Posts Tagged ‘Callister’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo.  I think she must have been away from home when she took this picture.  She tells me, “It shows the  Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan, taken at about 3000 feet above ground from our wee Piper Cherokee 140”.

Red Deer River Valley in Saskatchewan

Mary Jo wouldn’t have been able to anything from 3000ft if she had been above the Esk River here today as the clouds spent quite a lot of the time at about 100ft.

However, the weather gods had a good deal of fun at my expense as the best of the day came in the morning, when I was in the Welcome to Langholm office and in the evening, when it was dark.

My time in the WTL office was well spent as I put a week and a half of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and I was treated to a cup of coffee by our group treasurer Nancy, who dropped in while taking a break from staring at a microfiche reader in the Archive Centre while mining more data.

When I was looking out of the kitchen window at lunchtime, it was very gloomy.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that we should hear it more for the dunnock which she rates as a very charming bird.  I cannot disagree with that.


I like this little action sequence which happened when a robin visited the seed feeder.

robin and goldfinch

Who was that masked goldfinch?

Another goldfinch visited.


It was a day for catching the birds while they were standing still but there were more finches visiting today, which was a relief.

goldfinches and chaffinch

While we are not back to the numbers of a week ago, at least we are getting several at a time.

I spent some time failing to catch a good flying chaffinch, being a little too slow on the draw.

chaffinches landing

I was pleased to see a coal tit back at the feeder…

coal tit

…and robins are still lining up to audition for the coveted Christmas Card slot.


After lunch, I resolved to go for a cycle ride as the temperature had hit 5°C.   Needless to say, it started drizzling as I set out and as I pedalled up the very gentle hill towards Callister, the low clouds and I became as one and it got really quite wet.  There was certainly no chance of photographing any hills today.

Callister in mist

As cycling in the rain while wearing glasses is inconvenient, I resolved to stop when I got back to Langholm after doing ten miles.  Of course, just as I got into the town, the rain stopped and there was even a hint of blue sky so I set out to do another lap of ten miles to Callister and back.  I hadn’t gone more than half a mile out of town before it started to rain but I had started so I finished the ten miles.

As I got back to the town again….

Cloud lifting

…the clouds once again lifted from the hills and  more blue sky appeared.  How I laughed.

Still, I have very good wet weather gear so apart from cold feet and inscrutable spectacles, I was in good condition.  Modern winter cycling tights are a miracle of good design.  However wet they get, they feel to your legs as though they are as dry as a bone.  And they stay warm too unless conditions get very bad.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we played through a movement of our Quantz sonata very smoothly and embarked on a new trio sonata by G Finger which my friend Jenny, one of our recorder group, has kindly given to me to play with Luke.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who is experimenting with some recipes, made a side dish of saag aloo to go with our evening meal and it turned out to be very tasty so I hope to find it on the menu again.

The rather gloomy flying bird of the day is one of the returning chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

When I went to bed last night, I had a quick look out of the window to see how the super moon was getting on.  There was a thin film of cloud in front of it but amazingly, it was still bright enough to let the camera get a good look at it through the cloud.

super moon


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A last look at the Kelpies is Bruce’s guest picture of the day.


We were greeted by another cold and sunny day today but as the temperature had risen a degree or two and the north wind had slacked off a bit, it was a more promising day.

It was still pretty cold in the morning so I was more than happy to sit inside, drinking Ethiopian coffee and easting the traditional Friday treacle scones that Dropscone brought round.

He has been quite pleased that it has been too cold to play golf lately as the state of his game has been giving him no pleasure.  I am hoping that this little break will do his game some good.

Normally, I would spend a fair bit of time on a morning like this glancing out of the kitchen window and enjoying the antics of the finches on the feeder but today the garden went all Rachel Carson and there were no finches to be seen.

Not any?  Not any.

Not any at all? Well hardly any.

Honestly, I only saw three finches all morning…


…and they didn’t stop.  We suspected that a sparrowhawk might be lurking and putting off visitors but on the hedges, under the feeder and in the plum tree, blackbirds…




This one was checking out some apples which I have put on the bench.

