The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rohan Ether trousers (Not Pants)

 At the end of our last walk we headed back to the bus station in Manchester via the Rohan Shop which was having a Sale.
 Since losing a bit of weight over the last few months, i’ve gone from 88.7kg to 74.0 kg so far btw.
But it now means that all my current walking trousers are too big.
 Rohan can be a bit on the pricey side to say the least but the quality is generally assured. We do like the gear from them (boots apart) and my birthday is fast approaching.
 So i had it in my head to have a look at the Ether trousers which are said to be extremely light.
Eventually a pair was picked, purchased and Sheila has kindly bought them for my birthday.

         -   The stated weight is 200 grams per pair so i was shocked to find that the trousers less the belt was actually 160 grams. Size 32 waist, regular leg length.

        -    The material is Hollow Core polypropylene which gives them the windproof property.
        -    Total UV sun block and have been treated with Dynamic Moisture Control which will keep you cool in hot and humid conditions. (Not that we get too many days like this in UK) Great for those holidays abroad.
        -     Non Iron, crease resistant. (Believe that you’ll believe anything.) Non Iron maybe, but crease resistant! No.
        -     Drying time - 2 hours
        -     Highly wind resistant.
        -     Pack size 0.6 Litres
        -     Pockets, 2 front hand pockets, left one has a key fob. 1 rear wallet pocket. All 3 are mesh type for good ventilation. The rear wallet pocket also doubles as a packaway pocket.
        -     Zips, All YKK. (Std zip type)
        -     Articulated Knees.
        -     Durable material.  (TBC)
        -     The belt supplied is a quick release type and i am pleased to say it’s design is different to ones i have used in the past which i have found comes undone much too easily when wearing a rucksack. It will be interesting to see how i get on with this one.
  The belt weight is 35 grams and is also held secondary to the trousers by a press stud. So all in, the trouser and belt weighed 195 grams. For those who want to save weight even further, the belt could be replaced with a lighter one. I’m happy with the one supplied although i have found one on an old pair of Peter Storm Pocket pants that weighs 15 gr.
        -      Colour - Charcoal.
The one thing that surprised me a little was that they had not been treated with an insect repellant like the Craghoppers Nosilife range of clothes, considering anywhere hot and humid is bound to have mozzies of one type or another. So when i wash these i will be doing so with a Permethrin additive.

 The stitching quality is excellent as you would expect on a pair of trousers with a retail price of £88. The Sale price was £70.

So that’s a first look at the trousers. I will update the page when i have had them for a while.

Update January 2014
Definitely not suitable for backpacking but ideal as a second pair for those evenings after a wet day. Suitable for summer day walking or holidays/light travel.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Home to Manchester on the Rochdale Canal

 We had been talking of walking this towpath for a while as Dorothy hadn’t done it. Sheila and I had walked it a couple of times and although some of the scenery is a bit run down and you can meet some strange characters on route we decided that the forecast was reasonable to do it today (Saturday 27th July).

 Just as we were setting off, in fact i had the key in the door lock, it started to hail stone, we waited. It was quite dark and the only good point was that it seemed to be brighter in the south, our route. Ten minutes later and with just light rain we set off wearing our waterproofs.

 As we progressed, we met lots of dog walkers and we seemed to be saying ‘Morning”  every few paces. We were nearly run down by bikers who seemed to get pleasure from sneaking up on walkers with their hoods up, unaware that they were only a few feet away. Get a bell or something, how hard can it be.

  It was getting brighter and although rain was still gently falling it looked like our over trousers at least could be removed. As it happened we left them on, which turned out fortunate because very soon rain was pouring. I decided to put my jacket in the rucksack and just walk using my GoLite brolly. I was a good decision. I didn’t get wet and it was pouring for a good half hour.

 I thought i had put the camera in the rucksack but then remembered i had left it on the sofa whilst we were waiting for the hail to stop. What a nuisance, that meant we only had a 3mb phone camera with us  and not a full battery so the photo’s are few i’m afraid and a bit grainy.

 It was good to see that as we passed Failsworth that the canal cleanliness was reasonable. The last time we passed it was full of shopping trollies, fencing, road cones and other detritus. Pretty horrible stuff.
The rain eased of and blue sky was starting to break through. Still quite humid.

