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This is Reidar Berg. He is 86, and in true Norwegian fashion he "roller-skis" 13-17km three times a week to stay in shape in Dovre, Norway. This, he says, takes him 60 minutes, but is a lot quicker in winter on real skis in the snow.
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Our first night of wild camping was when it started to dawn on me that I might not be cut out for this...

Miriam​ and I had planned on making it about 10km further, but our bodies gave up near the top of a mountain outside Brensholmen​, Norway​. With nothing but some pasta, pesto and peanuts to refuel on, and dirty lake water to use for cooking, we didn’t have the energy to bring our gear inside, and risked leaving it strewn across the surrounding brush overnight.

Despite being exhausted and emotionally drained, I lay wide awake on the lumps and bumps pushing my sleeping mat into my back, wondering how I’d tell my friends and family that I’d made it less than a week into the so-called “Arctic to Asia” cycle tour before calling it quits. For about an hour, every time I got close to sleep, I imagined the distance we still had to cover - the daunting prospect of almost an entire year of doing this over and over again - and my heart lurched.

On the literal and metaphorical bright side, we got to experience a cloudless night illuminated by the famous midnight sun; this photo was taken at about 12.30am, just before I started questioning whether this whole thing was a terrible mistake.
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2 weeks ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

For those who missed them on Instagram, I’ve decided to start sharing some of my favourite photos from the road over the past year.

So, to kick off, here's a throwback to Nesna in Northern Norway, where Miriam and I had just finished pushing our bikes 3km uphill, only to discover that there was another 3km still to come up ahead…

The first few weeks of the trip pushed both of us to breaking point, as the stunning scenery brought with it some of the most difficult terrain we cycled... and the occasional emotional breakdown.
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For interviews and Articles from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour, visit: placepersonplate.com/
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2 weeks ago

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A massive and very late thank you to Oleksandr Rozhok and his mum, Olena Eu. Since I wildly overpacked at the beginning of this trip, they offered me a place to leave my mountain of stuff in Lviv, Ukraine, which allowed me to go home to visit family for “Channukamas”. Somehow, I forgot to take a photo of us all together, so here’s some of Oleks showing off the pipe-smoking skills he's perfected after years of competing in pipe-smoking competitions.

Dyakuyu!
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Democracy, beaten and bloodied almost beyond recognition, limps on in Turkey, or at least Istanbul, for now…
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Early May, and a tangible excitement permeates through Istanbul's labyrinthine streets. Ekrem İmamoğlu, a soft-spoken political unknown and relative newcomer, had somehow clinched victory in a mayoral race against a candidate from Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP, a regime that has been accused of continuously undermining democratic institutions and slipping perilously close to a dictatorship over the best part of a decade. The results handed him a razor-thin margin of 13,000 votes, just 0.2% of the total, over Binali Yıldırım, striking Erdoğan where it hurt; as a former mayor of Turkey's cultural capital, the now-President has repeated time and time again the mantra that “whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey”.
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It wasn’t long, however, before that victory turned to ash, and, at the request of Erdoğan, who claimed irregularities at the ballot box were responsible for his loss, election authorities annulled the results and ordered a rerun to be held on the 23rd of June. For months, it seemed that it had become illegal to win against the AKP.
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The date grew closer, and just 2 percentage points separated the rivals in opinion polls. Could İmamoğlu recreate his performance from weeks earlier? Pundits were torn; pollsters, conflicted. Locals were anxious. The world watched. But voters, in their fervour, riled by the injustice of a legitimate political victory ripped away and, fearing the last flickers of democracy would soon be extinguished, returned with a renewed sense of resolve, determined to defy the polls.
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Seconds ticked by, and it became startlingly clear to Erdoğan and the AK Parti that the plan had backfired; spectacularly so. A small 13,000 vote lead had turned into a 775,000 one. Voters saw that, with enough turnout, not even Erdoğan was infallible. Istanbul, governed by the AKP since 1994, fell to the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi - CHP - opposition, and an extended campaign breathed life into what was once a political lightweight who now had momentum in a situation frighteningly similar to the one that had seen Erdoğan himself take control of the country not too long ago.
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So there you have it; Istanbul has a new mayor, and maybe, just maybe, Turkey could have found itself a potential future challenger for the presidency.
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Since I've left my laptop behind for a few days to go hiking in the Svaneti region in Northern Georgia, the next Place Person Plate interview will be published next week instead of today. Until then, here's a few photos from day 1 of the 4 day trek from Mestia to Ushguli!
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At the end of an exhausting 2nd day of cycling, we could go no further, and so decided to camp at the top of a mountain near Brensholmen; Miriam's first time camping for about 12 years... ...

