Mind The Gap – Travelling on the tube with children

Travelling on the underground in London can be daunting for any adult who has never done it before. It can also be very stressful, especially during the busy rush hour, but it needn’t be if you prepare your self.

Living on the outskirts of London means that we travel into London a lot of times. Sometimes we go after school during the week to get to auditions and other times we travel on a weekend just for a day out. We are so used to travelling during the rush hour that it just seems natural to us. There are some stations and routes that we will avoid at the busy times, which may mean walking through the streets to get to the next station  but they are never that far away from each other.

Travelling with a baby or young children across London can be every adults nightmare, It can also be very challenging but it is definitely possible and enjoyable.

Here are some of our tips on travelling with children on the underground

  • Grab your self and Oyster card or if you can use your phone or bank card if cantactless is set up on it.

-Children under 11 travel free on the tube, overground, DLR , TFL rail and buses if they have a 5-10 Zip or travelling with an adult (under 5 travel free)

-Children aged 11-15 can travel with a Zip oyster photocard. They travel for free on buses and trams and get a reduced rate on all other TFL service

-If you’re visiting London and travelling with children aged 11-15 who haven’t got a Zip Oyster photo card, you can still benefit from reduced rate travel for them. You can get a discount set on an Oyster or Visitor Oyster card that will allow them to pay as you go at half adult-rate for up to 14 days.

Apply for these cards online prior to visiting

  • Remember always to tap in and out at the stations on the yellow card reader with your card. If you manage to walk through a barrier without tapping out after your journey, you will be charged the maximum fare
  • Plan your route. Take a look at the underground map online or download an app. We find the app to be very useful, not only does it tell you if there are any delays on any of the routes but it also plans your route for you and tells you how long each journey will be.
  • Grab a map at the station and give to your child to look at and study. When on the train tell them your destination and see if they can work out the route.
  • Try to avoid travelling during rush hour. With commuters moving around the city, expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening. This said, I have also found some stations on particular routes in zone 1 to start getting busy at 4.30.
  • When travelling with babies, try taking a light fold away buggy/stroller or use a sling. It will make your trip a lot more easier
  • Be prepared to walk up lots of stairs. There are also lots of escalators to use.
  • When using the escalator stand on the right as people walk up on them on the left. Keep young children in front of you.
  • Take a look on the map for step free access stations. Sometimes its easier to travel to your destination by using the nearest step free station and walking the rest
  • If you are travelling with more than one child, tell them that as soon as you get off of the train and on to the platform to wait against the wall. Platforms can become extremely busy. You don’t want to be dragged along with the crowd not knowing what direction you actually want to go. We always wait against the wall and then look for the way out sign or where to go for the next line.
  • I know it’s scary but I have always told my children that IF they ever get left on the train to get off at the next station and wait on the platform against the wall for me to get them. I also tell them that if they get off of the train without me to wait on that platform and I will come back for them. This has never happened to us, but the trains do get very busy and sometimes a small child could become disoriented within a crowd of people.
  • Tell your children to always wait behind the yellow line until the train has stopped.
  • If there are two adults when travelling, always have one at the front and one at the back when walking through the stations and even through London streets. Think of a sandwich, keeping the children in the middle. I travel with my three children, who are now 15, 10 and 6. It is always me first and my eldest last.
  • Walk around London from one station to the next, instead of going by tube. For example; although travelling from Oxford Circus to Piccardilly Circus can take a few minutes on the train, it does only take 11 minutes by foot. Think of all those lovely shops and building that you will see.
  • Carry water with you. The trains can become stuffy and hot, especially in the summer. Also have a snack in your bag.
  • If you are going to be on the train for a while, play some games with them to keep them occupied. We like to play the station alphabet game or I-Spy
  • When standing on the platform waiting for the train to approach, wave to the driver. they always wave back and the children love it.
  • Use the wider ticket barriers, they will have much more room for the family to get through. They are marked with a blue wheelchair symbol and normally have an attendant close by.

