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Posts Tagged ‘cycle outings’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who got the chance of a ride in a hot air balloon.  Her picture shows how far I would have gone on the journey before finding something else to do.  I don’t like heights.  She was very brave and has put lots of pictures from her flight on her blog.

filling the balloon

It rained again here….

wet philadelphus

…but once again only very lightly and not enough to register on the scientific rain gauge.

I had time to put in a load of washing and  do a little gardening after breakfast before a visitor arrived.  It was Murray, an old university friend .  His wife was working for the day in Carlisle so he took the opportunity to come up for a coffee.   He brought some very nice biscuits with him and Scott the minister’s finely tuned biscuit radar must have been working well because he  arrived not long afterwards.  As Murray is an ex church organist and from a family of ministers, he and Scott and plenty to talk about.

Scott says that his chickens are enjoying the coconuts and as our birds don’t seem to like them, I think that the coconuts will soon  be returning to the manse.

Murray, who has spent most of his working lifetime in the theatre, went off to inspect the Buccleuch Centre before going back to Carlisle, promising to come again soon when he and his wife return to the area.

I had the bird watching camera up both before and after the visit (but not during it, of course).

The birds got stuck in early today…

chaffinch and siskins

…and were still at it when the evening came…

siskin, greenfinch, sparrow

…though some wasted time in shouting…

siskin shouting

…when they could have been eating.

A sparrow concentrated on the important thing in life.

sparrow on feeder

There were plenty of insects about in the garden, some more welcome than others.

greenfly on cornflower

The stachys is going over but it still has enough flowers to make it attractive…

bee on stachys flower

…to all and sundry.

bee on stachys

There are still no coloured butterflies about but I did catch a moth, which obligingly stopped right in front of me.

moth on hairy leaf

(The general whiskeriness of plants when you look at them closely continues to delight me.)

For a cloudy day, there was plenty of sunshine about…

tall sunflowers

…and the zinnias would brighten any day.

zinnia

After another bowl of nourishing green soup for my lunch, I went to hang out the washing before going cycling and, of course, it started to rain.

However this was another false alarm and it soon stopped and I got the washing hung up and my new bike out.

It was windy again.  The new cooler weather pattern is bringing winds from the Atlantic across the country and while the relative coolness (18°C) was most welcome to me, the wind was less so.

It was strong enough to make me concentrate on cycling so I didn’t stop for many pictures but the mass of meadowsweet near Wauchope Schoolhouse did stop me in my tracks.

meadowsweet at wauchope Schoolhouse

And I like the little carpet of birds foot trefoil beside the cycle track at Hagg on Esk.

birds foot trefoil

I stopped for a breather, a drink and a wildflower check at Irvine House before the final push back to Langholm.

I have passed a lot of these over the past few weeks without recording them.

wild geranium

And I managed to find an umbellifer without a red soldier beetle on it.

hoverfly on umbellifer

We have had another new bench delivered from our local benchmaker and it provided a handy place to sit down and rest when I got back after 32 miles.

post cycling selfie

In  spite of several hundred miles in the sunshine, my legs refuse to acquire a cyclist’s tan and remain as peely-wally as ever.  It is embarrassing.

As the sun had come out by this time and there is still no rain in the forecast, I set about doing as much watering as I could bear before going in to make my tea.

The usual beans were accompanied by fresh carrots today.

carrots and beans

 

I think Mrs Tootlepedal may have won this year’s battle in the eternal war against carrot root fly. (Fingers crossed)

Mrs Tootlepedal returns later this week so some serious time will have to be spent tidying up before she comes, both indoors and in the garden.  You just don’t realise just how fast weeds grow until you are personally responsible for them….and the same applies to piles of dust.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to Mrs Tootlepedal who passed it on to me.  It shows her brother and his wife (and several family members) roughing it on their holiday on Tresco in the isles of Scilly.

tresco

We can’t run to palm trees in Langholm but we did have another lovely summer day in Langholm and the temperature had got up to 25°C (77°F) before midday.

I did a little gardening after breakfast but I couldn’t spend long because it was soon time to go to church. Our little choir (18 strong) sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah for the anthem today and it went off not too badly.  It was more a rehearsal than anything else as we are singing it again next week at the Common Riding service when the church will be a great deal fuller.  The choir should be a bit larger too.  Our organist and choir master had been among among the riders on the Benty ride-out yesterday but managed to play very well in spite of some aching muscles.

