The Glasgow and Scotland list – Not to forget

It’s a tradition. Whenever there’s a move to a new place, I make a list of things I don’t want to forget about the home that I am leaving.

(Here’s the list about my time in France, and here’s Switzerland)

So here’s the list of things I’ll never forget about Scotland and Glasgow:

Friends. Always. The people are what makes a place, and I have met some of the best during our time in Scotland! <3

The view from our bay window. It’s what every single visitor in our flat complimented, and it’s the one thing I definitely felt grateful for every day.

– The sounds of the park. People talking, kids screaming, dogs barking, seagulls screeching, the sound of the skateboards on the ramps.

Cider. I don’t like beer, but pubs are a must in the UK. Luckily, there’s a cider for every taste and I will forever remember the good company that I enjoyed them in.

Edgar. If you don’t know Edgar by now, you’ve missed out. Our neighbour’s burly tomcat was the king of the neighbourhood, and always in need of cuddles.

The Smell of roasting barley. For a long time, I was just mildly bewildered by the weird, rooty smell that sometimes seemed to waft through the city. It took me almost half a year until I grew conscious and curious enough of it to ask someone, and find out that the local breweries all had their roasting days – and you would always know when.

Pubs. A pub is the British people’s public livingroom. Pubs are for everyone, they are literally “public houses”, and the British claim them with all their heart and soul. Wether it’s for pick-me-ups during a long week, Friday evening drinks, a rainy Saturday afternoon, or the quiz on a Sunday evening: The pub is the place where you can meet all your friends, hang out, bitch, have a good time, and not worry about cleaning up afterwards.

Parks. Just as the pub is a British person’s public livingroom, so is the park their public backyard. This is where everyone and their dogs go for fresh air, an evening stroll, a morning run, football with the kids, or a natter with their neighbours. It’s hard to describe the friendly and empowering feeling that these spaces claimed by the people invoke, but I sure am gonna miss it.

“Hen”. – “There you are, hen.” “Anything else fer ya tadee hen?” “Haw’r’ya doin’ tadee hen?”- Get over it. Glasgow ladies call other ladies “hen.” It doesn’t matter if you’re younger or older than her, if she’s serving you at the corner store, cutting your hair, serving your beer, or a student in the same dance class: Shamelessly, and classelessly, you will be her “hen”. Better enjoy it!

Brother Kelvin. We lived in walking distance to the Clyde during our first few months in Glasgow. Big, lazy, oily old Clyde. What a difference to the Kelvin: Running, jumping, gurgling, blabbing through the park all day long, busy as anything.

Indian food: Another thing the UK does better than anywhere else I’ve been before.

- Cones. It started as a silly prank on this statue, and now the Weegies (Glaswegian folk) see it as some kind of sport to try and put traffic cones on anything, especially when it’s high up. You just have to like them, silly old fools that they are.

Driving on the left: It took a little bit of getting used to, but it quite grew on me, as did the whole non-chalant British style of driving.

The Three Judges: Although I’ve got pubs on this list already, our local corner dig deserves a special mention. If it weren’t for their weekly changing craft beer and cider selection, it would be nothing but a dingy old man’s dive. But hey, it’s the inside of the glass that counts.

Bagpipes. One of the things I wasn’t prepared for was just how unashamedly stereotypical Scotland actually is. I still had to laugh every time when at some point during my day, I could hear a random bagpipe recital. Which, believe me or not, happens often!

The great outdoors. I’m not sure if I will ever go anywhere as beautiful as Scotland. Our outdoor adventures were numerous, but not numerous enough. There is always more to be seen, further to be walked, higher to be climbed. Thinking that I will probably never pitch a tent in the highlands again makes my eyes a bit watery. (Also, I have never seen such frequent, breathtaking rainbows anywhere!)

Adventures in life. It’s been an eventful two years. Apart from hiking, camping, pubs and parks, there were spoon carving, outdoor birthday parties, yoga teaching, race running… oh, yes, and getting engaged (and subsequently, married, but not really.)