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Halfway through our first day on the road in Norway, our luck took a turn for the worse.

At the deepest point in the tunnel under Malangen fjord, Miriam injured her knee, meaning we had to walk the entire uphill section...
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Barely halfway through day 1 on the road and Miriam and I had already met hundreds of Huskies! ...

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Through the occasional video, you've seen snippets of the Scandinavian section of the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour.

Since those only show a fraction of the footage we have, I've begun stitching together some shorter clips, or "moments", that give a more accurate representation of life on the road. So, please enjoy the first of many "Arctic to Asia: Moments", which documents mine (Tieran) and Miriam's first hour of cycle touring as we left Tromsø, Norway!
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2 months ago

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The tables have turned!

Back in Istanbul, Mohammad Alard (aka Traveler Freak الرحالة المجنون) interviewed me about the ups and downs of life on the road during the Arctic to Asia Cycle tour. Have a watch below!
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2 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Did you miss the latest video from the Arctic to Asia Cycle Tour?

Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany feel like an age ago now, but making this trailer brought back a flood of memories.

Check out the full video of mine and Miriam's final stretch cycling together before I continued the journey towards Azerbaijan solo at the link below!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjmGDfMD6bc&t
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2 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Usually, I tend to stay for 3-4 days in a place before moving on to the next stop on the cycle tour. But when I visited Львів (Lviv), Ukraine, back in winter I fell in love with it. So much so that I got a little too comfortable, and spent more than two weeks overstaying my welcome with two locals, Yurko Yarovyj and Romana Skoropad, and a cat called Wusek (whisker) which had a charming habit of jumping on me every night at around 2.00am.

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So, late as always, a massive thank you goes to them for the bed, countless servings of barszcz, introducing me to something called “shuba” (a kind of herring and vegetable cake and one of the more peculiar dishes I’ve tried from that part of the world) and for not throwing me out sooner, especially after I lost the keys to their front door in the snow outside (sorry about that again, guys)…

Дякую (Dyakuyu) for everything!

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Ukraine has a new president.

When I visited a couple of months ago, Volodymyr Zelensky, a TV comedian known for playing a teacher who is propelled into the presidency by a viral video, was laughed off as a potential contender for the highest office in the country, then held by the widely disliked Petro Poroshenko. Last night, Zelensky won in a landslide, with 74% of the vote to Poroshenko’s 24%.

Many that I spoke to were fed up with Poroshenko’s corruption, and his apparent profiteering from Ukraine’s political woes. Zelensky, who has never held any government position, promised to be “something different”. Like his competitor, he is pro-European, but other than that has kept his cards close to his chest, revealing little about his political leanings. Now, he will determine the fate of the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the East, though he has yet to publicly declare any specific plans for his country’s future.

This election cycle in Ukraine has seen its fair share of drama. Earlier this year, it emerged that two individuals, both named Y. V. Tymoshenkos, would be running for office. The most well-known of the two is Yulia Tymoshenko, who has spent two terms as Ukraine’s Prime Minister, whilst @Yuri Tymoshenkos is a relatively unknown independent member of parliament. It was suggested that Yuri’s entrance into the race was a ploy to confuse voters at the ballot box in an attempt to siphon votes from Yulia, who was seen as a much more serious threat to the other candidates.

