FREE FAMILY DAYS OUT IN YORKSHIRE: What’s on this Half-term School Holidays for families?

FREE FAMILY DAYS OUT IN YORKSHIRE: What’s on this Half-term School Holidays for families?

School Holidays can be a daunting time for families throughout Yorkshire when it comes to finding out what’s on for the family on a budget. You suddenly have lots more meals to make, activities to pay for and time you want to enjoy.

So we at Yorkshire Families wanted to do a round-up of some of the best free days out in Yorkshire to keep the school holidays as cheap and affordable as possible.

And most of all we want your whole family to enjoy half-term as much as possible (sorry we can’t promise no tantrums or grumpy moments, but we’re only human and as Yorkshire folk we like to do things on a shoe string!).

 

The best free family days out in Yorkshire:

 

  1. National Science and Media Museum in Bradford: “Situated right in the centre of Bradford is the National Science and Media Museum. This museum is devoted to the fascinating history and technology behind TV, film and video games. From the basics of how lenses work to displays of old sets and favourites from the past, there is something here for all the family.”
    Here’s what we got up to:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/B5SR7-SFZi-/
  2. Weston Park Museum in Sheffield will have 2 NEW galleries opening at the start of half term, plus activities on every day. Half Term: Discovery Days are free drop in events, and include Incredible Egypt crafts. 
  3. Clifton Park & Museum is a “fantastic free day out in Rotherham with adventure playgrounds, big slides, sandpit and park. There is a good free museum with hands on stuff for kids. Plus there is a funfair – not free but worth mentioning,” says Naomi from Trips with a Tot blog.
  4. Grimm & Co is a magical Apothecary in the heart of Rotherham Town Centre (right next to Clifton Park). They have a range of free activities on, some you need to book in advance. There’s Portals from 18-22nd Feb:
    Explore the textures of the apothecary to create your very own portal. Once your portal is in full form, where does it lead? What’s on the other side? Complete a description of your imagined land and see if anyone would like to go through…
    This is an independent activity that you can do by yourself or with grown ups in their apothecary. Just ask the Shop Elves behind the counter for more details.
    Puzzle Poetry also 18-22nd: As spring brings new life and growth to the natural world, our apothecary begins to sprout new words! Use the leaves all around to uncover the lines of a poem. Place them in any order you want, change it, add to it, make it your own!
    This is an independent activity that you can do by yourself or with grown ups in their apothecary. Just ask the Shop Elves behind the counter for more details.
    And Bewitched Botanicals on 18th and 19th Feb 10-2.30pm,
    20th Feb 10-1pm: Join Professor G. Greenfinger as they identify the magical and mystical plants hidden within the mortal realm. Craft your newly discovered enchanted plant andrecord its features to be kept in the Bewitched Botanical Archive forever.  Call the apothecary on 01709 8296750 to book your free slot.
  5. National Coal Mining Museum of England in Overton (near Wakefield, West Yorkshire) has so much to offer from indoor galleries and a free play area and space to dress up as well as a range of outdoor play areas and places to explore England’s mining history. There’s also pit ponies you can meet and don’t miss the underground tour which goes 140m underground and is led by friendly former miners. There’s also a woodland trail and a chance to meet real life Blacksmiths creating works of art out of metal. There’s lots of extra activities this February half-term too. For more of what’s on at NCMME for families, head to our post here.

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    The underground tour at the National Coal Mining Museum is perfect for over 5s
  6. East Park in HullEast Park fully opened in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. This Grade II listed park recently benefited from a council assisted lottery grant totaling £10 million and has been transformed into a vibrant green space where you can enjoy modern attractions and discover historic treasures.
    East Park Bridge

    There’s something for everyone – you can take a stroll around 130 acres of parkland, brave a ride on our Wicksteed splash boat, visit the Animal Education Centre, try the new library at the Pavillion and enjoy a picnic.

