Seize the day…

…while the sun is shining! Summer is here at last, and this weekend promises to be the hottest the country has seen this year. Which makes this the perfect time to think about snapping up a last-minute bargain and spending a night or two at Three Abbey Green. There’s so much going on this week…

Saturday 17th May sees this year’s Walk of Life in aid of the Royal United Hospital’s Forever Friends Appeal. Walkers will tackle all or part of the 21 mile route from Devizes to Bath over the course of the day, so if you want to help out a good cause, come along and cheer at the finish line!

Another great way to make the most of the promised sunny weather is this weekend’s Widcombe Art Trail. Explore a less well-known area of Bath and soak up some artistic inspiration.

Bath International Music Festival opens tonight, 16th May, for a ten-day  “voyage of discovery”. Music from around the world exploring themes as diverse as Sleep and the Seven Deadly Sins is sure to leave you with plenty to think about, and a song in your heart.

If your musical taste is more nostalgic than exploratory, be sure to check out New Jersey Nights at the Theatre Royal. A celebration of the music of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons from 19th-24th May, it looks to be a toe-tapping treat!

Have a look at our online booking page for last minute availability and treat yourself to a day or two away – with so much to see and do, there’s really no excuse not to!

Spring Has Sprung!

As the year marches forward and Spring starts to look like it has finally sprung; as the weather gets better and the traffic gets worse, throw caution to the winds, hop on a train and come to Bath – you’ll be surprised at how little it can cost…

The lovely folks at First Great Western offer their passengers some very tempting 2 for 1 Offers on a selection of Bath attractions, including the American Museum, Prior Park Landscape Garden and even Sally Lunn’s!

Get your fill of history by visiting some Seriously George-dropping Museums with great offers designed to highlight Bath’s rich cultural inheritance as the epicentre of the Georgian social scene.

As we are a member of the Bath Independent Guest House Association, our guests have access to Big Ben (short for BIGHA Benefits), a great discount scheme that could potentially save you pots of money on a wide range of tourist sites, cafes, restaurants, spas and tours. All you need to do is present your Big Ben card at participating businesses, and the city is your impressively-discounted oyster! Here are a few of my favourite offers:

Thermae Bath Spa – for regular readers, it will come as no surprise that this is top of my list of Big Ben offers (I do love a bit of spa time – but then, who doesn’t?). Show your Big Ben card when you pay for a standard spa session and you’ll get three hours for the price of two! Blissful…

Bath Aqua Glass – with 2 for 1 admission at their Theatre of Glass on Walcott Street, plus 10% off in their Abbey Courtyard shop, this is an easy way to indulge your tasteful and artistic side and take home a striking souvenir of your visit to Bath.

The Roman Baths – the reason Bath came to be and has endured for so long; transport yourself to an age long past for a little less with 10% off all tickets.

Bizarre Bath Comedy Walk – never let it be said that Bath is a city that takes itself too seriously! Get a different perspective on our beautiful city and have a jolly good giggle along the way. But getting £1 off your ticket with the Big Ben card is no joke!

Wookey Hole – 25% off admission is a great reason to venture out of Bath and visit the 50,000 year old natural caves. Spooky…

Avon Valley Railway – a great way to see more of Somerset, not to mention a glimpse into our industrial history. Kids go free with the Big Ben card, and I’ve yet to meet a small boy (or girl, for that matter) who doesn’t love steam trains!

With all these savings on great things to see and do, there’s never been a better time to visit Bath and stay at with us at Three Abbey Green.

Easter, come rain or shine…

Whether it’s egg-hunting or bonnet-making or just the sheer joy of having two weeks off school, we can all cast our minds back over Easters past and find a fond memory or two. So what better way to help your kids make some fond memories of their own than to bring them to Bath?

Family Fun at The American Museum – on the 10th and 17th April 2014 admission to the American Museum will include the chance to make some music or get crafty with workshops for the whole family to enjoy. Don’t be shy!

If you’re thinking of visiting the Victoria Art Gallery on 10th or 11th April, bring the kids along to ‘Go Quackers’ and ‘Down on the Farm’ where they can make Easter and farmyard-themed crafts while you take in the Victoria’s beautiful collection. Places cost £4 per child (including a glass of squash and a biscuit!) and should be booked in advance.

