How to entertain the kids for free at Sky Zone Birmingham Airport

Do you dread hanging around the airport with your family before flights?  I recently looked at how to entertain the kids for free at Sky Zone Birmingham Airport.  Monkey and I had been invited back to our favourite airport to try out the recently relaunched Sky Zone area in their departure lounges.

How to entertain the kids for free at Skyzone Birmingham Airport

If you’ve been a blog follower from the early days you may recall that Monkey and I tried out the Sky Zone area when it was first launched in 2013.  We were looking forward to seeing the changes for 2016.

Arriving at Birmingham Airport you have a number of parking options available on site; short and long stay, as well as the Meet and Greet service that Monkey and I used last month.  This time around we used Car Park 1 – a 7 level multi storey car park, which is the one we always park in when Daddy P goes away with us.  This was the first time we’d parked at the top of the car park and Monkey loved the view of the airport below him.

How to entertain the kids for free at Sky Zone Birmingham Airport is really very easy indeed. We got to try out the newly designed departure lounge play areas which can be found by gate 3 and 54.  So no matter what your destination, your children can enjoy the interactive fun before your flight departs.

Monkey was thrilled to see that Zoom the Sky Cadet was still on duty as we headed towards the different Sky Zone areas. When checking in, children will receive an interactive flight pack full of games and puzzles.  I haven’t seen this for myself, but I know it’s just the sort of thing Monkey would love.
How to entertain the kids for free at Skyzone Birmingham Airport

Looking down, there are a number of clues to point you in the right direction.

Aimed at children aged 3-10 years of age, there’s all sort of games to be played in the Sky Zone areas.  Monkey especially loved the music making area within the tent at Gate 54. This offers a Xylophone, drum pipes and a disc which rotates making noises as you move it.

Other favourites included the touch screen game in the tent at Gate 3, where you can zap bugs and pop balloons, and a light wall where you can test your reaction time turning the lights off.

There’s something for everyone with the various interactive games on offer, in Gate 3 I noticed you could change the game options on the main table.  Monkey was happy to freestyle with his drawing, but there were all sorts of options available for older children too.  There’s a great Security machine game when children have to decide which items are safe to take on board and which aren’t.  Fun and educational too.

Older children can also enjoy Sky Zone Online with its animated video and audio clips, where they can learn about all aspects of the airport.

Looking around at how to entertain the kids for free at Sky Zone Birmingham Airport, got a big thumbs up from this 6 year old.

If you can tear your kids away from Sky Zone long enough, there are a number of eateries and shops within the Birmingham Airport complex.  Giraffe is our family favourite so we were rather happy to be treated to lunch there on our visit.  The food is always good quality, and the service is fast and friendly.

Monkey opted for the Chicken Wraps and I had the Tuk-Tuk Duck Stir Fry. Yum.

So if you’re travelling from Birmingham Airport in the future you’ll have plenty to do to occupy the kids before you fly out.  Let me know what you think if you’re visiting soon, maybe pin this for later too.

How to entertain the kids for free at Sky Zone Birmingham Airport


disclosure:  we were given a meal, free parking and a We Love Boooooks Pocket Shop goodie bag in exchange for our honest opinions

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Caterpillar to Butterfly – review and giveaway

It’s always a joy for me to see Monkey with my Dad, seeing that love of nature being passed from one generation to another.  We’ve watched the life-cycle of both moths and butterflies here, so I knew Monkey would be interested in the Caterpillar to Butterfly book we recently received.

Caterpillar to Butterfly

This Sterling Childrens Book board book was published earlier this year, and provides a simple, photographic view of the life cycle of the butterfly.

Caterpillar to Butterfly

It would be a great book to introduce younger children to this wonderful change from caterpillar to butterfly.  Monkey learnt about life cycles in Year One at school and this would have been really useful to show his classmates at the time.

Caterpillar to Butterfly

Monkey knows a lot about this subject for his age, but he could still appreciate the photographs and could talk through what was happening without looking at the written notes.

