Kirkland, WA, a little grey in March

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC have just spent a few days in lovely Kirkland, on the shores of Lake Washington, WA, in the USA. Kirkland is across the lake from Seattle.

The days were a little grey and drizzly, with a chill around the edges. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was in her element.

My impressions? There’s a touch of colour in everything.

The book I’m in

Dead Man’s Debt, by Elliott Kay. A good military space yarn, with characters to love and cherish. Until they die.

Travel tip

Pack layers. The Kirkland weather is quite changeable, and ubiquitous air conditioning makes the temperature unpredictable.

Recommended restaurant

Milagro Cantina, 148 Lake St S, Kirkland, WA. Tasty comfort food, excellent service, good atmosphere.

The photos

Me cozying up to a gnome on the way to the Kirkland City Dock. He was a little cold and grey:

This squirrel was looking for a touch of colour:

A cyclist’s bright green jacket stands out:

There weren’t many people around at the dock:

This bird looked lonely:

Me chilling out with some young blades at the Kirkland city hall:

The US flag and the State of Washington flag curl in the breeze:

Take heart! Spring is in the air:

Flying out of Kirkland, we saw the first break in the clouds:

And some gorgeous snowy peaks:

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 17 March 2017 at 11:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cathedral Cove and Hahei Beach, New Zealand

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC, plus the TC’s other travelling companion, are on New Zealand’s North Island. We spent a bit of time exploring Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach, and the routes from the one to the other.

My impressions? Rock, sand and sea, in perfect harmony.

The book I’m in

Rat Run, by Gerald Seymour. A mix of crime, terrorism and psychology. I’m looking forward to finding out what happened to make the hero the way he is.

Travel tip

The walk from Cathedral Cove carpark to the cove itself will probably take you less time than the sign-posted 45 minutes. The TC did it in under half an hour (one direction).

Recommended restaurant

Hahei Beach Café, 3 Grange Road, Hahei 3591, New Zealand. The food is good, although not fancy. The service is friendly and efficient.

Recommended accommodation

Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge, 174 Vista Paku, Pauanui. A restful lodging with welcoming hosts. Be aware that the nearest supermarket closes at 6.30pm. Any others are far away, so stock up as soon as you arrive.

The photos

Me at the entrance to Cathedral Cove on New Zealand’s North Island:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

You can only get to Cathedral Cove on foot or by boat. The closest car park is about half an hour’s walk away (though the signposts declare the walk to be 45 minutes). We chose to walk from the carpark to the beach.  It’s an easy stroll along a well-kept path, with views over the sea and bush.

Here’s the view from the Cathedral Cove carpark, at the start of the walk:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Here’s another view of the entrance to Cathedral Cove at the end of the walk, unadorned by this worm’s noble form:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

The entrance is an open-ended cave leading to Cathedral Cove from the next-door Mare’s Leg Cove. Walking through the cave onto the beach:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

This imposing rocky pinnacle is called Te Hoho:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

A view from the other side of Te Hoho, with a bird fortuitously in the shot:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Looking back at the entrance from the other side, on the water at Cathedral Cove:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Jonathan was there too, although a little less sure of himself than is his wont. Perhaps his equanimity was disturbed by the frothy ecstasy of the approaching wave:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

A typical New Zealand tree skeleton stands sentinel on the beach:

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Rather than walking back to the carpark, we took a water taxi from Cathedral Cove to Hahei Beach. Here’s the water taxi after we disembarked at Hahei Beach:

Hahei Beach

Then we walked from Hahei Beach back to the carpark, which takes about 20 minutes. Here’s a view of Hahei Beach from the walking path:

Hahei Beach

And the sea through the trees:

Hahei Beach

A view from the other side of the lagoon and Tairua Harbour, where we lodged at Pauanui:

Pauanui

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sign of the times at bookshop, Tauranga, New Zealand

Being partial to books, and knowing my readers are too, I can’t resist the humour of this signboard, spotted outside a bookshop in Tauranga, New Zealand:

Sign outside bookshop, Tauranga

A sign of the times?

That’s all for today, folks.

Driving Creek Railway, Coromandel, New Zealand

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

The TC and her travelling companion are travelling on New Zealand’s North Island. This worm is here too, to keep them on track and ensure good reading habits.

