Welcome to Alexandra Park

A few clouds over the old racecourse

The Friends of Alexandra Park work to promote and protect Alexandra Park - the grounds around Alexandra Palace in North London.

Alexandra Park was originally designed by Alexander McKenzie, in 1863, as a park and pleasure ground. 

The 196 acres of park now consists of a delightful mixture of informal woodland, open grassland, formal gardens and attractions such as the boating lake, cafes and the pitch-and-putt course.

Friends Tweets

  • The Friends Events calendar  includes walks and talks about trees, bats, fungi, moths, insects, birds and the history of Alexandra Park. Also, opportunities to join our work parties in the park.

Information Centre, until Autumn 2018, is open every Sunday, and the first Saturday in the month, 2pm - 4pm.

Green Flag and Green Heritage Award retained

We are very pleased to hear that Alexandra Park has retained its Green Flag Award for 2018. This is due to the effort of the Park Manager, Mark Evison, the Trust's staff and volunteers, the Park Contractors, John O'Conner and ourselves! Picture courtesy the Park and Palace Trust.

Kaleidoscope Festival

The Kaleidoscope festival takes place on the South Slope and Palace on Saturday, 21st July.

For more information on the festival itself follow this link.

Kaleidoscope Park Closures

Blue area closed to the public from Monday, 16th July to Tuesday, 24th July.

Red area closed to the public from 8pm, Thursday, 19th July to 10am, Sunday, 22nd July this includes the top section of Alexandra Palace Way. During this time the W3 bus route will be on diversion. 

The East section (from Bedford Road to the East Car Park) of Alexandra Palace way will be closed to traffic on Saturday, 21st July.

All pedestrian entrances and all facilities outside the red and blue areas will be open as usual.

Friends Events

July Conservation Work Party

Wednesday, 18th July 10am to 12:30pm


We will meet at the Park Information Centre and carry out some tasks in the area nearby. 

Watering of recently planted hedge and possibly Cherry Laurel control will be on the agenda.

We will leave the Butterfly Meadow for a month....

We usually work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you want. Meet at the Park Information in The Grove.

Family Bug Hunt

Sunday, 29th July 1:30pm

Coming up next month in National Park City Week, our annual Family Bug Hunt. Booking will be available about a week before the date when we will give you a precise meeting place in the Park.

Cinnabar moth caterpillars are a favourite often seen this time of year. To whet your appetite, left is a picture recently taken of the adult moth laying eggs on the caterpillar's food plant - the ragwort.

Bex will be on hand to help out with identification of your finds and we will have sweep nets to help us capture (temporarily) the insects around about. Also another method will be knocking the tree leaves and looking at what falls out....

Friends' Past events

Details of many of our previous events can be found here

These are the most recent events:

Palace Band

The hot weather showed no sign of breaking with the welcome return visit of the Palace Band.

Warming up with the Radetzky March, the wind ensemble took us through a guided music walk through some familiar tunes.

As with last week, the band chose to refuge themselves in the shade as this weather melts the energy out of even the most young and athletic members of the musicians.

The audience as well were mostly in the shade although some people still can't get enough of the sun....

A pleasure to hear the band again and we hope that they will be back again in 2019.

MHDHS Summer Show stall

The Friends took the opportunity to have a stall at the Muswell Hill and District Horticultural Show. We had plenty of sunshine, but it was not as busy as usual due to a certain football match going on at the same time. Three helpers manned the stall for a couple of hours and we manage to generate quite a lot of interest including 3 new members.

Plenty of tea and cakes on offer to break our fast and slate our thirsts.

Our display board was also quite popular. Next door was a stall selling honey and we all took advantage of the opportunity to buy some local produce.

London Metropolitan Brass

The fine weather continued with people wishing for it to be a little cooler. The band sought out a patch of shade from which to play.

Pleasing to see the smart new banner that the band now has.....

Many rousing tunes and a few gentle ones to please the surrounding people. They also were searching out some shade as being in 25 degrees plus was not to everyone's taste.

Thanks again for a great performance demonstrating the depth 
of music in their repertoire.

Palace Gates Summer Fete stall

The Friends had a stall at the Palace Gates Summer Fete in June. We tested the acumen of adults and children alike with our leaf test..... Visitors had to identify some of the common trees in the Park from their leaves. Colouring was also on offer for the more artistically inclined.

