The London 2012 Olympics

As swimmers dart up and down the pool, I can’t help but be amazed at their aquatic awesomeness…As pole vaulter’s vault, sprinter’s sprint, hurdler’s  hurdle and gymnast somersault…I want in on the action.

The early morning tv sessions ( the time difference between London and Sydney is a killer), the dedication taken in reading up on athlete’s bio’s , studying the tv guide, preparing meals in advance so as not to miss  a minutes sporting action …This Olympics gig is only for the elite viewer, the dedicated, the passionate , committed.

That folks isn’t me…I don’t mind the odd bit of Olympic action…but it isn’t really isn’t my cup of tea…So to amuse myself at a time when only sport seems to matter, I have turned my attention to something I excel at….eating food….And I have hosted the 2012 Food Olympics…and I can’t wait to tell you who was awarded the Gold, Silver and Bronze.

The July edition of Sydney’s Time Out Magazine has to take the credit for this blog post. They encouraged readers of the July edition, to forgo elite athleticism, to leave it to the experts…ordinary folk should focus on what they do best…and in Sydney, that apparently is eating.

I took the message literally, and with the help of the restaurant reviews from previous Time Out editions, I have eaten my way around town.

Though there are still a few days to snare gold in London, both my waist line and wallet have requested that I hold the award ceremony early.


Spencer Guthrie’s, 339 King Street, Newtown

Spencer Guthries, a new restaurant on the famous King Street strip. A restaurant committed to sourcing produce ethically, reducing their carbon foot print and all that jazz…

They had me at hello, or was it welcome?

The restaurant is small, around 8 tables, the atmosphere, intimate, our waiter, attentive.

But it is all about the food….Flavour, flavour, flavour….delicate portions, plated to perfection…balance and harmony in my entrée of wild mushroom, main of steamed leather jacket and dessert of chocolate ( all things for that matter)

Water and wine and the finest of companions…a friend I have had in my life since the age of 5 ( Gold medal is almost a given!!)

Spencer Guthries…..Gold, yes baby, you are gold.


Hartsyard, 33 Enmore Road, Newtown

Oh so close….think James Magnusson 100 metre freestyle final closeness…

The only was to separate the winner in the 2012 Food Olympics was to ask myself, ‘ How soon could I return to eat at the establishment’

To that question I answered ‘ Spencer Guthrie’s…tomorrow’, ‘ Hartywards… week’

Hartsyard seems to be the new hipster hangout in the infinitely cool Sydney’s innerwest.

A New York chef, meets Aussie girl….they fall in love and she brings him back to Australia. The result, Sydney gets an injection on NY coolness…and I could not be happier.

This meal is shared with a friend I have known since I was 3 years old ( another reason why this Silver is really like a gold in disguise) It was the perfect meal to accompany our friendship…fun, full of laughter and shared childhood memories of sea and sun.

Southern style crunchy golden fried chicken, the French Canadian inspired dish Poutine with beer gravy…We shared both mains…the dishes left us  feeling full and completely satisfied.

At the time I remember thinking ‘ I am eating Elvis Pressley’s final meal’…and then out came our dessert.

Peanut butter and Banana Sundae….and it was then and there that I died and went to heaven…I had never eaten anything so indulgent, so heavenly, so divine…the salty chocolate fudge sauce, the donut balls, ice cream that bubbled and burst with creamy goodness at the touch of a spoon.

Hartyard is awarded a silver only because I want so much to return…and return I will…I would go there for dessert alone…but with summer round the corner, my thighs and buttocks are wary…this restaurant is in a category almost entirely of its own….‘ special treat’ territory…returning to soon could very well clog an artery.

Oh the temptation!!


Rueben Hills, 61 Albion St Surry Hills

It had to be you, Rueben Hills…you are the gracious recipient of the 2012 Food Olympics bronze medal.

I love that you open at 7am-4pm, Monday through to Sunday, enabling me, to pop in on my way to work and indulge in the type of breakfast fit for a King or Queen.

I have dined in your company twice over the past few months, I like the mid-week visits, I have heard you are super busy on the weekend, crazy busy, and pre-work breakfast means that I get fast and fabulous service, and can make the tough decision of what to eat in relative silence…your innovative breakfast creations can make this very hard!

