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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:54 am 
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Anne-marie, Trrp, MM and Philip that little dassie is an old friend from last year!!!!
he is cute isn't he!!!


Day 8 (Nov 7th)
Today we had a tentative arrangement to meet Normana53 and Torticat at Mopani. We had no specific plans, but we were hopeful that we would find them, so we set off early for a slow drive up to the camp.

Mopani is 75kms from here, so we estimated that with stops for all the doggies and cheetahs, that we would see along the way, it it would take us about four hours!!

By now the gate guards recognised us, and had a friendly chat as they checked the car for alcohol, and then we were on our way up the H9, and pretty son we branched offf up the H14.

We had only gone a few kms, when there in the bush was this beauty.
We were being so lucky with lions!!!
She was in no hurry to move off, and we ended up spending about 30 mins with her...........totally alone!!




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We were so thrilled with this experience, that we didn't really care whether we saw anything else that day, or not, but not long afterwards this lovley giraffe came to say hello.


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Then it went very quiet until nearer Mopani, when this large herd of Buffs were intent on crossing the road. This little guy was very inquisitive.



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We eventually arrived at Mopani, and the first thing we saw was a car with a huge yellow mirror cosy and a red ribbon. Even if it wasn't Norman it would be a forumite, so over I went and knocked on the window. I gave the drfiver such a fright, she nearly jumped out of her skin..............but when she wound the window down, and we started chatting, I found that I had tracked down Torticat, and that Norman was not far away!!!

We arranged to meet for lunch and in no time I was giving Norman a big hug, and thinking yet again how wonderful these forums are!!!

He had brought me a present........a fillet of Alaskan smoked salmon!!!! I was so gobsmacked at such a generous gesture, especially as Dungy and I love smoked salmon!!!

We ordered lunch and chatted like old friends, until eventally it was time to head back to Phala. Sadly none of us thought to take any pictures............we were too busy talking!

On the way home we saw a few animals and birds, and I particularly ,liked this little fellow.

We of course tried the salmon when we got home.............absolutley delicious with some lemon juice, black pepper and a few slices of avo!!!
Somehow, I don't think it will last long!!!

Then we cooked our evening meal of roasted pork steaks, and afterwards sat with an Amarula and coffee, reflecting on the wonderful day that we had had.

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Day 9 (Nov 8th)
Poured with rain all day, so another day at home!!

To be continued...........

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:29 pm 
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Anne-Marie, Trrp,Pumbaa, Barry, Hilda, Philip and Glen.........thanks for your very encouaging comments!!

Day 10 (Nov 9th)
Decided to drive the Shilawuri loop today, and what a good choice that turned out to be!!!
A mating pair of lions............wow!!


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We spent about an hour with them, completely on our own, and then carried on to Letaba, hoping for a toasted chicken mayo sandwich.
Sadly though, we were told that they had a power cut, so settled for a plain cheese and tomato sandwich instead!!
We had had a few sightings along the way!!


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We then drove up to the high level bridge, and came back via the river loop, and then the H9 back to Phala..............we were going to call in at Sable, but both needed a bathroom break, so came straight home........just in time!!!

To be continued................

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Last edited by Crested Val on Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your lovely comments..........once I've caught up, I'll reply individually!!!

Day 11 (Nov 10th)
We had been told that there would be routine maintenance caried out on the power in Phala, and that it would be off from 12md to 6pm, so decided that we would have a morning at home, and then go out while the powere was off.

We set off for Sable Dam, and for anyone wanting to know, the dam is quite full at the moment.

There was a large herd of Impala, but nothing else came to visit, so we carried on around the loop.

As we approached the main road, we looked up to the rocks for "our" klipspringer from last year, but he was nowhere to be seen!!

We saw Buffs, Giraffe, Impala and Zebbies along the H9 and Ellies, Baboons and a large wartie along the S131. We also saw European Bee Eaters, Yellow Hornbills,

We turned right onto the H14, and drove along it for about 15kms. Of course this was mid afternoon and it was heating up, so we really didn't expect to see much, and sadly we were quite right.

We did see a huge herd of Buff though, which was both sides of the road, and several ellies, one of which got such a fright as we came round a corner!!! He shot off across theroad at about 90 miles an hour, and disappeared into the bush!!
Val 1 - Ellie 0!!!

We arrived home at about 5.30pm and we were so pleased to find that the powere was on, so we poured ourselves a cold Gin & Tonic, and finished off Norman's smoked salmon!!

In case the power was off more than they had predicted we had decided on a simple meal..........cold chicken, potato salad, coleslaw and chopped beetroot!! It was yummy, and we washed it down with a glass of wine.

Then we watched the African sky, and listened to the night sounds while drinking our coffee and Amarula!!

"What will tomorrow bring?" we said.

To be continued.........

