Tag: christmas

wooden ark toyThere’s something reassuringly luxurious about wooden toys. More substantial than plastic, warmer to the touch and made from natural materials: they last longer and can handle the rough and tumble of child’s play.

One tends to think of wooden toys in a nostalgic way because they remind us of the era when things were made with more care and designed to last. However, there are some very contemporary wooden toys on the market – if you know where to find them.

One of my favourite suppliers is The White Company in London who have some fantastic toys for younger children such as the Noah’s Ark and London Bus, pictured.

Wooden London Bus Toy

 

My daughters adore this wooden kitchen set from the Great Little Trading Company – and I can see why they find it so appealing. Besides being beautifully coloured, it also comes with a range of built-in appliances including a tap and sink, a fridge, an oven with opening door, a washing machine, microwave and storage cupboard. It even has a hob with clicking knobs. It has everything your kids will need to have hours of fun cooking up their own version of Bake Off and Masterchef. Three, two, one … bake!

Wooden Toys GLTC Kitchen

If roleplay is your child’s greatest pleasure, they may also be interested in this fabulous playshop and theatre combo. Exquisitely designed to work as a shop on one side and a puppet theatre on the other, you kids can have hours of fun entertaining themselves and the family and play shops or cafe’s whenever they like.

GLTC even produces a range of equipment to go with it, so you can fully stock your shop and provide the essential till!

wooden toy shop and theatre combo
Ride On Wooden ScooterFor the more active kids, Great Little Trading Co also has some fantastic wooden ride-on toys. I think these funky wooden scooters are very cool.  Their Italian, retro designs are super chic and as for functionality, the imulti-directional castors give fun, free flowing movement in all directions.

You can certainly see why this fab scooter won a Junior Magazine Design Award for Best Toy Design (0-2 years). And being made of wood it’s pretty much going withstand lots of knocks and last long enough for you to get your money back on eBay after your kid’s grown too big for it.

wooden toy farm

GLTC also have traditional wooden gifts such as this great wooden farm, with its own barn, hayloft, cow shed and stables. You can also purchase a wide range of animal accessories and even a tractor. You kids can have hours of fun playing farmer and looking after the animals in the knowledge that these sturdy wooden pieces aren’t going to fall to pieces or break like plastic toys do.

There’s lots more to see at GLTC too. Why not check out their pirate ships, easels, work benches, train sets, activity walkers…. The list goes on.

Eight times winner of Best Children’s Retailer and winner of the Best Independent and Best Online Retailer Awards, GLTC is a British company that provides both great products and great service to its customers – including international delivery and free returns. Why not visit GLTC now.  

Why not check out our post about GLTC’s fab Christmas stockings

 

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For those of you who have kids with a love of riding on things, I’ve put together what I think are 10 of the best ride-on toys for Christmas. Whether it be electric battery-powered toys or good old-fashioned push and pedal powered, ride-ons have always been popular Christmas presents and here I’ve chosen some exceptional models with brilliant designs made from high quality materials. Hope you like them:

Electric Battery Powered Ride Ons

Vintage Mercedes Style Ride On with Parental Remote Control

Best battery powered ride on toyThis is a stunning vintage ride on car with a high attention to detail and lots of fab features that kids will love. It runs on (2 x 6) 12 volt, twin motor, rechargeable battery and has the added feature of a parental remote control which means you can give your kid the ride of their life whist ensuring they don’t go bump into your garden wall at the same time.

It’s made from tough,  durable plastic with a high gloss finish.  Features include: a fast/slow speed switch, mp3 input cable, front working lights, music and horn buttons, digital battery capacity timer, extra spare wheel, safety seat belt. For ages:2+

Kids Ride on Batmobile

Batmobile Ride on Toys

If you have a batman fan at home this could possibly be their ultimate Christmas gift for 2013. Take their role play adventures one gigantic step further by getting them their very own Batmobile.

