7th May 2021
I mentioned last week that temporary boarding is growing but I never expected to have 30 children on a Wednesday night! We’re back to pre-Covid numbers. Hooray! It was a lovely evening and they were all happy and very well-behaved.
We’ve got a nice weekend planned for the boarders – the Gappers are arranging a scavenger hunt on Saturday and then we’re off to Go Ape on Sunday. Personally I won’t be swinging from the treetops; I’ll be watching from the safety of the ground!
30th April 2021
We are slowly and safely opening up the boarding house to temporary boarding again. Year 8s are in en masse! Year 6 and Year 5 are next and I’m delighted to say the bookings are flowing in! Watch this space for more announcements.
Last Saturday afternoon was a mixture of outside games and relaxing in Hurricanes. The children were quite tired after their first week back – it always takes a little time for us to adjust to the routine again. The gappers set up the theatre for a movie after tuck shop, and the children watched ‘Mission Impossible’. The boarders are so lucky to have their very own movie theatre, especially whilst the real thing is not available!
After a much needed Sunday lie-in and a roast beef lunch, we headed off to Bedgebury for some mountain biking. Mr Coles took one group on the scary black runs whilst I took the others on the slightly more gentle family tracks.
We’re all looking forward to many more enjoyable outings this term.
23rd April 2021
The boarding house is getting busier and busier and it has been a lovely week.
We had 20 in on Wednesday night. Eric R has joined us as a full boarder and we welcomed back Carlos and Umi.
The Year 8 girls kept us on our toes with ghost stories and jumped out from behind the curtains at me – they thought I was a Gapper! Matron Aly and Miss Everist are sharing the gap role in the girls’ end of the house, and both seem to be enjoying so far!
The weekend ahead will be planned as we go. Mr Coles is keen to take some boys to Bedgebury to do a long lap of black runs. I will probably stay here with others for a quiet day and enjoy the sunshine.
26th March 2021
It’s been a strange term but finished off nicely with a busy boarding house.
I am delighted to say that the 11 Year 8 girls have proved me wrong by settling down to sleep quickly and sensibly in Elephants dorm. I had Foxes dorm at the ready in case I had to move anyone but it was not needed. Well done girls, let’s hope this continues next term!
I’m delighted to report that all the boarders now have Vinehall duvet bags and the new overnight bags too.
Hopefully we can open up temporary boarding to other year groups next term – watch this space.
I hope you have a lovely Easter and that we are able to return to an almost normal routine at school next term.
12th March 2021
FINALLY we got to open the boarding house on Sunday evening and welcomed Chico, David, Clemmie and Isabelle back.
It was very exciting and felt like the beginning of term again; they all seemed to be very happy to be back. Woody was also very pleased to see them and have some much missed extra fuss.
We also welcomed Year 8 temporary boarders. Elephants was full of lovely, excited girls, who probably talked too much after lights out but were cleverly quiet whenever they heard Miss Otway or me coming!
We had a few Year 8 boys in too which was lovely; the house felt busy and vibrant again.
Fingers crossed we will be able to open up temp boarding to other years next term.
15th January 2021
I was so sad to start this term without my boarders. I am hoping they can come back to school as soon as possible.
However, we have been joined by two Aussie gappers, Tom Howard and Finn Harrison. They have made an excellent start and are getting stuck into life at Vinehall. I am very pleased that Miss Otway has returned for this term to help out.
Meanwhile I have been deployed to assist in the Pre-Prep with Year 2; it is very different from my normal job but I’m loving it!
11th December 2020
The last weekend of the Michaelmas term was almost the same as usual.
We had a great Christmas party with all the usual games: Chubby Bunny (squeezing as many marshmallows in one’s mouth as possible whilst still being able to say ‘Chubby Bunny’!); eating donuts without using your hands; moving smarties from one bowl to another with a straw; and the chocolate game (rolling a dice, dressing up, cutting up chocolate with a knife and fork and then trying to eat it before someone else rolls a six!) So a lot of chocolate was eaten and a lot of fun was had by everyone!
Sunday was much quieter; the children were allowed extra phone time and extra gaming. But it wasn’t all spent on screens – a hockey match was played on the astro, dodge ball in the sports hall and swimming added to the fun.