  7. Aysgarth Falls in North Yorkshire: Aysgarth Falls are in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and are a set of three magnificent waterfalls on the River Ure. The falls cascade over the series of broad limestone steps which are divided into three stages; Upper Force, Middle Force and Lower Force.
    “We decided that we would walk down and see the middle and lower falls. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were in no rush. Following the footpath, we passed the visitors centre, crossed a road and entered the woodland through a gate. The walk through the woods is well signposted, with a nice path which is suitable for buggies. Wheelchair users will find accessing some areas a bit tricky though as there are some steps,” explains Hodge Podge Days blog.
  8. Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre is dedicated to the history and people of the borough.  It is an interesting place for all the family to visit.  There is lots of fun to be had in the interactive galleries and the Discovery Centre holds priceless treasures. We stumbled upon it in the town centre after getting a bus to the bus station to buy some food from Barnsley Market. It’s great for little ones as it is compact and has lots to to as well as a lovely gift shop.
  9. Rhubarb Festival – Wakefield’s Food and Drink Festival:If you don’t know what the Rhubarb Festival is, then where the ‘eck have you been? It’s Wakefield’s love-letter to the divisive vegetable, the first date in the Merry City’s festival calendar, and it starts the year off with a bang.In 2020 it’s a festival of Miracle-Gro proportions, running for a whole week from Monday 17 February until Sunday 23 February (the traditional food and drink market runs 21-23 February), and truly taking over the city centre. There’s lots on for families too, so head to Wakefield’s former Market Hall which is right next to Wakefield Bus Station (the festival of the Moon took place here too).

    Open Monday to Sunday, this is a real family space, with a cosy reading corner, kids’ Activity Zone (including an awesome rhubarb video game which has to be played to be believed) and storytelling workshops.

    There’s plenty for grown-ups too. Highlights include a community-led rhubarb recipe exchange, the photographic Heritage of Rhubarb exhibition, exclusive photographs from Martin Parr’s Rhubarb Triangle, and – prepare to be intrigued – the Rhubarb Shed, an immersive experience where visitors learn about the cultivation of the plucky pink vegetable, and watch (and hear!) it grow before their eyes.

    Like an enormous rhubarb crumble, Rhubarb Festival 2020 has plenty to get your teeth into. So get your pink on, and get set to eat, drink… and be merry.

  10.  National Railway Museum in York not only has it’s normal exhibition offering but also Decoded themed activities this half-term. So this February school holidays, let the NRM show you how we needn’t be scared of words like “data” and “coding” with fun hands-on activities that break down these concepts and build confidence:

    TECH ON THE TRACKS

    Get to grips with high-tech toys in this introduction to the basics of tangible coding on the train tracks, run by Technology in Play.

    FLUX DANCE

    Create code through movement in this dance workshop which teaches you the 10 key words of coding.

    ROBOT RAILWAYS

    Take charge of a small robot to find out how technology can be used to change and improve our railways.

    HOW TO BEAT THE SYSTEM

    Enjoy a screening of a Royal Institute lecture exploring how algorithms relate to our lives. More info and tickets.

    STORYTELLING

    Technology in Play are taking over story time with their Code-a-pillar. Use code to tell this clever critter where it needs to go, bringing a new twist on well-known early-years stories.

    PASSENGER GO

    Think like a train in this interactive game, where a roll of the dice throws up problems to solve.

    MORE FUN—AND FOOD, TOO

    Head out to South Yard for a Steam Ride or a rumble along our Miniature Railway. There’s also the super-speedy Mallard Experience and the Road Train to take you to and from York Minster.

    You’re bound to work up an appetite exploring our big museum. Pop over to our family-friendly cafés in Station Hall and Great Hall to refuel, where you’ll also find irresistible coffee and cakes.

