An eccentric trip around the UK

Old Sep 26th, 2018, 07:56 PM
  #41  
 
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Well, I visited Boots and they didn't offer that. But now I know to ask.
I've never had them suggest it -- I've always had to specifically ask for it by name . . . Last time I bought some was last December so unless rules have changed they should still offer it. I buy at least 1 box every trip (sometimes I 'cheat' and buy multiple boxes but to do that requires stopping at different chemists)

>>BTW, my review of the V&A is up on tripadvisor.<<

Just went to read it -- oh my Other reviews mentioned some of the same problems. (Very) early days so hopefully they'll get their act together. I had read an article in the Scottish press where the director or one of the curators talked about it being a Scots museum and not an outpost of London. Maybe they should lean a bit more on London???
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Old Sep 26th, 2018, 08:03 PM
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Hope you are feeling better. I know what it's like to be away from home and not feeling well...frustrating and a bit overwhelming. As janisj mentioned the pharmacies are really good about making suggestions if you tell them your symptons.

Interesting notes about Bevis Marks which I'll admit I've never heard of. Perhaps I'll do the London Walk next trip. Eager to hear about the sleeper to Edinburgh. Never been intrigued about the idea but who knows.
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Old Sep 27th, 2018, 01:09 AM
  #43  
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the director or one of the curators talked about it being a Scots museum and not an outpost of London
Yes. My feeling was that insofar as there was a theme, it was "look at all this great stuff Scottish people have done". To which my response is, "OK, so what?" I mean, Vienna manages to have its own version of the V&A but still have exhibitions that don't just say "look at us". Even the (small) one in Madrid is more comprehensible, plus they have a whole separate costume museum. Here the clothes were just scattered around apparently at random. At least they should be able to fix the toilet snafu by moving a few displays.
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Old Sep 27th, 2018, 01:22 AM
  #44  
 
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if you want funding from the Scots Nats, you have to toe the line
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Old Sep 27th, 2018, 01:37 AM
  #45  
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You could have "all Scottish" exhibitions without just throwing a bunch of stuff together. And the ocean liner exhibition was very definitely multi-national.
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Old Sep 27th, 2018, 09:55 AM
  #46  
 
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Shame about the V&A being so disappointing, especially as the London mother ship has such a stellar reputation.

My rule of thumb for London is to expect to achieve no more than 50% of what you have planned so I reckon you did pretty well, especially as you were under the weather. Our pharmacies have become very funny about selling you more than one packet of anything - trying to get cold medication virtually requires you to sign away your soul so intent are they on making sure that you can't stockpile the minute quantities of whatever it contains that can be used to make crack cocaine, or whatever it is that it contains. interestingly they caught one producer because he was ordering commercial quantities of whatever it is and getting it delivered to his flat and someone at the producers smelt a rat as he was ordering a significant proportion of their production; if he'd had to get it out of Sinutab or whatever he'd have needed a whole warehouse to house all the packets. Good luck in getting your paracetamol + codeine.

This wiki entry might help with identifying what you saw at Two Temple Place; although I've never been inside I must have walked past it hundreds of times on my way from Temple Tube station to the Temple, and vice versa so I will definitely try to get the chance of looking inside it next time I go up to London. Thanks for mentioning it!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Temple_Place

Looking forward to more Scotland.
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Old Oct 1st, 2018, 10:41 AM
  #47  
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September 22 - 23 - On To Scotland

The ticket check for the Caledonian Sleeper took place at the entry to the platform, and for the first time I had my senior rail card looked at - it had provided a significant discount. I knew that the rolling stock was going to be old, as new carriages, complete with en-suite showers for some cabins, would be going into service on this route in October. Still, the cabin and the linens were clean, and the lounge car, albeit small, comfortable enough. However, the cabin was so small and the bunk so low there was no good place for my bigger bag, and I stubbed a toe on it a couple of times. I still have a discolored nail on one toe as a reminder. The bunk was surprisingly narrow, which didn't help me get to sleep, but the real, serious, ongoing problem was the ride. Now, I have been on a lot of night trains, some good, some not so good, and one or two disastrous (I'm thinking of you, Hanoi to Sapa). This one, alas, tended to the disastrous. The train wasn't noisy, but it was so, so rough and jerky. I don't know that the new rolling stock can fix that.