As to the fete itself, music from a band, cakes, a tombola, etc. - the whole day went well in spite of the sun keeping above the clouds.

June Conservation Work

Sunshine as usual for our attack on the Butterfly Meadow. At this time of year, we are just trying to hold our own.

The grass had grow very tall and the first swathe of wild flowers was starting to come out. We attacked the brambles and while we were working we heard Chiffchaff, Blackcap still singing. The first Meadow Brown butterflies were flitting around. Plants in flower included Red Campion, Common Mouse Ear, Common Birds Foot Trefoil and the first Common Ragworts.

The picture taken is of a final instar Forest Bug (a type of Shield Bug).

Members Walk: Towers and Flowers

A half a dozen of us met up on a sunny, but slightly chilly evening by the BBC Tower. The visibility was good so we took the opportunity to have a good look at the general view as well as specific new builds.

On the local new build front, we could see the progress of the Altitude N8 development by Hornsey station.

Further away there was, of course, the new Tottenham Football Ground (left). Another tower going up is the new APEX building on https://www.flickr.com/photos/47046427@N03/28916859568/in/album-72157644952529584/the corner of Tottenham High Road and Seven Sisters Road. Also there are cranes visible at Tottenham Hale for the Ashley Road development.

Down at our feet was wall barley growing, but annoyingly someone pointed out a very soft grass which after looking up was found to be Annual Beard Grass (not a native).

We continued our walk with a look at some of the flowers planted in the beds below the Palace. There were a mixture of wild flowers and more ornamental annuals including Poppies, Borage, Vipers Bugloss and Californian poppies. (left pic)

For the wild flower part of our walk, we spotted some yarrow by the terrace and then crossed the road to walk in a loop to the left and back up to head towards the Rose Garden. Here, amongst the wild flowers seen were Dove's Foot Crane's Bill, Common Mallow, Ribwort, Buckthorn (left) and Broadleaf Plantains, Selfheal and Pineapple Weed.

We crossed the road and walked to the top of the old Dry Ski Slope were there were plenty more wild flowers to be seen. Red clover might not produce much excitement, but from an ecological point of view it was good to see a lot of Yellow Rattle (bottom picture) which should keep some of the vigorous grasses in check and allow more wild flowers to prosper.

Waves of Ribbed Melilot were perhaps prettiest show on offer...

We walked to the Rose Garden to have a last look at flowers and views. There we spotted some cultivated yarrow that contrasted quite well with the wild version seen earlier. In the fountain was a good collection of different coloured Water Lillies (and even some small fish). 

We ended our walk dead on time at 9pm looking at the insignificant flowers of the Honey Locust tree at the top of the Rose Garden.

Beginners Tree Walk

Robyn lead our popular Beginners' Tree Walk starting from the Bedford Road entrance. She picked on just about half a dozen of our common trees to tell us more about them and how to identify them.

First stop was the Sycamore. This tree is a maple - its name sometimes puts people off from identifying it with others of the same genus. Robin showed us the leaves and the seeds (helicopters).

Next stop was a Field Maple. This is our only native maple tree although not the only maple tree you will find in the wild. The leaves are more elegant and the seeds are angled very different from the Sycamore.

We moved onto the Oak, probably the country's iconic tree. We 
heard about its longevity and use and how to recognise its bark and leaves.

The Horse Chestnut was the next to come under scrutiny, we inspected the large leaves and developing conkers.

To give everyone a change, the next stop was, probably the tree that nearly everyone can put a name to the Holly. We heard how males and female are on different trees. Berries will only be seen on the female trees.

Next stop was the fallen old field boundary oak which came down in 2014. Counting its rings, it was just over 200 years old pre-dating the park.

Hornbeam was our next stop, the most common tree in our local woodlands, but little known outside the tree-friendly world. It has very hard wood.

Lime came next on our list and Robyn pointed out that there was almost a circle of lime trees close to the old Blandford Hall site. These trees have heart-shaped, asymmetric leaves which often have colourful nail galls on them.

Last stop was a look at a final maple, the Silver Maple with a whitish underside and also often with galls on the leaves.

