Latest Spectrum Newsletters
Five tips for going cabin bag-only
Published: 16 October 2017
The days of checking in luggage when jetting off for a long weekend are pretty much behind us. Now, unless there’s a specific reason, most jetsetters prefer to fly cabin bag-only. The fees charged by airlines suggest they’re not too fond of the practice either. For them, it’s much more cost and time-effective to have a plane full of paying customers without any baggage, quite literally. But for travellers, it’s not only about cost.
Five easy Euro walking trails
Published: 11 October 2017
The invigoration of a hiking holiday isn’t just reserved for hardcore exercise enthusiasts with top-of-the-range boots, a khaki ensemble and an impeccable sense of direction. The world is diverse enough to offer entry-level ramblers the same incredible views and changing scenery along gentle and easy-to-follow walking trails – you just have to know where to find them.
Live like a local in Singapore
Published: 06 October 2017
When it comes to cultural norms, the Far East is vastly different to our Western sensibilities, which is why it’s a popular choice for UK travellers curious about other ways of life. While some Asian countries are rooted in centuries of tradition, Singapore stands out as a place where not only East meets West, but tradition meets modernity. Why so? In 2016, a massive 64 per cent of its population were foreigners, mostly those who’ve migrated to work in the Asian headquarters of global businesses. Combine this influence with its colonial past and strong Confucian ethic in the native Chinese population, and it now offers a way of living that’s unique.
What’s new this ski season
Published: 01 October 2017
As the nights start to draw in and the leaves change colour, it’s a signal for those that enjoy partaking in winter sports that it’s time to begin their preparations for the forthcoming ski season. And as with other types of holiday planning, it’s good to be in the know about new destination options and the resorts that are upping their game to offer excellent facilities at competitive prices.So this season, expect impressive additions, developments and new technologies to make our time on the slopes go as smooth as our runs down.
Europe's coolest concert venues
Published: 26 September 2017
When it comes to excuses to go abroad, watching an act elsewhere in Europe is as tempting as it comes. Choose well, and it means you can see your favourite arena acts and make it a break to remember – with the highlight already worked out in advance.It’s especially worthwhile as with hundreds of years of history to call on, some of the buildings are attractions in themselves.
Five sites for ancient history fans
Published: 21 September 2017
Text books and model cities go to great lengths to bring ancient history to life, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. The largest and best-preserved sites around the world are unfailingly evocative; each crumbled foundation tells the story of the generations of families who resided in a house; each amphitheatre speaks of the social gatherings as locals indulged in their leisure pursuits. As these sites act as doorways to other worlds, you don’t have to be an ancient history fan to appreciate their significance.
Travelling with pets in Europe
Published: 16 September 2017
Part of the attraction of travelling is escaping from our responsibilities for just a little while - but there are some we’d prefer not to escape. Paws-ing your duties as a pet owner by leaving them at home is a nice break sometimes, but for trips when you want to take Fido with you, it’s easier than ever. Not only does it complete the family holiday, but for those dropping pets into a kennel, it can save a small fortune in daily fees. Plus, there’s no worrying about their health and happiness: you can see to that every minute of every day.
Where’s still hot in October
Published: 11 September 2017
As much as we pine for the days of lingering sun, al fresco lunches and warm evenings, there’s no denying that the colder months are indeed coming. But that just gets our holiday booking fingers twitchy – for when better to take a break than when there’s one last hurrah available before the winter season sets in? The good news about travelling in October is that there are destinations both near and far that are still a balmy temperature – and, unless it’s half term, the prices are reasonable too.
The smartest touches on airlines
Published: 06 September 2017
More often than not the different factors regarding our choice of airlines is limited, especially now complimentary meals are disappearing and the variances between quality and budget airlines are blurring after years of cutbacks. But given that our interest in travel is only increasing, some canny airlines have figured out that paying attention to the small details can help them stand out from the crowd. Especially on longer flights, little touches can make a significant difference to the comfort of a journey – and therefore, our holidays.