Sadly we are saying goodbye to Ines, Carmen and Javier this term – Javier promises to come back in Year 7 or 8 with his brother. We wish them lots of love and luck and hope they will keep in touch.
I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year!
4th December 2020
Last weekend was another great mix of home-based, fun activities. We used all the wonderful facilities we have here at school, from hockey on the astro to dodge ball and mat rounders in the sports hall.
The children also swam, polished their shoes, did their prep, practised their music AND cooked their own lunch which was very delicious special egg fried rice! They had a lovely game of kick the can in the warm sunshine on Saturday and a long walk around the golf course.
We are coming to the end of term with the all usual fun-filled Christmas celebrations, albeit some being slightly different this time, but there is definitely a sense of excitement in the air.
Sadly, we said goodbye to Miss Melluish on Tuesday. She headed for Sydney early as she will have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days before she joins her family for Christmas. Luckily we still have Miss Otway to hold the fort!
Our final weekend in the boarding house will be as traditional as possible but sadly without our usual trip to the Panto.
The children made mouth-watering shortbread biscuits with amazing icing and glittery decorations.
27th November 2020
Last weekend was a different kind of exeat! We tried to organise it so that it didn’t feel like a normal weekend.
On Friday night Mr Coles and Miss Melluish collected Thai and Italian takeaways for the children. This was eaten in Hurricanes on our laps in front of the TV, with fizzy drinks. The children had been promised treats including staying up late, extra phone time and lie-ins and they were very excited.
On Saturday, as soon as prep and music practice were complete, the boarders played on the astro and Mr Coles took them swimming. After tea the children had their extra phone time and plentiful tuck, then settled down for a movie.
Sunday was a whole different experience for everyone! I dropped Mr Coles, the gappers, children and Woody in Battle from where they walked across the fields and through the woods to our house in Catsfield. The head start gave me just enough time to put the chickens in the oven and prepare the vegetables before the children appeared at the door only 50 minutes later! They settled down in the sitting room to watch TV whilst I finished off the lunch. The children were as good as gold and ate heartily. Mr Coles made chocolate sauce for the ice cream and then we sat down to commence the Lego challenge. The challenge was to construct a vehicle, and for the next couple of hours they built amazing creations. David was the winner with his aeroplane, Carlos was 2nd and Javier 3rd. Well done boys – prizes will be awarded!
Wednesday Cookery Club
This week’s boarders’ cookery had a Spanish theme, much to everyone’s delight. The children made Croquetas de Jamon y Pollo, pan con tomate y trozos de queso Manchego.
20th November 2020
Another fun filled weekend for the boarders!
Last weekend started with Mrs Powis making candles with the children. This was very exciting and I had never seen candles being made before. They were flavoured with cinnamon and mandarin – lovely and Christmassy!
After lunch we all played mat rounders, including me and Mr Coles; it was a slight shock having to run but great fun!
I took a few children off to the art room to do some pottery whilst the others had free time; the weather was grotty so they stayed in but there were plenty of things to do including PS4, colouring mindfulness pictures, board games, phone time, table football etc. Before supper the children polished their shoes and were then rewarded with tuck shop and a movie.
On Sunday morning we headed up to the cookery room again and made chocolate fridge cake; it was scrumptious but we had to save it to eat after our delicious roast pork lunch.
The children also managed to spend a couple hours on the astro on Sunday. I am not sure how we fitted everything in, as after lunch was digested Mr Coles took the children for a swim – such a great way to burn off the sugar! We finished our lovely and action-packed weekend with an exciting game of Dracula – or murder in the dark!
This weekend should be an exeat but the children are staying safe and staying here. We have got some wonderful things planned.
13th November 2020
We packed so much in last weekend, it was fantastic fun for all!
On Friday night we had our usual hot chocolate and toast in Hurricanes followed by PS4 games.
As clubs are on hold, the boarders had a lie-in followed by the first of two PJ breakfasts!
We got the weekend’s prep and music practice done and out of the way before lunch then the real fun began.
I became Miss Newcomb (even got called it by Carlos a few times!) and we went to the cookery room and made Palmiers with fillings of mushroom, sundried tomatoes or cheese or, as in some cases, a mixture of the three!
While these were cooking Mr Coles took the children for a swim – they all loved being back in the pool.
