Saturday, 23 January 2010

and Today we Sew

I had a brilliant time with Wendy yesterday afternoon; she taught me a knew way to cast on and made me feel much more confident about the sock knitting.  I am making great strides with my first pair and will start on the baby pairs for my expectant friends next week.

Today, however, we sew.  When I was in London this week I nipped into The Cloth House on Berwick street and picked up some beautiful blue paisley which I am making into a Tootle style scarf for Mr PCB.  The scarf itself shouldn't take to long but the tassels may be a different matter as I have never made them before.  Will post pictures later.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Today we Knit

I'm in a really good mood today.  Maybe it's because it's Friday, maybe it's because I worked yesterday and used my brain, maybe it's because I am in bed with my lap top and slept really really well.

I have worked this morning, had a pre-interview telephone conversation and had some virtual love from my twitter friends and am now looking forward to this afternoon.

Last year I started knitting again after many years off and find it very relaxing and rewarding - however so far I have only managed scarves and fingerless glove type wrist warmers.  I have a couple of friends who are having babies this year and whilst I am planning to sew some kimono style booties I also wanted to knit some socks.  I tootled off to John Lewis and bought the necessary 4 double ended needles and a pattern book and started.....but oh dear it's actually quite hard to get the stitches on the three needs and to start the knitting off.  After a few hours of trying I decided to call in the experts to help;  I sent a message of mercy to my friend Wendy on facebook and she sent me back some great instructions and advised me that it isn't just me, it is quite tricky, but that once you get it they make perfect presents and can be great (she even sent me a link for some great free patterns at Knitty).

But even better than that she offered to meet me today at a cafe in Ilkley and show me - so I get an afternoon out (possibly a bit of cake) and a lesson and to meet a friend I haven't seen for a while. Bonus.

This is where I am going this afternoon Create Cafe and Wendy has said that they ladies there are so helpful that if they are around they will probably give me some tips too.  Huzzah.

Friends, you of course know that this means.  Yup that's right - socks for gifts this year to go with the PJs I made you last year.

Update - here's one of the many I have made (and am making):

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I know I said I wasn't going to shop but........

I was in London today and had a few hours to kills and some errands to run for The Boy and stopped into Cath Kidston - just to have a look at the new colour ways and the dress that I had wanted to buy in the autumn was there in the sale.  They only had it in a 14 and I thought that it wouldn't fit as only last year I was squeezing unsuccessfully into a size 16 from there but I had a look at it and thought that I would give it a go.

It was reduced from £95 to £40 and you know what it only bloomin' fit - so it was bargain and a size 14.  I am away from home and have no hangers in the room here at my brothers, here are some not very good photo's with my iPhone - will upload some better ones at a later date.

It's navy with a pale small spot an contrasting floral material at the v neck and cuffs.

There is also a floral layer at the neck at the back but it's a good v shape which suits me.

You can see the colour here and the detail at the cuff.

Some great things in store for Spring 10 - free delivery on orders over £100 on line  they have stores and concessions dotted around the country as well as a fab outlet store at Bicester Village.

City is Life - the rest is mere detail

Or so says The Boy.

Last night was the first leg of the Carling Cup Semi Final against Man United.  It should have happened earlier in the month but was postponed due to the weather.

It was a strange day, I took The Boy to Doncaster station early doors as he was in London for the day then went home and back to bed.  Unfortunately my series of '10 minutes more' turned into four hours later and I eventually got out of bed at 12 noon - not ideal as I had a list as long as my arm but I must have needed the sleep.

So I drove over to Manchester all tense and excited - thermals and thick socks on ready for a nail biting few hours at the City of Manchester Stadium hoping that this year might just be City's year.  I  met The Boy from his train and we nipped into Kro, Piccadilly for a bite to eat but he was even more jumpy that I was and really keen to get to the ground.  We got to COMS about twenty minutes before kick off and the atmosphere was electric.  Both teams were out warming up and the City fans over by the away team were in fine voice.  As expected (by City fans at least) Ferguson had not put out 'the kids' but had named a pretty much first team and strong side - he would love to say that we don't matter but I think his actions show that these noisy neighbours are getting under his skin.