We took a ride on the Driving Creek Railway, outside the little town of Coromandel. The train is small, just high enough to sit in. Each bench can seat two adults side by side. It’s a beautiful, interesting ride, up steep slopes from the lower station to the playfully-named Eyefull Tower at the top. (Faithful readers may notice that this worm does appreciate a good pun.)

To get up the slopes the train goes through a series of zigzags and spirals. Every now and then the driver reverses up one leg of a zigzag, or gets out of the train and walks to the other end to change directions.

My impressions? An engineer’s dream brought to life.

The book I’m in

Rat Run, by Gerald Seymour. A mix of crime, terrorism and psychology. I’m looking forward to finding out what happened to make the hero the way he is.

Travel tip

It takes longer than you expect to get from A to B in New Zealand.

Recommended restaurant

Driving Creek Café, 180 Driving Creek Rd, Coromandel 3506. It’s a cosy restaurant combined with a second-hand book store. The people are welcoming, and they prepare the food with flair and skill. Photos below.

Recommended accommodation

Pauanui Pines Motor Lodge, 174 Vista Paku, Pauanui. It’s not close to Coromandel or the Driving Creek Railway, but it’s a restful lodging with welcoming hosts. Be aware that the nearest supermarket closes at 6.30pm. Any others are far away, so stock up as soon as you arrive.

The photos

Me and the Driving Creek Railway train:

Driving Creek Railway

The video below is taken from on board the train, as it leaves the lower station. You’ll see people in the engineering workshop wave as we leave. There’s also a view on one of the slightly scary bridges (viaducts) that carry the track across gorges and gaps:

The next video includes a zigzag. To get up the hill, the train stops at the end of a track and reverses up the next leg of the zigzag. Below the train you can see the section of track that we’ve just travelled. It’s an impressively steep climb.  At the top, the engineer gets out of the train to switch the track, then we move forward again. The zigzag track is visible below the train.

The third video includes one of the short, narrow tunnels on the track. The video starts as we come to the end of a reversing section. The engineer gets out to switch the track, then gets back in and says “Tunnel three, everything inside please”. He mentions the pottery and artwork on the sides of the track as we approach the tunnel, and the bush environment after exiting the tunnel:

The train, unembellished by this worm’s attractive person:

Driving Creek Railway

At the top station is the playfully-named Eyefull Tower:

Driving Creek Railway

The view from the top is lovely:

Driving Creek Railway

One of the pottery artworks that stud the banks along the way:

Driving Creek Railway

A reversing point:

Driving Creek Railway

A closer view of the notices on the wall:

Driving Creek Railway

One of the reversing points is on a rather scary platform:

Driving Creek Railway

My (probably adrenalin-fuelled) delight in the view from the platform made the scariness worthwhile:

Driving Creek Railway

Looking across the carriage at the view on the other side:

Driving Creek Railway

Switching tracks:

Driving Creek Railway

Back at the lower station, ticket office and engineering workshop:

Driving Creek Railway

It’s worth taking the short bush walk down the side of the station, to see more eccentric bits of art and hear the birds singing in the trees. A sign clearly tells you when you’ve gone far enough:

Driving Creek Railway

After the ride, we stopped for a meal at the Driving Creek Café:

Driving Creek Café

It’s cosy, and it has books, which make it a winner in this worm’s eyes:

Driving Creek Café

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 9 December 2016 at 7:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sydney Park with Conservation Volunteers Australia

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

The TC, bless her cotton socks, occasionally gets a bee in her bonnet about conservation, and goes out pulling up weeds with a group of like-minded souls. Today we went to Sydney Park, in the inner city area of Sydney. We joined a group of 15 volunteers hosted by Conservation Volunteers Australia.

My impressions? Hard work, but the volunteers loved it. Many of them go out once a week or more to look after sites around Sydney.

The book I’m in

Hotel du Barry, by Lesley Truffle. A delightful romp through the streets of London, with more than a glimpse of the dark side of life.

Travel tip

Take a hat and plenty of water.