There was then an impromptu hockey game on the astro (not sure where all the energy comes from) but after supper and tuck shop the children flopped in front of Spider man and silence fell on the house.
After breakfast on Sunday we all walked around the golf course and met Mr Powis and his boys in the ‘senior’ woods where they had lit a bonfire. It was so lovely and peaceful sitting by the fire whilst the children made camps, poked the fire and played.
After lunch we headed back to the bonfire, this time armed with marshmallows. After our roast beef and apple crumble the children were soon filled up with gooey marshmallows!
The Gappers then started the game they had planned. The children were put in three groups with 30 photos of random parts of the school or things in or around the school. The children took their phones and had to take the exact same photo; it was a race which Umi and Ines won in 1 hour 30 minutes. Proper prizes (not chocolate) where awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.
Somewhere on Sunday, and I am not sure how, we also fitted in shoe cleaning and then, as you can imagine, EVERYONE collapsed into bed happy and exhausted.
In Cookery Club we made bao buns!
6th November 2020
I hope you all had a lovely half term despite the awful weather. Mr Coles and I managed to get a few days away in our new camper van before the relentless rain arrived. We loved our new camper but soon realised we need to trade Woody in for a miniature Dachshund as space is limited!
Now we find ourselves in a second lockdown but the boarding house will run pretty much the same. We have already made a list of activities we can do here and the gappers are coming up with all sorts of fun games to play. As I’ve said many times before, the children are so incredibly lucky to have such amazing facilities here that we are spoilt for choice and will not run out of options!
If we continue to have crisp sunny days we can make the most of our grounds, the astro, tennis courts, the pond, golf course and bike tracks etc. When it rains we can use our very own life guard in Mr Coles, now the pool is up and running.
We celebrated David’s birthday on Wednesday; he’s now a teenager! Congratulations!
Finally the boarders’ hoodies arrived after a long delay (somehow blamed on Covid!) They are just in time for the cold weather and look very smart!
16th October 2020
Last weekend was one of the best so far this term. On Saturday Mr Pintxo, a pop-up Tapas kitchen, came and cooked our supper. We had our very own street party. The food was delicious and very authentic, which delighted our Spanish boarders no end! The menu consisted of Serrano ham & Manchego cheese served on a slice of bread, Chorizo a la sidra, Pintxo de Tortilla, Patatas Bravas and Churros with chocolate dip. We sat outside (with coats on) until it was dark. Luckily Mr Powis had lent us a heater and the twinkling fairy lights made our party very special.
The children persuaded us that they still had room for tuck shop after this and we all settled down to watch a movie.
On Sunday morning, after our PJ breakfast, we headed off to the Ashford Designer outlet shopping centre. The children shopped for an hour or so before we met up for lunch in Wagamamas. Mr Coles, who was on a bee keeping course over the weekend, was delighted to have missed our termly shopping trip!
On Wednesday evening we carved pumpkins in preparation for the Halloween celebrations on Friday.
The atmosphere in the house is lovely, the children are clearly excited to have half term in their sights. I hope you all have a peaceful and relaxing half term.
9th October 2020
Last summer, during a brief relaxation of quarantine rules, Mr Coles and I toured northern Spain on his motorbike. Whilst there we had the absolute pleasure of meeting up with two Vines, Elena (2016) and Isabel de la Lastra (2018). Their family have been boarders at Vinehall since 2006 (Maria Sunyer 2006, Gonzalo Sunyer 2010 and Sofia Sunyer 2012). We were treated to tea and a tour of Santilana del Mar with the family. It was so lovely to see the girls.
The boarders returned on Sunday night after the exeat, re-fuelled and happy to see each other.
It’s been a good week in the boarding house. By all account Mrs Barrett’s ‘games night’ is becoming very popular; so much so that I’ve been asked to buy more board games!
We celebrated Joshua G’s birthday with pizza and cake which was fun.
We have an exciting weekend to look forward to: Mr Pinto, a pop-up Tapas kitchen, is coming to cook for the children in his van on Saturday then a shopping trip on Sunday.
Burger and Chips! These super burgers were definitely of high restaurant standard, stacked with bacon, cheese, tomato, fried onions and lettuce in a brioche bun. They were served with healthy homemade oven chips.
A quote from Javier, ‘It was so much fun to make and really yummy to eat!’
