Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gifts for the future beauty blogger

When my niece announced that she would like 'fashions, jewels and make up' for Christmas I knew she was a chip off the old bloke. As she is only just approaching five it did mean that it wasn't the time to start introducing her to 'real' make up yet I still wanted to get her some nice products. 

There was recent outrage when Katie Price's daughter appeared in a full face of make up and I'm certainly not judging. I agree children should be children for as long as possible but equally if my niece wants to apply a lipgloss like her mum and auntie over the weekend then I'm happy to indulge that with supervision.

I decided the first thing Violet would like is a make up case. She loves going through my make up drawers so this would give her her own. I found the Cinderella Sparkling Make Up Case at Toys R Us and it would set up our trip to Walt Disney World in January perfectly as we have lunch booked with Cinders and her Princess Pals. 

The case itself is a little plastic and clunky but perfect for Violet. In the case is a tiara, ticking off that jewels request also, and a few small 'child friendly' make up items. 

Next I moved onto Marks and Spencer where I'd already seen their Cinderella collection of beauty products. Tempted myself this was the perfect way to indulge Violet and I. There was also the bonus of a three for two offer at the time of purchasing so I managed to be quite savvy with my spending.

First I picked up the Cinderella Bubble Bath which I cannot find online but have seen it in stores since, along with some cute lip balms in various designs - a perfect stocking filler. These sorts of character bubble baths are available all over the place and whilst I can't comment on their quality - it's been some years since I used one - the Snow Globe design will be a big hit with Violet I'm sure.

Next was the Cinderella Eau de Toilette. Again I've not opened and can't vouch for it's smell (I'll update you on Christmas Day) but if it stops Violet diving into my Chanel and Jo Malone stashes I'll be happy.

The final product is the Cinderella Lip Palette which I'd have been tempted to buy for myself. A wonderfully designed palette of six lipstick shades, all of a nude lip variety which Violet can experiment with to her hearts content. On opening the cardboard packaging there's a die cut image which just adds to the magic.

As mentioned these products are not showing online at Marks and Spencer although the Cinderella Bumper Book Gift Set is which I'm tempted with just for the packaging alone.

I can't wait to give Violet these gifts, especially it was only last weekend she was telling me how she wants make up for Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chanel Christmas Gifts & Holiday Collection

If you don't know what to buy me this Christmas feel free to visit any Chanel counter. Anything wrapped in Chanel packaging will bring a smile to my face.

Firstly Chanel perfumes. I can still remember one Christmas as we gave out presents round the tree, my dad presented my mum with a small gift which my brother and I exchanged a look over because of neither of us had been the ones to purchase it.

Inside was Chanel No 5 one of mum's favourites scents in the bottle with the lid that lifts out so you can dab just like old Hollywood movie stars. It turned out she'd mentioned it one night whilst they were watching tv and dad had taken himself to a local pharmacy to purchase.

Now mums taste whilst still for Chanel she's aiming even higher and is now a fan of the Les Exclusifs range. A few weeks ago we were out shopping London and visited the Chanel counter at Selfridges. She wanted to pick up her regular favourite, Coromandel she also wanted to try Misa, the newest addition to the collection.  Luckily for mum I decided that I'd treat her to one for her Christmas gift and it inspired this post.

Moving onto my Chanel fragrance favourite, Coco Mademoiselle and a gift mum brought me for my birthday. The ultimate in luxury is the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Shower Gel. At £35 this quite possibly is the most expensive shower gel I own but it's bloody lovely and for those looking for ways to treat themselves with Boots Advantage Card points this might be just the thing. As is the Chanel double mirror, both a great price and something to make you smile when you apply your lipstick.

I'm not the type of person to save things 'for best' but there is something about this sort of product that makes you not waste on a day in the office or sitting on the sofa watching Netflix. The perfect occasion to use with abandon was my holiday to Dubai and over the festive season when there's an abundance of parties and nights out.

