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Fallan log highlights


Friday 1st April 1994

GMF:  The bleakest weather forecast in 17 years would have cast a gloomy shadow across any less hardy group than the battle-hardened Fallans.   […]

What could we predict for the Allans?  Would they arrive early and surprise us?  A shopping expedition to Penrith was required for vegetables.  If we abandoned them, they might arrive minutes after we had gone.  The dithering became the decision – to await them and to put a Fallan-marked sign on the gate at the left turn into the field.  Just as patience began to wear thin, the blue car was spotted and RBA and DRA were with us, minus all three Jays, detained in London for the pleasures of metropolitan fleshpots, but with resulting extra space for an increased load of liquor.  […]

The well-named "Low Drybarrows" is, in fact, the highest and wettest spot ever chosen for a Fallan Easter.  RBA is to be highly commended for compiling a Wisden style almanac, which records many of the most essential facts for ball-by-ball commentators of the Easter test matches.  Low Drybarrows on arrival promises to be the coldest HQ since Croftfoot, the most alcoholic on record, and more besides.  GMF's assertion that it was nearest ever to a lake was firmly disputed by DRA who made the claim for Croftfoot.  GMF's claim stands.

The rest of the day was a walk and a meal.  The walk was principally assigned to acclimatising to the rarefied air at Low Drybarrows.  […]  RBA and GMF versus DRA and CF on the question of the whereabouts of Low Drybarrows (hidden behind a shelter of trees) ended in victory for RBA and GMF.  […]

Sunday 3rd April 1994

GMF:  Roaring gales and glowering skies seemed to assure that Easter Day would be conspicuously adventurous.  RBA broke all the rules by making porridge for breakfast.  All four oldies ate it without hesitation and were later to be profoundly thankful for it.  […]

The weather was progressively worsening and the wind at times made progress impossible.  The umpires conferred and decided that rain and snow should stop play.  We climbed over the High Kop ridge and found a spot for pink champagne.  Loud complaints about the lack of smoked salmon failed to dampen the party's enjoyment, though the elements did their best to compensate.  A snowman was made to mark the point of revelry.  […]

The shadows metaphorically lengthened.  So too did the odds of Richard and Carolyn having an Easter swim in Haweswater to challenge memories of Easter '79 at Croftfoot.

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 Friday 14th April 1995

GMF:  "Go west, to Waberthwaite, young men" was the cry after the blizzards of 1994 in the Eastern Easter fastness of Haweswater country.  The writing of the 1995 log begins courtesy of the weather's cheerful attempt at a rerun of 1994 – driving rain and all fells hidden from view on Monday 17th.  Memory must play its part.  Gone are the days when the young scribes could recall the beauties of the day in the long hours between supper at Croftfoot and bedtime.  Instead, sober accounts of the truth are written in the frustrating hours when rain stops play, something which never happened in the 80's, other than at Low Kiln Bank in '85.

Sunday 16th April 1995

GMF:  Problems.  The pre-Easter problem in Barnet had been to find a turkey over 10lb.  A Sainsbury's bird of 14lb was finally chosen and the temptation to leave it behind in favour of a Waitrose 16lb-er was fortunately resisted.  The High Bridge End oven was voted the smallest in 18 years.  No meat dish was provided and the Barnet meat dish would not fit in the oven.  The Holmrook Esso garage failed to provide anything, so CF's ingenuity with foil was the key to success.  The bird went in at 10.45 am, possibly the latest ever, and the party set out to break 2000' for the first time with a return to Harter Fell, scene of Easter triumphs in 1984 and 1985.

Monday 17th April 1995

RBA:  Easter Day activities had taken their toll on all but the most committed.  These included CEF whose addiction to the Singing Hinnies and other Geordie pastimes caused her to leave the party prematurely and return to Whitley Bay for Bank Holiday exercise on the Big Dipper.  Alas, the 07.38 from Ravenglass was delayed by a Seascale demonstration and GMF fulfilled one of his life-long ambitions by driving from Waberthwaite to Carlisle and back (110 miles) before breakfast in order to deliver her to the Carlisle-Newcastle flyer on time.