Live like a local in Brazil
Published: 01 September 2017
With a population of 190 million and a geographical area covering half of the continent of South America, it’s no wonder Brazil is called the ‘land of contrasts’. Its people vary from the extravagantly rich to the very poor; many are rural folk who’ve rarely travelled, others are world-wise urbanites who’ve adopted European customs. But for a nation that huge, there are certainly differences in culture that mark Brazilians out as different from UK sensibilities.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe
Published: 27 August 2017
While there might be seven wonders of the world, any traveller knows that every country has a wealth of delights waiting to be explored. The shorthand way of finding out what’s top of the sightseeing list is by checking the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which tells you the areas of cultural, historical and natural significance. The honour of being on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s list is given to anything that’s “of outstanding universal value”, and it’s broad enough to incorporate ruins, buildings, areas of natural beauty and even whole cities.
What to do in Madeira
Published: 22 August 2017
Far from the coast of Portugal, seemingly adrift in the Atlantic, the lush volcanic island of Madeira acts as an independent hub of activity, and that’s proved by the wealth of options for tourists. As if specially created for guests, it takes less than two hours to drive from one end of the island to another, meaning everything is in day-trip distance and visitors are only constrained by their interests and stamina. From gentle levada hikes to knee-trembling rides on cable cars, this tiny island offers more than you’d expect.
How to live like a local in Cape Town
Published: 17 August 2017
When it comes to unique places in the world, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a country with as colourful a background as South Africa – which is why it’s known as the Rainbow Nation. The country has no less than 11 official languages and the diversity is most evident in Cape Town, where western cultural influences are added to the melting pot of society. Given this, it’s no surprise that ‘Capetonians’ operate in a slightly different way to other colonial nations.
Taking a bite out of the Big Apple
Published: 12 August 2017
When it comes to cosmopolitan melting pots of culture and cuisine, New York is arguably the best place in the world. Its rich heritage of immigrant communities and adventurous nature, coupled with American-sized portions and love of flavour, means it’s invented or popularised many of the foods we adore today. Amble from district to district to see how the different flavours of the world combine, but also to see the environment which produces such New York staples, whether that’s the pizza in Little Italy, the diners in Manhattan, or the leafy brunch haven of Brooklyn.
Prague for £300
Published: 07 August 2017
For culture-curious travellers, the whole of Eastern Europe is a dream, with picturesque cities and dramatic history coupled with competitive pricing, so even those holidaying on a budget can indulge in luxury. Nowhere is this better tested than the Czech capital of Prague. While £300 can buy you a no-frills weekend in other cities, if you know how to do it right, it buys all visitors to Prague a comfortable stay. With opera, fairytale architecture and hip modern trappings to its name, it’s a fascinating city to explore on plenty of levels.
Colonial hotels to visit
Published: 02 August 2017
Whatever your reason for picking a destination, its history will seep through every aspect. That’s most certainly the case with architecture, which forms a lasting visual that’s reminiscent of the time in which it was built. If that’s an era when a mother country ruled, there are multiple reasons to pay a visit to these colonial mansions. With many still standing (whether because of good workmanship or constant restoration) the original detail of these buildings can be appreciated just as much as the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese styles; set against a native landscape.
How to live like a local in Sri Lanka
Published: 28 July 2017
Look at a map and Sri Lanka might seem like just a small island off the coast of India. But once in the capital of Colombo, it’s evident that it’s a sprawling, unique place with its own personality. For starters, myriad religions live side by side peacefully – Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus share this space with relative harmony. So don’t expect Sri Lankan culture to be akin to any other – its melting pot-ways means there’s a whole set of rules that apply in the country.
What to wear on your summer holiday
Published: 23 July 2017
Even the most experienced traveller has been a victim of a sartorial error when on a summer holiday: whether it’s a cardigan that’s overused because you only brought the one or you have too many smart options when the vibe is more relaxed, it can certainly be difficult to always get it right. But often, clothing issues can be solved by figuring out the common blind spots in advance. Assuming we’re all glued to the weather reports beforehand and so have a good idea of what weather to expect, here are a few pointers from the Spectrum Travel Insurance team to help finesse your packing.
Where to go this August Bank Holiday weekend
Published: 18 July 2017
Booked your summer holiday yet? If not, you’re not the only one left to jump into action as it’s sometimes hard to decide where to head thanks to all the incredible places there are to visit in this world. The good news is that with the August Bank Holiday on the horizon you can utilise that long weekend to head away to destinations which come into their own at summertime.