The Holburne Museum’s Explosive Easter Eggstravaganza promises ‘a cracking good time!’ on Sunday 13th April, with a series of activities exploring where art and science collide, to celebrate World Heritage Day – look out for other events around the city, including the mustering of Roman Legionaries on the green below the Royal Crescent!

Hands on Archaeology at The Roman Baths on 16th April is a great opportunity to get a feel for the lives of the ancient Romans by handling some of the artefacts from the Roman Baths collection.

From 10th to 12th April the Egg theatre presents Not Now, Bernard, a play about a boy, a monster and two busy parents saying “Not now, Bernard!” Based on the picture book by David McKee, little monsters aged two and up – not to mention those of us who remember the book and McKee’s other iconic creations, including Mister Benn – will love it!

And if you fancy heading a bit further afield, take a trip to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. From 7th to 21st April there will be a variety of family activities on offer, including Easter Trails that could earn you a tasty chocolate prize; and on 16th and 17th April the museum plays host to the Robo Challenge ‘Robot Wars’ event, where you can see custom built ‘bots battle it out in the arena and take part in a family robot-building workshop!

Whatever you choose to do this Easter holiday, come rain or shine, we look forward to seeing you at Three Abbey Green.

April Sunshine – save 10% off room rate

If you book a room 48 hours or less before your stay during April we would love to offer you 10% off the cost of your stay. This offer is available on any room in the guest house or Abbey View self-catering apartment, Sunday – Thursday inclusive. Please mention this offer at time of booking. If you book online just quote ‘April Sunshine’ in the guest comments section. This offer is not valid with other discounts. Please ring for full terms and conditions. Offer ends 1st May 2014.

Get your wellies on and brave the elements…

Well, we’ve had floods and gales, snow and hail; the gods of weather and storm have done their worst so far this year. But are we daunted? No! Enough hiding away at home – time to wrap up and get out there!

Prior Park – an obvious choice in the spring or summer when our green and pleasant land is, well…green and pleasant. But there’s nothing like striding across a rainy meadow or hearing the wind singing and moaning in the trees to give you a unique and memorable experience and change your perspective. Open seven days a week, Prior Park can be reached from the city centre via the Number 1 bus service (towards Combe Down) or the City Sightseeing Skyline bus tour.

Kennet and Avon Canal Path – The historic Kennet and Avon canal incorporates the River Kennet between Reading and Newbury and the River Avon between Bath and Bristol, with 57 miles of purely man-made canal in between. The Long Distance Walkers’ Association has a great route map that will help you explore, come rain or shine.

Bath Skyline Walk – As the name suggests, this is the perfect way to get out from the midst of our famous seven hills and see Bath from a completely different viewpoint. If you want to skip the initial hill climb, hop on the City Sightseeing Skyline bus to the American Museum, then follow the route on foot. There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air!

And just in case you’d rather not face the outdoors just yet…

Bath is blessed with a wealth of museums, celebrating a long roster of influential historical figures who made their homes here or were known for spending the social season in fashionable Bath. The Bath Preservation Trust runs a number of museums celebrating our city’s rich societal and cultural heritage, including the newly revamped No.1, Royal Crescent. Completion of their ‘Whole Story Project’ has seen a renewed interest in the museum, which now includes the house’s original service quarters so visitors can ‘see how the other half lived’. Whether you’re a Georgian Jane Austen buff or an Edwardian Downton Abbey fan, you’re sure to find food for your imagination at No.1.

“I have looked further into space than any human being did before me,” said William Herschel. The Herschel Museum of Astronomy is another of the Trust’s properties, and a personal favourite of mine. No.19, New King Street was once home to William Herschel and his siblings, Alexander and Caroline, a family of musicians who developed and shared a life-altering passion for astronomy. The house where Herschel made the discovery of the planet Uranus now commemorates his many profound contributions to astronomy as well as offering a glimpse of middle-class family life in the 18th Century.

As part of National Science and Engineering Week, from 14th to 23rd March, the Herschel Museum will be hosting a mini exhibition. Bright Stars, showcasing the work of students from The Royal High School, is free with standard admission to the museum.  Perfect for any budding scientists in the family!

