#StudentScreams at Thorpe Park

So September has arrived which means kids are all back to school and university… but never fear, all is not bad for students…. this September, the lovely guys at Thorpe Park are offering some fantastic discounts for University students!

Thorpe Park students

Is it your first year at Uni or maybe you’re returning to your studies? Before it all gets too heavy, grab your mates for an epic day out at THORPE PARK Resort! From 1st September – 28th September (on selected dates**), save a whopping 60% off entry tickets simply by showing your student ID*.

Student deals

Save too in the Thorpe Park store… half price Stealth shot glasses, now £1 each (available in The Island Shop and The Megastore only) and any poster for £5 (normally £8) – more in our shops when you show your student ID!

Sounds amazing to me… then don’t forget in October… the popular Fright Nights will be back! Exciting times!

*This ticket/offer is valid for students in further or higher education, or in an approved apprenticeship scheme only. Each ticket holder must be able to present a student photo ID from a university / college / apprenticeship scheme with a valid expiry date upon request of THORPE PARK Resort staff. Without student ID, you will be required to pay the cost of a full walk up adult ticket of £52.50 / £54.50.

** ~Thorpe Park is closed on 26th and 27th September 2017

 

Bike Skills with Ridgeback Bikes

ridgeback bikes kids

Kids love to ride bikes don’t they? And for most children, it’s one of the first things we teach them as soon as they’re old enough! I remember with Teen, he was eager to learn to ride without his stablisers and so we ventured out to the park one weekend and he picked it up in no time!

But not all kids are this confident. My daughter, for example, had no interest at all in riding a bike. She had one at a young age and would have a go with the stabilisers on but she could take it or leave it! She certainly didn’t want to be bothered learning to ride it without the stabilisers. This may have been a mixture of  lack of interest and nerves. But we didn’t push it. She would learn in her own time. Which she did, but she’s never really taken to it and I wonder if that’s because we didn’t encourage her enough when she was little.

My twin boys are the same. Neither of them can ride without stabilisers and at 7 years old now, I really wanted them to learn and didn’t want to leave it any longer! So when I received an invitation from Ridgeback Bikes to experience one of their Ridgeback Bikes Kids Club events, we were all overjoyed!

The event was being held at the wonderful Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and it was a lovely sunny day, perfect for having fun on bikes! I must admit I was concerned that my boys’ might be considered ‘old’ for being non riders but the Ridgeback Bike team made them feel at ease immediately! They even had a kids cycling coach , Rob, on hand from The Bicycle Society who specialises in teaching bike skills to children of any age!

First though, we had the compulsory helmet and bike fitting which took place at Independent Bicycle retailers Pave Velo, who have just opened a brand new store opposite the Olympic Park.

ridgeback bikes kids cycling

A Ridgeback Bikes member advised us that my boys would need a 16″ bike according to their height, but for a non rider, he said it was much easier to learn to ride on a smaller bike where both feel are flat on the ground. Taking the pedals off too was a great tip… this turns the bike into a makeshift balance bike. Balancing is, after all, THE most important skill to master when learning to ride a bike! Once the balancing has been mastered, the pedals can go back on then it should be relatively easy!

Bike and helmet in place, we all headed across the road into the park!

ridgeback bikes bike riding learning kids

Rob from the Bicycle Society had organised some fun activities for the kids to do. There were different sets for different abilities. This was a great way to get the kids’ excited as well as familiarising them with their bikes!

kids bike riding cycling

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For me, it was wonderful to see my little H joining in. Both boys are incredibly shy but H rose to the challenge like a pro! The staff on hand were all so encouraging and supportive and Rob spent a little one to one time with him, determined to have him riding on his own by the end of the session!

And he did!

