so tightly to its islands that they don't need a ferry at all, or splinters into tiny pieces that would be too small to count if they weren't the only thing around. And then there are all sorts of Scilly things that I thought were unEnglish...


    I have been reading a library book about the sinking of the Iolaire, and was interested to find, as a minor detail, that 11 men from Harris were illicitly on board (preferring to walk from Stornoway than wait two days in Kyle for their own transport), and that 2 of those men were from Berneray - which assured me in the summer that it was part of North Uist.

    I was sure I had read that all the islands in the Sound of Harris traditionally belonged to Harris, however close to the Uist shore, so it was interesting to have it confirmed that this was still the case in 1919 - practically as well as officially, since the Berneray men were being sent home via Tarbert rather than Lochmaddy.

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    Tuesday, September 11th, 2018
    11:33 pm - Impressionistic views of the IOW coast path - belated Monday edition
  • Just missed the bus that would have taken me back to where I left off, due to coming in the wrong side of the bus station. But the bus wanders round Ventnor so slowly that I met it coming up as I was walking down from Shanklin town centre, so I didn’t lose any time, just added distance!

  • Path randomly passing through someone’s garden.

  • Lots of things to be potentially prosecuted for this morning, including trespassing, Causing Any Such Damage to the Landslip, and allowing your dog to foul this footway.

  • Tiny church all covered in scaffolding.

  • A whole solar system on the sea wall at Bonchurch, interrupted by a notice about butterflies.

  • Yesterday everywhere in Cowes was serving breakfast well before 9, even though it was Sunday, today Ventnor is only just thinking about opening at nearly 10. Weekend vs weekday, or the contrasting habits of yachtspeople and beachgoers?

  • I finally got a cup of tea at the post office in St Lawrence, halfway up a horrible climb away from the coast again.

  • Monstrous sweetcorn growing beside the path. This is not a thing I am used to.

  • It’s clear on the map that part of the main road between Ventnor and Niton has been closed at some point, presumably because of a landslip, which is fair enough. What amuses me is that, having closed it, the authorities seem to think their job was done - the two going-nowhere ends of the road are still the A-whatever, and the roads presumably used instead are still minor ones with names instead of numbers.

  • Of all the landmarks of ladyofastolat’s walks I expected to look out for, cow poo art was not one of them!

  • Road and paths suddenly ending at a parish boundary below me turn out to be also the result of a landslip, with more of the road visible on the map once you know where to look.

  • Van at Blackgang selling bacon rolls although it’s not breakfast time, hooray!

  • Suddenly sheeps appear, just when I thought the IOW had none!

  • I finally get onto the beach past Hanover Point, even though it means climbing many steps up again - having failed before for various reasons including not knowing where I could get up again.

  • Finally reaching the chalk cliffs after looking at them all day!

  • Shark’s fin of rock and a thing like a giant stone butterfly in the water at Freshwater Bay.

  • I don’t know why Freshwater, because all the fresh water in the area seems to vanish off north to become the Yar.

  • Very buffety winds - from the point where I turned onto the south coast yesterday, really. If this is what stopped the Waverley going round the back on Saturday, I kind of see her point.

  • No dingy light today - open down, and the sun heading for the horizon rather than lurking behind the island hills.

  • Heading for the needles is a swizz, because you can’t actually see the needles from up there!

  • I had somehow lost the bus timetable, which led to much theorising - no evening buses from Alum Bay, but I was pretty sure there were from Yarmouth, and had a hazy idea about Totland. Wifi at the Needles park pretended to work but didn’t, which was annoying, because if it was Yarmouth I wanted to phone a taxi from there rather than waste energy walking up the road! Finally back to Newport at 10, starving.
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    7:00 pm - Oh well
    I am indeed an ignominious failure, having not only given up at Newtown, but just missed a bus at Shalfleet, and then been chased back by a whole fieldful of cows when I tried to walk down to catch the next bus at Newbridge. And the pub at Shalfleet has closed down, so I was not even an ignominious failure With Beer.

    And because of all this I was too late to get the Real Ferry - I have never been on a catamaran since I was horribly sick on one nearly 20 years ago, but I will just have to be brave...

