Ten Sisters

I can’t believe this lovely long Easter weekend has finished!  We have done so many lovely things and caught up with lots of special people and I wanted it all to keep going.  Mind you, we may all collapse from a sugar over dose if we kept going like we have for the past 2 days!

Easter Sunday began with chocolate.  Lots and lots of chocolate.  For the dairy intolerant, hot chocolate in a new mug, with marshmallows and plain chocolate to dip in.dipping chocolate in hot chocolate Apparently this mug, spoon and hot chocolate kit from choccywoccydoodah was one of the best presents ever which made me very happy.  It is a lovely mug and the spoon is quite perfect for a young boy.Hot chocolate It was Milton’s 10th birthday and he was a very spoilt dog.  Harvey is always more excited about the dog’s birthdays than any of ours and spent a very happy half hour (and far too much of my money!) in the local pet shop where he found dog chocolates, birthday cake and even a dog friendly Easter egg!  Plus new bones, all of which were lovingly wrapped and presented with a home made card :-)Milton 10 years old We gathered for Easter lunch with my three sisters and their families at my sister Abi’s house.  It was a lovely relaxed day with lots of chatting and laughing and eating.  And wine, oh my, so much wine.  And Port. And lots of chocolate.lunch at Abi'sWe all took different dishes so ended up with quite a feast; 2 roast legs of lamb and a roast chicken with potatoes Dauphinoise, quinoa and roasted vegetables and a green salad.  Good to see the boys tucking in to the green stuff.
children eating Easter lunch The weather was quite dreadful for most of the day but when the clouds disappeared for a couple of hours we made the most of it and went out for a walk.  Rather a long and hilly walk as it turned out.Seaford golf course Well, the women, children and dogs did.  Apparently there was some very important football on which seemed to detain the men!walking in Seaford We walked up to Seaford Head and in the distance you can see the first of the Seven Sisters, the huge white chalk cliffs.  They look quite stunning when seen from the sea.Seaford cliffs Stunning when seen from the neighbouring cliff tops too, dazzling us in the sunshine.Seaford Head It was a hilly walk up to the top of the cliffs and on the way back we walked along the beach you can see here in the distance.looking at Seaford beach It was a very long way down!long way down We did get too close to the edge but luckily no harm was done.Holly on cliff Lovely beach huts :-)beach huts in Seaford Back at Abi’s we had dessert.  A delicious home made carrot cake for sister Lucy’s birthday and a fruit and cream scrunch, which was my attempt to recreate the lovely dessert made in Food For Thought.carrot cake and fruit scrunch Today I took Lara and Harvey to my Dad’s for lunch. Rather than cook we were taken out to a local restaurant for lunch.Welcome to Galu The food is Mediterranean and I had the humous, taramosalata and Tzatziki to start with.3 dips and pitta Followed by a very tasty chicken Souvlaki.chicken souvlaki Finally Baklava and ice cream.  It was a lovely lunch with good food and great company.  The table next to us was celebrating a 100th birthday party.  The birthday boy was very sprightly and from chatting to him we discovered he still drives and he drives to Belgium to visit family!Baklava and ice cream Back at home my birthday clematis was in full bloom and looking spectacular.clematis on vine Such pretty flowers.birthday flowers I spent a very happy 2-3 hours in the garden this morning.  I sowed lots of different flower seeds in to seed trays.flower seedlings I also potted on some cucumber and tomato seedlings.Cucumber seedlings

My day was finished very happily with a glass of wine and some yummy snacks with Annette and David.

Apart from the excessive sugar consumption, I wish every weekend could be like this and so much fun.

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The Bear Inn and Oare Marshes

It was James’ birthday on Saturday and as is customary in our house, the birthday boy/girl chooses what we do for the day.  James choice was a walk through the Oare Marshes, spotting birds.  This would not have been my choice but fortified with far too many hot cross buns we set off for Oare, which is near Faversham in N Kent near the Isles of Sheppey.

The acclaimed gastro pub, The Three Mariners in Oare was fully booked for lunch so we drove on to Faversham.  I have never been to Faversham before and what a lovely surprise it was.  It has such a history and so many of the buildings here are very old.

