White Van Woman


Next up: Doors.



You may recall, if you’ve been following this epic saga from the start, that I wanted to replace the study doors with something a little more ‘cottagey’. So after the excesses and consequential inertia of Christmas and the New Year what better to rekindle the renovation spirit than another cross country sourcing expedition?



On the face of it there is plenty of choice. But only some of them conformed to the ideal cottage style and when they did they were rarely of the required height. The older the door, the shorter it is likely to be. My study doorway seems to have been enlarged at some point in its history and the louvred panels leading to the en-suite are, obviously, a modern addition. Finding old doors to fit these openings was proving to be an uphill task.


Along the way, Mike thought he had found the perfect thing for me..



‘Manager’. Ho ho ho.

 By this time our mission had extended across three counties and well beyond the realms of most salvage firms’ delivery reach. A new problem began to emerge. Even if we found a door, how, exactly, would we get it home?



Simple. We would hire a van.

Things were complicated a tad by a mix up with the rental company when the short wheelbase vehicle that Mike had reserved online somehow transformed itself into a wheelbase that was considerably longer. The van was bloomin’ huge. Thankfully, for the benefit of all concerned, yours truly was relieved of any of the driving. My job was navigation. And finding a suitable place to stop for lunch. I did rather better with the latter.

I used to enjoy map reading and achieved a passable standard over the years. It was a sad day indeed when I was declared redundant in favour of someone called Tom Tom. No matter, these days I have trumped all that with the ‘blue spot’ on my iPad. The blue spot follows a pre-programmed route on the screen and comes with the advantage that one can engage in a bit of blogging, and indeed a bit of twittering, all at the same time. You can see where this is going, helped not even slightly by LWRS (Long Wheelbase Related Stress).

There were a few moments of heated debate and, to be fair, not all of it was my fault. How infuriating is it, when you are given a task and offer up the correct and independently verified (Google Maps) information only to be overruled by someone who thinks he knows far better? Or when you have just circumnavigated a roundabout for the third time despite the fact that the required exit had been pointed out clearly on each of the two previous occasions?

At the end of the day it was all good fun.

We had a nice lunch.

At a pitstop for diesel there was a Twix to share. (A Yorkie bar might have been more appropriate.)

The van was returned with nothing to put on a damage report.


And how’s this for a result?



2018-05-30T20:23:16+00:00January 10th, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Brian Skeys January 10, 2015 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    ….sanding and varnishing?

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Sanding, staining and polishing? There are a variety of woods in the room so to avoid it being all very bitty I’d like to get the doors and floor to a similar shade if poss. Luckily there are pieces to cut off each of the doors and spare floorboard material, so plenty of opportunity for experimenting.

  2. Chel @ Sweetbriar Dreams January 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Oh just perfect!! Those reclamation yards are little treasure troves but as you say, it is the ‘getting home’ that is the real problem. I too have a ‘driver’ that will not argue with me but will also argue with Mr Tom Tom too. I put it down to the fact that he must LOVE driving and going a long way around 🙂 I can’t wait to see the progress on this magnificent door. Take care. Chel x

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Sadly there aren’t too many reclamation yards close to us, so ‘getting home’ will always be a problem. I love poking around them too. At least himself will be an experienced van driver next time!

  3. Em January 10, 2015 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Very nice! Did you wolf whistle at anyone out of the window? X

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Only some Highland cows in a field on the outskirts of Glastonbury.

  4. Helen January 10, 2015 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Lovely doors. Of course you could get a joiner to make some for you, like my son.

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 7:45 pm - Reply

      That is always in the back of our minds Helen. There is still the rest of the upstairs to find doors for yet. For some reason all the original ones were replaced.

  5. justjilluk January 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm - Reply


    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Indeed. We opened a bottle of wine on it.

  6. Eleanor January 10, 2015 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Brilliant! The doors look perfect. xx

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 7:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks Eleanor. All different colours, but hopefully we can remedy that.

  7. Sue@GLAllotments January 10, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Well done – we have had malfunctioning Tom Tom issues. We are hoping this is finally resolved after months of going back and forth to Curry’s repairers, Not so much Curry’s Knowhow as Curry;s don;t know how!

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      The more complicated things get the more there is to go wrong. Our main problem down here is lack of signal. The route stays (satellite) but the maps behind it seem to come from the mobile link. Frequently I’m following a blue spot on a blue line against a white background and only know we’ve gone wrong when the two diverge!