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    Sunday, September 9th, 2018
    10:10 pm - Impressionistic views of the IOW coast path
  • There is not a lot of coast in this coast path. Even once it turns up, about 8 miles in, it keeps vanishing again.

  • I am amused by ‘Cowes Moooovers’, but also by the fact that their areas of operation are the Isle of Wight, the UK, and Europe.

  • False alarm at Wooton Creek, which is really no more the coast then the Medina was.

  • Quarr Abbey has stripy pigs today. I had no idea what happens there, apart from monkery, but lots of people walking towards it presumably means tearoom, and did. Black labrador left alone entangling itself in the table.

  • Finally coast at Ryde, hooray. Amused by a roadsign for Portsmouth via hovercraft.

  • Gate at St Helen’s with a sign ‘Warning. Please do not.’ Since it says please, presumably ‘feed the horses’ rather than ‘fall through the gate’, which I promptly proceeded to do, the steps on the other side being a bit worn away.

  • Lucky with the causeway path, as it will be closed for 3 weeks from 10th September, and I would have been very sad not to cross it!

  • I do not see the point of living in a boat if it doesn’t go anywhere. (See also caravans.)

  • Excitement at Bembridge, where much rattling turned out to presage the lifeboat going wheeee down its slope, making a huge splash, and zooming off.

  • Ghosts of trees in the beach were presumably once growing not on the beach. This confused me, because the west coast doesn’t wear away, until I realised I was in the east.

  • Random chalk cliffs in between sandstone ones. Also random giant inflatable watermelon.

  • Giant imposing Victorian monument turns out to be imposing for a reason, as it was built as a seamark.

  • Revetement is a new word to me, and I keep mixing it up with revenants, which I would not like to walk on.

  • Pleased that I got to the top of the steps from the beach at Shanklin without stopping, although I only did the first flight two at a time!

  • I gave up there, as the light was getting very dingy, but half an hour later it was not noticeably dingier, although the sky was pink and orange and pale turquoise. Oh well.
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    Saturday, September 8th, 2018
    8:06 pm - In which I am too far south
    For the second time this year I am more south than Southampton - a thing which was unnatural enough once, which may be the reason why it is all going wrong. I went to London to go back to Chatham before my ticket ran out, and did not get to Chatham; I came to the south to Steam Round the Island and did not (because of weather); and presumably this means that I will also fail to walk round the island (three days was always a bit ambitious, since I am not ladyofastolat) and have to go home an ignominious failure.

    (phlebas also told me that I was going to The Island, which I know is not true, because I have been to eight islands this year already. I will provisionally forgive the Waverley because I don't think it steams round any other island, and also Fanny Price because I like her even if no one else does.)

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    Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
    7:29 pm - July stats
    I suppose I better do this before I start on August!

    Miles walked: 180.4
    Fiddle days: 25/25
    Blog posts made: 3/4 (Hutton Memorial Garden, The Tall Ships in Sunderland, Old Sunderland)
    AoS books read: Finished the one about science, read one about William MacGillivray.
    Fic written: None
    Decent walks gone on: North Pennines from Hartside, a potter round Berneray, Maireabhal, Ceapabhal, Crogarry Mor, Eaval (same day, different walk), Aird a' Mhorain, Beinn Sgiathain, the Crinan Canal, the Cowal Way from Glendaruel to Glenbranter, and a two day thing up the east coast of Islay!
    Walk reports written: Broughton Heights, A (dry) North Pennine adventure)

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    Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
    9:35 am - An observation
    It is difficult to play the fiddle while a dog is licking your ankle.

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    Sunday, August 19th, 2018
    9:43 pm - All our beginnings end
    My highland summer is over - I came back from Skye as far as Stirling on Friday, to see Runrig last night, and then home today absolutely exhausted, after a last night in Skye where I went to bed at 4am, and two nights in a slightly chaotic campsite.

    The rest of the time in North Uist was good fun - one day I went down to the end of a tiny road on a bus that the bus company didn't know they ran, to climb Eaval, and the next day a dog decided to come for a walk with me, so that I ended up outside the local co-op going 'Does anyone know this dog?', before it was returned home by the bus driver. Then I travelled the length of the Uists in one day, Berneray down to Eriskay, and spent the night camped beside the washing line of the Lochboisdale Hotel.