The Ship sign The council offices are in this beautiful building in the centre of the high street.Faversham council building The market extended beneath the building.Faversham market 2 Look how charming this is.Faversham market As you would expect in a town with a long history, there is a wide variety of architectural styles.Faversham buildings Plus lots of interesting signs to read such as this one Faversham sign

 

Faversham is the home of Shepherd Neame, Britains oldest brewery which has been going since 1698.  This was the old brewery building.Faversham old brewery 2 Shepherd Neame has since relocated to larger buildings just outside Faversham.Faversham old brewery

We wandered around a little and chose to eat in one of the Sherpherd Neame pubs, the  Bear Inn on the high street which has been here since 1487!

We chose a cosy corner in this ancient pub.cosy corner in Bear Inn old things in Bear Inn L and H in Bear Inn You enter the pub along a corridor and then choose one of three sections to sit in.  The bar runs along the length of the pub but the floor to almost ceiling wooden panels separate the seating area which makes it very cosy (not the blue painted panel, that just creates a booth).Bear Inn bar These panels which are decorated with dried hops.Bear Inn 2 It was a delightful pub and one in which I would very happily spend a long evening another time.Bear Inn 1 The food was not quite so delightful.  it was ok and I would eat there again but I would not go there for the food.  I had a fish pie with cheesey mash which was good but it was spoilt by the over boiled vegetables.Bear Inn fish pie I can never resist treacle sponge and custard!  Again, more school dinner than gastro pub in quality but enjoyable nevertheless.Treacle sponge and custard 1 Time to head to the marshes at Oare which are next to the Swale Estuary which separates North Kent from the Isles of Sheppey.  It was sunny and mild but very windy and the current looked strong in the sea.Estuary at Oare Oops !Boat in ater Oare The landscape here is beautiful.  Flat and expansive with water running in little inlets, some natural and many man made.Oare 2Walking was easy along the sea wall and we all really enjoyed the fresh air and scenery.
walking at Oare Oare marshes sign Few plants survive the harsh winters out here but this one, Teasel, does well. So called because it was used many years ago to tease the wool in to long strands for weaving.Teasel This jetty has been reclaimed by the salt flats.Disused jetty Explore Kent sign The birthday boy enjoyed the views and managed a few snaps but nothing spectacular today.  Bird photography is more of a solitary pursuit so success was always unlikely with the three of us as companions.B with lens Baa.Oare sheep As you would expect in this region, there were plenty of sheep.Oare 1 Penned in with a variety of charming fences.Oare fences 2 There was a wonderful sense of space out here which was very enjoyable and such a pleasant contrast to working in a big City.Oare fences 1 These were more surprising.Oare Cattle 4 We did not expect to see Highland Cattle in the Oare Marshes.Oare Cattle 3 Maybe they didn’t expect to see us either.Oare cattle 2 This one blends in rather well with the colours here.Oare cattle

We all enjoyed our day in Faversham and walking through the Oare Marshes.  We will definitely go back and next time, walk a different route as we realised at the end we had not walked near the lake in the centre of the marshes which would have given better bird watching opportunities.  But we will all fondly remember the pub, the landsacpe and the lovely walk.

Have a very Happy Easter.

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Food For Thought

Recently I have spent too much money on food and eaten too much of the wrong type of food.  As a result I feel very tired and rather lacklustre.  I have had a lot of fun too though and some of the food I have eaten is acceptable to me because it was as part of a celebration or special occassion.