  8. hoehoegrow January 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Love Reclamation Yards as you never know what you might find ! Your doors look as though they will be just the job although the ‘manager’ door must have been very tempting! You could then have instigated a ‘knock and wait’ policy!!

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      What a very good idea. Perhaps I was a little too hasty in dismissing it.

  9. Amy at love made my home January 10, 2015 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Perfection!! I love the idea of the managers door, but I can just see someone else sat behind it trying to think of themselves as the manager! Ptolomey or one of the mice for starters!! Oh, thinking of Ptolomey – I will return to the comment in a mo! – I saw two – yes, two – of those metal pheasants for sale in our shop this week, but I didn’t buy them. They do exist, but they very pricey! I think of you in all things phesanty! And in other less feathered ways too! The doors that you found are great and will be just the thing and very cottagey for sure. I hope that it is all coming along well and that you are looking forward to enjoying the results. xx n.b. note how I didn’t make any comments about the sat nav or the roundabout. I am working on keeping my mouth shut this year! xx

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      Mike found a doorstop in the shape of a pheasant and has given it to me as a gift. As soon as the study is finished it is going up against the new door. It will feature in the photograph I’m sure. I’ll look out for the metal ones as we go visiting this year. I’d just love to see what Ptolemy would make of it, sticking up in the lawn 🙂

  10. Cumbrian January 10, 2015 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Just a couple of ideas.

    If you’re struggling to get shorter doors, why not lower the door openings, it only needs to be the frame and not the lintol, just patch in above.The width is easy, shave the door or pack the jambs.

    Or, looking at the ledge brace and batten style of doors, they could probably be replicated with salvaged floorboards? The black japanned tee-hinges are still available, as are the traditional sneck-on-the-latch fittings. Made-to-measure to fit any size opening.

    Don’t think the Managers door would go very well, although I appreciate his sense of humour.

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cumbrian, great ideas. There are still another three doors to find for upstairs rooms so we may well get into making them ourselves, or getting them made from reclaimed timber. I will need to find replacement fittings for these doors too, they’re either completely missing or knackered.

  11. islandthreads January 10, 2015 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    well done both of you, a well earned lunch out, your study will be unrecognisable from its former self, Frances

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      It needs to be Frances.
      Glad you’ve got power, hope the storm was not too bad last night. We’ve got more to come by the sounds of it. Keep safe.

  12. Christina January 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, what a door adventure! I like the lunch part as well 😉 Glad that you found what you are looking for and can’t wait to see the doors installed in your house. Wishing you a lovely rest of the weekend!

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      The lunch was the best bit! You too Christina.

  13. Jennifer January 10, 2015 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    I really love old doors, and gates, the more rustic the better. I’m really enjoying following along with this process with you. I have to say that smartphone GPS navigation has changed our lives in the car. There’s a lot less arguing and apologizing now.

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Rustic can be very beautiful, I agree. I have a bit of trouble convincing Mike of that. He is more comfortable with everything perfect and straight! I dare say the technology is so much better for you. The sat nav has a habit of leaving us dangling in virtual mid-air, or sending us into farmyards and similar dead ends. C’est la vie. Thanks Jennifer.

  14. Jayne Hill January 10, 2015 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    Been there, done that. There was a particularly ‘tetchy’ morning in Lancaster recently when I clearly said ‘take the first exit off this roundabout and xxxxx will be on the right” Thirty minutes, numerous additional miles, and a couple of sets of roadworks later the driver finally did as he was told and guess what …. we were at our destination.

    But your doors look great, well done for persevering.

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      And will they learn for next time? No.
      If you need a door for Management’s office I can tell you where to find one… 🙂

  15. Loree / danger garden January 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Those doors are pretty fabulous, and I love reading about you adventures!

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Loree. They were a lucky find. At least it keeps me out of trouble until the gardening season comes round again.

  16. Kris P January 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    What an expedition! I’m impressed that your husband cooperated with the search – mine would have been on-line looking up sources that would ship (or in his workshop building something to the spec).

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I was online looking up sources. The trouble is the salvage yards tend to have so many doors they don’t list them individually. No alternative but to get up and go.

