Living Wage

October 27th, 2015

Cambridge Baby has just become accredited by the Living Wage Foundation who are campaigning for companies to pay a wage that people can live on, calculated annually based on the cost of living, rather than the minimum wage.

Becoming accredited hasn't changed what we pay people at Cambridge Baby as we already pay over the current Living Wage.  However, we're one of the first clothing retailers to join up and the first online retailer in the East of England to do so.  As there are over 3m people employed in retail across the UK, often in very low paid work, we wanted to shout about the work of the Living Wage foundation and encourage many more businesses across the country to join us.  

webversionof US

 

As company director Helen East says,

"A significant driver in setting up our own business ten years ago was that we wanted to do business as ethically as possible. This doesn't stop at sourcing ethically made natural and sustainable clothes. It means everything from treating staff well, with decent wages and flexible working hours, to buying Fair Trade gift wrap to wrap our gift items in.

"We're lucky enough to employ people who are passionate about the environment and social welfare and we want them to feel as proud of Cambridge Baby as we do."  

Customers tell us they feel good about shopping with Cambridge Baby because they trust us to do the research and choose the loveliest ethical clothes for their family.  And we do.

 


What’s the difference between Llama and Alpaca?

September 28th, 2015

Llamas and alpacas look very similar and are closely related, but there are a number of differences between them .   These differences stem from how they have been used and bred over thousands of years of farming in South America.

A_Quechua_girl_and_her_Llama-Thomas-Quine

 A young Quechuan girl with her llama, which are stronger and less woolly than alpaca.

Alpaca have been bred for their fibre - which can be super-soft, light, airy and warm.  It's truly the fibre of Incan royalty and we at Cambridge Baby keep expanding our range of alpaca clothing as its durable, and up to 7 times lighter than wool for its warmth.

Llamas, in contrast, have been bred as useful, working farm animals - to carry loads, and to guard other livestock.  So they are stronger and larger than the pretty alpaca, and rather less furry to look at.  They are also quite independent-minded, whereas alpaca prefer to be in herds, rather like sheep.  If you look at their faces in the photos above and below, you can see the differences.

Alpaca taken by Patrick Furlong

Alpaca, bred for their fibre, are smaller and more woolly than llama.

But we discovered recently that Llama fibre can be just as lovely as alpaca.  A fleece consists of two layers, the guard layer, which is strong and straight, and makes good rope, while underneath  is the super-soft layer of down.  These are the fluffy fibres which make excellent clothing and, like alpaca, can be as fine or finer than cashmere, under 20 micron.  They usually have a hollow core, which gives extra insulating warmth, and a crimp (a kind of zig-zagging of the fibre) like merino wool, which also adds insulation.

Should alpaca and llama hair be called "wool"?  Most people say that it's not technically wool and should be referred to as fibre, but some say that it's fine to call it wool after it's shorn.  So, take your pick!

Alpaca and llama fibre, like most animal and human hair and wool, should be cared for gently.  There's not need to wash very often and the "wear then air" strategy works well.  If the times comes to wash it, use detergents designed for delicates, wash gently and dry away from direct heat.

Serendipity_Diamond_llama_cardigan

We're lucky to now be stocking a hand-knitted llama cardigan for kids in sizes from 2 to 11 years.  We hope you enjoy it!

 

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Royal wool for a Royal Cambridge Baby

April 30th, 2015

Given that Grandfather Charles has started to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique, natural and sustainable benefits offered by wool, it seems likely that the coming Royal baby will be lucky enough to start its life dressed in organic wool.  We hope so.

When we saw that Pippa had brought organic cloth nappies back from Switzerland, we wanted to let the Royal Family know that they are available right here in Cambridge.  We've even got covers in Royal Blue.

Organic Blue Merino Nappy

We then got thinking again about what the Royal families Cambridge Baby favourites would be. We thought Grandfather Charles, Prince of Wales, would like this jumper that's hand knitted in Wales with Soil Association certified organic Welsh wool yarn.

 

 

Every baby needs a baby body, and these organic merino wool and silk ones have been gently treated with papaya and sugar cane enzyme which mean they wash brilliantly and will be still be in wonderful condition to hand on to any royal siblings or cousins that may come along.  We are sure that the Royals enjoy hand-me-downs too - and these are one of the most sustainable choices.