The secret to learning and learning fast, is all in the balancing and looking straight ahead, not at the ground! Once the peddles had been put back on his bike, H set off using his feet first… ESSENTIAL… then once the speed was up, on the peddles went his feet! Then he was off…

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I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see him riding on his own… I went to the event just hoping that the boys would have fun, never imagining that one of them would actually learn to ride in such a short amount of time. O had a little go on his own a bit later but his shyness overcame him. He did watch intently though, picking up all the hints and tips, so once we got home and he felt more relaxed, he could put them into practice!

Ridgeback Kids Club is the perfect place for kids to pick up those all important cycling life skills! Making it safe and enjoyable. Plus Ridgeback Bikes has been building bikes since 1983 for UK riders and has an unmatched reputation for innovation and quality. From high-performance flat bar and touring bikes to comfortable commuters and children’s bikes.

Why not join the Kids Club now to receive the latest news on Ridgeback products along with exclusive offers. And for those who have purchased a new Ridgeback bike, sign up and receive your FREE goodie bag worth over £25!

ridegeback bikes kids club

We had a great time at the event. I would recommend everyone joining up and taking part in the events because they are so much fun and it really does help build confidence and skill for kids! Sometimes when we try and teach our children to ride ourselves, there can be lots of frustrations and upset when they don’t get it, so having a third party involved can make that process easier!

Thank you Ridgeback Bikes for a great day!

You can check out the social hashtag #RidgebackKidsClub and follow on Twitter and Instagram using @ridgebackbikes

Three questions to ask when buying a Family Car

choosing a new car top tips

A new set of wheels is a big deal, and when it comes to your family, you want to make sure you’re buying something safe, economical and long-lasting. Purchasing a car on your own is daunting, and women, in particular, are often targeted by unscrupulous dealers and salesmen looking to unload faulty or unsellable vehicles. When it’s time for a new vehicle, then these are just three simple questions you need to ask to make sure you get a car that’s right for you.

  1. How safe is it?

Safety is the number-one priority when it comes to purchasing a new car. The latest driver assistance technologies have the potential to save thousands of lives on our roads. Look for technologies such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which uses sensors to identify road hazards and can slow and even stop vehicles before a collision; electronic stability control (ESC) which activates when a driver loses control of a car in an accident, and lane-keep assist, which warns drivers when they stray outside their lane. As well as new technologies, vehicles should also include curtain airbags, which will protect you and your children from a side-impact crash and reduce driver death by nearly 40 percent.

  1. How big is it?

Chances are, if you’re a busy parent with several children, then your car needs lots of space! Between taking little ones to sports, supermarket shopping, prams and trips away, a hatchback or sedan just isn’t going to cut it. As how big the boot space is if it isn’t listed, both with the back seats up and down. A ‘big’ boot with the backseat up is considered anything over 500 litres and should be plenty of space for a busy family. It also pays to look at whether you need a five-seater or seven-seater car. Numerous large SUV models have an optional two seats in the back seat, which is ideal if you sometimes carpool or drive children’s friends or relations around but don’t necessarily require a van for day-to-day use.

  1. How much fuel does it use?

A car may seem cheap up front, but turn out to be a huge expense with a large, inefficient engine. Ask the owner or salesman about its fuel rating. If they’re a commercial dealer and don’t know, then that’s a red flag and suggests they don’t know a huge amount about their own cars. You can also check a car’s fuel consumption online. Remember that petrol will be an ongoing expense, so if you’re tossing up between several models with similar safety features and size requirements, then choose the one with the lowest fuel consumption – this will save you the most money in the long run.

You don’t have to learn everything there is to know about cars to when it’s time to purchase your next family vehicle. If you’re concerned about getting a cost-effective, safe vehicle for your family, then it’s worth looking at online websites featuring cars for sale, such as Auto Trader, which will clearly display all the relevant information you need, allowing you to make an informed choice.

Collaborative Post

Camp Bestival Ambassador 2017

camp bestival ambassador

I am so excited to be chosen as a Camp Bestival Ambassdor this year again!

Our time at Camp Bestival last year was the absolute highlight of our year and my children haven’t stopped talking about it since. That’s how you know you’ve created some of the best lifelong special memories for your children, when they go over their experience of it time and time again.