The photos

Me at the old brickwork kilns in Sydney Park:

Sydney Park

This row of kilns is near the corner of Sydney Park Road and King Street, near St Peters railway station:

Sydney Park kilns

The chimneys from the old brickworks are an imposing sight:

Sydney Park chimneys

Slopes and skylines are a characteristic of Sydney Park:

Sydney Park skylines

Down to the business of the day: bush conservation. These were the TC’s tools today:

Bush conservation tools

A handy tip from one of the seasoned volunteers: hang your bag on a branch, or you’re likely to find the ants have eaten your lunch:

Bush conservation in Sydney Park

The volunteers wore bright yellow vests:

Bush conservation outfit

The bright outfit makes people easier to spot when out in the bush:

Bush conservation in Sydney Park

The group’s task today was to pull up weeds. Conservation Volunteers Australia and the local council cleared this site a few months ago (it was a mess of grass and weeds), covered it with Sydney sandstone to provide a good base for native plants, then planted a number of bushes and ground cover. The aim is to restore the area with mid-height vegetation, to provide food and homes for small birds and other creatures.

The new plantings are growing well. Spot the conservationists:

Bush conservation in Sydney Park

But things are not all good. Meet the enemy! Fleabane is one of the non-native plants the group wants to eradicate. This one was a large specimen, about four feet high. The TC wrestled with it for quite a few minutes, employing mattock and brute strength to pull it out by the roots:

Fleabane

Another baddie bites the dust. Kikuyu grass. The TC found it very satisfying to pull these long strands of grass up from amongst the native bushes:

Kikuyu

And now for the goodies. This is a tea tree (Leptospermum):

Tea tree

More tea tree, intertwined with a pink-flowered something:

Tea tree

A colourful fly enjoying tea tree nectar:

Colourful fly enjoying tea tree nectar

This Dianella caerulea has bright blue flowers, and eventually blueish purple berries that are edible. The TC, bless her soul, delights in plucking them straight from the garden and popping them in her mouth:

Dianella caerulea

There was a lot of this yellow-flowered bush. The TC doesn’t know the name of it:

Yellow-flowered bush

A profusion of yellow:

Yellow-flowered bush

A hardy white flower, the name of which currently escapes the TC and me:

White daisy-like flower

A rare shot of the TC photographing some grass. Note the hat!

Grass flower

The TC isn’t sure if this is a fossilised leaf or just a pattern in the sandstone rock:

Fossilised leaf in sandstone?

That’s all for today, folks.

Wentworth Falls and Valley of the Waters, Leura

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

The TC recently spent a couple of days in Leura, a town in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. I was there too, but I spent my time cosily buried in a book. The TC, brave soul that she is, went on a four-hour hike from Leura to Wentworth Falls and back. The walk is 6 to 7 kilometres in distance, with a vertical drop and ascent of 200 metres.

My impressions? To judge by the TC’s glowing face and weary limbs, this was a walk and a half. She loved it, and had sore muscles for days afterwards.

The book I’m in

Jupiter War, by Neal Asher.

Travel tip

When walking in the Blue Mountains, take plenty of water and some food. Although your intention may be to stay out only a couple of hours, weather can change and mishaps can happen.

Recommended accommodation

Fairmont Resort, 1 Sublime Point Rd, Leura NSW 2780. Comfort, warmth, and friendliness.

The photos

Looking out over the Blue Mountains from the Fairmont Resort in Leura. This is where the four-hour walk started. Early in the morning, the valley is filled with mist:

Leura, Blue Mountains

On the way to Wentworth Falls, the path takes you up and down, through forest-filled glens, under overhanging rocks, along cliff faces:

Walk to Wentworth Falls

The views are stunning:

On the way to Wentworth Falls

At the top of Wentworth Falls, the ground just ends. The water falls over the edge:

At the top of Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls, seen from the bottom:

Wentworth Falls

To get down there, you can take the National Pass, a spectacular cliff-face path of metal and rock:

National Pass, Wentworth Falls

Cockatoos frolic around the falls:

Cockatoo at Wentworth Falls

On the loop back to Leura, the TC’s group walked through the Valley of the Waters. This is a gorgeous walk, with waterfalls and hanging gardens and spectacular views. This shot is taken from behind the curtain of water that drops off the cliffs:

Valley of the Waters, Blue Mountains

Here’s a short video taken from behind the same waterfall:

The Cascades are a silver shower of water on black rock:

The Cascades, Valley of the Waters

That’s all for today, folks.

