Monday 31 August 2020

A visit to Haddock's.

There's nothing like a Sunday Roast, even if there's no Chicken or lump of Beef.

A quick tour around Haddock's provided all I needed. Some Peppers for stuffing, and the rest for simply roasting. I already had Potatoes and Onions in store.

I often find that vegetables which look plain when harvested, often are spectacular when roasted; and this was certainly the case with all my vegs last night. Nothing was uninteresting; everything was delicious. The process of adding Olive oil, garlic, and salt, then roasting for around an hour, performs miracles.

The Peppers were stuffed with minced Pork, and that strange looking brown lump at the top was the left-over Pork which I roasted for today's lunch; it ended-up a bit like solid Paté.

DANY BRILLANT - Quand Je vois tes Yeux - 1996

I'd forgotten all about Dany Brillant. He was 'big' here back in the 80's/90's; but I haven't heard of him for ages.

This is one of his hits from 1996. I love the video; some very clever camera work. I imagine it's filmed in Cuba.

Typical; the only person not pleased to see him is his 'date', even after he'd given her flowers!

Sunday 30 August 2020

Back to school.

The re-opening of schools across much of Europe is the next experiment in the world of COVID-19.

Will the juniors be able to play marbles, conkers, or hopscotch? Will the seniors be able to canoodle behind the bike sheds, without 'socially distancing'? Will the teachers hold their breath behind a perspex screen until break time? Will the two metre rule hold strong in the staffroom?

Will attendance be staggered? Will desks be placed two metres apart? Will masks be worn all day long? No-one really seems to know. Maybe it will be up to individual schools.

Children need the interaction with their peers that only school life offers. They need to compete, to banter, even to argue.

We are told that children are the least susceptible to COVID-19, but their teachers must be amongst the most vulnerable. One virus carrier inside a classroom could cause havoc outside.

Government minds are still changing about the whys and wherefores of classroom life. All children must learn to read, write, add-up, speak coherently, and have basic social skills; and my fingers are crossed that the spelling of SCHOOL will remain as it always was!

Saturday 29 August 2020

So quiet again.

The bikes and go carts have been put away, the Lego is back in its big bag, Billy is wondering where everyone's gone, my secret book (below) won't offer any more gold for a while, the story books are all back in the library, we no longer find lost socks by the pool, there are no more miniature clothes on the washing line, the inflatable Crocodile has been deflated, Lady M is looking soulful, there are no more toys littered over the lawns, no more demands for instant veggie pasta delights, no more drawings on the kitchen table, and no more "have you seen my yellow shoes, Grumpy?"

The worst thing about having Boo Boo and the Cherub here, is that they eventually leave; everything seems so quiet without them.

Friday 28 August 2020

The Great British/French Boiled Egg

I often find myself in a quandary about breakfast. Most things I like can be found in the fridge, but it's the choosing that I find difficult.

I hadn't had a boiled egg since early Spring, so that was yesterday's choice. The next problem is getting the timing 'just right'; no easy task. It is said that Prince Charles has several boiled for him each morning, all a few seconds apart, so that he can be guaranteed that at least one will be perfect; sensible chap.

The ones below were about 30 seconds over-boiled. I must try harder.


Thursday 27 August 2020

Take a deep breath.

This is the view from our front door, but I must admit that it's not always as beautiful as this.

We'd had a slight storm, and this was still the wonderful air-clarity about three days later. The colour of the foliage miles away, was exactly the same as that of nearby. There was absolutely no haziness in the air whatsoever.

The small amount of rain had already had some effect, otherwise you can still see the remains of the Summer's drought.

I am confidently assured that this view will never change. It's classified as 'Agricultural Land' and is outside any building zone. Thank goodness!

We think of it as an extension to our garden that others tend, rather than us.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Off to live in Sweden.

They're off today. We have a lot of Swedish heritage in the family, so it's a sensible choice to make their home there; Lady Magnon still has plenty of cousins there, and of course all of Kellogg's family are there. Wills & Co are off to start a new life in the land of his ancestors.

We'll miss them all, of course, but mostly the boys. They're both at an age where they are really eager to learn new things, to have as much fun as possible, and just to run free in the countryside with a friendly black and white Dog at their sides. 

