1.31.2010

Granite Gear Vapour Trail: Side Compression Straps Modification


I've finaly got around to addressing one of the two key complaints I have about the Granite Gear Vapour Trail. Off the peg, the lower side compression straps are routed over the side pockets. Yes I did say OVER the side pockets. Not only does this obstruct access to the side pockets but it prevents the straps doing their job properly. This has always got on my nerves a little. What led the designer of what is otherewise a beautifuly (and I do mean beautifuly) designed pack to make such a schoolboy error?

The fix is simple. Just attack the pockets with a sharp pair of scissors,

button-hole stitch the wounds (you can take your time and do it more neatly)

and route the straps, through the pockets and, here's the crucial point, UNDER the stuff you put in them, as they should have been in the first place .


Much better. Or at least I think it is. I'll find out for sure in Norway.

1.27.2010

Incoming!


Preparations for Nordseter are not what you'd call optimal. My appraoch this time round has involved contracting a nasty chest infection, simultaineously picking up laryngitis and lieing on my back for two weeks. As a method of loosing weight it's effective. Four Kilograms in two weeks (Sloman eat your heart out!). On the other hand it's not great for the cadiovascular condition or muscular development. Hopefully now I'm throught the worst of it. I'd better be. I have just over a week to cough the last bacteria out of my lungs and get used to being vertical again.

The week did bring a box to my door though. A good one too. Playing with my double-bag and down jacket combination had me worried that whichever way I stacked them up the layers weren't lofting to their full potential. Illness was stopping me from getting any practical experience. Watching the news of Europes cold snap unfold accompanied by coughing fits and cold sweats led me to the conclusion that I'd better bight the bullet and invest in a proper winter sleeping bag. So I did just that.
A little research (even if you don't buy from them an excellant resource for comparing bags can be found here) and a lot of hesitation finaly brought me to the Cumulus Prime 700. A full spec cold season down bag, with 700g of 770 fill down, trapezoidal baffle construction and full shoulder baffle. Rated down to -18°C the bag delivers more loft than my combination and the construction should make it much warmer. The full-shoulder baffle in particular should manage convective heat losses better than anything I own. It's got a DWR treated outer which makes me more comfortable about leaving the bivvy bag at home and at 1200g it come's in a shade lighter than my two bag combo. I already own a Cumulus bag so I'm fairly confident in the rating. For me that -18 probably translates to -15 or so before I'll have to reach for extra layers. Not sure about the canary yellow but I'll get over it. Jane seemed impressed. I suspect she might comandeer this bag sometime in the future.

Also in the box, in truth another box but lets not split hairs, was a new stove and a thermos flask. I caved in again and finaly opted to buy a gas burner. This time a Primus Gravity EF, remote canister stove with preheat tube which I think (hope) will provide an adequate backup to the MSR Whisperlite. I know that gas is a controversial choice for use in the cold but I don't expect we'll experience realy deep cold this time out and, in the long term, I'll get more use out of a gas burner than I would out of a liquid fuel stove. I'm also hoping that the pre-heat tube will do it's stuff and let me turn the can on it's head to good effect. I will need to get my hands on cans of Propane-isobutane mix after landing though.

Finaly, a 1l thermos flask. I think this will be worth the extra weight! I certainly hope so since, including contents, I'm looking at an extra 1.5kg.

1.11.2010

Kinder Scout Southern Edges December 2009

We’ve got a couple of day passes. The kids safely with Grandma and Grandpa we’ve spent one on the Christmas shopping, a whole day at Meadowhell desperately scrabbling together a sack of presents for a multitude of kids and family. The second has been reserved for today. The first time Mummy and Daddy have been out in the hills together since Canada three and half years earlier, before, in fact, they where renamed Mummy and Daddy.

As I edge the Subaru out of the close and onto the steep side road, snow encrusted right down to the A57, I mutter words of thanks. I’m thankful for what appears to be a miraculous weather window. We’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather. The drive down from North Shields had been straight foreword despite snow fall before our arrival. The heavy dump of snow earmarked for South Yorkshire had arrived, courteously, as the motor cooled down in the drive. More snow is promised in the coming days but just now we’re staring up at clear blue skies. Having singled this day out long in advance, the choice being forced by the holiday schedule rather than inside information from the met office, our luck seems all the more incredible.