  11. Leeds Galleries and Museums: There are so many free things to do across West Yorkshire this half-term and in the Easter Holidays, go to our full post here.
    Leeds art gallery art space

 

More free ideas for family days out in Yorkshire wherever you are:

 

  • Canals and River Walks: Check out Canal and River Trust for nice walks near you. We loved a charity walk with Leeds Cares along the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It was great for picnics and lovely paths for buggies and bikes too. We caught the train to Kirkstall Forge Station and walked along the path to Leeds Dock.
  • Museums, Galleries and Libraries near you: Check out your local council website for a list of venues that are open near you and many of them will also have free activities on during the half-term holidays.
  • Local Parks and outdoor spaces:  From woodland to playgrounds and community allotments. Why not wrap up warm (sorry I am assuming the weather will be bad!) and get outside even if it is just for a short walk or a bit of fresh air.
    FAMILY WALKS TOP 10: Where to go Walking in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and win a spa day
  • Organise a meet-up or playdate either outdoors or in your own home: We often have playdates at our house which gives the kids chance to play and us adults chance to chat.

 

What’s your favourite free day out in Yorkshire?

 

Happy Exploring God’s Own County!

BEST PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS FOR YORKSHIRE FAMILIES: Instagram hotspots

BEST PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS FOR YORKSHIRE FAMILIES: Instagram hotspots

Where are the best places to take photos in Yorkshire? If you’re a budding photographer or just like to capture a nice Instagram shot, here are some of the top photography hot-spots Yorkshire has to offer.

From Urban retreats to vast countryside and of course the good old British seaside.

  • The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield art gallery and cafe has become a cultural destination of the north. But the Barbara Hepworth inspired venue is great to create art work and take photographs too. The Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2018 is famous for it’s vast grey design and scenic waterfront. Perfect for photos on a cloudy day.

My husband Chris Hale of MasterChef 2016 also runs the cafe which is filled by beautiful plants from Instagram famous geo-fleur. So if you’re looking for a plant wall, insta-friendly food or latte art snap, make sure you pop inside too.

  • Scarborough Spa

Set on the beautiful Scarborough coast, Scarborough Spa which plays host to a range of entertainment from a children’s magician to regular live Orchestra events which you can watch whilst sat on deck-chairs. This place is stunning and right on the seafront as you watch the waves crash against the rocks.

Amy Downes of a Mum Full of Dreams blog agrees which is why she is having her wedding there too!

I also loved trying out Scarborough indoor and outdoor water park Alpamare. And for photos with waterproof cameras (go pro for example), I really recommend checking out the stunning views of the bay from their 35 degree celsius outdoor infinity pool.

  • Sheffield Winter Gardens and Peace Gardens

An oasis in Sheffield City Centre awaits… Sheffield’s indoor Winter Gardens make for a stunning backdrop with the wooden and glass architecture and the tropical plants. It is also connected to the small but perfectly formed Millennium Galleries.

Just a few steps outside of the Winter Gardens (where Cafe Nero is), you will discover the outdoor delights of the Peace Gardens. Growing up as a child, we loved getting photos playing in the water fountains and picnics on the grass.

  • Newmillerdam Country Park and the Boathouse, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Walk around this stunning lake and country park, perfect for photos in the lush green wood surroundings. A lovely family trail or chance to forage if you know your stuff. It’s a good half day out and close by is Pugney’s Country Park which has a little steam train in the summer. There’s also Sandal Castle at the top, which looks over Pugneys.

 

  • Trips with a Tot Blogger Naomi JC recommends Sheffield Botanical Gardens as well as a few other photo hot-spots.
    She said:  “Harlow Carr in Harrogate is wonderful too. There’s also some good industrial backgrounds around Sheffield and Kelham Island.”
  • Yorkshire mum Frances Dine enjoys visiting Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Lotherton Hall, Temple Newsam and Nostell Priory with her daughter who is in the photographs below. 
  • Erin Towey, a Yorkshire parent, recommends Winscar Reservoir, Kirklees Light Railway and Fountain’s Abbey & Studley Royal as great photography destinations.
  • Michelle Firth sent us these beautiful photos of Roundhay Park and Harewood House in Leeds.

Where do you love taking photographs in Yorkshire? There are so many places on offer… we can’t wait to see your photos!

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Wish Upon a Star & Santa’s Grotto Christmas Experience at Meadowhall, Sheffield – Review

Wish Upon a Star & Santa’s Grotto Christmas Experience at Meadowhall, Sheffield – Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we were invited to experience Meadowhall’s new interactive Christmas experience. But my fears of dragging two small children through a packed-out shopping centre were quickly allayed when I realised that the Wish upon a Star with Santa attraction is perfectly placed outside the entrance to the Oasis food court in its own pop-up tent.


