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A Year of Adventures with Subaru- #XVAdventure.

on Monday, 26 January 2015.

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You can probably tell from this blog that we are a family who love to have adventures.  Whether that's close to home or far away, like any parent I absolutely love to make memories with my girls and to give them new experiences and help them see new places.  For someone who actually thrives on routine and being at home, I also love to get out and have impromptu trips and fun- those kind of memories are often the best ones.

Back in the Summer we got contacted by Subaru to work with them on a very special project.  The Subaru XV is their family car.  It's an adventure car.  It's made for families exactly like ours- families who like to go out, have fun, and make memories.  Whether those are big or small, ordinary or not so ordinary.  Subaru challenged us to go on an adventure, that adventure was entirely up to us, and they lent us an XV to test out for the weekend.  We decided to go to Pembrokeshire in South Wales, and experience camping for the first time, albeit we may have cheated slightly and gone down the glamping route.  We had so much fun as a family on our little adventure and Mads still talks about the time we 'went in a tent' to this day.

And that's the thing.  That's why we do these things.  For our children to have fun experiences and to remember the family times.  They don't have to be expensive or elaborate.  Some of our favourite family times are just popping down the road to the local country park to feed the ducks and splash in muddy puddles.  Or to head into town, have a cake and wander round the shops.  We invent our own adventures and the ordinary moments can be an adventure too when you have small children with very big imaginations.

That is what the Subaru XV is all about- it's about having family time.  Exploring off the beaten track.  Handling the roughest rural terrain. Even nipping to the local shops. Compact when you need it for winding country tracks, but hugely spacious inside, to take whoever and whatever you care to bring. Umpteen pairs of shoes, the kids, the bikes. On journeys only you can invent.  We loved the car back in the Summer and were so sad to give it back at the end of our adventure- it suited us perfectly as a family and was similar (but SO much nicer) to the car we already drove.

So when Subaru asked us if we wanted to have a 'year of adventures' we couldn't actually believe our luck.  In fact we have had to pinch ourselves a few times- it couldn't be a more perfect partnership for us as a family who love to make memories.  Subaru have loaned us a beautiful white XV (they are going to have to come and physically wrench the keys out of my hands at the end of the year) and have challenged us to have twelve adventures as a family.  They don't have to be big, they don't have to be expensive, or they can be something exciting we have never done before- it's just about how we see life.  It's about having fun and enjoying these moments together, and that's exactly what we intend to do.  And of course they want us to film it and take lots of photos along the way.

I don't do a huge amount of brand partnerships on my blog, this blog has first and foremost always been about documenting our memories and our family life.  But to work with a brand who completely sum up and share our ethos on what family life is all about is really exciting and I am honoured to be working with them.  I can't wait to drive the XV around in our every day life, our ordinary moments and our fun adventures.  I couldn't be more excited to have this car as another member of our family, albeit just a temporary one.

Just after Christmas, Subaru asked to come along and film one of our family adventures.  Being that it was absolutely FREEZING and with two small children, there isn't much we could do just three days after New Year.  So we decided to do something that's entirely normal to us as a family- we went on a bike ride.  We love to go out on our bikes and in the Summer we are out on them most weekends, but in the Winter it's a little bit harder.  However once the girls are bundled up in hats, gloves and under a blanket, it's actually great fun to go out, even if it is cold.  It was a little surreal to be followed round by a film crew, certainly something that has never happened to me before, but we all had a really good time.   The result is this rather lovely little introductory film to our year of adventure's with our XV.  I find myself a little bit cringey in parts, (I don't think any casting directors are going to be knocking on my door anytime soon) but it really does show the kind of stuff we get up to as a family- and it just shows you that you don't need to do anything massively exciting to have fun and have adventures together.  About how when you are four and one, getting snuggled under a blanket on a family bike ride and eating ice creams outside when everyone else is indoors is the perfect kind of day.

The film guys also took some still photos of our day, and I took a few on my phone too.  We are really looking forward to a year of adventures with our XV and we will be sharing them on here once a month or more if we have them. You can also follow our adventures over on twitter or instagram by using the hashtag #XVAdventure, and of course can follow Subaru on twitter, facebook or instagram.