A form left on the bunk had asked me to confirm my breakfast selection (made and paid for when I bought the ticket) and indicate whether I wanted a wake up call. I did, but fortunately I also set my alarm clock, as no wake up call occurred. I ate my scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (no toast offered) in the lounge car, but saw several packed breakfasts being delivered. Theoretically, you can stay on the train until 8:00 in Edinburgh station, but there was no encouragement to linger. I had thought about visiting the first class lounge for a shower, but instead collected my prepaid ticket, good for any train during the day, and went straight on to Dundee. (I could have ridden another version of the Caledonian Sleeper through to Dundee, but I didn't want to arrive at six in the morning.) I was sufficiently awake to enjoy the decidely northern scenery.

My Dundee hotel, the brand new Sleeperz, was built right over the station forecourt, but for some reason I had to walk out of the station and round the (windy) corner to enter the building, and then ride the lift to the second floor. However, after I finished a quite good cup of coffee, I was able to check in. I thoroughly approved of my room. While not luxurious, and with open hanging space, it had everything I needed. The water was (very) hot, the heating worked, and I slept well. Plus I approved of the breakfast buffet, which included muesli and Greek yoghurt, and unlimited coffee and orange juice.

The equally brand new Victoria and Albert Scottish museum, the reason I was visiting Dundee, was just across the road, but I was saving it for my first full day. I did get in some photography of the outside while the sun shone. Instead I walked into town to check out Dundee's city museum, the McManus. The building was rather over-the-top neo-Gothic, with a statue of Robert Burns in a cloak on one side, and Queen Victoria with even more drapery on the other, but the collections seemed well curated. Dundee merchants and missionaries had traveled the world, as had Dundee built ships, and the jute factories had imported their raw materials from far-flung places, too. Artifacts from all over the world had made their way to Dundee, and were now on display. I was particularly taken by one section that recorded a trip around the world taken by two women journalists in 1894, organized and financed by the paper for which they worked. The Durham Courier had sent three male journalists on the same trip the previous year, but the editor, D. C. Thompson, wanted a woman's perspective. Not being a fan of comics I skipped the displays on the Bash Street Kids and Beano, preferring tea in the cafe.

My time in Dundee had started less pleasantly. I had discovered the day before that my phone had become sluggish and was refusing to take photos. Now it died completely. Feeding it a new battery didn't help. I began to think that I might have to replace it, and even priced a similar phone. However, the kindly techie in an EE booth in one of the malls simply reset it for me. Phew!

I finished the day with dinner at Jute, a well-reviewed cafe in the Dundee Contemporary Arts building, a short walk from Sleeperz. The menu looked good, but the food didn't live up to the descriptions. The duck, especially, was disappointing - a little tough and a little tasteless. Still, a mostly good day. Then I woke up at four in the morning with a sore throat.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2018, 08:03 AM
  #48  
 
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Oh dear, thursdaysd, it takes some skill to make duck tasteless, IMO. Even the ones we get from the supermarket have plenty of taste even if they do, on occasion tend towards the tough. [not often]. I confess that I have never been to Dundee though I did visit the Highlands a couple of times with my parents when I was in my early teens, before my dad got up the courage to drive us to "the continent". And a shame too about the ride on that sleeper - I've never ventured onto a sleeper, not even the one from Paddington to Penzance, though I had a colleague who used it a few times when he was going up to London to the Court of Appeal and some fine scrapes he got himself into, being arrested on one occasion for accidentally exposing himself to the cabin attendant as he had forgotten where he was and habitually slept in the nude!

A sort throat as well? - i hope that it didn't spoil your enjoyment of the next day. At least your hotel was warm and comfy.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2018, 08:57 AM
  #49  
 
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It really is too bad that Mr. Smith of Seat61 fame is not here to read that review of the Caledonian Sleeper. He even has a video of that trip and not a word about a rough roadbed, either. Frankly, I would defer to the OP's assessment.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2018, 09:22 AM
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I admit I've never been to Dundee but have heard that it is an interesting place and after your brief description, I'd like to visit the Scottish V&A. Interesting about the lady journalists.

I have done a number of overnight train trips including the Blue Train in South Africa and the train from Sydney to Perth, Australia which takes a couple of days but will pass on the Caledonian sleeper.
These days come 9:00p.m. I want to be in bed with a good book, a cup of tea or bottle of water nearby not waiting for departure and,then, having to figure out what to do while waiting to check-in to my hotel and shops or visitor sites to open when I arrive in Edinburgh.
Hope that sore throat clears up soon.