Family Activities Day

Perfect weather brought lots of youngsters and their parents to the Park Information Centre for scavenger hunts and outside for Xplorer challenges. 

Lots of enthusiastic scavenger hunters looking The Grove for leaves and mini beasts. Some interesting finds including a Wasp Beetle and a Harlequin Ladybird larva.

They all seemed to enjoy learning about nature in this way and definitely enjoyed their prize of homemade elderflower cordial.

The two Xplorer challenges also attracted the families with groups haring off around trying to find the cards tied to trees and posts with the help of maps.

Their rewards were certificates and stickers....

May Conservation Work

Spring is in full flood now with several butterflies coming to admire our work. Common Blues were seen for first time (earlier blue butterflies were Holly Blues). There was a pair of Brimstones mating (left) looking a little tatty this time of year. The food plant of this caterpillar is the Alder Buckthorn and it was good to see a few saplings of this tree on the edge of the meadow. We also saw both Speckled Wood and Orange Tip butterflies.

The area is transforming now with increasing patches of Red Campion (left), a brilliant patch of creeping buttercup and a large number of other wild flowers brightening up the area.

There is still bird song in evidence with Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Song Thrushes proclaiming their territories. This can be expected to die off in the next few weeks.

As to the work, even with the good turnout again this month, at this time of year, we have to work hard to keep pace with the growing bramble and tree saplings. With this effort, we hard succeeding in making this little 
suntrap a valuable ecological niche in Alexandra Park.

AGM and talk by the Park Manager and Contractor

We were very pleased to welcome to our 2018 AGM Mark Evison, manager of Alexandra Park, and also for a first time and a fresh perspective, Michael Conway, head of John O'Conner contractors in the Park.

Michael Conway (left) gave us an enlightening, illustrated talk showcasing some of the problems that he has encountered in the Park over the many years of his tenure. We could see a great contrast between today's well kept park and the dilapidated state of some of the infrastructure before we received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. There were a few pictures showing the day that WW2 grenades were exploded in the Boating Lake.... 

On a less positive note, Michael, mentioned that 15 tonnes of litter (less than half in the bins) was collected over the first May Bank holiday and that this cost many thousands of pounds to dispose of.

Mark Evison (left), our Park Manager, returned this year to update the members on the challenges over the past year and on how the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust is planning for the future. Mark is working on a draft Park Infrastructure Business Plan. 

He made the point was made that commercial events in the park are now responsible for any damage/litter caused by them and that this does not come out of the Park Budget. Also any disturbance to the natural environment caused by an increase in commercial events within the park needs to be quantified. To this end, wild life surveys had been commissioned to establish a baseline situation. He also mentioned his responsibility with regards to the leaseholders (e.g. Boating Lake Cafe and pedalos, Pitch and Putt, Garden Centre) on site and that improvements will be made in negotiating their contracts as they come up for renewal.

Both speakers kindly thanked the Friends for their involvement with the Park.

The formal part of the evening was really not too long! We briefly highlighted the events put on by the Friends with a special mention for the successful joint event with the Alexandra Palace learning team for Haringey's weekend of play.

Gordon Hutchinson was re-elected chair, Nick Bryant re-elected treasurer and Jane Hutchinson re-elected secretary. Robyn Thomas, Frances Minnion and Stephen Middleton were also confirmed as committee members.

We said a sad goodbye to Harry Kornhauser, a long standing committee member and also to Laura Mazur, our pioneering newsletter editor, who is producing a short book on the Park which will come out later this year who has moved back over the pond.

We formally welcomed Caroline Beattie-Merriman onto the committee as our new newsletter editor (she had been co-opted onto the committee a few months back).

We do have a place free on the committee for somebody keen to join us!

Spring 2018 Bird Walk and Ringing Display

With dry weather, a pleasant surprise, between a dozen and a score of us met up in The Grove Car Park led by Gareth Richards.

We could pick out a few birds singing nearby including Robin, Blue Tit and Blackbird. Moving deeper into The Grove and saw a Stock Dove and a Mistle Thrush on the grass.

Looking around, we heard/saw Blue tits, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Long-tailed tits and even saw Swifts overhead.