When I got home, I prepared a beef and mushroom stew for the slow cooker and then spent an enjoyable time showing the daughter-in-law of one of our neighbours round Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden.  She has just started a small vegetable garden herself and was impressed by the amount of work that Mrs Tootlepedal puts into her garden.

I did some more gardening when she had left and then retired from the heat for lunch and Tour de France viewing.

After the cycling was over, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to watch more than a bit of Wimbledon or the World Cup final and went out to both water and photograph some flowers.

The zinnia is unfolding more tubes into petals…

zinnia

…but the beautiful moss roses are folding up and I think that these may be the last two flowers of the summer.

moss roses

In spite of some constructive neglect, the nasturtiums at the front door are producing more flowers every day…

nasturtium

…and the clematis beside them is doing the same.

clematis

I watered them both today so they will probably die now.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s stock of miniature nicotiana are continuing to provide some bright colours in pale pink….

pink nicotiana

…lime green…

green nicotiana

…and shocking red.

red nicotiana

The wind had risen a lot during the day as the pressure fell steadily on the barometer but I felt that another day with no cycling would be a bad thing and got my new bike out.

The wind was strong, 16 mph base with gusts of well over 20 mph, but it kept me cool even if it slowed me down a lot.  I took 12 more minutes to go round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit than I did last Thursday.  If I had been in a race with myself, I would have been more than two miles behind.

I stopped to admire the view back towards Langholm from Chapelhill…

view of whita from tarcoon road

All the clouds behind Whita Hill had passed over the town without depositing a drop of rain on us as they passed.

I rather liked the subdued light.

tarcoon road trees

As I approached Canonbie, I nodded at a couple of old friends.

black cowbrown cow

…and stopped to take a picture of one of the many banks of fireweed that are lining  our roads just now.

rosebay willowherb

This weed is one of those photographic oddities where the camera and I see things in a very different shade.  To me it is pink or even red but to the camera is is much more purple.

When I got home, I set the tripod up in the kitchen to keep an eye on the birds and a greenfinch kept an eye on me in return.

greenfinch

We are getting regular visits from greenfinches which is very encouraging.  In recent years, they have been subject to a deadly disease and numbers dropped a lot so it is good to see healthy looking birds back on the feeder.

greenfinches

Once home, I set about eating the stew and doing more watering (not at the same time).  The forecast claims that there is a 75% chance of noticeable rain tonight.  I would be much obliged if this turns out to be true but I am not holding my breath.

The flying bird picture of the day shows that even if they are flapping their wings furiously, siskins keep their heads very still as they approach the feeder.

flying siskin

 

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You may think that I have been going on too much about the lack of rain but today’s guest picture of one of our town bowling greens is worth a thousand words.  It was taken by our friend Bruce.

New town bowling green drought

It was pleasantly cool at breakfast time but even with the sky covered in high clouds, there was no sign of any rain so I pottered about watering, weeding and dead heading.

I even went as far as mowing the drying green and the greenhouse grass to make things look a little tidier.  I am trying my best to keep the garden in a state where Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t actually burst into tears when she comes homes and sees it.

There is plenty to enjoy at the moment.  The bees were very busy today.

bees

The roses are still the pick of the crop but I focussed on blue.

cornflower

geranium

delphiniums

The delphiniums have never looked better and I had a closer peer at them.

delphinium closer

It almost looked as though they were peering back at me from under their eyelashes.

It was cool enough in the house for me to spend an hour putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.  I have slipped behind schedule and all the time the data miners are piling up more work.  Must try harder.

After lunch, I gave up the chance to lounge about watching the Tour de France and went for a bike ride instead.

I varied my route and took the main road out of the town to the north.  I hoped that the traffic would not be too bad and it turned out that my hope was justified and I had a very peaceful ride considering that the A7 is a trunk road.  The benefit of riding up a main road is that the maintenance is carried out by a national government agency and not our local council.  As it is government policy to starve local councils of money and keep it all for themselves, this means that main roads tend not to have any potholes.  The road contractors have been hard at work recently doing some resurfacing so for much of the ride, the going was extremely good.

The views aren’t bad either.

Ewes valley

The skies were cloudy but the wind was light and at 20°C, conditions were near perfect for pedalling.