This 6V Batmobile is built with a tough steel chassis combined with tough bodywork to take all of the bumps and scrapes that your budding crime fighter will get into. Hand crafted in Italy and designed with DC Comics to help create a truly realistic Batman kid’s car, its features include: wing mirrors and official Batman styling, logos and details, flashing lights, authentic music and sounds, forward & reverse gears and foot operated pedal control. It includes 6V battery & charger.  L122.6cm x W62.5cm x H52.7cm

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Ride on Sports Car

Best electric Ride on Ferrari

If your child is more of a Michael Shoemacher than a batman, then this stunning red Ferrari is one that’s going to make their F1 dreams come true. It will probably also make dad very jealous. This amazing looking electric kids car is a fully licensed Ferrari F12 Berlinetta which, like the Mercedes above, also comes with parental remote controls, making it fun for and safe your child.

The Ferrari is a well constructed ride-on with easy assembly. The body for this model is vacuum formed, then painted with real car paint, to give a superb finish. Your child will feel like they are in a real car, with realistic looking accessories and car body. It also comes with working lights and an MP3 plug-in facility – just connect your iPod or mp3 player! Features include: working lights, a seat belt for additional safety,  2 forward speeds and 1 reverse speed, top speed 4km/h, realistic key ignition start.

 

12V Mini Cooper Ride-On

 Best Electric Ride-on Toys Mini

Always fantastically stylish and fun, the Mini Cooper is a true design classic. This version runs on a 12V +2 motors rechargeable battery and comes with parental remote control, mp3 input, battery capacity indicator, soft leather seat to make your kids feel comfortable, 2 music buttons, play engine start-up sounds and many different music tones ( a volume control for parents!) and flashing colour lights.  It also has remote and pedal function switch. It’s available in 3 colours, red, blue and pink and is made from toughened, durable plastic with a high gloss realistic finish.

 

Audi R8 Spyder Ride On

Best Ride on toys 2013 audi

 

This amazing ride on is a fully licensed kids replica of an Audi R8 Spyder. The 12v sports car is a well constructed ride-on with easy assembly and top quality paintwork. The body for this model is similar to the Mini in that it is also vacuum formed and then painted with real car paint, to give a superb finish. Features include:  genuine looking accessories,  working lights and sounds for a realistic driving experience, a 12v motor to match the 12v battery, seat belt for additional safety. Top speed 7km/h

Pedal and Push Powered Ride-ons

Baghera Speedster Racer Ride-On Car

Baghera Best Ride on Toys 2013

Baghera are a fantastic French company and probably make the best designed cars in France, real ones included – sorry Citroen. These are truly classic kids toys, exceptionally well made with robust materials and real chic retro designs.

The Speedster Racer is an amazing little push powered sports car for young children. Built to last with a padded seat, a good old fashioned metal body and rubber tyres, it also comes with a honking horn, chrome radiator grille and petrol cap. Simple self assembly required on delivery. It’s suitable for indoors or outdoors riding.  57 x 35 x 40 cm. Seat height: 26 cm, Max. rider weight: 30kg

Baghera Speedster Racer Ride-On Car 

Baghera Best Ride on Toys 2013

 

Just like the Racer above, the Chocolate is another beautifully crafted well designed ride on toy. I particularly like it because the headlights make it look like one of those cute cartoon character cars that kids love.  Again, it comes with a padded seat, metal body, rubber tyres,   chrome radiator grille and horn. It’s easy to ride and steer both inside and outside. Slightly larger then the Racer it measures  L 72 cm; W 27 cm; H 37 cm and has a seat height of 26 cm.

Baghera Children’s Metal Ride-On Car

Best ride on toys for kids 2013This is an unusual looking car and I like it for that very purpose – it’s not pretending to be any particular style of existing car, it simply is what it is, a toy to ride on. It’s a simple, but beautifully minimalistic blue metal ride on. Like all Baghera ride ons it’s easy to control and steer and is made from a hard wearing metal body with rubber tyres. It has been designed with space underneath to transport favourite toys. Delivered for self assembly. L: 60cm, W: 32cm, H: 19cm. Seat height: 19 cm, Max. rider weight: 30kg