Yesterday Lara and Harvey came up to London.  We met for lunch and I took them to Belgo because they both love moules et frites.  I have to be in the mood for moules and I wasn’t yesterday so I had chicken instead.chicken in Belgo They went for the moules though and enjoyed them.L and H in Belgo I had to work all afternoon but we met up again in the evening and enjoyed strolling around Covent Garden.harvey at skate shop Or just relaxing in Covent Garden.  wine in Covent Garden Dinner did not go according to plan.  We had theatre tickets so time was restricted for supper.  Everywhere we tried was full and we didn’t have time to wait.  Eventually we came across Yo Sushi which Harvey has wanted to go to for ages – ever since he saw the episode of ‘Miranda’ when her tie got stuck in the conveyer belt and carried her round the restaurant on it.Yo Sushi 4 In case you have not come across Yo Sushi before, there are some chefs in the middle who prepare dishes which are put on a conveyer belt which takes the dishes round the restaurant.  If you fancy it, you take it and eat it.  The dishes are colour coded according to price and at the end of your meal, they count up how many of each colour you have eaten and present you with a bill.  It was good fun.Yo Sushi 3 Most of the food was perfectly adequate.  This was disgusting though – icy cold and slimy – gross!Yo Sushi 2 We enjoyed our meal in Yo Sushi.  I wouldn’t necessarily rush back but I am glad we went.Yo Sushi 1 This is my current impossible to resist food item.  An almond croissant from Monmouth coffee.  Quite the most perfectly formed item of ultra yumminess.  Crispy and chewy, sweet but not too sweet with a thick layer of crushed almonds.  Washed down with a coffee it is the ultimate taste sensation.  But a health and diet disaster.almond croissant MC I have some birthdays to celebrate this weekend and it is so much fun shopping near our office.  There is a very eclectic mixture of shops who are all making the most of the Easter theme.BBs sign In their own individual ways!  I didn’t actually go in this shop so if your birthday is this weekend, you can relax :-)BBs I did go in here to buy lunch.  This restaurant and take away has been here for many years.  I really like their food.  They win few points for presentation or even service half the time but the food is delicious.Food FOr Thought I bought a mixed salad today.FFT mixed salad That gives you 4 different salads, each of which is lovely.  I also bought a portion of their ‘cream and berry scrunch’ which is amazing but wickedly naughty – a layer of flapjack/granola with whipped cream and fruit.mixed salad FFT

So I have been bad lately.  Very bad.  I suspect I will be bad this weekend too as it is Easter and I have 3 lunches to look forward to.   I must get back to the sugar free diet as it makes me feel so much better.

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How My Garden Grows April 2014

Not my usual type of breakfast today but I went to buy some milk for teas during the day and I fancied this chicken sandwich.  I also bought some nuts and an apple so I had healthier bits to nibble on than I have managed recently.

M&S breakfast

Oh dear – expensive shopping trip at lunch time!inside Gudrun Sjoden Quick and easy lunch back at my desk.Pure wrap A chicken tikka wrap which was very tasty.chicken tikka wrap Back at home I did what I always do, which is to look round the garden.  This is such an exciting time of year with so much beginning to grow.  In the greenhouse the seedlings are progressing nicely.  2 types of tomatoes and cucumbers.cucumber and tomatoes I have way too many bean seedlings – what was I thinking of, planting so many?  I have several trays of different types of beans.aiguillon bean seeds CeleryceleryOut in the veggie patch lots of seeds are sprouting.

Spinachspinach 15-4 Spring onionsspring onions 15-4 Radishesradishes 15-4 Beetrootbeetroot 15-4 Rocketrocket seedlings 15-4 Lettucelettuce seedlings 15-4 Nothing happening yet in the beans and peas bedspeas and beans beds Blueberriesblueberries 15-4-14 Raspberriesraspberry canes

Easy supper of reheated fish pie left over from Sunday.

fish pie 14-4-14

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Chicken Nuggets

I ate a lot of really delicious food today but some of it was very fattening.

Coco-Nutty Granola with kefir, banana and strawberries.
granola and strawberries Yummy.breakfast 14-4-14 Quiche and salad.  The quiche was very cheesey and full of vegetables and the salad was fantastic.  It had big chunks of avocado in it, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, dill and a great dressing.quiche and salad Unfortunately, this irresistible dessert sits next to the salads and I love it.  Chewy oaty chunks, whipped cream and fruit.  So good but so bad!naughty pudding For dinner we had chicken nuggets!  Yes, we really did, good healthy ones.  Lara made these following my sister Abi’s recipe.  They were quite easy to make too.  Chop up the chicken breasts, coat them in seasoned flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs and then fry them.  The coconut oil gave them a really good flavour.  Served with a large salad.chicken nuggets and salad Lara made these for Harvey.  He does really well with all the salads and vegetables we make him eat.  He has stopped moaning about no jam, ketchup or all the other things we no longer have as they contain sugar.   But sometimes he wants to eat junk food so Lara made him a healthy version.  Thank you Lara, they were excellent.  The crust was really crunchy and the chicken was succulent.chicken nuggets

Then we had pudding – eek!  Such a lot of delicious food and hey, it’s nearly Easter !

