Gardening in the Round.

I have mentioned that I love gardening and one of the pleasures I get from house sitting is to see and learn from other peoples gardens. Every one is different, every one is a joy to look after.

Now this garden is probably one of the most challenging. Being so close to the ocean the soil is pure sand. I’ve mentioned the strong winds (see my previous post here about the leaning trees) Great for wind surfers and sky divers, but plants hate the strong, sand ladened winds. To top it off it is a very dry climate. I don’t know when they last had a decent rain here, but of the 3 large rain water storage tanks only one has a small amount of water left in it.

Naomi also loves gardening, she likes to grow her own organic vegetables and being a very resourceful person she has installed old corrugated water tanks and created raised beds.

Come for a look round

, Come for a look round

Gardening in the round

Gardening in the round

This summer has been exceptionally hot and dry and at the moment not many veggies have survived, with the exception of chilli bushes, lots of them, lemon grass and a few other herbs. Before Naomi left she scattered seeds around. The weather should be getting cooler and normally some rain arrives during the winter months. But so far it has just been clear blue skies, sun and relentless wind. I water the raised garden beds each evening and amazingly seeds are popping up every where. At this point I can’t identify them so treat them all with loving care.

Can you see the beans?

Can you see the beans? look carefully and you will see the Indian Ocean…

A couple of the beds are still empty so on Sunday at the markets when we came across a delightful bloke called “Freddie Fresh” who specialises in seedlings of all sorts we bought some lettuce, basil and 2 tomato plants. That evening, when the heat had gone out of the day we carefully planted them. First digging a large hole, incorporating compost and soaking the area before tenderly bedding them in.

Mescalin and cos lettuce with an existing plant of eggplant. A very healthy dragon fruit is climbing the trellis

Mescalin and cos lettuce with an existing plant of eggplant. A very healthy dragon fruit is climbing the trellis

Have you ever tried Dragon fruit? They are delicious and this plant is laden with them. I hope they ripen soon.

More lettuce and basil, with the tomato planted against the back pole

More lettuce and basil, with the tomato planted against the back pole

They are all going to need more help if they are to survive the 30c+ temperature of the sun. These beds are in the full sun. So to give them a helping hand until they have settled in we searched around and found some shade cloth that Jack put up.

 

Maybe doesn't look very attractive, but it should do the job

Maybe doesn’t look very attractive, but it should do the job

Follow me around the side of the house.

The side garden. Can you see the Huge spider web?

The side garden. Can you see the Huge spider web? Lets take a closer look…

 As I said before this house is built on sand and the back of the garden is a large sand-hill. Naomi has come up with a clever solution. Using old tractor tyres that she has sourced from a tyre firm in town, collecting them in a trailer, pulled by Troopy, then, one by one, rolling them into place. (Go here to read about Naomi’s hard labour in creating this monument.)

This is finally taking shape, “the great wall of Drummond’s”

First roll the tyres into place

First roll the tyres into place

Rendering comes next

Rendering comes next

Still a lot more to do...

Still a lot more to do. The hole in the sand is going to be a pond with a waterfall cascading into it.

I feel tired just thinking about all the work.

So let’s go back up to the deck to watch the sun set.

The garden shows a collection of Naomi's interests.

The garden shows a collection of Naomi’s interests.

Looking out to the west the setting sun lights the deck in a golden glow

Looking out to the west the setting sun lights the deck in a golden glow

Have a glass of wine and watch the sun set

Have a glass of wine and watch the sun set

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The inspiration for this post has come from Sue of “A word in your ear” this week her challenge has been the word “ROUND” that has popped up from her dictionary.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk with me around the garden.

Categories: A word a week photo challenge, Australia, garden, Geraldton, house sitting, photos, round, sunsets, vegetable garden, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

WordPress Photo Challenge : Monument

This may not be a monument in the same category as the Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower but it is a monument to the power of the wind and how nature can adapt and still survive.

A classic example of going with the flow.

