Project 365 and Diary Update 2014 – Week 42

A photo a day, every day for a whole year.

Had a bit of a mixed week this week. Been terribly busy then had a real slump towards the end of the week. Didn’t feel good and didn’t want to do anything. A few other personal issues that added to the downward spiral. Had a much needed evening out on Saturday night though with a friend which was lovely and resulted in me feeling significantly better on Sunday. Think I’m doing too much to be honest. I have a backlog of work to get on with and there aren’t enough hours in the day!

Need a holiday I think!!

Anyway, let’s get on with the photo’s from this last week… Week 42.

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Day 285 – Sunday 12th October - My pretty girl.

Day 286 - I received this fab gift from Warner Bros ahead of my Harry Potter Studio Tour that happened the following day.

Day 287 - The Great Hall at the Warner Bros Studio’s, as part of my Harry Potter visit to check out the new Dark Arts feature.

Day 288 - At the Dyson press event, this was their new robotic vacuum cleaner which is uber cool and I want one!

Day 289 - A rainy day at pick up time at school.

Day 290 - My daughter has been over the moon with these five new Club Chic bears, from Vivid Toys which we have been sent for review.

Day 291 - Struggling for a photo today, even though I was out on Saturday evening I didn’t take any pics on my phone  and all these this week are off my phone. So instead I grabbed this pic of these yummy biscuits I’m obsessing over lately! Can’t stop eating them.

 

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Win Tickets to the Foodies Christmas Festival

One thing about Christmas that everybody loves, apart from Santa coming to visit obviously, is Christmas food! It’s the one time of year that we can really go to town. If you are entertaining at your own home it’s a chance to show off your culinary skills, or if like me, you prefer to buy everything in (much easier) it’s the enjoyment of visiting amazing food establishments and buying something extra special to eat over the holidays.

Visiting a food festival sounds like a fantastic way of seeing lots of gorgeous food and sampling some of the delights too, I have never been to one myself before but this year I am definitely going to the first ever  ‘Foodies Festival Christmas‘ event at The Old Truman Brewery, November 28,29,30th. I am also giving away three pairs of tickets to the event so make sure you keep reading and enter! Plus, if you don’t win you can use this discount code to buy tickets at a reduced rate. The festival itself is touring the UK so if you want to visit, there is one coming to a town near you 

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Following the success of the Foodies events across the UK in the summer, organisers are delighted to announce this cracker of a festival, bringing together the spirit of Christmas and the joy of feasting with family and friends.

Foodies Festival is the UK’s largest celebration of food and drink, and this Christmas instalment will bring you London’s top chef’s cooking live in a new open air Chef’s Theatre and you can learn how to prepare the perfect Christmas feast with a full range of produce available to buy in the artisan market. As well as traditional mince pies, mulled wine and roast chestnuts, the festival boasts a huge selection of new features including a Whiskey Arena with a range of whiskeys and malts for sale and a Ski Bar serving après ski cocktails, off-piste snacks including crepes and toasties and live DJs to create a chilled out St Anton vibe. These are complemented with a Soda Bar and food and drink matching masterclasses with experts in the Drinks Theatre; who will advise on the best champagne and wines to buy this season.

The Christmas Feasting Table takes centre stage at the festival, where visitors can sit at communal banqueting tables under twinkling fairy lights and festive decorations with friends and family and tuck into foods served from the surrounding Street Food AvenuePop-Up RestaurantsCoffee Corner and Cheese Village with cheese makers from the UK, France and Italy.

Visitors should visit the Producers Grotto where they will discover a Craft Beer Market and pop-up breweries, highlighting London’s top craft brewers. Visitors can enjoy a hot toddy while browsing local artisan produce to enjoy or have gift wrapped as gifts to take home. A Pudding Hall is a haven of sweet treats with pâtissiers and chocolatiers selling eggnog tarts, marzipan bonbons and macaron; as well as a life-size Gingerbread House serving warm ginger beer and roasted ginger marshmallows. There are also hands-on masterclasses in cake decorating and icing, where participants can personalise edible treats to hang on the Christmas tree at home.

