Posts Tagged ‘Wauchope’

Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, who sent me this fine shot of the bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross, one of the most spectacular roads in Scotland.

bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross

We had another day of frozen sunshine here, with temperatures at zero or below all day.  However, with stories of snow and slush in England, we certainly weren’t going to complain about a little tingle in the cheeks when we went outside.

It was still freezing hard when Dropscone came round (on his bike) bearing scones to go with our morning coffee.  He has just come back from seeing his eldest son in the south of England and had managed to avoid all the traffic chaos caused by wind, rain and snow recently so he was feeling quite smug.

After coffee, I tempted Mrs Tootlepedal out for a walk to enjoy the sun.

When we got to Pool Corner, we found the the Wauchope had completely frozen over…

frozen wauchope

…and it was definitely a good idea, where possible, to direct one’s feet to the sunny side of the street.


The sharp eyed reader will be able to spot Mrs Tootlepedal heading for a patch of sun.

I always like the combination of sycamore and cypress which line up so perfectly as you walk along the road here.

The absence of leaves, lets the lichen on the roadside bushes have its moment in the sun.


I try to keep an eye on fencepost tops on a day like this.

frozen fencepost

When we got to the Auld Stane Bridge, we could see that there was enough running water there to keep the Wauchope mostly free of ice.

frozen wauchope

We turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and I was looking for hair ice because this is a spot where it can often be found.  Unfortunately, a lot of the dead wood that grows the hair ice has been cleared and this small and not very exciting sample was the only bit around.

frost hair

On the other hand, there was any amount of decorative frost to be seen as we went along the track.

frosty leaves

I particularly liked two patterns which had formed on one of the small bridges on the track.  The Y shapes are wire netting which has been put there to improve the traction on the bridge on slippery days.

frost patterns

We were pleased to get out of the shady part of the walk and back into the sunshine…

Meikleholm Hill

…as even the low winter sun (10 days to go to the Winter Solstice!) had a bit of heat about it.

We had to keep our eyes down for quite a lot of the time as there were plenty of icy patches along the track but we made it up to the Stubholm on safety….

frosty bench

…and resisted any temptation to spoil the patterns on the bench there by sitting on it.

As we came down the hill to the park, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine crop of icicles…


…and this curious frozen formation on the track itself.


When we were out of the sun, it was a very blue day, chilly to feel and chilly to look at.

Langholm Church in winter

The benefit was the great number of interesting frosty things see.  This was some moss on the park wall.

frosty moss

And this was the frozen dam behind our house when we got home.

frozen dam

I made some warming potato and carrot soup for lunch and with the co-operation of our bread making machine, a dozen rolls, a couple of which we ate with our neighbour Liz who came round for tea later in the afternoon.  As she left, Mike Tinker arrived so we were well supplied with visitors today and this cheered up the cold late afternoon.

In between times, I looked out of the kitchen window.

I put out an apple and it disappeared into blackbirds in the twinkling of an aye.


This one looks as though he might have most of it.


The strong contrasts in the light and shade makes catching birds in the air tricky at the moment but I liked this dramatic scene.

flying chaffinch

Robins are easier to spot.


As are sitting birds.


My flute pupil Luke came in the evening and we had another go at our new sonata as well as working on the Quantz as well so he will have plenty do if he finds himself with an idle moment at home.  (I need to practise as well.)

Our Monday trio group is not going to meet again until the new year so although I miss the playing, I wasn’t entirely unhappy to have a quiet night in after travelling to Edinburgh and then having two concerts in the last four days.

I am hoping to get a few more cycling days in before the end of the month but the forecast is not optimistic.

The flying bird of the day is a chiaroscuro chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Nottingham where my brother Andrew discovered another bridge which may be a little past its use-by date.

Nottingham bridge

I had a very quiet day today.  If I had had my fairly speedy bike to hand, I would probably  have made better use of some good weather but as the bike was in the bike shop, I managed to persuade myself to fritter the morning away doing some high quality idling.