In the last ten or so years I’ve forgotten how it is to live on this side of Sheffield. Turn right and within fifteen minutes you’re in the centre of a city of half a million souls. Turn left and fifteen minutes later you’re in the heart of the Dark Peak. Today we turn left and follow the twist of the road out towards Ladybower. The business of the day hasn’t even started but there’s already magic in the air. Driving the A57 and the Snake Pass is a pleasure I’ve long since forgotten and today, skimming over freshly cleared tarmac, across high moorland and through conifer-filled valleys in turn, the entire tableau dressed with fresh snow, is a pleasure indeed. At Ladybower we turn left heading, in turn, for Bamford, Hope and our final destination Edale. The signs reporting that the Snake Pass is closed due to heavy snow serve to heighten the sense of adventure. The remainder of drive provides just a couple of pulse raising moments, not bad considering lack of windy-winter-road practice and Summer tyres, and a little before ten I pull on the handbrake in the Edale car park. Ten minutes later, parking ticket and boot rituals behind us, surprisingly on schedule, we’re passing under the railway, striding purposefully towards Grindsbrook Booth.

Preparing for this day I was faced with the question, “if you get one day out in the peaks in ten years, which route do you choose?” I spent a couple of evenings pouring over the OS sheet and changed my mind a hundred times, each time returning to Edale and the Southern Edges of Kinder Scout. Ultimately, it had to involve Kinder. It so typifies the Dark Peak and, for me as for so many others born and raised in Englands Northern Cities, it’s where it all started.
Given the time of year, the summit plateau of Kinder has the potential for deep, bone-numbing, mysery. A wet, muddy, flailing through hollow and rise, hopelessly lost in the mist mysery. Although a rare and precious thing, such mysery is an acquired taste and better shared with the right company. Better, better by far today, is to stay on the edge of the thing. Feel its height and bulk, get the views, explore the menagerie of weird rock formations, but look at the expanse of the thing from a safe distance.

The plan finally arrived at was thus to set off up Grindsbrook, quickly forgo the main path for the steep nose of the Nab and follow, first the zig and then the zag of the path, onto Ringing Roger. This, most direct route onto the heights should provide panorama by the bucket full, views into the long shadow-filled curve of Grindsbrook Clough and beyond, and an opportunity for a little scrambling to boot. Once on this minor top it’s just a case of keeping the drop on you’re left hand side, navigation made simple, and working your way around a loop. A big loop all the way round to descend by Jacobs ladder or smaller loops descending by Grindsbrook or Crowden Clough. Take your pick. Being greedy I’d picked the whole thing but then I didn’t know that there would be a foot of powder snow.

The walk up through the village is pleasant. Go away for long enough and the everyday takes on a hint of the exotic. Stone houses, slate rooves, kings and queens atop chimneys catch the eye like they never did before. We pass through the last of the houses and over the bridge and out into dry-stone enclosed fields.
Now begins the climb. Hard enough for flatlanders under normal circumstances but made harder by deep snow. At first going is made easier by tracks worn by sledgers and sledges but the higher we get the more we have to break trail. I pause to take a photo. Pause again to take another and notice flashing red out of the corner of my eye. The battery is empty. As I reach in my pocket for my spare I find nothing. Then comes the flash of realization. The spare is still in the charger in Sheffield. A cacophony of expletives run through my head. One day here in ten years, snow and clear skies, two photos from the bottom and then no battery. Bollocks etc. I extract the battery from the camera, shove it inside my glove and hope that intimate contact with a sweaty palm will extract some more life from the little black brick.

Above the style, a funnel for all going up and going down, a narrow but well warn track appears and the going is easy for a time. Then comes the split. Contour round towards Ollerbrook or double back for Ringing Roger. To my surprise there has been little traffic on our chosen route and we find ourselves stepping in and out of a single set of footprints. Lifting knees unfeasibly high and poking toes down white tunnels to find unseen firm ground. I lead and do my best to stamp out a channel for Jane. Hard work but the elation of the day carries me along. Pausing to check our line we decide that we’re following a stringof deep drifts and that the going looks easier higher up to the right. We head over there telling ourselves that it’s going to get easier any time soon but after a few minutes and a waste-deep incident we head back down to the initial line.
In the meantime we’ve been passed by two other walkers who are now doing their share of breaking trail and things start to move more quickly.
Then comes the short scrambly section, the little south western spur that, when viewed from the right angle in the right light does a passable impression of a mountain, and all too soon I’m over the top. I replace the camera battery, close down the aperture, knock two stops off the exposure compensation, rotate the polariser and fire of two quick shots of Jane working her way up. Today will be good for my photography. No hesitation. No multiple shots from subtly different points of view. No bracketing. No peeking at the result. First make your mind up and then shoot just like the old days. Out comes the battery and back it goes into my glove.