Remember where ever you go in London; on bus, tram, tube or river boat to enjoy your self. Have a great trip and Mind the Gap!

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Pass the Pigs for Xmas Competition

Pass the Pigs logo

Christmas is coming! It’s that time of year when family get together and enjoy each others company. A time for fun and probably a game or two!

You’ll be snorting with laughter if you play with these piggy games for Christmas.  The original party animals, Pass the Pigs, use hilarious pigs for dice. Weird but fun. Will you roll a sider or start makin’ bacon? Having fun with friends, on the road entertainment, or just chilling out – the game is on for every pig in the parlour!

Pass the Pigs points
Fantastic fun for the whole family, Pass the Pigs is so easy to play. Simply throw the 2 piggies up in the air and see how they land. Compare the pigs landing positions with your scorecard and earn points, the first to 100 wins.

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Pass the Pigs comes in a handy travel case, pop into your bag and you are ready for a game anytime, so if you are traveling to see family it’s the perfect entertainment on the go.

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  • Hours of fun are guaranteed with this exciting Pass the Pigs game. Perfect for taking on the road, the Pass the Pigs game comes in a handy travel case, so there’s never a dull moment to be had!
  • Pass the Pigs is a game of skill for 2-6 players, it comes with a handy carry case, 2 pencils, 2 pigs and a pocket-sized score card.
  • Suitable for ages 3+ and available for £9.99rrp.

Pass the Pigs Party is ideal for when you want to play with family and friends at Christmas.

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  • The version for party animals! Now there are EIGHT pigs in the game to play with. Roll your piggies to try and be first to match the position on your card, get bonus points if you do it on your first go! Be the first to rack up 100 points.
    • 8 small plastic piggies (four pairs)
    • Deck of 30 cards
    • Carry case
    • £14.99rrp.

Competition:

One lucky winner can win both games ready for Christmas. Enter via Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions

  1. Competition closes on 8th December
  2. Winner will be notified by email and given 1 day to reply
  3. Prize is sent out by PR
  4. Contact details will be passed on to the PR before 10th December in order for the prize to be sent out
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly by rafflecopter
  6. UK entries only

Social Media Tags:

Instagram: @passthepigsofficial,

Facebook: www.facebook.com/passthepigs,

Twitter: @PassThePigsGame,

Website: www.passthepigsofficial.com

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A Letter To My 14yr Old Son

Dear Son

When I found out that I was pregnant with you, it was quite a shock! I doubted myself and my ability to look after you. Even though I was 24, I thought that I was still to young to have children. I didn’t want to fail you as a parent and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take on the responsibility if looking after a young baby.

As soon as I began to feel you move around inside of my tummy my love for you began to grow, you was mine – all mine.

The day you was born, my life changed.

The moment you came into this world you brought an ache into my heart that I had never experienced before, a love that was so strong it brought to tears to my eyes and a pain in my chest. You taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

You was a mummy’s boy and I was your biggest supporter. With every milestone that you reached; crawling, first steps, first word, first pee on the potty, I reveled in euphoria.

You was such a clever little boy. At 2 years old you showed an interest in cars and used to point out to me all the makes of them as they passed by. I had no idea where you had learned it from as I didn’t drive and had no understanding of them myself. I remember sitting on a bus one day; you was looking out of the window and was pointing out the cars as they passed us, saying their names and getting quite excited. The other passengers were laughing and encouraging you by asking you what the next car was. You knew them all!

You have, to this day, a presence about you that leaves people in awe. Such confidence in yourself, no matter what it is you try you will always put everything into it.

I sometimes wish that you were still that little intrigued boy. I often miss him, thinking about what you were like as a small boy. The way you used to line up your cars in colours, sizes and models. How we could never pass by a Bob the Builder ride that was outside the supermarket because you would shout to have a go on it. When you used to come in to my room at night and sneak into my side of the bed for a cuddle. And, you was always full of energy, running around I circles in the living room because you wouldn’t give in to your tiredness.