2nd October 2020
Another lovely weekend at Vinehall! On Saturday morning clubs began again. I had three lovely groups of potters to keep me busy with most of my boarders which was great.
Despite the rather grey skies we piled into the minibus with Woody and headed back to Bedgebury for some mountain biking. The children loved it. After about an hour we split into two groups: Mr Coles took the die-hard dare-devils for some more trails and I took a group back along the family route to the café for an ice cream. After lots of fresh air, exercise and ice creams we went back to school just in time for supper.
After supper and tuck shop the children settled down for a movie and then flopped into bed thoroughly exhausted but happy!
On Sunday morning after our lie-in and PJ breakfast, Mr Powis took our chapel service. Fighting was the theme and we walked down the golf course to collect conkers for the impending battles.
The afternoon was spent playing games, relaxing and finishing prep. Miss Melluish made delicious caramel slices with the girls in my flat – not good for the waist line.
We now have another exeat to enjoy and the boarders are super excited that this has come around so quickly! Mr Coles will be enjoying his Christmas present from me this weekend – a bee keeping course!
Fairy cake making was excellent timing for Javier’s birthday. Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they saw the selection of sparkles and sprinkles for decoration! I hope they left enough room for supper, as they really couldn’t wait to try their creations.
25th September 2020
After a much needed exeat, all the boarders returned to school happy, rested and relaxed.
Sadly, in March we had to send our four Aussie Gappers home; they all said they’d be back but as time went on Miss Couper, Mr Brimson and Mr Collins decided instead to start their University courses early. The only Gapper to return was Miss Melluish and I am hugely grateful to her. Before she got to us she was lucky enough to do some travelling in the safe parts of Europe this summer.
Also luckily for us, Miss Otway, Mr Coles’ second cousin, was able to join us for the Michaelmas Term. Miss Otway will be joining the army to train as a nurse in January. She did a year gapping at a school in New Zealand, so is perfect for the job!
Looking out of my office window, I fear that our glorious summer is over. Due to lock down and the furlough scheme, it seems to have been the longest and sunniest one ever! However, one of the best things about Vinehall is our amazing facilities; so whatever the weather we can always entertain the boarders, whether it’s in the sports hall, on the astro or in the pool.
We are looking forward to heading back to Bedgebury Pinetum for an afternoon of gentle mountain biking this weekend.
We’re also happy to introduce our new boarding prefects Umi and David.
18th September 2020
I am delighted to announce that I have awarded Umi and David the huge honour of becoming Boarding Prefects. They have been so helpful and kind in the boarding house, embracing the school moto ‘To do our best for the benefit of others’
We have had a great week in the boarding house; everyone has settled in very well and any homesickness is now a thing of the past.
Last Saturday we took the children to Rye Water sports where they had the use of either kayaks or a paddle boards. One advantage of having such a small group is that I can now take part in the activities. Paddle boarding is now my new favourite activity; so much so that I am trying to persuade Mr Coles that we need one! It was a lovely afternoon, not too hot but hot enough for the children to jump in and out of the water and have fun.
Saturday evening was spent in our usual way, with our very own tuck shop and movie. The children have decided to watch every single Harry Potter film this term; so far they are on number 2.
After our PJ breakfast on Sunday morning we went to Chapel, where Mr Powis talked about being kind and considerate.
Carlos and Javier went fishing with Mr Powis and caught a large Carp in the pond – very impressive!
The children spent the rest of the morning on music practice and prep. In the afternoon I took the girls to the beach and Mr Coles and Miss Otway entertained the boys playing golf and riding bikes.
A perfect weekend.
11th September 2020
It is wonderful to have pupils back in the boarding house. This term we have a very small boarding house, but it is still a very happy and vibrant part of the school.
We welcomed four new children – Ines, Carmen, Carlos and Chico – who have settled into the Vinehall family way of life. Umi and Joshua returned and both were very helpful with our new boarders. David and Javier are on their way.
On our first weekend we took advantage of the weather. On Saturday morning we walked around the golf course; the children then got the bikes out and explored the grounds. After lunch we went to Bexhill for ice creams and a paddle in the sea.
On Sunday boarders enjoyed a few hours at Go Ape in Bedgebury, climbing through the trees and whizzing down zip lines. I took Woody for a walk in the forest and we all met up for lunch.