Breakfast number one was a breakfast trifle, berries in orange syrup w honey&orange blossom yoghurt , breakfast number two a spice grilled chicken fillet, Tomatillo salsa, cheese, pickles & chipotle aioli on brioche. On both occasions I doubted my choices…Was this really breakfast food?

I should have trusted your menu….turns out they are probably two of the most memorable breakfast meals of 2012.

Your café, the décor, the music, the food, the coffee…you are the real deal…the perfect inner city café, for breakfast for one, lunch for five or coffee on the go.

In a nutshell, you are just cool, I have a café crush on you…even more so that you have been awarded a bronze medal!

For more wonderful restaurant recommendations, check out a blog I stumbled across recently, The Adventure of Miss Piggy, for all things food and fabulous…..

So go on,  host your own 2012 Food Olympics….get out there and award your favorite eating joint a GOLD medal for awesomeness….

CUWAM Thank you for reading…..Danke Schoen

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I start this weeks message with a simple thank you for reading……Danke Schoen

The countdown is on…In less than two weeks catch up with a mate month will go global….But I will find myself alone in my first destination…Paris….the city of love…But whilst is the city of love, I think my first love will be sleep….For the lead up to any oversees holiday, when working full-time, is always a tad stressful, the organisation, the expectations, the sorting out, the packing, the catch ups to say goodbye ( it only 5 weeks)…Yep, Paris here I come…number one aim in the city…catch up on some much-needed R & R ( and then the focus can shift….to pastries, park life and modern art)

My other destinations will see me take in Copenhagen, NYC and the seaside towns of Devon and Cornwell in the Uk, the city of Bristol and the fabulous London….it would be an understatement to say that I am excited….

But the week that was…the catch ups that where….the 9-5 grind that took its toll…Yep another week has passed me by, and I was lucky as many catch up adorned each day…

I struggle to recall Monday…It was a day of administration stress and frustration….which resulting in me locking in a Tuesday drink with friend Scott Duncan…..There was no gym action, the was a home cooked meal as I dined solo in front of the tellie….and lost myself in Nine’s Farmer Wants a Wife….A definite low light of the week.

On Tuesday, still suffering from the ill effects of a testing Monday, I put out the call that the only fans of my blog are my parents…and therefore insulted many of my readers!! And for that I am sorry…However, views to the blog hit a mid-week high and I am tempted to indulge weekly in online pleads for attention…I also talked to a colleague at work, Ricardo, about a desire to take my bloging to the next step…help will be provided in late October / early November…stay tuned.

And after work drinks at the Clare Hotel, Ultimo, Sydney with Scott…And a glass of wine was never sold so cheaply….When it came time to focus in on drink number two, I asked for half a glass of red…The bar tender charged me $3 and then gave me a glass more generous in content that drink one?? The Clare Hotel…I love thee….Dinner followed, at Satang Thai on Quay Street, Haymarket….reminded of my days as a high-flying travel agent ( actually I never left the ground!!), for the beef basil and chilli was a dish I consumed on a regular basis back then, the humble restaurant being my local….Ah, good things never change….Satang Thai Thai street food remains the same…and Scott and I were left content and satisfied after out meals.

On Tuesday I also tried something new…I went to the gym at lunch time….between the hours of noon and 1pm…I pumped iron ( well I used the treadmill) at Newtown Fitness First…impressed by my midday commitment to exercise…I declared that I would pack my gym gear for a similar work out session on Wednesday.

Wednesday….a day of commitment to my work…the start of information session to my students who are to embark on an exchange to countries ranging from France, Germany, Austria, UK, Switzerland…I was proud of my work and presented relevant and factual information to my student cohort…I was also proud to announce my annual leave to my students… ‘See you later guys, will be back in the country mid October’ There was no lunch break, high hopes of a midday gym session were sidelined…but come 5pm…I was gym bound…Newtown Fitness First here I come….

