Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…


Oh what a lovely family holiday we had over the school May break! Although it’s not exactly relaxing when travelling with a baby, (so much stuff to take!), I think I speak for us all when I say that it restored our inner sense of well-being. It was just nice being together and not having to worry about work, school or nursery and a ‘change is as good as a rest’ so they say. 

We travelled down to Lincolnshire for the week which is somewhere we’d never been to before. It’s such a pretty place with a romantically English countryside and coastline. 

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View from the top of Tattershall Castle

We were blessed with beautiful weather for the whole time we were away which was amazing. It’s possibly the first time EVER I think for it not to rain for some part of a week away in England.  Some days the temperature soared to the dizzy heights of 20-23° which was practically tropical!!  We did lots of adventuring around with activities the children would enjoy but we also savoured some quieter gentler days walking around  Tattershall Castle and Gunby Hall Estate and gardens.

I do so love a pretty garden – I’m not much of an outdoor gardener myself (its more patio pots and house plants in the KCACOUK household) but I really appreciate the wealth of colour and the peaceful calming of the mind that a beautiful garden can provide. 

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Stunning poppies in the grounds of Gunby Hall Gardens

I especially love large gardens where you have to wind your way through the hedgerows and flowers. Little G and I had a great time exploring!

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We also all enjoyed glorious day out at Huttoft Beach  which is a large sandy beach with proper sand dunes (just as a beach should be).  

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At six years old Little G is getting more and more adventurous with going into the sea which delights me and terrifies me in equal measure because I’m ever the over cautious mother…  

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That said her joy at running in and out of the waves and splashing around made my heart very happy!  

And we actually saw a wild seal! We didn’t know that Lincolnshire is a bit of a seal watchers paradise. Apparently it boasts one of the largest breeding colonies of grey seals in the UK.  The one we saw was way out to sea but you could make out it’s head popping up now and again which was very exciting. Unfortunately it was too far away to take a photo of but I did take some snaps at Skegness Seal Sanctuary of some gorgeous baby seals which we all thoroughly enjoyed watching and learning more about.

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Our day out at Skegness was a busy one full of the noise and excitement of rides and amusement arcades much to the joy of both children – but who doesn’t love soft play areas and popping in the pence on the tuppenny falls?!?

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We also enjoyed the Skegness Aquarium, where Little G was overjoyed to have her face painted with a glittery mermaid and Little Miss was just entranced by the jellyfish tube! It was followed by ice-cream and obligatory donkey rides on the beach. Little G is just mad on animals / horses / unicorns so this was a definite highlight for her! We were all shattered at the end of that jam packed day I can tell you.

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And did I fit any crochet in? You bet ya! I did take a gianormous bag of yarn with me much to my husbands disbelief (horror) when I kept giving him more stuff to pack into the car (you surely don’t need all this? Well actually yes, yes I do). And on the still light evenings when Little Miss decided to sleep and in the early mornings when we were awake (but no one else was) I took full advantage of hooking away. 

I can’t give away too much about the projects I was working on (though all will be revealed here when ready) but I’ll give you a little glimpse at my work bag where you can see some lovely bright primary colours of Stylecraft Special DK.

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All too soon it was time to come home, back to reality, rain and mountains of laundry. I’m completely counting down the days until we can go away again!

Until next time! Keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Yarn Shop Day | 6 May 2017



Yarn-Shop-DayHave you heard about Yarn Shop Day? It’s an annual celebration supported by Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines which aims to celebrate Britain’s much-loved independent wool shops.  This year Yarn Shop Day took place today, on the 6th of May, in hundreds of yarn and haberdashery stores across the country. 

I don’t know how I’d missed that this day existed previously (!?!) but as soon as I learnt of it’s existence I thought I really should pay a visit to one of my local participating shops on the day.  I personally think it’s incredibly important to support any local businesses and shops – but I don’t need an excuse to visit a yarn shop… So anyway earlier today I headed off to The Little Shop of Crafts which is luckily just down the road from me.