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It's been a while. So, if you've missed watching two clueless cyclists attempting to cycle halfway across the world, then I have good news: part 4 of the Arctic to Asia cycle tour, which took us through Sweden, Denmark and Northern Germany, is now up on YouTube!
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Featuring myself (Tieran), Miriam, my Norsk family (Anders, Leif, Håkon and Turid), and all those we met or who helped us out along the way:
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Svein Rune Berg, Amalie Berg, Maria Viktoria, Anna Kristine Berg, Jørgen Marentius Pettersen, Sunniva Berg, Ørjan Drabløs, Torben Jørgensen, Dorthe Greve Jørgensen, Kåre Lindqvist, Alex Wilson, Callum Gathercole, Maria Sara Klinner, Lasse Klinner, Louie Hammeken Klinner, Michel Hammeken Klinner, Charlotte Hannibal, Brian Hansen, Michael Pietsch Melanie Pietsch, Fritz and Max Mahlmann

Have a watch below!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjmGDfMD6bc&t=
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3 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

With nowhere to stay, the temperature dropping rapidly and the inevitability of sunset inching ever closer, I was starting to psych myself up for a freezing night at the roadside in Poland’s Carpathian hills.

So, my fingers and toes owe Henryk and Maria a huge thank you for saving the day and inviting me to stay with them in their cabin, Słomiana Chatka, which was one of the most rustic experiences I’ve had on the trip so far.

Henryk spent the last few summers building it from scratch, even using hay and mud to construct the walls. With no WiFi, TV, or phone service to distract me, I was able to switch off and enjoy an evening basking in the warm glow of a fireplace, conversing using charades (and google translate when we moved to the corner that sometimes got 1 bar), eating soup, and learning to crack walnuts with the flick of a knife, a skill I’ll cherish for years to come. Dziękuję Bardzo!

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4 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Still scrambling to work through my backlog of 'thank you's; this time a very belated 'Dziękuję bardzo' goes to Grażyna, Klaudia, Izabela, and Andrzej in Poland. After several days riding through the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, they sorted me out with my very own private cabin/bungalow (Chata na końcu świata) on a hilltop overlooking Tarnów for three nights, as well as food, poker and some lessons on the local history!

In Poland, it's unusual to drink tea with milk like I'm used to back at home, but in a landmark cross-cultural exchange, I was able to convince Andrzej and Izabela to brave the national beverage of my homeland, English breakfast tea. As you can see, it didn't go down too well...

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4 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

Way back in 2017, with no cycling experience (let alone cycle touring experience) and my departure date fast approaching, I turned to the one place I knew I could find help; the place where I’d spent hours upon hours absorbing knowledge late into the night when I should have been studying during my school years and, let's be honest, my university years, too. I turned to YouTube.

After trawling through video after video looking for advice for a novice like myself, I eventually settled on one channel in particular, which is where I learned most of what formed the basis of my albeit limited touring knowledge before I flew to Tromsø to begin my journey.

By pure chance, it just so happened that the guy behind this channel, Darren Alff (AKA the 'Bicycle Touring Pro’), was in Lviv, Ukraine, at the same time as me! A lot of unpredictable things have happened on this trip, but going to a zoo (a generous term for what it was) and an ‘underground coffee mine’ in Ukraine with the cyclist I’d watched travel the world from behind a screen is definitely high up on the list! Cheers Darren for all the tips and advice!

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Darren’s Channel: www.youtube.com/user/bicycletouringpro

For interviews and articles from the Arctic to Asia cycle tour, visit: theplacethepersontheplate.com/
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With Brexit, the Michael Cohen drama, and the collapse of talks between Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un sprawled across most newspapers, Moldova's parliamentary elections flew under the radar in western media earlier this week. So here is yet another oversimplified explanation:
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The results of last Sunday's vote could determine whether the landlocked Eastern European country aligns itself with Russia or the European Union. Currently, the presidency is held by Igor Dodon, who envisions a country with closer ties to the Russian Federation, whilst Parliament, prior to the elections was controlled by the Democrats, a more EU-friendly party, led by Pavel Filip. This meant that there was a tug of war between the two branches of government, and a lot of conflicting messages.

But why, a week after the elections, do we still not know what the results will mean for Moldova? Because, whilst the Socialist party won the most seats, they still only secured 31% of the vote with a 49% voter turnout, meaning they have been unable to form a majority. The socialist party must now form a coalition with another party, though its unclear who that would be since the second biggest party is their primary opposition, and the third is ACUM, which has taken a strong stance against corruption and also desires closer ties with Europe. If nothing changes, a second election could be held as soon as a few months from now.