 There were quite a few places where the canal bank had subsided due to the heavy recent rains we presumed. Although the water board had fenced the dangerous towpath sections off the local brain dead had decided that the best places for the steel fencing would be in the canal blocking a bridge to narrow boat traffic. A mile or so further down we had a chat with a couple who were negotiating a lock and told them about the problem ahead.

Lots of wildlife was to be seen and included the usual Canada geese, swans with Cygnet, Mallard, Pied Wagtail and for the first time here we came across a city fox that was quite comfortably sunning itself and wasn’t a bit bothered that we were there.
One of the lock gates had a moth resting out, we did well to spot it.

It was an improving weather situation, the sun was out at last and made the walk much more of a pleasure. Mum and Dad were quite proud showing off their cygnet and never made a fuss as we approached for a closer look.
 The tall buildings of Manchester were getting closer and Dorothy was finding the mileage a bit of a struggle at this point. We had walked about 7 miles and there was about 2.1/2 miles to go before we got a coffee in town. We passed a chap sat at the side of the towpath with a 2L bottle of Strongbow cider, 1/3 rd empty. He wanted cigarettes which none of us had and he was asking if we did mountaineering.
We didn’t stop to converse.
The basin between the Rochdale Canal and the Ashton canal was under rejuvenation the last time we passed here. They have obviously spent a lot of money because it was very run down. It now gives narrow boaters a nice place to moor up overnight. Close to the city centre.
The bridge we were standing on for this shot was also new and very good design. We should have taken a photo of this as well, but didn’t. I looked on the internet for one but couldn’t find anything.

 The old mills were looking resplendent now that the refurbishments were completed and the whole area  is on its uppers as new bridges have been installed, new apartments completed, new mainstream retailers installed and if only they would do something with Piccadilly Gardens  to make it look as
good. It is a horrible place at the moment, city planners should be ashamed at how they destroyed what was a lovely area.

It was now time to find Dorothy a chair, she had done well and deserved a break. So before retiring to a certain Joseph Holts establishment for a well earned beer we called in to the first cafe we came across for a quick snack and a coffee.
 Yours truly in the Ape and Apple.

  Walking back through town to the bus station we passed this renovated old Morris van. It was causing quite a stir from passers by.

We called in to the Rohan shop on the way back too. They had a bit of a sale on and obviously we couldn’t walk past without seeing what was on offer.
More to come on that one later.

All in all we did about 14 miles and had a smashing day out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Karrimor Sleeping Mat.

 Before you all rush off and switch on the test card, the post IS titled Karrimor.
Now like all of you of a certain age group you will remember when Karrimor were at the top end of outdoor gear and they made stuff to last. Designed and made in good old Lancashire by people who knew their stuff.
Having a Karrimor rucksack was as good as it got and who's still got one in the loft!

 Nowaday's Karrimor is synonymous with cheap and pretty nasty low end of the market stuff having been relegated from Lancashire to God knows where in the far east. Over the years it's been quite hard to keep up with the licence agreements and who is using the name under licence or just using it anyway.
 Shying away from Karrimor branded products has been quite easy. Sports Direct/Field and Trek are the stockists in the UK.

 However, this last few months i have noticed a change, albeit a small change but a change non the less. Better quality items have been seen alongside the tat.
 Now i've heard say that in Japan the quality of Karrimor gear is up there with the best and expensive. So i can only assume that some of this better quality gear is percolating down to us.

  One of the items i have picked up recently are the drybags. They are equally as good as Expeds dry bags for about half the price. I cannot fault them.
 I looked at the new boot and shoe range and although i havn't purchased any they look a step in the right direction. (No pun intended).
 They are selling an eVent jacket for £99 in store or £89 on the web. It has a water resistant zip without a storm flap, so it's not for me unfortunately. But i tried it on and it's a nice jacket.
 I liked the design although a little on the short side but a good fit otherwise. Weight is around 400 - 450gr i suspect, nothing was printed on the tag for the weight so this is purely a guess.
 It goes to show though that you can design, manufacture and sell eVent waterproofs at a reasonable price.

 But this post was about the sleeping mat the Karrimor x-lite Inflate.