And finally we turn to some gifts I brought myself from the Chanel 2015 Holiday Collection. On one hand I think I buy very little make up for myself but on the other I find myself talking about some new Chanel purchases in as many month (the previous being the Entrelacs palette from Chanel).
As a beauty blogger I'm lucky enough to be sent many products which means my make up collection far exceeds my friends and likewise being immersed in the beauty blogging community you know of every new release and realise they occur across the brands with some frequency. For that reason a product or new range has to really excite me to see my banging on the door at opening time to make the purchase. Chanel's Rouge Noir Absolutment was one such collection.

It appeared across all the blogs and the palette was constantly playing on my mind. I dithered over these posts, I literally wanted it all and the launch date was in my diary. The date arrived, I realised with my advantage card points and a top up from the bank account I could definitely justify buying at least three items, maybe even the four I wanted. I skipped down to one of the larger Boots stores with a Chanel counter. Admired the range in all it's glory on it's very own stand. I waited patiently for an assistant to help me only to be told that there was a waiting list for the products and they were not released till the following week. In my best I'm a beauty blogger I know best (and more importantly I had stalked and confirmed that release date many times) I queried this but was told they would not be sold and I could only return. I promptly stomped down to House of Fraser and with no time to waste made my purchases there.

As is often the case with new purchases I am still currently in the phase of admiration and yet to dive into the beautiful packaging. Sometimes I wish I was that person who saves things untouched but I will give in eventually and shall report back.

The Rouge Noir Eyeliner I have used once or twice is makes such a subtle change from your regular blacks and browns. I've always loved Chanel eyeliners, there kohls really are something else and this is a purchase I'm definitely glad to have made.

As you read this post my mum and I are strolling around Covent Garden, which now home of many beauty outposts including Chanel, who knows what I could come home with.

What are your favourite Chanel products?

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November Beauty Favourites

Once again I feel the need to 'apologise' for my late November favourites despite the fact I'm still wading through similar videos and blog post as I battle the Blog and Vlogmas numbers piling through my subscription boxes.

Anyway let's talk about the products, all make up this month and first is the Lorac Pro Palette, famous in blogger circles not least because it's unavailable in the UK. I was lucky enough to receive the palette for my birthday way back in April from a friend who moved to the US. After my initial euphoria at finally owning the much lusted for palette for one reason and another it ended up in the back of the make up drawer. I do seem to love an eyeshadow palette these days but it's only recently I have had the confidence to dive in and experiment, with successful results. As I've mentioned before as a working blogger, and by that I mean my day job is very much outside the beauty and blogging communities, my make up is applied bleary eyed in the mornings before jumping on the train to work. Yes you heard that right I'm managing to put my make up on before I get on the underground. Application must be quick and I'm not looking for dramatic smokey eyes, just a pleasing result and any mistakes would have to be seen in public or at best result in running late for work as I remove and start again.

I can't offer any new information on the Lorac Pro Palette than you might already know. The packaging is slim cardboard which isn't to everyone's tastes but I think it's faired quite well for being thrown around if not a little grubby. I think the magnetic closure is pretty impressive and I've travelled with this palette without any damage to speak off.

There's something about the colour offering in this palette that balances a choice of neutrals without being bland. Sixteen shade, half mattes, half shimmers it's hard to go wrong. Champagne and Taupe seem to be my most used although I've dipped into most colours at some point or another. White doesn't get much love and Black and Expresso are used more for lining purposes. As I plan for my trip to Florida in the new year this is definitely a palette I'm considering coming along with me.

I realise as I continue with my next product, Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Plum Rose that this is a rather 'US' centred favourites. Not intention but possibly subliminally thinking ahead to my US wishlist. Milani is another brand that we do not find in the UK. Whilst I know that some US brands are finding there way to UK shores and/or are available to buy online I still prefer to shop in store whilst on holiday. So many US imports are on the local high street now I almost miss the days when you could buy something that 'no one else had' in the UK.

Climbing down from my soapbox the Milani Colour Statement Lipsticks are a product I had clearly heard talked about from American YouTubers and found across many a Pinterest dupes board. Milani Plum Rose is a dupe of Mac Craving. On one of my last trips I know I had a long list of cheaper Mac dupes that I decided to buy by way of trying the US drugstore brands whilst experimenting with colours I might want to purchase in the higher end Mac versions.