My Thursday was devoted to the humble nachos dish…It was all I could think about….I had heard someone the night before of the bus home mumble the word nachos to her friend on the phone ( or was her friend’s name Marcus / was she talking about the circus??)…who can say…But after presenting to the UK student group, I hit King Street Newtown for some Guzman and Gomez Mexican action…Taking my lunch to Camperdown Memorial Park, I had a photo shoot with my lunch, basked in the sun…and felt genuinely happy to be alive

Friday…an office morning tea, a late lunch and an afternoon tea of cupcakes, home-made baked beans and Tim Tams ( a combination I would later regret) …It was Friday…but it was a day that pressed many administration buttons…as the seemly endless task of preparing for a 5 week vacation was taking its toll…I was beginning to doubt my ability to make it through the next 2 weeks with my sanity intact…

Nothing a shuttle bus, train ride, and harbour ferry journey can’t fix though…Once I left the office I regained my sense of equilibrium…And I took a lucky dip approach to public transport to purchase my Dad’s 61st birthday present…Arriving at Balmain wharf…I walked to a fabulous little bottle shop and found a bottle of Shiraz from the Heathcote region in Victoria ( preciously what my Father had asked for) I then headed in the direction of home….two bus rides later I was united with Flora, another TV dinner and then to B.E.D.

I baked a chocolate slice early Saturday morning…then drove to Bondi for brunch and a catch up with the lovely Mrs Rebecca Wearne ( formally Crowe)…Crowe is still glowing with post wedding bliss, and rightly so, she married a lovely farmer from NZ…Crowe’s Danny could give a lesson or two to the so-called men on Farmer Wants a Wife season whatever number they are up to!!

Over coffees, avocado salsa and crispy prosciutto, Crowe and I chatted about my impending holiday, her fabulous husband and the general coolness of everything that is the Sydney suburb of Bondi….Leaving café Deli Bottega behind, totally satisfied and ready to face the afternoon, Crowe and I parted….

The afternoon was spent rummaging in Bronte St Vincent De Paul Opp shop…and I can out with some bargains…Two books, a silk scarf and a dress….Which was put on for the evening festivities….An all in one birthday celebration for my Mum and Dad, and me as well…Though my special day isn’t till September…I will be gallivanting around the globe….My Mum’s b’day not till October…But what the heck…It was time to celebrate…

Over goat curry, BBQ lamb, 9 lentil curry and copious pappadums…Mum, Dad, Michael, beautiful Tennelle and myself celebrated at the Nepalese Kitchen, Crown Street, Surry Hills….It was to be my Dad’s birthday the following day, and we continued into the night with desserts of rose-water, pistachio and fig ice cream….As if that was not enough…we continued across the road to Gnome Cafe ( formally Coffee Tea or Me) for coffee made with love ( especially for my brother Michael…his coffee came complete with love heart…Barista love??)

Sunday…I caught up with Elena and her friend Astrid, who will cat sit whilst I globe trot. After providing Astrid with the details needed to live the life of an Eastern Surburbs princess ( complete with cat), a quick drive around the burbs, we were all exhausted and needed refueling… Parc Cafe hit the spot, coffees and a late breakfast ensured that smiles returned….

Determined to completely annihilate myself before I hop on that 747 to Paris next week, after bidding adieu to Elena and cat sitter Astrid, I headed via car to Epping…to catch up with my remarkable Grandparents, still alive and very much together…married for what seems 1000 years, completing each others sentences and pieces of cake….We chatted away over tea and coffee…smiled, laughed and genuinely enjoyed each other company….

And now I am home, the week / the weekend has come to an end…and once again I find myself in the kitchen….cooking myself a dinner of roast vegetables, having earlier felt the need to eat ½ a pack of Smiths Cheese and Onion chips and gulp down a can of coke ( serious, hung over after three wines…is that what being 33 entails….not looking forward to that ‘ special’ day in September)

Thank you for reading…Danke Schoen

CUWAM…..Jingle Bells, Swing Dancing and the Chinese Andre Rieu

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The eclectic title of this weeks entry reflects the week that was….It was eventful in every sense of the word, full of ups and downs, side twists and turns, somersaults and the occasional handstand….The week that was did involve the general Monday to Friday office procedures…but blah, blah, blah….that does not make for an interesting read….Listed below are things that actually made my week memorable….the people, the catch up and yes, the strong cups of coffee, the wine and the chicken crimpies…

Monday was the RSPCA cupcake day…In homage to my feline friend Flora, cupcake making had consumed me on Sunday evening…Chocolate cupcakes with paw print decorations, Coconut cupcakes with lemon butter icing…Having recruited my work mates Elena and Amanda to assist with cake creating we put on a colourful cupcake spread at 10am in our office block… Monday 10.07am and most cupcakes had been devoured, and I set about counting up to donations…I was pleased to find that the office had raised in excess of $102.75 cents for the humble cat, dog, rodent and or fish that would take respite in RSPCA shelters around Australia….money well invested, a very worthy cause.

