28 July 2016

Ladies Day Inspiration for Vintage Lovers (and event ticket giveaway!)

Ladies days at the races are often seen as the fashion event of the season. Women take the opportunity to really go all out on the glam front and dress to impress. Personally, I have never attended a race day or anything like it, but that’s all about to change when I attend the Newbury Ladies Day on the 13th of August.  Not only will this be my first ever experience of watching any form of racing, but it’s the first time I’ve ever been at any event with this sort of expectation of dress (other than weddings, which I have only attended 2 of as an adult can you believe it).  Not only are there the races but I am also kindly being supplied with an afternoon tea (yum) and Will Young is performing after the event in the evening, it's sounds like it's going to be a fun day!

Now, my day comes with a particular hardship in terms of dress choice as I am spending the morning doing a tour of the tunnels of Clapham Common underground station (yes, seriously) so I can’t wear heels and given the nature of the tour it probably isn’t a good idea for me to wear anything too smart or fitted.  However, I also don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to really glam up.  My current vague plan involves a quick change in a toilet somewhere, as I don’t want to have to be too practical!

Anyway enough of my concerns, when it comes to these occasions I think it’s easy sometimes to choose something because it looks right for the event, but lose out on reflecting your personal taste. To me this seems a shame, as you want to wear something that you love and will wear again.  With this in mind here are some favourites of mine that will shine at the event and still staying true to my love of vintage and pin up styles.  I narrowed it down to just 6:
This first April green dress is from Lindy Bop and is currently in the sale is a total steal at £13!  I think this is a great colour for summer and you know I love this pale greens.  The lace mean it's a great day to night dress, and the sweetheart neckline calls out to my soul while the looser bottom really helps to balance out those pear shapes like myself!
Next up is yet another gem from the Lindy Bop sale, this Maybelle twin set does have a grown up, formal look but I think the colour makes it seem playful enough for a day at the races.  It reminds me so much of Jackie Kennedy.
Last up for the top row we have the Dolores Paradise Hawaiian Pencil Dress by Collectif.  You might recognise this dress as it's one of Collectif's classic style, produced in lots of different prints and colours.  This print is perfect for the summer/spring time and it's vintage inspired without seeming too over the top if that's what you like, I think this is possibly the most versatile of the bunch.

On to row two.  I honestly tried to not include a nautical number but I.Just.Could.Not.Help.Myself. This one is a Vivien of Holloway Sarong Anchors Aweigh, it combines two of my dream items, a VOH sarong dress and nautical theming, hello sailor! (sorry not sorry).  Honestly I think this is my dream dress, but the price also reflects that at £120.  One day beautiful dress, one day...
Interestingly these last two dresses seem to be budget versions of the original VOH sarong dress, and they seem pretty decent for budget versions.  This middle dress is by Hell Bunny (you can buy direct from this website now, now exciting!) and this Bamboo pencil dress is pretty similar in terms of shape.  Again, the light colours of this dress would be great for this summer event and it adds a tropical feel that won't be out of place if the weather feels like being all British about it!
Let's finish off with another piece of Collectif.  This Mahina Tahiti Palm Print Sarong Dress is the cheapest of these bottom three (surprising as I always considered Hell Bunny to be the most budget friendly but it seems like they are going a different way at the moment) and the print is so cute.   Again it's tropical and has a summer feel but the design feels unique and could easily be drawn towards the tiki style with a bit of bamboo jewellery.

If you two want to attend the Newbury Races day then you are in luck, as I not only have two tickets to give away for you and a friend, but there is a £30 John Lewis voucher too so you can grab your own dream dress!  To enter simply enter the Rafflecopter below, but to be sure you qualify please read the following rules:

This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18+ only and your email address will be used for promotional purposes by the Company in question but will never be used by external third parties.

If you don't win, fear not, simply use the code FUN16 for £5 every ticket! 
Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*My tickets and the giveaway have all been provided by Newbury Race Course, all words and opinions my own.

26 July 2016

Flying Tiger Flamingo (mostly) Haul

Tiger is one my favourite London finds.  Not that they are exclusive to London mind, but that's where I first across them.  Walking past the windows filled with colourful homeware, I had assumed it was a shop similar to the kind there used to be in Lincoln, filled with overpriced designer products.  That was until my sister shared with me a few bits she got to decorate her uni room with from Tiger that cost no more than a couple of pounds.  Now on my daily walk past on my way to work I struggle not to pop in, and my house is now filled with Tiger homeware, craft supplies, and electronics.