The rest of the party had breakfast on the well-established rota system after RBA had broken ground by purchasing the Scotsman […]

A weak afternoon sun finally appeared to con the enthusiasts into action and RBA's plan Z was reactivated after 24 hours in the freezer.  This involved taking a nondescript path in the general direction of Whit Fell, groping a way through the mist to Rowantree Force, navigating a thick conifer forest, exploring the unfathomable depths of Stainton Beck and receiving local advice concerning the wisdom of the evening's excursions from a motorised farmer.

Thursday 20th April 1995

GMF:  […]  RBA's return to form brought with it a repeated welcome increase in liquor consumption as it had the previous night.  The final meal was splendidly untraditional fare – caviar on biscuits with hock to start, smoked salmon with '85 white Burgundy to follow, blackberries in cassis, rhubarb, ice cream, mince pies, Sauternes with dates, chocolate, crystallised fruits – all this while Arsenal's semi-final with Sampdoria progressed surprisingly to a penalty shoot out and a famous, albeit little supported, victory.

Saturday 22nd April 1995 - Epilogue

GMF:  The week has prompted many thoughts and reflections with optimistic plans for Fallan years 20, 21 and 25.  Venues, wines and ascents will need careful decisions.  The scribe, as he dreams of retirement, notes that the combined ages of all nine Fallans in 1995 has more than doubled since the Great Awakening in 1978.  When was Easter last so dry?  How to return to Ennerdale and to celebrate at the Sharrow Bay?  Has any cottage ever been warmer than High Bridge End (possibly Midtown House?)?  Have the Fallans ever spent a week anywhere without visiting the local hostelry?  When will the Spinthrifts play their first match on a Lakeland ground?  How many bottles were emptied in the week?  Is the impression that the gross Fallan product has declined correct?  When was the total number of Wainwrights climbed last exceeded?  And when did the Scribes last complete the log within the period of the holiday itself?

The unbearded wonders have left too many statistics in the Rise & Fall of the Fallan Empire unrecorded.  How are the Fallans fallen!  The second great edition of the log, due for completion in 1997, threatens to be a rival for the wisdom of Wisden.  May the leap year come round quickly!

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Friday 5th April 1996


Methinks I am a diarist new inspired

To write of Fallans 'fore they are retired

Or leave the rainy fells, small wonder

To taste the mountain fleshpots Down Under.

And so on…

Saturday 6th April 1996

RBA:  Breakfast to the tunes of piped music is an unusual experience for the Fallans, particularly when combined with a view within of "Meine Hostess" in her third change of tracksuit and a vista without of her colourful garden full of spring gnomes and fairy lights.  Indeed, it was so unnerving that the scribe over-indulged on the two plates of prunes, receiving a Pennine put-down and a large full house for his audacity.

Sunday 7th April 1996

GMF:  […]  Descent [of Harter Fell] was via Wren Gill, simple and delightful and believed by all to be a first rate route, until the log for April 1989 proved otherwise!  RBA wondered whether the summit at 2539' was the highest ever reached by a Fallan party on Easter Day.  GMF claimed that prize for Wetherlam in 1991, but subsequent research by the diarist reveals that Wetherlam only scores 2505' and RBA is therefore right.

So, what a day for record breakers!  Bridge End is, by just over half a mile, the furthest east Fallan base ever.  (Trivia question:  which is the only Fallan home not on the OS one inch map?)  The longest Easter Day walk?  Wainwright gives Sadgill to Harter Fell as 4 miles.  The finest bum slides?  The latest lunch? – at 4.30 pm and not finished until so late that the Oldies were denied their sobering stroll by the tarn or elsewhere. 

Friday 12th April 1996

RBA:  The week is living up to all expectations… except those of the faint-hearted and of the optimists who believe that Spring comes before May.  Past annals will testify to the number of Fallan Easter finales which have been celebrated in snow storms and 1996 has been true to form.  The "Gaffers" succumbed to relentless pressure from JCF and JA2 for a proper walk, […] and then lost their marbles by sponsoring an excursion to the top of Helvellyn via Striding Edge.  JA1 and Beccy were late additions to the party, a decision that they had cause to revisit at increasingly regular intervals during the ensuing six hours.