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Being followed by a film crew is a total every day occurance for me.  Not.  Now we know what Kanye and Kim feel like.  Except we aren't rich, famous, or even the slightest bit interesting. Oh and we could probably fit our whole house in their downstairs toilet. ;) 

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Standard Mummy photographer.

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NB: We are working in partnership with Subaru for twelve months and they have loaned us a Subaru XV for this time period. All words, opinions and adventures are entirely up to us.

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #4 'Baa.'

on Sunday, 25 January 2015.

Once upon a time there was a little girl.  This little girl was happy, smiley and cheerful (most of the time) and so she had lots of friends.  

She loved spending time with her friends, playing with them, cuddling them, looking after them, even having sleepovers with a select special few.  

But as with all friendships, there was one that was just that tiny little bit more special than the rest.  Everyone needs that one friend- that one that they turn to when they are sad, that one who will wipe away the tears when they are falling down your face.  That one that makes you smile from ear to ear just by coming into the room.  That one that just makes you feel safe when you are feeling unsure.

That little girl was called LL.

And LL had a very special friend called Baa.

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On the day Mads was born, Mr E went home for a little while after visiting times finished.  On his return back to the hospital a little later he brought with him a large present wrapped up with a bow.  Being that Mads was born on Christmas Eve, I didn't think this was that peculiar.  But it turns out this present was for his newborn baby girl and on the tag there were the words 'To my Baby Girl.  The first of many presents from your Daddy.'  Of course, being only a few hours old, she needed a little help unwrapping it but it turns out that inside there was a gorgeously soft pink bunny with long ears and a floppy tail.  It made my already hormonal over emotional mind turn into mush and I thought it was so thoughtful and sweet that Mr E had wanted to buy the first present for his little girl.  This pink bunny sat watching her from a shelf as she grew from a baby to a toddler and then when she was old enough he was one of the select few that made it into the sacred place- her bed.

When LL was born, Mr E was there again with a large wrapped present- of course he wanted to do the same for this other daughter.  Inside was another rabbit, this time a cream one, and yet again this rabbit sits on the shelf and keeps an eye on her.  When Mr E bought them, I had visions of these cuddly toys being their chosen 'special' ones- just like I had a rabbit that was mine when I was little.  

But of course like with anything to do with small people, you can't predict what they will like and you certainly can't make them like something.  Although both rabbits are very much loved- they aren't the 'chosen one.'  No no, out of all the gorgeous handmade, sentimental and gloriously soft cuddly toys my children have, they both have chosen two really rather ordinary toys as their favourites.  Mads has 'Pongo'- a 101 Dalmation that my Mum got her last minute one Christmas and popped in her stocking because she had a current obssesion with the film- since then I don't think we have watched the movie once, but for some reason he is her special one.  She isn't ridiculously attached to him, but she does always make sure he is in bed at night with her and picks him up and cuddles him as she goes to sleep.

And then there is Baa.  Baa is a small, scruffy sheep that we got free on a large Kinder Egg last Easter.  Of all the stuffed toys that LL has, he for some reason has captured her heart.  But it's completely different to Mads and Pongo- LL is obsessed with Baa.  If she is tired she shouts for Baa, if she is sad she cries for Baa, if she is scared she looks for Baa.  Baa is her comfort, her companion and is never far from her side.  I didn't realise just how how much he is there until our recently holiday.  Everywhere we went, Baa came too, and we were constantly panicking about losing him somewhere while we were out and about.  It got me thinking and looking back on photos, it's scary to see just how much Baa is present, even just in the background.  In fact Baa is pretty well travelled for a cuddly sheep, he's been out and about on many adventures in the short time he has been with us.

It's a really lovely thing to witness- the way her eyes light up when you hand him to her at night, the way she offers him to people she trusts for a cuddle as long as you give him straight back, and the way he is somehow just always there, like a fifth member of the family.  It really reminds me of 'Rabbit' (original names in this house!) and how much comfort he provided me over the years.  The times he was there when I was poorly and I unfortunately covered him in sick, the times when I sat patiently watching him whirl round the washing machine having a clean, the times I cuddled him when I was somewhere without my Mum and Dad, and even as I got older the times I remember crying into him when I broke up with my first boyfriend at school.  