- Haggis: Feasts and elaborate cooking shenanegans were no rarity during our time with mostly hungry and culinary open minded people. But of all these, what stands out most in my memory was celebrating the Scottish national holiday (Burn’s night) with big haggis feasts. And if you haven’t tried one, you totally should.

Also: Midges, bogs, dickbutts, jellyfish, peatfires, fried marsbars, lawnbowling, free museums, hail storms, bonfire night, aurora hunting, incomprehensible locals, sweet neighbours, seagulls, binshoots, kangarooh people, and all the other wonderful things I forgot, but will never really forget.



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Tales from the road

Whilst my last update was all about the packing inferred existencialist angst in our household, this post already reaches you from the first stages of The Life After Glasgow.

Two strange men came into our house one morning, packed up all our belongings into boxes, and then made away with the whole lot.

I must say that I felt a lot better once the shipping had happened… it was something I felt most nervous about.

We spent a couple of days scrubbing and cleaning our flat to PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS – as rigourously demanded by our letting agency.

Saying goodbye to everybody was hard. I think even though especially Trev went through some tough times in Scotland, the one thing we really can’t complain about is the people we met. They are hands down the awesomest bunch of friends ever and can never ever ever be replaced.

We headed down to London as our first stop, where we stayed with Tref’s parents. We got his mom’s car that she had lent to us last year all cleaned out and washed, caught up with his family, and Trev sorted through a lot of boxes once again, clearing out stuff that he had left behind in his parent’s house.

Then this morning we escorted him to the airport and now he’s off to the States, for real! He’s going to stay with his best friend in Boston for a week before moving to New Haven.

I’m tallying behind because I had a few reasons to spend a little more time in Europe. Firstly, on the 1st of April, I’m going to move into my beloved Shekinashram, spending the month of April in Glastonbury. At the beginning of May I plan to fly to Amsterdam to meet a friend I haven’t seen in ages, and then I’ll travel on to Switzerland to spend some quality time with my family before I leave for Connecticut.

It all feels like a bit much at the moment, and this morning I really felt like I just wanted to go with Trev and make sure he’s ok and we wouldn’t have to be without each other for such a long time again. But then I reminded myself that these are my holidays now, and life will probably get very busy once we get together in the US, so I’m determined to enjoy my last two months in Europe. That sounds a bit dramatic… it’s not like I’m never going to come back… but it feels like a bigger step than we have ever taken before, and so it’s exciting and very scary at the same time.


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Train of thoughts; moving thoughts

Moving… it’s always a bit scary, isn’t it? I mean, even if you’re just moving down the road, you need to make sure everything is packed ok, you worry about cleaning your old flat, you wonder if all your things are going to arrive alright… and you probably dread unpacking all your boxes.

Although so far, I’ve always thought moving was pretty fun. Maybe it’s because I never moved as a child, so when I started living in different places as an adult, it was a novel and exciting thing to me. I love the thrill of new beginnings, but also the chance that comes with endings. You get to sort through stuff, get rid of things you no longer need, etc. etc.

The two times that I moved to a different country were even more exciting. We drove down to France with a carload of boxes, a little bit nervous about border controls (which were non-existent because it’s the EU and people are lazy), but otherwise full of plans and hopes for the six months to come. I moved to scotland with a few suitcases more on a flight to Glasgow than usual, but that was all there was to it, for the beginning.

But this time, it all feels just a little bit different.

We still don’t have much stuff. True, it is a little bit more than it might have been in the past (I’m looking at you, yoga mats!), but there’s no furniture, no car, no breakable crockery to worry about.

But we’re shipping all of that stuff overseas, it will take months to arrive, and Trev had to fill in pages and pages of forms for insurance and customs.

We’re trying to make sure he has a place to stay when he arrives in a place we know nothing about, and we’re simultaneously trying to scout out more long term accommodations.

And everything is very far away and buerocracy and legal system are very, very different from what we know.

It’s probably not like moving to a country with a completely different culture, but if feels very much like it.