To add to the uncertainty, the elections have been marred by allegations of voting fraud, including vote-buying, and accusations that Russia attempted to interfere with the election (sound familiar?) by opening an investigation into an alleged money-laundering scheme involving Pavel Filip just two days before the election. All of that has prompted calls from the Democratic party for an investigation (sound even more familiar??), but the results have been accepted by all parties, who must now come up with a way out of the situation they've found themselves in.

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theplacethepersontheplate.com

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Partidul Democrat din Moldova
Partidul Socialiștilor din Republica Moldova
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5 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

As always, I'm super far behind with my thank you messages...

This time, big thanks go to the guys at Farma Kozłówek ('Kozłówek Farm' if that was difficult for you) in Poland who hosted me and spent longer than they should have attempting to teach me the Polish alphabet. More importantly, the shops nearby were closed and I probably would have passed out if they hadn't come to the rescue and provided me with some food. Dziękuję almost three months late!

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It is with regret that I must inform you all of a day I hoped would never come.

Those of you who know me or have followed this trip from the beginning may be aware that I had virtually no cycling or bike repair experience before this trip; that lack of experience extends to fixing punctures.

"I ordered puncture resistant tyres", I told myself, "I'll be fine". And for many months, I was. But after 3,674km of cycling, my rear tyre, weary, overworked and neglected, was ruthlessly pierced something in the road. A thorn? A piece of broken glass, perhaps? We will never truly know how, or why, this happened.

And so with Ali, my host in Comrat, guiding me, I set to work. Surgery began at 11.55am on Saturday, and I'm pleased to report that after ten minutes we were able to stymie the air loss and return the inner tube to a stable condition. It was a close one, but it looks like my bike will fully recover.

TLDR: 6 months in, it was about damn time I finally learned how to repair a puncture.

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Ukraine will be permanently scarred by the 2014 revolution. But many don't know why the protests came actually about and how they affected the current state of world affairs, so here is a simplified version:

The story begins when then-president Viktor Yanukovych withdrew last-minute from a deal with the EU that he'd promised to sign, and instead signed one with Russia.

His withdrawal was not what prompted the revolution, however. That weekend, hundreds of people, who felt they'd been duped by the president, stood in peaceful protest in Maidan Square in the city centre, demonstrating their support for closer ties with Europe. In an effort to quash these protests, special police known as the 'Berkut' surrounded and then proceeded to beat numerous protestors.

And so, the dominoes began to fall. It was this abuse of power that saw a spark of dissidence ignite into the Ukrainian revolution. Tens of thousands took to the streets, turning Maidan Square in the city centre into a permanent camp and refusing to move. This, in turn, was met with further police brutality; berkut snipers picked off protestors from rooftops, and over 100 of them, who would later be called the "Heavenly Hundred", died at the hands of the police.

When the bloodshed showed no signs of stopping, and protestors began threatening to arm themselves, Yanukovich was forced to flee the country. Almost immediately after that, sensing the election of a more pro-EU and less Russia-friendly president, Russia annexed Crimea, leaving us where we are now.

If you walk up the street behind Maidan Square, you'll notice bulletholes in some of the lamp posts at the roadside, a reminder of the cruelty and corruption that thrust Ukraine onto the forefront of the world stage, and triggered a crisis the likes of which haven't been seen since the Cold War.

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Today I met the Moldovan Mafia.

At home, I'm used to the idea that urban areas tend to have higher crime rates, whilst in the countryside you can afford to let your guard down. In other parts of the world, however, it's easy to forget that the opposite is true. I’d been warned about this in Ukraine, but since no one anywhere seemed to know anything about Moldova, I didn’t really know what to expect upon my arrival.

Today, as I weaved between potholes exiting Sîngerei, just south of Bălți , I was pleasantly surprised to see three friendly-looking guys waving and calling out to me. As they stepped out into the road to greet me, I slowed to a halt, and began explaining my trip to what I thought was merely a curious group of locals.