Windswept trees of the Greenhough Plains

Windswept trees of the Greenough Plains

The information about the trees

The information about the trees

We noticed these trees as we drove to Geraldton. Greenough is only 20 minutes south of Geraldton and is a small historic settlement, so we will be coming back to explore this area after we have settled into our new home. 

In the meantime I would like to present these trees as my interpretation of this weeks WP Photo challenge

  

Categories: Australia, Greenough, Leaning trees, monument, photos, post-a-week, travel, Weekly photo challenge, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Meet Troopy, our transport.

Troopy

Troopy

Naomi, the owner of the house we will be looking after for the next 2 months, has kindly given us her vehicle to use while we are in Geraldton.

“It’s old” she warned us, “and the back door is rather tricky to open and shut”

Naomi picked us up from the airport when we arrived in Perth. We stood at the pickup point not quite knowing what make or colour of vehicle to expect. The only hint we had was its age.

15 minutes passed, every vehicle looked modern and shiny. Then round the corner came a Toyota Land Cruiser. It was unmistakably old, a 4WD, sun-faded fawn with patches of rust. We knew immediately it was the one… 

Later that evening we had a delicious Chinese meal together and shared stories. Then Naomi had a plane to catch, so it was back to the airport said our fond farewells and Naomi, with only 7kg carry on pack, left for Java.

Naomi is one very adventurous lady and an intrepid traveller. Read about her travels by clicking here http://www.whatsnextnaomi.com/

Now we were left with “Troopy” He is a diesel, large AND a manual, it is also dark and we are in a strange city not too sure of our way back to the place we are staying.

I have not driven a manual for a long time, but I soon find that it is like riding a bike, you do not forget how to. Of more concern is my night vision it is not good, so it was a tense half hour as we gazed into the darkness trying to remember land marks to find our way back.

PHEW what a relief to eventually turn into Victoria Park.

Troopy is definitely a “he”. He trundles along with a deep-throated rumble, strange shakes and rattles and a high-pitched whistle, but he never misses a beat, starts first time, every time with a roar, then never falters.

The road ahead

The road ahead

Geraldton is approximately 450 kilometres from Perth. There are 2 choices, the Brand Highway, the main north-south highway, or the Indian Ocean Drive a more scenic route. Of course we took the scenic route. It snaked along through miles of flat scrub, occasional sections wound along the coastline with the incredible azure blue of the Indian Ocean sparkling to the distant horizon. We passed through a few small villages, none of them memorable enough to stop for a photograph.

6 hours later we arrived at Geraldton and our home for the next 2 months. I have bonded with Troopy. Not many vehicles travel on this road and we chugged along at a steady 90 to 100 KPH.I’ve rediscovered my macho inner self as I change-up and down the gears surrounded by a large, solid 4WD.

So Welcome to Geraldton, “Sun City” as it is called.

Categories: Australia, Geraldton, Western Australia | Tags: , , , | 37 Comments

A walk in the park…

I am a passionate garden person and, for me, the highlight of any town is a walk around their Botanic Garden. I class Kings Park in Perth in the top 3 gardens I have visited in Australia.

The last time I visited in 2010, it was Spring and the gardens were a riot of colour. It was wild flower season and the displays were breathtaking

Spring 2010

Now it is autumn and most of the flowers have gone, replaced by a pallet of green. We found a few splashes of colour the last of the natives.

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But most had turned to seeds to hibernate till Spring arrives again.

King's park Perth JC 030_4000x3000

It was Sunday and still hot and sunny. Families clustered under the shade of large trees enjoying picnics and precious time relaxing.

The grass is so green

The grass is so green

As I walk across the soft, cushiony lawns I always marvel at the work and dedication the gardeners must put in to achieve this minor miracle of lushness in such a dry climate.

Tall gumtrees tower over the restaurant and souvenir shop

Tall gumtrees tower over the restaurant and souvenir shop, and a group of friends rest on one of the many seats dotted around.

A couple walk hand in hand.

A couple walk hand in hand.

A group of artists capture the moment

A group of artists capture the moment

This is a people’s park and it is a joy to see this space being enjoyed in so many ways.

