Friday, 28 May 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 27th & 28th May, 2021

 Just as we'd been promised, I woke early on Thursday morning to sunshine and blue skies. I wandered around the garden with the lads, did my Wii Fit workout and after we'd had breakfast and Jon had made sandwiches we headed down to the gorgeous Cotswolds for our weekly National Trust adventure.

Our destination was Hidcote, the UK's best known and most celebrated Arts & Crafts gardens, a drive of just over an hour away from Walsall. We'd previously visited at the height of last summer (HERE) and a few weeks later in the autumn (HERE). Due to lockdown, missed visiting Hidcote in her winter finery and were really excited to see what spring would look like.


Americans, Lawrence Johnston and his mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, moved to the UK in 1900.  Lawrence immediately became a British citizen and fought in the Boer War with the British army. In 1907 Gertrude purchased the Hidcote Manor Estate, situated in a part of Britain with strong connections to the Arts & Crafts movement. 


Lawrence, by now a Major, became interested in turning the fields around the 17th Century manor house into a garden. By 1910 he had begun to lay out the garden's key features, and by the 1920s he had twelve full-time gardeners working for him. After World War II he spent most of his time at Jardin Serre de la Madone, his garden in the south of France and in 1947 he entrusted Hidcote to the National Trust.


Lawrence was influenced in creating his garden at Hidcote by the work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll, who were designing gardens of hardy plants contained within sequences of outdoor "rooms". Hidcote's outdoor rooms have various characters and themes, achieved by the use of box hedges, hornbeam, yew and stone walls. These rooms, such as the 'White Garden' and 'Fuchsia Garden' are linked, some by vistas, and furnished with topiaries. Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in bedding schemes.


The first time we visited Hidcote I declared that it was the most beautiful garden I've ever seen and it still holds true. The planting, the colours and the scents are almost overwhelming. I can't imagine anyone not loving it as much as we do.


As you can see I got carried away with my camera and had trouble whittling down my favourite photos so apologies for the image-heavy post!







































After a picnic lunch in the heat and sunshine, we slowly made our way back to Walsall. I say slowly because the traffic was terrible, something we've not experienced in over a year. 


We were so inspired by our visit when we got home that we immediately got changed and spent the rest of the day in the garden. Tea was a Greek salad with spelt bread and a cheeky beer followed by an evening of The Antiques Road Trip on catch-up, easy telly for tired eyes.


On Friday, like the rest of the week, I was wide awake by 5.30am. Conscious of the water being turned off at 8am I did a load of washing and pegged it on the line, repotted a plant, booked next week's National Trust visit and did my Wii Fit workout before wrapping the latest eBay sales. 


We'd made an executive decision to go charity shopping so after breakfast we headed off. I gave my latest eBay acquisition a whirl, teamed with a vintage block printed maxi skirt, my Banjara crescent pendant and some 1970s French deadstock sunglasses.


Although the forecast wasn't great I decided to wear sandals, to go out beyond the garden gates, for the first time this year. The last time I wore these Lotta from Stockholm clogs was when I flew home from Crete last September (sob!) 



A combination of the start of a bank holiday weekend, market day and decent weather meant the Black Country town we visited was rammed but almost everyone wore masks and kept a respectful distance so it wasn't too scary. 


ABOVE: Clockwise from top left: 1970s stack-heeled English-made shoes; Clarks' Originals suede mules; 1960s cotton warehouse coat; Deadstock 1980s American Union-made cap; 1960s worsted wool three-button jacket; 1980s Chinese brocade jacket.

BELOW: Cat in the Hat print shirt; 1960s quilted satin smoking jacket; 1950s quilted coat liner; Another 1980s deadstock American Union-made cap; 1960s tonic-effect, wool-lined mac; 1980s suede waistcoat.


I think these unworn Clarks' Originals might be keepers, they're absurdly comfy and look pretty cool, too. If you're not familiar with the iconic Originals range, it features modern interpretations of their classic footwear designs, often in limited edition designs with some retailing in excess of £300.