Last edited by historytraveler; Oct 2nd, 2018 at 09:25 AM. Reason: Corrections
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Old Oct 3rd, 2018, 01:57 AM
  #51  
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@ann - the sore throat turned into a cold, but I have recovered. I have wanted to take the Cornish Riviera but now I'm not so sure! Your colleague must be extremely absent-minded. I sleep in the nude too, but no way would the cabin attendant get into my cabin until I was dressed!

@Dukey - I think Mark Smith's love of the Caledonian Sleeper is mostly about the views, but there are few views on the Edinburgh or Glasgow routes in late September! You really need the Highland lines for that.

@ht - both those trains are on my list.... Actually the V&A is the next post, I was writing about the McManus, Dundee's long-standing city museum.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2018, 07:51 AM
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Thursdaysd - I'm am absolutely sure that you would do no such thing, but was not surprised that my colleague did. And I believe that it was no so much the attendant opening the cabin but him exiting it! Sadly dead aged only 40 a few years ago, he was a larger than life American, rather Boris like in many of his attributes.

I don't mean to put you off the cornish Riviera but one consideration is whether you will be awake and able to see anything when the train passes along the line between Saltash [ust before Plymouth] and Exeter which I believe is one of the great train journeys. The stretch around Dawlish [where the line fell into the sea during storms a few years ago] is truly stunning. [though thinking about it, will you be going that far? possibly not].
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Old Oct 3rd, 2018, 08:04 AM
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Thursdaysd, reread my post and I apologize. I did get the two confused. Can I blame it on trying to read from my phone? Everything seems to go into minature mode. Stil looking forward to the Scottish V&A.
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Old Oct 4th, 2018, 12:36 PM
  #54  
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Have left cold, wet and windy Glasgow and arrived (over two hours late) in warm, dry and sunny Jersey.

September 24 - My Day at the V&A (Dundee)

When I decided to visit Glasgow I wanted to add a second city not too far distant, and it came down to Perth or Dundee. I picked Dundee solely because the new Scottish outpost of the V&A would open shortly before I got there. The V&A is my absolutely favorite museum, my rainy day retreat in London, and the forerunner of many other museums of arts, crafts and design. I realized some time back that I much prefer such museums over galleries filled with paintings and sculpture. (I have given up almost entirely on art after the surrealists, and if I never see another Madonna and child or St. Sebastian full of arrows I will not be sorry.)

Just as I don't care for modern art, I am not overfond of much modern architecture, but I thought the new V&A seemed quite interesting from the outside. It was perched on the edge of the river Tay, quite wide at that point, with some reflecting pools, and I thought it was meant to be a ship, to accompany the Antarctic explorer RMS Discovery, moored beside it. However, it turns out that the architect claimed inspiration from Scottish cliffs, although I couldn't see it myself.

After braving the high winds outside I entered through a cleft between two wings, to find a cavernous space given over to ticket lines, the shop, and a cafeteria. I had bought a ticket to the temporary exhibition on Ocean Liners online, and headed upstairs (using the small lift, not the long staircase that clung to one of the walls). The exhibition had moved up from London, and had no particular Scottish relevance, except that some of the liners had been built in Scottish shipyards. I spent well over an hour, maybe two, admiring the furnishings and fittings from the luxurious interiors of a lost age. Originally the ships crossing between Europe and the USA had carried immigrants, in less than ideal conditions, but after the laws were changed and immigration slowed, they were repurposed for a moneyed and leisured clientele. Videos supplemented the furniture and wall decorations, along with some clothes. At the end a separate room showed clips from famous movies, including "Titanic". I had not seen "Titanic" myself, but one clip showed the two leads attempting to cling to a piece of wood, and the wood in question, the largest salvaged from the wreck, was on display. I preferred the beautiful tiara belonging to one of the few women who survived. (Her maid, in charge of the tiara, also survived, her daughters did not.)

When I finished the temporary exhibition, the line for the permanent display, on Scottish design, was so long I went downstairs for lunch. The cafeteria line moved with glacial slowness, and my chicken sandwich had only a passing acquaintance with chicken, but the line for the exhibition had disappeared by the time I finished. So far, this supposedly Scottish museum had had little to do with Scotland - the architect was Japanese and the permanent exhibition curated in London - so I was looking forward to the one Scottish area.