GOT fans guide to Northern Ireland
Published: 13 July 2017
While we’re into the throes of summer, Game of Thrones fans are more concerned that winter is here! 17 July sees the return of the multi-award winning drama to our screens. It could be argued there’s more intrigue than usual as, like the sixth season, Season 7 is based on an outline of the two final, presently-unpublished novels in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Meaning we are all in the dark about the fate of the seven kingdoms.
Be your own travel agent
Published: 08 July 2017
Nowadays, we’re well and truly used to booking our own holidays when we know what we’re doing – and using a travel agent when we’re less sure. But as technology develops, more complex websites have sprung up that offer the best of both worlds. These tools allow intrepid travellers to custom-build their holidays online. Pick a place, a type of holiday, your hotel comfort level and voila, you’ll have a holiday that you can book, or go back and edit if there’s something not quite right.
Bagging the best seat
Published: 03 July 2017
Enjoying the comfort of a good seat on a short journey to Europe is a delight but when it comes to long-haul flights, it’s nothing short of a necessity. Thought it would be fine to sit in the middle seat all the way to LA? You might think again when the passenger on your left needs to take a bathroom break and the right-sided passenger is napping practically on your shoulder. Thankfully, there are tricks to make sure your flights are as comfortable as possible.
How to be a local in New Zealand
Published: 28 June 2017
Hundreds of miles from the nearest country, it’s no wonder New Zealand’s culture has danced to its own tune. While the island bears signs of its Australian neighbours and British past, they’re only small parts of what makes Kiwis the incredible people they are. Cool, confident and with a wicked sense of humour, the people are as much of a reason to visit as the incredible scenery.
So rather than stick to hotels and tours with international groups, it’s one place you’ll want to spend some time in and mingle with the locals.
Tips for overcoming airport stress
Published: 23 June 2017
There’s a special panic that only airport stress can induce. In fact Britons feel it’s a more stressful endeavour than work or moving house. Not only is there the niggling worry about your bag not fitting within the airline’s allowance, there’s also the feeling of dread that you might not make it to the airport on time or that you’ve forgotten something important. But there are a number of ways in which we can protect ourselves against this travel related stress.
World’s best sporting sites
Published: 18 June 2017
With the warmer weather now here, outdoor sports and activities are well and truly back on the agenda. As if in answer to this, we can all look forward to enjoying the World Athletic Championships coming to London this July and August. For travel-lovers, watching the action may spark the desire to visit one of the globes renowned sporting sites. But which to choose, as there’s a slew of places where sports fans gather and some are so impressive they’re a destination in their own right.
Bon Appétit: Breton Cuisine
Published: 13 June 2017
Just a stone’s throw from the UK, the North West tip of France could be construed as having more than a passing British influence – especially with a name like Brittany. In fact, the region prescribes neither to the French way of living, nor to the British: a uniquely independent area, the Breton culture is best exemplified by its cuisine. While enjoying the best that France has to offer, there are some unmistakably Breton dishes, most often borne from its sea-facing location and the appreciation of simple pleasures.
Five fascinating facts about… aeroplanes
Published: 08 June 2017
The average Brit spends 306 hours in the air in their lifetime. That's about 12 full days non-stop, but we reckon travel fiends like ourselves probably spend considerably more. So given we have a close acquaintance with this transport mode, we might not know as much as we could about them - more the shame as they're incredible feats of engineering.
Tempting new routes for summer 2017
Published: 03 June 2017
You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief as the summer holidays approach. For many of us, it's time to take a well-earned vaycay somewhere more exotic than our own back garden, where we put aside our everyday duties to indulge ourselves a little. The more organised may already have their destination planned, but if not, it's not too late. A whole rake of new routes come into service this summer, offering flights to a broader range of far-flung places. And best of all, new flights often mean introductory prices, making last minute holidays potentially bargainous.
East Coast Beaches
Published: 29 May 2017
With today seeing the release of the new Baywatch film, we’re sure that thanks to the picture perfect backdrop of golden sands and ocean vistas it will be hard not to hanker for a holiday of our own. Filmed in Miami, it’s a reminder that the USA is host to some of the world’s best stretches of soft sand and curling, bath-cool waves. It’s not just Florida either – all along the East Coast, the Atlantic creates some incredible destinations for beach-lovers.