Baghera Speedster Fire Engine

Best Kid's Ride On Christmas 2013

Playing at being a fire fighter can now be taken one step further with this fab Baghera fire engine. It has a real retro look whilst being made from genuine good old fashioned materials – no cheap plastic here, just wood, metal and rubber put together with craftsmanship and style. Features include padded seat, fire engine bell and a rack at the rear to put on your fire fighting outfit. Dimensions: 37 x 72 cm. Seat height 26 cm

Classic ‘Harry’ Pedal Car

Best Ride on Toys for Kids 2013

 

I was looking to find a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and was very surprised not to find one, however, here is the next best thing, another metal bodied car, this time manufactured by a company called Great Gizmos that produces a wide range of early 20th Century looking vintage toy cars. As you can see, there is a high attention to detail, both with the body work and with features like the wind-up starter at the front, traditional front lights, old-fashioned radiator grille and mock fold up roof at the rear. Truly Scrumptious would have loved this.

Not found what you are looking for? Then try here for lots more ride ons.

All opinions in this review are our own, however, we may be compensated should you make a purchase through the links provided.

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If you are looking for beautiful, high quality, personalised Christmas gifts for babies and young children then we may have just found the perfect place for you. Whether you are looking for clothing and shoes, presents, Christmas decorations, Christmas stockings and sacks or even toys and books, you can get them all from the wonderful My 1st Years shop.


Personalised Christmas Sacks and Stockings

personalised christmas sackMy 1st Years have a good selection of personalised Christmas stocking and sacks, all very reasonable priced. The sack shown measures 55cm by 88cm and is made from strong material printed with the words,’ Presents for a Special Girl with love from Father Christmas.’ It has a love heart at the top onto which the child’s name can be printed.

The printing of the text can be up to 15 characters, which is suitable for most children.

See our review of personalised Christmas sacks and stockings from another supplier.

 

Personalised Toys

bikeWe just love the idea of personalised toys and this fabulous wooden bike is just awesome. It’s painted in bright colours and with natural finish wheels and handlebars and has rubber wheels covering to imitate a real tyre. The bike measures 55cm high and 80cm in length. Your child’s name is beautifully personalised on the sides with space enough for 9 characters. The bike arrives flat-packed for you to assemble before the big day.

A pink version is also available for girls.

Besides the bike, other wooden toys include a rocking horse, a painted guitar a drum, a xylophone and an abacus, all painted in similar colours to the trike. There are also rag dolls, cooking outfits and baking sets for boys and girls, as well as other gorgeous items.

To see our review of wooden toys from another company click here

Ivory Teddy Bear Baby Gifts Personalised Cuddlies

There’s a lovely collection of cuddly toys for sale at My 1st Years which are perfect gifts for babies and younger children. Measuring about 25cm high, these are super soft, wipe clean cuddlies made from polyester, with the name of the child embroidered on the teddy’s clothing.

You can choose from teddy bears, puppy dogs, reindeer, a long-eared rabbit and even an elephant.

 

 


Personalised Christmas Clothing

christmas sleeping suitIf you are looking for super cute Christmas clothing for your baby or toddler, then you have to check out the goodies on offer at My 1st years. We love this Christmas bauble  sleep suit the words “My First Christmas” printed above the baby’s name.Made from 100% lovely, soft cotton with snap fastenings for super easy changing.

Other clothes include: sleep suits, dressing gowns, onesies, pyjamas, shoes, sleeping bags and bibs.

 


Personalised Christmas Booksletters_to_santa_book2-1000

If you are looking for the ideal keepsake which children can treasure for a long time, then a personalised Christmas book is a brilliant option. We really like this ‘Your Letter To Santa’ book, where the name of the child is printed twice on the cover,and on every page in the book. This wonderful hardback book with fantastic water colour illustrations follows your child’s Christmas letter on it’s journey to Santa and then follows the presents on their way to your child.

There is a small range of other personalised books to choose from.

 

 

Personalised Christmas Decorations

Personalised baubleNo Christmas would be complete without beautiful decorations and My 1st Years have a great collection to choose from here, though not all of these are personalised. They include unusual and unique baubles, angels, garlands and various other Christmas trinkets to add that extra sparkle to your festive cheers.   We particularly like the personalised owl advent calendar, made out of fabric.