 The water garden area is a peaceful oasis.

The giant boab tree

The giant boab tree

This is a very special Boab Tree. When I saw it in 2010 it was struggling to survive a very traumatic move. But look at it now.

The Giant Boab

The story of the Giant Boab ‘Gija Jumulu’ captured world-wide media coverage during July 2008 as it journeyed over 3,200 kilometres, from Warmun in WA’s Kimberley region, to Kings Park in Perth.

Never before had a mature tree of this nature been transported across such a distance on land. The iconic tree, estimated to be 750 years old, weighs 36 tonnes and stretches 14 metres high and eight metres wide (branch span). Its trunk measures 2.5 metres in diameter.

Project Coordinator, Patrick Courtney said when the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority learned the tree needed to be relocated due to works on the Great Northern Highway, it jumped at the chance to secure it.

‘We had a call asking us how to move the boab, and we offered to find it a new home at Kings Park – 3,200 kilometres south! They said yes.’

Now known as ‘Gija Jumulu’, the tree is a special gift to all Western Australians from the local Indigenous people, the Gija, who are the traditional land owners. They performed a farewell ceremony to the Jumulu (boab in Gija language) on Monday, 14 July 2008.

Honour Avenue

Honour Avenue

As the afternoon sun paints shadows across the road between some of the 1300 Sugar Gums that form the Honour Avenue it is time to head back home.

Perth

Perth

 

Perth on the other side of the Swan River

Perth on the other side of the Swan River

Tomorrow we head for Geraldton, approx. 450 kilometres north of Perth.

Categories: Australia, Kings Park Botanic Garden, Perth, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Perth on a budget

Accommodation can be the most expensive part of the travel budget, if you do not have friends or relatives to stay with. In the past to keep this cost down we have used couch-surfing, wwoofing and of course house sitting. This time I have found a new style of budget accommodation, Airbnb. The cost varies from place to place but an average is $50 to $70 per night for 2 people, which is about half the cost of a hotel or motel.  

From a very extensive list of places available in Perth I chose a twin room in a house in Victoria Park. I am very happy with our choice, Joe and Kazumi were excellent hosts they supplied breakfast, and we felt at home in their place. The Victoria Park village was 10 minute walk away with  good selection of cafes and restaurants representing nearly every country under the sun, you can find Vietnamese, Nepalese, Thai, Lebanese, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Modern Australian, Indonesian, Japanese and more, and the bus to Perth CBD was just across the road and for $4-20 we had a concession pass to travel all day on the buses, trains and ferries. 

So we hopped aboard a bus to explore.

We walked and walked and, of course, took lots of photos.

The old and the new

The old and the new

 

Government House

Government House

 

Sculpture of rocks and minerals

Sculpture of rocks and minerals

 

 

Built in 1937 London Court is one of Perth’s best loved heritage listed shopping destinations.

Captured in a setting of Tudor England and located in the heart of Perth city, the court links Hay Street Mall and St Georges Terrace.

London Court is a visual delight! Step back in time and discover copper coloured ships decorating the classically moulded ceilings at both entrances; and containers moulded with lions and unicorns lining the walkway.

Food enthusiasts can smell the freshly roasted coffee, dine at intimate cafes or enjoy a melting pot of international treats including gourmet chocolate and UK sweets.

Cooling fountains in central Perth

Cooling fountains in central Perth

It is autumn but the temperature is still 29c degrees, thank goodness it is a dry heat and I don’t suffer the sweat inducing humidity of Queensland. There has been no rain for months and we enjoyed sitting in City Square and watching young and old rushing in and out of the fountain.

It had been an interesting day refreshing our memories of this lovely city. Now it was time to catch the bus back to our home of the moment.

Tomorrow we are going for a stroll to Kings Park one of the most beautiful parks in Australia. 

Categories: accomadation, Australia, Perth, photos, Western Australia | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

Travel Theme : Misty Flying High

At the crack of dawn

At the crack of dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new day is dawning and a mist hangs over the land. We take off from the Goldcoast on the threshold of a new adventure.