Caterpillar to Butterfly

For £5.99 this book written by Melissa Stewart its a good photographic introduction.

Also in the series is Our Solar System, another great visual aid to learning about the planets.  Monkey has loved looking at this book.

Our Solar System

The board book talks children through the various planets in our solar system and, again provides a great photographic guide.

I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate links below for your reference.

disclosure:  we were sent the items mentioned in exchange for an honest review

I’ve teamed up with GMC Distribution to offer 3 lucky readers the chance to win Caterpillar to Butterfly themselves.  Complete the Gleam form below for your chance to win.

Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 21st September 2016 at midnight.

Don’t forget to visit my Giveaways page for more great prizes on offer!

Caterpillar to Butterfly board book worth £5.99

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Letts Back to School giveaway

Today I have a Letts Back to School giveaway worth £50 for you.  Are you ready for the new school year to start? I thought I was all sorted until I realised that Monkey’s feet have grown again and he’d need new school shoes. So off we went last week to get those organised. We’ve also got to start getting back into the learning frame of mind required for school.  Never easy is it.  Letts has some engaging and motivating learning books to help children get back into the learning zone. All of their books support the national curriculum so that you know they are reinforcing what your child is being taught at school.

Letts Back to School giveaway

You might remember that Monkey has been using the Letts Wild About books to help with his Maths and English in a fun way. You can view this series as well as their other ranges on their website.  Everything can be browsed by age group too, so you can see the most relevant books for you.  It’s worth noting that they are currently offering a 30% discount on all books until 30 September 2016 when you use code BACK30 at Letts Revision.

Would you like to win a bundle of Letts books tailored to your child’s age this Back to School? I have a Letts Back to School giveaway with £50 worth of books on offer (examples of some of the books available are shown in the photo below). Complete the Gleam form below for your chance to win.  Good luck!

Win £50 worth of Letts books tailored to your childs age

Terms and conditions:

(Please note that all entries will be checked against comments for validation).

Only the first step of this form is mandatory, all other steps are optional. Only one entry per person is allowed.

This giveaway is for UK residents only.

Once a winner is randomly picked, I will check if the winner has done what was requested and I will contact them, if they do not reply within one week, the prize will be allocated to another person.

The giveaway will close on 18th September 2016 at midnight.

Don’t forget to visit my Giveaways page for more great prizes on offer!

£50 of Letts books tailored to your child’s age

disclosure:  I am being compensated for hosting this giveaway

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Jumping in muddy puddles – Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 210816

Jumping in muddy puddles Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 210816

Who said it’s only pigs that like jumping in muddy puddles?


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Project 366 2016 Week 33

Project 366 2016 Week 33 Day 227-233 – a week of trains, Red Pandas and racing sheep. Another fun-filled week.

Sunday 14th August – Day 227

Project 366 2016 Week 33

We headed down to London for the day.  I’d bought tickets for The Railway Children through Kids Week.  Monkey and I had seen a film screening of the production earlier in the year, but seeing the show live was just brilliant.  We explored St Pancras station for the first time and Monkey got to see a few Eurostar trains.  Kings Cross Theatre is just around the corner from the London Canal Museum, so we popped in for a visit before heading home.

Monday 15th August – Day 228

Project 366 2016 Week 33

We met Monkey’s godmother and her daughter at Cotswold Wildlife Park for the day.  I hadn’t been with Monkey since he was really small, so it was lovely to revisit with him now.  The weather was lovely, and we got to lots of animals.  There were young zebras, rhinos and we even spotted a lion cub ear in the grass.  Miss M loves Red Pandas and we were all thrilled to get a really good look at them in the trees.  Isn’t he gorgeous.

Tuesday 16th August – Day 229

Project 366 2016 Week 33

We were due for a quiet day at home. We got some jobs done around the house and had fun playing games and puzzling.

My nephew is doing well and can move to tablet antibiotics.  This means the family can actually go on holiday next week. Yippee!

