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Posts Tagged ‘water’

In The Beginning

 

This is what we fell in love with all those years ago (I installed the water header tank).

Well I think by now most people who follow my blogs know that one of my favourite topic is rain (or the lack of to be precise), but that’s what you get when looking for your perfect location to live and write then find it in the middle of nowhere in a forest halfway up a small valley in the mountains, fall in love with it and buy it…

                  

       

These are photos of the track to give you an idea of how steep it is where it looks flat it’s not your still climbing.

These photos of the farm looking back towards the masa show how close the forest is and we own most of what you can see.

Now when you think of a forest you probably think of leafy glades, flat forest floor and pathways or tracks that are level and when it rains get a little muddy, no?? well that’s what my wife thought of when I brought her here, didn’t last long though.  On the drive up here she was very silent and holding onto the handle of the car door.  We had a 4×4 then and it looked wider than the track, however, once she saw our ‘home’ she was smitten but even quieter on the drive to the hotel.  If you don’t like it we can go somewhere else I said,  No I love it came the reply but I really need to know we can get a small lorry up there for building materials or we have a problem, but we found we could and the rest as they say is history.  Once the bungalow was built and I had – with the help of my (wife) builders mate – sorted out the water, electrics (solar), gas (bottled) and sewage (tank) we were all set. So now to the water – or lack there of.

Water!!

   

This is how we had our house water delivered when we only had the small cisterna (water tank) Manell is a friend and our ‘go to’ person when we need something done.  He gives advice and help, and is always smiling. Every so often we would buy 5,000 ltrs  of potable (drinking) water to keep us going if it didn’t rain. I soon realised that although the original cisterna was just big enough for the house, in times of drought it was not enough. So we built, with the help of Manell and his digger, a new cisterna which would ensure that we had enough house water and, please god we never have to use it like this, water to fight a fire because if a forest fire came through here we would have to climb inside one of them to survive that’s how far we are into the forest.

As for the garden well I bought some cubes placed one by the bathroom wall and the other at the side of the Fly Free Zone (FFZ) these work very well taking the run off from the roof as long as we get some rain.

This is how we used to collect river water for the cubes before getting things sorted.

So back to the garden water.  The two cubes are sufficient as the garden is either set out with bulbs, cacti, drought loving plants (lavenders etc.,) or tubs.  Watering them every two days helps, and the very few plants we have that are normal are planted in places where I know there is moisture in the ground most of the year (ie., near the concrete of the patios).  So when it does rain we get all excited like Christmas, but a thunderstorm during the daytime is a little bit scary I watch the skies for smoke but I can tell you from experience that you hear the fire before you see it. This time of year has Carol making a plastic bag for ‘important’ things which she can quickly fill.

But that apart we are content. I knew what we were getting into when I bought the farm and neither of us would change it.  We have adventurous spirits like the challenge of solving things and love nature.  The things we have seen since we have been here and the adventures we have had are what we love about our home.  We were here before they made it a Park Natural because of the Golden Eagles, and often see them flying over the masa. The birds, animals and others make this a perfect place to write, live and relax.  Waking to the song of Boris blackbird, listening to the thrushes, lark and others during the early morning or late evening, all of this is our life.  Yes the piggy wigs are naughty sometimes and make my wife cry when they dig her bulbs up but we would not have it any other way.  As I write we have another mysterious creature up here.  We think it’s a bird wife says an owl me am not sure but we have been woken by what sounded like a female voice in the early morning twice now but neither seen nor heard anything human.  Nothing on the cameras (cards back in) so we don’t know, but will keep you posted.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  (author)

 

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Updates

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Since writing the last blog we now have 3 bottles of olive oil, not bad going for a heath robinson operation.  It really is surprising what you can achieve with a little thought and ingenuity.  Part of my kitchen looks like a small factory but its well worth it for 7 bottles of our own olive oil especially as we never thought we would get any this year.

 

IMG_0019 (640x480)As for the saffron well I have planted the bulbs I rescued in the flower pots in the ffz they are shooting so I am hopeful.  But it is the from the small walled garden that I got my biggest surprise, saffron!  I had forgotten I had planted some there, the bulbs have multiplied and provided me with saffron, not as much as the main bed but certainly enough for a couple of paella’s. Then Michael began to find the odd bulb here and there so I am getting a fair bit which is more than I anticipated.  It seems that in my usual way of digging things up separating them and re-planting I have spread the saffron all over – wow!!

Cough Cough!