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A quick post tonight as I’ve taken my sleeping pills so could 😴😴😴 at any moment… but here’s our annual family photo proving @allhalechris is real albeit a bit hairy but that’s all for a good cause @movember #movember (We all need some sun too) 😂😂😂 Anyway, what do you wish for this #festive season? I’d love more #familytime and to see my big sis @gemmaslack in #NewYork or better still to be able to get her to me in #Yorkshire ❤️❤️❤️ We took this photo after reviewing an awesome interactive & immersive theatre experience & Santa’s grotto @lovemeadowhall with @tripswithatot & @manversusbaby (sorry Matt there’s a corker of a photo of you!) 🤳🤳🤳 Anyhow full review coming soon on one of our new sites Yorkshirefamilies.co.uk #meadowhall #santasgrotto #wishuponastar #christmas #familyyorkshire #mhxmasgrotto #lucrepr #snaphappybritmums #christmasdecorations #christmaswishlist #christmaswishlist2018

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As we entered the white marquee not only was I please to find that it was warm and cosy, but we were greeted by a very friendly character from the Christmas experience.

Once inside the themed tent we were immersed in a Christmas inspired theatrical production. This marked the start of our Wish upon a Star journey.

wish upon a star Christmas experience Meadowhall sheffield immersive theatre

My family, fellow bloggers Trips with a Tot and Man Vs Baby and I, were introduced to the story behind Wish upon a Star.

All our children eagerly watched on as they were transported into a magical world of wishes. They were led into the first room and welcomed by the next character who introduced a short film about making wishes. So, we all sat on little logs and put on star themed headsets.

wish upon a star Christmas experience Meadowhall sheffield  Santas grotto

We watched a short film before being guided into the next part of the story.

At this point I felt as if I had been transported into a magical set from CBeebies. Next was a male character with a telescope and he too told the next part of the story. All the children were then invited to truly experience the magic and look at the stars through the telescope.

wish upon a star Christmas experience Meadowhall sheffield

After that we were led into a workshop room to make our own stars to wish on. Another character led this part of the journey. The children were all seated around a wooden table as they decorated their own stars to hang on the Christmas tree and to use to make wishes.

Whilst the children were busy making their own sparkling stars we were then invited into a magic room. Inside this room was Santa himself who greeted my family and I. Santa told us about the true meaning of Christmas and asked Jasmine and Arianna to make a wish for someone else.

This was a really nice touch rather than just them receiving presents. They struggled to think of someone other than themselves at first but once they thought of their Auntie Gemma in New York for me the true magic then happened as I realised that Jasmine was really missing seeing her auntie at Christmas.

After they had made wishes and we had had a family photo the girls were then treated to a gift each from Santa.

That was the end of our experience and we were given a print of our family photo with Santa and you can also buy a range of bespoke products.

The Wish upon a Star experience with Santa lasted around 30 minutes which was the perfect length of time for my young daughters aged three and six years old.

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It was a really enjoyable experience for the whole family and it was one of the best Santa experiences we have been to. I particularly loved the characters who put the children at ease and made the whole experience extremely magical.

For me, it was great to have a Christmas adventure which was about wishes rather than gifts because a wish can be for something much more wonderful than any material thing and, most importantly a wish can be for somebody else.

So, forget the gift lists and make your Christmas more magical by wishing for other people and also this is a great opportunity to spend time with the family.

wish upon a star Christmas experience Meadowhall sheffield  immersive

Meadowhall’s Wish Upon a Star with Santa experience is open until Monday 24 December 2018. Sessions will run daily from 10am-5pm on week days and 9am – 5pm on weekends and Friday 21st and Monday 24th December. Accessible, quiet sessions are also scheduled on Tuesdays from 10-11am, allowing smaller groups of children to enjoy a little extra time in a calmer environment. 