Realistically, we have done all of this before, and worse (when Trev arrived in Zurich he did not even know he wouldn’t have a place to stay at uni. He had to crash at a colleagues house that he had only just met that day and it took him about two months to find a decent flat).

Sometimes we ask ourselves: Are we just too grown-up and worry too much about nothing? Too attached to our things? Too set in our routines? Not adventurous enough anymore? What happened?

I think under it all, we are very excited. It is a dream come true to go and see the States. We want to move. We have big plans for the years ahead. We are also curious, enthusiastic, happy, and grateful.

It’s hard to keep in touch with that part of the deal though when a lot of grownup-ness is required for paper stuff, and you’re trying to be cautious and careful, and not let people get the better of you.

We must have grown a bit tired within our souls. We have made a lot of experiences and we are wary and don’t want to repeat any mistakes. We put pressure on ourselves. We stress.

We are hovering inbetween two worlds at the moment, it feels like we already said goodbye to our old home, and yet, progress is slow, and we can’t move on straight away. But maybe that’s a good thing, because it also means we get a lot of time to breathe, to catch up with what is important, to rest rest rest, for the big effort and the intense times to come.



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Abandoned Mull

Since we ended up spending more time on the Isle of Mull than we had initially planned for, we went for a leisurely walk and some exploring on a slightly damp afternoon.

Rain can be pretty sometimes… 

And we passed by this quirky collection of fashionable cars by the roadside.

The woods were a bit gloomy, and the view was misty.

But this mossy tree almost looked like it had a (very derpy) face. We were certainly entertained. Even more so when down a steep slope, we discovered abandoned mini train tracks. Go explore!

Turns out Mull once had a model train line running along the coast… we were told about it later by elderly locals who remembered it fondly.

Back on and further down the path, we happened onto more abandoned buildings, filled with utterly abandoned stuff.

We pushed on towards a wind blown jetty where we caught a better glimpse of the castle on the other side of the bay.

I could bore you with heaps of pictures of celtic crosses because there really seems to be one around every corner in these parts. But don’t worry, I won’t. I only took a couple.

Then I got distracted by a seaweed-hung fence and the prospect of tea at the end of the path.

Mull saw us off with the most intensely colorful and magical rainbow that I have ever seen so far in my life.

Glasgow decided to take on the challenge and on our drive back into the city we were greeted by the fullest, clearest double rainbow. Scotland really does not skimp with those!

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Trip to Iona

I’ve always wanted to go to the Isle of Iona. It’s a tiny island off the Isle of Mull on the east cost of Scotland. There has been an abbey on that island for a really long time, and there are a lot of mythical stories about it.

So before we’re leaving Scotland, I was determined that we should get out there. We stayed on Mull for two nights. Mull is a nice but very sleepy place… but I had a lot of fun driving across the island on single track roads through amazing scenery to catch the tiny ferry that sails from Mull’s east coast across to Iona. Also, we had to stop from time to time because sheep or highland cattle were blocking the road.

When we arrived at the ferry port, the weather was a bit grey and grim. The staff on the ferry said they couldn’t guarantee a trip back because the forecast for later in the day was really bad. We decided to take our chances. The crossing was pretty bumpy, but we arrived ok.

We could see the abbey from the port when we arrived.

These are the ruins of the nunnery, where the holy women lived.

Iona abbey was self sustaining in that the monks and nuns worked the land and had cattle and pigs to feed themselves.

I love ruins and old places… I like the feeling of something leftover from times long past. I often try imagine what the stones might have seen…

Iona felt super special because it has probably seen the holy people of more than one culture observe their rites.

Even though the weather was grim, spring has arrived on the island, too!

Sheep hair caught in a black thorn bush.

The church of the abbey is being renovated, so it was hard to keep scaffolding out of the pictures…
The grounds of the abbey have a lot of interesting features like the abbott’s hill, where according to legend the abbott used to sit in a little writing hut and study.

People believe that pilgrims used to wash their hands in this trough before entering the church. If you throw three handfuls of water, you can ask St. Columba for favourable winds for your journey. We definitely needed that!