   I had to look twice when i saw this. A full length mat, 70mm thick, 6 tubes, £29.99. (Not the RRP on the tag £59.99)
 My first thought was, yes but it weighs a Kilo.
 I had a look at the tag and the weight was stated was an impressive 300grams. Was this true i thought after all it is Karrimor? Anyway i took the plunge and bought it.

 Getting home and weighing it, yes 300grams, as stated. Now the tag also says 3-4 season! Who are they kidding the Tog rating is 1.6.
 Ok, you could use it in 3 - 4 seasons but not on it's own. You would need more insulation, but i can live with that.
The material is 20denier fabric and feels just like most other inflatable mats, slippery. But no complains when cost and weight are most important to me.
 So having slept on it now for 10 nights what do i think. Well it retains air pressure as good as my Exped UL7  lite and better than my Neo-air. It moves around the tent like any other mat. The valve, although not as neat as Expeds is certainly industry standard and look the same as my ThermArests.

The tubes (6) are all the same diameter.
I would have preffered the outer one to be bigger diameter but don't forget the price.
It's comfy, easy to inflate. Deflating seems a little slow but not ridiculously so, just slow in comparion to my Exped.
 It packs up remarkably small for a full size mat and stays neatly that way. It doesn't try and unravel itself.

Would i recommend it. Yes, absolutely, with 10 nights usage, so far so good.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Todmorden to Littleborough.

  Sheila couldn’t get the day off to walk with us from Todmorden to Smithy Bridge that we did last week. Having had a look at the photo’s on what was a miserable wet day she decided that we would have to do it again because she said so!
  So i had to walk it again on a delightful sunny day.

  I have taken just a few more photo’s. Which are here.

  No need for any more words on this one other than to say we cut short the last 10 minutes and got the train back home from Littleborough and not Smithy Bridge as we would have had to wait another hour.
And after praising the Wheatsheaf on the last post, i take it back and suggest not to bother at weekend as the language and shouting was beyond tolerance.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Super Delios water filter - Update.

Today i had an email from Delios Uk with an apology for the lack of information recently.

Basically manufacturing is still suffering from the earthquake and the following Tsunami.

Rebuilding production is still behind schedule and it will be on a much smaller scale than previously.
But the good news is that a bulk order may be achievable but no date is promised for that dispatch.

Delios have asked that we remain patient as they work on getting supply back to the UK. They want to pass on to readers that Delios is still alive but just need more time to accept orders. Therefore the website will remain off line for now.

More information will be passed on from Delios as and when it becomes available.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Todmorden to Smithy Bridge

Todays walk (Tuesday July 10th) follows the Rochdale Canal from Todmorden to Smithy Bridge.
Checking out the transport arrangements last night brought about a change of plan. The railway line through Walsden was flooded and no trains were running. No estimate could be given for resuming normal service.
This resulted in 2 buses being needed for us to reach Todmorden. The no. 17 to Rochdale and then the 589 Halifax bus which goes through Todmorden. It was a bit tight for times as the 17 arriving in Rochdale gave us about 3 minutes to locate the 589. We just made it.

Alighting right on the canal side, the heavens opened and straight away i was diving into my bag to don overtrousers. Within just a few minutes we were soaked.

Starting off at the unusual Guillotine gates or Library gates as they are also known.
The gates were built by Wilde and partners to allow longer vessels to pass through the lock system which were restricted by the original mitred gates.
The cobbled towpath was very slippery, care was required under these torrential conditions.

Rounding the next bend the Great Wall of Tod fills the view. Above this is the Manchester to Leeds railway. I have heard a couple of stories that either it took 4 or 5 million bricks to build it. I didn’t have time to count them - sorry.
The weather was getting very heavy. My trail shoes were like paddling pools and making odd noises as the water was squeezed out from the mesh as i walked. It was unfit to get the camera out and so initially photo’s were limited until we got beneath a bridge.

Hebden Bridge and Walsden would be in for more flooding today that was for sure.
The towpaths which had been repaired fairly recently were flowing quite well and deep puddles had formed at regular intervals. I think some drainage is needed to be put in as well as the tons of grit.

The Skew Bridge at Gauxholme is another unusual structure. Being built across the canal at such an acute angle and also castleated with towers. At this point a train passed, so they must have sorted the flooding out.
Skew Bridge at Gauxholme.

