Monday, 29 December 2008

London Ruminations Part 2


As promised, more London Ruminations from the extensive library over at Walks Towers, selected by David (see also yesterday’s post):

‘A place where men and manners may be seen to the greatest advantage, [in particular] the variety of perfect and curious characters [and] the immense crowd and hurry and bustle of business…the great number of public places of entertainment, the noble churches [see illustration, left] and the superb buildings…[the] satisfaction of pursuing whatever plan is most agreeable, without being known or looked at.’
(James Boswell 1762)

‘If the world must consist of so many fools as it does, I choose to take them in the gross, and not made into separate pills, as they prepared in the country.’ (Horace Walpole 1743’

And finally, this:

‘Lots o’ houses and I found some pretty good pasture, only it were a bit scattered.’
(Sir Tatton Sykes’s bailiff, reporting on his trip to London from the Yorkshire Wolds, early 19th century.)

For the record, with the exception of Horace Walpole, this rum lot were all outsiders. Dr. J. (yesterday’s post, scroll down) was from Lichfield, Emerson (also yesterday) and James were Americans, Boswell was a Scot, and Sir Tatton’s man was, as you know, from the Texas of England!

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Sunday, 28 December 2008

London Ruminations


David is in reflective mood.

The subject of his ruminations? 

London, of course. What else? Where else? Over to David:



Conceptualising London ain’t easy. Here are some of the more heroic attempts:

‘It is not in the showy evolution of buildings but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together that the wonderful immensity of London lies.’ (Dr. Johnson 18th century)

‘The capital of the world… an aggregation of capitals.’
(Ralph Waldo Emerson 1848)

‘It is not a pleasant place… It is only magnificent…The fogs, the smoke, the dirt, the darkness, the wet, the distances, the ugliness, the brutal size of the place, the horrible numerosity of the people…all this you may expatiate upon…But…for one who takes it as I take it, London is on the whole the most possible form of life…the most complete compendium of the world.’ (Henry James 1881)”




‘A place where men and manners may be seen to the greatest advantage, [in particular] the variety of perfect and curious characters [and] the immense crowd and hurry and bustle of business…the great number of public places of entertainment, the noble churches [see illustration, left] and the superb buildings…[the] satisfaction of pursuing whatever plan is most agreeable, without being known or looked at.’
(James Boswell 1762)


‘If the world must consist of so many fools as it does, I choose to take them in the gross, and not made into separate pills, as they prepared in the country.’ (Horace Walpole 1743’

And finally, this:

‘Lots o’ houses and I found some pretty good pasture, only it were a bit scattered.’
(Sir Tatton Sykes’s bailiff, reporting on his trip to London from the Yorkshire Wolds, early 19th century.)


For the record, with the exception of Horace Walpole, this rum lot were all outsiders. Dr. J. was from Lichfield, Emerson (also yesterday) and James were Americans, Boswell was a Scot, and Sir Tatton’s man was, as you know, from the Texas of England!


POST UPDATED 27/3/16 

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

My Favourite London Walk No. 4 (Plus some FREE Dietary Advice!)


(Pictured: Mildred opened the fourth bottle of Elderflower & Nettle wine safe in the knowledge that she would be walking off its ill effects with Judy on Saturday.)

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Then eat some more. Tuck in. It’s Christmas. And calorie-burning help is at hand. Forget the Atkins. Stuff the F-Plan. The Scarsdale? Too much like hard work, mate. G.I? My eye.

Simply WALK IT ALL OFF on the 27th with the svelte Judy. She’s hitting Shoreditch & Hoxton at 10.45a.m.

“An area today full of bars, loft apartments and modern art galleries was once the centre of the furniture trade and is described by English Heritage as one of best preserved Victorian manufacturing districts. The Shakespeare and his chums once dismantled a theatre here, on Boxing Day 1598 and moved it all the way across the River Thames! The walk covers stories of Victorian music hall, of pioneers in gardening and medicine and the site of the most terrible and notorious slum in 19th century London. We finish at the 18th century Geffrye Museum - where its period rooms are dressed for the Christmas season.”

