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Posts Tagged ‘Tarras water’

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s trip to Sweden and shows the Stockholm’s Gröna Lund amusement park as seen from the water.  With my head for heights, there would be little amusement there for me.

stockholm funfair

We had another fine and sunny day today with light winds, just perfect for cycling.  The day had been provided by those amusing weather gods as they knew perfectly well that I had arranged to take my good bike into the bike shop for its annual service this morning.  I could hear them chuckling as I drove down the road to drop the bike off.

However, I had other things to do in the absence of cycling and having put the bike in for its service, I drove further south and enjoyed an informative and useful singing lesson from Mary, the now ex-musical director of our Langholm choir as she has retired from the post.  She is an excellent teacher and if I keep going, I may even become a singer.  I live in hope.

I got home about lunch time and would have gone to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal if we hadn’t remembered that it is shut on a Monday.  Instead we brought an egg roll from our corner shop and lunched modestly at home.

After lunch, I suggested that Mrs Tootlepedal might enjoy a ten mile cycle ride using the newly repaired Tarras road and was delighted when she agreed.  We set off for a gentle excursion with wild flowers in mind.

It is an undulating route with plenty of slow sections were there is time to scan the verges…

yellow wild flowers tarras road

The hawkweed was very prolific at one point and as it was on the longest of the hills, I was happy to stop and take a picture while Mrs Tootlepedal headed ever upwards.

yellow hawkweed

I caught up with her in time to catch her enjoying the smooth surface on the newly repaired road…

Ally on new road tarras

..and she rolled on down the hill and took a moment to admire the view from the bridge at the bottom.

tarras bridge

This was the view that she was admiring.

tarras cascade

As we went up out of the valley on the other side of the bridge, we were going slowly enough to note tightly wound thistle buds, cheerful daisies, baleful horsetail and a fine grass, possibly Yorkshire Fog.

dull wild flowers

And it was here that we saw the best treat of the day, a lone orchid.

first orchid

When we got to Claygate, we headed on down the hill….

going down to Byreburn

…and did a little gentle off road cycling along the track beside the Byre Burn.

fairy loup track june

Normally it is illegal for a man with a camera to pass the Fairy Loup waterfall, which is beside this track, without stopping to take a picture, but the leaves on the trees are so lush at the moment that I could hear the waterfall but I couldn’t see it at all today.

We got down to the Esk at Hollows and took the old A7 bike route home.  We had passed many wild geraniums on our way and I took this picture to represent them all.

wild gernanium

Before we set out, I had asked Mrs Tootlepedal to keep a special eye out for ragged robin as I thought it was about the right time to see this pretty plant, and she duly spotted a clump near Irvine House.

ragged robin

I was keeping my special eye out for yellow rattle and not far from the ragged robin, I was rewarded with a sighting.

yellow rattle

I looked it up when I got home and can tell you that Rhinanthus minor, the yellow rattle, little yellow rattle, hayrattle or cockscomb, is a flowering plant in the genus Rhinanthus in the family Orobanchaceae, native to Europe, northern North America, and Western Asia.  I thought that you might like to know that.  There is obviously a lot of it about.

yellow rattle (2)

Nearby, a clump of vetch was playing host to a large number of bees.

bees omn vetch

My final picture from the outing was this set of developing larch cones….

three larch cones

…taken just before we joined the main road for the last couple of miles home when we were too busy thinking about passing cars to worry about wild flowers.

Luckily from the point of view of taking pictures of flowers in the verges and not getting too hot while cycling, the sun had retired behind some handy clouds for most of our trip, but it was out and shining again when we got home.  As a result, after I had had a cup of tea, i went out into the garden and scarified the front lawn.

I was rather dashed to find that there were three full wheelbarrows of moss to be cleared when the scarifier had finished its work.  I had hoped that I was winning in the battle against the moss, but it is more like a stalemate at the moment.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we practised a simple arrangement of a Scott Joplin tune which I had acquired from the internet at a modest price.  It is a wonderful world where I can think that I might like to play a piece by Joplin, look on the internet, find a piece, buy it, print it out and be playing it within five minutes of having had the idea.