Spaces are limited so early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment. Tickets are priced at £3.00* for adults and £6.00* for children (*plus booking fee) and can only be purchased online in advance.  

Visit for more information: https://www.meadowhall.co.uk/grottonews

DISCLAIMER: I received this experience in exchange for this review.

All views in my reviews however are my own honest experiences.

MY YORKSHIRE: The best Yorkshire Attractions, Family Days Out & Food

MY YORKSHIRE: The best Yorkshire Attractions, Family Days Out & Food

Yorkshire Families began due to my love of Yorkshire – the people, the places, the attractions and most of all the fond memories I have of being born and bred in God’s Own County. 

And I want to help other families enjoy Yorkshire – helping them to discover with insider knowledge the best places to go, eat, drink and experience the region. From South Yorkshire to North Yorkshire, from West Yorkshire to East and the Yorkshire Dales.  

I was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and now live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and have travelled around the region lots… but I want to hear from other people who also love Yorkshire in this new “My Yorkshire” column as there is so much to do and so much to discover that I can’t do it all myself… as much as I will try. 

Anyhow, here are my answers to the questions I’ll be asking, as well as, a short introduction: 

A self-confessed YouTube and Yorkshire Fan, Sophie Mei Lan decided to set up Yorkshire Families to help showcase the best Yorkshire has to offer. When she is not blogging or vlogging, Sophie is a mum to two girls and a multi-award-winning Journalist. She also co-owns Media Consultancy & Video Production Company Evoke Media Group and The Hepworth Cafe. 

Where do you live and work? 

I live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire near Castleford, Pontefract and Leeds. But I am from Pitsmoor in Sheffield, the Steel City. My family are originally from all over – from Burton-on-trent and Preston to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and China!  

I blog and vlog from home and when I am out and about. I also run my own businesses – Evoke Media Group, our office is in Wakefield City Centre and The Hepworth Cafe which is based inside The Hepworth Wakefield and I help my chef husband with his events and wedding catering company Pop Up North. 

Wakefield Westgate station Jasmine Make and Move

How do you like to travel around Yorkshire? 

Most of the time you’ll find me running with the buggy or walking or catching buses but occasionally my husband drives us around or we use the train if going for a day-out. 


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Mum ont run! Instead of a car I like to run everywhere from place to place. I don’t have the drive to “go out for a run,” I much prefer incorporating exercise into my daily routine. It means I get to chat to my child as she sits happily watching the world whizz by. I’m not focused on #calories or #miles just the speed I can get to where I’m going. Whether it’s running, walking, taking the stairs… whatever the physical activity… anything is better than nothing #fitnessmotivation #fitnessjourney #mumrunner #mumrunners #runningbuggy #mumontherun #nocar #exercisedaily #fitnessblogger #fitnessvlogger #fitnessforlife #runnersofinstagram #runnermom #runnerslove #runnersworld #runnersunite #mumlife #mumblogger #mummysgirl #mumblog

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Where would you recommend nearby?

The Hepworth Wakefield is great for a free day-out with crafts and lots of family activities on, especially during the holidays. It’s not just because we own the cafe there but we have been going to The Hepworth since it opened. 

There’s also a Free City Bus in Wakefield which takes you from Wakefield Westgate Station and Wakefield Kirkgate station to The Hepworth, Wakefield Museum (which is also fab and full of free activities for children) and into the City Centre where you can shop at Trinity Walk or The Ridings Shopping Centre. 

I also love a walk down the canal near The Hepworth and going to Thornes Park which has a Secret Garden, Duck Pond and indoor/outdoor gym and athletics stadium. 

The Hepworth Wakefield in the rain

What do you love most about Yorkshire? 

All the independent businesses, suppliers, influencers and makers – there is so much talent in Yorkshire. 

What is your ultimate day out in Yorkshire? 

I love the Yorkshire Coast! I had an amazing day-out in Scarborough. We began the day at Alpamare Water Park before heading down to the beach and playing on the slots. We then seen the evening at The Scarborough Spa – perfect! 

Where do you enjoy going to at the weekend in Yorkshire? 