I love watching LL and Baa's very special friendship and how besotted she is with her best friend.  I just only hope we never lose him!

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 Lots of memories with Baa.

*****

 

Our Holiday to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos - Part Two.

on Thursday, 22 January 2015.

Following on from my post the other day about the first part of our holiday to Beaches Resorts Turks and Caicos, here is the second part.  I absolutely loved going back through and looking at all the photos of our adventures, plus you can never have too many holiday photos.  Can you? 

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I absolutely adore this photo of Mr E and LL dangling their feet over the pier.  We loved walking to the end of the pier, watching and listening to the waves crashing against the wooden structure.  There were even glass viewing panels and if you were lucky you might see a fish or two swimming by.

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Some early morning paddling- there's nothing better than kicking off your flip flops and letting the water swirl around your feet. 

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A watermelon hair slide and a pretty bracelet = that guaranteed holiday feeling!

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Back in the Summer, the girls were a little wary of the sea- they would paddle in it for a bit before getting a bit nervous about the waves.  But they loved the beach here (and so did I) and it was so warm so they were going in and fully swimming in it.

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Daddy's girls.

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One of my favourite places to eat breakfast was the Sky Bar, a gorgeous open air restaurant on the roof, with panoramic views of the ocean.  A lot of the 19 restaurants at Beaches were buffet style (and also delicious) for breakfast but Sky Bar was cooked to order.  I just loved it and we went there a couple of times. 

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Bliss.

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Two of my three.  One not fully awake yet.

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The triple stack of pancakes- blueberry, chocolate and mandarin orange with whipped butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.  They were delicious and the girls wolfed them down too.  Plus Sky Bar had good taste- we got these same plates and crockery for our wedding gift list, although ours are by a different company.

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She's at such a funny age where she gets in the most amusing little strops if she doesn't get her own way.  We didn't take a buggy on holiday with us as we like her to walk around as much as possible, especially in a place where the only thing likely to get in your way are the resort's choo choo train or a stray golf buggy.  She would demand to walk, totter along for two minutes, want to be carried again, and then want to be put down straight away again.  This photo caught her mid strop.

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Look at the late afternoon sunshine.  So beautiful.  One of my favourite things to do was to get ready and head out early for cocktails and to catch the setting sun as the light was just perfect.  Beaches Resort is split into four villages, each really different and all great in their own ways- but my absolute favourite had to be the Key West Village.  It just had a really chilled out, 'beachy' vibe and I loved sitting in one of the big love seats by the fire pits and watching the ocean in the background.

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I love this one of myself and my little girly- she made me so proud all week as she walked around smiling, waving and saying 'hiiii' and 'byeeee' to all the staff and other guests. 

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Having a cuddle with 'Baa'.

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The other two.  On this particular day Mads wasn't well, she woke up with a sky high temperature and cough and I haven't seen her like it before, she just wanted to sleep all day.  Unfortunately her and Mr E spent the day in the room while LL and I went out and about, but by the evening she was a lot better and came out for some dinner.  She still wasn't 100% though and just wanted to cuddle her Daddy.

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One of those beautiful sunsets I was talking about above.  This is the larger of the two Key West village pools, that were more of a chilled out adult vibe than the busy and fun pools in the other villages.  I came here a couple of times for a bit of alone sun time while the girls were having a nap in the room with Mr E. (Mr E loves a good afternoon siesta!)

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I love this photo of them snuggling- I snuck up on them when they weren't looking.  They are so sweet together.  Most of the time.