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Thanks SM!! :thumbs_up:

Day 12 (Nov 11th)
The power was again predicted to go off for maintenance work from 12md to 6pm, so it was another lazy morning at home, and an afternoon in the park.
(Tomorrow we would be at the gates at 5.30am!!!)

As expected there was not much about during this hot part of the day, but we did manage to see plenty of Ellies, Zebbies, Baboon, Buffs, Impala and Warties.

Also Lilac breaster Roller, Red Hornbill, and Ground Hornbill.

Now home cooking roasted chicken, baked potato and baked butternut.

See y'all tomorrow bright and early when the gate opens.

To be continued................



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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:41 pm 
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Day 13 (Nov 12th)
We were at the gates at 5.30am and we were the 3rd car in the queue. In no time we were given our permit, and we were in!!

We decided to drive along the S131, though this has never been our favourite road, if I am honest. However it was a pleasant drive and we saw lots of ellies, zebbies and buffs.


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When we hit the H14, we both thought we may need a bathroom break, so decided to go down the H14 then pick up the H9 and stop at the Masorini loos.

As we came to the junction, we thought we would just look in the little pond, as there are often Buffs there, having a wallow.

However this morning........no Buffs, but wait, what is that just getting up...............I don't believe it!!!

It was the most beautiful leopard, though sadly she walked further into the thick bush, so no photo opportunity.

Still, for all you leopard lovers, this is her last year!!


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We were so excited, though it had only been a fleeting glance..............our first (but hopefully not only) leopard sighting!!

We drove to Letaba for a cheese and tomato toastie and a coffee, and then spent a pleasant hour on the bench in front of the restaurant.

There was no game in the river bed as is sometimes the case, but as we sat there, we were visited by a violet backed starling, a brown hooded kingfisher, two pied kingfishers, who were busily fishing, and eventually the crested barbet that I had heard but could not see, made an appearance!!

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We then drove back to Phala, and found a huge breeding herd along the way, with the tiniest baba.......bless!!!


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We shopped at Spar for a few bits and pieces, and then it was back home for a swim, and then a relaxing afternoon and evening.

Tough life isn't it?!!!!

To be continued......................

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Last edited by Crested Val on Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:01 pm 
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Day 14 (Nov 13th)
Well we faffed about this morning with chores and family stuff, so by the time we were ready to hit the park, it was already mid morning and hot as heck!!!

We therefore just went to Sable for an hour!!

We had been told there were lion about, but by the time we arrived they were long gone.............still we have seen plenty of them so far, so nothing lost.

We saw ellies, impala and waterbuck.

Then back for a relaxing afternoon and evening!!

Just having our Amarula and coffee...............cheers!!

To be continued................



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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:27 pm 
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Day 15 (Nov 14th)
Wednesday is usually our chores day. We get up later, relax with a coffee on the stoep, shower, dress, have a bacon sandwich, do the laundry, do a big shop, and then have lunch out.

Today was no exception, so no park time.

Meeting 2 special mites tomorrow at Letaba. :thumbs_up:

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Last edited by Crested Val on Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:05 pm 
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Signalvery weak, and battery low, so wil try and post next episode oin the morning!! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:25 am 
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Day 16 (Nov 15th)
Today was a really lovely day.

We had a latish start, being at the gate at 7am, and started a slow drive to Letaba, where we to meet EJ and Chirinda.

I was so pleased to spot "our" Klippie for the first time this year, and also Desmond Dassie was in residence.

Along the road we saw a car that was travelling in the opposite direction to us had stopped, and soon spotted why!!!!

There was a very angry Ellie shaking his head at them, and mock charging. The car reversed and the Ellie proceeded, we drove forward very slowly, but kept well back from the Ellie. This process went on for 40 minutes, until eventually Ellie gave up, and sauntered off into the bush, and we could carry on with our journey!!

We saw plenty more (well behaved) ellies, and a midddle size herd of buffs. Also a few zebras, and some beautiful European Bee Eaters.

We arrived at Letaba a little time before we had arranged to meet, and so we sat down on the bench in front of the restaurant, to see what the riverbed had on offer today!!

There was an Ellie, who had some serious ivory, and two lovely male Bushbucks. We then spotted a smallish croc down by the riverbed, enjoying the warm weather.

By this time Chirinda and EJ had arrived and sat down to join us.
How wonderful are these forums, as I have never met Chirinda, and only very briefly met EJ at the 2011 cricket, but we all chatted as though we were old friends!!

A Brown Hooded Kingfisher came to join us, and a Jacobin Cuckoo, to name just two of the feathered friends that morning.

We moved to the restaurant and ordered toasties, and continued chatting nineteen to the dozen!!!

Eventually it was time to say goodbye, and return to Phala.

On the way home it was now hot and sunny, so we did not see much, though we did see another three Klippies, and a huge warthog with baby piglets (who sadly ran off before I could point my camera at them!!)