 The many overflows were today in spate and carrying peat down from the moorland surrounding the canal had made them even browner than normal.
 View North towards Nip Square locks and Walsden village.
 Waterfall from Owler Clough. Showing how much rain has fallen.
 Approaching Warland
 The county boundary stone at Warland. Strangely, as we entered Lancashire the rain eased and then stopped for about 1/2 hr.

 Warland Upper lock 35.
 Unusual swing bridge
 We were being kept an eye on by these Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. (I think that’s the breed anyway).
 Approaching West Summit lock (37)  and Chelburn Bridge. I was getting a bit peckish at this point and seeing that the Summit Pub is just behind the lock keepers house we thought it would make a fine lunch stop.  The locked doors unfortunately turned us back onto the tow path.
 A Yellow Wagtail had followed us for a couple of miles. But every time it was close enough to get a photo it took off. I just managed this one.

 Some feathered friends looking for an easy meal. So were we.
 We passed by Sladen Mill weaving sheds on our right as we approached lock 41. It was sad to see Rook Nook Mill on our left, now disused and vandalised.
 Rook Nook Mill was built in 1886 and was originally the home of Fothergill and Harvey who produced textiles. They made the first khaki drill uniforms for the services. Some further information and photographs of the interior can be found here.

 We headed into Littleborough for lunch. The first pub we came to only did food Thursday to Sunday. The second pub The Wheatsheaf was doing food. This pub has been refurbished and has a young and enthusiastic couple running it.
 It was our first time in the pub and i must say it was very pleasant and good value for money.
Homemade Chicken curry with rice or chips or both. With a nan bread. 2 meals for £10. Excellent and plenty of it. John Willie Lees bitter was £1.95 a pint. and was also in excellent condition. Well done to the Landlord and Landlady.
 Lunch over and with the rain abated we carried on for another mile or so until we came to Bridge 53, approaching Smithy Bridge. The good reflection gave a photo opportunity.
 Smithy Bridge Railway station. Unmanned and our journey end for this walk.
 It was a shame that most of the day had been walked in some heavy rain as the landscape is particularly beautiful. It would make a lovely walk on a nice day and without a doubt one that we will do again when/if we get a summer. There are lots of interesting lock systems and equipment from days gone bye, old stone buildings and bridges that i would have photographed if only it had been fit to get the camera out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

OMM Cypher smock.

 I wrote a post a few weeks ago, here. It was referring to the latest expensive waterproofs that have exposed weather resistant zips and no storm flaps. It generated quite a few comments which was very pleasing and i thank you all for them.

 Ironically, a few days later and whilst the comments were still being passed, my OMM Cyphur Jacket started leaking in the zip area. My inner layers were wet, in a circle shape about the size of a saucer.
I checked the jacket and i found 2 areas where there was no stitching and i wondered if this was the cause rather than the obvious zip.

 I emailed Pete Bland Sports , a fantastic retailer btw, and sent a photograph to see what they thought.

By return they asked me to send them the jacket and they would look into the leak problem.

 As it turned out the missed stitching shown in the photo above is part of the design of the jacket. It is on both RH and LH sides of the zip. It is there to allow water out that has ingressed by the hood pull chords.
There is a double layer of eVent here and water cannot get into the jacket.
 I accept this. So that only leaves the zip to allow water inside.

I spoke to Jon Broxap at PBS and he suggested that the jacket should go back to OMM to be checked out.
 Today i received the jacket back from them with the following report:-
Pete Bland Sports - They (OMM) did not find it faulty. Maybe a heavier duty top is needed for fell race marshalling.

OMM - There is no evidence of any damage or fault. You (PBS), described your customer was marshalling at the time of the issue. One possible explanation is that the YKK weather resistant zip is not a totally waterproof solution and water can travel down the zip to collect at the bottom.
The “well” at the bottom of the zip can be overwhelmed if too much water is travelling down the zip.

Me - So there you have it. These weather proof zips are not a totally waterproof solution. If the rain is too heavy you are going to get wet.

  Does this mean the jacket is not fit for purpose?, or does it mean that our purpose is not fit for the jacket? I would be interested to know what readers think.