Well winter is here and as usual we are coughing. Poor old Michael has been quite rough but, I am glad to say, is now on the mend, I was a little worried for a while. When we were both really really ill we didn’t get any work done either on the computer or the farm and the olive oil had to wait.  But after a bit of a spell in doors, lots of lemon and honey with lemsip before bedtime, we not only felt a little better but began to get twitchy, the need to be active was very strong. So weather permitting we were wrapped up and out side fiddling around then as the sun began to return ( In the mornings it is so misty, damp and nasty) we started picking the olives again.  This time  mostly from off the ground as the wind had been playing knock the olives from the trees.  After two days of gentle picking and creaky knees despite kneeling pads, there are enough olives in the crusher/mixer to prepare another pressing.

 

Green Living???

Now I have heard loads about ‘Green Living’ and seen the tv programmes most of which show the latest technology but also have the benefits of mains water, electricity etc., on stand by – just in case and this is called green living???  yeh well we live the real green living life!  We chose this farm because its away from the town in the mountains in the middle of a forest (now a National Park) halfway up a valley and its tranquil.  We have learnt to live with the birds and animals ok and snakes, without a mains anything.  WE WENT GREEN – big time!!!

Over the years we have installed a solar system which works well with a generator as back up for when the sun does not shine. This system runs the fridge, freezer, computers and tv, now that is being green.  The water system is simple: it rains the rain water runs into the cisternas then as needed its pumped to a header tank to give pressure and is fine.  I have a washing machine, shower, and hot water via the gas water heater (if it does not rain and we are low on water we have to buy it in) and NO this is not mains this is bottled gas.  Michael had to build a gas shed to keep them in and it was inspected and ok’d. then I had to get certificates for each gas bottle, there is no way you can get round it legally, the new gas bottle (which you can then replace when empty) comes from a registered supplier so as long as you obey the rules you are fine. The gas also runs the cooker and when we first came here the fridge/freezer, but once Michael had the solar system fully up and running we exchanged it for a small fridge and freezer – you need somewhere to keep the ice in summer.

We are not the only people who have done this but most of them have access to agricultural water we don’t.  But hey that’s how we roll up here and we love it.  Some nights we stand and look at the stars they are wonderful we are also looking for the mother ship!!!!!!!  Oh come on, what humans in their right mind would live in the mountains, in the middle of a forest halfway up a valley with no amenities, wild birds (Owls, Eagles, and a large range of smaller  bossy birds) wild boar, (all of who have names) and Sid the snake??????

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Some You Win – Some You Loose

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This is Bazz the goat who adopted us. As you can see he was not well very skinny turned out he had phunomia and after three days during which time we tried to find out who owned him, he died.  Seems there are a few goat herds about but eventually the Department of Agriculture found his owner and informed him we had his goat.  He was due to turn up mid afternoon on the third day but by that time Bazz had expired, so he took away a pathetic little bundle, so sad.   However, during his time here he decided that the shed was his best resting place and my garden was good for munching.  Lemon tree, vine, almond tree and lavender as well as rosemary and thyme he tried them all and drank vast amounts of water. But we have some good memories of him, shouts of leave the lemon tree alone, don’t eat the roses and get out of the tree to name but some.  He wandered around and even tried to get into the FFZ, the only thing wrong was the smell and flies.  Goats poo a lot and it smells, so had to go round and collect it from in front of the house garden did well though.  Anyway here are a couple of photos of Bazz doing goatish things to the lavender patch.

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The Boys and Daughter

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Well who would have thought it, these two hooligans have fallen in love with our daughter. She was over for a few weeks to rest and relax spending most of her time in the fly free zone with the boys for company whilst getting the benefits of the sun without burning.  They had her full attention and just loved it, she took over my ‘office’ and they made the most of things.  Shouting, playing, making sure they had the full attention of their audience.

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She had bought with her some toys after reading about their antics, palm balls, a weeble with a bell, plus a couple of other bits and was in stitches watching them destroy  the palm ball – these birds use palm leaves in the wild to line their nests – which meant they tossed out all the stuff in the nesting box then replaced it with the palm which they had chewed to soften, stripped into small pieces then lined their nest with.  So you can imagine how upset they were when she went home.  However, she sent them a new ladder made of wood and string so we strung it hammock style they now sit on it so we are now betting on how long it will take them to destroy it before Michael has to thread the wood with either wire or thin rope.  And yes they really are love birds bless……

 

Michael’s Hand Update

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As you may or may not know Michael has had an operation on his hand to remove a cyst.  The picture above is just after I got him home from the hospital. He was still under the effects of the anesthetic and insisted on showing the boys his and I quote “writers war wound” yep that’s what he told them.   However over the next few days he came down to earth as his hand came back to life and the pain set in.  Then it was a round of hospital visits until yesterday when he finally had the last stitches removed, now all I have to do is stop him from doing things that could open the wound such as chain-sawing… no not really but you get the idea.   The wound is healing nicely, but he still can’t play the piano….