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As I mentioned in my previously, Beaches is affiliated to Sesame Street and there were lots of Sesame Street activities around the resort, both included in the price, and ones that you had to pay a little extra for.  What was really great was that you could totally avoid it if you wanted too, Beaches did a really good job of keeping it quite low key if you didn't want to participate.  But of course with two little ones and a Mummy who loves a bit of Elmo, we loved to see them.  One massive highlight of our trip was the Sesame Street Sail Away Catamaran Cruise. (it's an extra cost but definitely worth it)  It's two hours sailing around the island with some of your favourite Sesame Street characters on board- there was a free bar, a DJ, lots of dancing, relaxing and they even got a free gift from their favourite friends too.  It was one of my favourite parts of our whole holiday and seeing them dancing away to Gangham Style with Elmo was a surreal but magical experience.  LL doesn't look too impressed here but she absolutely loved every moment of it.

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Chilling on a massive catamaran with my littlest lady- totally channeling my inner Simon Cowell as I hear he was on a yacht in neighbouring Barbados at the time.  ;) 

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I absolutely love this photo and looking at it makes me feel a little emotional.  It was such a special experience for us all meeting and spending time with the Sesame Street characters- it was magical to watch the girls with them and they were so amazing with them.  I love how LL is trying to pick her nose, while the rest of us look bemused and happy.  

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A morning of sunshine, cocktails, dancing and Elmo doing the Conga, while sailing round the beautiful Turks and Caicos- definitely one of those 'pinch me' moments.

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The high seas suited this girl. ;) It didn't suit her hair though, we were brushing it and layering on the condition for about an hour each evening.  So tangly.

 

You can see more of our catamaran cruise and of our holiday adventures in the last of two little videos I made about our holiday...

 

 

I have a couple more photo posts of our holiday to publish next week and after that normal wintery service will resume.  But allow me to live in my dream world for just a little while longer...

 

 

Massive thanks to Beaches for inviting myself and my little family to stay for the week.  All photos, words and opinions are entirely my own, we really do think that Beaches Turks and Caicos is the most incredible place for families. 

 

 

 

 

Our Holiday to Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos - Part One.

on Tuesday, 20 January 2015.

Last week feels like a surreal dream.  Albeit it's an amazing, beautiful, spectacular dream, but it still feels like it didn't really happen now I am back in the cold and wet UK.  This time last week myself and my little family were on holiday over 7000 miles away in Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean, staying at the incredible Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa.  Also there at the same time as us was my fab fellow Space In Your Case blogger Alison and her family.

I am lucky that I have travelled to the Caribbean a couple of times before, but this is the first time I have ever flown long haul with my girl's and before we left we were all incredibly excited and a teeny bit apprehensive about the flight.  However we need not have worried, the whole thing was an adventure from start to finish and we have come away with the most amazing memories.

I am a really emotional person.  I tend to form real and strong attachments to places and things, and I am really enthusiastic so if we have a good time, then I inevitably fall in love with the places we go or stay, and can't quite imagine not going back every year.  But Beaches Turks and Caicos really was utter paradise and absolutely incredible for adults and children alike.  We could have stayed there for a lot longer and not even began to get bored- it was perfection.  The resort is 'luxury included' meaning that practically everything is included in the price of the holiday- it's so convenient to go into all the bars and restaurants and not have to take money.  It's also testament to the resort that we didn't leave it the whole time we were there- so we literally didn't spend anything extra.

I have a thorough review and guide to the resort coming up in the next couple of weeks, but as usual I took SO many photos that I want to make sure I document and remember every last detail of our trip.  Apologies for the fact that this blog is going to be full of photos and holiday memories for the next week or so, but at least it might brighten it up for a while before normal wintery service resumes.  I don't think I can do the resort justice though, even with all the photos, it is far more incredible than it looks.

Here is Part One (of many!) of our holiday at Beaches Turks and Caicos...

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I must admit to being a little nervous about the flights before we went.  Of course I wouldn't dream of not flying, after all we do these things so we can have adventures and make memories, but add two small people, four flights and a slightly apprehensive flyer into the mix and I was a little nervous.  However it couldn't have gone smoother- my girls were as good as gold on the way there. (I pack them 'plane goody bags' on every flight we go on)  You can fly to Beaches Turks and Caicos in a number of different ways but we flew with American Airlines from Heathrow to Miami (9.5 hours) and then from Miami to Providenciales. (1 hr 20)  

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Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos is massive (more about that in a later post) and is split into villages with many different room types.  There are 20 restaurants, lots of different pools and of course you can walk and use all the different places, which is great as each village makes for a really different experience.  After a bit of a room confusion at the start we found ourselves in the Italian Village, in a Ocean View Concierge Family Suite with Kids Room.  Mads loved that she had a seperate area with a bunk bed. (again more on our rooms in a later post!)

