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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The 2nd Haggis Run - the planning stage...

Phew, busy day last Tuesday. Went out with Mrs BC and Captain Bill and ran through the routes for the Alford Convention and the 2nd Haggis Run - our "Road Safety Run with a Touch of Fun".
Met Bill at Alford, where both of the runs will start from, and set off to do 'his' route first. It's a great little course, some 30 miles or so around the local lanes, taking in some nice views and countryside. I drove, Mrs BC ate, and Bill drew the route in rough in his sketch book, so that he can then go home and tweak his drawings, put them into boxes on an A4 sheet of paper which can be copied for the riders, and hey presto, that's yer route card. After a quick pit stop in the Grampian Transport Museum for soup and a sarnie, we set off again. This time on a longer route for the Haggis. Obviously I can't tell you where it goes, otherwise there'd be no point in you coming and doing the run, but I can tell you it's way better than last year, it goes up high and it goes sweeping back down low, through farms and sleepy villages, past herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, we even went across the middle of a grouse moor. No shooting going on though. It would seem that every back road in the area was due to be resurfaced that day, and somewhere near a village called Keig, we were confronted with "ROAD CLOSED" signs. Not much help when there is only one road that goes where we had to go. So I boldly drove up there, hoping that there wouldn't be a huge chasm in the middle of the road, and ended up bonnet to bonnet with a road resurfacing machine, behind which was a road roller, a white van and half a dozen blokes all sitting around, er, I mean, working hard for the council. Not one to let such things get the way of our route, I had a chat with them, fluttered my eyes and smiled sweetly, and they kindly moved the machines out of the way and allowed us past. They forgot to mention the still ever so slightly damp tar around the corner, in which we left some artistic tyre tracks. And they also forgot to mention that Mrs BC would have to move two huge "ROAD CLOSED" signs at the other end! They looked a tad heavy.

The weather stayed dry, although the strong winds a blowing made it somewhat irksome to have the windows open, yet it was such a hot and sunny day we needed to. Mrs BC noted down mileage and times at relevant points, and Bill did the drawing again, rather more of it this time, for the route is approx 90 miles and when we got to the lunch stop, they were so fatigued by their sterling efforts that we had to go and have freshly cooked pancakes with butter and jam. Oh, such hardship. With time flying by we weren't sure if we were going to be able to run the second half of the course, but we had to get back to Alford anyway, so we went for it. Met a grizzly farmer who told us some interesting local history about the 40 families who used to live up on the hill behind his farm, and how they all moved out, one by one, as times were tough and a living was very hard to scratch from the sparse mountainside. His 5000 acre farm incorporates a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and I think he said it's because there are outcrops of Serpentine rock, amongst other things. I have to confess, I'm not sure why a lump of rock is so special, but maybe someone can enlighten me. Zoomed back to Alford, and by this time we were starving, so we were, so it was off to the fish and chip shop, where we had to queue for about half an hour, and the prices, oh I tell you, the prices were ridiculous! £1.80 for a portion of chips, he must be having a laugh. So that's the route all planned, and it's all down to Captain Bill now to draw it all out and make it make sense. I'm just waiting for a few bits of info from various places before I can put the entry forms out for the Haggis, but when they're out, you'll be the first to know.

Right, fence demolishing day today. And Duff House show tomorrow. Then I've got to fit in doing my nails some time.

Oh, what do you think of the music? I can't seem to get the volume down unless I turn it down physically on the PC. Don't fret, it's just a laugh, and I won't leave it on here for too long....unless you like it of course.... and if you really really really don't like it, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and click 'pause'...

Don't forget to leave a comment on the post below and tell us what 3 bikes you would have if you could have any 3 in the world....

A picture posted just for Kawa, has anyone else seen one of these before? Apart from people who went to the Glamis Extravaganza!



Those guys and girls in the S&T section of the VMCC have now got their website up and running, you can pop in for a lookie at http://www.stirlingcastlevmcc.co.uk/ but you're advised to wait a week or so as webmaster Gordon is off on his hols, and won't be adding any photos until his return.