As it happened in most cases I was more than happy with the dupes and whilst I've not said goodbye to a lipstick in many years I'm slightly concerned to notice the Plum Rose bullet diminishing rather rapidly and maybe it's time to stock up.

Plum Rose is as the name suggests is the perfect Autumn/Winter berry shade. It's a wearable colour and makes a nice transition to the season and a change from my usual reds. I think I wore this all last Autumn and have done again the past months. It's a non drying, creamy formula which reminds of a more heavily pigmented Mac Creamsheen. Many are not a fan but I love the heavy Watermelon scent

I'm sure if I found this on the UK high street I'd turn my nose up at its cheap and tacky gold packaging but as they say, never judge a book by it's cover.

Continuing with the US drugstore purchases is the Maybelline Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles. This kept popping up both by way of an excellent under eye concealer and much talk about the Brightening and Neutralising versions only available in the US - in the UK we only see two versions, Nude and Light. My overwhelmed state at seeing all the products on offer and everything I wanted I ended up coming home with the Eraser Dark Circles in a colour I could've picked up in Boots. So it was a fail on the exclusive shopping front but when I finally decided to try something other than my favoured Fit Me Concealer also by Maybelline I was impressed. And dare I say this might almost, almost be better than the Fit Me?

Everyone moans about the sponge applicator and the hygiene benefits but overlooking the state I leave my brushes in on occasion as I'm not actually using this on blemishes, my skin/hands have been cleaned before I dive in with concealers it's not something I'm concerned with. And if you're really worried apparently Maybelline have added some effort to ensure this is antibacterial ingredient. I've managed to keep it as 'clean' as can be with no complaints.

As an under eye concealer this is the dream. As I hurtle towards the end of my thirties anything that doesn't settle into the fine lines that are starting to appear gets a massive thumbs up from me. And those sleepless nights, you would believe I've slept like a baby when I use this.

I realise this post is getting rather long so I'll try to rapidly whip thought my final two items; Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Foundation* and NYX Blusher* in Mocha. The foundation I've talked about in detail here and my grumbles aside I've been reaching for this on an almost daily basis. May I  also take some pride in this almost flawless Instagram Selfie #nofiler when wearing this foundation.

Mocha blush, unlike you would expect is a dusky pink matte blush that is a strong competitor for my favourite Mac Peaches & Cream from the Osbourne collection. This gives a subtle colour to the cheeks which makes a great shade to wear whether by day or night when stronger lip colours or smokey eyes are at play.

If you made it to the end of this post thank you, do share your recent favourites.

*this post contains press samples

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

For the Foodie | Garlic Grater Kit

I recently headed down to Winter Wonderland and amongst the most bizarre 'souvenir' I came home with was a Garlic Grater Kit. And I bloody love it. As such I wanted to share with you today because I can honestly say if I had opened this on Christmas morning I would've been overjoyed.

If it's not clear already I love garlic. I throw garlic in anything and everything, me and Edward Cullen would not get on. I always have a stash of frozen garlic in the freezer but there's nothing better than fresh garlic but my god do I hate washing the garlic press after it.

This rather pretty blue garlic plate will make those worries a thing of the past.

You may already be familiar with this item as it's one of those gimmicky looking products that you can see being demonstrated at Ideal Home and Food Shows and the like and at this time of year within the Christmas Market at Winter Wonderland.

My mum actually has one of these so when we saw the display I knew I couldn't leave without it, the biggest decision was choosing what pattern I wanted.  She even said, they're brilliant you must have one.

So what do you get in your Garlic Kit. Well first let me tell you anything you want to grate; fruit zest, ginger, nutmeg, anything, can be used with the spiky porcelain plate. You simply rub your chosen food around the plate and and hey presto you have what you need. Quick as a flash and no squeezing and faffing with garlic presses. And that tube, the quick easy way to peel garlic. Just pop the glove inside the tube and role. Honestly it's like magic. Again another reason I rely on frozen garlic is the whole peeling of the cloves and how fiddly it can be and the accompanying smell on my hands.