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The view from our balcony was absolutely stunning- the beach was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

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Due to time differences I ended up waking up around 5am most mornings. (Mr E and the girls carried on sleeping but I am a light sleeper)  I loved going out on the balcony and watching the sun come up- there really were the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

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We had a little routine where we would go down to the beach around 7am as the light was gorgeous and it was pretty much deserted, we would have a little walk and then head back to one of the many restaurants for breakfast.  

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It was great getting the Summer clothes back out of storage for a week- I forgot how much I loved the girls little towelling boat dresses.

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I love the early morning light in these photos.  The sand was the softest I have ever felt.

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Mads hair went a little crazy with the heat and chlorine- major curls alert!

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Me and my big girl.

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I love this photo of the three of us.

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On our first full night we went to the weekly family beach festival- it was amazing- there was twinkly lights everywhere, face painting, music, lots of different food stands, and of course a Sesame Street stage show.  Beaches Resorts are affiliated with Sesame Street and we made some incredible memories over the course of the week, and have all become huge Sesame Street fans.

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Without a doubt if you asked Mads what the highlight of her trip was (bar our Sesame Street activities) she would say the 'waterpark and eating ice cream'. The resort has it's very own water park, with lots of slides, a lazy river, a kids jacquzzi, a pirate water play area and even a surf simulator.  There are a few swim up bars throughout all the different pools but the girls loved the 'kids' one in the water park- where you could order all sorts of kid friendly cocktails.  The pirate ship also housed 'Bobby D's'- an American style diner restaurant which we went to for lunch on a couple of occasions.  They also have an ice cream parlour- where we got an ice cream most days.  Cookie Dough for me- yum!  Obviously all these are included in the all inclusive pricing, but we didn't go mad.  Honest.

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We loved the lazy river- it went right round and through the water park and was great fun.

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Another early morning walk.  The grounds of the resort were gorgeous- full of shrubbery, flowers and little areas you could sit or lie.

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There was a pier on the beach that we loved to walk down in the mornings.  It was stunning.

 

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Cuddles for Daddy.

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Sharing a joke with my big girl.

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'Sitting on the dock of the bay...'

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This girl shows no sign of being less of a Daddy's girl.

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The girls went to ''Camp Sesame' the kids club for two mornings (for 2 hours at a time) so we could have a little bit of adult time- they could have gone in a lot longer but to be honest we really didn't want them to- there was just so much to do for kids and adults alike that we all had so much fun.  Still the little break was nice just to relax for a while. We still gave the girls a nap in the afternoons as we were keeping them up much later at night and as Mr E prefers the shade he sat on the balcony while the girls slept and I got to go and have a bit of sun time around the resort!

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The view from the pier.  Absolutely incredible.

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As I mentioned above Beaches Resorts is affiliated with Sesame Street and there are loads of different activities you can do.  There were stage shows most evenings, a massive parade once a week and also you could pay extra for special Sesame Street Packages. I will talk about this some more in another post but one of the ones we did was the Sesame Street Tuck In- where your favourite character comes and reads you a story and tucks you in at night.  We chose Elmo (my Mum bought them the cute Elmo PJ's before we went away!) and it was the CUTEST thing ever.  LL hugged him when he knocked on our hotel room door and then when he went to tuck them in I had tears in my eyes- it was truly magical.  He gave them a cuddly toy each (we specified which ones when we booked it) and they haven't stopped carrying them round since.

 

Here is Part one of two little videos I have made about our amazing holiday....

 

(I did say there was going to be lots of photos and that's only the beginning.  Oops.  Expect lots more holiday posts over the next week or so!)

 

Massive thanks to Beaches for inviting myself and my family to stay for the week.  All photos, words and opinions are entirely my own, we really do think Beaches Turks and Caicos is the most incredible place for familiies.  

 

 

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