The conditions on the Edge were variously described as exhilarating, physically stretching and horrendously hairy, but despite the opportunities of the best bum slides of the week (down the ice wall and across the frozen Red Tarn), everyone kept to the task in hand and lunched at a deserted cairn in high spirits.  An hour later, 1000' lower and several snowy bogs to the worse, morale had plummeted catastrophically and JA1 (on behalf of his lady love) felt constrained to launch a tirade of verbal abuse on his unsuspecting dad.  […]  Order was restored at a hastily convened meeting of the whole expedition at Grisedale Tarn… [and] waning relationships were soon restored although, as JCF graphically pointed out, the "domestics" had been disconcertingly direct.

The day's surprises were by no means over since, back at the Barn, the "Wrinklies" had also been exercising.  Aerobics in the kitchen had been followed by dégustation in the armchairs and there were veiled threats of dining on their own until further Bucks Fizz (courtesy of the younger generation) included a Wrinkly-Gaffer rapprochement.  […]  Taller and taller stories of another epic holiday were recounted.  Beccy was deemed to have earned honorary Fallan status, …and JCF was awarded the expedition's long service (regular) and long distance (unique?) prize.

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Saturday 29th March 1997

GMF:  […]  Routen House apparently "has everything" – videos, enough jigsaws for now until the Millennium, two TVs (neither of which were hidden) and, worst of all, central heating.  This debilitating feature of modern life has not often been a feature of Fallan Easters and was to prove a serious cause of premature comatosity and delayed log writing.

Sunday 30th March 1997

RBA:  Despite some half-hearted moans and groans, the whole party assembled for breakfast in an advanced state of fitness.  The senior ladies then did their best to undermine this state by producing Easter offerings for the waistline (DRA's Smartie eggs), for the digestion (RBA's prunes), for the vision (CF's candles), for the knee strain (CF's sporting knee support) and some exceptionally inactive and sheepish replicas of the real thing, patented by that well-known Lakeland artist, C "Sheepdip" Fallows.

[…]  JCF, KF and JA2 then offered to show Mike the sights at 2000' and marched him off to Starling Dodd and Bowness Knott…  The juniors had an eventful return journey, with lead navigator, JA2, losing his team and his route in Smithy Beck Forest whilst looking for the summit of Bowness Knott.  Mike was then introduced to the art of scree running and looked in need of more than the can of Ruddles which awaited him at the back door.

Tuesday 1st April 1997

GMF:  […]  DRA was promised a walk of six miles (horror!) in blazing sunshine (disbelief!) to be completed by 6.30 pm (worth gambling her last penny against) and not exceeding 850' (joy abounding!).  Much dissatisfaction on arrival at Muncaster Castle car park 10 minutes later that the climb of 200' could have been avoided and that ice creams could have been purchased at the start of the walk to enhance the effect of RBA's invaluable energy bars.  Never mind that – the joys of dalliance among the sorrel, daffodils, primroses and early rhododendrons would all have been missed, and so on.  Miraculously, DRA and CF allowed themselves to be persuaded to delay taking lunch in favour of a 15 minute extension across the fell.  An exhilarated party was kept moving by the promise of choc-ices and alcoholic beverages in Eskdale Green.  But better was yet to come.  An R2EDR train was only 5 minutes away and, true to form, came right on time.  For £1.60 (each), the combined WI/Men's Legion outing came to a magical climax with a ride onto the scenic wonders of Dalegarth for the promised ice cream – just four Cornettos of assorted flavours.  Thus refreshed, the walk to the Burnmoor Inn was duly accomplished.

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Friday 10th April 1998

GMF:  The Hymnodist who wrote "Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" must have had in mind the Fallan log.  Come Wednesday evening, not a word written and no tongues to write a contribution to enliven the 21st century with their wit and erudition on a diary certain to become one of the 20th century's undiscovered masterpieces.  The ravages of time have dulled not merely the wit of the Scribe of Barnet, but also his capacity to remember salient events for 24 hours and his ability to stay awake to record important moments in Lakeland history after a few hours on the fells and an undeserved banquet of fine food and wine.