Sunrise

Sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we fly over the ocean we see the stunning sight of the sunrise from a bird’s eye view.

The mist in the valleys

The mist in the valleys

Down below the tops of the mountains are rising through the misty clouds that cloak the valleys.

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We are on the threshold of a new adventure and this is my answer to this weeks “Word Press Challenge

I am also combining this with “Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Misty”

I have another Misty mountain post here

Categories: photos, threshold, travel theme, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Last week in New Zealand

I hope you have enjoyed travelling around New Zealand with me. The last few posts were about the highlights of our trip, now it is the final week and we spent it with my daughter in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

Mount Maunganui NZ is situated in the city of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand. Mt Maunganui is New Zealand’s favourite summer holiday destination with its white sandy surf beach on the ocean side, and a safe sheltered inner harbour beach. Mount Maunganui’s world recognised surf beach is a popular area for surfing, swimming, and all beach activities. Mount Maunganui is also the name of the extinct volcano which rises above the town.

Jack had a mission to fulfil with this extinct volcano.

CLIMB TO THE TOP 

THE VIEW IS WELL WORTH THE EFFORT!

The mount is 232 metres high

The mount is 232 metres high


There are several tracks to the summit and the two tracks recommended for sightseers are the Oruahine and Waikorire. The summit is 232m high – it takes about 40 minutes to get to the top.

The first time Jack climbed to the top was on his 75th birthday in 2007. The next time was two years ago on his 80th birthday. So he was determined to do it again this year for his 82nd birthday.

It is a long way up

It is a long way up

 

And it is steep

And it is steep

Success, another walker took this photo

Success, another walker took this photo, what a view.

I have to admit I didn’t go with him as I had a girls day out with my daughter. These photos were taken by Jack to show me what I had missed.

What goes up has to come down, watch your feet Jack

What goes up has to come down, watch your feet Jack

 

 

Mt Manganui Tauranga Jc sx50 121_3804x2726

View from the top of the town Mount Manganui

View on the way down.

What an achievement I am proud of him.

Next day we did the walk around the base. It is 3.4 kilometres and is a beautiful scenic stroll following the track beside the ocean.

The track around the base of the Mount

The track around the base of the Mount

Tauranga is the busiest port in New Zealand and we saw many container ships, oil tankers, fishing trawlers, yachts and various dinghies even canoes and jet skies, it is a very busy stretch of ocean.

Round the mount.pc sx40 034_3692x2767

This is a Pohutakawa tree

This is a Pohutakawa tree

.

Photo from Google Images

Photo from Google Images

The Pohutukawa trees line the track.

They are known as New Zealand Christmas tree and when they flower in December with their stunning red blossom they are spectacular.

  But we will have to come again another year in December to see them.

 So this was the end of our 4 week stay in New Zealand. It has been a lovely visit seeing our family and friends and now it is time to get ready for the next adventure.

 

 

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Now it is 3 weeks later. I have enjoyed reliving the NZ trip as I sorted through the photos and shared them on my blog. It is almost like taking the journey twice.

In two days time we will be flying off to Western Australia to house sit for 2 months in Geraldton. Since we travelled around Australia in 2010 I have often dreamed of revisiting WA, it was one of my favourite places and now it is a dream come true.

So goodbye for now I will see you all again on the other side of this huge continent.

    

 

Categories: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , | 25 Comments

Travel Theme : Statues

Taupo thermal pc sx40 005_3000x4000

Rotorua is the home of Maori culture in New Zealand and the intricately carved statues are everywhere.

Maori Art – meaning and symbolism (click on link for more information)

“It is sometimes assumed that every cut in a piece of Maori carving must have a meaning, but in fact probably much of it is purely decorative. The number of carvers of the nineteenth century who had been taught by pre-European experts makes it highly probable that most of the teachers’ knowledge was passed on to the pupils. There is no convincing evidence that the knowledge was too sacred to be handed on, as much information about equally sacred matters was revealed even to Europeans in the early days of the European settlement. It is a reasonable conclusion, therefore, that either the amount of symbolism in carving has been greatly exaggerated or that it had been lost by the time the Europeans came to New Zealand.