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The Little Shop of Crafts is a lovely little shop which stocks a great range of yarns from Sirdar, James C. Brett and other Designer Yarns, it also has proper crochet cotton from Coats. As well as yarn they cater for cross-stitchers and have a range of haberdashery items and fabrics. 

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Today the shop celebrated Yarn Shop Day with a charity raffle, 10% off all yarn purchases and a crafternoon group session full of lovely ladies.  

Little G, who wanted to come with me to the shop, held court with the ladies telling them all about the birthday party she had been to (hence the streamers on her top)…and pretty much everything else that was happening in her life – which allowed me plenty of time to shop!

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The crafternooners were busy hooking up some of the special freebies which were designed especially for this years event. Debbie Bliss designed an exclusive (Knitalong) blanket pattern that was given away free, along with Rainbow the Unicorn (knit by Sachiyo Ishii) and Coral the Mermaid (crochet by Sarah Shrimpton) amigurumi patterns.

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Little G loved the ones that had already been made and was delighted to be given the opportunity to name them (and in case you were wondering she named the unicorn Sparkle and the mermaid Lorelai!)

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And the fantastic thing is that even if you missed Yarn Shop Day the patterns will be available throughout the year so if your local store doesn’t have them, you can get them from a different store later if you’re visiting another town or city.

And what did I buy…well I just had to get myself one of the new Sidar colourwheel yarn cakes (Shade 201: Colourama) because I drooled on it a bit, kidding, but it is most delicious isn’t it – and so squishy! I may have hugged it a bit on the way home…just need to decide on what to make with it.  I also got some other little bits and bobs I needed and the most amazing unicorn fabric which I’m hoping I can transform into a dress similar to the one I made Little G when she was younger (this one).

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Both Karen and Tracy, the proprietors of the shop were lovely and helpful and I want to say a HUGE thank you to all the crafternoon ladies who chatted to Little G – she had a great time. Unfortunately though she doesn’t quite understand that they are not going to be there every day – she’s already asked when she can go back and see everyone!

lyys_300x300Well we both thoroughly enjoyed our first Yarn Shop Day! I think it’s now going to be an annual event in my calendar. Craftiness always deserves to be celebrated so whether you love crochet or the two stick-ed thing Yarn Shop Day is a must for your diary.  So if you can next year please do go along and support your local yarn shop.

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Autumn Days


I love this time of year! I like the fact that it’s time to get out the hats, scarves and gloves. It’s time for comfort food, bonfires, conkers,  Halloween and the red, orange, greens and golds of autumn leaves. 

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I know some people find Halloween offensive but I have always viewed it as a bit of harmless fun where children can dress up, play games and enjoy themselves.  It’s believed that Halloween actually comes from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season, and as we slip and trip into the misery, coldness and ice that is winter (you might guess I’m not a fan!) why shouldn’t we have a bit of fun I say!

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Little G absolutely loves Halloween it’s probably her most favourite day (after her birthday) and she pretty much talks about it all year round asking how many days until the next one is (this usually starts the day after the last one has ended).  For her Halloween is totally about dressing up and playing jokes. As it’s been half term week here the children have been off school so there have been plenty of places to visit which offer Halloween / Autumn activities.

We took a trip to Moseley Old Hall with my mum and dad to do some pumpkin carving which was good and messy. The excellent thing about pumpkin carving is the innards being transformed into warming pumpkin soup served with crusty garlic bread (yummmm).  

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Children were encouraged to dress up and the house and woods were great fun for exploring.  They have a really awesome tree house in the woods and Little G enjoyed building some dens out of logs, rope and stones with her grandparents.

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It was the best sort of Autumn day, a bit chilly but dry with a bright blue sky and crunchy leaves underfoot.   I think we all enjoyed a walk in the crisp air to blow the cobwebs away!

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Another day we went with some family friends to a trick or treat village where Little G was a cute cat and Little Miss an adorable pumpkin.