That night we had Pork Chops, new minty potatoes, cauliflower with cheese sauce and butternut.............I know it's hot, but that was all that was in the fridge till we shop tomorrow!!

Then it was Amarula time and a coffee, and watching the African sky..............oh dear it's a hard life!!

To be continued.....................


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 4:14 pm 
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Day 17 (Nov 16th)
It promised to be another hot one today (41c)

We were at the gate at 5.30am, and already the sun was rising rapidly and heating things up.

I'm sure there is a very good reason, but I do wish the Park Gates opened earlier like the camps,because we can never get that almost dark getting light factor that you do when staying overnight!!

Ah well, we set off up the H9, and turned down towards Sable. We saw a few Impies............the Moms are very pregnant, but as yet we haven't seen any babies, though I hear that some lucky people have seen some.

We had our coffee and home made rusks that Chirinda had given us yesterday (which were yummy) while watching the Dam.

There were a few giraffe in the distance, but nothing else.

We drove on round the loop, and we were delighted to see "our" Klippie, enjoying some fresh grass, and then on to Erfplaas, to see Desmond Dassie sitting in his crevice, surveying the scene.

By this time we both fancied a bacon sarnie, so decided to go home, and maybe we we would go out later?

To be continued................


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:56 pm 
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Nov 16th
Part 2.
After our bacon sarnie had been digested, we took a leisurely drive up to the causeway on the H14.......very little about in the heat, but we did see two lovely secretary birds!!!

One of them seems to have four legs!!! :lol:


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Will try and post today's episode later this evening, but the signal is rubbish here today!!! :wall:

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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:00 am 
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Day 18 (Nov 17th)
We were at the gate at 5.30 this morning, hoping to see more than yesterday.

We studied all the Impie herds we came across, but no babies yet!! Oh well early days.

We were disappointed not to see Desie in his crevice either, or our Klippies from Masorini and Erfplaas..............we didn't shower before we came out.......just a "tub up" as my Mom used to call it, so maybe they decided to keep their distance!!

Saw a big hippo at Nhlanganini Dam, and a very spruced up Waterbuck.
Then a bit further on a large Wartie put in an appearance.

We arrived at Letaba, and saw quite a few Ellies in the riverbed, and a lone Buff was grazing as well.

Then a troupe of baboons bounded across the sand, and came to play in the trees near the restaurant. They seemed to be having so much fun!!

I finally tracked down the Crested Barbet that I keep hearing when we're there, but the little blighter flew off before I could get a shot!!

We saw Red-Cheeked Mousebirds, which I was thrilled about, because I have only ever seen Grey ones there before.

Also saw our Pied and Brown Headed Kingfishers again, and of course the ever present Red-Winged Starlings.

We moved to the restaurant, and ordered a bacon and egg toastie and a coffee each..............yum, nice and hot, plenty of innards, and delivered quite quickly with a lovely smile!!

On the way home we saw several tortoises, lapping up some residual water from last night's storm, and several Ellies and Zebra.

Finally when we were almost at the gate we saw a lovely oldish Giraffe (quite dark), I do so love their gentle faces.

Then it was time to prepare for tonight's braai (T Bone for Dungy, and sirloin for me) and of course wors for us both, with a variery of salads, and then it was time for a swim and a snooze.

The braai was lekker, and so was the Amarula and coffee that followed!!!

You know, in time, I think that I could get used to this life in Africa!!

To be continued...................


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Day 19 (Nov 18th)
We decided not to go into paradise today!!!
Sunday is usually busy, and we don't like sharing "our" park with strangers!!!

So we had a lie in, then a long luxurious shower, and then a bacon and avo sarnie.

I caught up on lots of emails, and other people's TRs, and Dungy read his kindle.

We had left over wors and salad for lunch, and a snooze, and then it was time for our sundowner.

We sat in our front garden for our sundowners (Gin and Tonics) and this is what transpired.

First of all we spotted a Glossy Starling nest, and a fledgling flew out and tried to land on our wall.
Sadly it missed, and plopped to the floor.
It was a bit stunned, but eventually started hopping along the ground.

Mom was frantic and calling for her baby.
Baby tried to take off, but couldn't!!!

Mom found baby, and lots of noise took place between them.

Then baby hopped on to a low wall, then on to a higher wall, then on to the tree and then hopped up the branches back to the nest!!!

You could almost hear Mom saying "And don't try that again, untill you are sure!!"

We have four Paradise Flycatchers in the garden (2 male 2 female) and we love to watch them, especially the males with their long floating tails!!

We watched them chasing and catching the hapless butterflies who were just not quick enough to get away!!

We had filled the bird bath and bird feeders earlier, and now sat back to watch who came to eat and drink.