Great tits were seen exiting a nest hole on old dead oak tree. (left)

Walking out of The Grove across the road, we espied a Mistle Thrush and male Blackbird.

After hearing the Goldcrest in The Grove, we were treated to closer sightings of this titchy bird in one of Giant Redwoods.

Walking across the South Slope there was Mallard on the grass and high in a tree a Greenfinch. Approaching the Pitch and Putt, a Blackcap was singing strongly.

We moved on to the Cricket Pitch area where Blue Tit was seen in a willow. A recent good news story is the spread of Sparrows 
(male pictured left) from their stronghold by the junction of North View Road, Newland Road and Nightingale Lane to the Cricket Scrub area.

We had a good explanation of the technique, purpose and legal requirement of Bird Ringing from licenced practitioner, Gerry. 

During this time, a Wood Pigeon perched on nearby hawthorn and the quick eyed saw a Wheatear. Walking off, a Whitethroat was singing in a willow.

By the reservoir, we spotted Herring and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, Grey Heron and disputing Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

Moving outside to the Filter Beds, a Little Egret flew over and a Grey Wagtail perched on the edge of one of the beds.

Back in the park, a woodpecker high up in a tree.

Spring Fungi Walk, 2018

About twenty of us met up with Andy Overall for a walk around the Park looking for Spring Fungi. Some of these are fungi are found throughout the year and others are Spring specialists.

After an introductory talk by Andy in the Park Information Centre, we adjourned to a nearby dead oak to see how the Smokey Bracket fungus was progressing.

Next stop was a pile of wood chips near the 3-4-5 Playgroup which yielded Wrinkled Fieldcaps and Hare's Foot Inkcap as well as a slime mold, the appropriately named Dog's Vomit.

Nearby was an elegant young Dryad's Saddle pictured left as well as a clump of edible St. George's Mushrooms

By the fence nearby (and later in the walk), we saw some Brittle Cinder. We skirted around the Playgroup building to find a larger Dryad's Saddle that had been present for last year's Spring Fungi Walk.

Moving out of The Grove towards the Garden Centre, we spotted a few clumps of Stinkhorns just rising from the earth. These will grow and start to smell eventually looking like this. On some deadwood close by were some "bootlaces" - these are Honey Fungus rhizomorphs - clumped mycelia.

We walked towards the Paddock Car Park seeing several less dramatic fungi - HypoxylonPyrenomycetes and Hypodontia

On Lower Road, where the Farmers Market usually resides on a Sunday, we saw some King Alfred's Cakes.

Progressing towards the Redston Field, more St. George's Mushrooms were found and also Trametes ochracea (sorry poor pic). Another slime mold was also spotted - Wolf's Blood. The slime molds are in a completely different kingdom and not related to fungi.

Returning to the Park Information Centre, we spotted more Dryad's Saddle and the remains of a puffball from last year.

During the walk, we were encourage to sniff some of the Fungi as this can be valuable tool in identification.

We now have a copy of Andy's huge Fungi Book in the Park Information Centre for people to consult.

May Members Walk

On a pleasant evening, we met up by the Farmers' Market to trace the old racecourse. Gordon showed us old maps of the area and pointed out where the Paddocks and ring were before walking to a position by the finishing line where the Grandstand used to dominate.

We saw pictures of the racecourse and its grandstand in its pomp...

Continuing towards the cricket pitch the route of the course was pointed out where it went around the pitch. We were told how long the racecourse had lasted (1868 to 1970) and the reasons for it closing (mostly safety - corners too tight with adverse camber).

We finished near the 5 furlong start point before a few of adjourned to the Starting Gate which has itself an interesting collection of Horse Racing Memorabilia.

Dawn Chorus Bird Walk

On a mild early morning, @Birdbrainuk met up with us at the Park Information Centre. David Darrell-Lambert led about two dozen of us on an exploratory walk to discovery the soundscape of the early morning.

David, referring back to his talk, pointed out the sounds of the birds to be heard at this early hour.

We were treated to the sight of Jays chasing through the trees at the start of the walk. As to the sounds, the loudest sounds came from almost the smallest birds, the Wrens, with their high decibel songs .

The deepest voice came from the Stock Doves and Wood Pigeon as they don't open their mouths so the sound comes from deep down. The highest pitch songs came from the Goldcrests which
many of our group could make out. (We gradually lose high frequencies with age.)