Top resorts of the Caribbean
Published: 24 May 2017
Shiver me timbers, it’s that time again. No, not ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ - that’s in September - but another instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean, with its latest film titled Dead Men Tell No Tales about to be released to the silver screen. With the spotlight turned on this stunning part of the world once more, it’s tempting to be drawn to visiting the Caribbean. But as you really are spoilt for choice with some of the globe’s best beaches and luxury resorts to choose from where should you bestow your precious loot (well earnings!).
Celebrate Father's Day Swedish Style
Published: 19 May 2017
If there was a spiritual home of fathers, surely it would be Sweden thanks to the fact it was the first country in the world to replace maternity leave with parental leave back in the 70s - giving both parents the opportunity to take time out to look after their offspring. As such with Father’s Day approaching (18 June), it’s an apt time to place the spotlight on Sweden and remind us that it’s a great place not only for domestic daddies, but also for those papas paying a flying visit.
Great apps for holiday snaps
Published: 14 May 2017
Well before selfies and social media came along, sharing holiday snaps with our family and friends has always been an important part of the travel experience. While we don’t have to worry about getting our films developed at the pharmacy anymore, it’s now easier than ever, thanks to modern technology, not only to share them but to make scenes look even more alluring than they already are.
The Island of Eternal Spring
Published: 09 May 2017
A record two million Brits holidayed in Tenerife in 2016 – that’s an increase of 16 per cent from the previous year. But before we pat ourselves on the back for our excellent decision making in choosing guaranteed sunshine and great value, the numbers also show that us Brits are the least active. Yup, we're beach potatoes, preferring to catch the rays than catch the action. That's all the more surprising given the landscape of Tenerife lends itself to being explored. Dominated by the volcanic Mount Teide and its namesake national park, fresh air lovers can find plenty to enjoy away from the hotels.
Best botanical gardens
Published: 04 May 2017
With the Chelsea Flower Show (23 to 27 May) getting ready to bloom, and our never ending love of all things horticultural, we Brits know we're spoilt for choice when it comes to admiring the flora and fauna of the world. Even when the Show finishes, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew is always at our disposal and holds one of the largest collections of rare and exotic flowers in the world.
Where to celebrity-spot in Cannes
Published: 29 April 2017
Cannes Film Festival: such is the esteem of this event that it manages to convince A-listers to leave the sun and sea of Hollywood…and decamp to the sun and sea of the French Riviera. Between 17 and 28 May, the entertainment world will ostensibly preview the biggest films of the coming year, but it’s also an excuse to see some of the world’s most famous celebrities out and about.
Late May bank holiday breaks
Published: 24 April 2017
With the Easter long weekend already a distant memory, the good news is that, as we’re sure you’re aware, we’ve still got two lots of bank holidays to enjoy in May. If you didn’t manage to get away last time, have you found yourself with a slight tinge of regret at not having booked a trip away? The good news is that it’s not too late to plan a getaway, especially for the late May bank holiday as increasing competition between destinations means prices are keener than ever.
Five things to see in Lake Como
Published: 19 April 2017
Think of Lake Como and the well-travelled will envisage a stunning, tranquil lakeside scene, with the Swiss Alps dominating the background. The well-heeled will think of the ornate, historic Italian villas, and the well-informed will recall Lake Como's most famous resident, George Clooney. Whichever reason attracts you, the northern Italian destination is impossible to resist, displaying Italy's finest traits of refinement and natural beauty in a secluded setting.
Easter traditions around the globe
Published: 14 April 2017
With today being Good Friday, marking the start of the Easter weekend, not only do we get to celebrate the occasion with two bank holidays, we also get to gorge on hot cross buns and chocolate eggs. As such you might be forgiven for thinking that our way of marking Easter is the most fun. But actually, other countries have their own special ways of celebrating too. Around the globe, Easter has been appropriated from a religious ceremony to a fun occasion that also marks the start of spring.