You was such a caring, thoughtful young boy – Still are!

You filled my days with such pure delight

Over the past 14 years I have watched you grow from a young boy into a young man. You are still caring and thoughtful. You have learnt so much but there is so much more for you to learn now as an adult. Life is a continuous journey and I am so glad that I am a part of yours. You have hopes and dreams and aspirations. Their will be challenges but I have confidence in you that you will overcome them, you will make mistakes, as everyone does, but remember, that is how we learn. You will have times of contentment and times of sadness, life has its ups and downs. You are a strong boy who will overcome them all.

This past year has been a tough one for us all, you have shown such maturity and your attitude towards my illness has been a positive one. If anyone could be optimistic about their mum having cancer its you! You tell everyone that my illness has taught you how to grow up, how to fend for yourself and how to be positive.

You have taught yourself to cook and to look after your siblings. Your attitude towards it all has been a positive one. Giving me support and showing me that you are much more to me than just my son. You are my friend.

You are an incredible, unique boy and I want you to know what an amazing young man you have turned out to be.

There were days when I was in hospital, when I woke, to find you sitting by my bedside holding on to my hand and stroking my head. You are such a caring boy. Full of love and compassion.

You have such a bright future ahead of you and I trust that you will accomplish anything you set out to do. You have a drive to succeed. You are your own person, have your own interests, thought and opinions and are not afraid of showing who you are to others. You are clever and very knowledgeable. I have no doubt in my mind that you will succeed.

Follow your heart, hopes and dreams and become the man whom I know you will turn out to be. Be yourself and accomplish great things.

I am who I am because of you. I love you dearly

Your forever loving Mum

 

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Running together as a family at Westminster Mile

A family that runs together stays fit together

With three very active boys we are always looking for ways to keep them active but also for us all to be together. It’s not easy when you have three lots of sports clubs to get to all at the same time. We have tried football, swimming and athletics clubs and the boys even went to drama club but these type of clubs take up a lot of family time, especially when you’re a working family and just want to spend the weekends together doing fun stuff.

We found that going out running, jogging together ticks all the boxes. The boys are keeping active and letting off steam, as a family we are keeping healthy and spending quality time together.

Running is an activity that the whole family can get involved in and enjoy, no matter what your ability or age is. And what’s best is it requires very little equipment, meaning it’s not heavy on the purse/wallet.

The children partake in a 2k timed Jumior Parkrun every Sunday morning, Dad runs every evening at a club and also enters races for cross country and track and I just jog at my own pace. Since my surgery I have being trying to increase my stamina and to get my muscles working again in my abdomen.

For the past few years the family have entered into family waves in Westminster Mile. It’s just a short distance around St James Park – Starting on The Mall, going around the edge of the park and down Birdcage Walk and finally finishing on Spur Road, just in front of Buckingham Palace.

The eldest races in the Junior Athletics One Mile Road Championships, Dad races in the first wave and the younger ones and I race in the family wave.

Last year I ran along with the youngest, just 3 weeks into my chemo-radiotherapy treatment. This year I ran 6 months after having two major surgeries.

Even though the eldest and Dad compete in other races they also run along with us as family. I can’t tell you how proud i am of all of them and how warm i feel when i am running along with them close to me.

I wouldn’t class myself as a runner, not like the rest of my family (especially Dad and Jak who race at competitive levels) I just jog along at a slow pace or i get dragged along by the youngest. I still enjoy the feeling and we are all spending quality time together.

First up was Dad in the first adult wave, we cheered him on as he was the first person to cross over the finish line with an impressive time of 4.31

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It was then time for the family wave. We made our way to the start line, where many other families were.

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The boys sped off as soon as the gun fired and left me behind, they were eager to get a fast time. I could still see them up ahead of me.