Wednesday 17th August – Day 230

Project 366 2016 Week 33

We’d been invited to Odds Farm Park and took my friend L and her son C with us.  We haven’t visited for quite some time so it was good to get reacquainted.  C and I picked the winner in the Sheep Scramble, but some how Monkey ended up with my winner’s medal. We had lots of fun looking at the animals and enjoying the playgrounds.  Monkey experienced his first circus show, I wasn’t sure how well he’d cope with it, but he was spellbound.

Thursday 18th August – Day 231

Project 366 2016 Week 33

My phone died a couple of days ago, it was time to upgrade, something I always dread. Something always goes wrong!  It was due to arrive at lunchtime, and after a few issues I seem to be up and running.  Only problem being I can’t get my ‘live’ email address to verify on the iPhone 6.  Rather annoying as it’s the email I use for my life outside of blogging (yes I do have one!).  Monkey spent the day playing with his trains and K’Nex.

Friday 19th August – Day 232

Project 366 2016 Week 33

Monkey’s feet had grown when I got him measured in Oxford a few weeks back, the penny suddenly dropped earlier this week, that that meant new school shoes and plimsolls.  So off we trotted bright and early to get them sorted out.  Now we really are ready for school – relax.

It’s been raining all day here, so Monkey’s been busy with a new Lego set and having fun with his K’Nex.  Finally got my new phone to ring out with the right number, go me.

My side of the family are healthy, so now it’s my BIL’s turn to be ill again.  He’s back in hospital this afternoon, having been very ill earlier this year.  It really has been pouring on us today.

Saturday 20th August – Day 233

Project 366 2016 Week 33

We’ve had a home day today, Monkey wasn’t too impressed I’d taken his photo this morning.  Can you tell?  It’s been another day of K’Nex building and general fun and games.  I tried my hand at making Sushi, it may not have looked brilliant, but it tasted great.

No update on BIL as yet, he’s been waiting to have fluid drained from around his lung all day.  A case of deja vu for us all, but hoping they’ve caught the issue much earlier than last time.

We’re off to Cornwall next Saturday, so think we’ll be on for a mega 3 week round-up when we get back.  Enjoy the rest of the summer holidays everyone.

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A day of fun at Odds Farm Park

We’re so lucky to live in an area with lots of attractions within an hour away.  We really are spoilt for choice really.  The downside to this is that you can visit somewhere, enjoy it, and vow to return, and then find that 5 years has passed before you keep your promise!  We had a day of fun at Odds Farm Park earlier this week and relived a few memories.

A day of fun at Odds Farm Park

Odds Farm Park can be found close to High Wycombe, near junction 2 of the M40.  We arrived not long after opening, and Monkey and his friend C were eager to explore. Monkey was only 2 and half the last time we visited, so really didn’t remember it all.

A day of fun at Odds Farm Park

It was time to make some new memories.  Tractors of all kinds are always a big draw with my boy as regular readers will know well.  At Odds Farm Park you can sit on old vintage ones, wooden ones and even go on a tractor-trailer ride (included in the entry price).

Monkey has always loved goats so a look around the Animal Barn and fields to find them all was in order.  Within the Animal Barn we found rabbits, guinea pigs, pigs, sheep and goats.  You can buy feed bags from reception for £1 if you want.  There are plenty of hand washing facilities on hand.

There were activities running throughout the day, we wanted to see the milking demonstration but we never seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Once outside there’s lots of room for children to run around, numerous playgrounds as well as the outdoor animal pens. The pigs were feeling a little camera shy on our visit, and it’s definitely worth joining one of the hourly run tractor-trailer rides to see as many of the animals as possible.

A must for a bit of family banter, has to be the Sheep Race.  Make your predication and pick up a coupon, pick the winner and claim your medal.  Monkey couldn’t decide who to back, C and I went for Gordon Ramsey sporting number 2 (well I did used to pass him in the corridors at school don’t you know), my friend L went for number 5.  She was feeling confident, but she was so wrong!  C and I were triumphant, and at the point Monkey decided he’d help me look after my winnings!