The Garden

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This is not a picture of the garden as it is now, it’s too dire.  The lack of water – rain – has meant that everything has dried up and the place looks horrid.  But it allows me to clear away some of the dross and where I have done so the beds look well. HOWEVER!!!  although most of the plants are drought resistant even they are suffering so a water plan has been devised for next summer based on the one we have for the walnut tree. As for Sam’s garden, (picture) I have trimmed the olive tree of all the offshoots cleared the weeds and prepared the ground where the yellow bulbs are.  At this end where the pink and red ones are I have a few bits still to do and also make a support for the yellow flowers above the strawberry patch.   The green water tank will have to be put to another use elsewhere in the garden as  the Water Bar was not used this year, but at least we were not bothered by wasps. It is almost time for the olives to be picked so a trip to the presses for the residue which is used as fertilizer is in order.  The roses all need a good feed and also a tidying up so am looking for a few tiles to go round the base of them  to keep the ground moist either that or I shall dig a circle cover the ground with polythene recover with soil in the hope they will not suffer so much next summer.

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Well that’s the forest news for this week,  Michael is still writing and Clearing in the Forest is now out in paperback form from Create a Space and on Kindle.

 

(c) M.D.Bosc Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strawberries – In The Beginning

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This is our Boris

Once upon a time in the forest a farmer and his wife made a small strawberry garden. It was small because he did not like them much but his wife loved them, so they grew just enough for her.  Before the ground had been prepared they grew the strawberries in an old toilet but so many young plants began to grow that he had to make a proper bed.  His wife gathered stones and built a low wall so that they would not be tempted to cut across the bed and crush the plants, then he planted the runners and waited.  The plants took hold and grew providing some tasty fruit in their first year.

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Now because the summer is very dry and Bobbin Robin asked very nicely they made a Water bar for the birds so they had somewhere to drink. Mind you Elsie Blue Tit also bathed in it – there’s always one!

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So one day after a bit of thought, the farmer began to clear away round the olive tree and tidy things up. His wife again went looking for stones and finding some nice white big ones came and got the wheelbarrow and together they collected them.  Then she built a wall to make a nice bulb garden with the water bar on the end under the tree. The farmer found a bucket which was painted green to make a water tank added a hose with a small tap and job done. However, it was also next to the strawberry patch – you can see where this is going.

 

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Now all that happened a few years ago and since then my wife has been tweaking, adding and generally evolving the garden. So this year I was a little surprised to hear here telling the boys that someone was nibbling at her strawberries.  I knew it wasn’t any of the ‘gang’ after all they had not touched any since the bed was formed and with the Water Bar right next to it the only two I could think of  were Izzy and the Green Dragon, but they don’t eat strawberries do they?

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So yesterday when I caught Izzy sunning himself in the back garden I asked him.  ‘No we don’t but I know who does.’ however, he would not tell me just said keep an eye out early in the morning.  So this morning I was up early sitting at my desk writing when the boys shouted ‘he’s in the strawberry patch dad he’ in the strawberry patch.’ Not being able to see it from my window I strolled outside and sure enough in the middle of the patch was BORIS Blackbird.  ‘Oi they’re her strawberries, she’ll cut your beak off if she catches you’ I shouted  ‘No she wont she loves me’ was the reply but I did notice he said this when he was in the tree.  So mystery solved. Strange though when I told my wife her reaction was ‘little sod I knew someone was eating them’ and this was said as she made for the kitchen to put the kettle on, no going outside to stand and shout at him or moan to the boys.  So now I know Boris was right and ‘Birds Rule’ up here hey ho, now why are the boys laughing at me???

(c) M.D. Bosc – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then It Rained!!!!

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Right now most of you who read the blogs will know, we have been bemoaning the fact that there has been very little rain this year, in fact as a local pointed out if the river wasn’t there this part of Cataluña would be a desert.   Well Monday it rained, yes it did  and how. It began in the morning with the sort of thing we have got used to, a sort of drizzle that can’t decide whether to go full on or bog off somewhere else.