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Vegetable Garden Extension

Next to my little old greenhouse is a paved area where I like to do my potting.  It was looking very forlorn and neglected.

next to greenhouse 2 Inside the greenhouse needed a sweep and tidy up too.cobwebby greenhouse What good fortune then that a young boy wanted to earn some money and I was too busy to do it myself so was very willing to pay him to do it for me so he set to it.  About 2 hours later it was transformed.next to greenhouseWe had one clean and tidy greenhouse.inside greenhouse 1With a clean and tidy potting area next to it.  That was the best fiver I’ve spent this weekend !
Harvey near greenhouse Ribbett!frog 2We found this little frog in the tortoise pen.
frog in garden Seedlings are beginning to germinate.

cucumber and tomato sedlings

This time of year is so exciting in the garden.
Beans germinating This was exciting too.  The two dear men who are transforming my vegetable garden came back this morning to finish off the vegetable bed extension.  They are so helpful.  Not only are they doing what I wanted them to do in the garden, today they also set my wonky rotary washing line up straight, stopped my hose dripping and mended the greenhouse door so it shuts properly.G and D in garden I left the garden before it was quite finished but it was looking very promising by 11 am today.Veg garden 6 Harvey and I went to Hastings to visit Rebecca and Beryl.  It was such a sunny day the drive was enjoyable and the houses and local park were all seen in their glory.Hastings 13-4-14 4 There are lots of lovely Victorian and Edwardian houses in Hastings.Hastings 13-4-14 3 The ones lining the park are each painted a different colour.Hastings 13-4-14 2 Different terraces have their own unique features – they are all very charming.Hastings 13-4-14 1 We had a delightful stroll around and a sit on the decking of the cafeteria.Hastigs 1 This was the inside of the cafeteria.  I really enjoyed sitting in the sunshine with Rebecca and obviously Harvey, Ramsay and not forgetting Beryl.

inside Hastings cafe

See you soon.R in Hastings I was sorry to say goodbye but also excited to see my finished vegetable garden.  I was not disappointed.veg garden 4 I love my vegetable garden extension.veg garden 2 I really like how neat and tidy it is and how well they finished everything.Veg garden 1 I spent a very happy afternoon sowing the runner beans, climbing French beans, broad beans and peas in to my new beds.  They are full up now so I may need some more :-)

Just the greenhouse and fruit cage to be built now.  The base for the greenhouse is down but I need to choose which one I want.

veg garden 3

I have had a flower bed created too for the roses I was given by my sisters for my birthday – I need the roses now girls as I finally have somewhere to put them :-)Space for roses

We were so lucky with the weather this weekend.  I enjoyed seeing lots of lovely people and I am absolutely delighted with the progress in the garden.  All I need to do now is get on with losing weight!

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Too Much Eating Out

I have barely made myself so much as a cup of tea today.  I have eaten out all day which has been lovely but I need to get back to the kitchen and back to the healthy food.

I took Harvey out for breakfast this morning.

Cocolicious flowers 1

We went to the new coffee shop which has just opened on Stone Street in Cranbrook called Cocolicious.

Cocolocious and flowers

They made hot chocolate with soya milk – hurrah.  I like the space and light in here, the decor and the furnishings.  It may be a bit pink for some but I liked it.  I do have a bit of a thing about coffee in a glass cup – I just don’t like it so next time I go in I will see if they have a mug instead.  Monmouth has rather spoilt coffee for me in most other places so this coffee was slightly below par but I am probably being fussy.Harvey in Cocolicious We both had a smoked salmon bagel and they were extremely helpful with making sure Harvey’s had no dairy in it which was appreciated.  Mine came with dill in the cream cheese which I liked very much.salmon bagel I liked Cocolicious and will go back.Cocolicious flowerAt lunch time I took Lara out and we went to the Milk House with Lucy and Michelle.  Lovely bread roll and excellent butter.
Milk House bread and butter