With Adebyor out for the forseable future after the terrible events at the African Cup of Nations and Santa Cruz injured (again) we started with what has to be the shortest attack in the premiership - Tevez, Bellamy and Wright-Phillips (with Tevez arguably the tallest of the three at 5ft 8").  However what this gave City was pace and width.  Mancini made efforts to sure up the midfield by partnering the mighty and solid De Jong with Zabeleta and Barry.  A makeshift back four of Richards, Boyata, Kompany and Garrido made up the 10 men holding out hopes in their hands in front of the continually impressive Shay Given.

As everyone made their way to their seats the noise grew and grew - 40 thousand singing Blue Moon as City dipped the lights, the United fans responded with Flares which we all knew they were going to - if we (the fans) knew then surely the club knew and should have searched for them?  The 1969/1970 team came on to the pitch before the match - whilst this was not the last team to win anything of note with City (oh no that was a whole 6 years later - but still 34 years ago) it was a reminder that success has been a long time coming.

The first 25 minutes were nervy as City failed to settle or get hold of the ball, United brought wave after wave of attack - particularly down the left through Giggs and past the not yet back to full form Richards. Their endeavors were rewarded by a Giggs tap in on 17 minutes.  Disappointing for City to concede in those circumstances when United only had 2 men in the box and City had 5 - but hey this is City we never make it easy.  The Goal did, however, galvanise the City team and we started to get more control and time on the ball and surge forward.  Tevez and Bellamy both cause the United right back difficult with their pace and when Bellamy slipped past him again he tugged on his shirt and Mike Dean (not a referee I have a lot of time for tbh) awarded a penalty.  Serendipity it was - Tevez jumped on the spot, stepped up and fired past Van der Sar (who I still rate as a goalkeeper - just a shame he had to leave Fulham and join the rags).  This was about 4 minutes before half time and the crowd were buzzing again.

After the break City came back out and kept up the pace - it was a much more even competition now but we still sat a little deep on a 1-1 draw at home for my liking.  The second goal came around the 60th minutes with Tevez scoring again after a cleared (ish) corner was put back in the box by Kompany.  Everyone was jumping and singing - City are after all the underdogs and this was not the expected result even after the 4-3 defeat to United in September at Old Trafford (ah the joys of Fergie-time).

City were then subjected to wave after wave of attack from United, excelent saves from Given and Onuoha (who came on for Boyata) and great tackling from De Jong kept City in the game.  Tevez was substituted for the inept Benjarni after running himself ragged - Benjani was ineffective and how he can seriously be after a new contract I do not know, he make Fat Rob (or even Fat Bobby Taylor) look quick.  His movement both on and off the ball is seriously lacking and his commitment to chase balls or get stuck in to tackles is completely absent.

At 90 minutes referee Dean added on another 5 (I had thought 3 or 4 but should expect 5 with United really) and all around bit their nails and prayed for the defence to hold and the final whistle to come.  When it did the relief was palpable.  We knew that on paper and recent form we were good enough to beat them at home but as with most derby games - form means nothing.

A great result for City and a deserving win - we will go to Salford next Wednesday with the confidence of knowing that we gave them a game and a half last time were we there and have only improved since then.

It was easy to get up at 5.30am this morning to come to fancy London, and it's good to be  City fan today.

Am in London for two days for an interview and Work and seeing my Brothers new flat this evening (and exchanging Christmas presents).  Fingers crossed for me at 12 noon today please as I could really do with getting a job!

Last night for a few hours City was life - and the rest truly was mere detail.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Bloggers for Haiti

I have copied this (with kind permission) directly from Thatgirl39s blog Forty Not Out - I think she says it all:

Along with the rest of the world I've watched in horror at the events that have unfolded in Haiti these past few days. As a parent, I find the images of families torn apart by the devastation and grief almost unbearable to watch.

What they must be going through is unimaginable and leaves me with a sense of guilt about the things we moan about on a daily basis.

Having read some posts today from a couple of my favourite bloggers, Laura at Are We Nearly There Yet and Englishmum, I found something practical that we can do to help. Englishmum has set up a Bloggers For Haiti Just Giving Page to raise funds to buy ShelterBoxes.  

Below is some text taken from the Just Giving page.

ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity, specializing in emergency shelter provision. We instantly respond to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami or conflict by delivering boxes of aid. Each box supplies a family of ten with a tent and lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced. Since 2001, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth and dignity following over 80 disasters in more than 52 countries.

Please take the time to click here through to Laura's page for a full description of what the boxes contain. I think they are incredible and hope that we can get as many boxes as possible.

As I type this I've just seen that the total raised by Bloggers For Haiti is now £760.20, nearly enough for two boxes, but there has also been a strong aftershock in Haiti. Please go to the Just Giving page and donate what you can.

Thank's for taking the time to read this and please help.

Even a fiver will help - so far over £1,600 has been raised.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Pity Party

Oh woe is me - can't find a job, can't find the energy to do anything, boo hoo whine moan whine whine.


that is all

Monday, 11 January 2010

Job Hunting - again

The life of a freelancer/contractor means that job hunting is a regular occurrence.  I love interim and freelance work - it gives me the freedom to work in different sectors on various projects with different people.  I dislike it as it is really difficult to line up your next project/role whilst in a role as more often than not clients want someone who is immediately available.

It was a slow year last year and I was lucky to have been working for all but 10 weeks - usually this would be perfect but with The Boy being out of work for 5 months it's not quite as comfortable as it has been in the past.  So I am back on the job hunt.  I finished a role just before Christmas that was perfect to see me through November and December and still have my consulting role with a public sector body which is a few days per month but could really do with a 3 or 6 month role to get my teeth into.

Thursday looked promising as a change management role came up that needed someone immediately with my skills but unfortunately the funding for this has now been pulled.  I had a call last night (yep on a Sunday) which again sounds promising but it would mean being away from home Monday to Friday for 3 months.  Not the end of the world, and not the first time I have had to do this - I could lodge with KBW which would mean good food, lots of Yoga and exercise and spending sometime with my favourite littles in the world but I would miss The Boy and it would mean that he would be on his own Monday to Thursday.

Hopefully this week will pick up - most people will be back at work and the schools should be open so business as usual can continue.  I will continue to drop emails and calls into contacts and agents and apply for role and keep my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I am all business, I have chores to complete, storage to store, a dress or two to make and some other knitting and sewing projects to crack on with.  First though some CV work (no not exercise my actual CV) and expenses for Oct, Nov & Dec.  Something will turn up - it always does.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Lets go to the Movies.....

This weekend The Boy decided that we needed to catch up on the films we want to see and hatched a Plan

Off we pooped to the local multiplex and made good use of our monthly unlimited passes (about £13 per month, so as long as we go to three or more films we save on the ticket price.  We saw Avatar, Nine, Where The Wild Things Are & Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll.  All of them were really good films and all of them completely different


We saw this in 3D and whilst the effects were pretty bloomin special I think you could see it in 2D and still be pretty impressed.  The effects really do make the film, the acting is secondary as (to an extent) is the story.  It's a good family film and is a bit bubblegum, in that you don't really need to care or pay too much attention to enjoy it.


A musical that is both beautifully shot and beautifully acted.  An amazing cast - Daniel Day Lewis, Sofia Loren, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Marion Coultard, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Fergie (the black eyed peas one not the miserable sourpuss football manager) - and a brilliant score.  It was beautiful from start to finish and made me want to smoke, drink espresso and wear beautiful underwear and much much more eye make-up.  The Boy didn't enjoy this film much - he appreciated that it was well made but didn't enjoy it - he's not really a song and dance man.  I however, love love loved it and will be buying it on DVD and backcombing my hair in the meantime.

Where The Wild Things Are

I had read and heard a  lot about this film so may have gone in with high expectations.  It is a lovely film, sad in places and heartwarming in others.  I really felt the little boys loneliness but what I liked about this film is that the last 5 minutes didn't suddenly fix everything - it was a sad ending but was a Hollywood smultz fest either.  It was really well made and my only small negative was that it felt a bit slow in places.  Really glad I've seen it on the big screen, and I probably will watch it again when it's on TV.

Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll

Again I have heard a lot about this biopic of Ian Dury and have seen Andy Serkis on the TV quite a bit this week talking about it.  It is a film for people of a certain age and (in the same way as The Dammed United & Brian Clough) if you don't know anything about the era or haven't heard of Ian Dury & The Blockheads you may not engage with the film.  However, the acting was amazing - particularly Serkis and the kid who play's his son Baxter, Bill Milner, who was the lead in Son of Rambow.  Both the female leads were strong as were all the supporting cast.  The Boy really enjoyed this film - his favourite of the weekend.

All in all a good weekend, back home now - the fires on the stew is in the oven all that's missing is the bottle of red wine - oh well only another 21 days to go on the wagon.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

We have a plan

It's been a bit of a hard week for The Boy, he made it in to work every day but it's been a chore and a struggle, so he gets to choose what we do this weekend.

As there is no football on and it's really blooming cold he has decided we are going on an expedition.  Walking boots, layer upon layer (though not as stylishly as Florrie go and have a look at her winter layering post) snood, hat & coat and off we will pop.  We are going to walk the 2 miles to Xscape, this is our local multiplex - there is also an inside snow slope (with real snow no less) some snow & mountain sport type shops and a few restuarant chains (pizza express, Ask, Nando's, Chiquita's, Frankie & Benny's, Starbucks etc); there are also a few bars and a night club.  Over the road is an outlet village no where near as nice or fancy as Bicester (which I will blog about soon) but good for kitchen wear or sport wear and has a great Gaggia and Le Creuset shop.  Anyway I am digressing - he has a plan.

After the MIL phones this morning (hopefully around 11am) we will eat the soup I made yesterday, red pepper and lentil on nom nom nom, with the fresh bread which is currently baking then suit up and head out. Whilst it's only 2 miles with the weather as it is it may take a bit more than the 30 mins it usually does so we are going to give ourselves and hour and get there in time for the 1pm showing of Avatar 3D.  It's quite a long film (about 2.5 hours) so with the adverts that's 3 hours.  Then a quick coffee and a loo break then back into the flicks to see Nine.

Then the long walk home (I may veto this and get a taxi).  As a plan it sounds fine but there is part of me that just wants to build a fire and clean the @teamvaughan way.  He is also talking about doing the same thing tomorrow but to see Where the Wild Things Are  and Sex & Drugs & Rock'n'Roll.......sigh.

Ah well, off we pop out into the brave new world.  Wish me luck.......

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Oh....and.....My - Look here my first ever blog award

The beautiful and stylish Florrie over at Intrinsically Florrie has given me my first every blog award.  I met the lovely Florrie at Biscester Village and was so impressed by her personal style.  She is such a lovely young lady - thank you sweetie you are too too kind.  Here look at my shiny special award:

As with many good things this aware has come with rules:

1) Thank the person who nominated me for this award
2) Copy the award & place it on my blog
3) Link to the person who nominated me for this award Go here and see Intrinsically Florrie
4) Tell us 7 interesting things about yourself
5) Nominate 7 bloggers
6) Post links to the 7 blogs I nominate

Right I have obeyed rules 1, 2 & 3 so here I go with 4:

7 Things about me - interesting mmmmm maybe but things you may not know, so may be of interest to someone, somewhere:

1. Margot Fonteyn

When I was little I used to go to Ballet Classes, I loved it.  Despite being quite a tom-boy it was great fun.  After exams taken locally we used to get a treat and go to Little Chef for jumbo fish fingers chips and beans (we never had chips at home).  One year though we went to the Royal Ballet School in fancy London for our exam (grade 2 I think but it could have been 1) - our teacher had trained at the Royal Ballet School and had contacts there an managed to get us this special exam,  We were all on best behaviour and had a fab day.  After our exam we were walking along the corridor when out teacher made us all stop and stand at the side.  It was only bloomin Margot Fonteyn - we all stood in First and when introduced we curtsied - yep like she was the queen.  It was the best end to a great day - oh and I passed the exam.  I stopped Ballet when I started playing hockey - they weren't exactly complimentary at at age 11 I preferred the Hockey.