Finally the baby needs something to sleep in.  What do you think?  We thought these organic merino sleeping bags would be perfect. As they are sleeveless and breathable they are light weight enough for spring. We also thought that since they go up to big sizes, brother George could have one too.

 

 

 If you could kindly let them know of our suggestions, we'd be very grateful.  Just tweet our post to them, would you?!


The wonderful benefits of wool!

March 18th, 2015

 

Wool, nature's way of clothing sheep, has real benefits for you and your family. It's not only soft and fluffy, but naturally clever too.   Genius, in fact.

How wool works

  • Wool can breathe, absorbing water vapour from the body and releasing it into the atmosphere

This means that if you wear around you, sweat is easily and consistently wicked away from your skin keeping your or your child's skin healthy.  Soft Merino wools are fabulous next to the skin, and non-itchy for most people.  

  • Wool can dynamically respond to the environment and help regulate temperature

Wool moves moisture away from your skin faster or slower, depending on your body temperature and the environment.  This is because is has evolved naturally to help keep sheep comfortable as temperatures change - and it does the same for you and your baby or child.  In this way, it helps keep the body's temperature stable even if you warm up through exercise, cool down through sitting still, or are affected by changing external temperatures.  Your body has to do less work, and it's more relaxed in a way - and wool helps the body relax into sleep too.

  • Wool can clean itself (oh yes!)

This benefits you as you don't have to wash it very often.  In fact, most natural wool clothes can be hung up to air and then worn again - the "wear then air" approach.  

  • Wool repels rain (think: sheep)

It's not entirely waterproof of course, but it's surprisingly showerproof and what's more, it can absorb water without feeling cold and wet.  You know how cotton gets cold when it's wet?  Wool stays warm and dry-feeling for much, much longer.  This is great for kids on the beach in Spring or in muddy puddles, and great if you're hiking in the Lake District too. 

  • Wool is good for summer!

Because wool can respond dynamically to what's going on around it, it's an excellent year-round fibre.  Fine layers of wool work brilliantly as underlayers in winter and top layers in summer - and it's also naturally UV protective too.  

Wool is a natural "high-performance" fabric - it's naturally good for your skin and body. Because of this, it's very helpful in keeping you and your family healthy, relaxed and rested.

 

The science and structure of wool

Let's have a look at how it does all these things.

Wool consists of three layers.

  • The first, keratin, is a moisture-loving protein that all animal hair has. It is designed to maintain a stable body temperature. Think how useful this is to babies, athletes and your own day-to-day living.
  • The second layer is a scaly covering. The overlapping scales are tiny, but as they rub against each other they push off the dirt. So it is self-cleaning, as anyone who's put their baby in wool knows.
  • The third layer is a filmy skin which keeps the rain out. Wool is quite water-resistant, as duffel-coat wearers and sheep can testify.

So, you can see already that it's pretty amazing, and a healthy thing to have next to your skin.

Now, the two outer layers have tiny pores which allow moisture to pass through to the keratin core, which absorbs it. So, if the temperature increases or the wearer becomes more active and begins to sweat, the moisture is wicked into the central core. Your body heat then wicks it out towards the surface, where it is released into the atmosphere.

In this way, it helps you and your baby maintain a stable temperature and keeps you and your baby dry and comfortable by absorbing and releasing sweat. It even does this "dynamically", which means it does it more when needed, and less when not needed. Wow. It's just the best thing, don't you think? No man-made fibre can equal this.

To keep these abilities, wool does need to be looked after. But with 99% of washing machines now having a wool cycle, this is quite easy. Just use a liquid detergent for wool, or a drop of your own shampoo, and set the temperature on your wool cycle to 30C.