And finally that little brush, your method to clean off your plate and/or deposit your gratings into whatever dish you are rustling up.

Call me crazy but this is just the perfect gift people don't even know they need.

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Book Review | Good Things to Drink

Over the years I have given and received hundreds of books as Christmas presents. Even if someone is not 'a reader' I think there is a book out there for everyone. Good Things to Drink* as the name would suggest is a perfect gift to that friend we all have who enjoys mixing up some cocktails at parties.

My Lyan is the man behind White Lyan and Dandelyan bars in London and his book is not just a rehash of your usual Margaritas or Cosmopolitans although there are some newer versions of old classics you may recognise.

Wanting to bring cocktails to the home you are given 60 recipes to try that are set out in categories such as Morning Buzz, Winter Feasting and Friday Nights. You're taken through the equipment in wonderful scribbled drawings and text and may I add the recipe of Reimagined Bucks Fizz looks perfect for Christmas morning.  

With one recipe even including Sugarsnap Peas this would be a great hostess gift or maybe to that couple you always struggle to buy for. I can imagine groups of friends having great fun at parties over the New Year as they work their way through trying our the drinks. 

If you're looking for a slightly different idea for the cocktail lover I think this could be it. 

Good Things to Drink is published by Frances Lincoln and available to purchase here

*this post contains press samples 

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Book Review | Good Things to Drink

Over the years I have given and received hundreds of books as Christmas presents. Even if someone is not 'a reader' I think there is a book out there for everyone. Good Things to Drink* as the name would suggest is a perfect gift to that friend we all have who enjoys mixing up some cocktails at parties.

My Lyan is the man behind White Lyan and Dandelyan bars in London and his book is not just a rehash of your usual Margaritas or Cosmopolitans although there are some newer versions of old classics you may recognise.

Wanting to bring cocktails to the home you are given 60 recipes to try that are set out in categories such as Morning Buzz, Winter Feasting and Friday Nights. You're taken through the equipment in wonderful scribbled drawings and text and may I add the recipe of Reimagined Bucks Fizz looks perfect for Christmas morning.  

With one recipe even including Sugarsnap Peas this would be a great hostess gift or maybe to that couple you always struggle to buy for. I can imagine groups of friends having great fun at parties over the New Year as they work their way through trying our the drinks. 

If you're looking for a slightly different idea for the cocktail lover I think this could be it. 

Good Things to Drink is published by Frances Lincoln and available to purchase here

*this post contains press samples 

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Jo Malone Ginger Biscuit is Back

I don't know who it is I have to thank for telling me Ginger Biscuit had returned to Jo Malone but as I do know as soon as I heard I planned a trip to the Regent Street store to treat myself to a bottle. There's the snag, it's back, but only in the new London flagship store along with nine other favourites.

Ginger Biscuit was part of the Sugar & Spice Collection way back in 2013 and was an instant sell out and only available in their smaller 30ml bottles. Favouring the scent at Winter, and let me tell you it's the perfect fragrance for the holiday season, I was able to avoid using it too quickly but now with an 80ml bottle in my position I can use with wild abandon.

This was a surprising hit for me as I'm not usually a fan of sweeter fragrances and Ginger Biscuit 'captures the scent of just-baked cookies spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and dipped in caramel' so that is certainly a list of ingredients good enough to eat.

For an extra £4 you can pick your own choice of bottle top. There are all manner of colours but I couldn't resist copper as I felt it matched the scent perfectly.

What is your favourite perfume for the Christmas period.

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Bratz Study Abroad Doll Review

Back in September I announced that Bratz are Back and as we start thinking about what to buy our little ones this Christmas I thought I'd share another doll from the Study Abroad range. 

As part of the Bratz relaunch they wanted to introduce their friends to different cultures and traditions as they Study Abroad. Jade Study Abroad in Russia* comes complete with clothing and accessories which my niece Violet dived straight into whipping off Jades boots and putting her leggings one and making sure her hair was brushed underneath her furry hat.