Happy Walking and HAPPY CHRISTMAS from all at the LW Blog!

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Monday, 22 December 2008

O! Come All Ye Faithful (Walkers)!


In the best seasonal Dickensian tradition… never let it be said that David over at www.walks.com is a man who cannot keep Christmas in his heart. Between slugs of mulled wine and bites of Mary's delicious homemade mince pies, he treats us to this…

“Gladys Pendlebury from Happy, Texas writes: ‘Question for you. I understand why you'd have a Dickens walk on Christmas day. But what's the reason for the other one - the Christmas Morning, 1660 one? Is there a reason for that year - or is it just arbitrary?’

Well, first of all, Happy Christmas to you in Happy, Texas, Gladys. Happily, I've got some glad tidings for you. It's not arbitrary in the least. As is well known, 1660 was the year of the Restoration. But it wasn't just the monarchy that was "restored" in that year. What's not so well known is that Christmas was banned between 1652 and 1660. The Ebeneezer Scrooge of that era was none other than the Protector himself, Oliver Cromwell. He certainly didn't protect Christmas. He shot it down and shut it down. Hard to believe isn't it - no Christmas in England for eight years! Talk about doing hard time. Cromwell and Co. put the boot in because, according to them, Christmas was a farrago of pagan traditions and popish nonsense. And as such it had to be extirpated. And so it was.

But, happily, that all changed in 1660. Cromwell was kaput. Royalty - in the person of Charles II - was rip roaringly replevined, not to say rampant. Puritanism was purged. And part and parcel of all that was we got Christmas back. So had you been there that morning, it would have been, yes, Gladys, there is a Christmas!

Must have been pretty special, wouldn't you say? And what's neat is that - well, you weren't there, but you can be there! This time round, I mean. All you have to do is meet Ed or Richard III by the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square at 11 am on Christmas Day and go on the Christmas Morning, 1660 - Samuel Pepys' London walk. A Christmas Restoration walk in every sense of the word!

And that's not to forget - let alone take anything away from - the Charles Dickens Christmas Day Walk. Which goes at 2 pm on Christmas Day. Same meeting point. If you do pitch up, well be sure to introduce yourself. And if you're in Happy...well, Happy Christmas. Happiness spreads.”

COMING SOON… a fiendish quiz!

TODAY'S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Saturday, 20 December 2008

A Blog Follower Asks…


Last week we posted Blog Follower John’s question – “Why is there a lion on the road sign in Stamford Street SE1?” He refers to the sign directing traffic to the Southbank. Adam, who was the guide on the Somewhere Else London walk that inspired Blog Follower John to send in the question, answers:

“The lion (pictured) stands on the plinth at the southern end of Westminster Bridge and was one of a pair that adorned the defunct Red Lion brewery which stood near the site of what is now the Royal Festival Hall. It is made of Coade Stone (a synthetic stone or ceramic also native to the borough of Lambeth) the secret ‘recipe’ for which, it is popularly believed, went to the grave with Eleanor Coade, matriarch of the business. The lion’s partner can be found at Twickenham rugby union ground and differs slightly from its Southbank twin in that its genitalia remain in tact. The Lambeth lion’s – ahem – parts were deemed to be too distracting to passing traffic and were removed.”

Thanks for the question, John. Keep ‘em coming to londonwalksblog@gmail.com

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

“It’s the pictures that got small!”


The pictures may well be small – but I’m sure you’ll agree that they’re oh-so perfectly formed over at You Tube as London Walks’ expansion into the movie business moves on apace.

Simon is ready for his close-up at in our Cambridge promo, while Karen’s hits are climbing steadily toward the 4000 mark with her Westminster film (see London Links opposite, right).