More wool facts

  • Wool is naturally antibacterial. This is due to its lanolin (wool fat) content - as wool becomes moist, some of the lanolin converts to lanolin-soap, which helps keep the fabric hygienically clean! Combining this with it's self-cleaning properties, you can begin to understand why wool underwear doesn't get smelly. It smells fresh for ages.
  • Wool can absorb around 33% of its own weight without feeling wet. This is heaps more than man-made fibres, which typically absorb only 4% before feeling wet and uncomfortable. It's much more than cotton, too. It means that your baby is more likely to stay warm and dry if he/she dribbles or possets, and you can just give a quick rub down rather than having to change him/her so often. Making your baby happier, and your life easier.
  • Wool is a great insulator. It is warm in winter and cool in summer (think vacuum flask). This is because of all the "waves" in the fibre, which lock in air. It may seem strange to us to use wool in the summer, but many Bedouins and Tuaregs use wool to keep the heat out! (They use camel and goat hair as well as sheep's wool.) This is why sheepskins are such a great choice for prams, strollers and carseats, keeping your baby comfortable and so making your life easier.
  • Wool is "bouncy" - the springiness of the fibres gives it good elasticity - it stretches really well and goes back into shape well too. This means that it's very easy to put on your baby - and to take off of course too. Much less fiddling around with arms and things. Making your baby happier, and your life easier (did I say this before?).
  • Wool fibres can be bent and twisted over 30,000 times without breaking. (That's just an interesting fact. I can't relate that to your baby...)
  • Roman togas used to be made of wool. (ditto...)
  • Finally, wool is a very safe fabric and fire-resistant. It's harder to ignite than most synthetic fibres and cotton. It has a low rate of flame spread, it doesn't melt, or drip, and if it does burn it creates a "char" which self-extinguishes.

 

No man-made fibre can yet duplicate all of the properties of natural wool. How did sheep do all that?


What to dress your child in in Spring

March 11th, 2015

Spring is on its way, with its magical variety of sunshine and showers. Children love being able to bound around unencumbered by bulky winter coats, but they still need protection from chilly moments. Over thousands of years another little creature, the lamb,  has evolved the perfect clothing for jumping around in spring.  Wool. The unique structure of wool fibres mean they are able to help the body stay warm when its cold and keep cool when its hot. Here are Cambridge Baby's tips for dressing your child/baby in spring.

The Base Layer and Top

Merino vest

 A  brightly coloured merino vest  is perfect for spring. It can be worn as a top when its warm and under a  jumper at  chillier moments. It's thermoregulating properties help keep your child's body at a constant, comfortable temperature as they change activities. It's antibacterial and dirt resistant properties mean it doesn't need to  be  washed everyday - wear then hang to air and brush off any spills.

They're not totally food proof though so, if your child is a particularly messy eater, or wipes lots of  yucky things on  their sleeves,  I'd recommend wearing a bib/napkin - muslin squares make good bibs - and opting for a short sleeved vest, or rolling sleeves up at meal times.  Most merino wool vests and tops though are now machine-washable at 30C and above including those in the photos.

Outer Layer

Layering is the key to Spring dressing.   A natural wool fleece that can be easily taken off when it gets warm is useful all year round in a  variable climate like the UK, and is light and not bulky. The best thing about wool as that its breathable so you don't overheat in the same way. By the time its warm enough for your child to want to take off the fleece it will probably be warm enough for them just to be in a Merino vest top.  These  wool fleece jackets with a hood (below) are great for keeping the head warm too - and really useful after swimming.

 

On less changeable days, a light jumper is just the thing. I love the Relax jumpers for their lovely colours and light knit and these Disana ones are a wardrobe staple for so many families.

 Bottoms

Our woolly leggings are warm enough for chilly days but light and breathable enough that your child won't overheat when it gets warmer. These really do seem to be dirt repellent and are tough enough to wear climbing trees etc.Merino Wool Leggings

 

For warmer days or for children who like looser trousers the wool terry ones are fantastic - they even have elastic at the ankles that you can adjust.

If your child likes wearing leggings these wool silk ones are naturally breathable. Perfect for spring weather or to layer under other trousers on Spring ski trips.

 

Heads 

The sun can already be quite strong in spring time. An organic cotton sun hat that stays on will  protect your little ones face from the sun and make them more comfortable.  If you choose a sunhat with natural UV resistance, you know that your child's skin is getting extra protection too, all without harmful chemicals.

 

 If you have tips to share for Spring dressing, do let us know.

 


The Cambridge Baby Story…

October 30th, 2014

 

"It all began when...