Recently Tiger ticked all my boxes by releasing an oh so colourful and cute flamingo range (Hello perfect 50's aesthetic!)  Needless to say that I picked up some stuff.  Not all I will add, I was pretty restrained, but enough for my boyfriend to exclaim in mild horror at our flat now being filled with pink birds....

The first thing that drew me into the shop was this flamingo cushion, shining out to me like a glorious pastel beacon!  It was only around £4 (sorry I'm terrible at remembering prices, but this should give you an idea on the pricings generally, I think everything was under £5!)  and is currently taking up residence on my sofa.  All the art work I own is still at my mums, so this print was just a cheap and cheerful way to add a bit of colour and fun into my living room.  The cardboard for crafts booklet I actually got to use as a background for Instagram/blog photos, this is the second one of these I've got for this purpose, the last one has more of a polka-dots and stripes theme.
Moving on to glassware I picked up this large glass water bottle and matching glasses, which go along with the full set Harry's mum just kindly got me from Ikea.  The flamingo cocktail sticks are the perfect addition for finishing off the drinks!
More stuff for the kitchen.  I picked up two bowls and egg cups in the same flamingo print.  I actually wish I'd picked up more now so I'd have a full set, Tiger stuff changes over pretty fast so when you see something you want you need to act fast! (I am still morning several items I lost in this way).
I am heading to America twice before the end of this year, first to Florida for some DisneyWorld and Universal fun, and later to New York.  I picked up this luggage strap and tag so I can spot my bag from afar on those annoying carousels and announce to an international audience "Hey, I like flamingos, ok!"
I didn't just pick up Flamingo bits of course, I got this pastel cushion to complement my flamingo one, some not-so-glam travel clotheslines because we have nowhere to hang anything at the moment, and this super cute mini picket fence, currently being used to hold herbs on the windowsill.

Have you caught the flamingo bug?
p.s Sorry for the lighting being a bit odd in this one!  These pics were the first taken in my new flat and I'm still getting used to it!

21 July 2016

Beauty Bloggers Secrets Party: Cologne

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a trip to Cologne to attend the Beauty Bloggers Secrets party.  I won it through Mary from Strikeapose, who was one of four bloggers who were invited by Essence to design a makeup pallet, and this month it made it into the permanent collection!
We arrived early in the morning and were whisked off to the hotel in the centre of the city.  The hotel was the gorgeous Artotel Cologne by Park Plaza Cologne close to the city centre with amazing reviews over the river.  We had arrived a few hours early so myself and my travel partner Lissa decided to check out the local area.  We had a great walk along the river bank and stumbled across a delicious food market where we had lunch before heading back to get changed for the first part of the party.
We were greeted at reception with some very refreshing smoothies before heading to the function room, where each of the four bloggers had their tables set up.  We were then invited to sit with each blogger in turn while they explained their palettes to us and we got our own set to take home!  I am so happy to report that the four bloggers were so down to earth and friendly, they certainly deserve all their success!  I loved hearing how and why they chose to design their individual pallets and the nail polishes they chose to go with them.  We got a full set of them, and the most gorgeous pastel makeup brushes to take home.  Soon it was time to get changed for the evening entertainment.
After a refresh we headed down to the patio for a BBQ.  There was so much food and gorgeous alcohol-free cocktails, all topped off with an ice cream bar that I got very excited about!  By the time we were done it was time to move on to the second part of the night, where we were greeted with a table full of Essence makeup.  We were then given our own empty palette and allowed to go wild choosing which products to fill it.  I went straight for the highlighters and creme blushes before finishing up with some eyeshadows, I'm quite impressed with how mine turned out.  We were also given lots of glitter and gems to decorate them with.  I stuck with the simple idea of doing my initials, I'm not the most artistic person.
Soon it was time for the party.  We had been told nothing other than that we should wear white or neon (more on my outfit in a later post), we had suspected that maybe there was a UV theme and we were correct.  A UV disco complete with neon makeup, sweets and a photo booth.  We danced the night away and had a good chat and a laugh before the night was through.