The hills ought to be at their greenest just now but they too are feeling the drought.The dark green patches are bracken.

top of ewes valley

There is a lot of meadowsweet around and I liked this pool of plants nearly smothering a wall at Mosspaul.

meadowsweet at Mosspaul

I left the main road for a very small diversion to Carlenrig where Johnnie Armstrong met his end.  He was either a great local hero or a notorious gangster, depending on your point of view.  A rather gloomy notice board is to be found…

johnnie armstrong

…where a stone marks the spot.

johnnie armstrong grave
Nearby is a little church…

Carlenrig church

I took another little side road for about a mile and came to an attractive ford…

ford

…with an alternative bridge if the ford is running too high.

ford footbridge

I didn’t cross the ford or bridge and turned for home down the main road back along the flat bottomed Ewes valley…

looking down ewes valley

…and by this time, the skies had cleared a little and it was another beautiful day.

I took the picture above while I was beside an interestingly named farmhouse.

Unthank

Unlike the farm, I was very thankful for the good weather and the light breeze that blew me home.

It was a most enjoyable 30 mile outing.

I got back in time to do a little more watering and gooseberry picking before it was the moment for tea.

I watched the birds as I prepared my meal.

siskin, greenfinch and chaffinch

The scruffy blue tit was back again.

blue tit and siskin

And I noticed that one of the siskin visitors had been ringed.

ringed siskin

If no birds arrived at the feeder, I looked at poppies instead.

poppies

After tea, I managed to get the best of both worlds by watching the end of the Tour stage on the evening highlights programme and then wasted an hour watching the second half of the France/Belgium semi final in the world cup.   There was plenty of skill on show but not as much excitement as I would have liked.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is a bit belated as Venetia has been back from Madeira for some time but I found that I had overlooked this picture she took of a slightly strange statue in Funchal, possibly Madeira’s answer to King Knut.

madeira King Knut

There was a lot of excitement here today as enormous machines threatened the well being of our new bridge…

digging out the dam 2

…but negotiated the narrow gap beside the bridge successfully in the end.

The tractor and trailer were there to collect the mud that was being scraped away from the banks of the dam by a skilled digger  operator…

digging out the dam

…as the dam was being cleared of years of neglect.

Our bit of the dam was untouched as it has been well looked after by Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Kenny who has done a power of work to keep it clean and clear.

I crossed over the bridge while the tractor was at work and went to the monthly producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre where I was able to procure five different sorts of cheese together with some fish and meat.

Back home again, I did some watering and some weeding.  It is becoming apparent to me how much weeding Mrs Tootlepedal does as she goes about the garden.  I have to be careful as I can’t always tell the difference between a weed and a valuable plant  but I am pulling up the weeds I recognise.

I did find time to take a picture or two.

The clematis at the front door is not showy but it persistent and new flowers keep coming out.

front door clematis

I promised you phlocks of flox and here they are.

white phloxpink phloxpurple phlox

They will add some welcome colour to the garden.

Not that there isn’t some colour there already.  New poppies keep popping up…

poppy

…and the tropaeolum is running riot in the yew.

tropaeolum

For sheer numbers of flowers, the spirea are probably in the lead at the moment both in very dense clusters on one bush…

spirea 1

…and slightly more spread out on another.

spirea 2

I took some wider shots as well.

This is the bottom arch in the fence between the veg garden and the middle lawn

bottom arch

You can see white philadelphus, pink Sweet Williams and purple foxglove through the arch…and just a glimpse of the Oooh La la clematis on the right.

The Common Riding rose grows over the arch and on the fence behind the drying green.

rose excelsa

This is the fence seen from the lawn side.  The first white rose is Goldfinch and the one further along is Bobbie James.

bench area

It was very warm again so I had a quiet morning and after lunch, I watched a bit of the first stage of the Tour de France.

Inspired by this, I got out my new bike and set off down the main road to the south.  My belief was that most of the world would be watching football on the telly and so the roads might be pretty quiet.

My faith was not misplaced.

brampton road….and after twenty quiet and flat miles, my new bike had a rest on a well used bench..

newtown bench

…while I had a drink of water and a date or two.