 I've only just found out about the connection between Clarks' and Jamaica. Since the desert boot hit the streets of Kingston almost 60 years ago the brand became intertwined with everyday life on the island and is synonymous with the country's musical history. This short film released last month explores what it's like to wear Clarks' in a land that adopted the brand like nowhere else. It's a wonderful watch and you'll probably be straight on eBay hunting for Clarks' Originals as soon as you've watched it.




We got home to discover a note in the letterbox. Due to a problem, Severn Trent had encountered the water would now be turned off on Tuesday. It looks like another charity shopping day might be on the cards! After a lunch of a sandwich made from last night's Greek salad leftovers, Jon went shopping and I got stuck into the gardening.


I couldn't resist this mint grapefruit for sale in Hidcote's plant shop. I can't tell you how amazing it smells and the assistant told me that it's absolutely heavenly in a G&T...sold! I planted it up in my herb bed (keeping it in a pot as it's supposed to be terribly invasive).


Yesterday we'd planted up chard, cauliflower and lettuce and some mystery things Jon had grown from foraged seeds. This afternoon I staked the Greek beans, banked up the potatoes and when Jon got back, we replanted spiky bastard after Beate suggested it would act as an excellent barrier to invaders of our area outside the gates.


Tea was a homemade veg Punjabi tikka masala for me and a chicken one for Jon, with half a garlic & coriander nan and some lime-infused basmati rice. Tonight it's Gardeners' World, lashings of rum and the exciting prospect of a gloriously hot & sunny long weekend.

Cheers & see you soon!  

50 comments:

  1. What perfect weather for your National Trust outing and what wonderful gardens to visit.

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  2. Wow that place looks so beautiful and the weather was perfect. Beautiful choices of outfits too and the sandwiches look delicious. Thank you for sharing your trip and the photos with us.

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  3. On the day I met up with you, I was wearing my Clarks Originals, but I have to say they are the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever owned although they look the opposite (I have a broken left/footheel from a motorbike accident40+ years ago which makes shoes trick) so I gave to a friend but they were beautifully made. Loved seeing Hidcote in Spring, I like the planting designs, solid and layered with plenty going on.

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    1. I remember your Clarks' Originals! What a shame they kill you! I had to sell an incredible pair of Birkenstocks last year that I'd treated myself to, previous ones I've owned have been amazing but i couldn't get on with these. Luckily I got back the price I paid!
      Hidcote is so inspiring, I love the chaotic but clever planting! x

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  4. Such a beautiful visit - makes my imagination go into overdrive imagining the lives that have come and gone there. Interesting that it's also prolific with beautiful smells. Your new-to-you Clarks Originals? Identical new shoes here in New Zealand are $229.00. Yes - really!

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    1. I know, I get a thrill walking where generations of others have stepped!
      Clarks' Originals sell at up to £350 here. xxx

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  5. I always love going along on your National Trust adventures, and what a beautiful place. The grounds are amazing! So glad to hear the weather was perfect too and I hope it stays that way throughout the weekend - enjoy! xxx

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  6. Ack! Other people! I think this is the first time I've seen other people in any of your National Trust visits, Vix! It must have felt so odd!

    Love your beautiful white dress, and your new top is perfect with that block-print skirt. I love seeing your finds from the thrifts - I'll be hitting a consignment store tomorrow with a friend, but I'll be shopping for L's birthday soon and maybe I'll find a few things for me? ;-P Could happen!

    Those Clarks look so squishy and comfy! Happy weekend, my dear!

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    1. I know, it felt very wrong to have all those people accompanying us after a year. Gah!
      xxx

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  7. Those beautiful National Trust estates just keep on giving.

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    1. They are incredible, aren't they? Our £10 a month membership fee is worth every penny! x

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  8. That was just the most heavenly viewing. Lucky you. I guessed you would go home full of ideas for your garden. I love topiary as long as it’s well done and those birds were wonderful. I loved the brick path. I loved everything You could never post too many photos. I loved the white dress you wore with the floral bands. What a tiny waist you have. It’s dark out and it’s lunch time. Teeming with rain, so more mice will be coming in from the fields around us. We have bait boxes everywhere. I haven’t seen one yet but they leave evidence and they are eating the bait. I need a cat but not well enough to look after one. I do love your boys. ❤️ 😬 🐭🐭🐭🐭