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The hat pattern is the Pumpkin-Top Earflap Hat by Kimberlie Goodnough. I’ve made it a few times now, it’s such a fun hat to make, quick to hook up and just perfect for Halloween / Autumn.  I did change the pattern slightly; I didn’t add the ear-flaps on this occasion and just added a scalloped trim to finish it off. 

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The yarn I used was Stylecraft Special Aran in Spice and Meadow which are just perfect pumpkin colours. 

So now Halloween has passed it’s on wards to bonfire night! I need to finish off some new winter hat designs for my girls before the weekend so I’d better get on with it as hats unfortunately (as much as it would be amazing if they did) don’t crochet themselves!

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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Yarndale: woolly and wonderful!


Soooo Yarndale 2015…I know it was last year but I decided you still need to know about it because it was such an incredible experience.  If you like yarn and crafts then this is defiantly the festival for you.  yarndale20poster202015

Why are we only just hearing about last years event now I hear you ask…well when I visited Yarndale last year I was actually suffering from terrible morning sickness.  As that then developed into a challenging pregnancy where, as I mentioned before, I ended up hardly doing anything unless I had to it has become this very tardy blog post!

Anyway back onto Yarndale.  If you haven’t heard of Yarndale before it’s described as a “creative festival celebrating all things woolly and wonderful”. Held over two days in the quaint market town of Skipton, North Yorkshire, Yarndale brings together hundreds of talented exhibitors with a passion for all things woollen.

It was a gorgeous sunny Saturday morning in September when I went to Yarndale and once I arrived I just couldn’t believe my eyes – this festival is seriously HUGE! 

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So much to see at Yarndale!

The festival is held in Skipton Auction Mart with exhibitor stalls set up in the pens where rams, sheep and cows would be held pre-sale. Everywhere you look there is lovely yarny goodness!

Many of the stalls were just amazing! 

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Wonderful stall photo taken with kind permission and no filtering of the colours has been made! It was this amazingly colourful!

Everywhere you looked there were little treasures.  Like the main entrance for instance which was bedecked with beautiful crochet bunting...

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The bunting, contributed by lots of people from all around the world, was made for the first year of Yarndale (which is now in its 4th year).

This sort of collective crochet has fast become a symbol of Yarndale with new projects collated (to raise money for different charities) each year.  In 2014 hundreds of mandalas were donated…aren’t they glorious!

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The 2015 project was called Flowers for Memories and it involved people making flowers to raise money for Alzheimer’s…the finished display was just amazing! Just check this out…

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I’ll talk a bit about the 2016 crochet project in a moment…

As well as the stalls there are several crafty workshops that you can book. As I really wanted to immerce myself in the spirit of the whole festival I signed myself up for Making a Project Journal by Messengers Cottage Workshops which was great fun, working with paper and leather which we then hand stitched to make a little journal at the end.  

I also signed myself up for an Advanced Crochet workshop; I’ve never been to any sort of crochet class so I was quite looking forward to what this would be like. The project was to make the Yarndale Sundial Purse, designed by Maureen Mcilwraith, with Drops Nepal yarn which is a lovely, chunky and luxurious yarn (65% Wool and 35% Alpaca) that I had never used before.  As you can see the final lined purse was a  fun make…

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I was so busy at Yarndale with workshops and looking at all the stalls that I forgot to take loads of photos and by 5 pm my feet were seriously tired from all the walking round – my mind was also in a bit of a whirl from all the creativity congregated into one place. I really did enjoy my day at Yarndale and definitely hope to go again in the future.  And of course I couldn’t leave without picking up some wonderful goodies for myself!  

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Roving, Knit blockers, giant crochet hook and Bert the Sheep pin and bag! Such awesome goodies to play with and use!!!

And finally I must tell you about this years collective crochet project.  I was too late in the game to join in with the previous years projects and I can’t make it to Yarndale this year but I really wanted to take part in adding to whatever this years collective. For Yarndale 2016 the theme is little Woolly Sheep in honour of the auction market where the festival is held. “Little Woolly Sheep” is a crochet pattern designed by Lucy of Attic24.