The range of accessorises in the Study Abroad range includes a suitcase which actually opens and closes to store the change of clothes and I don't know about Violet but I certainly wouldn't mind a full size version of that suitcase! 

As you can see the Study Abroad range was a big hit for Violet and you have a choice of Brazil, China, Mexico and even Great Britain. Even better news is that Argos appear to have slashed their prices so you can pick up the dolls for £16.49 at the moment.  

It's definitely a thumbs up from Violet.

*this post contains press sample

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

November Beauty Empties

This months empties saw me say goodbye to some favourites so with a heavy heart (melodrama at it's best) let's start with last months favourite products my Toni & Guy Shampoo and Conditioner* duo. I always feel like my hair gets used to certain products and it did seem the case with this duo. My love of them in the beginning and frequent use of them, unlike others when I swap brands, made it seem towards the end it wasn't doing it's job. Don't let that put you off though as they were great at first.

When it was time to repurchase the Garnier Micellar Water I decided to give the version for Sensitive Skin a try. I don't have sensitive skin per say but thought I'd see if there was a different to the product. For me I saw no difference so I will probably return to the original formula. It's pink. It looks prettier what can I say.

Another Wet Brush bites the dust and am I glad that Boots is stocking them now. I can see myself amassing numerous advantage card points and stocking up on 3 for 2's when the time comes I do go through these so quickly. I have added one to my Christmas List and was using another brand of brush in the interim but I couldn't live without it so I repurchased. This is definitely my must have of 2015.

Another product that I can gain advantage card points on and I was sorry to see go was Liz Earle Superskin Face Serum*. As a beauty blogger I'm lucky enough to receive numerous products and as such have an extensive stock of products to pick and choose from. For this reason when I come to the end of the product, certainly in cases where I have an instant replacement I'll rarely be seen scrapping the bottom of a jar. In the case of this serum when the pump dispenser was struggling I unscrewed the pump and would use the tube to  scrap out what was left so I could use every inch. It may have a £48 price tag but it's totally worth it. As a day time serum I loved using this. Somewhere between a cream and gel texture it was light enough to use in the day and left my skin looking near perfect. This was a real hit for me and the only reason I will not be repurchasing immediately is that large stash of skincare I mentioned.

The Balance Me Pure Skin Facial Wash was a disappointing product for me, for personal reasons only. A magazine freebie and one added to my rotation as I try to use the products I have before buying others. I first starting using this during one of my holidays and because of the reasons I will get to I decided to use it back home so I could move it on quickly. The first problem was the scent. It was too floral smelling for my tastes and in the morning I definitely need something to enjoy to avoid getting the day off to a bad start. The next was it's texture. Most of my cleansers and balms have a lighter more creamy, gel or balm type. This felt thick and similar to a shower gel if I were to compare it too anything. Other than those personal niggles it did the job and didn't cause any adverse effects, only maybe to my mood. 

Without harping on about this excessive stash of mine, mascaras are another product I seem to have too many off. I'm sure they're supposed to dry out quickly and I certainly remember back in my use and replace YSL Mascara days I was repurchasing constantly but even this diddy Benefit Roller Lash didn't seem to disappear quickly. I have taken to using one mascara (give or take different event requirements) on a daily basis in an effort to use what I have up and mascara are one of those products I can instantly see whether I do or don't like. Benefit Roller Lash I did like and would be lining up to repurchase now if I could. It gives the perfect day to night lash effect, not thick nor heavy but enough to fan and lengthen the lashes. 

And we end with Hurraw! Lip Balm* a minty balm that has sat alongside me as I watched TV at home. Organic, vegan and moisturising and leaving soft lips with a cooling sensation after application. 

What have your beauty empties been this month?

*this post contains press samples 
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Saturday, December 12, 2015

For the Travelling Blogger

I don't travel around with my laptop as much as some and always just thrown it into whatever bag I may be using. After my trip to Dubai when I relied on a dustbag from one of my handbags I thought I needed something sturdier for my next trip.