2. Hockey

I started playing hockey when I went to middle school in Morpeth.  My first stick was a Grays junior.  We moved back south and I played for Newbury under 15s, under 16s and Under 18s as well as the ladies 4th, 3rd and 2nd teams.  I also played for Berkshire at Under 16 and Under 18.  I loved hockey, I played between 16 and 20 hours a week what with school, club, training and county.  The festivals were great fun (I met the actor Robert Beck (married to the lass that plays Leigh-Ann in Corrie and was in Brookside as Pete the Rapist, think he was paid to kill someone in Corrie recently) he was Robert Beck back then though) with much drinking, dancing and fun had by all.  I played a bit more hockey in London and Leeds in my 20's but never got into it fully again.  I wish I had.

3. Thumb Sucking

I am 37 years old and each birthday for as long as I can remember my Mum has asked me if this is the year I stop sucking my thumb - so far it hasn't been.  I still suck my thumb when I'm tired, its comforting and familiar.  My left thumb (the one I suck) is shorter and thinner than my right thumb - this doesn't seem to impact me too greatly.

4. Drama Queen

When I was 12 I was in a school show and the Newbury Weekly News did a review and called me a minature hybrid - Liza Striesand.  I was such a show off and drama queen.  Show me a piano and I would sing you a song.  I would entertain, show off, sing and dance and laugh about it all.  I'm pretty sure Mum still has that cutting somewhere.

5. Karaoke

I love Karaoke.   I love Lucky Voice.  I Love Sing Star.  My signature songs are Nobody Does it Better - Carly Simon and I Have Nothing  - Whitney Houston.  There I've said it -it's out there.  I love Karaoke.

6. Dreams

When I eat cheese I have the freakiest dreams.  The poor Boy is usually in them and is usually either leaving me for someone or something and in the morning they are so vivid I am alternately extremely clingy and sulky.  I know this happens but I still eat cheese after lunch - I should know better.

7. My lucky number is 73

I have no idea why - it just is.  Ask any of my immediate family what their favourite/lucky number is - it will always be 73.....and this was before that programme with Sandi Toksvig and that red door (am I showing my age)

In no particular order, I am passing on the award to the following wonderful blogs, rules 5 & 6:

Looking Fab in your 40s -

Forty Not Out -

Diary of a Slummy Mummy -

Motherhood The Final Frontier -

Violet Posy -

Cassandra's Castle -

Its not just it? -

Phew that wasn't as easy as I thought

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

[Everyday is a] Snow Day

The view from my bedroom window this morning

It's snowing in Pontecarlo again.  Not the big 50p size flakes from Christmas Eve but constant pea sized flakes which are settling and whilst from here in my bedroom (yep that's right I am back in bed with my lapdog) it looks very pretty.

I did not have a great nights sleep, after eating lunch very late yesterday I couldn't face supper so had a Protein Shake.  I didn't really think this through though and the one I had also contained Caffeine - so yep that was me watching TV at 2.30am and playing some cloud in the sky game on FB.

Eventually I started to feel tired so came to bed thinking that I would get a lie in this morning as I am out of work at the moment so have nowhere to be.  Well Mother Nature had other ideas, it started snowing about 5am and hasn't really stopped, this meant that The Boy didn't want to drive into Leeds and I needed to take him to Glass-Huffton to get the train to work.  Normally this would be fine but today it's not - I am tired, very very tired, it's snowing and his car is blocking mine in, his car has rear wheel drive and really doesn't like the snow.

Not enough time to change cars so off we pop.  Okay, the journey to the station wasn't too bad.  Painfully slow with some people driving no more than 15 mph - I understand this but it frustrates some people so much that they then drive silly.  Sensible driving people - not bring the town to a fracking stand still.  Anyway I digress, a little bit skiddy but got him there in time for his train and headed home.   This is where is all got a bit sticky - I proceeded to skid all the way up the hill past the Haribo factory due to having to overtake a lorry that had just given up halfway up the hill.  Thankfully the van behind me could see I was having a nightmare and kept his distance (then when he pulled along beside me at the  lights asked if I was okay - bless).  Eventually I got home and then skidded on the drive way so badly I thought I was going to crash into the garage - I didn't but there was some sticky moments there.

I am home now, and am going to take full advantage of being out of work (and not yet panicking about it) and take a snow day.  I am back in bed (I didn't have to get changed as I took The Boy to the station in my PJs with a big coat & boots on - thankfully I didn't have to get out of the car....) I have coffee, I have magazines (January Red, December Zest, December/January Jamie Magazine), I have my lap top, I have my phone.  That's it - I'm in for the day.