In addition to those two, the Jack the Ripper film, starring Donald Rumbelow, is currently being cut (oops, unfortunate turn of phrase, there). Click HERE for all the latest news on that project and links to all the other films. Happy viewing!

NEXT TIME ON THE BLOG… we answer the question sent in last week by Blog Follower John about the South Bank lion.

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

London Walks Reading List No.3


The Savoy Cocktail Book
by Harry Craddock (1930)

Patriotic American Harry Craddock was driven from his homeland by a wicked and draconian law: Prohibition. As a bar tender, Harry was out of a job. Luckily for London he washed up on the bank of the Thames at the Savoy Hotel, where he popularised the Dry Martini in the capital and invented some 200 cocktails.

He also penned The Savoy Cocktail Book (1965 edition shown), not a day out of print since 1930. Even now, Harry’s book still has few rivals for clarity, variety and – best of all – simplicity. An illustration of this simplicity (and apposite for the season) can be found in his deliciously unfussy Egg Nog:

1 Egg
1 tablespoon sugar
2 oz. of any spirit desired
Fill glass with milk
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate a little nutmeg on top.

Bish, bash and, indeed, bosh. A simple classic. The pages brim with golden rules and booze wisdom aplenty from the man who, legend has it, mixed the last legal cocktail in New York City in the minutes before midnight on 15th January 1920. (He cut it so fine that the last legal cocktail to be mixed became the first illegal one to be consumed, thrown back just after midnight.) “What,” he was once asked, “is the best way to drink a cocktail?” His answer fizzes with both wit and cautionary wisdom: “Quickly, while it’s still laughing at you.”

(Look at The Savoy from a VERY different angle on Alan’s Blood Curdling London every Saturday at 6.30p.m.)

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Blog Extra… (or: You Saw it Here First!)


A Blog Exclusive pings its way into the LW Blog Inbox! (We’ve drawn the line at calling it a Blogsclusive, you’ll be relieved to see.) It’s from David over at Mission Control

“As essential a bit of London kit as the A–Z or an Oyster card, the London Walks leaflet now sports a lil’ bit of added bling. Have a look at the attached sneak preview (pictured) to see if you can guess what it is… Yours Goldly, David”

Any guesses? Need a clue? It is, of course, the addition of the Visit London Award Gold Medal for Best Tourism Experience 2008.

You can always view the famous white leaflet by clicking HERE or by swinging by the following magnificent seven central London locations:

Trafalgar Square (The Crypt at St Martin’s), Leicester Square (from the Visitor Information kiosk at tkts, the half-price ticket booth), Harrods (just over the road from the legendary store at the American Express office), Piccadilly (The Royal Academy), the British Museum and St John’s Wood Tube from the Beatles Coffee Shop.

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Friday, 12 December 2008

Pick o’ the Pub Walks


Each weekend, London Walks present The Other Saturday Night Pub Walk (see the famous white LEAFLET
for full programme details). This Saturday (13th), our resident crime fiction expert and movie buff extraordinaire Richard IV combines his twin passions in the Hitchcock and Holmes Pub Walk.

Meet him at Holborn Underground station on Saturday night (13th December) at 7.15p.m.

(On the topic of movies, and in the best tradition of the movie trailer… coming soon: news of the outstanding new Jack the Ripper promo film from London Walks. Be afraid: be VERY afraid…)

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

London List No. 7: City on Fire!


This Thursday (11th December), Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 programme IN OUR TIME (see London Links, below right) turns to the Great Fire of London. The events of September 1666 pop up on many a London Walk – along with some of the following, lesser-known fiery goings-on from the history of London:

1. THE CRYSTAL PALACE
Joseph Paxton’s iron and glass “Crystal Palace” (see illustration) burned to the ground on the night of the 30th November 1936. “It is the end,” commented Winston Churchill, upon seeing the conflagration illuminate the night sky to the south of the Thames, “it is the end of an age.” (Watch out for the Crystal Palace walk – Palace of Delights – early next year. Click HERE for Additional walks on Selected Saturdays.)
2. ROYAL SURREY GARDENS
The music hall at the Royal Surrey Gardens, a Victorian pleasure garden in Kennington, burned down in 1861. The gardens had been famed for staging large-scale dramatic events, including – ahem – a recreation of the Great Fire of London.
3. THE CUTTY SARK
This Greenwich landmark was consumed by flames on the 21st May 2007.
4. THE PALACE OF WHITEHALL
Principal royal residence from 1530 – 1698, when it burned down in a fire started – so one legend has it – by a servant drying washing indoors over a charcoal fire. Classic stuff: blame the servants. (Find out what lies beneath the old palace on the Subterranean London walk.
5. THE GLOBE THEATRE
On 29th June 1613, the original Globe Theatre went up in flames during a production of King Henry VIII. No one was hurt, but one man is said to have had his blazing breeches doused with a very important London fluid. Find out what that fluid was on the Along the Thames Pub Walk

LATER THIS WEEK ON LW BLOG: Pick o’ the Pub Walks for this weekend and more London walks movie news!

TODAY’S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Monday, 8 December 2008

Last Orders


This just in from Ann, a unique last chance to catch a London legend in all its glory on her delicious Foodies London: The West End walk:

“The Café Royal closes in a couple of weeks. Time, perhaps, to reflect on the many memorable meals consumed there? How about this one, eaten by the food critic of the Pall Mall Gazette, who was entertaining his niece in 1898:

• Hors d’oeuvre
• Pot au feu
• Sole Walewska
• Green beans
• Foie gras
• Quail en cocotte
• Noisette d’agneau Lavalliere
• Salad
• Dessert Pole Nord

And what were Sole Walewska, Agneau Lavalliere, and Pole Nord? Well, come on my walk and find out!”

Join Ann on December 12th, Green Park Underground Station (outside the Ritz exit), 2.30 p.m

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Saturday, 6 December 2008

A Blog Follower Writes…


Occasional highlights from Sir L.W Blog’s personal inbox at londonwalksblog@gmail.com…

New Zealand-based London Walks Blog Follower Mistymoore drops a line having been inspired by our London Up Close pic last month of Archie the Archer at East Finchley (as a reminder, we’ve run the pic again below. Click on it to magnify the image, or see the Archive section):

"Love it. What a great picture. Feels like you could travel for ever – I know it does sometimes *feel like that* on the Northern Line but I mean in a good way."



Thanks Mistymoore.
Then there was this from Blog Follower John. Damned with faint praise? We think he meant it in a good way, too:

“Found out about it [the London Walks Blog] on the Eccentric London Walk. Not as good as the main London Walks website – it’s like London Lite compared to the full Evening Standard – but handy nonetheless. Well done, keep it up.”

Er… thanks John. We think… ☺ He also came up with an excellent London question (his main reason for writing): “Why is the road sign on Stamford Street SE1 pointing to the South Bank illustrated with a lion?”

Good question… for which we have an equally good answer… which will be posted up on the London Walks Blog next week. Stay tuned…

Keep Following and keep ‘em coming (comments & questions) to: londonwalksblog@gmail.com
Happy Walking
Sir L.W Blog

COMING UP THIS WEEK on LONDON WALKS BLOG… Ann Jones on last orders at the Café Royal

TODAY'S WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Game's Afoot (as are The Beef & The Pork)


“Thank you, Watson, you must help me on with my coat. When we have finished at the police station I can think that something nutritious at Simpson’s would not be out of place.” (From The Adventure of the Dying Detective by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1913)

See Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, one of London’s most fabled traditional restaurants, for yourself as you follow In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes with Corinna or Richard IV every Friday, 2.00p.m Embankment tube.

(NB: In the new season, Sherlock Holmes and The Da Vinci Code have swapped places. The Da Vinci Code can now be cracked on Thursday afternoons at 2.00p.m.)