Days before I flew to Ibiza I traipsed around the West End looking for something and was left empty handed. Everything I saw was either masculine or ridiculous expensive. I appreciate there is a cost to protecting ones laptop and if that is the case that's fair enough but I couldn't believe I couldn't find anything suitable under £20.

STM, a leading Australian bag and case designer got in touch (frustratingly after my high street search!) and asked if I'd be interested in trying out their line of bags called Grace. The Grace range, inspiring by the US Navy Admiral 'Amazing' Grace Hopper who helped develop the first programming language that revolutionised the computer range is bloody brilliant and perfect for women who are looking for functional products that balance simplicity and style.

I'll start with the product that I liked 'least' and that was the Grace Clutch*. I say I like it least but that is because on the occasions I've used it's not been fit for purpose but I'd say if you're travelling with numerous memory cards etc you'll be a big fan of it.

With two zippered pockets which when folded meet with poppers its the perfect size for those extra bits and pieces you may be travelling with. I tried getting my laptop cable in the clutch and it was too big so that was where it failed for me but as something to store memory cards, headphones, your ipod or similar it'd be ideal as well as smaller cameras.

The next two products I really love and am impressed with. Starting with the Grace Sleeve*. Available in numerous sizes to accommodate your Macbook. This sleeve is approx £30 which is the price I ended up paying for a far inferior sleeve when I reached desperate measures. Sleek and simple by design with a lovely snug, soft interior to protect your laptop. It's design means that you can happily carry your laptop under your arm if wanting to lighten the load in your bag or slide into your hand luggage.  Never has my laptop been so taken care of.

The Grace Deluxe Sleeve* is really something special and when I used it recently when visiting my parents with my laptop my mum picked it up and queried where it had came from and was rather jealous and I'm sure she'll be wanting to borrow it next time she is travelling with her laptop.

Whilst still following the slim design it has just enough additional space for a notebook and and other items, you could if you wish use this as a 'regular bag'. At £40 this is at the higher end that I or you might want to spend but I can see the justification in the price.

All the bags are available in neutral colours and what I appreciated was that whilst targeting women they didn't head straight for pinks or florals but kept things professional whilst adding some colour. I'd happily walk into a meeting with any of item from the Grace range and expect to be taken seriously.

If you have a friend or family member that you've spotted lugging their laptop around at risk of damage this could just be the perfect Christmas present.

Do you look after your laptop?

*this post contains press samples

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Winter Lip Care with Sorefix

I was recently offered the opportunity to try SoreFix a new lip balm which has a formulation to prevent and treat cold sores and as a suffer I was intrigued. Of course I don't want to tempt fate and do still have my trusty cold machine to hand should one appear, but if there was something to prevent them I definitely wanted to try it.

Now I'm calling this a lip balm but it really is more of a cream and something I've not been using regularly as I might a lip balm but more like a treatment or item in my skincare regime. It's in a small tube which is inoffensive and wouldn't create cries of 'ew you have cold sores' if someone were to see it.

As I've said whilst a sufferer of cold sores I haven't had one for a month or two (touches wood immediately) so I can't speak for how it treats them, although I will update later should the need arise, but I can say it might be adding this as part of my daily routine could be the reason.

First Sorefix advise you recognise the triggers to your cold sore and thereby can up the ante with regards to application. Fatigue, general illness, particularly dry or chapped lips or for women that time of the month can all be causes of cold sores so it makes sense to increase usage.

Sorefix do advise you apply the cream as a preventative method 3- 6 times a day. I think that is something to be decided by the user. It is a small cream and a tiny dot goes a long way but I think you'd power through this with some speed applying at that rate. For me its not always possible to have it about my person and especially on a daily basis when I'm wearing lipstick but to apply in the morning and perhaps once or twice of an evening is possible. Of course my opinion may change if an unsightly cold sore appears.

What I am impressed with is despite it not feeling like the usual balm I'd use to moisturise my lips it leaves them feeling soft for far longer than I expected.

Sorefix can be brought online or at your local Savers store so it's worth looking out for. Even better sign up now and you'll be able to receive a free sample to try. I'll be sure to update you on it's treatment of cold sores, but fingers crossed I won't have to.

*this post contains press samples

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