I found of shot of the fairly speedy bike at the same bench in 2013.

bike at Newtown

It was December and the sun was shining then too

It was quite windy which was a bonus as it kept me relatively cool but it did make bicycling a bit of a battle and for one reason or another, possibly the heat, my legs gave out on the way home and I had to settle for a slow ride back with a rest break to enjoy the bridge at Longtown on the way.

Longtown bridge

Even with soggy legs, I enjoyed the ride and I had enough energy left to do some more watering and pick some peas and beans  for my tea.

I had hoped to get home without finding out the score in the big football match but a helpful fellow having a smoke outside the pub in Smithfield told me that England were two nil up as I went past and a cheery gang of drinkers outside the pub on my way back indicated that they had held on to win.

Everyone is pleasantly surprised.

The flower of the day is a rose mallow, new to the garden this year and a very striking plant.

rose mallow

It offers an optical conundrum: are the green bits in front of or behind the petals?

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from former archive group member Ken.  He very kindly sent me this portrait of an unusual animal which he encountered in Newcastle.

green rhino

We had another warm (22°C at it peak), dry day today but not as hot as poor Mrs Tootlepedal is having to get used to in the deep south.   In fact, it was pleasantly cool after breakfast so I got a bit of dead heading and watering done before Dropscone arrived with the traditional Friday treacle scones.

And I took a couple of pictures, of course.

In one of those amusing japes which the horticultural gods like to play upon innocent gardeners, the poppies that Mrs Tootlepedal has carefully planted are very reluctant to come up, while the patch which seeded itself by the new bench…

poppies beside bench

….couldn’t look better.

The gardener smiles one of those inscrutable smiles.

After the excellent treacle scones had disappeared, Dropscone departed with what is very nearly the last of the rhubarb and I did a bit more watering and dead heading….and the crossword.

Mrs Tootlepedal was showing some of my pictures of the flowers to a friend yesterday and found that because I take so many close ups, it was difficult for her to convey the bigger picture…..so here are two bigger pictures.

middle lawn view

The drought is beginning to tell on the middle lawn.  The bed at the bottom right was a sea of orange hawkeed a few weeks ago.  The trouble with the long view is that the camera can’t do justice to all the greenery and the flowers at the same time.

There is a metal fence that divides the flower garden from the vegetable garden and it is home to four sorts of roses, a clematis and a honeysuckle.

fence

The runner beans are looking promising.  I must remember to water them too.

Tucked in on the garden side of that fence is a rose that Mrs Tootlepedal had to cut back so severely that she thought that it might never bloom again.  However, the Queen of Denmark turns out to be made of tough stuff and among the surrounding leafage, a flower has appeared…

Queen of Denmark rose

…with more to come.

A second day lily has appeared.

day lily

After a lunch of a large sardine and lettuce sandwich, I got myself organised and set off for a pedal.

I waited to see how I was going before finally deciding on a route and it turned out to be a day when my legs were not in a very co-operative mood so I settled for a dull thirty mile circuit of Gair, Kirkpatrick Fleming and Glenzier.   There is a lot of dust and pollen about in our dry spell and perhaps the noticeable wind  was blowing enough about to slow me down.

Still, I took things easy and enjoyed the ride.

Gair road view

It was warm but happily for me, the sky clouded over as I pedalled along and the wind kept me comfortably cool.  I stopped for the occasional drink and tried to find a place with some wild flowers to look at as I sipped.

There was plenty of ragwort along the way…

ragwort

…but this was the only one of these little white flowers that I saw.

white wild flower

There was a lot of rosebay willowherb too.

rosebay wiilowherb

And a thistle showed what a good  source of pollen it is.

thistle

Even at the slow pace I go on my bike, it is easy to pass things without seeing them.  I was thinking that I hadn’t seen any red soldier beetles this year but when I stopped to look for some orchids, I found that there were a lot of the beetles about too.

red soldier beetles

The same observation applied to the orchids.  As I was cycling  along the Canonbie bypass, I only noticed one or two but when I stopped in a handy lay-by and had a proper look, I found several within a few yards.

canonbie orchids

I’ll obviously have to cycle even more slowly (if that is possible).

In an echo of the morning scone scene, the unusually hot weather has melted the road surface in places on the back roads and I now have to watch out for sticky patches as well as potholes.

You will doubtless be interested to know that when I got home, I did some more watering.  I could easily spend the whole day watering but carrying watering cans is hard work and my arms are getting longer every day as it is.