It’s fair to say we can’t wait to head back there this year and we are counting down the days.

The magical, amazing festival for families that is Camp Bestival at Lulworth Cove in Dorset, really does have something for everyone.. amazing live acts, brilliant music, comedy, crafts, sport, circus, funfair, bars, food and so much more! I defy anyone to not LOVE it as much as we did!

It’s the perfect place for novice campers too as all your neighbours on the camping site are families and everyone helps each other out. Everyone is super friendly and just so happy… enjoying these few days at the start of the Summer holidays  which really does kick the summer off perfectly!

camp bestival 2016

But you don’t have to take your own tent if you don’t want to! There are so many different options available to you if you don’t fancy pitching up yourself! There’s the pre-pitched site….. normal tents but are already pitched for you to step right into. There’s a variety of funky tents to hire like the Bells and Yurts, fromt he basic to the luxurious. There’s the wooden Pod’s and the Cloudhouses! The choice is extensive so they can be sure to have the perfect sleeping options for you. There’s even a pop up Hotel this year! So pop over (get it) to the Camp Bestival website where you can see for yourself the choices on offer!

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Being at a Festival with the kids is a wonderful feeling for them and for you. We stayed up late, donned the glitter, danced in a field at the main stage while listening to some amazing music! It’s a surreal experience to do this with kids but one that will stay with you forever!

The lineup this year includes acts such as Mark Ronson, T’Pau, Madness, Leftfield, All Saints, Anne Marie, Lightning Seeds and many more. That’s just the main stage. There are literally hundreds of other acts and attractions to see, in fact… you’ll be stumped for choice as to where you want to to be as you’ll certainly want to be in two places at the same time!

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Being with great friends was, for me, the best thing! Myself and my best blogging buddies, Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby and Katy from Modern Mummy, left the men at home, pitched our tents together and had a blast all weekend while our kids ran riot!

 

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There’s only two months to go till Camp Bestival so you’ve still got time to book those tickets! I cannot recommend it highly enough…. everyone that goes always goes back… this will be my friend Ruth’s fourth year and Katy’s fifth….. if that doesn’t tell you how awesome it is then I don’t know what will!

This will be our second year and we really can’t wait!

Hope to see you there ;)

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A Fantastic London Day Out with AttractionTix

Living so close to London we visit frequently.

I love it!

I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of the whole City. No matter how many times I walk along the Thames or drive past the Houses of Parliament, or scurry along the little side streets in the West End…. it can still take my breath away. There’s something truly magical at every turn.

I’ve visited many of London’s attractions too but I don’t think I take time out to do this enough, so when AttractionTix got in touch recently to ask if we wanted a day out visiting some… of course we jumped at the chance!

They were offering an amazing day out for us by the South Bank. AttraxtionTix supply tickets for the best attractions, theme parks and tours all over the world and offer UK exclusive packages that you can’t get at the attractions themselves! They will also offer in-depth guides and essential information that will help you to perfect your holiday plans, with a choice in how you pay and how you’ll receive your tickets. They also have a UK call centre, which is always helpful!

First up, a visit to Sealife to check out the brand new Ocean Invaders Jellyfish experience! We were so excited about this. My younger three children have never been can you believe?

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

The Jellyfish area is a brand new part of the Sealife attraction and is visually stunning! It’s a little bit dark like being under the water I guess, and lit up beautifully with gorgeous colours, showing off the pretty Jellyfish.

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

There are different zones as you wander around the Jellyfish experience, which is the largest in the UK here at Sealife London. You can learn all about their life cycles and the different types… the good ones and the bad ones! Did you know they’re older than any of our ancient reptiles?

There’s also lots of interactive areas, as you would expect at Sealife.

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

My children loved this Jellyfish game played out on the giant screen! There’s lots of hands on buttons to play with and holes to poke their hands in… always a big hit with kids, and simply gorgeous tanks of these truly beautiful creatures bobbing around!