…and no less than four robins scampered about very freely.  I know that there were four robins because I saw them all at the same time.  I think that we might have two couples as there was some chasing going on but quite often two robins seem happy to co-exist.

I took a lot of robin pictures but it is hard to tell whether I got shots of four different birds or four shots of the same bird.


It is a real treat to have so many robins about.

I went out into to the garden to see if I could see a sparrowhawk lurking but I only saw a robin sitting on the fence.


There was a sudden rush of finches just after lunch….


…and a little unpleasantness too among the greenfinches…


..but it was a small rush and it didn’t last long.  We will have to wait until tomorrow to see whether this is a temporary phenomenon or not.    It was quite worrying to see so few birds.

However, it was less worrying to find that the temperature had climbed to a balmy 4.4°C after lunch so I put on a stout jacket and set off for a short pedal on my slow bike to check the state of the roads.  Because of the combination of my prolonged cold and some very unsympathetic weather, I only cycled three times in the whole of November,  totting up the grand total of sixty miles.

The roads proved to be pretty well ice free today, though a little care was needed at some very damp and sheltered corners, and I enjoyed my outing very much.  I was in no hurry and stopped to take pictures as I went along.

The sun brought a little warmth but the hills and fields are looking very wintery now.

Wauchope field

One of my favourite trees near the Bigholms.

Wauchope field

The wide blue yonder.  I turned for home at the end of the straight.


Brown is the predominate colour now.

wauchope view

I was surprised to see this little crop of fungus looking quite healthy beside the road.


The sun was still out when I got home so after taking a picture of a Leycesteria in the garden which has obstinately remained out….


…..I took the opportunity to walk round my Langholm, Sawmill and Jubilee Bridges short walk in the hope of catching a flying gull.

There were gulls about….

black headed gulls

…but they obstinately refused to leave their posts….

black headed gulls

…so I had to make do with some late afternoon sunshine on the Kilngreen…

Kiln Green

…some trees silhouetted against the sinking sun…

bare trees

…and any amount of interesting lichen.


It was just about dark by the time that I got home so I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been test driving the cooking of a vegetarian recipe while I had been out.

In the evening, having eaten the vegetarian meal, we were delighted to welcome Mike and Alison for the first Friday evening visit for some weeks.  What pleased me most about the visit was that it meant that there was Friday evening music again after quite a gap.

Alison and I played Telemann, Loeillet, Rameau and Marcello and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting these old musical friends.  If we weren’t exactly note perfect after the lay off. we hit enough right notes to keep us happy.

And of course the playing and cycling made for a Tootlepedalling day and filled a cold winter’s day with warm feelings.

The flying bird of the day is not a good picture but i felt that since the robins had stayed while the finches had deserted us, one of them deserved the accolade.

flying robin

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Today’s guest picture from my South African correspondent, Tom, shows a jackal.  Not something we see round here at all!


My day was conditioned by an awful warning of heavy rain;  one of those warnings that comes with a little yellow triangle with an exclamation mark in the centre.  We were to expect rain so I expected rain.

It was a pleasant sunny and dry morning,  a little breezy to be sure and not warm by any means but fine for cycling so I cycled; but I expected rain by lunchtime and when I saw some very dark clouds looming up, I took the hint and cut a putative 35 mile ride down to 25 miles.  Some cows took a dim view of my cowardice (or prudence).

tarcoon cows

I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to record the first turning of the leaves….

hollows bridge view

…but my camera misinterpreting my wishes, kindly slid the incipient yellows back to light greens so the effect was less impressive than I had hoped.

Still, I got home dry and warm;  but still expecting rain….the forecast had put it back to three o’clock by this time.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre and I had a slice of bread and raspberry jam and went out to mow the drying green grass before the rain came.

Bees, butter and hover flies were having fun on the Michaelmas daisies beside me as I mowed…

insects on daisies

…and the the poppies looked gorgeous as always.