It is important to note that the figures in Maori carving, with very rare exceptions, are not religious, but secular. They do not represent idols, but rather renowned ancestors of the tribe.”

This imposing statue stopped us in our tracks as we drove by. We had to take a closer look.

Taupo thermal pc sx40 001_4000x3000

He was behind a type of palisade fence and the hot steam of the thermal activity swirled around him. Again it would cost to go in for a closer look.

But look what we saw down the road. This we had to investigate.

Taupo thermal pc sx40 003_4000x3000

Clouds of steam were hissing and roaring. With a certain amount of trepidation we drove on.

Taupo thermal pc sx40 013_4000x3000

It was an awesome sight and sound. The ground shuddered as the raw thermal energy was being channelled into pipes and converted into electricity.

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In Palmerston North we saw more Māori carvings in a park outside the Museum.

To see more statues from Ailsa’s “Where’s my backpack” click on this link

Napier PC sx40 005_3000x4000 Napier PC sx40 004_3000x4000 Napier PC sx40 003_3000x4000 Napier PC sx40 002_3000x4000

Categories: Maori, Maori statues, New Zealand, photos, Rotorua, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

Forgotten World Highway.

That name conjures up so many images that when I saw it on the map as an alternative route to New Plymouth my gypsy gene kicked in and decided it would be far more interesting than going along the main highway.

Winding along the banks of the Wanganui River. Can you spot truck

Winding along the banks of the Wanganui River. Can you spot the truck

This is a 150 kilometre journey of discovery. It winds along the Wanganui River following valleys, then up, over and across the New Zealand back country. The scenery is spectacular.

Can you see the road winding through the valleys

Can you see the road winding through the valleys

 

 I spotted fields of lavender, a splash of purple rolling across the hills. Even though it was an overcast day I had to stop for a photograph.

Laurens Lavender Farm (click here for more photos and information)  is a family owned business and Lauren is  totally dedicated to her beautiful surroundings. The scent of lavender wafted from the small shop and I found an ideal gift to buy for my New Plymouth friends.

This was a delightful start to our journey.

 Forgotten is its name, but this route is really a journey of remembrance. Along its length there are constant reminders of settlers who tried to scratch out a living in the wild, isolated hill country. Imagine coming here in the 1800′s and being faced with thick New Zealand bush, steep hills and isolation. The pioneers were a strong breed of people but many tried and failed to combat the ever encroaching bush, the harsh climate and the isolation.

Green clean NZ bush

Green clean NZ bush

Now the road spans the river

Now the road spans the river

We walk into the native bush, along the banks of the river to find the grave of Joshua Morgan a respected early surveyor who died in 1893 at the age of 35. This memorial also remembers the many other pioneers who helped shape this area.

Whangamomona Hotel

Whangamomona Hotel

 

In 1895 Whangamomona was a bustling frontier town with up to 300 residents. After the great flood of 1924 the town went into decline and now has a population of only 30 residents. But the heritage listed Whangamomona Hotel declared itself a Republic in 1989 as a protest to changing boundaries. Tourists pour into the small town every second year to be part of Republic Day celebrations and see the new mayor elected. The walls inside this iconic hotel are covered with photos and news paper clippings telling the history. (Click here for more information and photos). The dining room was doing a roaring trade with a bus load of pensioners out for a day trip from New Plymouth. We managed to find a table in the corner and ordered a pie and cuppa and watched the drawing of the raffles and frivolity going on among the day trippers.

Forgotten Hway

A local obeying the rules of the house. See the notice on the door.

A local obeying the rules of the house. See the notice on the door.

Next time we pass this way I would like to spend a night here. It would be interesting.

A rather scary one lane tunnel

A rather scary one lane tunnel

 

We are almost at the end of our road trip along the Forgotten World Highway. There were many side trips we could’ve explored but time did not permit us to linger too long, so I hope we have the opportunity to do this drive again.