One personalised gift that really looks good is the glass First Christmas bauble shown in the picture.  Featuring the name of your child and the year of their first Christmas, this is a souvenir they can keep and bring out year after year.

 

My 1st Years don’t just limit themselves to personalised Christmas gifts, they have children’s products for all occasions and everyday use. They are a UK based company, but ship internationally, with free worldwide delivery on orders over £75 GBP. To visit their website and find out more visit My 1st Years

 

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Best Family Christmas Movies

Here’s my 10 best ever family Christmas movies. I’ve chosen them because I think they are films the whole family will enjoy and which perfectly capture the festive feeling. Some are obviously for families with younger children and some are for families with older children, so you’ll need to see the trailer if you want to be sure they are something your own kids would be interested in. They are in no particular order of preference.

Hope you enjoy my selection. If you think there are other good ones suitable for families, leave a comment and let us know.

It’s A Wonderful Life

This is the heart-warming and magical story of George Bailey who, one Christmas Eve, wishes he had never been born and has his wish granted by an angel. He spends the film being shown how the world would be different if he had never existed and finds out what good things he has actually done. Eventually he comes to realize just what a wonderful life he has – just in time for Christmas.

A Wonderful Life is one of the great Christmas films and if you haven’t watched it with your family yet, it’s time you did. Not really for toddlers, though.

 

A Christmas Carol 2009

There are several really good versions of Charles Dickens’ famous book but for me, the two outstanding ones are 1951’s Scrooge starring Alastair Sim and the Jim Carey’s 2009 version made by Disney.

Overall, my favourite is the latter. The animation is amazing and brings both the characters and the setting perfectly to life. If you can watch it in 3D then do so – it’s even more fabulous. However, even in 2D, it’s a superb version and Jim Carey’s portrayal of Scrooge is just as good as Sim’s. What I also like about this version is that they’ve not cut out half the story to make the film – it’s a good length and once you’re engaged you can’t take your eyes away.

 

Polar Express

Though nowhere near as well animated as A Christmas Carol, Polar Express is another essential family movie for Christmas. The kids will love it, though mine still get a little frightened when the little boy has to climb out on top of the train to rescue the golden ticket. It’s one of those real good old fashioned tales about belief, all symbolised by a tiny little bell that is given as a gift from Santa. Perfect Christmas Eve watching.

 

Rise of the Guardians

This is fairly new film that I’ve watched a couple of times now and keeps growing on me. It’s basically the story of how Jack Frost discovers his origins and transforms from a selfish boy to a guardian of goodness. He joins forces with Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy to battle against Jude law’s seriously sinister Pitch Black. There’s some excellent characters and heart-warming moments – especially as they all try to save Christmas.

 

Arthur Christmas

We loved this film. Three generations of Santa here and the geriatric one is definitely my favourite. However, the pompous heir to the sleigh is magnificently played by Hugh Lawrie. Unfortunately, his pomposity is not what we really need in a Santa and it’s his bumbling but good-hearted younger brother, Arthur Christmas, aided by his grandfather, who saves the day. A fun film where modern life comes a good second to traditional values.

 

Miracle on 34th Street

One of the pictures that always come to mind when I think of Christmas is of walking down a city street in the evening with all the Christmas lights on and the windows filled with fantastic displays. Miracle on 34th Street reminds me of that. The story is charming. Is the man with the beard who works as Santa in the department store really the real Santa? And what is the miracle?

 

The Snowman

Short but beautiful. The Snowman is an awesome silent animation with a really atmospheric score that perfectly captures the season. It’s a modern day song of innocence and experience where a snowman comes to life and leads a little boy on the adventure of a lifetime. But snowmen, of course, are ephemeral, and soon melt away. Most UK readers will remember the song in the middle of the film, ‘Walking in the Air’, sung by a young Aled Jones.

 

Elf

This film is just downright funny. Buddy the Elf is actually a fostered human who was mistakenly taken back to the North Pole by Santa. Unfortunately, he doesn’t fit in. He’s three times as big as everyone and very clumsy. After discovering he’s really a human, he sets off on adventure to find his real family back in New York – except of course, he has no idea about people and his ignorance of society leads him into all kinds of scrapes. However, his kind heart and faith in Santa are what saves the day. Kids will love this film.