Boo Boo has just about mastered how to swim, and how to fire a gun, and is very proud of himself. Both boys have really enjoyed Lady Magnon's afternoon stories. Above is the Cherub listening attentively as she reads from Stella Mead's wonderful 'Paths in Storyland'.

I have always insisted on two things for our children/grandchildren; a story every night before bed, and always to eat together at table. Nothing special, but what a difference it makes to children's lives.

Sweden has always had the reputation of being a very liberal country. Generally the Swedes are very pleasant people, and of course most speak English, which will be handy before they learn the basics. Kellogg is Swedish, so at least one family member can deal with officialdom. 

So, a new adventure begins. Have fun boys..... and bon voyage!

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Trump v Biden v West. The state of the candidates.

77 year old Biden is going to cure Cancer, Alzheimer's, and Diabetes (maybe COVID too).

74 year old Trump will continue to build his wall, and make America great again.

43 year old West promises to sell lots of very expensive plimsolls.

And a whole bunch of also-rans (who are of no importance) will promise almost anything.

As USA electioneering starts in earnest, the world has already begun to speculate. Above all they can't wait to see if Trump will win a second term; many are predicting that HE WILL.

It wouldn't surprise us in the slightest!!!

What a nice looking man he is.

Monday 24 August 2020

Haddock's, late August.

My great success this year has been my Winter 'greens'. I have lots of Cavolo Nero, lots of Perpetual Spinach, and lots of Swiss Chard. 

I also have more than enough Peppers, Aubergines, and Courgettes; plus a reasonable supply of Carrots. 

The large mess of Tomato plants (in the top photo) is finally offering us some fruit, and they are looking very good. The plants, bought by Lady Magnon, are grafted, and were 'guaranteed' to be disease resistant. I have had to prop them us, as the weight of all the fruit on them is causing them to topple.

Elsewhere there are Pumpkins, Squashes, etc, and a few self sown Jerusalem Fartichokes are dotted around. Other than my failure to produce either Beans or early Tomatoes, things have eventually turned out OK.

Sunday 23 August 2020


I need a new doormat that says Money, Shopping List, Rubbish.

That's all I need.

You'd be amazed the amount of times I've forgotten at least one of them.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Pet Cemetery.

The ground is parched, and many of the stones seem to have gone missing; I'm thinking of re-designing the whole thing.

This is where my boys are resting, at the southern end of Haddock's. Our beautiful Labrador Monty was the first to go, then Freddy our Tabby Cat, then lastly Bok our Border Collie/Black Lab' mix. 

Each are buried with their favourite toys, some snacks for their journeys, and a few things that meant something special to each of them. No fancy coffins, just wrapped in cloth and tied-up. I've kept their collars, as I couldn't bear to let those go.

I've just been weeding their plot, and I felt like a 5 year old tending the grave of a pet mouse or budgie.

Each year I plant a few flowering annuals in Spring, otherwise the big stump in the middle is an Artichoke plant.

Not exactly a great monument, but I needed a resting place where they could all be together. They were all good friends.

I think I'll buy some pukka (antique style) edging stones.

Friday 21 August 2020

Minor Royals teach homeless man how to prepare Pigeon!

He's doing his 'Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme'.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Hieronymus Bosch Music

Have you (like me) always wondered what the music from Hieronymus Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights' painting sounds like? The score (written on some poor chap's bottom) has now been deciphered, and here it is, played in 15th C fashion, for your delight.

Not the world's greatest music, but interesting enough to have the question solved..

Wednesday 19 August 2020

French bureaucracy.

French bureaucracy is legendary.

I recently received a letter telling me that I hadn't used my Post Office Savings account for over 10 years, and that if I didn't go to see them with masses of papers within the next few weeks; they'd pocket all my money.

I took what I thought was needed, but, OF COURSE, it wasn't right. It never is!

They needed proof of my identity, and a bill with my name and address of less that 3 months old, which I provided; but they decided that it wasn't the right one. If I couldn't find a replacement, the alternative was horrendous; I would need Lady M to provide bizarre papers, and even more proof of domicile, identity papers, her grandfather's inside leg measurement, etc.

Once home, and my blood pressure settled, I remembered that my telephone/internet bill was in my name (most of our bills aren't) so I searched for a recent one. Then I remembered that we no longer have paper bills; only online ones.