The church is still used for masses. It makes for an amazing mixture of old and new.

Scaffolding again in the cloister, but there was a lot of beautiful stone carvings.

At this point a lady from the souvenir shop came up to us and told us that we should catch the next ferry because they would probably not sail again after this. So we had to leave pretty apruptly after only an hour.

Sadly, this didn’t work out. It would have been a cool picture with the rough water and the ferry approaching, and the sign saying that the sailings were being canceled for later.

I’m trying not to be too sad about only having a short time on the island. At least we made it here and did get a look at the most important things.

Bye bye Iona, maybe we’ll make it back one day!

If you want to read more about the history of Iona, this is the place for you!

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Burn’s night supper

Robert Burns is a Scottish poet and writer of the 18th century who is now widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet. On his birthday on the 25 January, people worldwide, but especially in Scotland, honor him with a “Burns supper”. This holiday is more widely observed in Scotland than the actual national day.

1.8 kg of haggis coming out of the oven.
A traditional haggis is a flavourful mix of oatmeal, minced sheep’s intestines, and spices, stuffed into a sheep’s stomach.

Traditionally, the haggis is served with “neeps and tatties”, swede and potato mash. We had two pots of mash, a huge tray of roast veggies, gravy, fried onion rings, and cranberry sauce (making this an opportunity to clean out some Xmas dinner leftovers from the freezer).

The table is waiting for the haggis! (Two veggie haggises already in the picture).

No Burns supper is real without Robert Burns’ famous poem “Address to a Haggis” – which gave the haggis its fame and position as Scotland’s national dish.

The haggis is carried in to the sound of bagpipes (in this case conveniently streamed from youtube), presented on the table, and then addressed, and cut.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Fair and full is your honest, jolly face,
Great chieftain of the sausage race!
Above them all you take your place,
Stomach, tripe, or intestines:
Well are you worthy of a grace
As long as my arm.

The groaning trencher there you fill,
Your buttocks like a distant hill,
Your pin would help to mend a mill
In time of need,
While through your pores the dews distill
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour wipe,
And cut you up with ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like any ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm steaming, rich!

(Full poem and translation here)

Then the haggis is toasted with whisky (Stef in the center is holding a quaich – a traditional Scottish whisky cup), and then the supper begins.

Fun fact: In 2009, STV ran a television series and public vote on who was “The Greatest Scot” of all time. Robert Burns won, narrowly beating William Wallace. (from Wikipedia)

Also, miraculously, there were enough leftovers from the Christmas dinner to have another “Feuerzangenbowle” – flaming punch. Our very own beloved pyromaniac Christoph at work.

Traditionally, the supper ends with joined hands and the singing of Auld Lang Syne (or so I’m told), but maybe we’ll rehearse that for next year.

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Snowfully wedded

So, yeah… how do you lead up to a post like this? We got married.

I know, not much of an introduction, but hey, we can work from here.

Tref and me have been together for almost six years now. It seems both like a long and a very short time… anyways, as many of you know by now, we are moving to the States this spring. And as many of you also guessed, in order for me to be able to get a visum, the most logical thing was to get married.

This job thing happened quite quickly, and so the whole marriage thing also had to happen fast. So we decided: We didn’t want to make it more stressful than it already was (there was a a LOT of paperwork to get done for me – next to all the visa and moving stuff!). We didn’t want to make a big thing of it. We both agreed that a paper with signatures does not mean a whole lot for our love and that for us, it was way more important to celebrate a marriage pledge with friends and family and a big party when it came to a more spiritual way of doing it.

So, we decided to treat this civil marriage as a sort of engagement.

Trev still did propose very formally, with a ring and whatnot – which was totally unexpected for me, but very sweet! He did it because he felt like it was all not romantic enough for me and I deserved a bit more of a fairytale flair. Isn’t he the best?!

We were all having a fondue, crowding into a friend’s kitchen, when he popped the question. I was flabberghasted! It was so weird, and funny, and perfect at the same time. It felt very right that all our friends where there, and that the circle was closed when all those people shared our wedding day with us.