I've got the same old problems again, getting down to the VMCC Committee meeting at HQ in Burton upon Trent. No flights from Aberdeen that get me there early enough, unless I go for the crack of dawn one again, but I don't fancy getting up at 4am too many times. Can't go from Edinburgh as it's a 3 hour train journey to get there, and A) the flight is at something like 8am, so would have to be there for 7am, and there ain't no trains that leave Aberdeen early enough and B) I then can't return home on the same day as there are no trains north after 9pm. So it might be a train all the way, which only takes a little over 7 hours and home the next day. Could drive down but that would take even longer and besides, I can't sit and read while I'm driving. Well I could...but....

Lunch time over, back to work.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A question for you. And catching up (again).

Now there's an interesting question.

What three bikes would you have if you could have ANY three in the entire world (not including any that you already own)?

This was posed to me by Kawa, and I'm still thinking about it. Leave a comment and let me know what your choices would be. Mine so far are...

1. Ducati 999
2. ??
3. ??

Apart from pondering questions such as this, this weekend has been busy so far - sheep catching, foot trimming, worming and moving them around to different fields. Preparing an area for Shed MkII and building the floor (tongue and groove planks), doing a bit of strimming (after my many weekends away lately, the place looks like a jungle) and so much more to do. Also haven't got round to telling you about the horse, or a couple of small local shows that I went to.

The horse thing happened at the end of July and coincided with Mrs BC's birthday - I had in fact, got a nice little surprise trip planned for her, but then we ended up hiring a horsebox and travelling down to Jedburgh to collect Horse, who had been brought from Yorkshire for us. She's an Exmoor pony called Crumble and a very fine girl she is too, if only she would stop ripping her special fly rug to pieces and stop removing her head collar.



Did I tell you about our local show at Oldmeldrum? Well here are some pics of normally very sensible people playing silly games on motorcycles.


Then there was the trip to the Black Isle show, totally un-bike relate but happened to bump into Colin and Mary, she rides a Tiger Cub ya know. And I can't remember whether Kawa's visit to assist with garage door making happened before or after any of the above, such a whirlwind it has been the last few weeks.
From one 'up and over' door....to a pair of will-be-hinged-one-day-double doors.

Complete with ramp.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Scroll down to read more about the Scottish Double, Plus1.

NOW WITH ADDED PICTURES!!!!!

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Scottish Double...Plus1

Starting with the S&T 8/9th August 2009. I ended up getting to my accommodation a bit later than planned on the Friday night. Ok, about 4 hours later if you want to be precise, but Peter Oram and family didn't seem to mind me turning up at half past ten. One of the reasons was that I'd been held up at work, and t'other reason was that I'd just driven past the place where I was hoping to get a Cub frame and thought it a bit late to pop in, when I saw the guy arriving home. So I just stopped briefly to arrange going back on Sunday on my way home. Peter was up super early on Saturday, well, being the Main Man he had to be. I stumbled out of my nice warm cosy bed in plenty of time to get to the site, just 2 miles along the road. Found my pilot, Andrew Rae (haha, just realised, not only was he my sidecar pilot but he's a pilot in real life too) and met up with loads of other familiar faces - can't put names to most of them but at least I recognised them. Spent much of the time doing the GBC bit, gathering info and pics for Old Bike Mart, which left me little time to snatch a sausage sarnie. And you wouldn't believe it, no sooner had I started munching on that, then it was time to go. I think people found it quite amusing that I should be eating as we sped out of the field and through the car park. Did all the swinging about / hanging off the side thing as Andrew made steady progress along the country lanes. Some great scenery, varying between single track, twisty and hilly stretches, and a stint on what I think passes for a main road. The meeting with the classic car rally on top of a Very Big Hill and on a Very Narrow Road was quite interesting, let's just say it was a good job we were on a trials-ish outfit. It's a 1954 Ariel NH by the way. Could see rain over the hills but managed to avoid it until lunch time, just as well as someone had promised me sunshine and no rain until at least 3pm so I'd chosen to leave my waterproofs in the van...a good place for them....

Weather was a bit grey on the way back to base, but dry enough. Always a good time to catch up with people after the regularity run. One guy I see most years is a chap called John, who comes all the way from Stenhousemuir, which must be a good hour away, by bus. And he's, erm, a little over 70 I think he said. He was always nervous of motorbikes until he started getting involved in the vintage and classic scene, now he wants a Bantam but a recent hip op has probably put a stop to that idea. He's a nice guy and good to talk to.