So, I thought I'd better print one off.

I found the page, typed in my log-in Email address, then they wanted a password.... I couldn't remember it.

I then asked for a new password, which they say will come BY POST in 7 days.

This is all very simple in comparison with some French bureaucracy. You dare not throw away any papers, receipts, invoices, etc, for generations. You need to know your family tree back to the time of Napoleon, with all birth/death, marriage dates, etc.

It's a bloody nightmare. If I don't get my new password, I'll let them keep my bloody money; it'll be worth it, just to be rid of them!

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Boo Boo and the Cherub.

We have family with us again. They are twixt Amsterdam and Sweden, so a short sojourn at their French country residence is very timely. They move into their Swedish house in September.

Billy is happy, we're happy, and the boys are certainly happy. They went straight to their toy boxes (the Cherub loves Lego), took Billy for a long walk, and asked me to light a fire (which I didn't; it was 35 C).

It's so good to hear children's voices and laughter again.... they'd been away far too long.

Unfortunately they have to go back to Sweden to sign papers for the house, so their visit will be short.

Why is it that Cherubs always wear odd socks. He has another pair exactly the same up at the barn.

They're only here for a few days. Ah well, it's always good to see them; even if as briefly.

Monday 17 August 2020

Cro's Style Awards; No 33.

Zazou was a style statement from 1940 Paris, that kicked against all the austerity, and the German occupation, of WW2.

Greatly influenced by Cab Calloway and his Zoot Suit, The Zazous took everything one step further with Parisian black underground Jazz Clubs leading the way.

There are not a lot of photos available, but this one (below) gives an idea of the style. Great stuff guys.

Did I ever mention that I'm a huge fan of Zoot Suits? One like this would be just fine; I would wear it for weddings and funerals..

Sunday 16 August 2020

Pêche aux écrevisses - Gueuleton

It's those boys again. Vincent and Arthur go on the hunt for Ecrevisses; those pesky American critters that kill our own native Freshwater Crayfish. If you have a nearby stream, or lake, have a look; you may have an endless supply of delicious Ecrevisses. 

So easy to catch, and so good to eat. And you'd be doing the environment a favour too.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Remember Harry?


So, 35 year old, unemployed, Harry and his missus have just bought themselves a new Essex-style gaff in the suburbs of Tinsel Town. It's not exactly befitting of an English Prince, but I suppose a more suitable period manor house would be hard to find out there (see below).

His $15 Million purchase seems to have everything he'll need. It has 9 bedrooms, and, for some strange reason, 16 bathrooms; all set in 8 acres of over-manicured gardens. I hope he's got a good lawn mower.

I am reliably informed that his mortgage repayments will be around $480,000 per annum. His other expenses are reputed to be  $68,000 annual property taxes, $300,000 staff wages (I suspect this is hugely underestimated), $24,000 annual utilities bills, and around $3.3 Million for security (which seems rather excessive). He may need to find himself a well paid job pretty soon (McDonald's?).

At a rough glance, it looks as if he'll need an annual salary of around $10 Million (before tax); and that's without all the travel and Champagne he's used to.

Mrs Harry may find some work in TV, and if Oprah Winfrey keeps to her word, they could earn up to a million dollaroos to appear for 30 mins on her show.  However, he'll have to do a lot of other TV shows if he's going to make his $10 Million, and I'm not sure if he has that much of interest to say.

Anyway, I wish them luck (I'm glad it's not me), and I hope they enjoy their short time as the new owners of Dodgy-Oligarch Palace; I can see it going back on the market before too long.

Oh, and by the way Harry, you could have bought this stunning 15th C house in Kent (below) for around £2 Million. Don't say I didn't tell you!

Friday 14 August 2020

First Figs.

We had a short sharp storm a couple of days ago, and just enough rain fell to swell the Figs. Not many ripe ones as yet, but they'll now begin in earnest.

We never eat enough Figs. I love them, and am determined, this year, to eat as many as possible. With so little other fruit around, it looks as if we'll have to be satisfied with just Figs and Quinces.

Pool Maintenance/Management.

All pool owners will know that things don't always go according to plan.