We each had a main.  Lara and I both had “Lemon-thyme crumbed rose veal escalope with spring-onion mash, a pea shoot salad and roast tomato coulis”.veal escalope 2 It was very good.  I am not sure I would choose to have the tomato coulis with it as the taste is quite sharp compared to the other flavours but I did really enjoy it.veal escalope 1 None of us fancied any of the desserts on the menu so we popped in to Cranbrook and went to Cocolicious for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.  I had a little sponge cake with Nutella icing.  Very enjoyable.afternoon tea 12-1-14 The boys wanted a curry for dinner.  I wasn’t very hungry so I just had a taste of the others curry; an onion bhaji, chicken korma, chicken bhuna, sag paneer and peshwari naan.  Very good.curry 12-4-14

I am now completely stuffed and planning a much healthier days eating for tomorrow!

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Food In A Lab

I have walked past this place many times recently.  An organic food place should have lured me in immediately but it does not tempt me, partly because of the name –  lab organic - and also because it doesn’t seem very welcoming.

laborganic 2 It looks sterile and it is usually empty which is never a good sign.laborganic 1 This decoration by the door seems strange to me.  I want my food to be as natural as possible so the very idea of it being connected to a laboratory is very off putting.  It seems contradictory to this company’s mission statement too which is about providing organic food as close to its natural state as possible.

For some reason, today I decided to try it for breakfast.jars in laborganic

I would not want to eat in the white lab type environment so even though I wasn’t in such a rush today, I took the food away to eat at my desk.laborganic bag I felt very tired today so I chose their alkalizing juice which is made with spinach, pear, celery, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, parsley, cucumber, broccoli and lime.  It was perfectly drinkable and quite pleasant.  Let’s face it, green veggie juices are not drunk for their deliciousness.

breakfast 10-4-14

I also had a Creamy Nut Mix which was absolutely delicious.  I really liked it and would have this again.

cashew cream 2 It contains Walnuts, Almonds, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Flax seeds, Hemp seeds, Goji berries, Raisins, Cashews, Water, Agave nectar, Vanilla, Lucuma powder, Himalayan salt.  The cashews were whipped in to a creamy topping.  I enjoyed every mouthful and my breakfast kept me feeling full all morning until about 2 pm.cashew cream For lunch I bought a quinoa and black bean bake with cheese on top which was excellent.FFT bake 2 Really very tasty.FFT bake Opps!  This was good but very naughty.  It was like a flapjack with fruit and whipped cream.FFT puddingIt is so good to be home with enough light left so I can go in to the garden, water the young plants and pick some veggies for dinner.

leek, kale and chardAs compensation for my naughty pudding I had a very light supper of stir fried vegetables with sesame seeds and soy sauce.  It was perfectly adequate and very tasty.
veg with sesame

So I think I will return to lab organic but I must make more effort to take my food in for at least one meal a day.  It is expensive eating out all the time.

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Trafalgar Square

Last night, when I was having a lovely dinner with my friend Lucy, I made the comment that some mornings I get off the train at Charing Cross but instead of going straight to work, I enjoy a walk first.  I particularly enjoy being in Trafalgar Square.  Here’s why.

Trafalgar Square street signOn a beautiful sunny morning like today’s, when the sky is bright blue and the sun catches some of the buildings with its early morning orange tint, it is wonderful to stand in this huge old Square with its  grand monuments to times gone by and be almost alone.