Throughout the walk we kept hearing the jaffles of the Green Woodpeckers tracking our movements. 

Jays again came to the fore when they where seen building a nest near the Lower Path (pictured left). We also saw a Crow in a nest. Our walk had taken us down to the Lower Road and back along the Middle Path eventually pigging out on croissants and coffee.

Some of the many birds seen and heard on our walk.

Song Thrush
Grey Heron
Stock Dove
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit

Haringey Weekend of Play

The learning team of Alexandra Palace had activities in (making flowers) and by the Boating Lake boathouse on the Saturday. The Friends contributed some pictures for both the flower and bird trails around the Boating Lake as well as having one of two people on the stall during the afternoon. The event went well and was the best attended in Haringey!

Talk: Birds and Their Song

On a beautiful warm evening it was a pleasure to welcome back David Darrell-Lambert, Birdbrain (link to his website), to give a talk on our birds, their song and why they sing.

The talk was fully booked with not spare seat in the house...

We were told of the different types of sound that birds make:

are to attract mates and declare territories to other males. It is normally only the males that "sing" - exceptions include the robin and the dunnock.

Alarm calls warn of predators or other unwelcome intrusions.

Contact calls help the birds to keep in touch with other members of a group or a mate.

In his usual lively style, David, gave us a top ten of bird songs to listen out for which included Robin, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow and revealed that even if we think that we don't know any bird sounds - we all recognise some of them and have a basis to start learning more.....

April Conservation Work in the Park

Very hot - to contrast from last month being cancelled due to the snow...

A very good turnout of 14 people to help us make a mark. Brambles were removed as were tree saplings trying to re-establish in the grassy area.

We were treated to some Brimstone butterflies passing through as well as seeing some 7 spot ladybirds and hearing some Chiffchaffs.

Dandelions were springing up all over, Wood-rush was seen, some Lesser Celandines were still flowering and Hornbeam, Field Maple and Norway Maple trees were all in flower.

The juice was especially welcome in the heat.

Spring Bat Walk

Not a prepossessing start to the Bat Walk with drizzle forcing the group to gather in the shelter of the Boating Lake Cafe. We shouldn't really have been surprised after this season's dreadful weather... ....you only have to look at the mud around the Park. Enough of that, sorry.

Gordon gave a talk an introduction to British Bats and those to be found around the world and luckily the rain stopped. (Un)fortunately he was interrupted in his presentation with an early arrival at the Boating Lake. This was our largest bat the Noctule which we only see from time to time. This time it hung around high-ish above the Boating Lake searching for food and everybody managed to get a good sight of it.

After the sun went down (invisible to our eyes), we walked along the Boating Lake and it wasn't long before we started to "hear" the Pipistrelles on our Bat Detectors. They swept by lower than the Noctule at around head level and delighted the group with their aerial antics.

Wandering further around the lake, we heard them all along the way. 

Although, probably due to the inclement weather, we didn't see as many Pipistrelle bats as usual, this Bat Walk will be remember for the best sightings yet of the Noctule (and some people may have even spotted a Daubenton's Bat skimming the water.

Early Spring Tree Walk

Winter has hung around for a while so things are a bit slow getting going on the tree flowering front. No luck as well for the day with very poor weather of rain and dark skies so just seven hardy souls joined us for the walk.

What is spectacular at this time of year is the display of flowering cherries just below the terrace giving beautiful pink blossoms. There was also the contrast of the fading yellow flowers of the Cornelian Cherries - not actually cherries, but dogwoods.

We walked down onto the South Slope inspecting the bramble clearance and a Wych Elm just about to come into flower.

Close by was the Totem Pole made from Horse Chestnut wood and now being attacked by different fungi. Next along was our native Bird Cherry full of leaves and flower buds yet to open.

Beeches were inspected above the Rose Garden with leaves still to 
appear before we walked down towards the Blandford Hall area passing by different "Aesculus" species. (A. flava (Yellow Buckeye), A. indica (Indian Horse Chestnut), A. hippocastum (Horse Chestnut) and A. x Carnea (Red Horse Chestnut) before winding down looking up at some Silver Maple flowers.