 

The Nutcracker

This is an animation of the Christmas story by ETA Hoffman which Tchaikovsky famously turned into a ballet. This version focuses closely on the story of the Nutcracker Prince who lives in a futuristic world until he is sent back in time by the evil Mouse King and turned into a wooden nutcracker.

Back in time, he meets Clara who helps him turn back into a human and together they return to his home world. After lots of magical adventures, he wins the battle with the Mouse King to regain his rightful place. This is a really good children’s action and adventure story with a traditional story underpinning it.

 

Love, Actually

A warning here – this is either for families with teenage kids or for mums and dads to watch alone. It can be a little grown up in places, so if you don’t want your younger ones asking awkward questions wait till they have gone to bed. As a guide, if they still believe in Santa, it’s not for them!

However, it’s one of my favourite Christmas films. A truly British classic. Exceptionally funny and romantic with the odd tear jerking moment here and there. Some excellent acting, an outstanding script and perfect for this time of year. Oh, yes, and it’s all about love, actually!

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If you think your family has some odd traditions at Chrsitmas, take a look at these 12 weird Christmas traditions from around the world. There are some quite fun ones here and some odd ones too.

For some reasons shoes crop up a lot in various ways, but my favourite oddity has to be the strange ‘Caganer’ character Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese have in their nativity set. I wonder if they have these in the Vatican – doubt it? If anyone can let me know where this tradition began, please leave a comment at the end, I would love to know.

One thing I’m thankful for is that I’m not having traditions Christmas in Greenland this year. Kiviak, as they call it is certainly not something I’d spend Christmas Eve dreaming of. If anyone has ever eaten Kiviak (and survivied) let us know what it was like.

Enjoy

 

12 Christmas Traditions From Around The World

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If you are looking for the best iPad alternatives for kids, here are my top reasonably priced tablet PCs  for Christmas 2013.

When choosing I’ve looked for exceptional value, low-cost, high specification and good customer reviews. You won’t be spending a lot of money here for something that is going to get dropped, spilled on and stood on, but you will get all the features that kids need in a tablet: gaming, apps, music, reading, internet surfing, taking photos & video and watching movies.

With that in mind, here are 5 of the best kids’ tablets for Christmas 2013.

Best Tablet PC for kids

Rapido Eco Tablet PC (£53.95) 

For an exceptionally low-priced Android tablet, the 7″ Rapid 5 certainly comes with a lot of features. it uses a dual core cortex A7 processor which can run at 2x 1.5 GHz and has 4 GB  of built-in storage which can be increased using a micro SD card. It has dual cameras and runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.2.

Like all android devices you will be able to download and use all the apps from the Google Play store as well as sync it to any other Google service.

Amazon Review Rating of 4.6/5

Visit Amazon to find out more

 

 

Best iPad alternative for kids

Lelik Tec Avalon 7″ HD Tablet PC ($63 / £56)

Again, this is very inexpensive Android tablet that comes packed with hi-specification features. These include a 1.2 GHz dual core processor, IGB RAM/ 8GB Flash memory, 1024 x 600 resolution and HDMI output, besides the usual USB connector. It runs on JellyBean 4.2.2.

It comes pre-installed with a range of apps, but all Android apps can be installed via the Play Store.

For kids, this is a particularly good design as it has a rubber coating to protect it from those accidental drops which are bound to happen.

Besides wi-fi, this tablet can also be connected via 3G using a dongle.

Amazon Review Rating 4.4/5

Visit Amazon for more details

 

Best Tablet PC for children 2013

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (£140 / $179)

For a high quality brand this 7″ tablet really is exceptional value for money. It runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor with up to eight hours of battery life. Features include dual cameras, of much better quality than the products above, and a 1024 x 600 resolution screen which provides excellent picture quality.

There is 8GB built-in storage with the capacity to increase this to 64GB with an SD card which means you can store lots of apps, music, movies and ebooks. Perfect for browsing the net, watching films or playing on apps and helping your kids with their reading.