You are more aware of its size and grandeur when you are practically alone in there.T.Sq 6 Cars, bikes, buses and pedestrians race around the square but very few walk through it or stop and sit in it during the early hours.Nelson's Column The Houses of Parliament can be seen in the distance, adding to the grandeur of the buildings.  But look, no people.T. Sq 5 I almost have these glorious buildings to myself.National Gallery London You can keep the cockerel.T.Sq 3This is one of my favourites, The National Gallery.P1010411 T.Sq 1 By the evening the square is full of people. Busy T.Sq The fountains are on in the evening which adds to the loveliness of Trafalgar Square but I prefer it in the mornings.T.Sq in evening Having enjoyed a few moments in the Square I bought a skinny latte to enjoy on my way to the office.  I would have liked to sit on this concrete bench but I kept going as I had so much work to do.  The West End is so much more peaceful in the mornings than during the day and evenings.concrete seat I took one more detour – I walked the length of Monmouth Street which appeared to have had a morning wash!wash Monmouth I bought scrambled eggs with spinach, ham and Parmesan from Pure.Pure eggs and ham It was very good and kept me feeling full all morning.

eggs and hamI bought my lunch from Pure too.  We have given up with the Timber Yard because the service is so appalling.  Pure is actually the closest eatery to the office anyway.  I bought 2 side salads instead of one large salad.
2 Pure salads They were bothquinoa and butternut salad very edible.Feta salad For supper I had Wild Alaskan salmon with a huge portion of stir fried vegetables.  Thank you Lara, it is much appreciated to come home and have dinner ready.salmon and stir fried veggies

 

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A New Florist

I began today with a smoothie, mainly to use up a very over ripe banana and half an avocado I thought was rotten.  The avocado was actually perfect and this lot

Smoothie ings 6-4-14 plus some of thisBiona Kefir made a very pleasant smoothie.smoothie 6-4-14 We decided to treat ourselves to a lunch out.  Lara wanted to try The Milk House but it was full so her second choice was The Goudhurst Inn.  We really are spoilt for choice round here.  I had roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese, steamed veg, roast potatoes and creamed horseradish.  Apart from the potatoes which were quite unpleasant (James ordered chips instead as they were barely edible!) and the gravy which was mediocre, it was all very good.roast beef at GI Lara and I shared 2 desserts; chocolate and hazlenut torte with honeycomb ice cream and sticky toffee pudding.  In-cre-dible!  Both were amazing and I nearly finished before I remembered to take a photo.  So not good for the diet but a treat worth every calorie.pudding at GI We enjoyed our lunch and it was a treat to not cook or wash up on a Sunday.  We all like the Goudhurst Inn.  Unfortunately the outside area with the lovely view was too wet and cold to sit in today.boxes and candle I like the way this pub and exterior have been decorated.outside Goudhurst Inn Next stop was a new florists, Astilbe & Sorrel,  which has opened up next to the The Walled Nursery in Hawkhurst.  Astilbe & Sorrel sign

The florists has opened up in one of the outbuildings that used to be the seed store and it still has the old cupboard from when this was the garden for the big house.

seed box at Walled Nursery

It is small but very charming with unusual varieties of favourite types of flowers.

Inside A & S

I really liked this vintage style bouquet and my neighbour loved the bunch I bought for her which was made with feathered tulips and scented freesias.A & S flowers I confess I did treat myself to this little bunch as I liked the erygniums so much (blue spiky ones).  Apparently I can grow these myself so I might try.flowers A and S I liked the colours and shapes.flowers from Astilbe and Sorrel Back at the ranch I had left George and Dan working wonders in the garden and was looking forward to seeing what they had done today.  It is not easy setting up raised beds on my lawn as the garden is on a slope but they are doing a great job.veg garden 6-4-14 4 I now have 2 new beds, creating an “L” shape around the BBQ House.veg garden 6-4-14 3 They will be back next week to put down the gravel and fill the beds.  I can’t wait to see it all finished.Veg garden 6-4-14 2 The extension to the veggie garden has been designed to create one large vegetable garden so I can walk from one section to the next without having to go through a gate.  When I use the BBQ House, we can remove 2 gates and we have a gravel path leading straight to it from the lawn.

There will be a new greenhouse and fruitcage too.  Veg garden 6-4-14 The tomatoes I sowed in the coir pellets have finally germinated.  I am behind with the tomatoes but hopefully they can catch up as they have a new greenhouse coming for them!coir plugs

We had a picky supper of pitta bread, taramasalata, an apple and some cheese.  Not the most diet friendly but it was easy and pleasant, munching in front of the tv.  There is a large glass of wine with my name on it so I am going to enjoy that now.  Cheers :-)

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