Just like Christmas day there is lots of post-feasting fun to be had with entertainment throughout the day. Visitors can register their team to compete in the Christmas Bumper Quiz at 5pm daily, have a group Christmas jumper picture taken in the photo boothsing carols and learn how to dance the Gay Gordon with ceilidh dancing and live music from the Accoustic Stage.

For the little ones, an Elf Cookery School invites children under 12 to bake snowballs and decorate gingerbread men, cookies and cupcakes to leave out for Santa. There are also live reindeers to pet and snow balls fights to be had in the courtyard.

Tickets are available now from www.foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111

I am giving away three pairs of tickets to the London Foodies Festival Christmas, the tickets are valid for any of the three days, 28th, 29th, 30th November! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter widget below. Good Luck!

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Project 365 and Diary Update 2014 – Week 41

So… week 41 guys.

Had a few computer problems this week which drove me nuts and whereby usually I would use Teens laptop (he has the best tech in the household of course) if I had no time to sort out my own, but this week I couldn’t because Teen was on a geography field trip to Amsterdam and he took his laptop with him. How selfish ;) So I spent days faffing around, trying to get mine to do what I wanted but it wouldn’t. Such a waste of my time when I had so much to catch up on. I’ve also been terribly busy at work these past few weeks as a colleague has been off and I’ve found myself with lots more work to do!.

Missed Teen when he was away. Spent the week worrying about him but we kept in touch here and there. I couldn’t wait to see him on Friday, the house feels so strange when one of the kids isn’t here, just doesn’t feel right at all, although it did seem a little less frantic. Teenagers live in a whirlwind of school, friends, activities and social organising so in that respect my week has been marginally quieter.

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Day 278 – Sunday 5th October - Another birthday party.

Day 279 - H Practising his writing skills!

Day 280 - I put some old fashioned rags in my daughters hair, the same way my mum used to do mine when I was a little girl, and this was the result! Lots and lots of ringlets! It did look very cute, she loved it!

Day 281 - Autumn is here and the leaves are changing. So pretty.

Day 282 - Press day at The Perfume Shop. Lovely event.

Day 283 - Had to nip into town after school so I thought I’d treat the kids to dinner (they are covering their school badges for privacy purposes!)

Day 284 - O and H doing their cool dude poses.

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Silent Sunday – 12/10/14

Autumn

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie and Pizza Hut Review

When we got the invite for the special preview screening of brand new blockbuster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I was over the moon! Wow my boys are going to LOVE this I thought! But then I realised it’s a 12A certification.

I mean… TWELVE??!

I was hoping to take my 5 year old twins!!! They are crazy mad for the TMNT and are the proud owners of many a related toy that they play with on a daily basis. Yes, it’s fair to say I was a little disappointed by this spanner in the works but the film looked ace so after checking on the British Board of Film Classification website which clearly states that while a 12A may have material that is not really suitable for those under the age of 12, parents can use their discretion as to whether they allow their child to see the film. So at least that’s something for all those young fans out there. Note that anyone under the age of 12 MUST be accompanied by an adult.

After much deliberation though, I decided to take my Teen and my daughter with me to the screening, who are 15 and 9. I thought it best not to take my little (just turned) 5 yr olds.

TMNTIn the foyer of the cinema in London’s Leicester Square was this very cool TMNT motorcycle

I didn’t really know much about the film, as in I hadn’t seen much footage beforehand but I was very excited. I was a little dubious, and I thought it would go either way… I was going to really enjoy it or it would bore me rigid. When we arrived to a sea of green balloons and turtle related games and refreshments in the foyer of the cinema my excitement levels rose, but to my shock there were little kids milling around too… VERY little kids…and lots of them, waiting to go into the film. Some were barely more than toddlers! I immediately felt a pang of sadness and guilt that my gorgeous little twin boys weren’t there with us! After all, they’re the big TMNT fans in the household, bless them. But as it turned out, one of my twins, O wasn’t too well, he’d had a mild asthma attack the night before and was feeling under the weather, so a trip to London may not have been on the cards anyway. I did wonder whether the parents of these very young children had thought it through, or even acknowledged that the film had a 12A certificate, obviously it was given that for a reason…. maybe they were being slightly ignorant?