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The London List No.6: Dead Centre of Hampstead


Five Permanent Hampsteadites

Interred in the graveyard of the Church of St John-at-Hampstead




1. John Constable – Romantic painter (1776 – 1837)


2. Peter Cook (ashes scattered) – writer and comedian (1937 – 1995)


3. Hugh Gaitskell – Leader of the Labour Party 1955 – 1963 (1906 – 1963)


4. John Harrison – inventor of the marine chronometer (1693 – 1776)


5. George du Maurier – author and cartoonist (1834 – 1896)

Discover Old Hampstead Village on Wednesdays at 2.00 p.m, Saturdays at 7.00 p.m and Sundays at 10.00 a.m.

POST UPDATED 23/3/16

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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Monday, 1 December 2008

Even More Whisky Galore!


Two weeks ago, in the By Special Request slot (see archive, right), Adam responded to a London Walker’s query regarding London’s best whisky shop. Adam recommended Royal Mile Whiskies in Bloomsbury Street. His colleague and blog stalwart Richard III, however, wrote to disagree:

“Wrong. Milroy's is the premiere whisky shop in London in Greek Street, at the Soho Square end, next door to the Gay Hussar. Apart from the hazard of running in to Peter Mandelson who dines regularly at the Gay Hussar, Milroy's have a basement with a licence to consume alcohol so you can spend a nice afternoon shopping and sipping a single malt or six.”

Richard III is guiding the Soho Pubs Walk this coming Sunday.

Disagree with both Adam or Richard on any of their upcoming walks. Send your own suggestion on this, or any other topic, to londonwalksblog@gmail.com.

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Sunday, 30 November 2008

London Scottish (Oh By the Way: Did we Mention Winning an Award?)


A Lion Rampant for St Andrew’s Day (pictured). This particular specimen adorns the Albert Hall where, on Thursday past, London Walks won the Gold Medal in the Best Tourism Experience category at the Visit London Awards.

Okay, it was a tenuous excuse to mention the award again. We’ll stop banging on about it now…

But only after you’ve clicked HERE for the official account of the night’s proceedings over at www.walks.com.

Happy St Andrew’s Day!

THIS WEEK AHEAD ON LONDON WALKS BLOG… Sherlock Holmes… The Dead Centre of Hampstead… and Even More Whisky Galore!

TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Friday, 28 November 2008

And the Winner is…


This is a picture of Nick. Nick, as you can plainly see, is opening a bottle of champagne. Nick is opening a bottle of champagne at the Royal Albert Hall. Now, why would a man like Nick be doing such a thing? Is it because Nick is celebrating? Celebrating winning an award? An award such as the

VISIT LONDON 2008 GOLD AWARD FOR BEST TOURISM EXPERIENCE

perhaps? Well, if that was your guess then you’d be absolutely right.

It was a helluva night and, as much as I could bang on about how great it was here on the London Walks Blog, I really don’t want to steal David & Mary’s thunder. So get yourself over to the Mothership – that’s the GOLD MEDAL WINNING Mothership at www.walks.com– to read all about it.

If you get there and there’s no announcement up yet, then swing by later. David and Mary were last seen cuttin’ a rug into the wee small hours at the Albert Hall. And who could blame them?

Just one more thing: the pic that speaks a thousand words. That’s Mary below with the award.




TODAY’S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Thursday, 27 November 2008

London List No. 5: Five London Yanks


HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

1. RAYMOND CHANDLER
Arguably the greatest of all 20th Century crime writers was educated at Dulwich College for Boys.
2. T.S ELIOT
Naturalised British citizen from 1927 (Born St Louis MO 26th September 1888), the poet and dramatist worked in Russell Square for Faber & Faber and lived in Kensington
3. BOB HOPE
Born at Eltham in 1903, the fabled entertainer’s family upped-sticks for Cleveland Ohio in 1907. Hope often quipped: “I left England when I was four when I found out I couldn’t be king.”
4. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
One of the founding fathers of the United States lived at 36 Craven Street WC2 from 1757 – 1775. It remains his last surviving residence and, as the Benjamin Franklin House, has been open to the public since 2006.
5. FRANCIS TUMBLETY
“Suspect” in the Jack the Ripper (www.jacktheripper.com) case raised (and buried) in Rochester, NY. Was he Jack the Ripper? Why not ask the world’s leading Ripperologist Donald Rumbelow HERE ?