After Luke went, I had a walk round the garden in the evening sun and enjoyed Mrs Tootlepedal’s French rose…

rosarie de

…and a glowing Icelandic poppy (the dead header needs to work harder)….

icelandic poppy

…and the argyranthemums which Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.

argyranthemum in chimney pot

A new clematis has come out near the pond.

purple clematis

Then it was time for tea, a second helping of yesterday’s slow cooked beef stew.

Since it was still a lovely evening after tea, I improved the shining  hour by mowing the middle lawn.  I am definitely winning the battle against the moss there.

In all this activity, I didn’t have any time to spend watching the birds, so there is no flying bird of the day today.  A flower of the day appears in its place,  a case of going from the  sublime sparrow to the ranunculus.

pale ranunculus

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has visited Chatsworth.  I am going to live in a place like that when I grow up.

Chatsworth

We had another fine and sunny day today but once again my stubborn cold refused to give up its grip on me so instead of cycling, I settled for the very agreeable substitute of a cup of coffee with Sandy followed by a walk.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I looked out of the kitchen window.  The early morning sun is not at all helpful for taking pictures of birds at the feeder is in the shadow of the house and you end up with lots of shots like this.

chaffinch

The rather blue background indicates that we had another frosty morning and the fluffed up robin below the feeder confirmed that it was chilly.

robin

By the time that Sandy and I had had a cup of coffee and arrived at the Moorland bird hide, all trace of the frost had gone and we walked down to the bridge over the Tarras in glorious conditions.

There was not a cloud in the sky.

Cronksbank road

We were able to watch a hen harrier hunting and a heron flying past as we walked along the open part of the walk but soon we were plunging downhill through the woods…

Cronksbank road

…until we reached the river bank.

Tarras at rashiel

It is a peaceful spot….

Tarras Water

…and it still looked very welcoming although the trees on the river bank have shed all their leaves.

We walked over the bridge and checked out the horsetails which grow along the river in abundance there.

horsetail

Although the ones round this tree were still green, most of them were dry and brown.

horsetails

We didn’t see much else of interest…

fungus and fern

…but the walk through the woods was delightful.

Tarras woods

Taken on the way down

Tarras woods

Taken on the way back up

When we got back to the hide, we spent a few minutes inside, in the hope of seeing something interesting but just about the only birds on view were coal tits…

coal tits

…and chaffinches so we didn’t stay for long.

I got home just as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and choir practice and I set up the camera at the kitchen window in the hope of some more friendly light.

The birds deliberately flew into any shadow they could find just to annoy me…

shadowy flying birds

…although as usual, the camera was recording more information than it was letting on.

_DSC8508 lighter

These are exactly the same pictures lightened up a bit.

Still, it wasn’t very satisfactory so I pointed the camera at the plum tree with better results.

goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

Goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

The sunflower seeds were drawing most of the business again today…

chaffinch

…but there were occasional visits to the new mixed seeds by coal tits and this blue tit who preferred to remain anonymous.

blue tit

We had quite a good crowd but the attendance is not helped by predatory cats roaming the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted one of the invaders making off with one of our birds.  Our cat scarer is not 100% efficient it would seem.  In fact, as kind readers pointed out when I said that we had got one, they may well be 100% inefficient.

In the afternoon we went to our Carlisle Choir practice.  Once again I was only able to croak my way through the songs and as my breathing was not in peak condition, my brain was subject to a bit of fading and I made several rather glaring mistakes.  In spite of it all, it was worthwhile and I hope to be in  a better place  next week.

The flying bird of the day is the sole chaffinch who wasn’t quick enough to find some shade to hide in.

flying chaffinch

Looking at the picture, I see that I will have to clean the kitchen window.

The moon was out when we got back from choir.  Not quite full.

moon

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s walk along the Thames.  She saw these two unusual boats in a dock near Tower Bridge.  Not the usual rich people’s yachts.