Alas, while everything in the exhibition was associated in some way with Scotland, there was no other discernible theme. It seemed that the items had been thrown together at random, with a racy 21st century dress displayed next to information on early industries, and a Wellington boot near the computer games. A section of a tea room by Mackintosh had been brought out of storage and reassembled, and should have been a highlight, but it was badly lit and unfurnished.

The next day I went back to eat in the upstairs restaurant, where I was just able to get a seat at the bar (apparently booking is essential), but I can't recommend that either. The Arbroath smokies tart I ordered had little taste and a lot of rock-hard pastry. While I was not sorry to have seen the museum, I really cannot recommend visiting Dundee just to visit it.

Unfortunately, my reaction to the museum seems to be shared by quite a number of people. I posted a TripAdvisor review, along with (to date) well over a hundred others, and around 25% have given only one or two stars (I gave two). Even some of those rating it four stars have written that they expect and hope for improvement. But some people loved it. Clearly, YMMV.
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Old Oct 4th, 2018, 02:03 PM
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I realized some time back that I much prefer such museums over galleries filled with paintings and sculpture. (I have given up almost entirely on art after the surrealists, and if I never see another Madonna and child or St. Sebastian full of arrows I will not be sorry.)

lol, Thursdaysd, I thought I was the only one. Actually I'm ok with the religious stuff, though not religious myself, but most modern art leaves me cold. Perhaps it does take a lot of skill to paint an entire canvas in the same tone of blue or to place a red dot in just the right corner of a sea of white, or indeed to arrange a group of bricks as if they have accidentally landed in the middle of the gallery floor but I can't see it myself. Whenever I see things like that I find myself having a bad attack of the emperor's new clothes and have to stop myself laughing. I wonder why the permanent displays in the V&A"s outpost are so badly organised. Surely they didn't think that just putting a load of Scottish things together was going to work? I wonder if they ever read TA.
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Old Oct 4th, 2018, 02:08 PM
  #56  
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Someone from the V&A is not only reading the reviews but answering them! But the replies aren't very responsive.

Agree about the emperor's new clothes. It's not the religion it's the repetition.
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Old Oct 4th, 2018, 03:57 PM
  #57  
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Oops, I should have written that the temporary exhibition was curated in London.
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Old Oct 6th, 2018, 09:47 AM
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September 25 & 26 - Slow Days in Dundee

Usually when I have a sore throat it precedes a cold. It took a little longer this time, but Monday night's sore throat turned into Wednesday's cold. My suppressed immune system had coped with the flight, but apparently not with the night train. I started taking the Tylenol for Colds and Flue (severe) I had with me, stopped by Boots for a local medication (no exact equivalent was available) and eventually sent a message to my rheumatologist asking whether I needed to stop the Xeljanz. She said yes, and told me to see a doctor. Boots had told me to see a doctor. So on Thursday I checked online for an Urgent Care clinic or equivalent, and wound up taking a taxi to a chemists that had a terminal and some equipment stashed in a back room. The doctor at the other end of this telemedicine link decided I just had a cold, and the Tylenol was surprisingly effective. I had to stop the Xeljanz for two days, but didn't have any bad effects.

The cold did, however, slow me down, and from my list of sights for Dundee I just visited the Verdant works and the RRS Discovery. I had intended to spend one day visiting Glamis castle, where Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was born, but I had already been rethinking that as even the TI thought the bus links were problematic.

The Verdant works were a bit of a trek from Sleeperz, and uphill at that, but I did pass a rather nice cemetery, as full of flowers as of tombstones. The industrial area looked considerably more run down than the city center but it seems Dundee is now a center for the production of computer games, not heavy industry. The Verdant works had processed jute, not a fiber with which I was familiar. The displays were informative, and some of the machinery was still in place. I talked with one woman who had worked in the factory, and she agreed that the noise of the weaving machines had been very hard on her hearing. Other women had less hazardous jobs: the offices employed some of the early typists. Jute had replaced flax as the fiber of choice for Dundee industries, but eventually processing moved to India, where the jute was grown. It was used to make the cloth that covered the wagons moving westward across the US, and also for linoleum, once a favored floor covering.