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    1. Isn't Hidcote a joy? Yes, topiary well done is an absolute treat, it can look vry contrived. the head gardener is a woman, I think you can always tell!
      We've seeen that plague of mice on the BBC news, it's like some biblical punishment. I don't mind mice but wouldn't fancy seeing them en masse! xxx

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  9. That garden was simply beautiful to look at!! I wish I had time to go and look at it. I love the dress you had on you looked like flake lady from the 80’s adverts!!
    I am still not having much luck finding stock for the shop. My boss told me not to get bent out of shape over it ! And the kids are behaving and he wants to keep the, I think not lol I have picked some gems for me and cleared M&S out of panties and bras!! We are going to stay another month Paul’s work wants him to do some important inspections. So that is fine by me. The boss wax totally fine as well.
    Keep safe love and hugs allie
    PS he is hanging on in there Paul’s dad

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    1. I've always wanted to look like a Flake girl!!
      You're being a discerning shopper, your boss is right, if the stuff isn't there you can't buy it. The amount of primarni, Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing and Shein is quite staggering (and depressing!) I'm glad you've found stuff for you though and are stocking up on the essentials you can't get back in Japan.
      Another month? At least you've got some lovely weather and can sit outside with a book and ignore the madness. xxx

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  10. The pic with you holding the brim of your hat would make a great 70's album cover!Makes me nostalgic for 'the good old days'!Those gardens are stunning, as is the house. Do you think Monty's slowing up? They seem to be giving him some mundane stuff to do. There's a new series of 'Garden Rescue' started this week. It's an easy watch too. Paul Martin looked awfully thin on Antiques Roadtrip. I think next week they'll be in Scotland and an antiques place near me might be featured. Also telly-related, Great British Railway Journeys featured Birmingham last week. Interesting stuff.Have a good Bank Holiday weekend (I'm laying low, the roads will be chocka here, I preferred it when they all stayed at home!).xxx

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    1. I'll have to suggest the album cover to Jon!
      Hidcote is perfection, if I could have any garden in the world that would be it. I love the busyness of the planting and the clever use of colour.
      I agree about Monty, I think he's paving the way for Adam. He doesn't seem half as energietic as he used to. I'm sad that there were only four Gradening Revolution programmes, too - I hope they commission another series.
      Oh, I shall check out the railway journeys, Brum's got some amazing industrial history! xxx

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  11. the style of hidcote´s gardens is awesome!!
    and something i try to emulate on my - in comparison - teeny-tiny patch of land..... and a non-existing budget. but one can learn a lot from hidcote´s gardeners: plant different LEAF patterns & colours together and use lots of the same plant to create generousness. and this plant has not to be very exotic - so you can multiply it by yourself...... trim the hedges..... let the green overgrow the architecture..... etc.etc....
    you look a vision in your white dress in the airy wood!!
    great finds - i´m so longing to go to a fleamarket again!!
    xxxxx

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    1. I knew you'd love Hidcote, there's never any expances of bare soil there. You're right, that method of repeated planting and colour schemes is something we can all replicate without a massive budget. i love that everything's peat-free, too - leading the way!
      I hope it won't be long before fleamarkets are open again. xxx

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  12. What gorgeous weather you had for this week's National Trust adventure! Having been there myself, I can only nod in agreement: Hidcote is indeed one of the most beautiful gardens I've ever visited. Your photos are fabulous and really take me back on a trip down memory lane. The ones of you seated on those stone steps and amid that wildflower meadow are just magical. That dress you were wearing is a dream and looks quite at home in the garden. I can't get over those beautiful Oriental Poppies, which make me wish I had room for more than one variety.
    Friday's outfit, featuring your newly purchased blouse, is gorgeous too, and oh my, it seems you were spoilt for choice at the chazzas! I would keep have kept those mules too, if they were my size. xxx P.S. Our weather seems to be catching up with yours, yay!

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    1. It is such a beautiufl place, isn't it? I bet it was still gorgeous in the depths of winter, too.
      I'm so excited that our Oriental poppies are out! Even Monty was saying his had been a disater.
      I always think of you when I see Clerks' in charity shops. Remember how excited you were to spot that fabulous red pair in Bridgnorth? xxx

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  13. Your National Trust Adventures are Sublime, it reminds me of the History and Beauty of the British Isles. When we lived there my Parents took us to see many Historic sites and develop an appreciation for everything preserved and with a History to it. In America so many States don't bother with that and it's all being erased and replaced, which is a pity, the History one day will be gone and not to be enjoyed by future generations. Your Shared Images transported me to those wonderful places Virtually, Thank You.

