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Benvenuti and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

And another Irish try! Foto La Reppublica

And another Irish try! Foto La Reppublica

There was a huge shocked silence in Roma yesterday after Italy lost 10-63 to Ireland in the Six Nations Rugby.  This is doubly disappointing as we have been working hard on our Italian friends to take an interest in the sport, rather than their obsession with football (Calcio).  Now, they are not inspired by the Italian team and neither are we.  But my man and I have an advantage; whilst Italy is our chosen country of residence we are still English, so England’s win over Wales yesterday put our hearts back into the game!  Commiserations to our Welsh friends, well not really.

Donald about to gobble up Hilary. fot La Reppublica

Donald about to gobble up Hilary. foto La Reppublica

Last week I mentioned the Carnivale and the amazing giant moving spectacles.  I just had to show you this one, which will be in the carnival at Viareggio.  A tr(i)umphant Donald appears to have Hilary inside a huge burger bun and she looks terrified poor thing.  As this tableau actually moves, I can imagine his arm lifting the bun up to his mouth and back!

Silvio back at the rostrum. Foto La Reppublica

Silvio back at the rostrum. Foto La Reppublica

Now, back in Fiano I also read over coffee, that Silvio Berlusconi is definitely still playing a high-profile political role.  As leader of the Forza Italia party, he appears to be indicating that he will ask the voters about any future candidacy, and as far as the election goes he wants a fully proportional law.  Err?  Now if any of my Italian speaking friends want to look at the text in the picture please do correct me if I have read this wrong.  You know me and my conversations with Italians, I often have them rolling in the aisles!

Rock Chick Fashion. Foto La Reppublica

Rock Chick Fashion. Foto La Reppublica

Anyway, back to things I really like.  Fashion and the Rock Chick look is definitely up my street.  so I could not resist showing you this picture below.  As I am starting the run up to my next concert, I will need a new outfit, so which one do you think will suit me best?  What’s that you said?  How dare you!

But let’s finish with a gorgeous picture of Armani man.  No not Giorgio, but a model who has all the makings of a new James Bond.  He joined me for coffee earlier in the week when my man was off doing a bit of business and certainly put a smile on my face.  Oh, I think he was modelling an Armani watch, but who wants to look at his wrist?

2017-02-10-10-31-43

Armani Man. Foto La Repubblica

Ok, better go.  I’m expecting to upload the final draft of ‘The Italian Connection’ to Amazon this week.  So, if I do not already have it, send me your email address if you would like to know when it goes live!  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Have a great week and do visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

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Benvenuto and Welcome to all my Lovely Followers

The traditional Carnevale in Tuscany. Foto La Republicca

The traditional Carnevale in Tuscany. Foto La Repubblica

“Ah, it’s Carnival time again!”  My man looks over his newspaper, as we drink coffee at La Dispensa in Fiano.  “I remember last year,” he continued “because I was on the plane coming back from Bristol, surrounded by a big crowd of carnival enthusiasts from Bridgwater!”   Now, he was talking about Bridgwater in Somerset, England, where they have a huge carnival every year, but nothing like as macabre and gruesome as the Italian ones so often are.  In their defence, the Italian ones are amazing to see.  Huge moving figures, loud music and bright colours.  This year the first one will be in Empoli on 11th February, then they continue through to 5th March throughout Tuscany, the biggest is probably at Viareggio.  Live carnivals will even be shown on Rai 3 television on the 26th and 28th February, if you don’t fancy going out in the cold.  So, whether you are an enthusiast or not, you won’t be able to avoid all the excitement, if you are here in Tuscany.

The forthcoming San Remo Music Festival. Foto La Repubblica

The forthcoming San Remo Music Festival. Foto La Repubblica

Anyway, what about the music scene, you ask?  Well, it’s also San Remo Music Festival time again.  I can tell you, February in Italy cannot be described as a dull or quiet time.  Carlo Conti, the hugely popular TV presenter will be playing host to all the entries from the Italian music world, hoping to be voted as the best and therefore eligible for entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.  What was that you said?  Yes, I know some of you hate this programme, but the Italians talk about little else in the bars during the four days of the festival, between 7th and 11th of February. Also, San Remo does attract a few famous stars to entertain the crowds in between bouts of the contest, and this year includes Robbie Williams and Ricky Martin!  Err, Wow?

The very versatile vegetable Carciofo. Foto La Repubblica

The very versatile vegetable, Carciofo. Foto La Repubblica

Coming down to earth and back in the local restaurants, we are enjoying the very popular vegetable, Carciofo, or Artichoke to you and I.  As you probably know, the Italians eat seasonal veg and fruit, and this time of year the carciofo is being served up in every shape and form.  Now, I love them, but my man does not, so I have never tried cooking them at home.  Anyway, why bother when you can pop down the road to a good ristorante!