Ringing Roger. A curious name but so typical of a place that’s been wrestled over by German and French, Britton and Dane for millennia. Look carefully at the map and you see a thick broth of language. Old words stuck fast to the landscape but weathered by time into something unique to Derbyshire. Ringing for Echoeing. Roger for Roche. I prefer Ringing Roger, but whatever you call it its cold up here. We’re now in the teeth of the wind that caused all of those drifts so we find shelter behind the rocks, layer up and pause for break. Ham sandwiches, muesli bars and hot black tea from the flask. As I drink I lap up the view of the checkerboard vale of Edale, the great ridge, the surprisingly pointy Grindslow Knoll and the sweep of Grindsbrook Clough. Why would you want to follow the clough in the dark rather than being up here in the sunlight with the world at your feet? Not on a day like to day!

It’s clear that the original route is a stretch. Yesterday was the solstice. Only one day of the year provides less daylight and the going is far from fast. It’s clear we’ll be heading down earlier than planned I’m just not yet sure by which route. Break over we head out across the strange walled enclosure and onto the edge of the open eastern leg of the Kinder Plateau. The going doesn’t get any faster, our two hillwalking comerades are still in sight and still breaking a trail of sorts but the cold and conditions underfoot sap energy quickly. We follow the edge above Nether Tor and over Hartshorn and pause again for a moment. I take in the view while Jane calls back to base.


Popping the battery back in the camera I fire off several more shots. Jane provides the foreground interest but I immediately realise I should have waited until the mobile was away from her ear. What was that I said about becoming a better photographer? The phonecall serves it’s purpose though. Even when you’re away you’re never truely away but having confirmed that all’s well at home the peace of mind is perceptible on Janes face.

A glance at my watch tells me we are now at the half way point in hours and minutes and so need to be there in kilometers and meters . A quick look at the map reveals two alternatives: back the way we came, which would, by a kind coincidence, put us exactly at the half way point, or back via Grindsbrook. A quick look at the ground however rules out the Clough. It’s dark down there, no doubt cold, and the head of the clough is steep. Not today. Nevetheless I’m not keen to retrace our steps. Just like paper beats stone a circular route beats an out and back. Further pause for thought brings the solution. We’ll go over Grindslow knoll , which carries extra points because it’s in the sunshine and bears a cairn, and carry on over its nose back into the valley.
With our shiny new plan in our pockets we carry on around the edge. One little tricky bit, a traverse of the steep sided head of the clough in deep drifting snow, causes Jane a moments discomfort. Play by the rules: place your feet carefully, move deliberately, don’t lean into the slope, and all will be well. The moment duely recorded with a couple of quick shots on my now long dead battery and then we’re heading up the shallow slope onto the Knoll.


A spectacular panorama of Kinder opens out as we go. Spectacular is not a word I’d usually associate with Kinder Scout. Muddy, wet, cold, bleak, dark, unforgiving and numerous other adjectives yes but spectacular no. Today however it is truly spectacular. It has taken on a totaly different persona. More vidda than moss. Clints and Grykes ironed flat by drifting snow. Everything about the scene is captivating. Long shimmering views of a winter ravaged landscape to the horizon. On a smaller scale, last seasons grass poking through drifted snow, each casting relief defining shadows under the low winter sun. My kingdom for another camera battery.
In what seems like a couple of steps we’re at the top.



Leaning against the cairn, finishing off the tea and eating chocolate, speechless, just soaking it all up. We’re not alone, It seems that the Knoll has pulled a few folk in today, the walkers we’d followed up, a couple in matching red Goretex with matching walking poles, a diehard on touring skis. All grinning insanely. All trying to compute the unreality of the situation. Real winter weather. In the dark Peak. I look out across Kinder and with a rush a sudden ,intense, desire to stay up here and watch the sunset hits me. Its quickly followed by a comparable desire to hang around for sun rise. Suppressing the chain of thought I pack the bits and pieces into the rucksack and follow Jane down off the top back towards the valley.