We’d spotted the Big Top soon after our arrival and the Circus Spectacular is running daily until 4th September 2016.  It was time to introduce Monkey to the Circus for the first time. As you all know, he can be rather unsure of new things and loud noise so I wasn’t totally sure how it would go.  Neither was he, but with a little persuasion from our friends we joined the queue early so it would give him a good choice of seats, not to close and easy to leave if needed.  He did me really proud in the end, he sat enthralled, watching the various acrobats.  It was a good first taster of the Circus, and the performance lasts for about 30 minutes.  There is a Circus Skills session after the show, but that was step too far for my little chap.  Both are included in the entry price too.

If you are organised enough to bring a picnic you’ll find picnic benches all over the grounds at Odds Farm Park.  We even spotted deck chairs by the play areas.

We’d been invited to try the new Marmalade’s Tea Room which is close to the Animal Barn and sits next to the Indoor Play area.  The boys went for the lunch bags and I was really impressed with the options available for them.  Monkey went for a cheese sandwich, juice drink, carrot and cucumber sticks, and a jelly.  My friend went for a Hot Dog, with onions and chips and I opted for a jacket potato with Chilli and Salad. All were tasty and including our soft drinks the bill came to a little over £20.00.  The service did seem a little chaotic when we were there.  My potato wasn’t ready, which was fine, I didn’t mind waiting, but I think it would have worked better to have been given some sort of number and my food brought over to me.  Instead I had to barge through people to claim my meal which wasn’t ideal.  It looked to me as if the food queue didn’t quite work.  It was too easy for people to help themselves to salad and it wasn’t easy to move your tray along the counters.  But that aside, it was a nice area to eat in, the boys were happy and everything was lovely and fresh. I would have had photos to share, but I used my phone camera at this point and it’s now died on me so I can’t retrieve them.  Trust me, the homemade cakes looked very good indeed!  If we hadn’t promised ourselves an ice cream outside, we’d have been straight back for them.

There are a number of outdoor play areas to enjoy as well as pedal carts and mini golf. Monkey isn’t a fan of big slides and he didn’t try the newest play area, which looked fab. The Sand and Water play area was a big hit with both boys, as with a lot of other children.  But the biggest hit of all with our two was one of the smaller wooden play areas. It was quieter and the boys kept returning to it throughout the day.  Lots of imaginative play, we were taken on tractor-trailer rides, treated to story time and relived the Three Little Pigs.  It was lovely to watch two little boys having so much fun together.

We’d had a day of fun at Odds Farm Park, somewhere that’s so much more than just a farm.

A day of fun at Odds Farm Park 62

I’m sure we won’t leave it another 5 years before our next visit! Why not pin it for later too?

A day of fun at Odds Farm Park

disclosure:  we were given a complimentary family ticket and a meal voucher in exchange for an honest review

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


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Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape

You all know that I have a 6 year old who loves books.  He just isn’t keen on reading them for himself.  I want him to enjoy a mixture of different types of books from picture books through to factual reads.  Maverick Arts Publishing are launching a new range of Junior Fiction books in October, and Monkey and I have been enjoying a sneak preview. I have three books to share with you in the weeks ahead and the first is Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape.

Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape

Written by Izy Penguin, Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape is a fun book, children will enjoy.  More confident readers will chuckle away as they enjoy it for themselves.  I’ve read the 128 page, 9 chapter, paperback book to Monkey over a few days and he loved every minute of it.

With larger text and plenty of illustrations throughout, this is a great transition book in my opinion.

Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape

We meet Grandma Bendy who has super stretchy arms, and her grandchildren Max and Lucy.  Grandma has a dog called Spag Bol, which Monkey thought was a great name for a dog.