The ocean Invaders Jellyfish exhibition is fascinating and a wonderful treat for all the family.

Sealife has so much more to offer too…. even though you could spend hours gazing at the Jellyfish.. we loved the huge tanks with the sharks and giant turtles in…

sharks sealife

…as well as the colder, icy area where there are lots of cute penguins. This was a very popular area and very busy… lots of eager children with faces pressed up against the glass to watch the penguins waddling around or swimming in the water! There are many feeding times throughout the day at Sealife for a number of the creatures so be sure to catch those.

sealife london penguins

We could’ve stayed in Sealife all day. We arrived when it first opened as we were treated to a special Bloggers Breakfast, but I think this is probably the best time to arrive because it was quiet. It started to get very busy as the morning wore on.

After Sealife, we headed out to lunch before meeting back up for a River Cruise! We joined the London Eye River Cruises for a gorgeous, relaxing journey up and down the Thames, taking in the best views in town!

river cruise the thames

A River Cruise is really a great way to see the sights! Not only is it incredibly relaxing and fun, but also very informative. There’s a live, commentary along the way that’s interesting and at times, very funny! It’s also inexpensive from as little as £11 for an adult.

Last but not least, we headed to Shreks Adventure! This is something we’ve wanted to do for ages. Sadly no photo’s were allowed to be taken but I can assure you it’s very good fun!

I was a little apprehensive as it says the recommended age is 6yrs old as may not be suitable for younger or sensitive children. My twins’ are 7 but they are very sensitive so I wasn’t sure they would like it. They don’t really like the element of surprise and Shreks Adventure had this in abundance!

The tour itself takes you on a journey through Shreks world, with real life actors taking on some of the famous roles from the films. There’s a 4D wrap around cinema screen which looked amazing, my daughter said it was, but my twins didn’t want to go in that so they were taken round the back to watch the short film on a normal TV. Then the adventure jumped from room to room, with some of the eager children being chosen to carry out tasks, which they loved!

There are some dark rooms and jumps and bangs along the way, but my twins settled into it and by the end they were really enjoying themselves!

Now they know what to expect, I think we will have to visit again to get the most out of it!

At the end there were a series of zones dedicated to some of the other famous Dreamworks animations!

shreks adventure

We had such a fun filled day out… made even more great by the wonderful company we were in. The lovely Emily from Family Four Fun and Emma from The Joy of Five – both with their families, joined us for all the action! My feet were literally dropping off by the end and the kids were suitably shattered, falling asleep on the train home!

Booking a day like this through AttracitonTix is definitely the best way to do it because you have all your tickets before hand, which gives you piece of mind. No worries about being turned away because the attraction has sold out for the day! It also means you can combine any attractions you like to tailor your day to suit your personal tastes!

I love making memories like this for my children. It’s days like these that really stick in their minds forever, to look back on with a huge smile!

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to review the attractions here, but all opinions are honest and words my own.

Thorpe Park Ambassador Again for 2017!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce I’ve been chosen as a Thorpe Park Ambassador again this year!

thorpe park ambassador 2017

We (my family and I) relished it last year and visited the Thorpe Park Island on numerous occasions. Sometimes with just Teen and friends, other times I took the younger kiddos too!

It’s a fantastic day out no matter how old you are as there’s something for everyone, but older kids/teenagers (and adults of course!), or younger ones that simply have no fear are the ones who will benefit most at Thorpe Park! It’s a thrill seekers paradise for sure!

I believe it has the best roller coasters around. A friend of mine went to Universal Studios in Orlando last Summer and she was telling me about the selection of roller coasters there, and I found myself saying… yes, there’s one the same as that at Thorpe Park! Pretty much every ride she mentioned that she loved had a twin ride at Thorpe Park! Which I think is pretty cool….. who needs to travel nearly half way round the world for amazing roller coasters when you have them right here? ;)

Rides like….