I did have time to notice that the phlox is coming out.

white phlox

We will soon have phlocks of flox.

I picked some peas, beans and beetroot for my tea and went in.

I took too many pictures in the sunshine again today so I have packaged some up in panels.  I am test driving a new photo editor and have not yet devised a good panel macro so I apologise for the rough and ready framing.

poppies

Two self seeded poppies and one intentional poppy

calendula and cornflower

A calendula and the first cornflower bask in the morning sunshine

roses

I could fill a whole post with rose pictures.

The flying bird of the day was resting.

chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  I walked past the canal at Paddington on my way home from Marlow without taking a picture so she sent me this one taken further along the canal a few days earlier.  I don’t think that she sampled the rum.

canal

In the end, a combination of the heat, an appointment and things to do persuaded me to put off going to see Matilda for a week.  I had planned for a very leisurely day but I kept pottering about for pretty well the whole time and it was just as well that I didn’t try to fit in a  trip to Edinburgh as well.

I had to do quite a lot of dead heading and some watering too and as this involves carrying heavy watering cans about  (we have been asked not to use garden hoses until it rains again), it also involved quite a bit of resting between trips.  I used the breaks to take some pictures of bees.

I was spoiled for choice.

bee visiting red poppy

Every colour was in demand.

bee visiting blue allium

And every size and sort of flower.

bee visiting foxglove

A new pale astrantia has come out and the bees like it as much as the darker ones.

bee on astrantia

The poppies had benefited from the dead heading and replacements had arrived.

poppy

My appointment was to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up at the health centre and that passed as painlessly as it always does.  Young people won’t realise what a wonderful improvement there has been in needle technology.  Getting injections of any sort when I was a boy was a nightmare and I still have enough needlephobia not to be able to watch an injection when I get one or see one on the telly but actually having an injection nowadays is a breeze and the nurse and I chatted happily about golf while the procedure was performed.

I had a light lunch when I got back and then went out to do some more watering and picture taking.

I think that these are the famous doddering dillies that were on sale at the Church fete.

doddering dillies

They are very pretty but because they dodder about in the lightest breeze, they are not easy to photograph.

There are several sunflowers out in the garden…

small sunflower

…and this is one of the small ones.  I will need a step ladder to take a picture of one of the tall ones.  They are miles above my head now.

We saw a fine example of the Common Riding rose (Excelsa) at the Hampton Court Flower Show but I think that ours is looking every bit as good.

CR rose

CR rose close

Although it only has one flower at the moment, I like one of the new roses that Mrs Tootlepedal planted this year.

Fru Dagmar Hustrup rose

It is called Fru Dagmar Hastrup and I think it is very charming.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes it was a bit more robust.

I went inside to work on the computer to avoid the hottest part of the afternoon and then Mike arrived and I went round to have a cup of tea in his shady garden.  Alison provided the tea and an excellent ginger biscuit and I was so perked up by this that after finishing my computer work and potting out some plants for Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out for a short cycle ride in the relative cool of the evening.

It was a perfect cycling evening and I wished that I had been able to get out for a longer ride.

View from wauchope school brae

I saw a big bunch of bright yellow flowers in the verge so I stopped for a look.  They looked a bit like crosswort at first but it was something different.

yellow verge flowers

I took a close up as best I could while holding up my bike….

yellow wild flower close

…and a shot of a single plant.

yellow wild flower whole

Any help with identification would be welcome.  (My wildflower expert, Mike says that it is Lady’s Bedstraw)

There was plenty of purple around too in the form of thistles….

thistles

…and the first rosebay willowherb of the summer.

rosebay willowherb

I only went twelve miles as it was past my tea time already but I hadn’t quite finished the day yet.

When I got home, I mowed the front lawn.  There will be those who think that it is folly to mow a lawn when the weather is so dry and they may be right but it was a light cut and it made the lawn look better.

front lawn dry

Two beautiful roses lurk behind the box balls at the far end of the lawn but most of the colour was right behind me as I took the picture so I turned round.

colourful corner

On the other side of the garden a new flower has come out.

new red flower

As I am trying to improve the rust content in my diet, I had a good meal of liver with peas, beans, spinach, turnips and potatoes from the garden.

The flying bird of the day is sensibly resting.

blackbird

 

 

 

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