Mmmm, lovely Gucci handbags to drool over. Foto La Repubblica

Mmmm, lovely Gucci handbags to drool over. Foto La Repubblica

What next, oh yes, handbags…..  Don’t you just love Italian made handbags?  I do.  I just had to share this collection of Gucci bags, I might go for the black one, as I already have one similar to the orange version.  What do you think?

And finally, sorry to end with sad news, but Italy just lost to Wales in the Six Nations Rugby.  Mind you, if you are Welsh, you are probably very happy about that.  At least we had the pleasure of watching England beat France yesterday, so not all was lost.

Well, enough of that.  Must get this blog off to you as soon as possible.  Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x  PS Hope you like the new background theme.

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

 

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers

Rugby victory for Italy! La Nazione

Rugby victory for Italy!
La Nazione

Yesterday evening my man was jubilant!  Many of you know that we are a great Rugby family.  Most of our men have played rugby and our grandson has followed suit.  Why was my man so happy, well Italy had just beaten South Africa, a very strong team, 20-18.  So, Italy goes from strength to strength and considering Rugby is not the country’s first sport, which is football (Calcio), this is very pleasing indeed.  The new coach, Conor O’Shea, seems to be making a big difference and confidence is high.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil senza (without) palm oil. La Reppublica

Extra Virgin Olive Oil senza (without) palm oil.
La Reppublica

Anyway, what about things closer to home in our little bit of Tuscany?  The subject of pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil is on everyone’s lips in the caffè bar.  Are you aware that this beautiful nectar is being sold around the world, some claiming that it is pure when in fact it is ‘watered down’ by palm oil!  Now, this should be shown on the label, so read the very small print and make sure you get the real stuff.  You can always come to Tuscany and buy fresh from the producers if you fancy a little break!

Carlo and son Simone behind a pile of lovely panettone at Bar/pasticeria Fiorentino. La nazione.

Carlo and son Simone behind a pile of lovely panettone at Bar/pasticeria Fiorentino in Montespertoli. La Nazione.

Meanwhile, and in the run-up to Christmas, our part of Tuscany has been running a Panettone making contest, and we were really pleased to read in the paper yesterday that our good friends at Bar Fiorentino in Montespertoli have won the accolade!  This ‘Derby Del Gusto’ is a popular event each year and my man always takes two of the fig and walnut versions to England for friends and associates.

Grilled Porcini caps at Montalbino. Foto J Finnigan

Grilled Porcini caps at Montalbino. Foto J Finnigan

Ah, then there’s the subject of Porcini mushrooms.  Still available in the shops, markets and restaurants the big grilled caps are to die for.  My man and I went out to Trattoria Montalbino for lunch on Thursday.  This tiny family-run place is in the middle of nowhere but not far from Fiano.  They specialise in fungi and the husband goes hunting for fresh porcini and truffles.  When the season is ended they still manage to do some wonderful dishes with the dried varieties.  Visit Trattoria Montalbino, Montespertoli on Trip Advisor.  Table bookings – 0039 339 3695 121

Simple Minds in Tuscany. La Repubblica.

Simple Minds in Tuscany. La Repubblica.

And, not to forget for all you rockers like me, touring bands this week have included Simple Minds and Aerosmith.  Oh, and for all the teeny boppers we are also currently hosting Justin Bieber.  I just popped off to check out Simple Minds on YouTube and there’s some great stuff there.  You may remember their number one hit ‘Don’t you (forget about me)’ in 1985.  The Scottish band was heavily influenced by Roxy Music.  Now Brian Ferry I can watch him perform anytime!  Aerosmith?  Well they are just brilliant in my mind, but tickets seem to be sold out the minute we hear about these bands; hey ho.

OK, time to go, cooking lunch at home today (Sunday) as two-thirds of the local restaurants are closed for winter holidays.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from you!

Salute June x

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

My current Books. Foto J Finnigan

My current Books.
Foto J Finnigan

 

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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and new followers,

main via in Certaldo alto oct 2013

The main via in Certaldo Alto. Foto J Finnigan.

Here in my our little bit of Tuscany on the edge of Chianti, I try to write this blog every Sunday Morning; occasionally it slips over to early Monday Morning.  But today I have cleared my desk and am on schedule!  My man and I have just returned from morning coffee at Bar Solferino in Certaldo and the sun is shining, so despite the freezing temperature, it is yet another beautiful day in Tuscany.