I went to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and made some good purchases but was very upset to find the cheesemonger wasn’t there this month.  I had been holding back on cheese buying recently just so that I could stock up from his fine selection so I was rather put out.  However, I found out that he has had a recent operation so that is a good enough excuse and I will just have to buy inferior cheese elsewhere.

I didn’t even manage to look out of the kitchen window in a meaningful way when  I got home.   I put the camera up on a tripod and clicked away from time to time but when I came to look at the results, I found that I hadn’t adjusted the focus correctly and I had a small collection of worthlessly fuzzy shots.

I managed to take one siskin in the air by accident (it was nearer than I thought)…


…and one blackbird on the ground on purpose.


I had one quick look round the garden and saw a Hellebore.  Hellebore pictures tend to be a bit of a lottery as I am too old to lie on the ground so I just stick the camera down and point it upwards while hoping for the best.


The rain and frost have not been kind to it but it is surviving

Things perked up a bit after lunch when we went out into the garden again.   It was a really nice day by this time and I cleared the old raspberry canes away while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out some Sweet William.
I was distracted by the noise from the pond…


…where numerous frogs were very busy.  Mostly they dived for cover when they saw me coming but one frog kindly consented to pose for  me.


Mrs Tootlepedal was distracted by the unexpected buzzing of bees and when I went to look, I saw that there were quite a few bees enjoying the crocuses.


We got some early bees last year but subsequent frosty weather set the bee popularization back quite a bit so we hope that these aren’t out and about too early.

The crocuses were looking very cheerful, if a bit battered by recent weather.



I  find gardening, which involves a lot of bending, very hard work so I left Mrs Tootlepedal to her labours and went off on my slow bike to take the road less travelled….

Barngliesh road

…and some pictures as I pottered along.

As long as the sun was out, it was a great day for pedalling and I had been able to discard several layers which made cycling much more pleasant than the recent chilly and windy outings.

I passed cows….



Tomshielburn bridge


…large puddles…

puddle near Raehills

puddle near Raehills

…and a splendid tree of the day.

tree near Raehills

At the start or my trip, I visited my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope as I thought that the light might be quite interesting.  It was quite interesting but it turned out to be possibly a bit too interesting for the camera that I had with me.

Wauchope cascade

Near the end of my ride though, the camera coped very well with another dramatic light situation as the clouds came over.

Clouds over the Kerr

It looked quite threatening but it came to nothing and I got home in dry conditions.

Although my ride was only 14 miles, going on the slow bike and taking my time to look around as I went  made the journey very satisfying.

And that concluded the excitement for the day.  With the sun gone, it got dark quite early and I went back to quality idling and joined Mrs Tootlepedal, who had finished her gardening, in watching the European Indoor Athletics Championships.  We very much enjoyed the sight of Laura Muir scooting round the track to demolish the field in the 1500m.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  I don’t know how it got into focus at all.

flying chaffinch

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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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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Alistair and shows what Attila the Gardener can do when she visits her granddaughter with a pair of shears in her handbag.

Al and Clare's hedge

We had another grey and generally rainy morning today and I was happy to stay inside and prepare a lamb stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir.  What made me even happier was that I was able to use the first onion of the year from the garden and one of the little white turnips in the cooking.

The gloomy weather made me think that an indoor picture might be good insurance in case going out was not going to be suitable for flower shots.

sweet pea in kitchen

The sweet pea was in the kitchen and outside the window, the feeder aerial ballet was relentless…


…and the sparrows and siskins had emptied the feeder before Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from church.

Happily, the rain eased off and I was able to go out.  The packets of dahlia seeds have produced a good variety of shape and colour in their flowers.


Various lilies are doing well in spite of the cool damp weather.


I visited the vegetable garden and admired the flourishing main crop potato plants.


The trouble with potatoes of course is that you never know how good they are, no matter how good they look, until you dig them up.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say.  (Not that we use potatoes in puddings.)

As it stayed dry, I shifted a bit more compost from Bin C into Bin D and might have completed the job if Mrs Tootlepedal, back from church and needing coffee, and a heavy shower of rain hadn’t arrived at the same time.