The large lilies are developing and I wondered if they would attract a butterfly or two.

They did.

peacock butterfly on lily

I saw an odd thing at the other side of the garden….

peacock butterfly

…a peacock butterfly with only one pair of eyes.  It must have had its second wing tucked under its first.  I have never seen this before.

After I had finished my cycle ride, I had arranged with Sandy to go for a walk (before the rain came) and he arrived on cue and drove us to the top of Callister where we intended to walk round the forestry plantation.  We were discouraged when we found that there were fierce signs telling us not to enter on account of forestry operations but a queue of cars emerged through the gate and one of the drivers kindly told us that there were no operations going on today and that we could proceed with care.

We proceeded with care.

Although we were in the sun, there were dark clouds about….

Callister walk

…and depending on which way you looked, sometimes very dark clouds.

Callister walk

We walked on expecting rain.

I led Sandy down the middle of a wide forest ride.  It was very tussocky and hard going and if you lifted your head to see if there was anything interesting to see, you tended to fall over.   We therefore didn’t see much until we went into the forest beside the ride to see if the going was better.  There we saw fungus…


…and when we emerged back on to the ride, we saw a very unusual set of fungi, pressed like buttons on a sofa in the peaty side of a drainage ditch.


We battled on to the end of the ride and joined a track.  It is fair to say that I enjoyed plunging through the heavy going a good deal more than Sandy did.  I used to do a lot of orienteering and ground like this was second nature to me.

We came to a pond beside the road….

callister pond

…which would have looked better, I thought, without the telephone pole at the end of it.

callister pond

And it started to rain.  I was so appalled by this that it soon stopped and disappeared apologetically.

We continued our walk expecting rain.

We were walking round a small valley and crossed the stream that flowed out of it.  It dropped into a dark and mysterious pool as it flowed under the track.

callister pool

Strange spirits might dwell in a pool like that.

It was a lot brighter at the dark pool than it used to be because they are going to build another windfarm to add to our local collection at the far side of the forest and to that end, a lot of tree felling has been taking place.

tree felling callister

…which leaves a bit of a mess to say the least.  It is amazing though how the ground recovers as a look at a new plantation nearby shows.

callister plantation

There were three existing wind farms visible as we walked and we could see the offices for the soon to be built farm beside our track.


I welcome these wind farms as we have a tremendous amount of wind round here doing nothing but annoying innocent cyclists so it is good to see it being put to good use.  Each turbine must take a little energy out of the wind and this should make it easier for me to pedal about…..though I do realise that we might need a whole lot more turbines before any noticeable effect could be felt.

The tree felling led to some impressive piles of logs beside the track.

callister logs

Like this heap, quite a few of the piles had ‘chip’ written on them and we wondered of they were going to be chipped for use in the wood fired power station at Lockerbie.

There were some plants to be seen as we walked.

callister plants

callister plants

As we got near to the end of our walk, black clouds over Callisterhall looked threatening.


It is a pity that this is no longer an inn as our two and a half mile walk had been quite tiring with tough going at the start and some hills on our way back.  A light refreshment would have gone down well.

We had to wait until we got home until we got a much needed cup of tea and a Jaffa cake or two to restore our energy levels.

When Sandy left, I set about sieving the rest of the compost in Bin D and while Mrs Tootlepedal distributed the results around the vegeatble beds, I turned most of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  When I flagged, Mrs Tootlepedal lent a hand.  As a special treat for those pining for compost bin illustrations, I photographed the result.

compost bins

The contents of Bin C had rotted down well.

We didn’t stay out in the garden too long as we were expecting rain but we did have time to look at some flowers before we went in.

I have picked three favourites.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes the dahlia on the left for its colour, the big bumble bee likes the dahlia in the middle for its pollen and I like the new hellenium on the right for its shape and pattern.

dahlias and hellenium

Everyone was happy.

Dropscone had dropped in before I went cycling this morning with a generous gift of a sea bream which he had acquired on his recent travels and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked it for our tea.  I don’t think that I have ever knowingly eaten sea bream before and I thought it tasted very good.  Dropscone says he will tell me all about where he found it when he comes for coffee tomorrow.