A short detour into the Blandford Hall woodland gave us Goat Willow flowers both yellow males and green females (on different trees).

Retracing our steps passing above the old Eastern Deer Enclosure we could see that the Weeping Ash tree was just about to burst into flower and the Caucasian Wingnut was putting out its first leaves.

Hybrid Black Poplar "Robusta" catkins were a colourful red colour (male flowers only on this tree) by the old Dry Ski Slope.

Mentioning the new tree planting (replacement Planes and trees in the Upper Field sponsored by Go Ape) we continued on to look a Snowy Mespils or Amelanchier Tree whose buds look quite distinctive as they burst.

Our last tree on the walk was a Box Elder in full flower by the Boating Lake - another Acer (like the Silver Maple), but with a completely different looking inflorescence.

.... with the increasing rain four of the party adjourned quickly for warming sustenance at the Boating Lake Cafe.

More reports on Tree Walks here.

Talk: Standing up for Trees

On a much milder March evening, Sara Crofts a volunteer speaker for the Woodland Trust entertained and informed us with her talk: "Standing up for Trees".

She re-iterated the reasons why trees are so special to us; cleaning air, stopping soil erosion, creating natural habitats etc.. We heard about how little tree cover there is in the UK compared to other countries in Europe and the attempts to address this problem - including the project Northern Forest

Although Ancient Woodland only accounts for 3% of the UK land surface, paradoxically, in the UK we have more Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees than the rest of the Europe so it is especially important to protect this woodland current under threat.

Talking woodlands, our visiting speaker pointed out that the Woodland Trust website has a great guide to find the nearest local woodlands (we have plenty!) - Visiting Woods.

The other main threats that have been in the news have been the current surge in Pests and Diseases hitting this country. Ash Dieback is sweeping the country and many other pests and diseases have been causing devastation in the country - you only have to look back to Dutch Elm Disease to see the potential effect on the landscape.

Sara outlined the work of the Woodland Trust in combating these threats and promoting trees everywhere (new focus on Urban Trees) and encouraged us all to help out on one of the many Citizen Science projects including Nature's Calendar.

On-going events

Free Health Walks

Health walks, starting in Priory Road and walking into Alexandra Park, take place every Monday at 10:15 am.

Everyone welcome, whatever level of fitness. Lasts 45 minutes.  More details.

Park Run in Alexandra Park

The Ally Pally Park Run is a 5km timed run, jog or walk, which takes place in Alexandra Park every
Saturday at 9am.

On 23rd September the Park Run topped 300 runners!

Park Run is organised by volunteers and is free to anyone wishing to take part, but prior registration is needed. See http://www.parkrun.org.uk/allypally.

For an interview with the founder and director of Park Run in  Alexandra Park,  Catherine Edeam, see Interviews.

The Conservation Volunteers

April 2018

TCV returned to The Grove to extend the line of new saplings planted. Field Maple, Hawthorn and Rowan were in the mix this time. Holes were dug, trees put in, holes filled and finally a generous watering was applied.

With this job done, the team moved down to the area above the access road to the Paddock Car Park where some leaning Poplars had previously been felled. Saplings of unwanted species were removed - Ash, Sycamore, Norway Maple and Poplars while Hawthorns, Elder and Blackthorn were left.

Next date Wednesday, 3rd July. Meet at the Bedford Road entrance at 10am.

Check here for updates, or contact Tom Nandi our BAT East Project Officer, email t.nandi@tcv.org.uk or call on Tel: 07917 267 573. for more info. 

They carry out various conservation tasks such as pond clearance, building foot bridges, planting trees, and opening glades to increase bio-diversity.

Want to hear about future Park and Alexandra Palace Way closures?

Natalie Layton of the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust has clarified that anyone wishing to receive future notifications of closures of Alexandra Palace Way (W3 etc.) or parts of the Park (not marketing emails) should send a request to: Natalie.Layton@alexandrapalace.com

If you are fascinated by the Trees in the Park you may wish to try out our  new and growing "Tree App".

Follow this link for details.

Items which originally appeared on this Home page, may have been moved to other pages, such as Park Issues and Previous Events in the Park. 

Please explore our other pages - scroll up, and see the menu across the top of the page.

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