The descent is beautiful. First the wide flat South-West of the Knoll across which runs a ghost outline of the path, its edges defined by golden-brown old vegetation and still visible in the snow. An unbelievable richness of colour and texture stretches out infront of me. Then comes the broken wall and the backed up snow at the start of the steep drop into the valley. This under a sky, slowly reddening as the sun first casts an eye on the clock and reaches for its coat.

Then comes the still steeper drop to the valley floor crossed with comedy glissades, straight down, next to the snaking tracks left by alpine skis. Winter may have a limited pallete but she paints with a fine brush. With my glove battery I try to capture the best of it all. All that remains is a kilometer or so of the pennine way and then its back to the car. Or is it? It occurs to me that it would be rude to walk any length on this bit of the Pennine way, no matter how meager, without calling in on the Old Nags Head for refreshments. A fine hill day, exceptionaly fine in fact, is thus rounded off , as it should be, with a pint and a plate of ham and eggs. Before that though just time, and just enough charge left, for one last picture with that dead battery.


1.08.2010

Gear list Nordseter

Preparartions for Norway are moving along but not at a pace. There seems to be a whole lot to do with very little time left to do it. If I'm honest, it's a hard one to plan. We will have just two full days and we've been jumping from plan to plan trying to minimise time travelling and maximise time out whilst ariving at a route with the right character. Not easy. Worse, there's no elastic in the schedule. No buffer days for hunkering down in case winter shows its teeth. Common sense therefore dictates that we stay within shooting distance of the emergency exit.

The compromise we've arived at is to forgo train and bus in favour of a hire car. That gives us freedom to jump off from several possible locations a few kilometers North or South of Nordseter. Those few kilometers get us out of the ski-centre and bring unmanned DNT huts within reach. This won't bring the pack weight down though, we're still struck on the idea of sleeping out for a night or two if conditions permit so will have to carry the necessary, but having huts nearby is a welcome failsafe in Norway in February.

My kit list is taking shape. It will change a little between now and departure but probably not by much. If I'm honest, for the second time in this post, this challenges my gear so without significant purchases there's not much I can change. I've cold camped before in the UK, even my summer trips aren't exactly tropical these days, and I've spent some time in real arctic climate. But, and this is a big but, everything I've done in truely cold climate has involved day tripping, evenings warming toes infront of open fires, warming bones in Saunas and warming the spirit with, well, spirit. I have little winter-specific kit and Norway has the potential to trash my personal best cold sleep-out. Here's what I plan to take.

Clothing
I run hot. Sweating at -20 is not good. At least not if when you stop you're still outside. I'm hoping that I've chosen a layering system that'll keep me comfortable and dry when active and warm when passive. It starts with a heavy Merino base layer (Icebreaker bodyfit 260g) and is followed up by RAB Vapour rise Trousers and Smock. I hope this will suffice when working hard in all but the lowest temperatures and strongest winds. I used the trousers in freezing temperaures in the Dark Peak and was impressed. I'll be packing an extra micro fleece Gilette (Mammut Trail Vest) since it gives me the option of putting a little more insulation on my torso without significant weight penalty.

By choosing vapour rise I'm conciously choosing breathabilty over wind resistance so next up is a shell layer for use if winds get too strong or if we get dealt something wet, like freezing rain. I don't trust my ultralight shell for this work, wind and wet are potential killers, the OZ pullover is definately out. This season I'll be wearing (more hopefully carrying) matching Berghaus (albeit from several seasons back). An Extrem XCR Jacket and Deluge Overtrousers. XCR and own-brand breathable fabric is not pushing any boundaries but here's the thing: I already own them and they work.

My extra insulation will be down. PHD Ultra pullover and Minimus pants and booties (I'm crossing all my fingers in the hope that the pants and booties get to me on time!). I'm aware that we may get temperatures that push the PHD clothing beyond its limit but I'm reluctant to pack one of my full-on duvet jackets since they are heavy and bulky and after years of use are less effective than their weight suggests they should be. Instead I'm packing my Montbelle Down Inner , a slim fit that pairs well with the more generous Ultra pullover, expecting that when worn together the two items will get close to the performance of a big duvet.