As I sat down to write tonight’s post, the rain finally arrived.  I had been expecting it.


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Today’s guest picture come from Mike Tinker.  Knowing my fondness for taking photos of pheasants, he sent me this picture to remind me of how they start out.

pheasant chicks

The planning for the day revolved around someone being at home to greet the gas man when he arrived to give our boiler its annual service.  Since we had been given a six hour window, this entailed quite a lot of hanging around, complicated by Mrs Tootlepedal spending two hours volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre and my anxiety to put a fine day to good use by cycling.

It was sunny but far too cold to cycle after breakfast so I was happy that I had arranged a dentist’s appointment followed by scone sampling with Dropscone over coffee. It had warmed up enough after coffee for Dropscone to go off to play golf while I walked round the garden…

azalea and tree peony

Things are busting out all over.

Elder lichen and moss

A garden in itself on an elder branch.

…and watched the birds.

We started in a yellowish sort of way with  siskins and a goldfinch…

siskin and goldfinch

…and then things got greener when a greenfinch arrived on the scene.

siskins and greenfinch

Greenfinches always look rather imperious even when they are sitting quietly in the plum tree.


Their motto might well be: Wha daur meddle wi’ me

A pair of blackbirds were busy feeding on the ground below the feeders.


They struck some good poses.

There was also a pair of robins and as they weren’t chasing each off the premises, they may be a couple which would be good.  I could only catch one of them at a time though.


Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre and I sat beside the phone in case the gasman called.  Some of the sitting was more metaphorical than actual as I made some dough for rolls in the breadmaker, hung out the washing and ate some soup and cheese for my lunch as well.

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned, I was already changed into my cycling gear and after a quick scout round the garden….

crocus and rhubarb


…I was soon cycling up the Wauchope road in chilly but windless conditions.  The sun was out and how ever much I may have been charmed by the bridges of Manchester, the views of Wauchopedale trumped them by far.


This picture should enlarge a bit if you click on it.

I cycled to the top of Callister but didn’t want to get too far from home while the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service was waiting for the gasman so I turned, appropriately enough, at an entrance to one of the valves on the main natural gas pipeline into our town…

gas valve puddle

…which pretty accurately reflected our recent changeable weather.

Having climbed Callister to get to my turning point, I now had the pleasure of the gravity assisted return journey….


…back down the hill.

I stopped to admire the lichen on a concrete fence post beside the road a little further on.  It was glowing in the sunshine.

concrete lichen

I had done 15 miles by the time that I got back to Langholm and seeing that the gasman had arrived and was at work, I nipped back up the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse to add another six miles to my total.

I stopped on the way back to add to my collection of winter trees….


…though at not much more than three metres in height, this one may be regarded as more of a bush than a tree perhaps.

On the other side of the road, the afternoon sun provided a very mellow gate scene for me.

Wauchope road gate

There was still enough light when I got home for Mrs Tootlepedal to point out first a robin and then a dunnock, both perching on a bush outside the kitchen window.

robin and dunnock

Although they were only a small distance apart on the same bush at the same time, the double portrait above shows them in typically contrasting style.  The robin likes to survey the world from on high while the dunnock likes to peer at it cautiously from a bit of cover.

I was just shaping the bread roll dough into rolls when Mike Tinker dropped by to see how we had done in the singing competition.  He stopped for a cup of tea while I went off for a relaxing soak in the bathtub.

As I looked out of my bedroom window, I could see some lovely evening light on Whita so I opened the Velux window and took a picture of the hill and the monument over the roofs of Henry Street.  Quite by accident, I included the window as well and rather liked the result.

reflections of henry street and whita

Since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea and when the rolls had risen and been baked,  the day came to a very satisfactory end.