I would know more when I saw the film.

Meanwhile, putting the fact that my twins weren’t with us behind me, I got on with the task in hand of enjoying the fun entertainment in the foyer and there was plenty of food available, much to Teens jubilation (he’s constantly hungry). In keeping with the theme of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the food on offer was PIZZA!! Of course it was!! It’s what the TNMT eat, I remember this from the first film and subsequent cartoon series (that all my boys have watched at some point),  so of course it was only fitting that it was being served now!

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesIn collaboration with TMNT, Pizza Hut have developed four special limited edition Pizza’s, named after each of the TNMT!

We had a slice of all four of the different flavoured Pizza’s, The Donatello, The Raphael, The Leonardo and The Michaelangelo! In fact, it’s fair to say we stuffed our faces! But more on the Pizza’s a bit later, because as well as seeing the film, my whole family had been invited to Pizza Hut for a complimentary meal, to try out the yummy foods on offer there, as well as these new TMNT Pizza’s!

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesFun and games in the foyer, face painting and balloon making amongst other things :)

Finally we took our seats and got settled in, ready for the film to begin.

The Verdict

Wowzers!!!! That’s all I have to say to begin with. Just WOW!! The film was pretty full on from start to finish! Immediately, the very attractive and glamorous Megan Fox was instantly likeable as the main character in the film, April O’Neil, a small time journalist who’s looking for that one big news story to take her career to the next level. She finds it when she stumbles on New York’s villainous gang, The Clan, being stopped in their tracks by what she thinks are unbelievably strong vigilantes and wants to find out more! The vigilantes turn out to be, of course, the Turtles. In her quest to impress her boss and validate her story which she has no evidence to back up, she seeks out her late fathers business partner and tells him all about the Mutant Turtles. Without giving the plot away, she unintentionally leads the bad guys right to the Turtles, thus finding herself caught up in a frantic mission to help them and to save New York City!!

The film hasn’t received the best reviews but we were absolutely unanimous in our opinion! We absolutely LOVED IT!! It was action packed, fun and we were engrossed for, pretty much, the whole film! Teen, who is a film fan, thought it was fantastic. He said he was surprised, I think he expected it to be a bit daft, which it was in places and naturally over the top, but it was thrilling nevertheless and gripped us right from the start.  The Turtles were likeable, funny and almost child like at times with their teenage humour but they were the ultimate superheroes and not what you’d call pretty!  The special effects were amazing, there is one, lengthy scene in the middle of the film which is a car/people chase down a mountainous snowy terrain that’s unbelievably fast paced and frantic… yes it’s far fetched but if it doesn’t have you on the edge of your seat I don’t know what will!

Would I take younger children?

I have to say that although there wasn’t anything too distressing for a small child to see, there were fighting scenes and one or two that were a bit much in my opinion for the very young. One of the villains’ looked quite monstrous and scary in one section. But I think all of this was magnified in the cinema because the screen is ever so big and it’s very, VERY loud. My 9 year old daughter did cover her eyes and ears a couple of times, and my twins definitely would’ve been scared but to be fair, they get scared of anything! Like I said, more about the volume and the darkness of the cinema. Were my boys to watch at home on a DVD I think they’d be fine. As a parent, and knowing your own child, I would use your own judgement to decide whether your young child would enjoy it. I’d say anything younger than 8 and I’d be wary! However, there was no screaming or crying in the auditorium during the film so I guess none of the children in there were too distressed :)

I would definitely, 100%  say go and watch this film, you have to, it’s totally awesome and I challenge anyone not to enjoy the ride. It is what it is. It’s nothing new, we’ve seen the Turtles before, albeit not as magnificent as this, and it’s predictable but it’s brilliant…. and at no point was I bored, falling asleep or wish I was somewhere else!! I’d say that was proof I enjoyed it! It’s a fantastic film and one all the family can enjoy together :)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is released in cinemas throughout England on 17th October 2014. 