    From there I took an early morning ferry and a train and a bus down to Tarbert, where I spent the next week and a half. It was lovely, but I have no idea what I did there - I did manage to walk to the shell beach, and the castle and the lower loop of the walk, and dashed to the White Shore on my last morning, but I didn't get out to the West Loch or the golf course, or round the higher loop, and I didn't make faces for my bears, which had been taken there for that purpose, or finish knitting the neverending hat, or read any of the books I'd taken with me, or write any walk reports - although I did read two library books about islands and a secondhand one about hills and one about Cruachan that was lying round the house!

    I think apart from that I spent half my time having big adventures - I walked the length of the Crinan Canal, which was lovely, and walked from Glendaruel to Strachur on the Cowal Way and had an adventurous bus ride back home by Inveraray, and then an even more adventurous trip up the east side of Islay involving wild rain and head high bracken and a night in An Cladach bothy - so really I was busy enough...

    I was back at work for a week and a half, when nothing very much happened - I meant to head for the hills on the Saturday, but didn't have the energy and went to Balloch to see the Maid of the Loch instead, and on the Sunday we all went out for lunch for my uncle's birthday.

    And then I was off again, to Sabhal Mor Ostaig for a week of fiddling - up on Saturday for a free day on Sunday spent climbing Marsco, as it seemed appropriate (I turned back just before the top due to wind and mist, but it was a nice walk), and then down to Sleat for a Monday start.

    And then Runrig, which I may still write up properly, but which was not as tragic an occasion as I'd thought it might be - I'd swithered a bit about going to Skye and doing the mad rush back for the concert, but it was the right decision - apart from simply not having time to think about the End of Everything, no one who's spent a week with Charlie McKerron can possibly feel that there is no music left, and no one who's spent a week in that place can feel that the highlands are slipping away! And I was sharing a tent at the concert with albanach, who I hadn't seen for more years than any of us can count, and vililee came up for the Saturday, and it was lovely to be all together again.

    When I went over for the concert in Germany in June I broke my heart - but it wasn't quite the end of everything, because I knew I still had Stirling. And then this time, when it *was* the end, I'd already had that very emotional experience where I felt like I was hearing everything for the first time rather than almost the last, and I could just enjoy it - at least until Malcolm Jones broke down at the very end, and took a good proportion of the audience with him. It hurts to watch someone hurting like that.

    And there we are. I have new things to do and other places to go, but I'm definitely feeling the change of season.

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    Wednesday, July 18th, 2018
    5:21 pm - Where the dark blue mass of Eaval meets the rising rock of Lee
    I am very temporarily stranded on Harris, due to a badly behaved bus which didn't turn up when it was due, or Up To 8 Minutes Later having done a detour on request, or for 10 minutes after that, but then went flying past me too quickly to catch 10 minutes later, presumably full of people who were about to miss the ferry.

    I am drinking beer, because it's very important to rest my feet (also because I'm staying on a dry island). And I can look out of the window at the North Uist hills, so it's definitely not all bad.

    I've been trying since I got here to piece together my previous trip from fragments of memory. It was a long weekend - I thought one of the old Victoria Day ones when we got Monday and Tuesday off together rather than two Mondays two weeks apart, but I knew that I'd first stayed a night in Lochmaddy and then gone up to Berneray for Saturday night and over to Harris on the Sunday when there were no buses, which suggested I'd come up on Friday.

    I definitely walked out to Rodel on the Sunday - my 'road' icon is looking back towards Leverburgh from about halfway along - and I ate my lunch in the hotel there and my dinner in the hotel at Lochmaddy, those being the only places open - which ties in a memory of hitching back to the Lochmaddy road end. And I went to Barpa Langais and ended up owing a pound to the postbus because they couldn't break a tenner, and then I couldn't pay them back because the post office was shut for Easter Monday - aha! That explained the Friday (and I left the pound with the visitor centre, which the post office lives in).