 

"It all began when Helen realised what a great material wool is for babies' clothing. It doesn't absorb liquids like cotton does, so Baby does not get wet each time something unforeseen happens, and Mummy or Daddy doesn't have to go and change Baby all the time. And also it's cuddly and warm.  And that's how we like to keep the little ones!

"Helen being Helen, having discovered all these beautiful things, and being aware of how difficult it was to get hold of them in the UK, she started a business - Cambridge Baby.

"They ran it from their loft in their house until it almost burst. Nick being Nick, he built a lovely wooden shed using as much reclaimed wood as possible at the bottom of their garden, just behind the cherry tree. This now houses all their wonderful products as well as desks, and packing materials.

"Once or twice a year, Helen and the team go over to Germany, Holland, Italy and further afield to find out more about the natural clothing on the market and to discover new gorgeous things. (In Germany she stays with me, and that's great.) Helen and Nick also go to fairs and exhibitions around the UK to make sure they are selecting the best clothing out there and keeping up to date as the market changes.

"Helen, Nick and Rosy make sure all their woollen clothing suppliers are enthusiastic, family-run businesses who design and produce locally and ethically.  And all their organic cotton suppliers are actively trying to make the world a better place.

"I love the idea of buying "slow clothes" - clothes that have been produced ethically and traded fairly, and as both my children have loved wearing Cambridge Baby's clothing, I heartily recommend them to you.”

Dagmar Toews

Karlsruhe, Germany.


The Story of Wool

October 20th, 2014

The story of wool began a long time ago, before recorded history, when primitive people first clothed themselves in the woolly skins of the roaming wild sheep that early hunters killed for food.  Mouflon sheep, pictured below, are thought to be the closest relatives of the earliest sheep mankind would have encountered.

Mouflon-sheep-2

In using sheepskins, early tribes had discovered a durable fabric which gave them what nothing else could give:  protection from heat and cold, from wind and rain alike, from a fabric which kept the body cool in the heat of the day and warm in the cold of the night, and which could absorb moisture without feeling wet.

Sheep then began to be kept for both their milk and their valuable wool. When a sheep shed its fleece, it could be spun and woven into cloth. This versatile animal was probably the second to be domesticated after the dog, the perfect shepherding animal.  Sheep, the shepherd and his dog - an image which has reverberated through the ages, symbolic of gentleness and leadership, of kindness and endurance, of man and nature in harmony.  And we know that sheep have been kept and looked after and wool spun from their fleeces for over 10,000 years in Mesopotamia, Asia and parts of Europe.

Sheep Rock Art from Coso

 

Early wool-making

Wool is a fibre man can never match. No other material, natural or man-made, has all its qualities. But we can refine and improve wool and have done so through selective breeding of sheep over the centuries and through continually improving processing techniques.

Simple processing was happening already in Northern Europe thousands of years ago.  To spin wool, early tribes they took the wool in one hand and drew it out, twisting it into a thread with the fingers of the other hand. The result was a thick uneven yarn. Later, a crude spindle was developed by fitting a stone or clay ring to the end of a short wooden stick, and such hand-spindles have become more and more sophisticated, as in this decorated Incan spindle below.

inca-spindle

The ring acted as a flywheel and enabled the drawn-out yarn to be wound on to the spindle. This method of spinning was used for thousands of years and is still used by communities in various parts of the world to make wool yarn.

 

Wool - the gold on the loom

 Weaving is the earliest form of fabric-making known, pre-dating knitting and crochet which only appeared a thousand years ago.  Early looms were simple and effective, and their close cousins are in use around the world today too.  

 

primitive-loom-and-a-girl-spinning-wool

 

Spinning and weaving wool were of such importance in everyday life that they are central to many stories and songs that have been handed down to us, such as those below, and of such importance economically to Britain that it's fair to say our wealth stems from our woolly history.

As in this Scottish slip-jig, wool really was "gold on the loom."

 

"Hark as the bee hunts for treasure

That's hid in the mountainy bloom

Me shuttle goes buzzing with pleasure

To gather my gold from my loom."

 

Other wool songs - 

The Spinning Wheel (Mellow the Moonlight)

The work of the weavers

A Gaelic waulking song (this would have been a work song) - a shame now we listen to music while we work, rather than make music together!