Regular checks must be made of the CH/PH levels, the bottom must be vacuumed regularly, and the skimmers cleaned and restocked with Multifunction Tabs almost daily. Most mornings I have between 20/30 mins work.

Even then, things don't always go smoothly. The water can turn opaque overnight, or a nasty green algae can appear on all surfaces extremely quickly. Correcting these annoying occurrences, can take several days. Many will remember when the diving pool at the 2016 Rio Olympics turned bright green overnight!

This year things have gone reasonably well, but we did have a recent invasion of green algae, which luckily, we were able to deal with without too much angst. I suspect it was caused by the weather.

Our only other annoyance has been with the liner. The pool was constructed about 15 years ago, so its liner is getting old. It has a way of turning slightly ochre-ish in colour beneath the water line, and makes the water look dirty-green. Luckily we have found a magical solution to this problem, and a kilo of Vitamin C powder returns it instantly to its original beautiful pale blue (see above, it was done the day before).

What I really need is an attachment to the pump that would test the CH/PH levels regularly, and correct the balance as required automatically. It would also need to detect any presence of algae, and zap instantly. I hope someone at Pools-r-Us is working on this.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Plant rooting ball.

Most gardeners will have seen these black plastic rooting balls that seem to be suddenly very popular. As shown in the above illustration, you peel away a bit of 'bark' on the plant you wish to propagate, fill the plastic ball with compost, then wrap it around the peeled area.

Roots are supposed to form within two months.

Being an old skinflint, I thought I'd try to save myself a Euro or two, and I used one of Billy's old Tennis balls to do the same job. A small amount of cutting and trimming, and the ball was ready. I'm trying to propagate our beautiful red Oleander.

Unfortunately I shall have to wait until early October to see if it has worked. 

My fingers are crossed. I'll let you know!

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Losing a Dog.

I could hardly believe the pain I felt when we lost our lovely dog Bok back in January of last year. I was in a terrible state for weeks, which wasn't helped by the fact that I happened to be alone at the time.

J, over in S Carolina, has two dogs, one of which is having health problems and is quite possibly coming to the end of her time. Poor J is understandably extremely distraught. If only our Dogs could talk to us, things would be so much easier. As it is, a soulful look can warn us that something isn't right, but the rest is left for humans to discover.

Saying goodbye to a well loved Dog or Cat is never easy, whether the end comes naturally or by assistance from a Vet'. Both Bok and Monty needed the help of our local Vet', and their ends came peacefully. Our dear Cat, Freddie, who died not long before Bok, simply faded away during the night. All three are 'at rest' in their own dedicated graveyard at Haddock's.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't think of my boys. Even my first Dog, Hamlet, who died back in the late 1970's, is still in my thoughts. 

As the one Dog is saying to the other (above), we still talk about them; and never forget.

I probably sound like a sentimental old fool, but as Kant continues to remind us "you can judge the heart of a man, by his treatment (and love) of animals".

Poor J in S Carolina is soon going to make the most difficult of decisions; I send her my best wishes.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

The Legacy of BLM.

This young lady leading her troops through the streets of Brixton is 29 year old Imarn Ayton, who I spoke about back on 18th June. I believe that when she's not rabble rousing, she's an out of work actress, with 'racially appropriated' dyed blonde hair.

Ms Ayton claims to have a minimum of 100 martial-art-trained troops. She fails to say who or what they wish to fight against; we can but guess.

The sort of behaviour shown by Ms Ayton and her followers makes those 'do-gooder woke white folks', who previously marched about with BLM banners, look rather pathetic. If only they'd listened to what others were saying, and paid attention to what was going on, they might have stayed at home. If they'd read Ms Ayton's manifesto; they certainly would have done so. Knee-jerk reactions are more than often misguided, even though most of us deplored what happened to provoke the original BLM movement. 

It's all rather reminiscent of Sir Oswald Mosley's nasty black shirted boys. Some people never learn!

Monday 10 August 2020

Invisible mending.


Regular readers might remember that some time back a large round hay bale rolled off the back of a local farmer's pick-up truck, whilst making its way up the hill, and made this hole in the wall of our village cemetery.

I'm pleased to say that the wall has now been mended, and that they've done a really beautiful job.

Souls will no longer escape from 'boot hill'. All is once again walled-in and secure. RIP all within.