How to be a local in Iceland
Published: 09 April 2017
Tourism to the little Nordic island of Iceland has sky-rocketed since the turn of the century and it has received plenty of publicity. Some would say the 2010 eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajökull put it on the map, others would cite the fact that it takes a starring role in the HBO hit Game of Thrones. Whatever springs to mind when you think about the land of fire and ice, it seems to be one of those places that sits on many a bucket list. Whatever your reasons to visit, as with any location, knowing a little bit about the locals will help your enjoyment.
Five foods of Bologna
Published: 4 April 2017
The stunning country of Italy isn't short of a foodie town or two. With a tradition focused on rustic cooking and the use of quality ingredients, it's known as being one of the world’s culinary capitals. What might not be so evident is that the dishes we associate with it - pizza, pasta, cheese, wine - all have different prominence in different parts. It's an aspect that becomes evident when visiting the regions.
Water parks of the world
Published: 30 March 2017
As the weather warms up, we're getting antsy to ditch the winter wardrobe and hop into our swimwear instead - and there's no better excuse than taking a trip to a water park. Perfect for families and adults indulging their playful side, resorts around the world offer a fantastical selection, with the breadth on offer highlighting their continued popularity. Whether it’s gigantic indoor spaces for weather-free fun, top-rated wave pools for all ages or adrenaline-fuelled aquatic adventures, there's a water park to match.
Tips to get upgraded
Published: 25 March 2017
There are lots of things that people dream of but for travellers the offer of a surprise upgrade, especially on long haul flights, is like hitting the jackpot. Not only is it the benefit of the extra leg space, there’s also the additional perks to enjoy, like champagne dining, quieter surrounds and fancy amenity kits. Upgrades to the higher classes, be it premium economy, business or first class, are less common than they were years ago due to greater efficiencies by airlines. But there are still smart ways to try to sneak yourself to the front of the plane.
Barcelona for £300
Published: 20 March 2017
In our last edition, we praised the Gaudi-designed Parc Guell as one of the Spectrum Travel Insurance team's favourite city parks in Europe. If that piqued your interest, we'd like to suggest how to see it without spending a small fortune. Indeed popular European cities like Barcelona offer plenty of opportunities for low-cost, no-hassle city trips that need just a day of annual leave and a minimal spend. By taking a few leaves from the locals' book and forgetting about the frills, it's easy to take a budget short break. Here's our how to guide to enjoy a thrilling but thrifty few days in the Catalan capital.
Five city parks to visit
Published: 15 March 2017
Is it…it might just be…fingers crossed…we’re cautiously optimistic that spring is finally in the air. Which is great news for travellers as it’s a fab time to start to venture out and about to enjoy the milder weather, the flowers coming into bloom, the blossom on the trees and the birds flitting about building their nests. All this and more can be seen in city parks: areas of green that provide a sanctuary of enriching activities in the hustle and bustle of an urban sprawl.
Luxury touches at airport lounges
Published: 10 March 2017
Let’s be honest - travelling business or first class is still an aspiration for many travellers. However, if the opportunity presents itself ‘to turn left’ at least once, maybe due to a special occasion or celebration, then it’s a great excuse to treat yourself and experience how the other half fly. It’s not just in the air that you’ll benefit from upgrading either. With lots of competition around, airlines aim to lure highflying customers with great additional features including lounges that offer decadence that wouldn’t be out of place at a five-star hotel.
Extreme cycling routes
Published: 05 March 2017
With improving weather (hopefully) on the horizon encouraging us to get outdoors again, it’s all too tempting to take the usual cycle routes for a bit of fresh air. Nice enough, but what if you want to ride on the wild side? For daredevils and extreme bikers who are also struck with wanderlust, the world offers countless opportunities to take on some unforgettable routes. From backdrops of mountains and rolling hills to thick forests and punishing climbs, there are certain paths that are notorious among cycling enthusiasts...
Top global phrases we need in the English language
Published: 28 February 2017
This winter, it was all about Hygge. The Danish word describes the cosiness one feels when, for example, you settle by a warm fire with good friends, good conversation and good wine. The concept has been adored internationally but it’s not the only idea that can enrich our culture and the often-unique observations of other nations would do well to be brought into our own vernacular.
The hotels that invented the dish
Published: 23 February 2017
In the UK we’re lucky enough to be able to sample multiple cuisines from around the world right on our doorstep. However, sometimes enjoying the cuisine in the actual place where it originates can’t be beaten. This is certainly the case for some dishes and beverages whose popularity has made them into foodie icons and there are particular hotels located across the world that we have to thank for their invention.