 You have paid your £150 - £300 for a jacket (depending on manufacturer), that you expect to keep you dry in the mountains and as long as the zip doesn’t get overwhelmed, it will. Unfortunately rain in the mountains is usually very heavy and can be prolonged, so i think the chances of the zip becoming overwhelmed will be great indeed.

 Now this wasn’t the first time i had worn this jacket and also it wasn’t the first time i had been out in the rain with it. But it was a day where the rain was coming horizontal and i was in the rain for about 4 hours. The remainder of the time, a further 3 hours, the day was misty and drizzly.

 The guys and gals at PBS and OMM may be right and that i should have had a heavier duty jacket on.
Take notice of the words "heavier duty”.
 But in fact the jacket, on the day was actually fine, it didn’t leak, so i disagree with this point.
It was the zip that caused the leakage.
Also, we cannot predict how much or how heavy the rain is going to be on any given day, you can’t have 2 jackets just in case the rain gets a bit heavier.

 What’s wrong with putting a flap over the zip to aid protection and actually make the jacket fit for purpose.
On a jacket costing so much and the testing they get from people supposedly in the know, i am at a loss to understand the logic when they have put a double skin of eVent in the area of the hood pull cords. These cords will only allow the minutest bit of water in at best. But they realised the problem and dealt with it correctly.

 But it’s not just OMM that have this design, most outdoor gear manufacturers have gone in this direction. Why compromise a good product for the sake of a few grams or a £1 or 2.
I really might as well wear a £0.25 pence bin bag.

I’m glad to see that Rab have gone back to storm flaps on the Latok and the Bergan/Vidda jackets.
My next jacket will be one of these unless there is a change in design from other eVent manufacturers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Kinder English Summer

Dawn of light lying between a silence and solid sources,
Chased amid fusions of wonder, in moments hardly seen forgotten Coloured in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of challenge, Amused but real in thought, we fled from the sea, whole. Dawn of thought transfered through moments of days undersearching earth Revealing corridors of time provoking memories, disjointed but with purpose,Craving penetrations offer links with the self instructor's sharp and tender love as we took to the air, a picture of distance.

The words of Jon Anderson came rushing to me as i grabbed hold of a petrified root, PETRIFIED!
Not as petrified as me.
Lynsey, our leader, has a shelter with her, JJ said. I hope it’s a bus shelter i thought, but i don’t think that rucksack is big enough.
I don’t think we are going to make it all the way round, well at least not before the pubs shut or it goes dark,Lynsey said.
There’s only one thing for it! 
Oh look, a helicopter, Its a shinook. What a star that Lynsey is.
She has arranged us a lift. Hang on, ay up, were here. 
It’s not stopping, obviously the “H” wasn’t big enough. Actually the H wasn’t there at all apart from in the mind. 
I thought, stuff Bear Grylls i’ll walk out of here.

Soft summer mover distance mine
Called out a tune but I never saw the face
Heard but not replaced
I ventured to talk, but I never lost my place
Cast out a spell rendered for the light of day
Lost in lights array
Clearly to be home
Getting over wars we do not mean
Call out all our memories
Clearly, to be home

Lets take a bearing i heard said. A bearing! You mean that plastic thing with a needle on that i have carried around with me for 40 yrs is going to see the light of day.Were going to take a short cut!

OK, right. Hold it level, dust it off, see that red bit, well we don’t want that, we want the other bit, we want south, well just a bit left of south actually. 
What across there! Yep, but but........i’m going to get me boots all dirty and me mam will tell me off.....and, and i’ll have to peel the spuds for a week. 
My thoughts fell on deaf ears. Lyndsey has a map, well thank Fred for that. 
Lets have a look, Yep its a map but it doesn’t make any sense, it could have been a map of Finland for all i knew i didn’t have my glasses.

Right then, lets go south, if the ducks can do it so can us three. 
Oh bugger were are they, i looked back, i couldn’t see anyone. Sugar, they’ve gone another way, no, no there they are. 
How did they get in front? No it’s not them, its the Duke of Edinburgh i think, or 5 of his contemporaries looking to commit suicide.

Damn, this peat is warm, my chin and nose was meeting it up front. Smells a bit as well. Who’s idea was this! I was quite happy dreaming.