After a wash and brush up back at Peter's, it was time to head back for the meal - a lift was acquired with Mrs Peter, daughter and son-in-law, but during the meal, the question arose as to how I was going to get back. Peter came up with the best idea he'd had all day - lend me his car! Yay! Because I'm such a party girl, I foresaw staying until the bitter end, well, one has to, hasn't one? I'd better not say anything about not being able to find the fiddly thing for the lights, or not having my, er, no, can't say that. Let's just say I made it back, safely...

Sunday morning, hmmmm, feeling a bit worse for wear, and the odd thing is, it is all totally and completely NOT related to an over consumption of alcohol. I don't drink. Well, I might do, once or twice a year, and usually when Andrew the Sidecar Pilot is in the vicinity and trying to ply me with the stuff. But Sunday, sunny Sunday was The Day of Collection, time to pop back to the guy with the Cub frame, but only after I'd watched everyone go off on the social ride. So I nipped along the road, met up with Bill, did the deal and had a quick {{oops, someone pointed out that what I wrote there might be easily misconstrued, so I'd better change it}} look around his collection of bikes and projects. Got my eye on something else there too. Then it was off to work, with a big grin on my face; another Cubbie project is on the way. Oh yes, you might think I'm crazy, but according to my chum, Robin of Wales, that's what makes the world go round. And he should know.

Monday was pretty much consumed by last minute tasks to do with the Plus1 - our new mid week event, planned to slot nicely into the middle of the Scottish Double (which consists of the S&T at Crieff and the National at Blairgowrie), and Tuesday was spent doing the day job, and rounded off with a visit to the camp site at Aden Country Park in Mintlaw, meeting and greeting our guests and making sure there were no problems. Good old Slick cooked up some local herring in traditional NE style, and Mrs BC ate most of them, but only after she had wined and dined at Pat & Jim's caravan. Then fast forward to the day itself. Woke up early, checked the animals while Mrs BC prepared some sarnies and such like to take with us, and gave Kawa an alarm call, just to make sure he was fully clothed when we rattled his tent door. He had kindly ridden all the way up from Stirling late the night before, just to help us with marshaling duties. Arrived in Mintlaw bang on time, and pleased to see the campers were just yawning and stirring. Set the tables up in the old coach house, and got the paperwork ready for the riders to sign on. Captain Bill arrived with his homemade signage which was set out at various places to direct the sleepy eyed entrants to the right place - no time to dilly dally, the Plus1 kicked off at 09:00hrs with the first bike away at 10:00hrs. With 40 riders to keep on the right side of, and most of them very experienced at this sort of event, the nerves were jangling just a little, but all riders got away smoothly - mind you, one of the Meigle Mafia nearly didn't make it, as a sprockety thing fell off his bike, didn't it, Mr Coutts???






The route headed straight for the coast, crossing through typical north east farming countryside and passing through the village of Strichen, once a thriving textile town. More or less everyone managed to miss the white quartz horse carved in the hillside nearby, but then it only measures 162ft x 126ft! Now here's a thing I did not know, the horse was created to commemorate the death of a Sergeant Henderson in the Battle of Tourcoing, who gave his horse to local lad, Alexander Fraser, 9th Lord of Strichen. The one and only place that I was absolutely praying that it would be sunny, was the road from New Aberdour to Banff. When the sun is out, the sky and sea simply shimmer with a shade of blue you don't see anywhere else. We sent them along to Pennan and Crovie, two of the tiny ex-fishing villages perched beneath the north facing cliffs. Pennan is known the world over for it's little red telephone box, used in the filming of Local Hero (starring some bloke called Burt), and a pub that is bought and re-opened, and then closed and sold so frequently that even the locals can't keep up with it. I haven't been to Crovie that many times, and I think the best view of it is from the car park half way down the hill. It's such a small place that the main street has only room for the few cottages that remain, and residents must leave their vehicles at the end of the village. You can walk down the rest of the way and it's truly worth doing, if only to say you've visited one of the best preserved fishing villages in Europe. A settlement was established here by the families who were thrown out of their inland homes in the 18th century, by the landowners who wanted the space for sheep grazing. Like Pennan, the place has had a turbulent history, with storms washing away the harbour and the houses, and gradually, the occupants moved out to the nearby town of Gardenstown, also on our route. Created in 1720 by a man named Garden (can you see the connection there?) as a fishing village, it is a remarkable religious place. I daren't work there on a Sunday. Apparently, the Danes were defeated there in year of 1004.