Almost at the end of the drive

Almost at the end of the drive

Kiwi’s, as New Zealanders are affectionately called, are renowned for their ability to be creative and fix things and as the saying goes

” A Kiwi can fix any thing with a piece of number 8 wire.” Take a close look at the gate!!!!

Categories: Forgotten World Highway, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Travel Theme : Napier, Pretty in Pink

Napier foreshore, beautiful display of geraniums

Napier foreshore, beautiful display of geraniums

 

Napier

Napier Marine Parade

 

Hanging baskets filled with Impatients (busy lizzies)

Hanging baskets filled with Impatients (busy lizzies)

 

Napier is one of the most beautiful cities in New Zealand. It is known as the Art Deco capital and when I looked through my photos I realized how pink was a dominant colour.

Napier, in the heart of the Hawke’s Bay wine region, suffered a massive earthquake in 1931. The quake and the fires that followed destroyed most of the town, but by the end of the decade Napier had the newest city centre on the globe.

Today, Napier’s town centre is recognised as one of the largest collection of Art Deco buildings outside Miami. Nowhere else in the Southern Hemisphere has such a concentration of buildings in the styles of the 1930s – Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and especially Art Deco. 

At 10.46am on 3 February 1931, Napier and its surrounding region were struck by an earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale. While the ground shook violently for less than three minutes, 261 lives were lost as the ground moved and buildings crumbled around inhabitants. 
Fires broke out all over town, some beginning in chemist shops where gas jets were close to flammable liquids. Firemen could do little to stop the rapid spread as water supplies had been cut in the earthquake.

 Over the next two weeks, 525 aftershocks were felt in the region.

As a result of the earthquake, the Napier area tilted upwards – a maximum of just over 2m (7 feet) – and 2230 hectares (5575 acres) were raised to sea level. Since then, the area has continued to creep up at the rate of 1cm per year, so that it’s now 60cms (2 feet) above sea level. 
Reconstructing Napier  Art Deco was fashionable in the 1920s. The architectural style is characterised by the skyscraper shape, sunbursts and fountains, and geometric shapes.

Napier

In post-earthquake Napier, Art Deco was both a safe and economical choice. The new concrete buildings were more resistant to earthquakes and fire, materials were cheap and the stucco relief ornaments typical of Art Deco offered a less costly form of decoration. ( To see more of Napier’s story click here) 

The Masonic Hotel

The Masonic Hotel

 

The Masonic Hotel was destroyed in the earthquake and when it was rebuilt in the Art Deco style  it was one of the largest and most elaborate, up to date hotels in New Zealand at that time

Inside it had a rosy pink glow.

Many of the shops featured fashions and memorabilia from the 1920′s and 30′s.

 

Lovely to see this young man taking his grandmother, in her pink cardigan, out

Lovely to see this young man taking his grandmother, in her pink shirt, out

 

Napier Cathedral

Napier Cathedral

 While communion was being served, the original Cathedral was totally destroyed by earthquake with the loss of one life.

For 25 years a “temporary” wooden building, dedicated in October 1932 served as a Cathedral for the diocese.

In 1946 it was decided to rebuild and the foundation stone was laid on 12th October 1955. The chapel, chancel and most of the nave were dedicated by the Bishop of Waiapu and Archbishop of New Zealand, The Most Reverend Norman. Lesser, in 1960. But it was 1965 before the building was completed and the Cathedral was consecrated on 8th October 1967.

I find it interesting that the Masonic hotel was rebuilt immediately while it took over 36 years to finally finish the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is increasingly recognised as a fine example of modernist architecture. In 2005 the last three windows were installed finally completing the building.

The modern style stained glass window has pink in it too

The modern style stained glass window has pink in it too

I had only allowed half a day to explore this very interesting city. So much more to see so I hope, one day, to revisit Napier.

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The theme of “pink” from Ailsa was very appropriate for me to show you around Napier. Visit “Where’s my backpack” for more pink posts.

 

 

 

Categories: Napier, New Zealand, photos, pink, travel theme | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

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