Joseph finished first with a time of 6.50

Then came Oliver with a time of 8.10

And lastly, Mummy with a time of 9.53

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After picking up our goodie bags with our medals in them, we made our way to Green Park where there were plenty of fun activities to keep us busy in the wellness vitality festival whilst we waited until the eldest ran in his race.

The youngest got his face painted at one of the stalls, he chose to be Batman20170528_120704

Then we found a spot on the grass where we sat down and had a little picnic.

There were many other fun child-friendly activities to try like target football, basketball, a range of demonstrations, zumba and yoga sessions.

Dad and Joseph tried the tumbleator. Which was a giant conveyor belt that they controlled the speed of, varying from 0-8m/sec Mo farah world 10,000m champion pace. Dad took on the challenge to get to 21mph on the Canning Conveyor Tumbleator, he made it look so easy! He said he wanted to carry on until he tumbled but they stopped him at 21mph. The machine is capable of in excess of 25mph

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Joseph was up next, he managed to stay running at a speed of 13mph for 60 seconds. What a star!

Joseph getting ready on the tumbleator
Joseph getting ready on the tumbleator

It was soon Jak’s turn to race in the road championships. He went off to the start line and we found a spot near the finish line to cheer him on

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It was his first time in the under 15s race and he done really well. Finishing with a time of 5.10, he even had enough energy to finish with a sprint.

I may not be in the same league as the rest of my family but I still enjoy to race along with them. It makes us all feel good, as well as being in each others company.

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I may have Cancer but I’m still a Mum!

Being diagnosed with cancer was hard to deal with but what made it hard for me was that I still had to be there for my children.

No matter how much pain I was going through

or how tired I got

or how upset I felt

I was still a Mum, a person who my children depended on

I still had to smile every day for the sake of my children, even though all I felt like doing was crying. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. I wanted to get angry but I couldn’t!

I was suffering but not in front of my boys. I cried on the inside. I tried hard to hide my feelings.

I was still the person they came to when they was upset or hurt

I was still the person who had to cook them dinner or read them their bedtime stories

Cancer didn’t take that from me. I was still a Mum

The one thing that went through my head was ‘Who is going to look after my children once I am gone?’ Who is going to wipe their tears from their eyes when they fall over and hurt themselves? Who is going to read to them at night? Who will be there for them when I can’t be?

Cancer treatment took all my energy, it left me tired and laid up in bed for days. There were days where I couldn’t move, days when all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and forget about everything. Pull the covers up over my head and lay there in the darkness of my own thoughts. But as a parent, you know that this is impossible. Children crave attention from their parents, they want to feel needed and loved.

My boys need for their Mum helped me find the fight that I needed to get through the toughest time of my life.

When my spirit was low, listening to my children play together lifted me up

I felt lonely, but I was not alone. I had the support of my family and friends, who constantly reminded me that I was going to fight this disease and come through the other end stronger than I entered it

Cancer has made us a stronger family unit.

I vowed that I would never be a victim but a survivor.

It was hard at first but with the help of my family I held onto my hopes and dreams and gathered the strength from around me to stay positive

I may have been diagnosed with Cancer, but I will not allow it to stop me from being a Mum

 

 

 

 

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A Guide for planning your Disneyland Paris trip

Disneyland Paris is a magical place and with the right type of planning your trip to the theme park could be an even more enjoyable one. Planning is the key to make the trip run smoothly.

Disneyland Paris is an amazing place, not as big as WaltDisney World but a much more . affordable and easily accessible park to visit. With the journey time from London St Pancras being just under a few hours (quicker if using a direct train) it just makes it even more of spot to place onto your bucket list of places to visit. Disneyland Paris consists of two parks, many themed hotels and the Disney Village where there are many places to dine and enjoy yourself.