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You can find a full picture tutorial as well as a PDF pattern to download on Lucy’s blog HERE and more details on the Yarndale site HERE.  Closing date for sheep to arrive is FRIDAY 9th SEPTEMBER.  

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May I introduce to you my little Baa-bara (see what I did there…)

My little amigurumi sheep, made up from scraps of double knit I had in my stash, is winging its way over to the Yarndale peeps now. There is just something so fun in adding to something on a grand scale and I can’t wait to see some finished pictures of the finished flock.  I’m sure it will be an awesome sight!

Hope you have enjoyed hearing about my adventure at Yarndale. Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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TOFTfest 2016


So flicking through my latest copy of Inside Crochet magazine I saw that yarn company TOFT were celebrating their 10th Birthday and to mark the occasion they were to host TOFTfest.  The day was billed as fun for all the family and as they are based in Warwickshire, which is a couple of hours away from me in Staffordshire, I thought I’d take the KCACO.UK clan along to find out about all things TOFT.

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I’ve got a golden ticket! (Okay peachy coloured ticket…)

If you haven’t heard of TOFT yarn before they manufacture high quality alpaca and wool yarn and knitwear here in the UK from British sourced luxury fibres.  And even if you aren’t familiar with TOFT yarn as a crocheter you may very well recognise the name of the founder of TOFT, Kerry Lord, who designs (almost other things) the fabulously cute amigurumi book series Edward’s Menagerie.

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So back to TOFTfest…There were alpaca themed craft activities for adults and children, a NEW book launch and talk by Kerry Lord and alpaca walking for those that fancied it (which Little G certainly did!). Unfortunately my camera broke on holiday (sad times) so the only photos my husband and I were able to get were on our phones so not of the best quality…

We were really lucky with the weather on the day we went, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the alpacas were doing alpaca type things and looking cute and everyone seemed to be in a good mood (that’s the British weather for you!).

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TOFT Alpaca Farm, Warwickshire

I just loved the TOFT farm studio.  It’s pretty much a heavenly place filled with yarn and little amigurumi hanging from the ceiling…

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Blake the Orangutan says hello!

I say little amigurumi; one of the most amazing items we saw was a gianormous flamingo (called Sophia) which is used as a show piece. In her talk Kerry explained that Sophia had been completed in only 72 hours (by several crocheters) and that they were literally sewing up the head before their stall opened – just an amazing piece of work. Below you can see Little G, for scale, sorting out Sophia’s feet which had been scrunched up and she thought she should put them right again! 

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Sophia the Great getting a pedicure by Little G

My highlights of the day were listening to the talk from Kerry about her new book..

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Avid listeners! I’m somewhere in the middle…

and having the pleasure of meeting her where she was lovely enough to sign a copy of her new book. 

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The lovely Kerry kindly signing her (my) new book for me.

The alpaca walking was definitely a highlight of the day for Little G.  She made friends with Tornado.  Alpaca’s always look as though they are smiling to me they are just so cute and fluffy! 

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Little G and the most fluffily cute Tornado

I obviously couldn’t leave TOFT without buying some goodies – that would have just been rude!  

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Oooo look at all my lovely goodies!!

My lovely husband treated me to some of TOFT’s pure wool range which is scrumptiously lush. For those that like the look of this yarn it’s definitely a luxury item; perfect for a special gift for someone (or you!).  With it being wool yarn, rather than say acrylic, it’s not cheap but it is so nice for crochet as it has great stitch definition.

The wool yarn comes in 17 different colours, 10 naturals and 7 colours.  I chose the coloured palette initially (though I have purchased more hues since!) as I have decided I want to make a special amigurumi each for my girls for Christmas.

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DK Colour Bundle from TOFT Alpaca Shop

Little G loves parrots so Jack the Macaw from Edwards Menagerie: Birds will be project 1, and I think I’m going to make Georgina the Hippo for Little Miss as project 2 (as I already have the Edwards Menagerie book) – but more on that once I’ve hooked them up.  

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Seriously how cute is Georgina the Hippo!!