Sunday 12th April 1998

GMF:  […]  JA2, knowing that the right turn led to the summit of Glaramara, bounded ahead, reached the summit and then spent almost two hours there waiting for the party to catch him up.  Unfortunately it didn't.  The left turn at Comb Gill found the rest of the out of condition party not at their best and, instead of Glaramara, RBA and GMF made the democratic decision to cut the walk merely to Rosthwaite Fell, where champagne was served near the summit in traditional style.

Tuesday 14th April 1998

RBA:  After Arsenal's stunning victory on the previous evening, a great lethargy overtook the party and only showed any sense of urgency with a vigorous rearrangement of the dining facilities.  Fortunately this diverted attention from one of the most incompetent demonstrations of porridge making yet produced by the scribe and, after an hour and a half, a packet of oats, not to mention a double dosage of advice, GMF was called in to stiffen the mixture.

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 Sunday 4th April 1999

GMF:  […]  Before the serious walking, there was the Aga saga to resolve.  It was established that the turkey would fit into the upper, hotter oven, but that a transfer to the lower, cooler oven might well be desirable at some point.  The turkey's inability to transfer itself from one to t'other at the most appropriate moment became a major talking point at the Fallan Security Council with motions and counter-motions being debated hotly by the permanent members.  […]

Stanley Ghyll (ascent of) was the challenge for the party.  Astonishingly, it was a first visit for all nine members.  JA2 completed a solo direct ascent.  The rest were delighted to discover that bridges and paths brought them to a heathery patch of fell ideal for consuming champagne.  A straightforward route completed the shortest, lowest, simplest and most un-ambitious Easter Sunday ascent of all Fallan time.

Monday 5th April 1999

GMF:  Porridge made a cheery start to an improving morning.  […]  The decision by the oldest members to go for the circuit of Devoke Water gained the support of MJL and JCL.  Cake was put on board for a future pit stop and the Birkerthwaite Six (out of nine) braved it onwards and upwards round the tarn in cloud and rain.  At the half way point, DRA and RBA selected a direct return to the car and then a change into dry clothing.  The remaining foursome completed the circuit without seeing a soul, then proceeded to the King George IV in Eskdale Green for a restful pint followed by cake in the car (in the rain) – RBA sitting on the gear stick!

Tuesday 6th April 1999

RBA:  […]  Several bottles later, these same and apparently sane and consenting adults indulged in a final communal fling – a game of orange chin-chin in which an excess of hair (whether scalp, face or upper chest) caused the orange to become immobilised in a series of steamy clinches.

Friday 9th April 1999

RBA:  […]  Lunch in the Esk Pike cairn was punctuated by complaints from CF (who, until now, had been very brave in the face of all her ailments), her indiscriminate disposal of any items she didn't fancy and her further withering remnants about the quality of JFA's Easter offering to the scribe, a Carobar.  The return walk down Lingcove Beck from Ore Gap passed off uneventfully until the Ludwigs met up with the local police who were investigating vandalism at the car park.  History relates (in the Woolpack some pints later) that JA2 was not the offender [Ed: but are they now investigating the disappearance of a Ravenglass vinegar bottle?].

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Saturday 22nd April 2000

GMF:  […]  Back at the bottom, we headed straight for Cockermouth and located Harrison's Butchers where the two turkeys were waiting.  A minor disaster was only narrowly avoided.  CF reached the shop at 2.25 pm just as the shop prepared to close at 2.30 pm.  Walter Wilsons provided the rest of the required provisions.  The bill totalled £58 and we were immediately offered a free frozen turkey which was gladly accepted!  But how would we manage to eat it as well as the ham?

[…]  RBA [was convinced] that the Easter feast required the moving of tables.  GMF agreed, but CF and DRA were opposed.  Two versus two would not have been a contest, but RBA pressed ahead with the experiment and enlisted help to move the large kitchen table.  The kitchen was hugely improved without the table, the living room with the table was not remotely restricted and the prospects for the feast away from the cooker and dishwasher were hugely enhanced.  RBA therefore won an historic victory against overwhelming odds.