Tref got my ring custom made with his own design. It’s a silver ring with rose gold leaves and a sun stone in it. I feel like an elvish princess wearing it. I had never heard about sunstones a lot, but when I did some research it seemed like this stone and me were just made for each other.

We told everybody that this thing would “not be our real wedding”. We are planning on organising a nice big party with family and friends sometime next year maybe, when we have more time to get into things. But of course, our friends and family got super excited about it all, and we did get a lot of presents and cards… which were awesome btw, thank you all so much!

Anywaaaayys… so we got a date, and our usual pack of friends showed up to keep us company. We didn’t have any music or personal vows or such, so the ceremony itself was really quick and simple. But we did add a little personal touch that also made things quite fun.

Trevor really wanted his oldest friend Pinkerton the stuffed elephant to be present at the wedding. So we decided to bring Teddy along, too. Our favourite stuffed toys had front row seats in the ceremony, and Pinkerton guarded the ring box.

I really didn’t want to get married with “boring” hair, so after a looongg time of having it natural in order to be a serious nanny and yoga teacher, I went and dyed it pink, purple and blue. I love it and I’m not going to go back to brown anytime soon! I only realised how much I missed having colourful hair when I got it back. I feel so much more myself again!

We didn’t want to get rings for the ceremony, as Trev had only just got me one for his proposal. But we still thought exchanging rings would be nice.

So we got a couple of gummi rings for the vows. I remember they always seemed like real rings when we were kids, but now they are actually quite tiny… luckily they stretch!
They are also very sticky though!

Our registrar was really laid back and went with all of our freakyness – she even used my nickname for the non-formal parts of the ceremony, which was a huge relief for me.

I would actually never have thought that getting married is that much fun! With all the signing (with a fancy pen), and staging pictures where we pretended to sign the form, we felt like politicians! So we needed a solemn handshake in the end:

My dress is in two parts: The purple dress is a tube shoulder free dress with ruffles underneath. I added a petticoat for extra fluff and a blue corset. My friend Vero had to tie me into it beforehand. It’s great because it made sure my posture was flawless! I hadn’t really planned on getting a special dress, but then I thought I kinda deserved one, and I went dress shopping last week. I’m not a great shopper, but I was lucky to find this combo and I’m super happy with it!

After all the picture taking we ate the rings. Yumm!

After the ceremony (it was in the afternoon) we went for a beer, then all went back home and got changed into our outdoor clothes. As we left the registrar’s office, it started to snow like crazy! It doesn’t snow very often in Glasgow, but the whole city was white within minutes.

It took hours to get out of the city, get groceries, and decide if it was safe to proceed with our plan.

We went out to our lovely hut once more, but this time getting there was a bit more of a stretch. We had to leave two of the three cars about 6k from the hut. Geoff, who’s hut custodian and is allowed to drive all the way up – and also happened to have snow socks – chauffeured all the heavy stuff up to the bothy, while the rest of us went by foot.

It was about 2am when we finally arrived. I think we all slept very well that night.

But if anyone had doubted it, a wonderfully sunny next morning showed that it had all been worth the effort:

We tried to go for a walk but didn’t really get anywhere because we stopped and played in the snow at every corner.

It was cosy – very cosy! – in the bothy with 10 people crowding into the tiny space most of the time. But we all love each other dearly, so there wasn’t really a problem, and we were all super sad to leave on Sunday.

I certainly did not have high expectations of this event, and both the ceremony and the weekend could not have been more special and beautiful. It felt like everything that happened was just perfect and special and a bit quirky and fun.

What a great start to a new adventure!

Pictures: All engagement pictures are by Stefan Glatzel.
Wedding and weekend pictures by Geoff Cooper.

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2015 – What’s the word?

We’ve been spending lovely holidays in Switzlerand, staying with my family. It was great to arrive here and have a room waiting, nothing to worry about, and just sit around and get used to relaxing. We didn’t do much else, especially during the first week, than read, play, and sleep all day. We really needed to charge very depleted batteries.