After that, it was on to Duff House, in Banff. But only after first crossing the spectacular seven arch bridge from the MacDuff side, built in 1799 and these days, I think it goes completely unnoticed. Tea and sticky buns galore were consumed by our hungry riders, and I must just say many thanks to Duff House for dealing with the deluge of bikers, and allowing them to park in front of the House for a photo call for the Press & Journal. Oh yes, well done Kawa for finding your way up there....and thanks for then zooming off and getting to Huntly, where our adventurers were about to descend, an hour early. Sorry your ice cream melted.

Meanwhile...Captain Bill was being delayed by a couple of Italian ladies, for whom he seemed to have plenty of time.....

So Mrs BC and I were on 'breakdown' duties, with Slick's bike trailer hitched behind the Cubbie-mobile. We were terribly pleased that there were no breakdowns to collect on the morning leg, so we headed to the Huntly Hotel for lunch. The food there was good, but many bikers had scoffed too many cakes at Duff House and weren't quite ready for their food....we'll have to make that section of the route more time consuming next year....that'll teach 'em... A light (ok, very heavy) shower ensued over lunch, and luckily most people missed it. It was only the really really silly ones who left their jumpers on their bike seats who suffered, eh Shorty. Thanks to John H of the Douglas for helping with the lunch stop. The route back to Mintlaw took in some of my favourite biking and driving roads; out towards the traditional farming town of Turriff on the splendid twisty and hilly road past the Glensomethingorother Distillery. Have you heard the story of the Turra Coo? Well where have you been! In 1913, a white cow was seized from a local farmer for failure to pay his National Insurance contributions. All farmers in the area were protesting at the high rate of NI, and when Robert Paterson refused to stamp his employees insurance cards, the Sheriff's officers were sent in to remove property worth £22 from his farm. The only thing they could take without help from the local workers, was a poor, innocent white coo, which was led into Turriff and tied up in the square for all to see. Despite riots and violence, it was then auctioned and raised £27, but with the help of the community, the wife of one of Paterson's farmhands, bought the cow and returned it to the farm in Lendrum. So there you go, a happy ending. The cow lived on for another six years, quite unaffected by the incident that would go on to become so famous. The route then took the riders through Cuminestown, cutting off towards Corsegight, before ending up in Maud. Maud's history seems to relate mostly to transport, meeting places, many roads, the railway and so on. There is only one route from there out to Mintlaw, so that is the way we went.

After the happy campers returned to the site, they all had plenty of time to relax and get washed and brushed up, but for Mrs BC, Captain Bill and Kawa, oh yes, and me, there was no such luxury. We had to hot foot it down to the Pitfour Arms in the village to prepare the scene for the evening meal. Our Section Treasurer Alan came along early to lend a hand with the vote counting (all will become clear later) and with his trusty cheque book. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, and after the speeches by the Immediate Past VMCC Chairman Colin Bell, the President Bette Barber and our very own Section Chairman, Captain Bill, we got down to the business of the Awards Ceremony. Not wishing to get involved in the concors debate, we decided to award the Bette Barber trophy to the bike with the most votes, which turned out to be our very own Mick Elston's 1925 Royal Enfield, and then, as this was our first event, we presented Past President Harry Wiles and his good lady Fran, with a selection of whisky marmalade for being the very first people to enter and to show such faith and trust in us, and to a chap called Mike (with the French hat) we gave a nice waterproof map book. He rode the furthest to get to the Plus1 - something in the region of 1100 miles by the time he'd gone from Derby to the S&T and then up to us. Have to find out what his final mileage was after completing the National on his way home.