    I think Balivanich, where I bought the map I currently have with me, must also have been the Saturday, and the wet morning when I took the bus round the west side just for something to do Monday, before the 11.45 ferry home.

    So far this time I have pottered round Berneray, gone to a ceilidh, gone on an RSPB guided walk (about all sorts of things, not just birds), walked right across North Uist, more or less (quite squishy) and climbed a small Harris hill and looked at lots of islands, including St Kilda.

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    Thursday, July 12th, 2018
    11:52 pm - Enquiring minds
    Why is it the Cape of *Good* Hope? You can't have bad hope, can you.

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    Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
    2:06 pm
    I am not allowed to stress about my holiday, that is not what holidays are for.

    current mood: confused

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    Monday, July 2nd, 2018
    1:47 pm - June stats
    I seem to have spent this month busily turning out walk reports for picowrimo and neglecting everything else - although some of the Cleveland Way ones were mostly written already.

    Miles walked: 129.7
    Fiddle days: 24/25
    Blog posts made: 1/4 - at least, I posted two, but I wrote one of them in some other month, and I'm not sure if I counted it then or not.
    (Throwback: The Collingwood monument, Collingwood Society: Supplying the fleet)
    AoS books read: Finished the one about the Great Siege of Gibraltar and started one about science.
    Fic written: None
    Decent walks gone on: Catbells ridge, Dale Head ridge, Siccar point, the Cobbler, Broughton Heights.
    Walk reports written: Cleveland Way days 1 and 2 - Helmsley to Osmotherley (2017), Cleveland Way days 3 and 4 - Osmotherley to Saltburn (2017), Cleveland Way day off - North Gare to Saltburn (2017), Cleveland Way days 5 and 6 - Saltburn to Boggle Hole (2017), Cleveland Way days 7 and 8 - Boggle Hole to Filey (2017), Catbells and some misty mountains, Two lovely ridges - from Dale Head to Ard Crags)

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    Friday, June 15th, 2018
    9:33 pm - In which it is all a mad rush, as usual
    I am finally getting round to plotting my summer holidays, which suddenly turn out to be a month away - the delay caused partly by my uncle's 70th birthday coming right in the middle of the time when we should be in Tarbert and waiting for him to make up his mind what he's doing about it, and partly by me having more holiday time than ideas and finding it very disconcerting, as this is a thing that has never happened to me before.

    But I seem to be sorted out now - North Uist for a week, and straight down to Tarbert for a week and a half, and then back to Skye for a week of summer school later on. A very highland summer!

    It would have made more sense to go on to Uist from Skye, of course, but that's no use because I have to rush back from Skye to Stirling for the Last Ever Runrig. So instead I have to rush up from Newcastle to Uist, because I'm dancing in Leeds with a crowd on the Saturday and there's nowhere else that the Uist week can fit in. But I can rest in Tarbert, that's what Tarbert is for...

    I've been pottering about booking train tickets and ferry tickets and bus tickets, but then I hit a silly question like whether it is better to try to rush home between getting back from Newcastle and leaving for Uist to swap bags or take two lots of stuff with me everywhere, and after this week I don't think I have any brainpower left for decisions.

    current mood: confused

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    Sunday, June 3rd, 2018
    11:38 pm - One of those questions
    Why is it a moving *finger* that writes, and not a moving pen or pencil or stylus or something that you might actually expect to write with?

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    Friday, June 1st, 2018
    1:11 pm - May stats
    Miles walked: 100.3
    Fiddle days: 28/25
    Blog posts made: 5/6
    (Chichester, Chichester Ship Canal, Selborne, Collingwood Society: Northumberland Archives, Chawton)
    AoS books read: Part of one about the Great Siege of Gibraltar.
    Fic written: None
    Decent walks gone on: none, really - little ones along the Tweed to Melrose, in Tarbert, and around North Berwick.
    Walk reports written: South Downs Way days 1 and 2 - Alfriston to Southease, South Downs Way days 3 and 4 - Southease to Amberley, South Downs Way days 5 and 6 - Amberley to East Meon, South Downs Way days 7 and 8 - East Meon to Winchester)

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