  17. Rosie January 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    What a super adventure and the doors are perfect:)

    • Jessica January 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      I hope they will be when we’ve done a bit more work on them. It’s one of the fun parts of renovating, going out and hunting down the bits that we need. Thanks Rosie.

  18. pbmgarden January 10, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Your story has a happy ending, but I do think the Manager door would be fun. susie

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      It would be fun. And if it had been a little less old fashioned I’d have had it!

  19. Cathy January 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Glad you continue to ‘enjoy’ the chase Jessica!! It always makes for a good story 🙂

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      I do enjoy the chase, the more difficult to find something the greater the sense of satisfaction.

  20. CJ January 10, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    Oh, yes, they’re lovely, well done, I can imagine how tricky it was to find them. And well done on the navigating, blogging, tweeting thing, I’m so impressed that you can do it all at once. Very wise to keep the driver’s blood sugar up with a little chocolate, they can be tricky if you don’t feed them regularly I find. I shall look forward to seeing the doors in situ. How’s ratty? CJ xx

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Mousey. Don’t be giving him ideas above his station. He’s gone quiet. Always a worry..

  21. Mark and Gaz January 11, 2015 at 8:16 am - Reply

    It turned out to be a rather nice adventure Jessica 🙂 and now to fit it…

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Indeed. And not chop too much off or we start all over again.

  22. threadspider January 11, 2015 at 8:18 am - Reply

    Every little element of your house will tell a story by the time you finish it, although I fear it will be of epic qualities! Great doors- I can see them installed already. I know you love the hunt and chase for items, but if you can’t find fittings for the doors, try The Period House Shop in Ludlow- good website and online ordering. We’ve bought hand made cast iron hooks from them and most of the door furniture here came from them. It’s a treasure trove of bits and pieces for old houses.

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      Yes, I’ve heard of it. I think they advertise in Period Living, although I may be getting it confused with somewhere else. We’ll need to buy all the fittings for these doors so I’ll look them up. Thanks for the tip!

  23. Sarah January 11, 2015 at 8:47 am - Reply

    What a great find! I love a piece of furniture/cushion/knickknack to have a story behind it and what a story you have 🙂

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      That’s exactly why I enjoy hunting around for the right bits & pieces. There will be many stories by the end of this.

  24. Denise January 11, 2015 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Certain things are worth the extra aggravation, aren’t they? Whenever you look at those doors you’ll have a memory to go with them! And now you’ve put me in mind of a Twix. Haven’t had one of those in years…

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Could never resist a Twix. And while every other confectionery item I can think of has got smaller, Twix seems to have got bigger. Just as well if you have to share it.

  25. countrysidetales January 11, 2015 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Worth all the hassle- that’s a lovely door, although I think you should also use the manager one :o)

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      I’ll just have to get one of those hanging signs to put on the new door. Something that appropriately conveys the status of the occupant.

  26. wherefivevalleysmeet January 11, 2015 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Dear Jessica – your navigational skills will surely ring many bells with others of our gender, but good that it all ended in fun and not tears.
    I shall look forward to seeing your doors when they are in situ, they should certainly add the ‘cottagey’ character you want.

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Technology does make it a whole lot easier these days, when it works anyway! It is virtually (no pun) impossible to get lost.

  27. Joanne January 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I love a good reclamation yard visit. I’m glad your trek proved successful in the end. I was banned from map reading quite possibly in the first week Mike & I met, I’m not allowed to touch a map. (Not that we have a book now)

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      It’s a shame really because I used to quite enjoy map reading, the challenge of it. I would send Mike down really tiny roads, gated ones with grass growing up the middle, just to prove I could find my way out. Not much has changed in that respect.. Tom Tom knows those roads too!

  28. Donna@GardensEyeView January 11, 2015 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Love the door and love the adventure altho I can relate to being the navigator and the pilot overrules you and you get lost….

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Why is it they always think they know best?

  29. snowbird January 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    Well….there you go! You got an adventure, a lovely lunch and fantastic new doors!xxx

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Even Mike had to admit it was more fun than plastering!

  30. frayed at the edge January 11, 2015 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    When I stripped many, many doors in our Victorian house way back in the 90s, I varnished them with coloured varnish, which evened out most of the colour differences. When Malcolm ignores the sat-nav, she says in a rather frosty voice “recalculating” ……… I am waiting for the day when she says “well if you aren’t going to pay attention to my directions, you can s*d off and get lost”!!!