The morning scones with the conversation and coffee had all been interesting, the washing had dried in the sun, the rolls had come out round and brown, the pancakes had been flat and tasty and the cycling had been most enjoyable and on top of all that, the gas boiler had survived for another year in fine condition.  All is good.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Scones gone

Today’s guest picture shows that there will be a severe lack of scones this week as it was taken by Dropscone as he flew to Malta for a holiday.

trip to Malta

There was a glimpse of sun today but it was very fleeting and it came in the morning when I was busy so I couldn’t make the best of it.

I had to start the day with a quick visit to the health centre before breakfast  for a routine blood test and then I had to go back to the town  again after breakfast to do two hours in the Information Hub in the High Street.  As I looked out of the window from time to time, I could see odd patches of sunshine and I had plenty of time to look out of the windows as demand for information was exceeding light.  In fact it was non existent.

I stopped to take a picture with my phone of a patch of sunlight on the Town Bridge as I walked home.

sunlit town bridge

When I got home, I found that the long awaited parcel had finally arrived.  It’s contents are confidential but they took the best part of two hours to assemble into the finished product and when that was done, it was time for a very late lunch.

There was very little wind and the thermometer showed 5 degrees so rather than stare at the garage wall again, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off up the Wauchope road.  I had hoped to do twenty miles but far from there being any hint of sunshine, it got so gloomy that I stopped after ten miles because I thought that I would have needed lights to go on any further safely.


This was the phone’s eye view at my turning point at five miles, better than the garage wall but not very cheerful all the same.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came for our last practice before we play a couple of duets at a Burns Supper later in the week.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that our practice pays off.

After tea, I went off to play flute, cello and piano trios with Mike and Isabel.  As we played,two Mozart pieces among other things, it was time well spent.

It was quite a full day and as a result it turned out that there was no moment when half decent light, the kitchen window and a bird on the feeder all coincided so there is no flying bird of the day today.  In fact I didn’t take any pictures with my camera at all today.  I hope to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture is the result of a recent visit by my brother to the dreaming spires of Oxford.

All SoulsWe had a lovely day here today, both sunny and warm.  When Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I got out the slow bike and set off to give my new knee a bit of elevation.  My target was Callister, a gentle mile and a bit long climb of 200 feet.  Not quite Mont Ventoux but requiring a some effort all the same.

I stopped near the bottom of the hill to take a picture to show just how many cones the coniferous trees are carrying this year.

coniferous trees

The tops of the trees are golden brown with cones

I was sorry that I didn’t have my other camera with me because, as the very sharp eyed may see, there is a pair of peacocks at the bottom of the trees.   They were too far away for Pocketcam though so I pedalled on up the hill.

By employing the very sensible method of going quite slowly in my lowest gear, I got to the top quite easily and went a bit further to reach the six mile mark.  I stopped to take a picture to prove that I had made it….

top of Callister

Looking back to the summit.

…and then pedalled back to Langholm at an equally steady speed, just bringing my average up to ten mph for the 12 mile trip.  I made one stop on the way to add some willow catkins to my signs of spring album.

willow catkinsIt was a bit of a waste of a beautiful day to go for such a short pedal but I don’t want to overdo things before I am back to something near fitness.

Once home, I took a walk round the garden where ironically it was too sunny to take good pictures of the many crocuses that the sun had encouraged into flower…

crocusMrs Tootlepedal’s grasses made for an easier target.

grassesThe garden and the pavement outside our gate are also home to the potential new end wall.

end wall materialsThis is quite exciting.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to catch a flying bird but they were very uncooperative…

flying chaffinch…and once again static birds were easier targets.

robinblackbirdAfter lunch, we went off to Carlisle to combine shopping with singing.

The shopping went well but the singing with our choir was delayed by a lengthy discussion about responding to an invitation to act as back up singers for a celebrated soloist who is coming to do a concert in Carlisle.  The choir members were evenly split in to ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ when the effort required, the extra practices, the fairly tight timetable, the expense and the prospect of having to stand on stage for an hour were considered.  The deciding factor was the fact that our conductor would not be available for the concert and in the end we decided not to take up the invitation.