And I like this polished version 🙂

 

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 Information adapted from the British Wool Marketing Board and the International Wool Textile Association.  Photo credits - Mouflon sheep: von Netzer Ranch, Texas.  Sheep rock art: the Bradshaw Foundation.  Inca spindle: http://ancientarchives.wordpress.com/.  Loom: http://chestofbooks.com/

 

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Cambridge Baby fans best campsites

June 26th, 2014

Campsite

We asked our lovely Facebook fans to recommend their favourite campsites so that we could share them with you. I can't wait to grab our merino vests, sheepskins and Sleeping Bags and head to the great outdoors to try a few, though I think the Norfolk one is more realistic for me than the Australian one. Enjoy looking and exploring. A huge thank you to all our readers.

  • Roundhill campsite in the New Forest. We were there just last week and it was amazing. Big, forest all around and cows and horses grazing freely in the campsite. Nice and clean and very kid's friendly.  

          For further information go to Cool Camping and Camping in the Forest       

  • Holmsley in the new forest. Beautiful and many happy memories

          For further information go to Camping in the Forest - Holmsley

  • Hooks House Farm in Robin Hood's Bay- amazing views and they have regular star gazing nights where you can have a look at the sky through telescopes. . You can unzip the tent to look over the cliffs down to the sea, stunning  
  • Seaside Caravan Park- it's on a site with lots of statics but you can camp right on the cliff so it's easy to imagine you have no neighbours.       
  • Woodhill park in north Norfolk- they have amazing family bathrooms which are a godsend with a 1 yr old.  
  • DOC campsites in New Zealand super cheap with incredible views, they are fantastic, just a long way to go for the weekend 
  • Bodwrog on Llyn Peninsula, beautiful sunsets overlooking the sea, countryside walks, white beaches and decent showers
  • Boe Rigg - it's where we had our first ever camping trip when lo was 8 months old. Great facilities and a lovely spot - hope to go back soon    
  • Dernwood Farm this summer.. It looks idyllic, a big plus for me is the car park is completely separated by woods from the camping area so no worries about cars with the kiddies about! · ·          
  • site near Inverness beautiful views we go there often it's so special it's even where my oh surprised me by proposing on the waters edge x
  • Red Squirrel in Glencoe. Breathtaking scenery, and campfire friendly          
  • Mannix Point camping park amazing views! situated in the ring of Kerry, Ireland
  • The fantastic Beara Farm in South Devon. Right next to the Dart River, Steam Train goes hooting past during the day. Run by the lovely Farmer John. Fabulous.  For more information go Beara Farm
  • Sandy Balls (tee hee!) in the New Forest. Beautiful location, brings back memories of going to New Forest as a child and lovely clean facilities!
  • Yew tree Canterbury fabulous location, we loved it here x
  • Ling's meadow near Thetford - a tiny eco campsite
  • Our back garden! No proper camping for us until our ASD little one is able to understand not to just unzip the tent and run off in the middle of the night
  • Blackberry Wood campsite in the South Downs. You pitch your tent in your own little glade in the woods and light a fire...or you can stay in the field in a converted helicopter or double decker bus. The kids can roam the woods.
  • We recently enjoyed a long weekend at the Hop Farm near Maidstone. Loads to do there, I recommend it. ·
  • I've only been camping once to Little Oasis and it was magical
  • We spent two weeks camping in Hollands Wood campsite in the New Forest last summer- it was the perfect spot with kids, between nature and a warm shower! A little too busy for me, but for them it was perfect!
  • Wild Sierra Glamping, Andalucia Spain. Pure air, pure water, no traffic, no light pollution.
  • Trevedra sennen cove cornwall, peaceful paradise.
  • Bigbury on Sea for me too. Just got back from a long weekend at the end of half term. Fab view and beaches lovely.
  • Fidden farm, Isle of Mull. Stunning views of rugged coastline and crystal clear waters. Wool vest was worn entire camping trip by our 1 year old!
  • Amazing wild camping on a cliff on the great Blasket Island off the west coast of Ireland! Breathtaking and very, very basic.
  • In Australia in the Flinders Ranges... you never knew what little critters would try and share your sleeping bag!11
  • Herding Hill in northumberland....views of hadriens wall at sunset were gorgeous. Great facilities (baths!!!!! drying room, handmade pizza delivered to your tent), ducks, rabbits and alpacas... family and dog friendly and within close proximity to lots of educational (but fun) roman forts.
  • Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk - about to take our 2 year old Hope the weather stays this good
  • A tiny one in Blakney Norfolk that doesn't even have a name we ust know its as Jennys campsite. Practically on the beach and just fab
  • Thorpe Hall in Rudston (Yorkshire Wolds). Lovely quiet campsite with excellent facilities for families and friendly staff. We love it as it's affordable and perfectly placed to explore the Wolds and the Yorkshire Coast.
  • Pen Pont, near Brecon. Beautiful, peaceful with organic farm shop stocked from their walled kitchen garden (by a river with swimming spots - keep an eye on intrepid explorers)
  • Lough key forest park camping situated in the middle of the forest in Ireland!