It’s Show and Tell day at school and it all goes horribly wrong.  Mike Grimace, a rather nasty little boy, plants Boris the Snake in Lucy’s bag.  Mayhem erupts when Lucy produces a snake from her bag rather than pictures of her Grandma.  The snake disappears and the town of Pumperton is thrown into chaos.

We follow the story as Lucy tries to clear her name and Grandma Bendy comes to the rescue as they try to track down the rather elusive snake.

Grandma Bendy and the Great Snake Escape is a great story and it’s very entertaining. Monkey hasn’t been too keen on looking at ‘wordier’ books before, but this one has been a big hit.  With lots of drama and humour, mixed with the illustrations, it worked really well here. For £5.99 it’s a book we would definitely recommend for both reluctant readers like Monkey and independent readers aged between 6-9 years.

I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link in case you’d like to pre-order ahead of the 13th October publication date.

disclosure: we were sent this item in exchange for an honest review


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Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles

You all know that we’re not big on gaming here.  We don’t own a games console and I haven’t gone out of my way to encourage Monkey to play games on out iPad.  When I’m looking for different ideas to entertain him, I have to be totally honest, technology really doesn’t figure.  I’m sure as he starts Year Two, there will be more influences coming home from school, but for the time being I’m enjoying our more traditional down time activities. Monkey’s been enjoying some chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles, when we’ve had quiet days at home over the holidays.

Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles

As you all know, I love jigsaw puzzles, it’s something I took from my Mum.  I’ve always found them a great way to de-stress and unwind.  Monkey enjoys them too, and with him, they are great for getting him to calm down and concentrate on one thing for a while.  As well as enjoying jigsaws together, Monkey also seems to be following my love of maps. This makes me doubly happy.  He loves his World Map puzzle and I was so impressed when he picked the I know My Map of the British Isles puzzle himself.

Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles

Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles over the summer holidays is great for school aged children.  The wooden puzzles pieces are randomly shaped, so they really do have to concentrate on the job in hand and observation skills are key.

Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles

With 100 pieces to put together in this particular puzzle, Monkey decided to start with the flags of the various Union countries and the Republic of Ireland.  He recognised the English flag and the Union Jack, but didn’t really know the others.  So our first discussion began.  Which flag belonged to which country, and how the Union Jack was formed. You all know how much I love activities that encourage conversations.

 It soon became very apparent that my help to construct the jigsaw really wasn’t required.  I was there to sit, watch and answer his various questions as he put the puzzle together. Watching him figure it out for himself was lovely to see.  His wonder when he spotted landmarks such as Stonehenge and Tower Bridge was great to see.  We talked about the Cornish Tin mines that we might get to see on our holiday later this month.

Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles

I’ve tried to have a more balanced summer holidays this year, less manic days travelling here, there and everywhere and a few more down days.  Home days, quiet days, just spending time together.  We’ve both had chill out time, I’ve led by example, the mobile has been kept in the kitchen, the laptop hasn’t been switched on.  We had chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles and just enjoyed simple pleasures.  The unique Whimsy shapes that feature in the range of wooden Wentworth puzzles are always keenly spotted.  You can imagine the squeal of delight when Monkey found a tractor!

Chill out time with Wentworth Puzzles

More conversations about each of the Whimsy’s and where they might belong in the puzzle and why. Seeing his face when he’d completed this 100 piece puzzle, just lovely.

I’m a firm believer that children can be entertained without having to turn to technology. Chill out time doesn’t need to involve a screen, there are so many other options to help children relax.  Jigsaws are a big hit here and will continue to be so.  How about in your house?

disclosure:  we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review


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Celebrating Mr Men 45 years on

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts how the Roger Hargreaves Mr Men characters have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The first Mr Men book, Mr Tickle was published in 1971, and I’ve been celebrating Mr Men 45 years on with my 6 year old Monkey son.

Celebrating Mr Men 45 years on

As a child I loved reading the Mr Men books with my brother, we also regularly watched the television programmes that went with the books.  I always loved Mr Messy, I totally relate to him, which will come as no surprise to my parents or Daddy P.  I’ve not improved with age! Mr Uppity reminded me of my Maths Teacher at school, he was always so grumpy and scared me a lot at Middle School.