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    1. We're so lucky with The National Trust and for the wealthy owners to gift their homes and gardens to them so the nation can appreciate them too, history is so important.
      Your parents taught you well, I know you adore old things as much as I do! xxxx

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  14. The only pair of Clarks I've ever owned were so uncomfortable I had to give them away, but I have very fussy feet. The gardens at Hidcote are stunning! I'm intrigued by the idea of the "outdoor rooms". I think the photo of you standing in the greenery holding your hat brim should be printed and framed - the colours in your dress and hat look so beautiful against the greenery.

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    1. That's a shame! Most of us Brits grew up wearing Clarks' shoes at school and they used to be the epitome of comfort although a brand new pair of their sandals I'd bought in a charity shop ended up back there as they rubbed my heels to ribbons! xxx

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  15. Beautiful pictures of Hidcote Vix. They don't half know how to do hedges there. Gertrude is such a great name, more people should be called it. You do look like a 70s folk musician in one of those photos. You need to get into Jon's music room and get an airy album recorded pronto! I have a trusty pair of clarks boots that I wear all the time. I think Monsieur has more shoes than me. The new top and wrap skirt look great together. Perfect for this lovely, warm weekend. Have a goodun' , Lulu x

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    1. I was so inspired by those hedges that I trimmed my laurel when I got home! Not that it looked as good as theirs!
      I love my Clarks Orinoco Club boots, I can wear them for hours! xxx

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  16. Do you have time limits at the trust properties? That garden is stunning and understand taking the pictures in mass!

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    1. Normally you can spend alkl day at a National trust property but at Hidcote you're limited to two hours although there's picnic areas where you can linger all day! xxx

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  17. What a gorgeous day you had for Hidcote! You could live in the grounds undetected for ages before you were spotted lol - I must admit, I loved your visit to Calke Abbey best - I love a bit of decrepitude!

    Sending massive love to that Chinese brocade jacket - that gorgeous jade/turquoise is amazing - what a great haul!

    My first chazz netted me a new bedding set with a pheasant print on it - I think everyone else throught it was hideous but I like it! I also got a hinged triple mirror - that you'd put on top of a chest of drawers or table to make a dresser - this is now top of a writing desk and has an army of tin plate robots cavorting in front of it lol. Clothing-wise I got a beautiful Jaeger jacket - it is so very elegant and will posh-up some of my summer clothes, a treat.

    Clarks' desert wellies are FAB - they always put me in mind of Florence off The Magic Roundabout - excellent, lol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmeTsOoCUU0

    Hope this weather is here to stay.
    Hope next week is better than this one (nightmare).

    Stay safe and happy all - Maryland - hope you have some gentle early Summer where you are; big love to you xx

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    1. Hello, Elaine!
      I think Hidcote's top and Calke a close second, I love decreptitude as much as I love clutter and chaos! We were so lucky with the weather and still are, long may it last!
      That brocade jkacket was on the dressing-up rail outside the shop, nestled in amongst Asda fancy dress outfits and all kinds of flammable horrors. I lady followed me round like a hawk hoping I'd put it back!
      Sounds like your first foray was a raging success, loving the sound of the pheasant bedding, you can't got wrong with Jaeger and this tri-fold mirrors fetch a pretty penny at vintage fairs!
      Have a fab week! xxx

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    2. I can believe that jacket being on the dressing-up rail outside the shop - I had a 30's wedding dress off the Halloween costume rail at the YMCA chaz shop about 2 years since lol

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  18. No wonder you took a lot of photos in Hidcote, it's a stunning garden!, thanks for sharing them and bring us some of the joy and atmosphere of this beautiful place!, loving it and loving your photos in the garden wearing your embroidered dress and lovely hat (looking really appropriate as usual!)
    And thanks for this video on Clarks and Jamaica. Fab music and coolness!.
    Glad to see you wearing your clogs and this delightfully summery ensemble!, rocking it!
    besos