Sunday 9 August 2020

The early scrumper catches the Pear.

I have two Pear trees, both of which are pretty hopeless. The trees themselves simply refuse to grow, they look scabby, stunted, and their measly crops are usually bug infested. I think I will replace both with more predictable Apples or Plums.

Billy and I took a different route on our early morning walk yesterday, which, just by chance, went past a Pear tree that was already dropping fruit. I think it is probably a 'Conference' Pear; which I know fall from the tree when ripe. The ground was covered, I may take that same route again in a few days time, but with a plastic bag. 

I'd hate to see all that delicious fruit go to waste. 

On the other hand, this is the third such wheelbarrow load I've taken to the compost. Windfall unripe Bramleys, and Hornet attracting grapes.

Saturday 8 August 2020

The fruit of my labour.

My oldest grandson, Harvey J, was born on 25th April 2006, and to celebrate his arrival I planted him a Plum tree on the afternoon of his birth.

The photo below was taken on 12th August 2014, when his tree produced it's very first really heavy crop. Lady Magnon, of course, made him a Plum Tarte Tatin.

This year we have another healthy bumper crop; almost similar to that of 2014. Sadly 'Suave Harve' isn't here to enjoy another Tatin, so we'll fill the freezer instead.

The Plums are smaller this year (no rain), but I'll get quite a few bags into the freezer.

And here's a Tatin that he's missing. Lady M secretly made this one whilst I was processing the fruit for next year's tarts.

Eat yer heart out Harv'.

A Move to the Country.

British online Estate Agents 'Purplebricks', along with 'Rightmove', have announced a definite trend to move from inner cities out into the countryside. They claim a 125% increase in moves.

They claim that COVID is mostly responsible for the transition, but I suspect there is more to it that just a fear of illness.

So many UK cities and towns are far too overcrowded. I haven't visited the UK myself for quite some while, but the first thing I always noticed after leaving the ferry at either Dover or Newhaven was the amount of traffic on the roads. One of the things I enjoy about living where I do, is that we have very little traffic. I can drive the 20 Kms to my preferred supermarket and encounter just one or two cars en route.

My oldest son, Kimbo, has recently moved from chic and expensive Kensington, to a very attractive village north-east of London. Now with a small garden, his quality of life instantly became better, and he is still only 30 miles from Trafalgar Square. His village contains beautiful old Pubs, good quality traditional shops, and a number of excellent restaurants of various ethnicities. He also already knows a number of his new neighbours. In other words his quality of life has improved many fold.

I have said many times that London still has a pull for me, but to live there I'd have to insist on certain things. First is that small Mews House in S Kensington (something similar to my illustration), with its own parking space or garage. Also I would definitely need a small country cottage in Sussex, where I could escape when London life became too overpowering. My only problem is that I don't have the few million smackers to buy into this type of lifestyle.

If anyone knows Mr Bezos, maybe you could mention my name.

Friday 7 August 2020

Oh no!

Really, this is too much. 40 C again today; that's above human melting temperature. Yesterday's 35 C was bad enough.

I'm a Summer baby, so I should be used to warm weather, but anything over about 30 C I find energy sapping. My preferred temperature is around 25 C.

So, this is where we'll spend most of the day, in the cool of our auvent; handy for the Summer Fridge. We'll drink lots of cold water, cold beer rather than wine, and sit in the shade reading tales of Nanook of the North.

Our lawns have already turned beige and crunchy. Nothing is growing. We are desperate for rain; I can't remember the last time we had any.

So, if you don't hear from me, and a small pile of dry bones are found nearby, you'll know what has happened.

Thursday 6 August 2020

A Simple Cure?

As far as I can see, most Hand Sanitisers contain just three very basic ingredients.

Isopropyl alcohol or Ethanol, Aloe Vera gel, and a dash of some pleasant smelling Essential Oil (mine above contains Green Tea). That's it.

Surely, if that's all it takes to destroy any Coronavirus on our hands externally, then it shouldn't be that difficult to destroy any internally as well.

The answer (obviously ) is to drink plenty of alcohol, chew Aloe Vera leaves, and dab essence of Green Tea behind your ears.  

There; that didn't take much working-out, did it!