Now you may have noticed that we are rarely in our local village of Fiano these days.  The sad fact is that Laura’s Bar/Alimentare has been closed for two weeks again and the village has fallen into the doldrums.  Bar Piazzina in the centre of the village was abandoned months ago, so now there is nowhere to get coffee!  The heart has gone out of the village and there are a lot of retired people who need somewhere to focus on.  Fortunately, there are other shops; a tiny bakery and pizzeria, butchers, chemist, Milko’s book and card shop and a post office, however, the latter is only open two days a week now.  The only snippet of good news is that the village hall has been converted into a Gymnasium for the village elementary school, so at least that’s something!

So for now, Certaldo it is, a town that manages to still be active with several bars, small shops and businesses, despite the dreadful economic situation.  Do you remember when the UK was described as a nation of ‘shopkeepers?’ Well Italy is much the same, but things are changing fast.

Elton John is coming to the San Remo Song Festival! La Nazione.

Elton John is coming to the Sanremo Song Festival! La Nazione.

Saint Jude! A new TV series starting in the Autumn! Glossy magazine at my hairdressers.

Saint Jude! A new TV series starting in the Autumn! Glossy magazine at my hairdressers.

Back at Bar Solferino earlier in the week, I read that Elton John is this year attending the Sanremo 2016 Song Festival.  Looking at the list of other ‘stars’ I only recognise one and he is Italian!  Oh, and would you believe it the gorgeous Jude Law seems to have taken his vows and will soon be starring as Pio XIII in a new TV series directed by Paolo Sorrentino.  He still manages to look sexy, lets hope they haven’t cast him as gay, but hey ho.  Apparently it will go out on Sky Atlantic and most European countries, including the UK, will be able to tune in.  Mmmm must get SKY in before Wimbledon starts this year, methinks!

On the subject of sport, have you been to Florence and watched Historical Football, known here as Calcio Storica?

Calcio Storica. Very rough, half naked rugby/football in Florence! La Nazione

Calcio Storica. Very rough, half-naked rugby/football in Florence! La Nazione

It’s unique to Florence and is a kind of rugby match, however, the players wear medieval pantaloons and are stripped to the waist!  It’s been going on for several hundred years and there are regular demands for it to be banned because of the extreme violence.  Well it’s in the news again with more complaints.  I cannot understand what the fuss is all about, if these guys want to play the game, why not!  We girlies like it…..

Siena's Il Palio says no to invite from the Queen! La Nazione

Siena’s Il Palio says no to invite from the Queen!
La Nazione

Meanwhile, the other rather rough sport, the horse race called Il Palio in Siena, has caught the interest of Queen Elizabeth.  She invited the riders and their horses to attend her next birthday celebration, but they have turned her down.  They say that for just three days, the logistics are too problematic; so Queenie can’t always get what she wants despite being in the top ten most wealthy women in the world!

Well, enough of that.  Back here in the villa, life goes on in the most pleasurable way.  The sun is still shining and if we tuck into a sunny spot protected from the cold, we might just sit out with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio.  On the other hand, if we go over to ‘C’era Una Volta’ at Lucardo for lunch, I won’t have to cook.  O Dio, these executive decisions can weigh heavily on the mind; particularly on a Sunday.  Ok, time to shut the studio down and make a decision.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS. I would love it if you visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one in the series.

‘My Father, The Assassin’. Book one in the series.

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Our granddaughter feeds the church cats. Photo P Finnigan

Our granddaughter feeds the church cats.
Photo P Finnigan

We had a nice surprise last Friday, when we were asked to have our granddaughter for the night on account of her parents going out to a test dinner at Borgo San Pietro, which has a new A la carte chef.  Meanwhile, we had beans on cheese on toast and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Yes, we can get baked beans locally, not the Heinz variety, but as good as.  Before supper, Granddad walked our lovely granddaughter up to the church, which is sadly out of use, but has a big family of cats.  They took cat biscuits and were not too surprised to find a number of Farty Barty look alikes.  Farty Barty, for those that haven’t been introduced, is our resident wild male cat.  We are the family he has adopted to feed him when he choses to call in, and provide a cosy kitchen chair and indoor toilet if its raining.  After supper we were cosied up on the sofa and the granddaughter said, “Granny, do you have your tablet?” “I only take one in the morning now.” I smiled.  “No June, she means Ipad.” My man explained.  “There’s nothing wrong with my eyes!” I said, somewhat surprised.  “No Granny, you know, your electronic Ipad.”  “Oh, you mean my Kindle.  It’s next to the bed where I keep my tablets.”  They both roared out laughing.  What is it with this world, bring back the Queen’s English I say.