We have just arrived back from a 5 day trip to DLP, where we stayed at NewportBay Club Hotel and managed to have a day trip into Paris too. I didn’t do too much planning before going with the children and there are plenty of things that I have learned since coming back from our little break and would like to share with you all. I definitely know for next time where to head to at what time, the best places to stand during the illuminations and parade and where to eat.

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1 Take along some Mickey or Minnie ears with you, these are the headbands that have the mouse ears attached to them. I checked on ebay and you can buy them for a fraction of the cost they are selling at Disneyland.

2 Ponchos come in handy for when the weather takes a little wet turn. They are light to carry and fold away when not in use. They are especially ideal for Autumn, Spring time when you don’t want to be carry around your coat

3 If you are staying in one of the many Disney Hotels then make the most of the parks magic hours, where you can enter the park before it opens. That’s 2 whole hours prior to everyone else. Not all ares are open early but you can do the meet and greets with the characters and rides in Fantasyland and Discoveryland are open.

4. Avoid the Disney parks about midday as this is the busiest time. We took this time to go back to the hotel for a swim in the pool, take a rest in the hotel room or just walk about the Disney village and have lunch

5. Download the EuroDisneyLand App prior to going. This app will tell you where to eat, how long the queues for the attractions are and what is closed. It’s a handy little map too. I found that my 4G wasn’t particularly great in some areas, so I used the app as a map to help guide us around the parks.

6. Take comfy shoes to wear. DLP is not about fashion. Your feet will ache from all of the walking around and waiting in queues.

7. Use your fastpass as soon as you can as the time slots soon fill up pretty quickly on busy days. We used ours for the most popular rides, like Hollywood Terror Towers, Ratatouille, Buzz light year and Thunder Mountain. When you use your fastpass for a ride check the bottom of the ticket as it will give you a time when you can use it again

8. Head on over to the studios and take a seat at one of the many shows to watch. The Moteurs show is one not to be missed. A spectacular action stunt show set amongst a full scale mediterranean village. Watch the hero red car speed away from the bad guys using some nail biting stunts, there is even a fiery finale

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9. Be prepared to queue for up to an hour on most rides. We saw queues with a waiting time of up to 130 minutes.

10. Although DLP does not allow picnics to be had inside the parks you can take in snacks. They come in handy when waiting in the long queues especially with the little ones

11. Book your meals before you arrive as the restaurants quickly become full especially Chez Remy, which is situated in The Studios. You can book over the phone up to a month before your trip starts or book with the concierge in your hotel on the day of your arrival

We ate in Agrabah, Cafe Mickey, Sequoia Lodge, Cape Cod and Earl of Sandwich

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Buffet breakfast at Newport Bay Club
Buffet breakfast at Newport Bay Club

 

12. Meet and Greets are available in the mornings from 8am in the Disney Hotel foyers

13. Pushchairs are available to hire out in the parks

14. If your child is not tall enough for a ride but you want to give it a go the most rides do a Rider switch where you all queue up at the same time and take it in turns to ride the attraction without queueing again. Just tell the member of staff when you begin to queue that is what you want to do.

15. Certain attractions offer a Single Rider option where you can join a special queue if you don’t mind filling up a spare space on the attraction and not ride along with friends or family. This queue is normally not as busy as the main queue

16. Turn up for the parade and illuminations about half hour before they begin. You will find that most people begin to find a spot about an hour before. We watched the parade at the bottom of the main street. I would advice to look out for where the sun is especially if you want to take some snaps as you dont’ want the sunshine to ruin your photos in the back drop. The illuminations start when the park closes, everyone tries to get just in front of the castle but we found that we had a great view from the entrance to fantasyland

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17. Take along a spare charge lead and a portable charger. If you are only using your phone as a camera then the battery will quickly go and you dont want to miss out on any photo opportunity

18. For quieter rides head on over to the back of Fantasyland where you will find Les Pays des Contes De Fees a gentle boat ride amongst Disney Storybook land and Casey Jr – Le Petit Train Du Cirque, a train ride above miniature land. We only queued for about 10 minutes for these rides.