Looking back at this text I realise that I've just described three matching suits: a Vapour Rise work suit, Berghaus for Sunday best and PHD for Evening dress. More disturbing all are in black.

Gloves, Hats, Scarves and Goggles and such

Joe recently vented his spleen on the subject of gloves. There's not much more to say realy. My system lists as follows. Fleece liner gloves, Mammut Kompact gloves, Outdoor Reserch Goretex Shell Mittens and Buffalo DP Mittens. That's four pairs of gloves for four days. Overkill? I don't think so. Cold hands equal missery, wet gloves never dry outdoors and my fingers are quite useful so I'd like to keep them for the time being. If I had the money or the inclination I would change some things. For instance, I'd probably be better buying some power-stretch gloves for skiing in since poling is likely to trash my lightweight Mammut gloves. I hope to get away with just the fleece liners (stripped from an old pair of Alpine Skiing Gloves trashed in a single season these liners are the warmest I own), but If needed I'll pull the Mammuts on over the liners for extra warmth on the move. The OR shell mittens, bought from a bargain bucket several years ago, make me swear out loud. They're not gauntlets but instead have elasticated waisting around the wrists. Getting one on over a gloved hand is difficult. Getting the second one on using your freshly shell-mitted hand is close to impossible and involves the use of expletives (OR thankfully have discontinued them). Still I want "waterproof" shell mitts for setting up camp which is likely to involve shoveling snow and other such wet-hand activity and this is what I have available. Finaly, Big Dumb Mitts are warmer than anything on the plannet. Buffalos are lightweight tried and tested. They're also made in Sheffield like my wife.

The other thing worth mentioning here is face protection. I've skied at temperatures in the minus twenties and you need to cover your face. For the purpose I'll be carrying a Polar Buff, which also conveniently doubles as a hat, scarf , balaclava etc. Although I've never skied in them I've been pursauded that Goggles are a must for moving through falling or blowing snow so I've picked up a pair. I didn't spend too much time or effort on the choice nor did I spend too much money on the purchase and ended up with a pair of Sinner Beast chosen solely on the premice that they fit comfortably over my glasses. Time will tell if the purchase was a good one.

Sleeping

This is my biggest headache. Stats suggest that temperatures could be anwhere between -5 and -25 degrees C. My current bags are rated to Zero C (Cumulus Quantum 200) and -3 C (PHD Minim 300) so get me nowhere near where I need to be. I'm hoping to fudge it. My intent is to combine the two bags and wear my down clothing to sleep in. I know that doubling up bags isn't recommended since, unless the outer bag is roomy enough, the inner bag won't loft fully but having played with the Quantum/Minimus combo it seems to work okay. Sure, with all the extra cloth the weight is higher than the weight of a good winter bag but it's what I have to hand. I may invest in a winter bag in the future but not right now.

A good mat is half the work (two thirds if you listen to The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing). That's why I'll be taking a Downmat 7. My down mat is a short so I'll be taking a Duomat for under my legs in addition to the heavy foam back of my rucksack and as emergency backup incase, horror of horrors, the Downmat springs a leak. The Duomat folds up nicely and fits in my pack so I won't have a foam roll hanging on the outside to catch the wind.

Dead reconning suggests that the set-up will be good for around -12C in comfort and a little lower with some discomfort. Realy low temperatures will see me heading straight for a hut, or at least sleeping within walking distance of one. If I get the chance I'll be trying the system out before I leave for Norway.

Shelter
This is my second biggest headache. Tarps are out. Definately out. I'll be taking a tent. However my choice is limited. The only tent I have that's up to the conditions is my Exped Orion. A truely bombproof shelter that will shed snow and stand up on it's own. Weeks spent inside it in Canada tell me that it's pretty much the perfect two man tent in all respects but one: weight. It's a beast. With all the bits and pieces, including snow anchors, I'm looking at a weight of around 3.8kg. Even shared between two it's still heavy by todays standards. Still, it's what I have and, I'll sleep well in this thing since I know it's up to the job.

My intention is still to carry a bivvy bag. My weapon of choice is an MLD Alpine Bivvy. It has its limitations but it's light. I may be pursauded to leave this at home yet but I I'm inclined towards it for two reasons. It will boost my sleeping bag(s) rating by a degree of two, will keep things dry(er) and will be beneficial if we have to snowhole.