Pizza Hut

As I mentioned already, we were given the opportunity to go and try out the new TMNT menu at Pizza Hut. We haven’t been to Pizza Hut in a long time, we used to go frequently but for no real reason it’s not been on our radar for a year or two. So I was actually really looking forward to going. We picked a Wednesday as a midweek treat for the kiddies, no cooking for me too so all round bonuses!

Piza Hut TMNTFeed Your Ninja – The special TMNT Pizza’s menu

I thought the meal deal for these Pizza’s was very good value and worth it for all six of us, my twins don’t eat very much so four meals, with starters and pudding as well as salads would be plenty! So we ordered all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle meal deal Pizza’s with a couple of extra sides….

Pizza Hut TMNTVery good meal deals

Pizza Hut TMNTStarting off with the salad bar

I love the salad bar at Pizza Hut and whereas previously you were given one bowl to fill up and that was it, your one portion, now the salad is unlimited! So of course we went up numerous times, stocking up on our favourites, everyone has their favourites. For me it’s quite a traditional mix, I love the pasta salads too so I always include these as I don’t have salad dressings. My OH likes the potato salad and bacon bits, my daughter isn’t a big salad fan but she did like the pasta’s and bread sticks, as did my twins… the bread sticks were a firm favourite with them and it’s fair to say they practically emptied the tub at the salad bar, as well as the nacho’s! Teen liked anything and everything!!!

Next up, I simply HAVE to tell you all about the new drinks machines in Pizza Hut.

Pizza HutHigh tech and snazzy self service drinks machines very pretty cool

I thought the new drinks machines were a great addition, all drinks were unlimited so you could go up as many times as you liked to replenish without any additional costs or having to wait for a waiter to do it. And there wasn’t just the fizzy drinks on offer, although this brand new touch screen  fizzy drinks dispenser was super easy to use and produced the perfect drink, there was a juice section too. This machine was also easy to use, even my five year old twins could do it by themselves. There was a choice of cordials, orange or blackcurrant that you could squirt yourself to make your drink as sweet as you like, or not, depending on preference. The machine produced gorgeously ice cold water and crushed ice to finish. Sounds simple enough but this is a great idea because kids love to be hands on and get involved, who knew how much fun there is to be had for a child at a drinks machine?!

Pizza Hut Then the Pizzas arrived

DSCF4149The Michaelangelo – New three cheese blend with pork, bacon, hot dog slices and sliced red onions

pizza hutThe Raphael – New three cheese blend with cajun chicken, pepperoni and chilli peppers 

Pizza Hut DonatelloThe Donatello – New three cheese blend with mixed peppers, mushrooms, red onions and black olives

pizza hutThe Leonardo – New three cheese blend, pepperoni, chicken and beef

pizza hut

The Pizza’s went down well, you can choose to have deep pan or thin and crispy but being as this is Pizza Hut, one has to go with the deep pan, obviously! One of them was particularly spicy which meant it was a no no for the twins but other than that – all were very delicious and we polished them off in no time at all.

Finally it was desert time. I was full and never usually eat puddings anyway but we chose ice creams and cookie dough.

pizza hutGetting their own ice cream is always the highlight of a Pizza Hut meal for kids! Choosing from all the different toppings, or indeed choosing ALL the toppings is such fun,  and for this promotion there is the added treat of Turtle Slime!!  (lime flavour!) – All ice cream is again, unlimited.

pizza hutSlurping the last drops of ice cream and a cheeky selfie with my boy, we had the giggles!

The kids also shared one of these…

pizza hut cookie doughCookie dough dessert (this photo doesn’t make it look very appetizing though does it?)

I haven’t tried cookie dough before, didn’t like the sound of it. What is it even? Is it the stuff that you make before the actual baking of cookies? If so… eww! Raw dough? No this didn’t appeal, but my children dutifully informed me that it’s the yummiest thing ever, so I tried some. It is SO sweet, probably the sweetest thing I’ve tasted in a long time which in the first spoonful is very over powering. But it’s moreish. You just have to have another spoonful. The cookie dough is hot and the ice cream is needed to dilute the sweetness a little, as well as cooling it down! It IS, I can report, heavenly.