This is the wi-fi only version but there is also a 3G version available for an extra cost. The tablet also comes in a 10.1″ version.

Amazon Review Rating 4.3/5

Visit Amazon to find out more

 

 

 

Best Tablet for kids 2013

Amazon Kindle Fire HD  (£119 / $139)

The more I see of the Amazon Kindle Fire, the more I am attracted to them. This is especially so for children’s use, because although they are a tablet PC, they are the quintessential book reader and for the many kids who seem to have developed an allergy to physical books, they are a perfect alternative that might just get them engaged.

Book reader aside, Kindle Fire an exceptional piece of kit.  Despite being less expensive, it has a higher resolution than the Samsung at 1280 x 800 and a faster processor at 1.5GHz. It also boasts excellent 3D graphics, Dolby audio, and features galore that you really need to visit Amazon to read about in full.

For clumsy kids, the Kindle is made from materials that are  20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic.

The there is a wide range of Kindle Fire versions available including larger models.

Amazon User Rating 3.9/5

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Best iPad alternative for kids Christmas 2013Acer Ionica Tablet PC (£140 / $170)

Once again, here is hi-spec, top brand tablet for a really reasonable price.  Slightly larger than the rest of the models here at 7.9″, the Acer Ionica boasts a quad-core 1.2GHz Processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB memory (expandable to 32GB with SD card), Wi-fi, two cameras and the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system.

With a 1024  x 768 resolution, it’s the best of the Android devices for picture quality and only slightly less than the Kindle Fire. The cameras have a 5 MP resolution and there is also a mini HDMI connection. Lots of other features.

Amazon User Rating 4.5 / 5

Visit Amazon for more details

 

 Not found what you are looking for? Visit here for a wider selection

All opinions in this review are our own, however, we may be compensated should you make a purchase through the links provided.

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Christmas Decorations

If your kids are anything like mine, then putting up lots of Christmas decorations is one of the key ingredients in creating that perfect festive feeling.

For our family there are two sorts of Christmas decor, bought and homemade and we like to have a nice combination of both.

Like most families we have lots of  nice but fairly inexpensive decorations, but over the years we have built up a collection of unique Christmas ornaments as well.

Some of these have been gifts, some we have brought back from our travels and some we have bought because one of the family thought they were particularly attractive.

Every year we try to add a few more of the special ones to the collection so that we can slowly move away from the mass produced cheap ones.

One store that I’ve only just come across, that stocks an excellent selection of unique decorations the dotcomgiftshop. Their hand painted wooden Christmas tree decorations are perfect for decorating in a traditional way that will give a real Dickensian feel to your home.

 

 

 

I also like their retro 1950s Advent calendar. Behind each date is a  little drawer, opened by a red ribbon, which you can put sweets or toys in. Perhaps its best feature is that it can get used Christmas after Christmas, so once bought, you need never buy a new one.

It’s also handy if you have more than one child, because instead of having to buy them an Advent calendar each, you can put multiple sweets or trinkets in one drawer.

 

 

As I mentioned at the beginning, we like to have a combination of both bought and homemade Chrsitmas decorations. The homemade ones come from things we make at home as well as the ones that the kids make in school in the run up to the Christmas holidays.

In addition to these, you can now get homemade Christmas decoration kits from the dotcomgiftshop as well. Two that especially come to mind are the Christmas paper chains and the homemade decoration kits, as both are things that the kids can get involved in making.

The handmade Christmas paper chains have some really festive designs and putting them together is something we can do together as a family. They’re not hard to make so even very young children can get involved – and they are much better looking than just cutting up strips of coloured paper.

Homemade Christmas DecorationsThe other homemade decorations are the Christmas craft sets. There are lots to choose from including  wooden peg soldiers, angels, Christmas owls, Mr and Mrs Santa, Elves and my personal favourite, pictured on the right, the make your own nativity scene kit.

The other nice fact about the dotcomgiftshop is that the prices are very reasonable – some decorations are as low as £1.00

For more information and to look at their full collection visit dotcomgiftshop.com.

 

All opinions in this review are our own, however, we may be compensated should you make a purchase through the links provided.

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