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Ours used to say “Turn around when possible” about six times and then go quiet. Sulking I presume.

  31. angiesgardendiaries January 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Your doors really do have a cottagey feel, far better than the louvres, that’s for sure! They were worth the effort, don’t you think. Thank goodness I am both the driver and the navigator, a car or van is far too small a space to get wound up and I’m all too easily wound up!
    I await to see the marvellous job both you and Mike make of the doors.

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      If I can get a more consistent colour across the three of them it will be well worth the effort. Originally I thought about painting the louvres, to get them to blend in. But the wall paint we’ve chosen has a greenish tinge so then I wasn’t quite so sure. I hope a cottage door will be a better solution.

  32. Jo January 11, 2015 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Glad you managed to find the doors you wanted, and after an adventure too.

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      I just hope they’ll be OK Jo. Apparently the architraves now need changing. They’ll certainly need stripping. It never ends..

  33. SeagullSuzie January 11, 2015 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Those doors are going to look great, well done on your great van adventures.

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Of course, you have all of this fun to come… 🙂

  34. Cathy January 11, 2015 at 8:55 pm - Reply

    I must be really sad, Jessica! I am enjoying your close-ups of doors and floorboards so much, they are beautiful. Maybe I’ll print them out and stick them on the wall to enjoy (I am joking … I think). None of the doors in our house fit properly. The previous owner (a sculptor who cared more about the visual than human comfort) bought them all at a reclamation yard that I’ve never been able to find. All have a gap of about 2 inches at the bottom: enter howling gales in winter! Yours look like a great addition – I hope they FIT better than ours do.

    • Jessica January 11, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      I am hoping they fit too… the main door is a little short. We may need to create a bigger gap at the top and fill it somehow. We shall see. I’m more worried about the gaps between the floorboards. The room below is quite cold. I foresee draughts getting into all sorts of unwelcome places unless we are careful 🙁

  35. CherryPie January 11, 2015 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Those doors are going to look great when they have been shined and varnished!

    When I get that sort of treatment in the navigation department, I go on strike 😉

    • Jessica January 12, 2015 at 11:13 pm - Reply

      Tempting isn’t it.

  36. Amy January 12, 2015 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Wonderful find, Jessica! It’s great to see you pulling the pieces together – seems like “manager” would have suited quite well 😉 though I do prefer your final selection!
    btw I’ve finally written up a post on “how we got to the desert”: http://smallsunnygarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-tale-of-two-gardens.html

    • Jessica January 12, 2015 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      It does feel as though it might be coming together at last. Hopefully starting on the floor tomorrow.
      Your post makes for an interesting read. Amazing how many of us end up in a similar set of circumstances, albeit in different parts of the world.

  37. Beth @ PlantPostings January 12, 2015 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Oh, I can’t wait to see the doors in place. Thanks for sharing the fun story of your search and your adventure, too. 🙂

    • Jessica January 12, 2015 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      Getting the doors on will mean the project is nearing its end. That will definitely be worth celebrating!

  38. Charlie@Seattle Trekker January 12, 2015 at 3:42 am - Reply

    I am really enjoying your project and love visiting the recycle businesses…I am in no rush to get this done, the journey is everything.

    • Jessica January 12, 2015 at 11:30 pm - Reply

      It’s worth taking time over and getting it right. It does get frustrating though when you are looking for something that is rarely found. Like a tall old door. Thanks Charlie.

  39. sustainablemum January 12, 2015 at 10:01 am - Reply

    What an adventure! Those doors look perfect so it must have been a worthwhile journey despite all the mishaps!

    • Jessica January 12, 2015 at 11:33 pm - Reply

      Not quite perfect but near enough. So definitely worthwhile. And we’ve done van driver training now, should it be needed again.. 🙂

  40. suefrombrampton January 13, 2015 at 9:50 am - Reply

    The ‘old doors’ will definitely be more in charactor with the house..can’t wait to see them in place.

    • Jessica January 13, 2015 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Sue, thanks and welcome to rusty duck.
      Like so many old cottages this one has suffered from a great deal of ‘modernisation’, some of it particularly insensitive. It feels right to try and put some of the character back, even if it is hard going at times!

  41. Annie January 13, 2015 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    Nice doors m’dear … you are clearly both ace fossickers.