So that was it. All finished and feeling satisfyingly full up! We very much enjoyed our meal and would highly recommend. If you get the chance, make sure you take full advantage of the limited edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle menu, the kids will love it…  but equally whatever you choose to order I’m sure will be delicious, the service was great too. Why not tie your visit to Pizza Hut in with a trip to the cinema to see the movie?  A perfect family day out!

Disclosure – We were given complimentary tickets to the special screening of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, as well as a meal at Pizza Hut, in exchange for a fully honest review. All words and opinions are my own.

 

Flash Mobs and Boden at the MADS

The MADS… otherwise known as the Mum and Dad Blog Awards take place annually in September and this year I managed to bag myself a ticket! I wasn’t up for an award sadly (I know!) although I was nominated – so thank you to that one person anyone that voted :)

Anyway, usually the only people that attend the awards are those bloggers who have been short listed, with a few lucky individuals who have either won tickets or managed to wangle one somehow! But this year, awards organiser Sally Whittle, who is the founder of TOTS100 who run the awards, invited bloggers to take part in a ‘Secret Project’  at the awards! This was open to both bloggers that were nominated and already going, but also open to others, and if you took part you automatically secured a place at the awards ceremony.

I remember from the social media coverage of the event last year that it seemed like such a fun night out… so I was definitely in! My friend Afra from Mad Mum of 7 also signed up so we both consoled ourselves in that whatever it was we would be doing (we were only told that it would be something fun and that we should not apply if we took ourselves too seriously!), we’d be in it together and we would have a right laugh along the way! I wasn’t too worried anyway, Sally wasn’t going to make us do something ridiculously awful…. was she?!

Back in July the ‘chosen few’ were split into two groups; those bloggers in the North and those in the South. We had a meet date arranged for the ‘Southern Bloggers’ as our group became known and Afra said she had an inkling as to what we would be doing. She had been chatting amongst friends and they had come to the conclusion that it may be a flash mob type thing!

the mads 2014So we thought it’d be fun to don some 80′s Fame inspired attire for the day! (sorry for grainy image of me!)

Afra was right. When we turned up Sally immediately asked (judging by our get up) if we’d got wind of the ‘Secret Thing’ somehow, which we hadn’t… it was just putting all the clues together I guess…. we had been told to wear comfortable clothes, trainers, be up for making tits of ourselves etc…. ‘the clues were there’ as they say on Through The Keyhole!!

It was great to meet the other victims bloggers… joining us for the ride as part of the Southern crew (not all in the photo carried on with our journey for different reasons so I won’t name them all!) but they were the lovely Kirsty from My Two Mums, Grace from Eats Amazing, Gretta from Mums Do Travel, and Steph from My Two girls. It was a pleasure getting to know them all. The meeting was held in a South London  school on what seemed like the hottest day of the year so far! Just perfect (not) for a load of unfit mums to learn a 4 minutes+ hectic dance routine in little more than an hour or so!! Cue lots of out of breath, sweaty and knackered bloggers!

The dance was choreographed and taught to us by the wonderful people at Stage Coach. The music was Olly Murs ‘I just want you to dance with me tonight’ and even though the routine was simple enough, it was proving tricky and utterly exhausting, especially in the heat. We were rigorously being put through our paces.

All the same, I have to say I loved it! I’m sure I was in the minority here on this day when most were wondering what the hell they’d let themselves in for…. but I really really loved it! I’m an old stage school pupil so this brought back memories of many an hour spent in a dance studio, albeit this time me being completely rubbish and I couldn’t remember the moves for love nor money! But it was such a fun afternoon!

Fast forward a couple of months of practising at every given opportunity.. (ahem) D Day arrived. The MAD Awards were happening and we would be meeting up with our fellow Northern bloggers to run through the dance routine all together for the first time.

We arrived at the Kensington Garden Hotel with quite a few hours to spare before the awards, so as to practise for our ‘performance’. After an hour or so and a lot of panicking and laughs later, we were ready! Kind of!