Whether you want to shelter from the elements (science-pun intended!), soak up some culture, or venture forth and breathe the free air, there’s never been a better time to visit Bath and stay at Three Abbey Green.

Get in out of that weather…

I’ve been reliably informed that the UK has just emerged from The Wettest January Since Records Began, and as I wring out my sodden trouser hems, I can well believe it. With the rainy weather showing no signs of abating, you might be forgiven for thinking there’s no point in going anywhere – but you’d be wrong! I’m here to direct you towards a wealth of fun things to do that don’t involve traipsing about in the wet.

Fun for the Whole Family

The Roman Baths – While the most iconic image of the Roman Baths is that of the open-air Great Bath and Terrace, there’s plenty more to see inside and under cover.  Offering audio guides in a variety of languages and an activity tour that’s just for kids, you can be sure that all the family will enjoy being transported back in time to discover what the city of Bath is all about.

Ora et Labora – Speaking of time travel: why not continue your journey through the history of Bath by jumping ahead a few centuries to the medieval heyday of Bath Abbey? Immerse yourself in Bath’s Monastic heritage at Ora et Labora, who now run ‘Medieval Making’ workshops where you can learn brass rubbing, candle-making and other crafty skills that would have been employed by the Benedictine monks of Bath.

The Little Theatre – If you’re here for the weekend and you have a budding movie buff in the family, head over to the Little on Saturday for their Kids’ Club, which promises “a family-only matinee of a specially chosen children’s film, plus fun activities, at pocket-money prices”. This weeks’ film is The Muppets Take Manhattan, followed by Moshi Monsters: The Movie on 1st March. Don’t forget the popcorn!

Curl Up by the Fire

If you’re looking for a more grown-up way to wait out the wind and rain, here are a few quiet hideaways where you can do just that:

The Porter – Recently redeveloped from the ground up with cocktail bar, restaurant, lounge bar and function rooms spread over four floors, you needn’t go far once you’ve staked out a table or a comfy sofa. Food is served to the whole house from the ground floor restaurant, Clayton’s Kitchen, courtesy of dual-Michelin-starred chef Rob Clayton. Save some room for dessert!

The Raven – If your heart yearns for a pie and a pint in a good old-fashioned English pub, then look no further. The Raven is a family-run free house that retains its cosy and welcoming atmosphere whether at its quietest or full to the gunwales with locals and visitors who are in the know. I’ll see you at the bar!

The Crystal Palace – A mere stone’s throw from our front door, The Crystal palace is the ideal candidate to be your local during your stay at Three Abbey Green. With a brand new menu and an impressive array of real ales and wines, there’s something to tempt every palate. The Sunday Roast is not to be missed!

And finally…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who dropped the ball when it came to Valentine’s Day this year, but don’t worry; it’s not too late to earn a few brownie points (by baking actual brownies, in my case)!

As we all know, you can’t go far wrong with flowers. Anemone Florists on Pulteney Bridge is ideal if you want to wow the one you love.

Charlotte Brunswick chocolate shop is right on our doorstep, offering “chocolates, collected and curated”. Build your own gift box selection and maybe your special someone will even share them with you…

Independent Spirit is a great place to discover something new, whether you’re looking for craft beers or the perfect G&T. Smooth…

And of course, don’t forget to book your room at Three Abbey Green!

Winter Warmers…

This is the time of year when I find myself really having to fight the urge to hide away at home with sundry books and large mugs of tea. Not because of the cold weather – we’re all used to that by now! – and not because of the crowds of Christmas shoppers and sale-season bargain-hunters. No; my urge to hibernate is due to the dark mornings and darker evenings. As we creep towards midwinter, it seems that those brief flashes of sunlight in the middle of the day are few and far between, and it’s all too easy to succumb to the temptation to snuggle up on the sofa the moment you get home from work and not budge for the rest of the night. But we must resist!