19. For the magic to really come alive you must visit the dragon that lives in the caves under the castle

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Explore the many winding caves and see the waterfall or walk over the rickety walk way in Adventure isle in Frontier Land. From the eerie gloom of Skull Rock to the stunning landscape of Spyglass Hill, there are secrets and stories to uncover at every turn. At Adventure Isle keep a watchful eye on what’s ahead as danger lurks beneath crisscrossing suspension bridges, beside narrow pathways and within spooky caves.

20. If you’re arriving at the le marnee de valley train station there will be shuttle busses taking you to your hotel just outside of the station. each stop is sign posted with the hotel that the shuttle stops at and they run about every 20 minutes

21. Don’t miss out on the many photo opportunities you get not only with the meet and greets but also with the many statues that are around both parks. Playland in The Studios is a fabulous place for the young ones

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My boys also enjoyed attempting to pull the sword from the stone, it obviously was never going to budge as they are not King Arthur

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22. Disneyland doesn’t have to be all princess and Mickey mouse. My boys particularly enjoyed spending time in the Studio Park as they got to meet Storm troopers as they paraded around the park looking for any rebels to pick out from the crowds. At certain times of the day you get to watch the First Order March and the A Galaxy Far, Far Away show

23. Take along some fancy dress for your children to wear whilst they explore the parks, you never know you just might be picked out from the queue and taken to the front on a ride

24. There are many water fountains around the park so take along a water bottle for you to fill up. Drinks can be very expensive, about £3.50 per drink and £2.80 for a coffee.

25. The quieter times to attend the attraction and rides are between 8-10 in the morning, while the parade is on and after 7 at night. The park closes at 10 just as the fireworks and illuminations start.

26. And last of all relax and enjoy the experience. Enjoy your evenings in one of the many restaurants in Disney Village or have a drink and watch the buffallo Bill show.

My youngest is about 107cm tall and he managed to go on most of the rides apart from a few, unlike a few of the theme parks that we have visited in England where he got very frustrated and upset as he wasn’t tall enough to go on them. This just made our family experience a while lot better as we all went on the rides together. It was just India Jones, Rc Racer and Rock n Roller coaster. Space mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t open.

Rides I would reccomend are: Crush Coaster, ratatouille, Buzz light year, Autopia, Star tours, Thunder mountain, Terror towers and Rock n Roller coaster

Thank you for reading, I hope this post has been helpful

 

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Thankful for being a Mother

Last weekend was Mothering Sunday

A day where children shower there Mummy’s with Love, presents, cards and time

A day where Mums from all over get to have a day off and spend it with their Children.

A day when children tell their Mums how much they love them and how much they are thankful for them being their mummy

I didn’t receive a shop bought card, or any flowers or a gift for that matter. But what I did get was far more rewarding and priceless. A day with my boys.

I don’t need a card to tell me how much they love me

I don’t need flowers or gifts to know that they love me

I receive kisses and cuddles every day from them, so this day was no exception

Instead we walked along hand in hand on a beach.

We talked and laughed at each others jokes

We ate chips on the sea front whilst the sun shone down on us

We watched the waves hit the shore

We enjoyed each others company

I sat and watched my boys play together, kick a football around and play fight with each other

I should be thanking them for making me the person I am today

I wouldn’t be a Mum without them. Without them I wouldn’t be me!

I am thankful on Mothers Day, as of the rest of the days of the year in being their Mum

My day couldn’t have been any better. I wasn’t upset that I didn’t receive gifts, as I’ve got my boys instead. They showered me with cuddles and kisses. They gave me laughter and fun and most of all they gave me memories of a lovely day together.

I celebrate every day the love I have for them and I know that they love me just as much as I do them.

I only have to hold them to feel their loving touch. Look into their eyes to see the love.

I am thankful for being their Mum every day that I breathe and nothing can take that away from me

 

 

 

 

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