My Fabulous Boden Dress

For the awards, the wonderful people at Boden offered to supply us with a dress of our choice to wear from their fabulous collections! As the Secret Project, or ‘Flash Mob’ dance thing was, well, a secret…. we had to wear something to the awards that was both glamorous (so as not to cause suspicion) and comfortable enough to dance in.

There were so many gorgeous dresses to choose from but this is the dress I went for in the end…..

 boden

The Sohpia Dress

When the dress arrived I wondered if it was going to be glamorous enough, but I needn’t have worried because as soon as I put it on it looked amazing. I loved the ruched neckline, which is difficult to see in this image, but it gave a very flattering look. The dress fitted perfectly and the fabric was truly beautiful. It felt soft and tactile, silky, and it was lined with the softest of linings which gave the feeling of it being super luxurious. It’s not the sort of dress I would usually go for but I loved it and it me feel sophisticated.

boden dressI was in love with my dress and how it felt on me. I loved the feature of the zip at the back too, I thought this added an extra element to the stylish design.

The evening started off with hair and make up, lots of mingling, then drinkies….  before being seated for the meal.

the mads 2014The brilliantly witty Sally Whittle at the top there kicking off the awards after dinner. At our table, amongst others were my lovely friend Jacinta from Jacintaz3 and fellow Secret Thing blogger Ruth from Geek Mummy. The food was delicious.

All through the meal I had something on my mind! I was feeling VERY nervous about our dance and I couldn’t properly relax! I just didn’t want to forget the moves so I kept going over the routine in my head! I really needn’t have worried though because as soon as we heard our cue and the Olly Murs track started playing, the audience (that sounds funny!) were already clapping and cheering, they were great and really put us at ease!

The dance was amazing! Exhilarating – I loved it!  Here are some fantastic images courtesy of Tom Arber Photography:

the mads 2014Aww it was such a fantastic experience and one I’m so proud to have been part of. We all had a great time, and was relieved at the end when it had gone well :)

As you can see, I know it was over with quickly and was a very small part of the overall evening but all of us who took part were overcome at the end of our dance with a mixture of emotions… mainly relief, but also of happiness that we’d done it, we got through it and everyone loved it which made it special! My beautiful Boden dress was thoroughly put through it’s paces here too, and it looked fabulous throughout the night. I will, without a doubt be shopping at Boden again.. the quality of the dress is outstanding.

After the dance, the awards ceremony began. There were laugh out loud moments, down right silly as hell crazy moments and poignant, moving moments. If you want to see who won what, then take a look here on the MADS website, all the details are there. Compère Dr. Ranj was perfect for the job, he was funny and likeable and was easily up for the banter from a room full of crazy bloggers! If you don’t recognise him, he’s a kids tv presenter and has his own show on CBeebies where by he plays a doctor! Only he’s just playing himself. He is actually a REAL doctor!! Who knew?!

the mads 2014Here he is, Dr. Ranj with Sally – they were so funny together!

the mads 2014Myself and Jacinta with Dr. Ranj 

After the awards it was time to really let our hair down, although I didn’t stay too long as I had to get home, plans the following day.

It was a fabulous day and evening. Great to see the talents of some amazing bloggers being recognised and absolutely amazing to be involved in The Secret Thing so thank you Sally, the Tots team and everyone that shared the day and evening with me. x

Project 365 and Diary Update 2014 Week 40

Project 365 week 40 2014

Day 271 – Sunday 28th September - A busy, fun day in London. Two film previews, this one is at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle screening!

Day 272 - This book was little H’s reading book from school. It’s the first time he’s read without it being a chore. And he tried sounding out all the letters and having a go at the words…  instead of fighting with me about it! I was very proud I can tell you!

Day 273 - Nipped to the shops after school, all three kids had a go in this bus, at the same time hehe!

Day 274 - My twins enjoying colouring in whilst waiting for our meal at Pizza Hut. It was part of our Ninja Turtle review as Pizza Hut are currently serving four new Pizza’s named after the TMNT

Day 275 - Another day, another high school visit and another science lab photo! ;)

Day 276 - My daughter did this in my hair! She is obsessed with doing hairstyles at the moment!

Day 277 - O building his Lego aeroplane.

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