Monday, 4 January 2010

So 2010

It's the New Year, it's a time of new term, new start, diets and detox for many of us - me included.

This year my goals are simple to say but quite BIG and scary.

1 - loose weight 4stone at least (you can read about my exploits here if you like - )

2 - Train for and Complete the Moonwalk in around 6 hours in May ( go on, sponsor me you know you want to  - )

3 - make my house and office somewhere that encourages success and productivity; despite having had some major clear outs it's still a shit tip so there needs to be more done.  I need to be less emotional about stuff and make more room for me (and The Boy natch).

4 - Get Pregnant, STAY pregnant.  This is easier said than done.  So I am splitting it into two parts.  First few months of the year is about loosing weight and getting the all clear from the GP/Gynae.  I need to firstly register with a GP (whoops) then have a serious chat about what I would like to happen and what I need to do to make it so.  So part 2, getting pregnant has never been a problem for me - however staying pregnant is a whole different going to work with my GP to do everything I can to give me (us) the best chance.

So that's it - the big picture of 2010.  I have smaller aims too, more crafty stuff, some sweet making (using that fab sugar thermometer I got for Christmas) and spending good time with friends and The Boy.

All in all I am looking forward to 2010 - a whole new decade.  In 1999 I got together with The Boy and it's been a great first decade together, it's not all been a bed of roses with a number of challenges over the years but we are as strong now if not more so than we were at the beginning of 2000.

So 2010 - welcome, here I am and I'm ready for you.  Jumping in with both feet.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Didn’t we have a lovely day the day we went to Cognac.

When we were in Charente visiting M&D for New Year we wanted to do something one day that wasn’t weather dependent but that we would all enjoy – so we decided to arrange a tour of the most famous and successful Cognac maker in the region – Hennessy.

My parents live about 20km from Cognac and even though they have lived there since April 09 had not yet been on one of the tours of the various houses since doing so in the 70s. 

We arrived by the river Charente at the House of Hennessy and were met by Sabine who was to be our tour guide.  As it’s winter they do not have a timetable of tours but you can phone up to arrange a tour at any time during their opening hours – from April to October then run tours throughout the day and you can book them on line.  We chose to tour Hennessy for two reasons: firstly it is right on the river in Cognac and secondly it is the largest.

Hennessy was created by Irishman Richard Hennessy in 1765 after serving as a mercenary  for King Louis XV.  Hennessy now have over 40% of the world market share of Cognac and is part of the luxury good group LVMH.We took a short boat ride across the Charente and entered the tour museum. Sabine explained, in perfect English, where the grapes came from, how they were picked and then distilled into Eau de Vie.  How the barrels were made and how they could be used and how long for.  We then went into a second warehouse that was full to the brim of barrels from different years, going back to the 1800s.  The first thing you notice when you enter the warehouse is the smell, that sweet alcohol really hits you but you soon get used to it.

Sabine went on to explain that 2 to 3% of each barrel evaporates each year – they say that this is for the Angels, they pay to watch over the Eau de Vie and keep it safe.  We saw barrels from many different vineyards (Hennessy only actually produce 2% of the grapes that they use) and the different years, including some from the year I was born.  Apparently a very good year and going to be used for the Paradis blend.  Also there was some from the year Mum was born.

The different Cognacs are then made from different blends as chosen by the Master Blender, Monsieur Fillioux.  The Master Blenders at Hennessy have come from the same family for 7 generations.  Blends such as VS, VSOP, XO and Paradis are made up with the XO (for example) being made of 60different Eau de Vie aged between 4 and 10 years.  After the tour we went back over the river and into the main museum building and shop, we learnt a little of the history of the company and then had a tasting session.  We tasted the XO with Dark Chocolate and the Paradis with Milk – they recommend drinking Brandy before you eat as your taste buds are at their best.

We did a little shopping afterwards but in that very French way we had to leave because they were closing for lunch – we didn’t buy one of the Bacarac Crystal bottles as it was more than €1,650.

More details of the tours can be found here 



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