So we left a certain pilot in the pub and made our way home. Thursday was a day filled up to the brim with work work work, not even a chance was had to empty the tables and boxes from the van and I ended up having to use the van rather than the car, 'cos the car wouldn't start. Probably in a sulk. Then before I had time to take a breath, it was Friday and I still had work to catch up with - which made me a little behind schedule picking Captain Bill up from his abode somewhere near Keith. Ended up at his place some time around 4pm, bundled his camping gear in the now cleared out van, hitched his trailer, containing his Connaught, on the van and we were off. Trundled down to Blairgowrie in the pouring rain / fog / spray and arrived a litte late, but still in time for the fabulous homemade stovies, thanks to Shorty and his good lady for peeling the tatties and doing the cooking - I somehow don't think Shorty did the cooking bit. A merry evening was had by all in the rugby club, and then it was up early on Saturday, well, it's always hard to sleep with the rain thundering down on one's tent. I don't think the rain had let up much during the night, and it was pouring from the time the riders signed on until most of the bikes had left. I ended up being roped into something that I can't tell you about, but needless to say, Big George made it a pleasant and not too painful experience, and he even gave me his bacon roll. Shorty and I then sped off to the lunch stop - did you know I was a marshal this year? I think I might have mentioned it to a couple of people - so we had to have something to sustain us for our stint in the layby. Oi, behave, I see those little cogs whirring round and working overtime. We had a very responsible job of operating a checkpoint, which basically means we clock the time that each bike comes past and write it down so that the Time Master can calculate who should be where and when. T'was quite nice actually, sitting on the picnic rug in the sunshine, talking about this 'n' that and whether or not I've ever been married. MARRIED?! Funny how some people put things together and end up with quite the wrong answer. By the time we'd done that, phoned the results in and gone back to base, and I'd squeezed in a bit of both Area Rep work and GBC on Official Business on behalf of Old Bike Mart it was time for a clean up and to head down to the hotel for the meal. No need, I feel, to go into the ins and outs, except to say that the grub was good, the company was hilarious and wait til you click on the poetry film show up in the top right of this page.




James is keen to get the Puch back home to Aberdeenshire, so not having Cubbie in the Cubbie-mobile this year, I volunteered to be the courier. Looks like we got us a young and keen classic biker in the making.
Hope you enjoyed reading about our events, (and the poetry film show), as much as I did being a part of them. Thanks to ALL who had a hand in organising and competing. See y'all again soon.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Chuff-chuff-chuff-chufffff....

Well here we go.....club night for the Grampian Classic MCC last night.....a trip arranged by Slick to a local engineering firm, ACE Winches, situated only a few miles from me, in an area called King Edward. I had heard whispers that Alfie Cheyne, head man there, might let us have a look at his collection of steam engines, but I thought the main gist of the trip was to look around the workshops and see how they build winches. Started off at Cubbie Towers, awaiting the arrival of Captain Bill, to whom I was lending Cubbie, so that I could ride Shorty's Suzuki. Several reasons behind this but the main one being that Bill's Armstrong is still off the road, so by way of a thank-him for all the help he's given me, I though it'd be a nice gesture. I decided to check the tappets before he arrived, as I hadn't looked at them since running the new valves and things in, and discovered that one was tighter than t'other. Not keen to start undoing them half an hour before a ride, I got Bill to glance his experienced eye over it when he arrived. It'll be fine, he said. Ok. So out with the silicon sealer, as suggested by members of cubsite.com to stop oil spewing from the rocker covers, as it had been doing since I fitted the new gaskets after valve work. Then I suddenly remembered that I'd covered many more miles on Sunday than planned and there might not be much petrol left....ah....both cans were empty too....oh well, it'd be fine.... Then I realised the Suzi had about 140km left in it's tank, so if the worst came to the worst we could do a petrol-share. Just as we were about to set off, the rain came on, fancubbytastic. Poor Bill was chucked in at the deep end, I instructed him in the art of Cubbie-starting, which he got the hang of pretty quickly, and we were away. I stopped a mile down the road, at the end of the bumpy bits, to see if he was, er, enjoying the experience. He gave me a wild eyed fixed grin. I took it as a 'yes'. We poddled on over to King Edward, in the rain, with the Suzi sitting comfortably between 40-50mph and the lights of Captain Bill a little further back.