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC just spent a day and a half in Melbourne, Victoria. On Saturday we drove from the big smoke down to the Twelve Apostles on Australia’s south coast. The drive takes around three hours. It’s well worth the trip, to see the Apostles themselves as well as the bush and coastal area down the bottom end of Australia.

My impressions? Bright, clear beauty.

The book I’m in

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante. Teenage angst, beautifully written, with a hint of dreadfulness to come.

Travel tip

Take layers and layers of clothing to the bottom end of Australia. Even in spring, the cold can be bitter. Leave the brolly behind, unless it has gale-force certification.

The photos

Me at Twelve Apostles, Victoria:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria. Australia

The Apostles are these strange steeples of rock rising directly out of the waves:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

The vegetation is pretty in a low-stated way. It’s early spring, with tones of silver and green:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

You can walk down the cliff path at the Gibson Steps and stroll along the beach. This shot is taken with the Twelve Apostles out of sight behind the photographer:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

Now for a last look at the Apostles before I go:

A tad chilly at the Twelve Apostles, Victoria, Australia

That’s all for today, folks.

A stroll down Broadway, New York

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in New York, New York. The city that’s so big, you have to say it twice.

My impressions? Smiles are a little hard to come by, but all’s well when you get to know someone.

The book I’m in

Kill Decision, by Daniel Suarez. Convincing death-by-tech end of days adventure. This worm thrives on it.

Recommended food store

Whole Foods Market Chelsea, 250 7th Ave, New York, NY. There’s something for everyone.

Travel tip

Take a stroll through the city in the early morning. It’s cool and quiet. People potter around getting ready for the day. Colours are bright, tempers are soothed.

The photos

Me, your sleepy travelling worm, in early morning Times Square:

Times Square

Now that you’ve seen the obligatory me pic, let’s jump back to the start of our stroll down Broadway. The Flatiron Building is near Madison Square Park, on Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It’s called “Flatiron” because its shape is similar to that of an iron:

Flatiron building

Big Bling is a sculpture by Martin Puryear in Madison Square Park. The shiny bit is covered in gold leaf:

Big Bling, Madison Square Park

Being a little short in stature, I tend to notice things that loom. The skyscrapers in New York are good at looming, particularly when viewed from a park. Here they are, doing it Madison Square Park:

Skyscrapers looming over Madison Square Park

This Serbian Orthodox Cathedral on West 25th Street caught my eye as I strolled up Broadway. It’s just a shell. You can see sky and other buildings through the openings:

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, New York

Colours, flowers, and bikes outside the Martinique Café:

Martinique Cafe

It’s early morning on Broadway:

Early morning on Broadway

Poor pickings for pigeons:

Pigeons and tables on Broadway

Gotham Hall, with appropriate steam effects:

Gotham Hall, Haier Building, New York

Approaching Times Square:

Approaching Times Square

There’s a strong police presence this morning, possibly because the Gay Pride Parade is due to start nearby in a few hours:

NYPD in Times Square

All is quiet in Times Square. Just some early morning travellers strolling and the usual billboards scrolling:

Early morning in Times Square

That’s all for today, folks.

Lost in Portland, Oregon

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC are in Portland, Oregon. They told me it’d be summer. They said I wouldn’t be cold. They were mistaken.

My impressions? Warm, friendly people. They smile as you pass them in the street. I feel they’d take care to avoid stepping on a humble worm.

The book I’m in

Rich Man’s War, by Elliott Kay. Military sci-fi as a genre has a strange appeal, especially when travelling. This worm puts it down to a camaraderie among people shoved into small spaces under stressful circumstances.

Recommended accommodation

Hotel deLuxe, 729 SW 15th Ave, Portland, OR. The rooms are furnished with care and talent, and the reception is friendly.

The photos

Me outside Portland Central Library:

Worm at Portland Central Library

Storm clouds loom over McMenamins Ringlers Annex, a tavern at the corner of SW Stark Street and W Burnside Street:

McMenamins Ringlers Annex tavern, Portland

The TC and I went for a stroll to explore the city. Our outing progressed in typical fashion. Before setting off, we checked the map and located downtown Portland. On a whim, we diverted to see the Pioneer area. So, we spent a few hours doing what the TC does best – getting lost!