 


Selana: exquisite, sustainable, natural clothes.

June 16th, 2014

selana_logoEstablished in 1984, Selana is a Swiss company which cares about making baby and children's clothes to high natural standards: they are exceptionally well designed, beautifully made and are entirely made from natural materials.

Their name represents this and can be broken down into SE-LA-NA, where SEide is the German for Silk, LAna means Wool and NA stands for Nature. That seemed like an obvious choice for Cambridge Baby. 

GOTSlogoSelana's core ethics coincide with ours.

  • Fabrics which meet the highest environmental standards - e.g.: Merino wool that is GOTS-certified as organic
  • Fair dealings with all people
  • Produced with great care and attention to detail (in Switzerland).

 The beauty of nature is echoed in their design.  Their babywear especially brings back traditional designs that are perfect for naming ceremonies, christenings and weddings.  This is one of our favourites!

AjoureJacket-baby_LRG

RibbedJumperPinkStripe-swatch_LRGSelana's soft, organic Merino wool is breathable, so it allows the skin to regulate the body's temperature.  The silk is smooth, gentle on the skin and moisture-wicking.   The combination in one fabric is wonderful, and we also love the beautiful, gentle yet cheerful colours in their gorgeous jumpers.

 We hope you come to love Selana's natural clothing too.  

 

 

 

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Selana Favourite


Geggamoja: Swedish organic cotton children’s clothes

June 3rd, 2014

 

GEGGAMOJA_SVART

"Our goal is to create good looking, practical and comfortable clothing."  

Geggamoja_langarmat_235xx235

Created by two sisters who are also mothers, Geggamoja revolves around the fact that young children are naturally honest, blunt at times and certainly bright, so this should be reflected in their clothes.  Our Geggamoja collection is certified as organic, too.

Most of Geggamoja's organic children's clothes are unisex, with solid colours matched with classic stripes in new fresh colour combinations and Scandinavian designer appeal.  

This creates organic clothing which suits both boys and girls and allows children to play and explore in natural comfort while looking naturally stylish.  They are clothes made for children to be children in - and that matters to us at Cambridge Baby.

 

Geggamoja_certifiedbyGOTSGeggamoja have chosen to use organic cotton certified to Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) because as well as producing better cotton and therefore better quality clothes, GOTS sets environmental and social standards throughout the manufacturing process which include cultivation, harvesting, production processes, manufacture, packaging and labelling.

Here is how Geggamoja describe their business ethos and approach: "We aim for a broad and long-term environmental approach to our entire business, which is a constant factor in all decision making at all levels. Our goal is to have a 100% sustainable company."

Kudos to them! Let's support them to achieve that goal.

DSC_0724_edit1

 

What stands out for us about Geggamoja?

Good looking, comfortable, long-lasting clothes that get passed on from child to child are definitely a step in a sustainable direction.  And if they are organically and ethically produced from farm to shop, well that's a perfect fit with our ethics!

We also love how soft Geggamoja's cotton is.  Thick without being bulky, it is high quality, soft cotton, and flexible on the children's skin.  What's more, Geggamoja's clothing is designed for children's comfort and comfortable they truly are.  They've been staples in the wardrobes of Cambridge Baby's own children, washed heaps of times and passed on in true sustainable fashion - and they still look and feel GOOD.

A bonus feature:  Geggamoja's clothes have a handy label inside to write your child's name on. That way, wandering tops might make their way back home...

 

 

 

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