Mmmmm, Festa time for chocolate lovers. Photo J Finnigan

Mmmmm, Festa time for chocolate lovers.
Photo J Finnigan

Back at Laura’s cafe bar/alimentare, we are enjoying morning coffee and reading the papers, as one does.  A week ago Tuscany was enjoying La Festa del Cioccolato.  Yes, you’ve guessed it the festival of chocolate.  Such is the enthusiasm for the sweet that Siena filled the Piazza del Campo with hundreds of stands selling variations of the theme and a train carriage travelled across the area stopping at stations where chocolate fans could board for a shopping extravaganza!

The terrible match for Italy against Wales. Photo J Finnigan

The terrible match for Italy against Wales.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, the Six Nations Rugby was gripping the country, well at least part of it.  Calcio (football) is the most popular game in Italy.  If we were not cheering on Italy we were rooting for England, the former sadly ending up fifth after the final matches on Saturday.  The score for Italy versus Wales was terrible at 61 to 20!  ‘La disfatta means ‘The rout’ and it certainly was.  We desperately need some investment into the facilities and support for the game in Italy.

But now for some good news.  Spring is springing.  Lovely blue skies, trees in blossom, spring flowers everywhere and, we will be taking off all the protective covers in just a few days time.

A beautiful blue sky spring morning. Photo P Finnigan

A beautiful blue sky spring morning.
Photo P Finnigan

I’m really looking forward to my beautiful sister-in-law’s arrival on Wednesday, as she is coming over from England to do all the spring pots.  By the weekend the terraces will look wonderful, so I will send you some pictures next time.  The other thing she has offered to do is catalogue my huge collection of steam train books and videos.  I inherited these from my great-uncle as he was a great steam enthusiast, like me.  However, It is time to think about letting these go to another enthusiast, otherwise they will just stay in boxes for another ten years.  I’ll let you know when the list is complete and if you have anyone who might like to make an offer for them, drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net.

No time to report on Silvio B this time, but watch this space.

OK, I must crack on with the day job, after I’ve been out for my morning coffee that is.

Have a really great week.

Amore June x

Book cover for 'The Bolivian Connection' Available very soon.

Book cover for ‘The Bolivian Connection’
Available very soon.

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

End of February sunshine on the upper terrace. Photo J Finnigan

End of February sunshine on the upper terrace.
Photo J Finnigan

“Gosh its lovely and warm here.”  My man had stepped off the train in Certaldo and he enthused at the nine degrees we were enjoying here in Tuscany, having spent the previous few days in London.  To me it was cold, however, in reality I had enjoyed half an hour earlier that day, sitting in the upper terrace in straw hat and sunglasses, during a short period of windless sunshine.  Granted, I had my jacket on at the same time, as immediately a cloud pops over the sun, the temperature drops dramatically.  But yes, it’s a little reminder as to one of the many reasons we choose to live in this part of the world.

Our Mimosa tree in full bloom. Photo J Finnigan

Our Mimosa tree in full bloom.
Photo J Finnigan

I am posting a picture of our Mimosa tree which is now in full blossom.  Yes I know, I mentioned this lovely blossom last week, however, I wanted you to see the full tree now, because it is in danger of being reduced to nothing by a certain local contadini (countryman) and others, on or just before the 8th March, which is Festa della Donna.  You may recall that the blossoms are sought after for gifting to one’s beloved female family members, not just mothers, and there is a shortage of trees in the area.  I am not being stingy, but I do like to be asked if we can spare some blossoms.  A couple of years ago we came home from coffee to find half the tree missing!  I blamed a suspicious looking lady who was outside the church earlier that day, but it turned out to be someone we know well, who claimed to have knocked on our door first and we were out, so he thought it would be alright if he went into our garden with his secateurs!  On the day, I look forward to cutting a few blooms myself and gifting them to a number of lovely local ladies who deserve it.

Boat on the Exmouth Estuary by Mark Loman. Photo J Finnigan

Boat on the Exmouth Estuary by Mark Loman.
Photo J Finnigan

On to lighter things.  Last Tuesday, a new beautiful framed print arrived in the post from England.  I entered an auction to win one of Mark Loman’s limited edition prints, in aid a of a little English boy who is physically and mentally disabled, and I won!  http://www.markloman.co.uk

Article in morning paper about Remo Vangi the artist. Photo J Finnigan

Article in morning paper about Remo Vangi the artist.
Photo J Finnigan

Then this morning I saw an article about Remo Vangi, a Tuscan artist, and fell completely in love with the pictures of his paintings.  I am very keen on Impressionist painting, and these were particularly lovely.  So I looked up his blog site at http://www.removangi.wordpress.com and am now following it.  It seems he exhibits all over the world, and its the first I have heard of him.