Last year has been a tough one, although when we now talk about it, we both agree that it taught us a lot.

Thinking back to the beginning of last year, we were both already feeling a bit beaten up by a challenging month of December, and I really didn’t feel like making a lot of high-flying plans and resolutions for 2014. Somehow, there was a foreboding of struggles and hard times, and all my instincts told me to just curl up and preserve energy for the things to come.

But this time it was different. After winding down for a few days I did get super duper excited to make my goal list for 2015. I started with brainstorming, then organising the different wishes and dreams into categories, and breaking them down into realistic goals.

I usually choose a “word for the year …” at the very beginning of this process, but somehow, this time, I didn’t. I guess I kinda knew all along what it would be though.

My word for 2015 is trust.

2014 has been all about living on the edge of my comfort zone and energy levels. Being pushed by circumstances and pushing myself time and again. Therefore, naturally, it has also been a year of immense growth and learning.

Now I feel like it is time to deepen the lessons that I have been gifted with. One big thing that I learned is that I am much, much stronger than I think. The one thing I felt has depleted me of a lot of useless energy over the year was worrying too much and being too attached to things happening in a certain way.

That’s why I feel like I need to make trust a priority in this coming year.

Trust in myself. Trusting myself with tasks and dreams that I have to date not been confident enough to even voice to this world. I am strong enough. I am good enough. I am worthy of my dreams. I can trust myself with the task of growing a little bit towards my true self every day.

I also want to trust in the world. People who know me would probably say that I am already doing that. It’s true I generally believe very much in the good in people and the world. I do believe that life is for us, not against us. But still, in daily life I tend to worry a lot, and imagine bad outcomes to things. It makes me want to try and plan and control everything, which is a huge energy guzzler, and not very beneficial to my wellbeing. So yes, I feel like there needs to be more trust in life and the world as well. Trust that even if something doesn’t quite go the way I’d imagined it, it can still be ok. And also knowing that if things get chaotic sometimes, or something gets forgotten, that doesn’t mean I failed at life.

I have a strong feeling like this year is going to be absolutely wonderful. There’s so many exciting things planned for the beginning already that there isn’t really any telling where we might end up by the end of it, but I am sure it will be awesome, I just know it!

Here’s to an abundant, blissful 2015 filled with joy, love, close hugs, late night talks, long walks, gasps of surprise, toe-wiggling, overflowing hearts, spontaneous adventures, good books, unexpected giggles, and never-ending self love!!

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My dear new friend

Welcome, my dear new friend! I hope your journey here was a good one. We have been waiting for you all night. Granted, we had some drinks and were busy talking about your older sibling. You know, it was quite the time with them. We also played games, and ate food, and so on. But really… we were just killing time. We were waiting for you.

As the hands of the clock moved twards midnight, we could hear your footsteps approaching. We poured drinks and got ready to welcome you. And as all the bells in the village started to ring, accompanying your appearance, we opened the doors wide for you, and toasted you welcome.

We embraced each other, grateful for the things we’d experienced together before you arrived, and excited for the things that are to come, the things that you, dear friend, would bring.

Welcome, dear 2015, welcome. We are all looking forward to a wonderful time together!

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Bye bye, dear 2014!

Thank you for…

… giggles and belly laughs
… awesome friends, old and new
… amazing landscapes
… special opportunities
… people who believe in me
… caring and supportive family, near and far
… and awesome home
… love and love and love

Please keep your…

… needless worries
… endless paperwork
… midges and other stingy beasties

Lessons I learned from you:

I am stronger than I think. Much!!

Dreams that you helped come true:

– Self employed work
– Start a garden
– Teach yoga
– Experiencing a nordic midsummer’s night

You changed me because…

… you threw me in the deep end
… I was courageous
… I opened myself to opportunities
… I have the best partner by my side
… I worked hard

I will always remember you as the year when…

… I became a yoga teacher
… I fell in love with Glasgow
… I learned to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road
… I took some pretty big life decisions

You reminded me that I really need to work on…

…trusting in myself and life.


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