This week the children have been getting used to their timetables and the new routines, as well as enjoying more time on the bikes and playing outside.
We’re off to Rye Water Sports this weekend to do some Kayaking and paddle boarding, which will be great fun.
13th March 2020
The children were excited to be back after the exeat and are looking forward to a fun weekend of outdoor games and paintballing.
We’ve got Year 5 and Year 6 taster boarding to look forward to next Friday – an evening of fun games, an Easter egg hunt and arts & crafts. Book early to avoid disappointment!
This week the children made the most delicious Lemon Drizzle cakes. Half went down to boarders’ supper and, much to everyone’s delight, the other half was shared with the day children and staff at break.
6th March 2020
Our boarding committee have decided on some new ideas for the boarders, mostly concerned with food! The Chef has listened to their requests and everything has been implemented. These ideas included cheese and biscuits as an alternative to puddings, fruit, milk and biscuits in Hurricanes in the evenings, hot chocolate at breakfast and more salads. Our Friday night routine of hot chocolate and toast is very popular; it has also become a time for all the boarders to sit and chat to each other and staff without phones or TV getting in the way.
As it was ‘boarders’ choice’ on Saturday afternoon, that’s exactly what happened! They sensibly chose prep first, then some phone time followed by the sports hall. After supper Mr Coles took some boys swimming whilst the others settled down to a movie.
The children woke excitedly on Sunday for their trip to Bluewater. It was probably one of the most relaxing trips to Bluewater that I’ve done. This was largely due to the children behaving impeccably, returning to check in on time and being very grateful at the end of the day. It also helped that Mr C didn’t moan too much!
28th February 2020
The children returned happy and full of spirits on Sunday night. Some of our overseas children who unfortunately hadn’t been able to go home for half term were particularly pleased to be back.
The weather shows no signs of improving but luckily for the boarders they have such wonderful facilities here that no amount of wind and rain can curtail their fun.
Mr Coles should be pleased for once that we will be spending Sunday under cover in Bluewater! He has actually now admitted that as there is a new bicycle shop there he doesn’t mind it so much.
In Monday’s assembly Mr Powis announced two new members to our boarding committee, Poppy and Isabela. We had our first meeting last night in which some very helpful and constructive ideas were suggested.
I know it was a day late but we made all sorts of pancakes. Alex K had been asking for ages if he could make Crepe Cake, which I’d never heard of before. It involved layering crepes with sweetened vanilla cream and this one was finished off with chocolate sauce. Others just kept it simple with lemon and sugar. According to Miss Couper everyone devoured them at suppertime.
14th February 2020
Our boarders are so lucky as, despite the awful weather last weekend, they had plenty on offer to keep them occupied.
On Saturday they did actually brave the elements for a kick-around on the Astro. But the main attraction was an afternoon of gaming. This ranged from Mine Craft and Fifa on the PS4 to Monopoly and Battleships. We brought the weekly tuck shop forward so they had something to munch whilst playing. After supper all gadgets were put away and the children settled down to watch a film.
In Chapel on Sunday Mr Powis continued the theme of Candlemas. All the children had a candle to light from their neighbour and when we turned the lights off the effect was lovely!
The afternoon was spent in the spent in the sports hall with Bubble boys. This activity never fails to please and it’s jolly funny to watch too!!
We heard some particularly excellent news in the boarding house on Sunday morning, which was that Zuriel has secured a double scholarship to Tonbridge – Music and sport – clever boy, we’re so proud!!
Sunday evening was spent in semi darkness, as the power cut started at 6pm, luckily just after supper. We weren’t in total darkness as the emergency lights came on but the children had a lovely time playing board games by torch light.
I wasn’t particularly amused when the intruder alarm went off at 2.30am and Mr Coles couldn’t turn it off! I can now catch up on sleep as we are all looking forward to a restful half term!
7th February 2020
Saturday afternoon was a combination of prep, games and rugby watching. The activity was the Gappers’ choice so they arranged a disco after supper which was a huge success, thanks to their enthusiasm and inspirational ideas. The theme was ‘crazy and cool’ and everyone dressed up. Everyone danced, including me and Mr Coles (yes, very much Mum and Dad dancing, about which the boarders looked suitably embarrassed!)