(The picture is ‘Allies Day May 1917’ by Frederick Childe Hassam, a Yank whose incessant travels brought him through both London and Paris on numerous occasions.)

TODAY'S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

London Walks Zodiac: Sagittarius


Revered stargazer St John Featherstonehaugh (pictured, right) holds the post of Life Grand Master at the Imperial & Ancient Society of Astrology, Horoscopes, Clairvoyancy & That. He writes exclusively for the London Walks Blog. You can email him at londonwalksblog@gmail.com. (Just don’t be surprised if his reply arrives before you've even hit the "send" button.)

LONDON SAGITTARIUS November 22nd – December 21st

SYMBOL: In Greek mythology, The Centaur (pictured below).

IDEAL CAREERS FOR SAGITTARIANS: The law; politics

SOME FAMOUS LONDON SAGITTARIANS
John Harvard (26th November 1607, in Southwark )
William Blake (28th November 1757, Golden Square )
John Milton (9th December 1608, Click Here and scroll down to 13th December for the J.M Special.)

PLUS… Noel the www.walks.com office dynamo, is also a Sagittarian and will be turning 38 this week… for the THIRD time. Ahem. He’ll be celebrating, o good and faithful servant, with his chums on a specially tailored Hampstead Walk

SOME LONDON SAGITTARIAN FOUNDATIONS
1154 On 19th December Henry II crowned at Westminster Abbey
1952 The Mousetrap, starring Richard Attenborough, opened at the Ambassadors Theatre on the 25th November. It remains the world’s longest running play.
1963 Doctor Who is first broadcast 23rd November. Yes, we know The Doctor comes from Gallifrey, but is a Londoner by virtue of the fact that his Tardis was first seen at 76 Trotter's Lane, Shoreditch. (Click Here to discover Shoreditch – scroll down to December 27th.)

NEXT MONTH: St John Featherstonehaugh reluctantly leaves his usual corner in Gordon’s Wine Bar for ten minutes to scribble a few lines on Capricorn London.

(Where did we get our blue centaur [above]? Go along on THIS WALK to find out.)

TODAY'S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

No Cats Were Harmed in the Making of This Walk


Richard III leads the Old Highgate Village Walk on Sundays. It has, in the past, been an incident-packed afternoon. Over to Richard:

“I was guiding in Old Highgate Village last year when I noticed a sign at the bottom of the hill at Jackson’s Lane offering a £50 reward for the return of a lost cat. When we got to the top of the hill, another sign. A second cat had been lost, but the reward here was £500. I told the group that property prices went up the higher up the hill you went and suggested that if someone was going to nick a cat they should do it at the top of the hill rather than the bottom.

“At which point I was assailed by a woman who insisted that I address the group withdrawing my remark which was ‘a disgraceful endorsement of cruelty’ and that I also desist from making more remarks about animals. As I had already promised my group that I would be telling them tales of a horse five thousand feet in the air, a chicken stuffed by Bacon, swearing loyalty to the village of Highgate on the horns of a live ox and chasing a pig, catching it by its tail and throwing it over your shoulder, I replied that I could not accede to her request. She then said that she was leaving and she would start a campaign in concert with animal welfare groups and would be sending people on my walk to record my inflammatory remarks.”

P.S. Above is a picture of Richard’s cat, Whisper. Whisper is not missing and therefore there is no reward for her return.


TODAY'S LONDON WALKS & NEWS: www.walks.com


POST UPDATED 28/2/16


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.









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