I went in and prepared the bread maker to make a dozen rolls.

After lunch I had intended to go across to the Castleholm and watch some horse racing there but a persistent drizzle and a severe lack of light for action shots persuaded me that watching another potentially exciting stage of the Tour de France followed (hopefully) by the end of Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon might be a better bet.

This was a good decision.

The cyclists had an interesting day of weather starting with searing heat at 30°C and ending up pedalling up a mountain at 10° in a torrential hailstorm.  They seemed very cheerful afterwards in spite of it all.

Andy Murray won without giving his supporters a heart attack, a very rare event.

After the tennis was over, I looked out of the window and seeing that the rain had stopped, I went off for a short walk.

The Sweet Williams made a gloomy day look very cheerful as I left the house.

Sweet William

There was plenty of water in the Wauchope as I went past the caul at Pool Corner….

Pool Corner

…and plenty to look at as I went round Gaskell’s Walk.

capillaris smooth hawksbeard

If I had paid more attention on our recent wild flower field day, I might know what this is.  There was a lot of it about and I am going to plump for Crepis  capillaris or smooth hawks-beard.  Our lecturer at Maryport told us that he had once given a well attended whole day class purely on ‘little yellow flowers that look like dandelions’ so I don’t feel too bad about not being certain.

As usual, it paid to give the flowers a close look.

insects on flowers

The Umbellifer on the left has a tiny insect on nearly every other flower when you look carefully.  The flower on the right is meadowsweet.

The umbellifer below had more than tiny insects on it.

umbellifer with hoverfly and red soldier beetles

I was pleased to see that there should be plenty more red beetles for me to photograph in the future.

Some things were easier to spot.


And I could even see the Monument today as the clouds lifted.


The weather seemed to be quite good for the moment so I dawdled along taking anything that caught my eye…

stubholm gate

…until I got back down to the Esk at the park.


The wet weather after the warm and sunny month before has ensured that everything is growing at full belt.

I disturbed a family of ducks who paddled off rather crossly…

ducks on Esk

…before getting home just in time to take a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest poppy….


Yes, it is a poppy and not a peony. Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like it much. I had to hold its head up.

…before dashing indoors as another heavy shower of rain arrived.

The weather is set to look up in the week ahead so a couple of quiet days won’t do me any harm as long as I can get out on my bike again soon.

The (wild) flower of the day is a ragwort which I met on my walk.


And the flying bird is one of the seed demolishing siskins in the light drizzle.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was taken by Santa Claus.  She is visiting us at the moment and brought our Christmas presents up with her.  She was so anxious to see our faces when we opened them, that we were given special dispensation to tear off the paper 25 days early.  She wasn’t disappointed with our reaction.


The perfect his and hers gift

It was just as well that we had this generous gift to bring some light into our life because there was precious little in the way of any light at all outside as we ‘enjoyed’ another excessively gloomy and wet morning.

I did look out to see if the rain had stopped from time to time and saw a welcome visitor to the feeder.


We had been promised a warm front and true to the prediction the temperature which was 4 degrees C at breakfast, rose 3 degrees in half an hour at lunchtime and then continued to climb until it was 13 degrees when I went to Carlisle in the evening.

The rain stopped as the temperature went up and I out out some pellets for the jackdaws.


Somehow I don’t think of birds using their tongues to pick up pellets.

There were the usual queues.


For the second day running we got a dry afternoon, although there was no sign of the sun today.  Still, it was very pleasantly warm so we went out for a quick walk round Gaskell’s.

The zero temperature yesterday doesn’t seem to have affected the lichen on the park wall…

park wall lichen

…though the recent strong winds have had an effect nearby.

fallen trees

 We kept a wary eye for more falling trees as we walked up the track to the Stubholm.

There was plenty of water about, coming off the hill…

waterfall at new bridge

…and rushing down the valley below.


I was very surprised to see some fresh fungus poking out from a covering of moss on a log beside the track.  Maybe the moss had protected it form the cold.