At 4pm it was necessary to take myself to a human style shelter that would ensure my continued health and well being…a lovely rheumatologist on Macquarie Street, Sydney….It would not have done the journey justice if I did not pick up a cappuccino from the Lindt chocolate café located nearby, and with coffee in hand, I attend my annual health check up….for which I got 10 out of 10…in the pink of health.

Tuesday….a tennis match with the trim and terrific Mr Scott Duncan…It had been a while since we had sparred on the green grass of the University of Sydney tennis courts….but the passing of time had not diminished our desire to smash tennis balls at one another….After a good hour, we ascended on the Royal Hotel, Darlington for a steak and a beer…..

Wednesday….free movie tickets to see the Irish Hit comedy ‘ The Guard’ at the art deco cinema, the Randwick Ritz….It was there that I met up with my old neighbour, Mel, who was going through hard times on the relationship front…so over a wine we both came to the conclusion that the man who had stolen her heart for the past 3 months was a looser….and on that note we entered the cinema….We emerged 2 hours later, after laughing heartedly at Sergeant Boyle and his exemplary police work…A late dinner at Arthur’s Pizza at the Spot, Randwick, we continued to discuss Mel’s ex, referring to him as a looser amongst other things

Thursday, a delightful Yum Cha luncheon at Epic Yum Cha, Broadway with my colleagues Donna and Kenny…over prawn and chives dumplings, Chinese broccoli and chicken and corn parcels, we talked about the important aspects of our 9-5 office jobs ie our impending holidays and Kenny and Donna’s long service leave in 2012.…The evening was relatively quiet, after work browsing for the Time Out guide to New York City, and then coming home for a tv dinner with Flora.

Friday, farewells lunch for my colleague Hilary, who is about the have her 3rd baby, a Lebanese feast for one, and cupcakes for many….Hugs and kisses, happy goodbyes….

Friday evening drinks and the Clare Hotel, Broadway with Kenny and Jude….followed by what every person with a few wines under their belt craves…dumplings… where else but the Chinese Noodle House, Haymarket…where we not only feasted on dumplings, spring pancakes and handmade noodles, we were serenaded with music by the Chinese Andre Rieu….with a repertoire that included jingle bells, happy birthday and when a request was made for Vivaldi’s Four Season, Mozart was player….In a suit and white sneakers, the Chinese Andre Reiu was the perfect accompaniment to dumplings…And as if that was not enough food, we finished to evening at BBQ King for a feast of roast duck, pork and congee…

Saturday…I did not get out of bed till the afternoon ( I was still digesting the 7 hour dinner I had consumed the night before!!), a coffee, a stroll to my favourite opp shop on Clovelly road to purchase a cooking dish to cook a killer apple, cranberry and pear crumble…Mission accomplished along with the purchase of a $1 singlet…. Home to cook and then off for dinner in Coogee at my friends, Malcolm and Rhonda’s house….For a delightful meal, good conversation and classic ABC tv drama ‘ Marshlands’

Sunday, up early and on a bus, train and shuttle bus to the Fifties Fair, held in Wahroonga at the Ross Steiner House, a heritage home…Super!! I meet Phillippa, Gordon and cuter as a button Phoebe on the ground of the house, and we glanced around at the fifties glamour that was on sale….I could not stop taking photos of the people, the clothes, the general get up that adorned the people…I was in jeans and a sweater…Shame on me!! It was a true sight to behold. Setting up on the lawn, we people watched whilst eating vegemite and jam sandwiches ….What an amazing way to spend Sunday…

Whilst Phillippa and Gordon were regular visitors to this Fair, as a newbie, I will be joining the procession to next years event…It was an event that transported me back in time…( to a time I was not even born…does not make sense but you get what I mean) And home, to my apartment, back to Flora and to a home cooked meal as I attempt to save pennies for my impending European / American vacation…If I only I could be transported to Paris tomorrow…only two more weeks of office work to go before that becomes my reality!!