There’s so much more we could be doing, out there in beautiful Bath! And if it involves a delicious dinner or a mug of mulled wine and a mince pie, so much the better. With that in mind…

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

To commemorate the birth of their beloved author on 16th December 1775, the Jane Austen Festival, Bath present “an evening of Austen delights” with dramatic readings by Adrian Lukis, Caroline Langrishe and Rosie Lomas on 14th December 2013. The event will be held at The Masonic Hall, Old Orchard Street, which beautiful building was Bath’s original Theatre Royal; the very same venue attended by Austen herself in 1799 and mentioned in her first completed novel, Northanger Abbey. With mulled wine and mince pies to complement the entertainment, this is sure to be a warming winter evening out – tickets are available from Bath Box Office now!

Food, Glorious Food!

We’re anxious to try it…

If, like me, the highlight of your evening is dinner, then you’re in luck: there are so many delicious restaurants in Bath, there’s no excuse not to eat out. We really are spoiled for choice! That said, everyone has their favourite cuisine, and it helps to know what to look for…

Just picture a great big steak –

Fried, roasted or stewed;

Oh, food! Wonderful food!

Marvellous food! Glorious food!

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with steak. It is my absolute favourite food: a sure-fire way to get me to agree to just about anything. For those of you who take after my own heart, we are lucky enough to have several really good steakhouses in Bath:

  • The Herd on Argyle Street is relatively new, but building a solid and well-earned reputation for great food and friendly service
  • Miller and Carter has only just opened on Milsom Street and is creating quite a buzz – I have dropped a few hints as I’m keen to try it for myself…
  • The Hudson Bar & Grill is a little further afield on London Street – but the ten minute walk back to the guest house is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to pudding!

What is it we dream about?

What brings on a sigh?

Piled peaches and cream, about

Six feet high!

Of course, I recognise that not all are as carnivorous as I am. For those among you who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet – or who just want something wholesome and a bit lighter – look no further:

  • Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen is practically on our doorstep. Just around the corner on North Parade Passage, what was once Demuths has been renamed and rebranded but serves the same delicious food as ever, with an emphasis on fresh produce and exciting flavour combinations.

Whether you want to lose yourself in literature or indulge in a hearty meal with good company, Bath has something tempting to offer, so venture forth! Why stay at home when you could treat yourself to a few days away and stay at Three Abbey Green?

Counting Down The Days…

Winter is beginning to quest its icy tendrils across our green and pleasant land, as rain pours down and breath fogs in the chill air. So what better way to warm the blood than pounding the pavements in search of the perfect gift for that special someone? That’s right folks; it’s that time of year again! The time when we heave our quiet sighs of relief:  the kids have settled into their new classes at school; summer holidays and the resultant diet and exercise crazes are but a dim and distant memory; the garden and its denizens are winding down for a season of quiet slumber… But what’s this? Mince pies and Christmas puds on the supermarket shelves already?!

Every year it seems the preparations for the festive season start a little earlier; and every year I find myself frantically scrambling to buy gifts at the last possible moment – after several months of shop-avoidance, which typically begins in October  with the scornful rolling of the eyes at the sight of Christmas stocking fillers fighting for shelf space with Hallowe’en costumes and pumpkin lanterns. But this year it will be different. No don’t scoff, I mean it. Because this year, I have a plan.

A phrase that has struck fear into the hearts of spouses everywhere since time immemorial. You can picture it can’t you? “It’s alright darling: I have a plan!” While they may turn out to be my famous last words, I’m currently entertaining cautious optimism that said plan might just do the trick. You see, I have determined that I can and will source everything I need for a sparkling festive season from within about two hundred yards of the desk at which I am currently sitting. The secret of this cunning scheme? The Bath Christmas Market.

If last year is anything to go by, the market promises everything from local cheeses and exotic condiments for my brother the foodie, to personalised toys for my baby cousins; from silver jewellery for the girliest of my friends, to handmade notebooks for the fellow writer; not to mention something utterly frivolous – and possibly fluffy – for my lovely mum. What more could we ask for? With stalls ranged around the entire vicinity of the Abbey, including Abbey Green itself, the market really does start right on the doorstep of Three Abbey Green, so if you come here to shop you won’t have far to go!