I have been a little quiet about our gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi lately, sorry about that.  I must go and look up his latest exploits, so forgive me if I pause here for ten minutes or so.  OK I’m back.  Well, our Peter Pan of politics, age seventy-eight, is currently worth $7.4 Billion which is an increase of 0.2% since yesterday.  Once one is filthy rich it is impossible to avoid getting richer by the day.  It seems that his divorce from Veronica Lario has been finalised and he is now expected to marry his overage girlfriend Francesca Pascale.  She is twenty-eight now, so is getting on a bit and I am sure that SB will not want to be seen to marry a girl over thirty, so he had better get a move on!

But enough of that.  My tummy is rumbling and it is Saturday, so I had better go and cook lunch.  I always manage to take my man out to lunch on a Sunday, but today would be pushing it I think.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  Watch this space for the announcement of the publication of my latest novel ‘The Bolivian Connection’.  Oh Yes, I must slip in the news that Italy just beat Scotland in the Rugby Six Nations, hurrah, my man is a very happy rabbit!

Amore June x

PS  Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

The first Mimosa blossom in the garden. Photo J Finnigan

The first Mimosa blossom in the garden.
Photo J Finnigan

Returning from coffee in Fiano this morning, I ambled through the garden breathing in the air and absorbing the smell of spring just below the surface.  Whilst the winter countryside and garden here in Tuscany is still very beautiful, thanks to the evergreen trees including the silver green of the olive, we still long for spring and the uplift of the mind that goes with it.  Then I saw the bright flash of yellow and, hurrah, the Mimosa tree has opened its first fluffy blossoms.  So it will be only a matter of days before its heady perfume will be filling the air!

The hugely popular and charismatic TV personality Carlo Conti joins me for coffee. Photo J Finnigan

The hugely popular and charismatic TV personality Carlo Conti joins me for coffee.
Photo J Finnigan

Many of you will be aware that the 65th Festival della Canzone Italia has been going on in Sanremo, hosted by the very popular Carlo Conti.  This is where the great and the good Italian singers go to celebrate, yes you got it, singing.  There is massive coverage on television and the bar is full of talk about who they liked best the previous night.  We do not have SKY where we are, and are limited to some local stations, BBC World, Bloomberg and a few obscure ones.  So unfortunately, or depending on your point of view fortunately, we did not watch it.  In my humble view, there are some very good Italian singers of popular music and a little rock, but there are also some awful ones that are amazingly popular and can be heard constantly on the radio.  Radios are always playing in bars, hairdressers, dentists…  Oh dio, why did I have to mention the dentist again!  (I have one more visit to go, you see, so think of me on Tuesday!)  Fortunately, the Italians also love English and American music, so there is a lot of that too.

On the subject of music, I have finally finished typing out the lyrics for my next rock concert.  They need to be in bold and size 18, no the font size silly, so that I can see it without my glasses at night.  Whilst mentioning this, if you are not already on my invite list and can make it to Tuscany on June 20, do send your email address to june.finnigan@virgin.net.

The adoration of Calcio. Photo J Finnigan

The adoration of Calcio.
Photo J Finnigan

No doubt you are aware that the football (calcio) season is in full swing and the Italians are crazy for it.  In our area the main team to follow is Florence (Fiorentina) whose colour is purple.  I wear this colour a lot, because I like it and it suits me.  I am often being congratulated for supporting the team!

Ireland demolish Italy in the first round of the Six Nations. Photo J Finnigan

Ireland demolish Italy in the first round of the Six Nations.
Photo J Finnigan

From our point of view, we are a great rugby family, coverage of the Six Nations Rugby last weekend, by the Italian sports channel, was a very pleasant surprise.  As you can imagine, my man was a very happy rabbit indeed.  Our grandson, who started at an English boarding school last term, for the sole purpose of following his dream of becoming a professional player, is also delighted to be able to watch it here in Italy during his half term.  Sadly, Italy has a long way to go to be up to the standard of the other five teams, but time will tell.  A big investment is needed in Italian Rugby for it to really become competitive.

But life eeez good here in our lovely bit of the Chianti hills.  Farty Barty the cat seems to have returned to normal after a rush of dating, as is his wont this time of year.  I heard a Hoopee calling yesterday, the sun is now shining and by next weekend both my current novels should be ready for publication.

Well, time to get on with making myself beautiful as my man and I are off to C’era una Volta for lunch.

Thanks again for the follow and do drop me a line.

Molto Amore June x

PS   Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

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