As the passing cars faded into the distance and we were left alone, the tone changed. The smiles faded, and they began circling my bike, so that at least one of them was always out of sight. “You know mafia?” one of them leaned towards me and gripped one of my handlebars; I laughed nervously. “We are mafia. You-” he rubbed his fingers together in what I recognised was a symbol for ‘Pay us’. I moved my bike backwards slightly “Net, net, net (no, no, no)”, I tried my best to appear confident and unphased as I made a move to turn. Before I knew it a hand gripped my arm. “You have camera. ” he gestured to the GoPro poking out of my handlebar pack. “Pay.” He made the symbol with his free hand again.

Whether it was because of the language barrier, or perhaps they just thought I wasn’t worth the trouble, or maybe, just maybe, it was a dot in the distance that slowly morphed into a police car as it approached, but I shook my arm free, pushed my bike forward so my new friends had to choose between moving aside or getting run over, and pedalled. In a bizarre exchange as I shot off, heart racing, one of them even waved goodbye; in my confusion I returned the gesture.

Moral of the story: it’s easy to forget that, whilst most people have good intentions wherever you go, it’s still worth being a little wary of who you stop and talk to, and that maybe you shouldn't make a habit of openly carry valuables when there are people around on a trip like this.

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6 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

As I trundled clumsily out of Katowice, Poland, the hospitality continued:

A huge and very late thank you to Wojtek and Dorota in Podlipie, who introduced me to Poland's only "desert", allowed me to join them for All Saint's Day, and prepared homemade and homegrown food for me during my 3-night stay. All that whilst looking after their two young children (who I promise were happy to see me despite Tomek's expression in the photo below), a dog, a cat and a hamster! Dziękuję bardzo!
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6 months ago

The Place, The Person, The Plate

New year, same me: it's not that I've experienced a sudden dip in hospitality, I'm just now two months behind on my 'thank you's for those who have taken me in or helped me out in some way on the cycle tour.
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For my time in Czestochowa, special and belated thanks go out to Jarek Grzadzielski (I struggle typing that as much as you struggle reading it), his sister, Gosia, and Brysiek, the dog who almost stopped growling at me by the end of my 4 day stay with them.
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Thanks also to Karol and Mateusz, who told me about life in the Catholic church during their visit to Jasna Góra, a pilgrimage site this part of Poland is famous for.
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Since numerous technical issues postponed the publishing of my last interview, I figured now would be a good time to change publishing days. So, starting now, interviews will be published every 2nd THURSDAY rather than Wednesday. Keep an eye out tomorrow for my first interview from Poland! 🇵🇱🚴‍♂️ ...

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For those wondering about the situation in Ukraine:

On the 26th of November, Russia attacked and captured three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov, which lies between Ukraine and Russia and is separated from the Black Sea by the Crimean Peninsula. This prompted President Poroshenko to propose to parliament a declaration of martial law, which he suggested should last for 60 days across the entire country; no exceptions.
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Fortunately for many Ukrainians and foreigners travelling in the country, this decree was watered down, in part because it would have interfered with the presidential elections due to take place in March 2019 (all election campaigning is suspended under martial law). So, for now, control has been handed over to the military in 10 of Ukraine's 25 provinces for 30 days rather than 60, meaning it's business-as-usual in the western portion of the country, where I am now, and the capital. As it stands, my route to Moldova hasn't changed, but I will keep an eye on the situation in case it escalates. Until then, thank you for all the concerned messages; hopefully the situation can be resolved peacefully in the near future.

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Did you miss our latest video? Here is the trailer for part 3 of the Arctic to Asia cycle tour. Watch the full thing on our YouTube channel, "Place Person Plate" featuring myself (Tieran Freedman) and Miriam Ritter navigating central and Southern Norway!

Full Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8oi6uW4B2M&t
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Disaster. Technical difficulties that I barely understand have meant that I'm currently scrambling to fix some bugs on the website. In the meantime I have had to take today's interview with Petra down, and the site itself will not be accessible for a brief period. It will be up again as soon as soon as possible xoxo ...

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