A splash of colour

I have a wonderfully shiny bruise on my arm so I thought it might be a good plan to have a very quiet morning.  It had rained heavily overnight again so things had time to dry out while I lazed about.

Apart from a quick visit to the corner shop for milk, I didn’t poke my nose out of the door until after lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to see a red admiral butterfly on a marigold.

red admiral on marigold

I looked around and found that it wasn’t alone.  There were several Red Admirals and Peacocks on one of the buddleias.

butterflies

One flew off to bask on a wooden plank.

It is very cheering to see the butterflies just when we were beginning to think that they might not arrive at all this year.

peacock

I looked at the greenhouse grass and decided that arm or no arm, it needed mowing and got the hover mower out and did some of it.  Mrs Tootlepedal offered a cup of tea so I left some still to do and went inside.

It was fairly sunny by now and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the Langholm Moor to look for interesting birds and kindly finished the mowing while I collected my cameras.

We saw plenty of harrier and buzzard action when we got to the moor but they were in teasing mood today and would fly quite close to the road until we stopped the car at which point, they gently eased themselves into the middle and far distance, no doubt chuckling in a raptor sort of way as they flew off.

harriers

Not a bad day for binoculars but not much good for cameras.  I looked at the view down to the Solway instead…

Solway Firth

…but it wasn’t much better with a lot of haze and a curiously flat light.

The heather was looking good in parts and at one stage, we stopped opposite one of the peat banks which are cut for fuel.

Heather and peat

We were hoping to see goats but they were obviously well away from the road so we went down into the Tarras valley and parked for a while there.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a couple of harriers hunting across the hill while I went to look at the river.

I walked along the narrow road to find one of my favourite spots.

Tarras road

Tarras cascade

There was plenty of water coming over the cascade after the night’s rain.

In spite of a sunny appearance to the day, there seemed to be a hazy sky and the light was very flat indeed so I went back to the car, took a picture of the bridge….

Tarras Bridge

…and then we went home.

We stopped on the way back down to take a picture of Castle Hill where I had photographed the charity horse riders on Sunday.

Castle Hill

I walked up that ridge from left to right and considering how hard it is to climb, it looks amazingly gentle when seen from the side like this.

When we got home, I had a look round the garden.

sunflower

The sunflower is enjoying the warm spell

new plants

Two of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new plants looking well set

yew

The yew, which after yesterday’s pruning is mainly acting as a sort of clothes hanger for the perennial nasturtium.  It will come again.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal set about doing some major pruning to a rose so I helped out with the shredding and there was so much material that the box had to be emptied three times.  There is no doubt that looking after a flower garden takes a lot of doing.  I am glad that I live with someone who is not afraid of hard work.

From time to time, I checked on our blackbirds, hoping to get a shot of them eating the rowan berries.

blackbirds

Getting ready to pounce

blackbirds

Almost there

….but I was never quite at the right place at the right time.  Most of the berries have already been eaten so I may have missed my chance for this year.

I was tempted into using the colour picker on my Lumix to take an arty shot of the fuchsia.

fuchsia art

…but perhaps I should have resisted the temptation.

My arm was a little sore so I went in and caught up on my correspondence for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal finished clearing up after the rose pruning.  When she came in, I went out and mowed the middle lawn (very slowly and carefully).

I was tempted by the colour picker again….

clematis

…but I think that I like the full colour version of the clematis by the front door in the evening light better.

clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal came out to enjoy a sit in the garden in the sun while the tea was cooking and we were overlooked by a half finished robin.

robin

In spite of the overnight rain, the weather at the end of August is looking a lot better than the first half of the month (no doubt because the children have gone back to school) but unless we get a very dry spell soon, everywhere is beginning to have that slightly soggy autumn feeling even on a sunny day.

Still, my back is much better and I have reached my minimum cycling mile target for the month so mustn’t grumble.

And a poppy in some sunshine is always a cheerful thing.

poppy

As a point of minor interest, the bread making machine and I made a set of rolls recently and since there were too many for us to eat at once, I froze a couple, something which I have never done before.  We let them unfreeze naturally today and they were as good as new.  I was was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely try freezing rolls again when I next make them.  I realise that this will not be big news to people who freeze bread regularly.