Wednesday 5 August 2020


My own crop of Tomatoes has been a disaster, so I was extremely happy when my lovely neighbour, L, said to fill my boots from her huge crop; she said I could take as many as I liked.

I took my big blue bucket, and filled it. I hardly touched the surface. Her crop is enormous, and her bushes filled from top to bottom. 

I decided to make just four jars of Ratatouille, and the rest plain Tomatoes. I may do another lot later on. 

It feels good to be filling the store cupboard again. Lockdown holds no fears when you have a cupboard filled with conserves.

Happy Birthday.


It's my late father's birthday today; he would have been 115 years old. My father is the smaller one on the left above, with his older brother.

So, Happy Birthday Papa. This is just to let you know that you're not forgotten.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Melbourne Ska Orchestra - The Best Things In Life Are Free

This is worth airing again. Great song, great band, and poor old Melbourne once more in the clutches of COVID.

Stay safe y'all, and enjoy the MSO.

Monday 3 August 2020


I know there are several ex-teachers who read this page, and I salute them. Teaching isn't easy, and most teachers show extreme dedication to their profession.

I would never call myself a 'teacher', but I have taught in two schools and acted as visiting lecturer on a few other occasions.

My first teaching position, in a girl's private school, was a total waste of time. They wasted my time, I wasted the pupils time, and the whole department could have closed down and no-one would have noticed.

The fault lay with the head of department. A woman of retirement age, who considered cleanliness and tidiness to be far more important than quality of work. My hands were tied, and I became no more than a 'child-minder'. At the end of the year, the headmistress asked (almost begged) me to stay on, which I was prepared to do as long as the incumbent head of dep't retired, and I could totally transform it into something of which the school could be proud. The elderly spinster refused to quit; so I left.

The school was very well known, and many of the girls came from famous backgrounds; one was the daughter of the then Irish Prime Minister. It was St Trinians without the bad behaviour. Lacrosse, Hockey, and Greek dancing seemed to be the school's obsessions. There was even an outdoor amphitheater where the girls would prance about in 'ancient Greek pleated dresses' (imitating illustrations on an Etruscan vase) for the benefit of bored parents. It was all so old-fashioned, it was laughable.

My next position was a totally different affair. A co-ed Prep' school that after 'Dragon' was reputed to be the best in Britain. The whole atmosphere was one of relaxed gentility. The children were all charming, my fellow teachers all dedicated, and the all-round quality of education and extra-mural activities was without flaws. I loved being there, but my position was only for one year, to replace the regular teacher who'd taken a year off to attain the same qualifications that I already held.

During the Easter holidays I drove down through France, and bought a big old farm. My teaching career thus came to an end.

Sunday 2 August 2020


As an ardant vegetable grower, I have an almost endless selection of leafy greens at my disposal.

The Greek word 'Horta' has various meanings, but probably the best is just plain 'Greens' (A lady in Poros will correct me if I'm wrong). It is also one half of a semi-insulting Greek word for vegetarians, 'Hortafagos', meaning weed-eaters. Horta is in fact perfect for vegetarians, but it is also a standard dish in most Greek restaurants and households.

Originally the ingredients for this dish were collected from the wild. Unfortunately I'm not too au fait with wild greenery, so my own ingredients come from Haddock's. I could gather Nettles, Dandelions, and Sorrell, but I have better things to do.

My own version of Horta contains roughly equal amounts of Cavolo Nero, Swiss Chard, and perpetual Spinach, which are steamed together, allowed to cool, then served with fresh lemon juice and olive oil.

This may sound like wartime survival food, but believe me, it is delicious. Just add a Lamb chop, some quality sausage, or freshly grilled fish, and you have a gourmet meal.

The above was eaten last night with some fried smoked sausage and lightly spiced lentils.

Saturday 1 August 2020

Cricket on the Lawn?

Actually he was sitting on Billy's Tennis ball launcher on our Bay tree.

We're a little too far north for that constant buzz of Cicadas; but we do have a few in the height of Summer. Otherwise we have plenty of Crickets, Grasshoppers of all sizes, Praying Mantis, and Stick insects.

The large Crickets are usually all-over green, but this one has an amazing coat of many colours. I think it may be a female which are bigger than the males.

What a lovely creature it is. Very friendly.

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