I was pleased as I felt that we would have been under heavy pressure to be at our best which would have taken a lot of the pleasure out of our singing.  When we did get down to singing, we had an excellent session.

When we got home, I found that going to sing had prevented me from watching Scotland getting beaten in a tight rugby match against Wales and that made the choir practice even better in retrospect.

The nearest to a flying bird that I got today was this one, only just in the air.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest pictures was sent to me by Matilda’s father and shows the manufacture of some baby friendly (no salt, no sugar) drop scones.  He says that they went down well.  It is good to see the younger generation being introduced to the finer things of life.

dropsconesWe were blessed with a very nice mid February day today with the temperature rising to a heady 10°C by the afternoon.  We even saw the sun and everyone whom I met when I was out and about was very cheerful as a consequence.

I took advantage of the mellow weather to stretch my legs twice.  My first outing was on the slow bike and I headed up the Wauchope road with the intention of getting my mileage into double figures if I could manage it.  I took this welcome view from the five mile point….

Callister viewto show that I actually could.  I was equally happy to find that I did the ten miles in less than an hour and although it wasn’t a very demanding route, this was definitely a pedal in the right direction.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we noted a promising crocus or two….

crocus and snowdrop…and enjoyed the many snowdrops.

Then we went up to the Moorland Feeders as I had been asked to fill them as the usual volunteer is busy taking pictures of his wife and the Golden Gate Bridge and wasn’t available.

We were hoping to have a few quiet moments of bird watching there but there were people on every side waiting for something.  We think it was probably the local hunt which always has a good few followers but whatever it was, it wasn’t conducive to bird watching so we went home.

I spent some time trying to get a good picture of a flying bird when we got back but visitors to the feeder were few and far between and I had to settle for some perching birds  instead.

goldfinch and robinAfter lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the monthly meeting of the Embroiderer’s Guild and I went out for a walk.  I cheated a bit by taking the car to the Kilngreen as I wanted to use my better lens on some gull pictures and it is too heavy for me to carry far at the moment.

Luckily two little girls were feeding the ducks when I got there and the gulls were very agitated and gave me many opportunities.  They were cruising about keeping an eye out for bread. Sometimes they flew solo…

gull looking for bread…and sometimes in pairs but always looking.

gull looking for breadWhen bread was sighted, they swooped…

gull looking for bread…even if it meant trying to wrest it from a mallard.

gull looking for breadThose two just missed and the duck got away with his bread.

I drove on and parked the car by the disused Episcopalian church.

Kangoo at churchYou can see that it is an ideal vehicle for carrying bicycles and manure in the back.

Leaving my heavy lens behind in the car, I went for a walk of just under two miles.  I was more concerned with exercise than photography so I kept going without stopping too often.  Of course, I did have a camera with me so I had to take a few pictures as I went along.

sunshine on Whita

There were welcome bits of sunshine along the way.

Longfauld top path

But the top path looked quite wintery when the sun didn’t shine.

Longfauld top path

But the going was generally pretty dry for winter

I stopped to look at the snowdrop wood at Holmhead.

snowdrops at Holmheadsnowdrops at HolmheadI went as far as the North Lodge along the track above the woods…

North Lodge…before returning along the low road.

CastleholmThe sun had arrived on the Castleholm by the time that I got there and I was able to admire its rays striking one of my favourite trees.

Castleholm treeThe sun picked out the grain on a gate which I have passed many times without considering it remarkable at all.

gate on CastleholmThe combined effect of the cycling and walking was enough to persuade me to do nothing else of significance for the rest of the afternoon and evening and a good crossword and some rugby on the telly filled the afternoon and preparing the blog at a leisurely pace, interrupted by an entertaining program about building an ark did the same for the evening.

In a significant development on the end wall story, today saw the delivery of some of the materials which will be used in the building of the new wall.  We are beginning to believe that it really will happen.

The flying bird of the day is one of the gulls hoping to find a scrap of bread.  I think that the markings show that this is this bird’s first winter.

black headed gull

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