A good turnout of about 15 members greeted us - yes, we were last to arrive, but hey, life isn't for rushing. We parked the bikes in front of two great big steam engines for a photo call, and then went inside for stovies and refreshments, which we weren't expecting, so that was a nice surprise. Alfie then gave us a short talk about the business side of things, before talking in more depth about his passion - the steam engines. He freely admits if it wasn't for the successful oil and gas industry in this part of Scotland, then he wouldn't have been able to afford to get into the hobby in the first place. What started as a collection of one, purchased from his Dad, has now grown into a couple of sheds full of engines, road rollers and projects. I can't give you too much technical info, bike talk is hard enough, but Alfie said he would send some information through to me. The next thing we know, is a ladder is being propped up against the side of the Foden 'lorry' outside, and half the group are already climbing into the back. Including me. No way I'm being left behind. I bag a good spot, right behind the cab, and therefore out of the way of stray sparks and soot. From my perch I can watch Alfie and his assistant work all the wheels and levers, fuel the fire and steer the beast. Looking to the back of the truck, those unlucky enough to sit down there are being blasted by hot smoke and their hair is being singed, it's really quite funny and I can't stop laughing at their expressions. I'm not the only one, we're all laughing but they've got their eyes shut and no one can hear a word because of the roar. We head up the road a mile or two, to Alfie's other pad, more storage for his toys, and look at a rusty project he's got, and a huge yet graceful road roller, alongside a beautiful beast that I've no idea what it is, except that I can nearly stand underneath the thing, it's so BIG. We pile back into the truck and head to base, where the other half of the group get a turn in the soot and smog. We try to encourage them to sit at the back - that's the best place to be!


As he leaves on Run 2, Alfie casually says to one of his assistants that we can all have a look / play / ride on the Wizard engine that's sitting patiently steaming away. Chuf-chuf-chuffff-pssssssss. I don't believe my ears when the guy asks if I want to drive it. I assume he means for me to stand in the cab while he drives it. But he simply loads coal into the fire, releases the brake and says 'head for the gap between the bikes'. Crikey, there's about a dozen skittles there to knock over...but I miss them all....and then we nip up the road a short way (ok, we didn't actually 'nip' but you know what I mean), do a U turn and head back. As if that wasn't enough, I then have to perform a reverse parking manoeuvre back in between the bikes. It's one of those round-and-round-and-round wheels with a handle on, and turning it furiously I manage to steer quite well, although I did almost take the man's foot off as he was checking for a clear road. It's a very odd feeling, maybe because I'm on the short side, but not being able to see the front wheels made it a little challenging, but boy oh boy it was FABULOUS FUN. Jan and John had a go at driving it too, Jan saying that she too couldn't see the wheels.

Just applying the brake so that it doesn't roll back and squash the club members.


After presenting Alfie with the traditional Scottish thankyou gift, a bottle of whiskey (is that spelling ok Slick?) we all scuttled off home in the dark. I couldn't stop grinning, to think I've now flown an aeroplane, piloted the NIMROD simulator, ridden all kinds of bikes around Scotland for magazines, and to cap it all, I've driven a 1923 Wizard steam engine.

On the way home, I had a bright idea. Seeing the little Cubbie headlight bobbing around in the mirrors of the Suzi, I thought I'd race on ahead to where we had to turn off the main road, whip the camera out and catch the Captain on video. I hadn't even got my rucksack off when he appeared. He pulled up and stopped Cubbie, wondering what was wrong, then offered to go back and take the corner again. But Cubbie wasn't having any of it and refused point blank to run. It was almost as if it was out of fuel..... The options were 1. ring Mrs BC and ask her to come down with the van, 2. nip home on the Suzuki and get the van, or 3. borrow some from the Suzuki. I voted for option 3, knowing how long it would take to get home, empty the van, find the ramp etc etc, and my phone was out of money, and Bill's phone was out of battery, what a pair. So I fished in the recycling bin nearby for a plastic milk bottle and was about to relieve the Suzuki of a drop of petrol, when I thought I'd just give Cubbie one more try. And whoomph. We have action. Bill hot footed it up the lane and made it back to Cubbie Towers. Guess I'll have to check the float bowl for bits of dirt and stuff before I ride it again. But Bill seemed to enjoy the experience, once he'd got used to it.

A BIG thank you to not only Alfie at ACE Winches, but to his helpers who stayed behind voluntarily; James, Stevie, Spotty Bob, Jimmers and Derek. Also to Michelle in the office who did the necessary emailing and communications, and to Slick in the club for coming up with the idea.

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