Sunday 23rd April 2000

GMF:  Hurray for England and St George.  We few, we happy few, we band of Fallans, awoke to the Easter Sunday of our dreams.  Warm, bright and made for Melbreak and the Kirkstile Inn.  With a cast of 13, the drama needs to turn into an epic with sub-plots.  The scribe is all too well aware that the exploits of JCF, MJL, KF, JA1, Emma, JA2, JA3 and Andrew may not have full justice done to them.  Supplementary material would be most welcome.

[…]  All duly arrived at the table, including the lead turkey, for a meal as fine as any of its predecessors.  Wit and banter ensued the best of good spirits throughout.  These owed not a little to the enticement of the alcoholic beverages:  Ch. Palmer '82, Ch. D'Yquem '79 and Croft '63 – a fair crop for the Millennium Easter and unlikely ever to be surpassed.  They that outlive this day and come safe home will stand on tip toe when this day is named "St Fallan's Day"!

Monday 24th April 2000

RBA:  […]  The master breakfast chef produced the first pot of porridge of the holiday and the team took advantage of the widest selection of marmalades and jams to feature in this log (orange, apricot, gooseberry, mulberry, morello cherry, raspberry – all home-made – and strawberry and syrup – shop variety).  But still JC(Pooh)L was not satisfied and the mutterings about lack of honey only subsided when the party had assembled for the largest continual, all day (but not quite 8 'til late) breakfast expedition in Fallan history.

[…]  GMF experimented (successfully, history relates) with the poles given to him by JC(P)L, but the wilful ladies declined his generous offer and instead took juvenile delight in deducting brownie points from their spouses for the quality of their route selection.  By dint of borrowing a pole and chasing his tormentor down the excellent track, RBA walked the wrath out of his system and all four disported themselves in the afternoon sunshine for an adult natter before retrieving the cars (and the cake!).

[…]  The decibels waxed as the champers waned and, in due course, the inevitable happened and the newcomers were introduced to orange chin-chin – apparently like the previous performers (see 06/04/99), they found the experience of steamy clinches with their next-door neighbours utterly absorbing and occasionally uplifting.  At least Emma and Andrew pronounced themselves well satisfied with the new contacts they had made and everyone retired to bed for the recovery phase of a memorable day.

Wednesday 25th April 2000

GMF:  […]  Because of the non-availability of the Independent, we came home with the Grauniad, noted for its mistakes.  Its weather forecast for Wednesday for NW England (read carefully) stated: "A few showers, but it will stay mainly dry".  This was not read until the evening, by which time we had suffered an all day wash out!

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 Friday 13th April 2001

GMF:  The history of this day rightfully begins many weeks or months ago.  The scourge of Foot and Mouth Disease had wrecked our long-established plan to be at the Kaiser's bungalow in Martindale for Fallan year 24.  Who could have guessed that, instead, we should be at La Borde Neuve in the foothills of the Pyrenees?

[…]  A party of ten (RBA, DRA, GMF, JCL, MJL, JA1, Emma, JA2, JA3 and Marathon Man, Andrew – KF and Wendy were following separately on Saturday), all arrived at Stanstead in time and took off only 20 minutes late.  […]  La Borde Neuve proved to be perfect, except for the wind which rapidly caused two casualties, a broken window and a broken lamp.  The most serious need was a meal.  We had no food on board and went to Maury in quest of a restaurant.  We quickly found the Auberge de Quéribus and occupied two tables, a six and a four.  A request for ketchup, JA1's asking for "poisons" when he tried to order drinks, RBA's hopeful "fromage?" and so on put some pressure on Madame and Anglophobia.

Saturday 14th April 2001

JCL:  I'm sneakily intervening here in my guise as webmaster because the scribe reporting today's events has left his account of the action incomplete. 

Those of us lucky enough to have had proper beds had slept like logs.  When we appeared in the kitchen drowsy but refreshed to await the return of the scribe with the breakfast croissants, we were saddened to learn that JA3 and Andy had been disturbed during the night by the wind howling through the broken window.  However, this was nothing compared to the sleepless night experienced by the three campers in the living room.  JA1 and Emma complained that the sofa bed was lumpy, but JA2 was worse off, having been both uncomfortable and freezing cold on his rapidly deflating beach lilo and was heard to lament "I really wish I had a girlfriend".