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine burst of wild flowers at Threave Gardens.  It was sent to me by my friend Sue, who took some time off from turning her compost to visit this National Trust property not far from Castle Douglas.

Threave gardensWe had another fine day today but as I had had a rather sleepless night, it took me quite a long time to make the best of it.  I was still in my dressing gown when Scott, the minister,  arrived on his bike wondering if I was thinking about a pedal.  I was thinking about one but that was as far as it got and I waved him on his way and went back to munching my porridge.

I waved Mrs Tootlepedal off too as she was going to see Matilda in Edinburgh.

After all this waving, I was quite tired and sat down for a bit.

I roused myself enough to get dressed and make a cup of coffee for Sandy and we arranged to put some entries into the photographic class at the Westerkirk Flower Show this coming Saturday.

I did spend some time staring out of the window and even saw a coal tit but not when I had a camera in my hand.  I did catch several blue tits though, both on the old feeder….

blue tits…and on the new.

blue titThe feeder was frantically busy all day….

busy feeder…and I had to refill it twice.  I don’t know why the birds are so hungry.  Maybe they know something about the coming weather that we don’t.

I walked round the garden slowly.

anemone and rose

Japanese anemone and the Queen of Denmark.

poppies

Can there be too many poppy pictures? Don’t answer that.

privet and sedum

Two bee magnets, the privet, nearly over and the sedum, just beginning

I managed a little compost sieving and then it was time for lunch, after a thoroughly relaxing morning.

After lunch, I perked up and got the fairly speedy bike out and set off for a twenty mile ride.  It was sunny with some clouds about and for the first three miles, very windless too.   This turned out to be a temporary situation though and as soon as I got into the open country, there turned out to be a noticeable breeze.  It was in my face and I had to work steadily to get to Paddockhole Bridge.

Paddockhole BridgeI was overtaken going up Callister by a local cyclist who chatted for a while and then, telling me that he was taking it easy today, vanished into the distance.

Near Grange Quarry, I passed some road works and looked back to see a substantial new road being driven up the hillside.

Grange quarry trackThe only reason for this track that I can think of is for bringing in new windmills to add to our local collection.  There is certainly enough wind around to keep any amount of windmills turning.

The wind was at my back on the way home and this was lucky as going at speed seemed like a good idea when I looked at the weather just behind me.

Black cloudsThe occasional rumble of thunder added wings to my heels.

As it happened, the rain clouds seemed to slip off to the south and I arrived home a little puffed out but perfectly dry.

I had a cup of tea and mowed the middle lawn while the going was good and then I had a shower and  arranged with Sandy to go for a walk.

We drove up to the White Yett and enjoyed our favourite view up the Ewes Valley.  I put the panorama function on my new phone to the test and it worked well.

Ewes valleyYou can see why we like the view.

We went on down the other side of the hill and parked beside the Tarras Water.

The hills are just beginning to lose a little of their green…

Tarras…but they are still looking pretty good.

At this point, the Tarras Water  runs through a little gorge and has many small cascades….

Tarras…but as we walked further up the river, the valley opens out and it flows more peacefully.

TarrasThe sun came and went as we walked but we were well sheltered from any wind so it was pleasantly warm.  Unfortunately the midges found the conditions to their liking too and came out and bit us unmercifully.

We stayed long enough for Sandy to take a picture while standing on one of our less magnificent local bridges….

Sandy…while I admired a pattern of walls on the opposite bank of the river.

TarrasWe looked back as we turned for home and the sun came out….

Tarras….and then we were looked at in our turn….

Tarras sheep

There is a black and white class in the Westerkirk Show…and a class for animal pictures….hmmm.

The sun  stayed with us as we walked along the road back to the car…

Tarras road…and in spite of the midges, we enjoyed our short stroll.

I hadn’t been in for long before Mrs Tootlepedal arrived home from Edinburgh.  She and Matilda had been on an even longer walk than last week and they had also done putting socks into a basket and taking socks out of a basket so she had had a very good time.