Of course, the market is by no means the only place to look if you are searching for a unique gift or souvenir of your visit to Bath. We are well known for our wealth of big name brands – Southgate, for example, has become a label-junkies’ destination in its own right, with Debenhams, Apple, All Saints and Hollister sitting cheek-by-jowl, to name but a few. But these high street heavy hitters may not be to everyone’s taste. Lucky then that Bath is also blessed with many smaller independent retailers, who pride themselves on offering something a little different:

  • For books, try Topping & Company  – great for signed first editions as they have a full calendar of author events and signings throughout the year.
  • Rossiters is a great place to shop for newlyweds, first-time buyers or anyone looking to beautify their home.
  • If you’re looking for a keepsake gift for baby’s first Christmas, or a unique piece of jewellery for the lady in your life, The Silver Shop is the place to go.
  • And for the environmentally conscious, discover Kiss The Frog Again: a treasure trove of recycled and up-cycled gifts, homewares and accessories.

Of course, if shopping isn’t your cup of tea, November could still be your month for a getaway to Bath – the annual Bath Mozartfest runs from 8th to 16th November 2013, with a diverse program of daytime and evening concerts at various venues, including the Assembly Rooms and Bath Abbey. Take a look at the Three Abbey Green availability page to book yourself a last minute Hot Deal, and I’ll see you there!

And relax…

As the nights begin to draw in, it seems Autumn has arrived and is settling in to get comfy. I love this time of year: bright, windy days and crisp, starry nights; Harvest Festivals and Hallowe’en… So what better way to wave goodbye to the Summer and thumb our noses at Winter as it creeps over the horizon, than to embrace this season of restful completion and treat ourselves to some pampering?

Now I don’t know about you, but to me nothing says ‘pampering’ like a bit of spa time. As you might expect, Bath plays host to a number of spas. Though it is no longer possible to bathe in the Roman Baths, you can still take the benefit of the steamy, mineral-rich waters that give the city of Bath Spa its name, by visiting the Thermae Bath Spa.

There are some great package deals available, ranging from the early-evening Twilight Package (a great option for the budget conscious at just £42 for three hours), up to the super-indulgent Thermae Experience, a day-long delight which promises to take tender, loving care of every bit of you from face to feet, for £189. If you’re thinking of joining us for a mid-week break, the new Tea For Two package might be just the thing for you and a friend or partner to spoil yourselves – available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon throughout October and costing £80, it sounds rather tasty if you ask me!

If you prefer to build your own spa experience, all treatments can be booked individually in conjunction with a two-hour, four-hour or full-day spa session – and if all you really want is to have a soothing splash about in the lovely hot water then you don’t even need to book! Spa sessions are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and start at £26 for two hours.

With a discount card from the Bath Independent Guest House Association’s BIGHA Benefits scheme (or ‘Big Ben’ for short), you can also get a three hour spa session for the price of two hours, for up to four people! We provide the Big Ben card to all guests at check in, and it’s valid at lots of other lovely places too, including The Spa at the Royal Crescent Hotel. Though it does not use the mineral spring waters for which Bath has been renowned throughout the ages, The Spa at the Royal Crescent Hotel has the advantage of being smaller and more intimate, with a carefully chosen scheme of decor incorporating natural stone, wood and bamboo, designed to engage all the senses in harmony.

With a range of offers available to non-residents of the hotel, this could be your perfect retreat, whether you are celebrating or just in need of a little escape. I particularly like the look of the ‘Mid-Week Relax & Revive’ – next time I need to recharge my batteries I’ll know where to go! The Spa at the Royal Crescent Hotel has a varied menu of treatments, all of which can be booked individually; from manicures and pedicures using JESSICA nail products,  to ranges specially tailored towards men and mums-to-be; so there’s bound to be something for everyone! The Spa’s ‘Big Ben’ offer allows complimentary spa use when you spend £60 or more on treatments. Are you tempted? I know I am…

If you have a car and feel like venturing a bit further afield, consider the Aqua Sana spa at Center Parcs in Longleat forest (near Warminster). Hidden away in the heart of the forest, you could not ask for a more tranquil or romantic setting for a day of gentle self indulgence. Aqua Sana is open to non-residents, offering a range of day or evening experiences including a Chocolate Indulgence Spa Day for Two – my mouth’s watering just thinking about it! Most packages include refreshments of some kind and the Vitale Cafe restaurant has a full and varied menu.