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We had been into town to get the shopping when it  began to get wet and windy, very windy. The drive home was interesting loads of twigs, leaves, rocks and stones on the road plus the odd tree by the river blown down.  When we got back we unloaded the car then parked it and we just had time to grab a few logs and get the generator going before it hit.  First the rain came down sideways as the wind was so strong, this led to a puddle on the bedroom floor under the closed (I might add) window it was that fierce.  Next it began to come in under the front door so the mop was in action, then Michael looked out the back. We are glad he did but at the time I wished he hadn’t, it was just like a river  flowing. It was so strong that it was literally flowing over the sumps of the cisterna, all that water gushing away then the generator began to splutter.  So with umbrellas up jackets on we were out as action was needed and quickly.

 

Firstly Michael had to sort out the flow channels to get rid of the huge puddle that had formed in front of the house and was in the process of washing the sand away and had made its way into the generator shed where water was steadily rising.   I held the umbrella whilst he pulled the weeds up that had grown in the  channel and also blocked the runoff drain. Once this was done a deluge of water began to either rush down the slope towards the track where it continued its down hill run towards the river.  The water that came out of the pipe onto the lower level would not have disgraced the effect of a water pump had we used one.

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Next we tackled the shed. This was simple knock a hole in the back wall and the water came out with a little help from me and a broom.  Whilst I was getting the generator shed sorted Michael went and sorted out the sumps to the large cisterna.  Now this went on for around an hour and a half during which time the water from the roofs, gullies etc.,  filled the 5000ltr small cisterna, one of the 1000ltr cubes and 3/4’s of the large cisterna not to mention the wheelbarrow, buckets and sundry that were outside.  There aren’t any pictures as we were to busy getting rid of the water, but this morning the first saffron crocus appeared in the saffron patch in the garden, the ones in the field have also begun to arrive, says everything really.

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This is not how the track looks now, it’s full of gullies where the water dug it out rocks and stones everywhere, what was once a fairly smooth track now exists.  The road into town was strewn with rocks and mini slides which had come down but these were the usual suspects,  the really worrying bit is on a bend where there are two trees with roots exposed and they are leaning a bit. We have no idea what the top end of the track is like but the town hall has been out having a look at things so must be bad.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Club Nautique

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This is my friend Pep like me a sailor at heart.  He is on the committee of Club Nautique and does the races.  Now a while ago the local council decided that they would construct a cantilever walkway down river road. This has meant the road has been impassable for several weeks now with, as far as I can tell,  only the paving actually done.  As you have to traverse this small road to get to Club Nautique it obviously has an effect on them and their training hours.   We visited the club one evening to see how things were going and although there were a few people there, it was nothing like it used to be, we could pick our table with no problems.

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It was good to see Pep and his family again plus hear about how the club was doing in the various competitions, he has invited us to go with them to see for ourselves, and as soon as I have a free Sunday (no Petanca) I shall do just that.

The Garden

 

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We had a nice surprise the other morning one of the roses that had not flowered before had done so and two blooms at that.  These are roses that a friend of my wife had dug up and was going to throw away, but before doing so she asked if we would like them. So duly planted last year we lost two but although the other survived no flowers.  Then came this drought and taking in to consideration our water situation I did not expect them to survive but not only have they but bloomed as well isn’t nature wonderful.

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As you can see from this photo it’s not only the roses that have ‘gone for it’ our grapevine has taken off like a rocket and is attempting to become a triffid.  There are bunches of grapes on it but it has, despite my endeavours to curtail it, clambered around the fly free zone and into the walnut tree.  Not content with all this it has stretched out to the door and is now attempting to grow across the FF door and on to goodness knows where.  I often wonder just what we grow up here plants or things from outer space….

The Weather

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I used to think that talking about the weather was an English thing, not any more.  Because we have had so little rain this year and it has been hotter than usual from around the end of April, everyone is talking about the heat.  There is no common ground here though, it’s either very dry and very humid or thunder, lightening, loads of rain (we should be so lucky) with the accompanying floods. The sky still does its ‘look we’re storm clouds’ over us and still bugs off somewhere else, I’m not greedy even a little tinkle would be appreciated.