The next day I visited RRS Discovery, moored next to the V&A. A circular building held a museum, which I found more interesting than the ship herself. She was built, in Dundee, specifically for Antarctic exploration, and for Captain Scott's first voyage there, and was the last three-masted wooden ship built in Britain, launched in 1901. She had a varied career, but went back to the Antarctic from 1929 to 1931 as the base for the British, Australian and New Zealand Antartic Research Expedition. Just as with the Norwegian vessel Fram, which I had seen a few years earlier, the videos and exhibits mostly convinced me how truly rigorous the conditions were, and how little I would have wanted to participate.
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Old Oct 6th, 2018, 10:12 AM
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Bummer about the Dundee V&A. London v&a is one of my favorites too. Well, maybe it’s just a rocky opening. The ocean liner exhibit sounds great, though!

I’m trying to be more into modern art, and I’ve found mostly I enjoy the three dimensional stuff. But most of the paintings, nope. I always wonder if it’s me, and if everyone else in the room actually sees something “more”. I spent probably an extra hour at the Venice Guggenheim just trying to understand the attraction. The house is awesome. The art...not so much.

Religious art though—burn out is so fast on that. How many portraits of the Madonna does any religion really need. Sometimes it has interesting conservation or background stories, though. But mostly I’ve decided that they’re interesting only if they’re in their original setting.
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Old Oct 9th, 2018, 11:08 AM
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September 27 - Starting Glasgow

With the Sleeperz hotel conveniently situated over the train station I had no trouble collecting my prepaid ticket and boarding the train to Glasgow. Glasgow has two main train stations, located quite close to each other. I arrived at Glasgow Queen Street, which was a short walk from the Park Inn by Radisson. I viewed the ten stone steps (balustrade but no handrail) and six wooden steps (handrail) at the front entrance with some dismay, and followed the sign to the so-called accessible entrance. This proved to be part-way down a noisome alley, floored with broken glass and who-knows-what- else and requiring a wheelchair user to negotiate a curb to reach the door. I later discovered that entering or leaving the hotel even by this door also required dealing with four heavy fire doors.

After I convinced someone to unlock the back door and reached the front desk I was told I could not check in until the afternoon but I could leave my case. I followed the clerk's suggestion for coffee and then found a "French" chain restaurant, Cote Brasserie, where I ate a good lunch. After lunch I visited the Lighthouse, a starting point for all things Mackintosh. On my 2004 visit to Glasgow I had neglected Mackintosh, a sad error as the School of Art had just succumbed to a second fire. The Lighthouse had a lot of display screens but not a whole lot else.

Checking in took a while. Only two clerks manned the small desks. I was initially assigned to the first floor and when I asked to be higher was sent to the fifth floor. This turned out to consist of attics and while my room was a good size the only window was small and so high up I would have had to stand on a chair to reach the cord for the blind. I was finally given a room on the second floor with huge windows and a cramped bathroom. It proved so cold, and the heating so inadequate, that after a couple of days I had to have a stand alone electric radiator installed. Aside from a comfortable bed, about the only positive thing I have to say about the Park Inn is that the location was extremely convenient.

With not much left of the afternoon I set out to visit the Tenement Museum. Back in my student days I had visited Glasgow for some reason lost in the mists of time, and wound up sleeping on the floor of a tenement flat. That flat had been rather upmarket, the Tenement Museum flat somewhat less so. The owner who had left it to the National Trust had initially moved in thee with her widowed mother when she was three, and lived there her entire life aside from the last ten years which she spent in hospital. The mother had worked as a seamstress, and an extremely old-fashioned sewing machine stood by one window, but the daughter had been a typist.

Although not in the same class as the flat I had visited in the 60s, this one was better than a lot of them, having a separate bedroom. This was initially rented out to a lodger, the two women sleeping in a cupboard bed off the kitchen, which at least would have been warm. There was another cupboard bed off the parlour. I grew up in England in the 50s, about the time Miss Agnes Townsend left the flat for hospital, and found the parlour reminded me of my paternal grandparents' house. Then the flat irons that would have heated on the kitchen range were the same as the ones we were taught to use in Home Ec., although already superseded by the electric variety.

Since I had arrived in Glasgow on a Friday I had made a dinner reservation, at the nearby Chaophraya, but not only did eating there involve far too many steps, the food was a disappointment. My neighborhood Thai place does better for a good bit less.
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