Annie (a.k.a Santa) was busy with her camera too and posed Mrs Tootlepedal in the middle of the road for an artistic shot…

Annie snapping

…and luckily avoided being run over by any log lorries while she was doing it.

When we got home, the ladies spotted some fresh fungus on our front lawn.

lawn fungus

The plant world must be baffled by our changeable weather.

Later in the afternoon, our front room filled up with tenors when four of our section in the Langholm Sings choir gathered for a secret and much needed practice.  We have a concert on Friday and we need all the help that we can get.

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan in her car and we had a very enjoyable session of recorder quartets, ending with a rousing version of Alexander’s Ragtime Band….and some excellent chocolate biscuits to go with our post-playing cup of tea.

I spent some time during the day installing Windows 10 on my back up laptop and some more time taking it off again.

The flying bird of the day is a shadowy jackdaw, the best that could be achieved on a very grey day.

flying jackdaw

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Today’s guest picture is from September.   I needed a drop of sunshine to cheer me up so I have picked one from my sister Mary’s portfolio.  It comes from a visit to Budleigh Salterton

Beach sculpture

Once again, the drumming of raindrops on the roof was the accompaniment to our breakfast but as the forecast was for dry weather in the afternoon, with a possible glimpse of the sun, I wasn’t too downhearted.  The arrival of Dropscone for coffee bearing a bag of perfectly formed and good looking drop scones helped matters even more.  He also brought a gift or persimmons, a fruit which I have never encountered before and one which required researching on the internet before eating.

I tried one and it tasted good but I think that they need to ripen a bit more to be at their best.

The rain eased off and the morning light wasn’t too bad so I spent a little time peering out of the kitchen window.

coal tit

A coal tit nearly misjudges a landing

greenfinch and goldfinch

A greenfinch and goldfinch working in pecking unison

I changed the feeder  and this brought a change in visitors.


As the plum tree sheds its leaves, the perching birds offer better photo opportunities.

goldfinch and chaffinch

An excellent crossword cheered me up even more and after lunch, a quick check on the weather forecast, which showed a mere 10% chance of rain and a spot of sunshine at four o’clock, sent me out on the slow bike, ready for a leisurely photographic pedal.  Mrs Tootlepedal preferred to use the bicycle to nowhere indoors.

I was quietly confident.  There had even been a half moment of brightness and the rain had stopped.  Everything was set fair.

That there had been a lot of wind and rain though was not in doubt as there were few leaves in sight and plenty of water flowing over the caul at Pool Corner…

Pool Corner

…but the larches on the bank above the river had survived the wind and rain and were looking colourful…


…and a 10% chance of rain seemed fair odds for a cyclist.

I lost. Within minutes of getting going, the other 90% had disappeared and the rain managed the whole 100%.  It continued.

The wind got up.

The rain got heavier.

I got fed up.

I went home.

I stopped for two watery pictures.

cascade beside Wauchope raod

A mini cascade coming off the hill and under the road…

Wauchope cascade

…where it joined the Wauchope near my favourite spot.  My phone did a good job in low light.

When I got home after a feeble five miles, Mrs Tootlepedal was pedalling gently away while watching a forecast that promised a new and bigger storm for tomorrow night.  What fun.

I retired and practised some singing.

In the evening, we went to our Langholm Sings choir meeting where some of the practice paid off but some evidently required a bit more work.  It is a really good feeling though when all the parts came together.  Choral singing is good for the soul.

The choir committee have had to change the original date of one of our Christmas concerts and we are now engaged in a sort of musical chairs to find a new date which suits everyone.  As soon as a date is suggested, three hands go up to signal unavailability and as soon as another date is suggested, three different hands go up….and so on ad infinitum.  It is quite frustrating.

Rather annoying, the stars were out when we went to the choir.  Fine weather is no good when it is dark.  Mrs Tootlepedal still has some bulbs left to plant for next year and we are beginning to wonder if she will ever get them into the ground.