Talk to the sunlight caller
More Jon Anderson came to mind as i checked the plastic thingy, only to find it had turned 45 degrees, it must have broke or something and it was getting very lonely up here.. Stand on a dry bit Alan and find out where they are.
A dry bit! Come on, this is Kinder plateau. The land that time forgot. And they are damning it up with plastic, and re-seeding it, and claiming government grants and and oh flaming ell i’m stuck. Help!

It’s a hap hap happy day. I could hear JJ singing, but no signs of life, then out of a river bed came two in red! Hey what’s that brown stuff down yer legs. It’s erm?, Peat. Lets stop for a brew.
Lets find a dry bit. What!

Oh joy. At least it’s stopped raining. For the last 3 hours we had seen nothing but the preverbal hand in front of the face. There’s blue sky, look. There’s an optometrist in Manchester too i thought.

Do you fancy going for a walk on Wednesday i emailed JJ. Well, yes but, no but, you can come with Lynsey and me if you like. Lynsay’s got a lovely walk planned that she got out of the best walks guide. Was that best Guide Dog walks i was thinking as the suction was trying to rid me of my boots. Thank God i didn’t choose trail shoes today or i would have been bare footed by now. Keep south, keep south, that’s it.

Look at them clouds. 

How far is it across, i shouted. About a mile i think, or about 5 miles as the duck waddles. Ok, we have been waddling for about a hour now. Where’s the path? Somewhere in the middle. Ok, well it must have sunk because there’s Crowden Tower, an obvious landmark. (Well obvious if you know it.) Just a bloody crag if you don’t.

Look at them there clouds. 

Have you put new batteries in, Lyndsey said, and can you do a rendition of Singing in the rain with that GoLite brolley or have you carried it just for effect. 
Get the camera out.

Look at them clouds, or is it night time. 
No, it’s only 3.30pm. What’s that approaching from the Winnets. I don’t like the look of that.
It’s British summer approaching rapidly. Well it’s not nice.

Get the brolly up. What’s that there..... it’s a teddy bear on a cairn. Your going do lally. Where’s that straight jacket.

What’s that there! er.. it’s our train..

How did we miss it. We didn’t miss it. It's come at the wrong time. I’ve got a smart phone with an App. Pity it’s not a smart owner i was thinking. But i was wrong.
It was indeed smart. 
This App, stands for apparition. Princess Leia told us that there was a delay of about 40 minutes because of signal failure and that trains were backed up, the driver Cyril was not happy and the edges of the sandwiches were getting all curly and that Sheffield was that way, and, and.
 And that the beer needed changing because 3 others had come into the pub. And the bar maid wanted to marry JJ, I think it was that way round anyway. But i could be wrong.

Look more blue sky.

It’s been a grand day out hasn’t it Alan, remarked JJ. I was digging out the peat from under my nails. I’ve bagged it to feed the roses on when i get home. If....

Shift that pint Homer, the trains coming, says Princess Leia. Glug. you in the Ape and Apple and i will get you a pint in Sheila says. What a wonderful day. If only i had said no to the walk.......

JJ, the taxi from Piccadilly to John Dalton St. Cost me £6. (JJ had had a bit of a winge that he had been charged £6 from deepest Cheshire to Manchester return.)

You might be wondering where the photographs are. Well the camera SD card is being petrified as i type. Princess Leia is being mortified and JJ couldn’t give a clog dancers ferret.

Getting over overhanging trees,
let them rape the forest, they might stand and leave them. 
Stop singing Alan you’ll have it raining.

So. Here are some pics and more can be found here.
 And the moral for this walk.
 “Never go on a challenge with somebody who thinks Sheffield is west of Edale”

Thanks to JJ, Lynsey and Sheila for a truly entertaining day.

 Are we lost JJ?.  You’ve got the map Lynsey, you tell me.
Honest Love, that black bit fits in the hand. That pointed bit goes in the ground. 
What! How do you mean you find it comfier between your knees? 
No wonder you had cramp on the Challenge.
 JJ’s not smiling here. Those are actually real tears.
 What part of south do you not understand.........
dark lours the tempest that howls overhead
 Homeward bound. (Red must be the new black)
JJ, look at what you missed. £1.50 a pint.

There will undoubtedly be 2 other different versions of events of today and they will eventually be found here and here.

Nous sommes du soleil.

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