There were Cut Throat Finches, Blue Waxbills, Bronze Manikins, Cape Sparrows, House Sparrows, White Bellied Sunbirds, Cape Doves, Laughing Doves, Black Capped Bulbuls, Grey Mousebirds, Paradise Flycatchers, Brown Hooded Kingfishers, African Hoopoes, Thick Billed and Sotted Back Weavers, and a naughty Crested Barbet who we could hear, but could not track down................he will be found!!!

Dinner was a simple meal of roasted chicken thighs and drumsticks, a baked potato and salad, all washed down with a dry white for me and a dry red for Dungy!!

He has now just put the kettle on for our filter coffee, and we might just have an Amarula to accompany it!!

The sky is darkening, and soon we will see those amazing African stars that seem to go on for ever.

The insect chorus is just startng up, and here we are in this wonderful country called South Africa!!

To be continued.......................


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:16 pm 
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Day 20 (Nov 19th)
Today we were at the gate at 6am...........we tried to make it for 5.30am, but time conspired against us!!

The first sighting we had a few kms along the H9, were two baby Impalas..............at last!! They were so cute, scratching themselves and trying to suckle their Moms.
We stayed with them for half an hour......the sheer joy of watching the new generation in Kruger!!

Then we saw nothing for a long while, until we came across a small group of Buffs, who were trying to shake off the persistent Ox Peckers, who were determined to stand their ground.

Then we continued on until we came to the Shilawuri Loop, and had high hopes of good sightings!! As we progressed down the road, it started to pour with rain, and I don't know about you, but I find no pleasure on dirt roads in the rain, so we turned round and headed back for the main road.

We saw several Ellies on the way back, none too close to the road thanks goodness, and they all seemed very relaxed and on a mission to feed.

We saw some pretty red flowers, which I could not resist taking a photo of, and also a lovely bush with yellow flowers.............I have looked them up, and the nearest I can come is that the red flowers may be Lion's Eye, and the yellow bush African Weeping Wattle................fundis please correct me!!

As we neared the gate, a dear little Steenbok bounded across the road, but as we pulled up, it bounded off into the bush, so no photo.

We also saw a Tawny Eagle on the road, but it also was not playing nicely, and flew off before I could "click"!!!

My only concern of the day is that it is now 3 days since we saw Desie, so I hope that nothing has happened to him!! It's so unlike him not to be sitting in his crevice, and we check each time we go past!!

Oh well I will not despair yet.

Well that was it for today, we exited the gate, did a quick shop in Spar, and now we have the rest of the day to relax.

Stuffed roasted red peppers tonight!!

To be continued...................


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 Post subject: Re: In the North in Search of Cheetahs and Painted Dogs!!
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:54 pm 
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VVV, Anne-Marie, Pedro Maia, Wendy, Noel, Pumbaa, Kallis, Johan, Norman, Billy, Hilda, MM and Barry, Trrrp, Tedredrum, Philip, Grantmissy.

I must apologise for not replying individually to each comment this time, but I am low on credit on the modem!!

Suffice to say......a big thanks for all your encouraging comments, it makes it worthwhile doing a TR!!



Day 21 (Nov 20th)
We had to wait to let the maid in this morning, so we were a little later than normal getting to the gate.
However, as it was a coolish cloudy morning, we still hoped to see plenty of game.

First on the list near the gate was a cute little Steenie, who actually stood her ground, and didn't bolt off like they ususally do!!!

Then we saw a few giraffe, who were all mixed up with each other!! They looked very comical we thought!!

Next we saw some zebbies near Masorini, and more baby Impalas.......so cute.

Along the H9 we saw a sub-adult male, zonked out after presumably a large breakfast............he was totally oblivious to us. We looked around, but could see no other lions nearby (though I don't doubt if we had got out of our car, we would soon have found them.)

No sign of Desi again today...........maybe he went on his holidays.

Nhlanganini delivered big time.............a large herd of Ellies, Hippo, Waterbuck, a huge Croc, and several Buffalo.

Then it was back home via the S132 and S131.............which delivered no game, but some lovely birds, though most of them did not pose for me to take any kiekies!!!!!

Here are some of the birds we saw............Lilac Breasted Roller, European Bee-Eater, Grey Hornbill, Yellow Hornbill, Martial Eagle, Sabota Lark and Jacobin Cuckoo.

I can't wait to see some of my favourite summer visitors...........European Roller, Carmine Bee-Eater, and of course my favourite...........The Woody Kingfisher. Each time we go to Letaba we listen out, but so far no luck, though any day now we will be lucky, I'm sure!!

Now home relaxing (again I hear you say!!)

Lunch was a cuppa soup, and dinner is simple tonight...........lovely crispy, thick, back bacon, new potatoes and mushrooms.!!

The Amarula bottle is almost empty, and with a very special guest arriving soon, we had better stock up soon!!

To be continued.................


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