In the evening, Susan and Roy came to play recorder trios and I must admit to making more than one mistake as we played but the others politely didn’t notice.

I managed to pick one out of the flock of busy birds this morning to be the flying bird if the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows Matilda enjoying a little sunshine but warmly clad in the hat and shawl which her granny knitted for her.

Matilda

Mrs Tootlepedal was in adventurous mood again today and since the wind was light and the weather was fair, she suggested lunch at Newcastleton.

Newcastleton is only ten miles away but between it and Langholm lies the Langholm Moor rising to over 1000 ft and starting with a one and a half mile climb, an instant descent and then another lengthy uphill haul.   It seemed like a good idea on a day that was too good to waste so after a big plate of porridge and some coffee we set off.  I was riding my belt drive bike.

We were very pleased to arrive at the White Yett, at the top of the first hill, without having had to stop for a breather on the way.

I took a picture or two as we went over the moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal climbing to the White Yett

Mrs Tootlepedal climbing to the White Yett, taken with my phone while in motion.

white yett

Looking back from the top of the hill.  Langholm is 600ft below.

Tarras hill

Climbing the second hill after crossing the Tarras Water

Tarras Bridge

Looking back down the hill at the bridge over the Tarras Water

Langholm Moor

A general view of the moor as we got near the summit.

We stopped to eat a nourishing banana beside three lovely clumps of cowslips in a passing place.  This was one of them.

cowslips

There was no time for taking pictures once we were over the top, as there is a splendidly uninterrupted descent down into Liddesdale and the little town of Newcastleton.

We had a good lunch in the Olive Tree cafe there.  I nibbled on a lightly toasted goats cheese panini with coleslaw while Mrs Tootlepedal got her laughing gear round a substantial all day breakfast.

Before we left Newcastleton, we paid a visit to the newly erected bridge across the Liddel Water which,  when it is officially opened, will take cyclists and pedestrians directly to the mountain biking centre at Dykecrofts.  It was rather ugly and somewhat larger than we expected.

Newcastleton bridge

Instead of battling back across the moor, we chose the longer 16 mile route home via Canonbie.  Although this route must be downhill as it follows the Liddel downstream through the valley, it has some stiff climbs on the way and feels surprisingly like hard work.  Still, we managed it and then took the bike route up the Esk from Canonbie back to Langholm.

There were bluebells to be seen beside the way here.

canonbie bluebells

The ride is not very long but it is quite taxing with 1500ft of climbing so we were pleased to get a sit down with a cup of tea when we got home.  We had taken our time going round but had thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather and the lovely views on the way.

Details of the ride can be found here for those with time to kill.

I was a little worried that the 27 miles of our circuit wouldn’t quite get me to a nice round 500 miles for the month so after I had finished my cup of tea (we were joined by Mike Tinker), I got out the (fairly) speedy bike and nipped out for a quick 10 mile dash to the bottom of Callister and back.   The benefit of a good warm up was demonstrated by my best time of the year for this ride.

When I got home again, I was much struck by the evening sunlight playing on the tulips.

sunlit tulips

sunlit tulips

sunlit tulips

The anemone looked good too…

anemone

…and the aubretia dangling from the chimney pot under the feeder caught my eye as well.

aubretia

At odd times during the day, when I had a moment, I looked out for an exciting bird shot but my timing was off and I missed any excitement there was and had to settle for two perching birds.  The cute…

siskin

…and the striking.

jackdaw

An already excellent day was rounded off by a bowl of slow cooked venison stew for my tea and a trip to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group.  Roy, our librarian, produced an eclectic programme of music from dances of King Henry VIII’s time to a rag by Scott Joplin by way of Mozart and Gounod among others.  Most enjoyable and stimulating.

I did catch a rather fuzzy siskin to be the flying bird of the day.

siskin

Final note: when I checked my cycling stats, I found that the 500 mile target had in fact been exactly reached after our lunch circuit but as I enjoyed the dash to Callister, I didn’t mind.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce who had taken a walk along the banks of the Liddle Water.  He thought that this opportunity for a rest might tempt me to take the walk too.