The world’s most interesting airports
Published: 18 February 2017
For some, a trip to the airport is just a necessary part of the rigmarole to getting away from it all and the sooner we’re out of the departure lounge and on our way the better. However for others, like us here at Spectrum Travel Insurance Travel Insurance, the airport world is full of fascination. From runways on reclaimed land to planes that routinely skim close to the heads of onlookers, airports are often an unusual meeting of architecture, engineering, travel and design.
Discovering the hidden gems
Published: 13 February 2017
With Valentine's Day imminent it’s no surprise that jewellery, being both personal and romantic, is a popular choice of gift. But the reality is that jewellery is a wonderful way to show that someone special in your life how much they mean to you whatever time of year it is. The good news is that you can make the experience of purchasing your bit of bling unforgettable by combining it with a trip away, as across the world there are specific places that are synonymous with certain precious metals or sparkly jewels.
Small screen locations, USA
Published: 08 February 2017
As much as any character, it could be said that the location of where our favourite American TV shows are set is a highly critical component to their success too. For instance, what's Entourage without Los Angeles, Fraiser without Seattle, or Sex and the City, without the city eh? That’s because the place that a show inhabits helps to set the tone and nature of the show and provides the colour that roots it to reality.
What to do in Houston
Published: 03 February 2017
Houston, we have a visitor. Several thousand visitors in fact, as this year the world-famous Super Bowl descends on the Texan city this Sunday (5 February). Traditionally, Super Bowl Sunday involves gathering a group of friends around the telly, cracking open a few beers and relaxing in good company, with good sport. But that’s only if sports fans aren’t avid enough to take a trip to the host city. If you fancy sampling Houston yourself, there’s plenty to keep you entertained throughout the year.
Five ways to see the Grand Canyon
Published: 29 January 2017
There's a reason that five and a half million people visit the Grand Canyon annually - and the clue is in the name. The sheer size of the Arizonian gorge, which stretches 446km and is 1.6km deep, makes it a breathtaking sight - and that's without considering the formation of the rocks, which tell the story of their five million years through their layers. A true natural wonder, there's no one straightforward way to experience the Grand Canyon.
Modern day tips for long-haul flights
Published: 24 January 2017
In our last issue, we told you about the joys and culture of Sydney. But if the earth is a balanced place, with every action having an opposite and equal reaction, it makes sense that for every long-haul holiday...there’s a long-haul flight. As much as eager jetsetters can't wait to land in a far-flung place with an adventure ahead of them and their usual life far behind, it always means a lengthy flight that seemingly never…ever…ends.
How to live like a local in Sydney
Published: 19 January 2017
Despite the miles between our two countries there’s an undeniably special connection between us and our Australian brethren. Due to this it’s tempting to head Down Under with an expectation of it being very much a home from home. However, there are certain rules, traditions and aspects about life in each Aussie city, and Sydney is no different. The biggest city in Australia with five million residents, it has a heart, mind and disposition of its own.
Five places to head for amour
Published: 14 January 2017
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s a great time to take the opportunity to make your loved one feel extra special. And what better way to show just how much you care than by arranging a surprise trip away. But where to go? Well if you’re looking to sweep your other half off their feet, or you’re planning to use the occasion to ask an all important question, the Spectrum Travel Insurance team has come up with some great locations that set the scene for amour.
Five Thrifty Flights
Published: 09 January 2017
It’s not as easy as it once was to grab a bargain flight – whatever happened to those £1 ticket offers eh? But the good news is that there are still great deals to be had, especially as flash sales have been replaced by some incredible value-for-money journeys. If you’ve ever wondered just how much value for money these flights offer, wonder no more.
How to make your holiday budget go further
Published: 04 January 2017
As we look to the new year ahead, it's hard to stop ourselves from mentally planning out the possible holidays – and that means that budget comes to the fore. As tempting as it is to blow your hard earned cash on a no-holds-barred luxury holiday, taking a measured approach may mean we can see more that the world has to offer. Be smart about the small stuff and before you know it you’ll have saved for a minibreak.
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