It was a long day, and a lot of fun, made even better by the amazing bloggers I'm lucky enough to call friends that I shared it with.  I stayed an extra night to see more of Cologne, so stay tuned for more of my weekend in this German city, coming soon!

19 July 2016

Theatre: Stalking the Bogeymen

Docudramas seem to be on the up and up recently, and when it comes to theatre their popularity is only growing.  So what is this latest production bringing to the scene?

Stalking the Bogeyman is the latest retelling of a devastating personal story that has taken many forms before this incarnation.  First as a written article in print, then it burst into the wider public consciousness when it appeared on This American Life, one of the world’s most popular Podcasts a few years later.  From there is was re-written for the theatre, with a few US productions before touching down in London for it’s first UK run this week.

The story isn’t for the faint-hearted, it presents David, a man in his twenties, as he plots the murder of the man who raped him, brutally, at the age of just seven.  He assures us that this was no fantasy ‘what if’, this was a plot that was just days away from conclusion when fate intervened.

The Southwark Playhouse’s performance space is a great set up for this performance.  The intimate, thrust-stage stops the audience from distancing themselves from the unfolding drama that happens around them.  This black box was transformed in simple, almost slightly surreal means into a teenager's bedroom in the late 70’s, and you feel as though you are in a sacred, intimate setting, peering in at what is to come.

This isn't any straight tragedy, there is dark humour used throughout.  These moments of light only serve to highlight the darkness and the seriousness of the situation.  The characters in this production aren’t all monsters and hero’s, they are ordinary, all-American boys, with white picket fence families, which just makes it all the more scary.  Anyone can do evil deeds, and that is what happened one night when 7-year-old David was raped by his 14-year-old friend and neighbour Nathan while their parents socialised within the same house.

Mike Evans performs fantastically in the role of Nathan, bringing this complex personality to life.  He combines a child-like-innocence, with a lack of empathy and inability to control his anger that makes him unstable and therefore terrifying.  Evans use of power play here is really significant, and directed excellently.  At times Nathan shows regret and sincerity in such a way that makes you question if it was all a mistake, maybe he didn’t mean it? But in reality we know it was unlikely this could ever be the case.  It does however leave the question with the audience.  Psychopath?  Or a confused, power-mad adolescent?  Does it even matter?  

Likewise Gerard Mccarthy's performance as David shows raw emotion in a way that almost seems effortless.   However this sometimes results in a lack of dramatic tension.  He portrays David in adult life to be drawn to the darker, more risky aspects of human life, without it become despairing or melodramatic.  

From a technical standpoint, both the lighting and sound design here were subtle, but effective.  The sound in particular stuck out as a really strong asset to this performance and although there is nothing ground breaking being shown here, it is a clever technical design.  

This play is beautiful, powerful, and emotional.  Although it is lacking in some parts, it is an important piece of theatre.  Stalking the Bogeyman is on until the 6th of August 2016 at the Southwark Playhouse.  I was invited to review this performance by the people at London Theatre Bloggers.

16 July 2016

Fashion: Pin Up Picnic in the Park/Bar

A couple of weekends ago I attended an event I had been looking forward to all year: the Pin-up Picnic in the Park hosted by The British Bells.  There was a slight change this year due to the weather, so instead of Hyde Park they managed to secure a last minute space in the Kanaloa Tiki bar, a very fitting location!

I managed to create an appropriate summer outfit without buying anything new which is a pretty big achievement given the temptations of such events.  Of course after getting back from the event, both my shopping list and desire to practice vintage hair has been stronger then ever! All the ladies there looked stunning.

Outfit details
Hair scarf- Juggling Scarves, eBay, similar here.
Cardigan- Collectif, last season
Top- Vixen Vendetta top by Doll Me Up Darling
Belt- old
Skirt- Hold Tight by Banned Clothing
Petticoat- Amazon seller
Shoes- Tesco
Broach- Luxulite, similar here.

The star of this outfit is this skirt by Banned, I am absolutely in love with it.  It’s light and comfortable, a great shape and it has pockets.  The print….Oh this print!  It’s perfect, absolutely gorgeous!  Two other designs are available: red with a vinyl pattern and an orange tropical variety - and I am tempted to pick both up.  The only downside with this is that the material is really lightweight, meaning that it creases very easily and we don't have an iron at the moment.  