    • Jessica January 13, 2015 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Beats plastering.. 🙂

  42. woolythyme January 14, 2015 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    oh darn…..I was voting for the ‘Manager’ door…..(wonder if they ship to the states?????)

    • Jessica January 14, 2015 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      I suppose if it was painted off white, or a nice trendy grey, it might be OK?

  43. rachel January 14, 2015 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Hey, that’s excellent! Well done both of you. We have a strange collection of doors, mostly 4 or 6 panelled, old and rather nice, despite the super-shiny-shiny brass door furniture so loved by the previous owners (matching all the sockets and light switches……) but in the bathroom there are two modern flush monstrosities. After three years of complaining and doing nothing about them, I can feel a reclamation yard hunt coming on….

    • Jessica January 14, 2015 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Less travelling for you.. between Glastonbury and Frome alone there are four. Get on out there!

  44. Jacqueline January 14, 2015 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    LOVE the doors that you have chosen Jessica ……. just perfect for your cottage. I actually like them as they are but, most people would want them a bit tidier !! Our daughter introduced me to ‘ blue spot ‘ only last week. It is another string to one’s bow when travelling somewhere new although, I find ‘ Tabitha ” { we call her that as she is quite posh !! } on my sat nav very able and hasn’t let me down …. YET !!!!
    Looking forward to seeing the progress on your lovely doors. XXXX

    • Jessica January 14, 2015 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      If it wasn’t for the broad array of colours I would leave them exactly as they are. The key holes, woodworm holes (I’m assured it’s dead) and general rough and readiness will stay. Rustic chic!

      • Jacqueline January 15, 2015 at 4:25 pm - Reply

        A girl after my own heart !! XXXX

        • Jessica January 15, 2015 at 10:25 pm - Reply


  45. Sarah January 14, 2015 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Some lovely recycled doors and a good lunch (Twix bars are good to share- in my youth my friend and I used to buy them for 10p to share!) At least the map reader didn’t send you down narrow roads that aren’t white van friendly! Sarah x

    • Jessica January 14, 2015 at 10:28 pm - Reply

      10p! Oh that takes me back..
      There were a few narrow roads. The worst bit was reversing back down our drive after dark.

  46. casa mariposa January 14, 2015 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Hooray for you! I love the one that said Manager but the later is probably the better fit. It has much more character than the louvered door. What a fun way to source exactly what you want. It was more like a treasure hunt and less like shopping. 🙂

    • Jessica January 15, 2015 at 9:01 am - Reply

      You’re right. I’m not a great fan of shopping I have to admit, treasure hunting is far more exciting!

  47. Sue January 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Oh I would definitely have bought the ‘Manager’ door. Imagine it in our office and Lovely Hubby having to knock and wait while I finish Blogging 😉

    • Jessica January 15, 2015 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      Or we could perhaps buy them for the Man Sheds? Sort of the equivalent of having their headquarters located in the outside privy.

  48. Janet/Plantaliscious January 15, 2015 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the giggle – I am impressed by your dedication, I’m sure I would have just cut something down and painted it at least two counties earlier!!

    • Jessica January 15, 2015 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      That was Plan B.

  49. Caro January 16, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I wouldn’t mind either a tomtom or a navigator! I usually drive solo with sheets of paper in huge letters and my iphone map open on the passenger seat. The good thing is that, driven once, I usually remember the route. The bad thing is that I have often discovered some interesting alternatives to my chosen road. Looking forward to seeing the finished doors in situ – the raised doorways are no doubt due to too many banged foreheads in the past. Make sure you catch that mouse before the floorboards are nailed down!

    • Jessica January 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      I’m sure you’re right about the banged heads. Being only a little over 5 foot not a problem for me!
      I remember plenty of solo work trips where I was exactly the same with routes in big letters. Did you know you can get voice directions on your iPhone if you have the latest OS. It was a revelation to me when I turned it on by mistake.

  50. Pauline January 16, 2015 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Love the doors and the story that goes with them! Did you try the reclamation yard on your side of Exeter, last time we went they had hundreds of doors! Love the one for the Manager, I know someone who would love that! The same person who ignores me totally when I am navigating for him!

    • Jessica January 16, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      The one converted from a station? Yes.
      I have a sneaky suspicion someone here would have liked it too. After all, it was he who spotted it!

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