Here’s the Pioneer Courthouse in SW 5th Avenue, Portland:

Portland Pioneer Courthouse

For a different atmosphere, the Portland Outdoor Store in SW 3rd Ave:

Portland Outdoor Store

With apologies for the bleached out appearance of the lighter areas (the TC says the lighting was difficult) here’s a colourful place in SW First Ave:

SW First Ave Portland

They have trams in Portland:

A tram in Portland

After our impromptu tour of the Pioneer area, the TC and I set off again confidently, continuing our quest for downtown. A few blocks later the TC checked the map, only to discover that we’d been heading in opposite direction. (May I say that this is not an uncommon occurrence when going for a stroll with the TC.) The Portland riverside was now nearby, so the TC decided that was where we wanted to be anyway.

The vintage tugboat Portland, moored off SW Naito Parkway:

Historic tugboat Portland

The tug is a paddleboat, lovingly restored, which now houses an exhibition of the Oregon Maritime Museum:

Paddle tugboat Portland

Geese taking off in front of the E Burnside bridge:

E Burnside bridge Portland

The N Steel Bridge in Portland has a bare nuts-and-bolts feel that must surely appeal to engineers:

N Steel Bridge Portland

It’s sad to see that there are homeless people in Portland, as in so many cities around the world. The TC and I saw many homeless people during our ramble. In the middle of this scene is a shelter built of cardboard and black plastic:

Homeless in Portland

On another day, we hiked along the trail from Macleay Park to Washington Park, in the hills above Portland. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was in her element. She’s quite a one for woodsy walks. Moody moss dripped from the trees:

Moss in Washington park

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 24 May 2016 at 9:16 am  Comments (1)  
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Colour and sound on Indian roads

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC spent the last week or so in Bangalore and Mysore, India. I’ve already posted my impressions of the two cities. Now for a wrapup about the traffic. Trust this worm, the traffic is a topic all on its own.

My impressions? Communication is key. Follow the sage advice on the back of the truck: toot when coming through; toot when it’s safe to make a move; toot when in doubt.

The book I’m in

Zero’s Return, by Sara King. This is part 3 of the Zero chronicles. This worm is enjoying this story as much as the first two, and is impressed with the change in theme. Sarah King has managed to retain the magic of the Zero character even while throwing him into a completely different situation. Sink or swim, again, Joe Dobbs.

Recommended garb

Wear something comfortable and adaptable. Be ready to toss a scarf over your shoulders (this is a tip from the TC, of course, since this worm’s shoulders are adequately covered by my academic jacket) or discard your sandals at the drop of a hat.

Travel tip

Hire a driver, at least for your first foray or two into Bangalore traffic. The drivers know a thing or two.

The photos

Experience a ride in a car with a hired driver. Note the expert use of the horn to let everyone know where we are and what our intentions are.

The next video is longer, and shows some interesting roadside scenes. We’re driving along MG Road in Bangalore for most of the way. In two places (around 15 seconds into the video, and another at 1:21) you’ll notice an auto rickshaw travelling in the opposite direction to the rest of the traffic. This is a not uncommon sight. In other countries, you might say the vehicle is on the wrong side of the road. In Bangalore, you’d say it’s in exactly the right place to get where it needs to go.

At 30 seconds, the car passes a laundry business on the left. See all the sheets and other washed items hanging out to dry. One of the TC’s acquaintances visited the laundry, and was amazed how the staff keep track of every single item without written records.

Here’s the video:

There’s quite a variety of vehicles on the road. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was taken with the colourful decorations on the trucks:

Colour and traffic on Indian roads

Another:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

This one’s a Tata, like the first. Tata is a very big auto manufacturer in India:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

And another colourful truck:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

And another. Yes, the TC has a fondness for trucks:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

On the rear of the trucks, it’s very common to see pleas and encouragement to hoot. That’s right, hooting is part of the system, and truckies ask you to do it to let them know you’re there:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

This one has tassels too:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

As well as trucks, there are carts:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

Coconuts:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

Pedestrians – the TC took this photo for the scaffolding in the background as much as the people strolling past:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

Auto rickshaws – this one with a colourful view of Bangalore:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

Scooters – with an interestomg background of stalls:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

Bikes:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

And more bikes:

Colour and sound on Indian roads

That’s all for today, folks.

Published in: on 6 March 2016 at 6:16 am  Comments (1)  
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