Still, I did mange to find a flying bird in a rain free moment this morning.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony and shows the welcoming committee gathering as they hear him coming home.

Tony's dogsAlthough the temperature had risen considerably when we got up this morning, the weather had not improved in any other respect and it was wet and windy and grey and horrible.

To my amazement, there were still bees on the sedum….

soggy bee…but they were looking bedraggled to say the least.

I spent some time putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and some time idling around doing nothing more serious than the crossword and drinking coffee.  By midday, the rain had stopped so I put out some of the tempting pellets on the lawn feeder.  They soon created some interest.

jackdawThe pink ones are the prize….

jackdaw…for both jackdaws and starlings.

starling and jackdawBut when all the pink ones have gone, they eat the less attractive ones as well.

The old feeder was well attended too…

chaffinches….but the siskins have found a better source of food at the moment so the chief visitors are chaffinches and sparrows.  There are occasional goldfinches and some great, blue and coal tits flit in and out on a regular basis but not in great numbers.

The garden had taken a battering from the rain and the poppies were either not to be seen at all or hanging their heads sadly.  The fuchsia seems more waterproof.

fuchsia and poppyThe tropaeolum is still in flower but it looked rather sad too today.

nasturtiumWhen the rain stopped, more bees appeared but they looked the worse for wear.

bees on sedumI was amazed that they can fly at all when they are in this state.

It was warm though and wherever I looked, there seemed to be plenty of insects about.

dahlia with insectsAfter lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went to Longtown to get her new glasses to go with her new eye.  She kindly took my speedy bike down to the bike shop on her way.  It should be ready by tomorrow afternoon.  I am considering a new saddle and seat post saddlebag so I hope to get that sorted too.

While she was gone, I got out the slow bike.  The forecast was for a big drop in windspeed and some sunshine in the afternoon so in spite of some gloomy looking grey clouds, I set off to do a modest twenty miles at slow bike pace.

When I started, the roads were very wet still and the Wauchope was carrying a lot of water along its course…

Wauchope cascade…but the forecast turned out to be quite correct and as I pedalled along, the wind dropped away to almost nothing and the sun made an appearance.

Between the watersThe slow bike is hard work going up hills so I was happy to stop and take a picture of one of my favourite views as I went back over Callister on my way home.

View towards WinterhopeI stopped for a last time just as I got back to Pool Corner when I very colourful bunch of rosebay willowherb caught my eye.

willowherbWhile I was pedalling along, I got a text from Susan to say that she was unable to come to recorders as she was suffering from a bad cold.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in her role as Attila the Gardener when I got back to the house.

Attila the gardenerShe was clearing things out and putting things in so I sieved some compost for her and that went in too.

She had collected some bracken after getting her new glasses and she had laid this on a couple of the vegetable beds.

brackenThe bracken works as a mulch to stop the exposed soil getting battered by the winter rains and it has the benefit of being absolutely free of charge.

Near the bracken covered bed, the Golden Syllabub rose is having a late but somewhat soggy burst of blooms.

Golden SyllabubI noticed that chives have flowered again and that they too had friends.

chivesIt would be interesting to know how far the very wet bees have come to get to the garden today.  Perhaps they have a nest close by.  Does any knowledgeable reader know how far a wet bumble might travel from its base?

I chased what I think is a moth round the garden as it flitted from flower to flower but these were my best two efforts to catch it.

mothI looked on the internet to try to find out what it is but couldn’t pin it down so if any moth fancier can help me with an ID, I would be very grateful.

After giving some thought as to whether I was going to drive to the recorder group by myself in the absence of Susan, my usual chauffeuse, I decided to go and I am glad that I did as the four of us who came had an excellent evening of playing.  While we were waiting for the fourth player to arrive, we played two movements of a trio by Hindemith.  It was written for a music day at Ploner and those who only have a slight acquaintance with the music of Hindemith might be surprised to hear that is both not too difficult to play and quite tuneful and easy to listen to. (Though we didn’t play it quite as briskly as this.)

The flying bird of the day, taken after the weather had improved, was one of the many chaffinches.


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