Kitchen
Headache number three but a minor one. The main burner will be a multifuel stove(Whisperlite?) and thankfully carried by Willem-Maarten. Of all the stoves to hand this is the one that we can be certain we can get fuel for (it will burn Lead free if needs be) and which will work at low temperatures. The stove will be working hard for at least two days, melting snow and heating water for ready meals for four hungry men and these things are reliable work horses.

Still, I think it's wise to have a backup and nice to have a stove for each of the two tents. I've toyed with the idea of taking a UL meths burner since Meths will be obtainable and works, with a little coaxing, at low temperatures and I have several options to hand. Having played with my Vargo Triad again It's off the list, filling and priming the stove is a pain and I feel the burner is too inneffective for winter. The fact that it's super light (just 27g) keeps pulling me back but I should just scrap the the thing. It's just too fidely for my taste. On the other hand the white box stove is a super bit of kit, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, but you wouldn't catch me using one within 10 yards of a silny tent. No sir. Tent fires aren't us. That just leaves a Trangia then. Heavy, even if you're just looking at the burner, but, in my view still the best meths based field cooking system there is. My provisional choice is to take a windshield, burner and a kettle. It will just be required for boiling water for drinks and ready meals (dried ready meals are the order of the day this time out) and a kettle, with insulated handle, is an efficient and convenient way of doing that. I said provisional didn't I? That's because I may yet just fork out for a liquid feed cannister stove but we'll see.

Skis and Boots
I'll be hiring skis and boots in the Netherlands before departure. Simply out of expedience since we won't have to waste time fitting up in Norway. That forces one choice. They'll be waxless skis. For the rest the set-up is pretty standard for Nordic Touring. Fischer E99's, paired with leather boots and standard Nordic bindings. Lightly taylored skis that will fitt in the tracks and comfortable boots. The teraain will not be extreme and we will be, potentialy, on track for much of the distance covered. I've used Alpine skis and skinny nordic track skis before so the touring set-up is new to me. I'm hoping it will be kind to this bad skier!

Rucksack

Here the choice boils down very quickly to one. I need a pack that caries a large volume and high load with comfort and, most importantly if I hope to stay off my backside for at least some of the time, stabilty. I have two packs that fit the bill. A Macpac (A variant of the Rimu) and a Granite Gear Vapour Trail. The Macpac is not far short of 3kg. The Vapour Trail is a little over 1kg. The Vapour Trial is up to the job and I love it. Choice made.

Camera Gear
Definately the Oly E400 Body but which lens? My heart says the 14-42mm just like in Rondane. My head says take the standard 25mm pancake lens because, although it's more limited, it makes for a smaller lighter package. Yet to make up my mind on this.

My Full (as yet provisional) gear list can be found here.

1.01.2010

In with the new...


.....but not out with the old. Some of the memories are too special to leave behind. Indoors things went just fine. 2009 brought me Benjamin and Emily continues to amaze. It was a good year, albeit with less sleep than the ideal.

What about outdoors? Well, all things considered, 2009 was't a bad year. Just a few days out and about but fine days indeed. I enjoyed walking with Emily in the AWD for the first time. Watching her revel in her new-found freedom and letting her follow her nose. A taste of bigger things to come? I hope so! The summer brought a glorious trip to the mountains of the North. Rondane now occupies a special place in my heart. Right up there with the Cairngorms. I sense Norway will be the focus of my attention for a while yet. I'll be back there in February. The close of the year brought a real highlight. Short but sugar sweet. A white Christmas in Sheffield. Friends and family. Sledges and snowmen. Christmas as portayed in film and book. Christmas as Christmas should be. The icing on the cake came at the close of the year. The day after the solstice, the true turning point of the year, saw me in the wintery dark peak with Jane. Familar ground rendered unfamiliar by a foot of white powder and cobalt blue skies. Our first walk togther since Garibaldi in 2006. That's too long. Far too long not to have shared a passion with the one I love. But if you are going to wait for three years then let it be for such a day!

And then there was blogging. New found fun. At first compensation for the geography of my home but now something more than that. I marvel at the willingness of a small group of passionate people to share their love of all things outdoors. Their contibutions have, at the same time, brought me closer to home and opened new horizons. You know who you are!

All the best one and all!

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