If the weather is nice the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton is lovely for a walk and a picnic and so is National Trust’s Nostell Priory. Or if the weather isn’t great we head to The Hepworth or a local play-centre. 

What are your favourite family-friendly places to go? 

  • Sheffield’s Winter Gardens and Millennium Galleries (they’re attached and all indoor). 
  • Stockeld Park near Harrogate 
  • National Coal Mining Museum for England, in Overton, Wakefield 
  • Hemsworth Waterpark or Anglers Country Park (both in the Wakefield district) 
  • The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield has The Den play area and FAB (Families and Babies) charity. 
  • Kirklees Light Railway 
  • Eureka in Halifax 
  • Wensleydale Creamery is home to a new family experience (we’re yet to check it out).
    The Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre 12 

What are your favourite free activities in Yorkshire? 

There are so many galleries and museums with children’s activities on as well as an array of parks (we love Millhouses Park in Sheffield) and countryside to explore – all for free. For example, I’ve mentioned a few free excursions such the National Coal Mining Museum and The Hepworth. Also check out your local library for activities and play/story corners. 

What are your favourite Yorkshire attractions? 

Any secret hot-spots or insider tips you’ve discovered? 

  • For discounts, check out the leaflets on display at a local attraction as you can pick up some bargains, we always enjoy using Yorkshire Attractions. And sometimes you can save money by booking online in advance. 
  • Check out the Park Run website for places to go on a Saturday morning to run with the whole family. 
  • How Stean Gorge is really cool if you have older children who fancy gorge walking or abseiling or just look in the cafe as there is a glass floor looking down to the gorge. 
  • If you’re visiting National Trust’s Fountain’s Abbey – don’t forget to go on the Folly Trail.   
  • If you’re travelling on the motorway near Scotch Corner check out Mainsgill Farmshop, cafe and playground, beats any service station! 

Where would you recommend going for food and drink?  

It’s always hard finding somewhere comfortable to suit all ages which is why we love picnics but with the bad weather that’s not always possible. Asides from the family-friendly pub chains, if you’re looking for good food and drink which is family-friendly there are tons of homely Italian Restaurants. 

Farmer Copley’s has a nice Bistro-style Cafe with plenty of options. Oh and of course, The Hepworth Cafe! 

the full vegan breakfst brunch at The Hepworth cafe

We also loved having Children’s Afternoon Tea at Mr and Mrs C’s in Wakefield City Centre and the staff at Waterton Park Hotel put on a special family afternoon tea for us all if booked in advance. 

 

Or another great option is Private Dining where a private chef comes to your home (my husband is a Chef and does this for a lot of families as it takes the stress out of going out). 

Also check out Peddler Market in Sheffield is full of street food and music located in an old warehouse in Kelham Island, Neepsend (Burton Rd), day-time tends to be best for families.

If you want to find exclusive offers to some of the best Foodie spots, go to: Yorkshire Food Guide  which has a new online shop.

Are there any family-friendly shops or businesses? 

We love going to Crafty Owls Pottery Barn in Ossett and Boomchikkaboom put on a lot of fun family events across the region. 

Make sure you check out mumbler.co.uk as they have lots of good recommendations and so do My Bump 2 Baby for families. Or for women in business, check out Girl Tribe Gang. 

If you were giving a whistle-stop tour of Yorkshire – where would you recommend people go if they were spending 48 hours in Yorkshire with their family? 

I’d say check out these blogs in advance as you’ll see there’s so much to do, it’s best to focus one part at a time: Yorkshire Tots (covers West Yorkshire), Trips with a Tot (covers South Yorkshire), Leeds Dad, Hip2Trek, Charlotte The Magpie Mama, Cossins Music School (covers Wakefield), A Mum Full of Dreams (Leeds), Lucy At Home, Wonderful Chaos, Rainbeaubelle, Yorkshire Wonders and here on our site. 

Anything else you’d like to share about Yorkshire?

There is SO much happening in Yorkshire, makes sure you follow us on here and on social: 

@YorkshireFams on twitter.

Yorkshire Families on facebook.  

 

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