Celebrating Mr Men 45 years on

Move on a generation and the Little Miss characters had joined the gang, perfectly time for the arrival of my nieces. It never worried me as a child that the characters were all ‘Men’, I loved them regardless.  But times have changed and I’d certainly be Little Miss Busy these days.

The Mr Men Little Miss series is as popular now as is ever was and I’d started collecting the Mr Men books for Monkey right from birth.

Regular readers will know exactly who his favourite character is. Monkey has loved Mr Bump from the first time I ever read him the book.  No matter which adventure we read, he’s consistently stayed true to his clumsy friend. We often talk about the different Mr Men as we read the stories and think about who we know who has similar traits.  Daddy P would certainly be Mr Forgetful.

Celebrating Mr Men 45 years on and sharing my own memories with Monkey, of a favourite series is always fun.  I really love characters that stand the test of time, those I can share with Monkey, and watch him love them, as much as I did as a child.  That’s rather special isn’t it.

Celebrating Mr Men 45 years on

Are you fans of the Mr Men and Little Miss characters in your household? If you are, you might be interested to know about the Mr Men Little Miss Mini Museum pop up exhibition.  It’s being held at Gallery@OXO on London’s South Bank from Thursday 25th August to Monday 29th August 2016.  Featuring memorabilia covering the past 45 years of the Mr Men Little Miss series, you can also add to the archives yourselves.

Part of the exhibition includes the newly launched Virtual Archive.  Upload your favourite Mr Men Little Miss image to the Virtual Archive and the first 45 people who upload will receive a limited edition print signed by Adam Hargreaves.

Whilst at the exhibition you can visit Happyland as well as visiting a personalisation stand, going home with your own personalised print of a Mr Men or Little Miss character.  If we weren’t in Cornwall then, we would certainly be there to get ours!

Do let me know if you do make it there, I’d love to hear all about it.

disclosure:  I’ve been compensated for this post and one very happy Monkey received a Mr Men bundle of goodies, but my comments still remain my own honest opinions.

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Simon Air from Hasbro

As I’m of a certain age, I can remember vividly when the iconic electronic memory game Simon, was launched in 1978.  One of my friends was lucky enough to own it and she’d regularly thrash me when we played it.  Move on nearly 40 years and Hasbro have launched Simon Air from Hasbro, it’s all rather swish wouldn’t you know!
Simon Air
Simon Air from Hasbro, has brought the fast action memory game into the 21st century.  You no longer tap the relevant colour pads in order to copy the colour sequences. It’s all about touch free technology these days and I’ve been having fun trying it out recently. Watch the colour sequence, remember it and copy it.  Sounds easy doesn’t it.  Uuum.

Simon Air

The game is aimed at anyone aged 8 years and over, my 6 year old Monkey has tried to play a little with me, but he’s more of an observer at the moment.  You can play solo, classic (one light at a time) or as a 2 player challenge.  There are sensors in the middle of each of the 4 colour segments, when playing you hold your hand about 5cms away from the section when making your move.  3 x AA batteries are required to power Simon Air and these are included.

Simon Air

When Simon Air starts it’s a case of following single light sequences, but then two lights flash at once and you really need to know your moves!  You can hover over two lights with both hands, swoop over two or three lights with one hand , you can even crossover.

Simon Air has 16 levels in solo, classic and two player games, and scoring is shown with lights and sounds.  I think I’m some way of reaching the higher levels in this game, but I can see this game coming out a lot in the years to come. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of a busy day.  As Monkey gets a bit older he can work on his observation skills and reaction times too.

The game goes to sleep if left alone for 30 seconds and it’s possible to adjust the volume by pressing the ON button a number of times through High, Medium, Low and even Mute, as required.

Priced at £24.99 I can see this game ending up in a few Christmas stockings later in the year.

disclosure:  we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review

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