Liddle bench

I had intended to take advantage of another day of glorious weather to go for a good cycle ride but for reasons probably not unconnected with old age and cycling 40 miles yesterday, I didn’t manage to work up enough pep to go anywhere. Mrs Tootlepedal though was as bright as a button and hard at work in the garden on and off all day.

This tulip was almost as bright as she was.

red tulip

Luckily Sandy called round at coffee time and at least got me out of the house.  Our intention was to go to the moorland bird feeders and set up the cameras on tripods.  Then, using our remote controls, some nice sharp pictures should have been possible in the good light.  Unfortunately we were not the first to think of visiting the feeders and when we got there, two visiting bird watchers were getting settled in.  It seemed too awkward to try to get set up when they were watching the birds so after a quick shot of an oversize perching bird…

pheasant

…we went off for a walk along the Tarras instead.

This didn’t offer much in the way of birds but it was delightful in its own right, with interest all along the way.

There were tadpoles in the giant puddles….

tadpoles

They will be struggling if it doesn’t rain soon.

…old men on vintage tractors….

John Murray talking to Sandy

John Murray talking to Sandy

…charming glades…

beside the Tarras

…and the ever present music of the Tarras Water.

Tarras

It was time for lunch when we got home and the down side for me of walking through the woods came when I had to have a good long rest after lunch to get my breathing back into good order.

There is a lot of pollen about at the moment and the garden is full of the sound of bumble bees.

bee in garden

I took some perching birds at different times.  The bird on the right below was down by the Tarras and I don’t know what it is.  It was singing lustily and I am sure a kind reader will tell me its name.  It might be a willow warbler.

perching birds

I had just about recovered from my post lunch slump when we were visited by a flock of cyclists.

Callaghan cycle club

From left to right these are William, Lorne and Sarah.  Two of them are Dr Tinker’s grandchildren and the cousins of Maisie, New Zealand’s finest and the other is their father.  One of them is on the bike in the picture for the very first time.  Yes, it is Lorne, who was interested in trying out my belt driven bike.  He is a cycle commuter and a serious pedaller.  Sarah has been cycling for ages…well for two days now under her own steam.

Liz, their mother, has taken away a portion of my sour dough starter and is going to have a try at making a loaf with it on Monday.

After the cyclists left, Sandy reappeared and we went off on a nuthatch hunt.  Liz had seen one earlier in the afternoon on the Castleholm and as there are two known nesting sites there, we went to see what we could see.

We drew a complete blank at the first site so we moved on to where Liz had made her sighting.  This tree looked promising…

tree on castleholm

…and we soon saw a nuthatch and I was able to snatch a hurried shot.

nuthatch

It was on a branch with a nest sized hole in it but we were amazed to see that it wasn’t the nuthatch that was using the hole, it was a blue tit.

blue tit

Liz had told us that she th0ught that the nuthatch had been sounding very indignant so perhaps this was why.

The nuthatch conifer was surrounded by golden trees.

Castleholm trees

Closer examination showed that these were lime trees and not covered in leaves but by a multitude of flowers.  The white tailed bumble bees were extremely interested and the trees were loud with buzzing.

bees on lime trees

We walked on to another nest site and once again saw a nuthatch.  I was too slow to get a picture this time but you can see the one that Sandy took on his blog.  I had to make do with a nearby thrush.

thrush

It was another beautiful walk and the only fly in the ointment was discovering in the car on the way home that I had lost my spectacles somewhere on the walk.  It was obvious that I had dislodged them while manouevering my camera bag about so Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled back to where the walk had started and finished and to my delight, we found the specs unharmed right beside the place where Sandy’s car had been parked.  I can see clearly now.

Although I was personally quite slow all day, I did get the chance to catch a real burst of speed on the Castleholm.

run rabbit run

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull which we met on the way to see the nuthatches.

flying gull

 

 

 

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