This top from Doll Me Up Darling is striking and I’d wear it much more if I had a better strapless bra to wear it with.  The material is really comfortable and I love the style.

Accessories are normally my downfall but I at least tried here. My attempt at vintage hair failed as usual, and I ended up looking a bit more 80s prom queen then vintage beauty, but at least tried.  The hair scarf is one of my favourite vintage style hacks.  Rather than buying actual expensive hair scarves, I bought a pack of juggling scarves.  They are almost exactly the same and they are the perfect size.  I got the shoes from Tesco the week after seeing them on Miss Amy May's’s blog and they are a pretty good dupe for Swedish Hasbeens, I might have to go and get them in black too.  I finished it off with this cherry broach from Luxulite which was a gift from my other half's mother.  I added this to my Collectif cardigan which is now my absolute favourite, the cut is so flattering.  I really, really wish I'd managed to get it in white before it went out of stock.
This has really encouraged me to delve deeper into my vintage wardrobe and try and make more effort, especially with my hair.  All the girls looked so wonderful and I’m looking forward to my next meet.  This picture was with a bunch of vintage loving girls called the Marvelettes that I joined on Facebook and finally got to meet - everyone was so friendly.  We make quite the rainbow don't you think?

What do you think to this summery outfit?
Bonus modern pin up shot...


14 July 2016

Theatre: The Masks of Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn might not be an obvious choice of subject in a festival of Women at War, yet this production explains exactly why she should be included.

The name Aphra Behn might be most recognisable to you as one of the first female playwrights of the English stage during the restoration period.  I just so happen to be a bit of a restoration history nerd (my dissertation was on theatrical representations of the Earl of Rochester) so I knew this would appeal to me.  However I wasn't aware of Aphra's pre-theatrical past in the secret service.

When playing in a fringe theatre there is often nothing to hide behind, without the elaborate set and costume you’ve got to really nail your performance and let it exist on its own merit.  Thankfully, this show manages to do just that.  The dialogue throughout is written almost poetically in keeping with the time.  This also allows the fantastic, notorious wit of Behn to shine through.  It's this attribute which contributed heavily to the success of her play writing, even if it was through the guise of a male writer.

The actress Claire Louise Amias delivery was strong throughout, and could easily move from heartbreak to humour seamlessly.  She manages to make you forget that this hour long performance is actually a monologue, as she switches between characters in conversation.  There was some stumbling through speech in parts but nothing that couldn’t be ironed out in time.  A strong script and a strong performance.  

The Masks of Alpha Behn is on until the 31st of July as part of the Women and War festival.  I was kindly invited to review this performance by Theatre Bloggers.

13 July 2016

Giveaway: Hamper courtesy of Cooking Fever

You possibly know by now that I am a gamer, I love my PlayStation and Xbox and can lose myself for days in Fallout.  What you probably don't know is that when it comes to casual gaming, I get completely absorbed in time management games!

Time management games are often based around a job where the aim is to reach a certain amount of points within a time frame.  I find these crazy addicting and have loved them since way back in the day when I used to go on websites like freegames to get my fix.  Since then games like Farmville have transformed this genre into a long form, often heavily based around microtransactions.  However there are a few of these traditional games still going, with games like Cook, Serve, Delicious and Papers, Please proving the genre is still successful.

One such game that hasn't been given enough attention is Cooking Fever.  They contacted me to ask if I wanted to work on a giveaway with them and I couldn't say no because I've actually been playing this game on my iPad for over a year!  It's one of the few games that I don't have to wait for lives and where the microtransactions are optional, not necessary!  The aim of the game is to buy and complete each restaurant with 3 stars on every level to maximise your experience (XP) level. This will help you progress through the game and open more exciting restaurants.  Customers will ask for a specific dish or drink. Your goal is to serve this to them as quickly as possible to maximise your tips and customer satisfaction.  Honestly it is so much fun and very addictive, you can download it and get started here.!
Recently they have opened the Barcelona FC Sports Bar as the latest addition to the game, with plenty of famous football stars waiting to be served.  To celebrate the guys at Cooking Fever are kindly letting me share a little something with my own readers in the form of this tasty looking hamper of chocolate!  This beautiful chocolate hamper contains a mix of well-known and boutique chocolate treats. Dip into cappuccino chocolate sticks, or enjoy the white chocolate cookies, Swiss truffles, caramels, chocolate gingers and the unique chocolate stones.This is available for UK entries only, to enter, please fill in the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