Andy remained at base to act as welcoming committee for KF and Wendy, whilst the rest of the party drove to Pradès for provisions (including lamb for Easter Day) before heading up the beautiful and sunny lower slopes of the Pic du Canigou to the Col du Cheval Blanc.  […]

Following our return to the house, those hoping for a better night's sleep began drinking in earnest.  The first two bottles (a rosé wine, which turned out to be some fortified Muscat/Sherry-like stuff, and a sweet white Bordeaux) were both discarded (to be consumed later) and other corks were popped instead.  The evening meal of baked potatoes, eggs, mushrooms, ham, cheese and bread was consumed in high spirits and laughter, with KF hogging much of the limelight exploring and demonstrating the secrets of the bird clock, recorded for posterity by Wendy's video camera.

The party continued into the very early hours with vodka and Jack Daniels replacing the wine, and with Hear'Say, Duran Duran and Robbie Williams drowning out the owl, the cuckoo and their friends.

Sunday 15th April 2001

RBA:  […]  Preparations for the evening meal back at Borde Neuve was hampered by a lack of technical aids associated with the oven (shelves, timers, temperatures gauges) and the party's increasing hunger.  However, DRA wanted miracles and côte d'agneau avec les vegetables was served on cue (just before blue tit time, i.e. at 9 pm) in festive candlelight.  This was followed by poire crumble avec coutard, washed down by much vin de Roussillon.  Celebrations were concluded with the aid of party poppers and silly gadgets which had mysteriously slipped through French custom's hands.

Monday 16th April 2001

GMF:  […]  A wine tasting seemed like a good way to fill the interval between the castles […] and we were happy to find the Corbières domaine of Trillol open for business.  Three reds and a white were tasted to general satisfaction and a mixed two dozen of mainly the red was bought.  These were added on return to the general stock.  (By the end of the week, four reds and one rosé were all that needed to be packed for the journey home.)

Tuesday 17th April 2001

RBA:  The après-ski revellries are rumoured to have continued until dawn and the elders' sleep was punctuated by a variety of nocturnal noises not associated with the bird clock.  […]

The party… headed for Coillure, accompanied by an assortment of early season beachwear and high expectations of the first Fallan Easter bathe for years (how many?).  […]  Magnum ice creams… were consumed whilst witnessing the surprising spectacle of DRA testing the temperature of the sea.  The results were devastating in that the expedition evacuated the beach within minutes in favour of some gentle sightseeing.  Some went shopping, whilst others explored the charming alleys and cobbled streets of the town – which compared most favourably with the only other Fallan beach resort of St Bees.  Careful selection of a fish restaurant (the Copacabana) with a table for ten on the pavement was rewarded with an excellent meal and the pleasure of setting a trend for all the other diners in Coillure that evening.  The three cars took different routes home, with JA1's particularly reluctant not to head for Valencia.  As a result, he, Emma and JA3 missed the possibility of watching Arsenal lose (on away goals only) in the café in Maury.  They were then subjected to a bevy of mobile text abuse from JA2 and Andrew [in London] before settling into KF's and Wendy's farewell party.

Saturday 21st April 2001

GMF:  A Fallan family of five could not make departure a particularly celebratory affair, especially as for the first time since Kirkland there were no partings at the cottage itself.  […]  Diana's cleaning up routines ensured that the tradition of leaving our house cleaner than we found it was maintained with a vengeance. 

Some phrases have bothered us:  what is the difference between holding on for dear life and grim death?  Why do people say "oh my giddy aunt", and what would that be in French?  Ditto "stone the crows"?  We think we now know the difference between grappe and raisin.  "To hear on the grapevine" is "apprendre sur téléphone Arabe".  How many other nuggets have entertained us through a week in a remarkable house with a delightful team of young folk?  The log will now not only be featured on the Internet, it will also have a video accompaniment (strictly PG) to be made by Wendy.  That gives us something to look forward to on a day when the weather reached new depths of coldness and wetness and our plane was delayed by an hour because of a technical fault.  We hope it proved airworthy.  Our thanks to JCL and MJL for filling an impossible wet afternoon in Carcassonne with sustaining lunch from 2 until 4 pm.

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