The week in Links

The Guard…Irish Comedy at its very best

BBQ King…Roast Duck being their speciality

Chinese Noodle House…Home of the dumpling and Chinese Andre Rieu

Rose Seidler House, Wahroonga….The 1950’s was ever so cool!!

CUWAM…..Its all gone to the Dogs ( and cats)

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Another week passes, and I edge closer to my 5 week European and American Vacation…The news of the world however, suggests that it may be safer to stay indoors and count ones pennies….For amongst my holiday destinations are London and NYC….And the week that was saw UK cities set upon by looters and the United States ravaged by yet another financial crisis of trillion dollar proportions…

It’s all gone to the dogs….and so was the week that was administration chaos…It was a week that saw the chapter of welcoming my 120 inbound exchange students come to a end ( 4 weeks of welcoming is almost over kill) and a new chapter open of sending the same number of local students abroad….Yet this new chapter is far more draining….It involves months of administration, endless conversation and student counselling, and face to face contact with those embarking on either a 6 month or year long exchange placement for a period of up to ONE YEAR….But this aside, it is extremely enjoyable to receive calls of joy, emails of happiness and to partake in casual chit chat from students elated by their exchange nomination to cities such as Berlin, Paris, New York and Auckland.

The week was balanced….Monday a picnic in Victoria Park, and the gym clothes that I carried  to and from the office, were carried home, the gym was bypassed….for I was tired.

Tuesday I left the gym bag behind for that evening I was to be watching the film ‘ Red Dog’ at the cinema with my mate Suz. Suz had already threatened to boycott the evening, as evident in her text to me the previous day. Suz has the misfortune of being both an animal lover and an extremely sensitive soul ( actually the very reasons why we are friends!!)

However, for this movie…the combination was to prove lethal……To reduce tears, I purchased Cheese Twisties, Baby Bell Cheese ( of the small variety) a king size mars bar, mandarins and Coca Cola….Suz added to the smorgasbord of delicacies with pop corn and a frozen coke….But the tears still flowed….Tears of happiness, tears of sadness…Red Dog, the movie of 2011 so far….And this is coming from a cat lover….

Do yourself a favour…see the movie ‘ Red Dog’

Wednesday I ventured out for dinner with the lovely Fernanda and Elena…We dined at the ‘ Nourishing Quarter’ Surry Hills, a vegan, wheat free / diary free extravaganza…A celebration of good food and friendship….Fernanda’s birthday, Elena’s job promotion at work and the impending arrival of her own baby on the 25th of December and my holiday.

Thursday and I engaged in a conversation on Clovelly Road about the wonders of the film ‘ Red Dog’. Proudly declaring myself a cat lover…I chimed in my two cents worth about the film, the beautiful nature of Koko the dog and the charms of Josh Lucas, Koko’s supporting actor!! On Thursday booked tickets to see Mary Poppins in November for myself and 3 friends, sending all attending a message that the event was only 3 months away and Thursday, the day I was made away of a certified nut in Japan, who in the year 2000, felt lost and asked the Gods ‘ What should I do with my life’…clearly she misheard the response as you can view her lifes work on the link below….dear oh dear…..

The Cat Tailor of Japan

Friday….the day that truly went to the dogs…I listened on high rotation to the song ‘ Moves Like Jagger’ by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera…and send out in excess of 122 emails, nominating all students who had applied to the exchange program for 2012…A process that actually felt like I was nominating the whole of Sydney to the exchange program… On

Friday I also chatted on face book to my own version of Australia’s Princess Mary, my friend Australian Liz Mackay….who married her own Danish Prince and moved to Denmark….Two kids later and Liz is now an honorary Dane…Who I have high hopes of catching up with on my vacation….Via face book, at some ungodly time in Denmark, Liz told me that she might be on a mature age camping trip whilst I am in Copenhagen…Please lord, spare Liz from this trip whilst I am visiting her home country….It’s been 10 years since I have seen her and these are my confessions….( How very Catholic of me…to pray in times of need) To round of the week, my friend and colleague Kenny secured me a mug of wine of the Sydney Business School….And whilst it did taste like the wine at Sunday mass it helped restore my faith…and that evening I slept like a baby….