Additional treatments can be added to any spa package after booking – it is advisable to do this in advance, especially if you have your heart set on a specific treat, as places are limited and certain treatments will sell out quickly. That said, it’s never too late if you want to add a little something at the last minute – just ask when you arrive as there are often special deals and last-minute openings to be snapped up!

Once you’re feeling well-rested and pampered to the nines, why not treat your creative side to an excursion with Walk and Draw Bath? Professional artist and photographer Andrew Lansley will teach and guide you to create your own artwork and lead you around Bath to explore some rare treats, such as tea in the gardens of the Royal Crescent Hotel or lunch at The Bath Priory. Andrew is happy to create a bespoke itinerary to suit any budget, helping you to get a unique view of Bath and really make the most of your time in our beautiful city – not to mention having your own artwork to take home at the end!

Walk And Draw Bath is part of the ‘Big Ben’ discount scheme, offering 10% off all adult tickets – so what are you waiting for? Get scribbling! And don’t forget to book your room at Three Abbey Green.

Fill your boots…

Those of you who have stayed with us before will know how proud we are of our award-winning breakfasts here at Three Abbey Green. From fresh Bath Bakery bread to free range eggs from The Good Egg Company; The Orchard Pig pressed Somerset apple juice to Cherry’s yummy homemade marmalade and Simi’s delicious jams – we believe breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, and you won’t want to start the day without it!

One of the great things about sourcing local homemade preserves is that we’re never sure what delightful new concoction we will be presented with next! Whatever is in season, Simi can take it from bush to bottle to breakfast in no time flat and it’s sure to taste great. Provenance is important to us, so it’s lovely to know that the same hands that delivered the latest batch to our door also picked, preserved and packaged every jar:

“Generally I make the jam within 24 hours of the fruit being picked…We don’t have a freezer or a car so I pick, carry home, make a batch in my maslin pan, bottle it then deliver it, mostly on foot”, says Simi. “I usually send a photo of the jam making process as well so that you can see your jam from tree/bush to jar.”

Simi's Jam

Here is Simi’s photo detailing how she makes her blackberry and apple jam. It really is as tasty as it looks!

“I’m from Azerbaijan in Iran and we have a long tradition of preserving,” Simi continues. “I run preserving workshops and classes from my home.  I make a lot of different Iranian pickles too. There are many sharp pickles flavoured with herbs and garlic which I grow myself.”

Simi’s website is full of delicious recipes as well as information about her cookery classes and workshops, which run during the daytime (10am – 2pm) or evening (6pm – 10pm). Classes for groups of 4 or more cost £60 per person, or for groups of 2 or 3, £90 per person. One to one tuition is available for £150. I can’t wait to try my hand at one of Simi’s tasty recipes – I fancy whipping up some courgette pancakes; thanks Simi!

If you’re inspired by Simi’s ‘bush to bottle’ production method and want to try it for yourself, there are some great places near Bath where you can pick your own fruit and veg – a great excursion out of the city that’s sure to end with something tasty on the table!

  • Chosen Hill Farm, Chew Magna (30 minutes from Bath by car). Family run pick-your-own farm overlooking Chew Valley Lake, offering a range of soft fruit and vegetables as well as a farm shop selling local produce.
  • Druid Farm, Stanton Drew (also about 30 minutes’ drive from Bath). Farm shop and pick your own with 25 different vegetables and fruits as well as flowers. Call on 01275 332125 for more information – and don’t forget to check out the Stanton Drew stone circles while you’re in the neighbourhood!
  • Manor Farm, Shepton Beauchamp, near Illminster (around 1 hour 15 minutes from Bath by car). A bit further afield, but set in a beautiful location and off the tourist trail. A taste of the real Somerset!

And finally, if you want to give the cooking a miss and would rather prefer to see and be seen, it wouldn’t be September in Bath without the Jane Austen Festival! The festival runs from the 13th to the 21st September 2013 and includes the familiar staples of the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade and the Regency Costumed Masked Ball, as well as walks, talks, workshops and entertainments, from etiquette and dancing lessons to a Regency Costume fashion show and a particularly intriguing walk entitled ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: An Adventure’! I can’t wait for that one…

2013 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice; so this year’s festival is sure to be, to quote another well-beloved English author, “a party of special magnificence”! I look forward to seeing you there.


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