We did have some rain a few days ago but not enough to mention really, but I have, plus its so hot that you really don’t want to go outside, even the fly free zone is too much.  Any breeze we have is the equivalent to a steam room and the humidity, well that hangs over everything in a cloud of mist you can’t see down the valley.   Believe me I do not need to take the car to the wash, early morning with a clean cloth and its washed then sun-dried. I suppose the only thing

Survival Of The Fittist

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You may or may not remember Buzz the humming bee who got stuck in the false apple, well a little while after that happened the wind gave a great puff and the supports – old wooden beams – gave up the ghost and fell down.  The result was that I had to dig the plant up cut it right back and find somewhere else to plant it.  The car port was the answer, so it went in at the back with its feet in the shade tied the stem to one of the poles made it a water dropper and left it to get on with things.  Last year it made a feeble attempt to get going but this year its on the rampage again.  Up and off over the roof of the car port which is what we wanted, it has actually flowered not as prolific as it originally did but the fact that it has done so is a bonus.  The perfume in the evening wafts into the bedroom and is very much like Jasmine.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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I hope you will excuse me if I repeat myself here but I am rather proud of our roses. This one was given to my wife by her friend, also a keen gardener, who found it difficult to grow roses where they live. Every time we visit my wife comes away with cuttings or small plants, some of which take whilst others die, so it really does depend on our little ECO system here as to what we can grow.

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So this morning we were weeding the edge of the terrace where I have planted Flags and Lilly bulbs in the hope that they will hold the terrace top together, building a small retaining wall was not an option here as the original terrace wall has crumbled in places – ant works.   This was their first year and to my surprise and joy they put on a good show, especially the white Flags that the our friends in the local Petanc club gave us.  I was a little worried about whether or not these would survive as down by the Petanc courts they got plenty of water up here they get some, but basically like the wild Flags they are on their own.  We were well pleased not only when they flowered but as we weeded we noticed they had begun to spread, always nice when that happens. The other nice thing about the garden are the Cacti they are in flower now and looking well.

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I often mention the fact that although there is rain all around we never seem to get much if any.  Living in a valley in the mountains you would expect to have a fair bit of the wet stuff, but no! the clouds gather grumble then ‘bog off’ somewhere else to drop their water.  Realising that it might be difficult for some of you to grasp I took these photos on such a day in question, and no – no rain!  Think I might get one of those rockets the French wine producers use to make the clouds drop their water now where’s Google…………………………….

Right now for a little titter.   Those of you who have followed our stories when we go out and about, know that nothing is simple where we are concerned.  If there is a way to get lost going from A to B in a straight line we find it or if we try to get something done again it turns into a saga or adventure depending on how you look at it.  So being in town and doing something simple like sitting in the café working on the laptops should be plain sailing shouldn’t it? well grab a coffee and try not to laugh too much.

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Let Us Out!!

Monday morning found us heading into town around 10am as my wife had a dentist appointment. So with laptops in the carry bag off we went.  She was supposed to have a small filling plus a small adjustment to her new dentures which would not take long so she had already decided to be a ‘big girl’ and go on her own. Therefore when we found ourselves outside the dentists an hour early (see where this is going?) I headed for the car park which is near the top of town not far from the dentists then we descended on the café opposite. We often use this little café its friendly, clean and upstairs there are plenty of plugs for people to use laptops/tablets.

The ladies in there are used to us so while I headed upstairs to our normal table my wife ordered the coffees then joined me.  Everything sorted out she began to type up my Social Freedom blog so I could carry on translating another of my books into Spanish.  I noticed the time was getting near her appointment so off she bravely trotted – must be horrid to have a fear of dentists.  Anyway she was soon back and a happy bunny, ordered more coffee then settled down to finish typing.  We were so engrossed in what we were doing that it was a while before I realised that it was quiet – too quiet!  No music, voices, door opening or closing. I looked at her and said ‘they wouldn’t have forgotten we’re up here and locked us in – would they?’  she thought for a moment then stated the obvious ‘yes!’  So I decided the alarm needed to be set off, the fact that we could be clearly seen by passers-by was no good as most people had gone to lunch.  Whilst my wife packed everything away I wandered down stairs towards the door off went the alarm we waited no one turned up.  Ummm so with my wife sitting at a table in front of the door I took a few steps  into the café then off went the alarm again, bloody noisy.   This time it worked there they were two slightly concerned ladies but chuckling away as they let two OAP’s out who acted like two puppies let out to play.  The result was we were so traumatized we had to go to the coast for lunch – well that’s our excuse and we are sticking to it.

So today is hopefully peaceful but we are going into town I have school this afternoon……………

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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