Plus I need to have a go at making up something from the Imaginarium…always so much to crochet and so little time!

We all had a great day out at TOFT and as you can probably tell I can’t wait to have a go at making up some of the menagerie – in fact I may go and start something now!

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx

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June in a Nutshell (Part 2) Holiday in Brittany | 2015


We spent some blissful days at the end of June in Brittany, France (again!) on our big family holiday.  I think we are falling in love with the Brittany region; the sun, the sea, the bread, the cheese and wine…need I say more!  

We were blessed with beautiful weather and we did lots of adventuring around the various nearby cities and towns. One of my favourite places that we visited was Mont Saint Michel, which for people that don’t know, is a magical island topped by a gravity-defying medieval monastery and is easily one of France’s most stunning sights.

keepcalmandcrochetonuk.wordpress.comYes we climbed all the way to the top, even Little G and let me tell you it looked an awfully long way down from the top!  The people at the bottom look like teeny tiny ant’s don’t they!

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So you remember me telling you about the Granny Square Crochet / Fabric Dress by Mon Petit Violon I was making Little G for her holiday? Well she wore the finished item the day we went to Mont Saint Michel.  I was really chuffed with how it turned out in the end especially as I’m the first to confess that sewing DOES NOT come naturally to me!

The pattern is very well written with clear written instructions and accompanying photos.  It comes in sizes 9-12 months and up to 3 years; as Little G is a very tall 4 year old I played around with the pattern a bit to match her measurements and used double knit rather than sport weight and a 4mm (US size G) hook rather than a 3.25mm (US size D) to help up the size.  

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The top half of the dress I made from Young Touch 100% Cotton DK from my stash which has sadly been discontinued (which is a shame as it’s lovely to work with).  The fabric for the dress part Little G and I fell in love with at a local haberdashery; it was so bright and summery it was just crying out to be made into a dress – and it matched the Young’s Cotton perfectly!Dress+Logo

What would a summer holiday be without a trip to the beach.  We had one full proper day at a pretty beach which Little G thoroughly enjoyed – the rest we were off gallivanting around Brittany.

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Other beach trips were to look for treasures such a unicorn horns (twisty shells) and other exciting things – we got quite a collection of lovely scallop shells.

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There was a most fantabulous pool / water-park at the place where we stayed so we spent many an enjoyable afternoon there all playing on the slides!  I think this is one of my most favourite pictures of the holiday – I love how much fun Little G and my husband are having just shines through the photo!

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We all enjoy exploring where we were and taking in the sites of Saint Malo, Zooparc Tregomeur, Village Gaulois and Perros-Guirec.  Though we did have a couple of chill days to recharge our batteries.  I did take my crochet with me and before the sun came up and the day got too hot I luxuriated in some peaceful hooky time with a cuppa.  I have to confess that I finished off Little G’s hat for her holiday actually on the holiday as I ran out of time before hand!  

When I first saw the Create A Cloche pattern by JoAnne Grimm Thompson I just knew it was the perfect hat I had been looking for! The pattern includes instructions for 2 different body styles, 2 bands, 3 flowers, leaves and stem with leaves.  I chose the solid version with the giant flower but I actually forgot to take the pattern with me so had to improvise on the leaf part which is why it looks a little different.  It’s a great pattern, clearly written and comes in sizes 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-2 years, 3-10 years, teen/adult and large adult and I know I’m going to be making more of these in the future!!

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I love how this hat turned out!! The pattern called for Lily Sugar’n Cream Solids & Denimwhich isn’t easy to get your hands on in the UK so I used Drops Love You 5 100% recycled cotton. It’s the first time I’ve used this yarn and it’s a super lovely Aran / Worsted weight cotton usually available at a fabulous price and comes in lots of bright / fun colours – I created the ombre effect using three different shades.  As it’s recycled cotton it’s also a nice environmentally conscious option for yarn.

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All in all we did manage to have a wonderful holiday whilst we were there and I’m so grateful for the time we spent away as a family.  I’ll end with a few more of snapshots…

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Wonderful memories!

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