6 July 2016

Uncle Monte's: Home of the Monte Cristo Sandwich

This week our American cousins have been celebrating the 4th of July, and who says just because they are celebrating independence from erm, us, that we can't join in?  One thing America is famous for is its food, and between the BBQ revolution, to the handmade burger trends to the current hot dog fads, American style foods are bigger than ever over here in the UK.

You might ask yourself, what is there left to bring over?  Well Pond in Dalston thinks it might have the answer, with its new Summer residency Uncle Monte's.  They are bringing with them something new to London, the famous Monte Cristo sandwich, and some of its relatives.  The Monte Cristo is a sandwich filled with meat and cheese then fried with jam added to the top.  Now does that sound like an American treat or what?  It is the best seller at Disneyland no less, so it was time to find out what the secret was!  
So getting started clockwise from left here's what we sampled:

The Count of Monte Cristo £9
This is the headliner, Ham, Turkey, Swiss and American cheese, mustard, mayo and strawberry jam.  It shouldn't work, it's a whole mix of savoury and sweet, and it's fried on top of that, yet somehow it does.  It's pretty heavy going, but I can see why this is a classic.

Monte of Alamein £7
The vegetarian option is this lasagne addition with smoked tomato jam.  I think this was the most controversial, and definitely seemed to split opinions.  

Monte Zuma's Revenge £8
Third fried sandwich was filled with pulled pork, kimchi, pickled onions, jalapenos and jalapeno chive jam.  This was my favourite, the meat was tender and it had a flavourful kick which played to my spicy loving side, delicious.

Montgomery Burns £10
This is a sandwich but instead of bread there are waffles and it's filled with ham, brie and apple and onion jam.  I wouldn't normally think of ham and cheese as a dessert but this was definitely a sweet option, the waffles were very light. 

Viva Monte Vegas £11
This final sandwich reminded me of a true American star, Elvis Presley.  This includes so many of his favourites, banana, peanut butter, bacon, cheddar and American cheese and finished off with strawberry jam.  

With sides including fried pickles and poutine you are never going to leave here feeling slim, but you will be satisfied.  Do you think you would step out of your comfort zone and try these American snacks? 
*I was paid to review this restaurant, all opinions and words are honest and my own.

4 July 2016

Moments: June 2016

Confession time guys, I have been really bad at keeping track of what I’ve been doing this month, so I might have missed stuff out. I blame Pride in London for turning my brain and body to mush, but more on that later. Here’s my month!

I’ve Visited
Harry Potter locations- 
When Hayley came to visit we went on a muggle tour and it was so much fun spotting the locations and inspirations beyond so many key moments in the books and films.
Cadbury’s World- 
When I went to Birmingham to visit Hayley for a bloggers city swap we headed straight here, the whole town smells of chocolate!
Birmingham Sealife Centre- 
Obviously the Penguins were my favourite, I could watch them all day.

I’ve read
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness- 
I asked Harry to pick my next book from my unread shelf and this is what he chose. To be honest, I’d been avoiding it as all the books in this series are pretty long and I didn’t love the first. This is much better and although it’s not a favourite it was enjoyable, albeit pretty bleak.
A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemmingway- 
From one depressing novel to a famously depressing author - and another book I’d been avoiding as I expected it to be full of flowery language, actually it was the opposite. I enjoyed it and I love his writing style, although I don’t love reading about the military so those parts dragged a little for me.