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    1. I wanted everyone to come with us on our visit to Hidcote, I just love how busy the planting is, it's just glorious!
      Jon and I have watched that film twixce, he's even more obsessed with Clarks' Originals now Protoje wears them! xxx

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  19. I now wondering if any of my ancestors went back to Great Britian or not. But ancestory says I have four distant cousin living over there.
    Iris are sure pretty, a few of mine is in bloom
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. That's exciting, any idea where they might live? xxx

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  20. Oh, what a lovely pix of you in your white "lawn" dress with the broad-brimmed hat! I'm still laundering Edwardian tea dresses and dreaming of the ladies who wore them at places such as Hidcote, once upon a time. * And please tell us more about Jon's pose before the odd photo backdrop (of a croquet lawn set in hedges?). Those look like recycled Tudor bed posts.

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    1. What a joy to be laundering tea dresses and thinking of those gloriously handsome Belle Epoque ladies.
      The hedges at Hidcote are legendary and smell delicious. I love the cut out archways which afford a peek into the other areas, always more attractive with a leafy frame. xxx

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  21. Happy Monday morning Vix! just beautiful photos as usual!! Sometimes I feel there are not enough or the right words to relay just how gorgeous they are. Love your outfits. All this rain we had has done our gardens so good and now we can get out and enjoy them. Bet it feels good to be "chazzering " again. Interesting about Clark's. We had lots of family visitors but all sat outside. My new plant babies are doing well. Loved the "Jon" planted some mystery seeds" hmm wander what they will be? I now have a beautiful yellow flower from some mystery planting in lockdown last year. big hug Shazxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Shaz! I'm so glad you've had visitors and that life seems to be gradually returing to normal. I looked back to my blog for a last year and the plants were so much more advanced, hopefully this delicious sunshine should get them all catching up now.
      I wonder what yor mystery flower isd? I think I need to borrow a phone and test out that plant app! xxx

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  22. Good morning
    No apologies needed for the abundance of Hidcote images, it was a pure treat to see such beautiful grounds.
    Isn’t it wonderful to have some sunshine at last and to be able to sit outside. The photo of you in the wildflower garden is gorgeous and would look amazing in a Hidcote brochure.
    Your Kinky stock is starting to build up again. Walsal chazzers are much more interesting than the ones round here. There’s some real tat in them. We are going over to see Gemma soon at Barnados vintage,, im having a clear out session, so we are bound to pick up a thing or two there.
    Enjoy the sunshine both of you xxx

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    1. Isn't it beautiful? So many inspiring ideas for planting and colour. I loved how they grouped fragrant plants near doorways so you had to brush past them to enter each ara, it really added to the mood of every area.
      The sunshine has been such a treat, I can't get enough of it! xxx

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  23. Hidcote looks stunning! It's doable for us too as we're not too far from the Cotswolds...

    I thought you looked liked an Edwardian lady in your big hat and long frock standing in a field of Queen Anne's Lace - exactly like the lady of the Manor!

    What good finds you got. I didn't know about the connection between Clarks and Jamaica; must tell OH he'll be very interested having Jamaican parents. I liked those mules a lot!

    The mint grapefruit sounds very exotic and will be perfect in a G&T.

    Hope you've enjoyed a warm and sunny weekend.
    xxx

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    1. You would love Hidcote, it's just gorgeous.
      I'd be more than happy to be lady of the manor if that could be my garden.
      That Clarks' film was so interesting. I loved that Clarks' desert boots are known as "bank robbers" in Jamaica. My dad wore nothing else all his life! xxx

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  24. Hidcote is amazing. I love when you show us around. The dress you wore at Hidcote looks so fabulous on you. Those photographs of you surrounded by the greenery are absolutely fabulous.

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  25. A visit to Hidcote has been on my wish list for many years , so I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the gardens through your photos. The gardens are simply wonderful, just as I seen in many garden books. I so admired those peonies. The photo of you in the meadow was definately brochure worthy.

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  26. Hidcote is a joy! Lucky you! Shame about all the other visitors!
    It's great to be inspired by these amazing places!
    The cat in the hat shirt is hilarious!

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Lots of love, Vix