On Sunday morning we went to Mountfield church where the children did a very good job of taking the service. Eight of them (Iciar, Marina, Kenisha, Daniel, Nono, Jimena, Poppy and Azilis) led the prayers, did the reading and explained Candlemas to the congregation, with Miss Couper’s help. They behaved really well and were a credit to the school.
We then headed down to Hastings for lunch in Pizzas Express followed by the film Dolittle, which was very good (I only slept through the first half!) Again the children behaved impeccably in the restaurant and cinema. Luckily for the children when we got back to school there was enough time to play a few rounds of Dracula!
To celebrate Chinese New Year we made some very tasty pork dumplings and duck pancakes. I was most impressed by the shaping and making of the dumplings, as none of us had ever made them before.
31st January 2020
After a well-earned rest last weekend the children came back full of beans on Sunday night.
It has been a relatively quiet week, with a few children away taking scholarships to their senior schools – good luck Izzie, Zuriel, Billy and Margot.
We have a nice weekend ahead, with one of the children’s favourite outings to the cinema and Pizza Express!
There will be Headmaster’s revision sessions for Year 8s during the week 3rd February and 10th February. There is a small charge for supper but the sessions themselves are free, so why not book a place for your child and alleviate all the stresses and strains of revision at home? There is also an option to flexi board, so no nagging and a night out! What’s not to love?
We are also opening the boarders’ weekend activities to day children. You should be receiving a booklet about these activities and how to book a place.
24th January 2020
I can happily say that all our new children are now very settled into boarding life; they have all made some very good friends and are enjoying themselves.
Last Friday we had our usual evening of games on the flood-lit Astro, followed by hot chocolate and toast in Hurricanes.
On Saturday afternoon the children had a few rounds of matt rounders in the sports hall, followed by some down time with games, PS4 and calling home. The house descended into relative peace after supper, tuck shop and once the movies were started.
We woke up to a beautifully sunny and frosty morning on Sunday, so after chapel the children played on the Astro again – they are so lucky to have this in their back garden!
After lunch we headed off to Urban Jump, where the children bounced on trampolines for about two hours! They love this outing; it is such good exercise and I just wish I felt young enough to join them!
I’d like to offer my best wishes to Izzie, Zuriel and all Year 8s who are currently getting ready to sit scholarship exams.
Now we are all looking forward to our first exeat and a good rest.
We made a very sweet and sticky Cornflake Tart, but to make ourselves feel healthy we also made some super fruity smoothies.
17th January 2020
I welcomed three new cooks to Saturday’s club and none of them had ever cooked before! We made deliciously cheesy macaroni cheese and a side salad. They had a go at making cucumber spirals and zigzag radishes to garnish the salad.
Our first weekend back was very relaxing – the children (and staff) needed a good rest after the shock of the new term starting again.
On Saturday we went roller blading in Eastbourne. This was very eventful – Chen, who hadn’t skated before, started off very wobbly but soon looked like a pro; the gappers started very wobbly and stayed wobbly; and poor Poppy had a nasty fall whilst racing against Izzie, though luckily nothing broken.
We then headed for the Chinese ‘eat all you can’ restaurant. Some of the children took this challenge very seriously!
Sunday was a much quieter day. Izzie read in chapel and Mr Powis talked to us about being kind and caring. We had a delicious roast lunch followed by a peaceful afternoon making airfix models (one of Mr Coles’ favourite activities) and painting ceramics. The weekend wrapped up with toasties, showers and nit checks!
10th January 2020
We had a staggered start to the term in the boarding house, with six children coming back on Wednesday. On both Tuesday and Wednesday night the house was full of excited chatter and it was lovely to see friends re-uniting to swap holiday stories.
We have been joined this term by Chen, Simon and Sandro who have made a great start and are settling in well. We are also being joined by Lara who has converted to weekly boarding for the remainder of Year 8.
Woody, our house dog, was particularly pleased to see the children on Tuesday night and he reclaimed his spot on the landing to ensure maximum strokes and pats!
We have also welcomed our four new gappers from Australia – Nathan Brimson (brother of Pat 2017), Archie Collins, Kate Melluish and Bella Couper. They have made a really good start and are showing all the signs of being an excellent team!
We have an exciting weekend ahead but with plenty of time to rest after this first busy week.
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