I’ve seen
So many celebs- 
I’ve always joked that I walk around with my eyes closed so I never normally spot celebrities at all, however this month I saw Morgan Freeman walking towards me outside the tube station, Julian Cary behind me in a queue for the theatre, Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn in Soho, and Philip Sallon was in my section at Pride.
Mae Martian- 
I feel a little bit (a lot) in love with Mae Martian when I saw her doing stand up at the end of Russell Howard's Good News. I drunkenly bought myself a ticket and it might have been one of my best drunken purchases ever, she’s just so good. Thank you drunk me!
A fun family show. It didn’t bowl me over but it was light-hearted fun, and great if you have little ones.
Minefield at The Royal Court Theatre- 
An amazing, heartfelt, powerful piece. Find me full review here.
Stella at Hoxton Hall- 
An interesting story but this missed the mark for me . Check out my full review here.
Virgin Extravaganza- 
You might recall I saw her perform last month but this time it was a solo show at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. She is just too, too good!
Whose line is it Anyway Live- 
In the Yelp event to end all Yelp events not only did we get to see this, but as an added surprise we got to meet the cast afterwards. Yes I stood on stage at the London Palladium and met the gang including Colin Mochrie and some guy from Nashville who my friends were very excited about…
Superficial at The Glory- 
This was my first fringe theatre experience since moving to London and it was so much fun. It wasn’t perfect, and some of the cast were definitely better than others but I came away laughing and feeling great and sometimes, that’s all you need.
1984 at Southwark Playhouse- 
A play based on one of my favourite books but unfortunately I came away disappointed. My restricted view seats meant I missed a lot of the action (I always get the restricted view seats but this is the first time it has had a big effect) and the play was a bit muddled and confused. It lacked power and came away a bit dull, I think this performance could have done with a serious injection of imagination.
The vigil for the victims of the Orland Shooting In Soho- 
There are a lot of really awful things happening around the world at the moment and I’ve tried not to go on about them here as it doesn’t feel like the place for it. What I will say is that this vigil, arranged in less than 24 hours, was so touching and full of hope. It was silence and song and emotion and power.

I’ve been up to
Organising thousands of people for Pride in London- 
This is what took up almost all of my time this month. I actually cancelled almost everything else I had on in the later half of the month so I would have more time to devote to it properly. I was a Section Supervisor for Pride in London this year, which basically meant I had my own section of the parade to organise. Trust me, it’s hard work and very stressful. My section had 50 groups, thousands of people and 8 floats, and so on the run up to Pride there was a lot, and I mean a lot, of meetings and emailing going on, this is basically all I did for two weeks. The day came and the real stress hit, but boy was it worth it! This is probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced so I’m pretty proud of myself. This year Pride in London had over 40,000 people marching and over one million people watching on route, crazy huh? Every person who works for Pride is a volunteer, you can find out more about why I think you should volunteer here. It’s never too early to sign up for next year!
Running for 3 minutes- 
I know this might not seem like much but trust me, for me this is an achievement! I’ve been using the Couch to 5k podcast and I have to say along with running with Harry it really works! As of writing this however I haven’t run for 3 weeks as Pride took up all my time and energy so hopefully I can pick up where I left off.
Showing off my Vintage Carboot Sale Haul-
I got some real bargains.
Listening to new bands- 
I miss the days when I used to spend my weekends browsing the metal section of HMV and picking up any album I liked the look of. With Spotify it should be easier than ever but I really do limit myself. I’ve been listening to a few new-to-me bands this month including The Hell, Creeper and Moose Blood. Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things.

I’ve eaten

Five Guys- 
The perfect treat after the theatre, it’s the second time I’ve had it and although it’s over-priced for what it is, I still enjoyed it.
We wanted to go somewhere local and we went to a chain because we are chickens. I’ll put a stop to this but I had my first corn dog and it was really good!

Yelp Scandinavian inspired meal with EatAbout-
Now this was something really unique, with Yelp we headed out to a chef's house and he cooked for us. It's like having your own personal restaurant and my fears about the awkwardness of being in a strangers house were totally wrong, in fact it was the opposite. It was so relaxed and the chefs could talk through the stories behind each course. One of the best meals I've had in a long time!
Handmade Burger Company-
I checked this out in Birmingham and it was the first time I'd been to one in a while. I had a burger that had Yorkshire puddings instead of bread buns and it actually worked pretty well.
Meat Liquor-
Yet again, still the greatest chicken wings I've found in London.
Yo Sushi-
Again when in Birmingham, I passed on the fish items and stuck to chicken and rice for a tasty meal.

What was your favourite thing you got up to last month?
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