Saturday…a lazy start to the day….and in an attempt to make my life more interesting I decided to forgo my usual coffee purchase from the silent barista at Parc Café and venture into the city…to Café Hernandez, Potts Point…But before I picked up my coffee hit I thought I would live a little, stroll the streets of Kings Cross, soak up a Sydney morning scene, in a place where the drug barons line the pavement, call girls chat to wealthy business men, middle age men dote over pampered pooches dressed in windcheaters….Actually I headed to the Kings Cross Library…as one does when overloaded with stimuli on a Saturday morning….Surrounded by books, an oasis amongst the grit and glitter of the city, I took a brief moment to reflect, felt suddenly spooked by the eary silence then headed back onto the streets for my caffeine hit…From there I drove to Paddy’s Markets for some fruit and veg, and then headed back to Randwick for some more library action and grocery shopping.

After a morning spent in the  Cross,  it felt appropriate to  watch the  Aussie gansta crime comedy movie ‘ Getting Square’ and settled in for a quiet night with my favourite friend Flora.

Sunday, a sleep in and then I embarked on a public transport adventure, the only way to see the true glory of the city of Sydney!!…A bus, ferry and another bus ride to an old favourite, The William Wallace Hotel, Birchgrove for the famous Sunday roast….but my delight turned to shock as I entered the pub to find it had turned into a Chinese restaurant….I fought back tears as I looked over a menu of dumplings, pork belly and spring rolls…

My parents, who I was dining with were also taken aback…Served by a lovely waiter who advised that today was the last day of serving Chinese…next week the kitchen was turning Italian??!!…our mutual dismay soon turned to delight as the flavour sensations of poached chicken, pork and chive dumplings and fish cakes hit the table…Ah the William Wallace, you may have changed, and are about to change again…but I love thee…

And then a stroll with the parentals around Birchgrove and Balmain….a coffee on Darling Street and then a ferry and bus ride home…

Sunday evening…reflections as I come full circle, that my week really had gone to the dogs/ cats….With Flora, one of my favourite friends in the whole world by my side I have set aside the evening to bake for the RSPCA annual fundraiser, Cupcake Day….May many cupcakes being eaten tomorrow, may waist lines expand and cats and dogs rejoice at the sight!!

The week in links

The William Wallace Pub, Birchgrove / Balmain…my favourite inner west pub

The song to data entry too…nothing else!! Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera

CUWAM….A girls best friend can be Ice Cream

A very brutal day in the office….catching up with mates took the back seat as I caught up with unhappy parents, students and colleagues both in and outside the office…

What a stinker….There were tears….and the day seemed a lot longer than 8 hours of office admin…

But when S*?#T hits the fan, one either wallows in it or rises above.. I chose the latter…

A gym session with the ever trusty, ever faithful Fiona just was not going to cut it that evening….there was only one place worthy of indulging my sullen mood….and that was Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst.

Gelato Messina, Darlinghurst

At 7.23pm, I got in my Hyundai Getz ( no I am not being paid for product placement or endorsement) and drove to Darlinghurst….I felt very lucky to be able to make this journey…A girl from the South Coast making such cool lifestyle decisions on a windy Wednesday night…A dinner of deluxe ice cream from the inner city…I would let the bright lights of the Kings Cross Coca Cola sign guide me to that happy place that is Gelato Messina….If I had remained an Austinmer girl, I would be driving, possibly catching a Dions Bus to Franklins supermarket, Thirroul, to purchase some Blue Ribbon ice cream ( how very depressing!)

So to Gelato Messina, to a world of magical gelato flavours that would dance across my depressed taste buds and restore my smile….I stood and stared and the ice cream cabinet for 5 minutes, whilst eager customers made what I thought was rash decisions about ice cream flavours…but then I realised there was no such thing as a rash decision in this store…everything ended well.

So I left with a $10 tub of deluxe cream, a mini eski of supreme flavours..Pavlova, Tiramisuand the 1985 mix ( coconut, sour cherry jam and choc chips)…I drove home, ate nachos as a main meal, and then dived spoon first into my personalised tub of happiness….If I told you that Flora licked the bowl clean would that be wrong?

Yes, ice cream can be a girls best friend….

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