SAW

saw the ride thorpe park

SAW – The Ride, the world’s first horror movie rollercoaster as you experience a ‘beyond vertical’ drop of 100 degrees from a height of 100ft. One of my faves… so much going on with this ride and completely scary!

STEALTH

stealth thorpe park roller coasters

One of Europe’s fastest rollercoasters. Prepare to be propelled from 0-80mph to 205ft in under 2 seconds and experience the same brake horse power of two Formula 1 cars! This has to be ridden to be believed… it really is like no other, honestly couldn’t even begin to explain what this one feels like!

SWARM

swarm thorpe park roller coasters

Experience speeds of almost 100km/h and G forces of up to 4.5 as you ride on the wings of THE SWARM, sat either side of the track with nothing above or below you but air! Yes, this ride can be ridden facing forwards or going backwards! You decide! Swarm is one of the newer rides at Thorpe Park and has some amazing features like the helicopter crash and fire!

There are many other brilliant roller coasters, I’ll be here all day talking about every single one, but one of Teen’s favourite rides which has to be mentioned, that he says is the scariest is…

RUSH

rush thorpe park

Swing high into the air to 75ft at speeds of up to 50mph and experience the feeling of up to 4G’s as you swoop back towards the ground on this air powered speed swing. I have to be honest, I am too nervous to go on this! Even one of Thorpe Parks employees that I got chatting to last time we were there said this is the scariest ride! Not in the same way as the roller coasters, but scary in that you don’t feel safe! The single bar across the lap and the free falling effect means this is thrill seeking at it’s very best! Rush is incredibly popular and seems to be the one most people love…. I need shoulder bars though to be sure I won’t fall out… so I’m not sure I’ll be going on this any time soon! Teen tries to get me on every single time ha!

Now we can’t move on from the big thrills without talking about Derren Brown’s Ghost Train!

Following on from it’s successful opening year last year, this virtual reality combined with real action ride, has had a number of changes made this year, taking into account that people wanted MORE scares, but also there have been lots of tidying up of some technical loose ends.

Derren brown ghost train thorpe park

The Derren Brown Ghost Train takes you on a one way horrifying journey into the chilling depths of the unknown. With intense live action and thrilling physical effects, the grasp of the Demon awaits. Are you brave enough to come face to face with the Demon as it rises from the darkness? This attraction is not suitable for those under the age of 13, those who suffer from motion sickness, dizziness, psychological or neurological disorders… yikes!

I experienced this last year and I thought it was scary enough then! Teen went along to the opening night last month and saw the changes for himself… I couldn’t make it as my younger children were unwell and I couldn’t leave them. But Teen was one of those people that wanted more! He loved it last year but wanted more scares and could NOT WAIT to find out what the new additions were this time … he reported back that they certainly made it even better! Definitely scarier! I probably ruined the ride for him last year to be fair by grabbing onto him all the time! The virtual reality world scared me so much I had to know he was there beside me when the game played with my mind (of course it does, it’s Derren Brown after all!) and I thought I was alone! I will go on it again though when I visit very soon as I simply HAVE to see the changes for myself!

Away from the big rides, there’s plenty more on offer. There are a number of water rides including Storm Surge and Rumba Rapids…. both gentle enough for small children… we love these. There’s a 4D Angry Birds Theatre, the I’m a Celebrity Maze.. I haven’t been in this but Teen says it’s really good, there’s the SAW Horror Maze which of course isn’t for the faint hearted and there’s also lots of stalls and stands to play games on and loads of places to eat!

One of the best things about Thorpe Park in the Summer is Amity Beach. It’s wonderful for small children and a real get away from it all area. There’s gorgeous sand, climbing frames and a lovely splash pool. We plotted up for a while here on our visits last year…..

thorpe park amity beach

We’ve been visiting Thorpe Park rather frequently for years now as my Teen has been a massive fan since he was about 12 year old! He got me back into loving roller coasters actually, after years in the wilderness when the kids were very young! I think you forget how much fun they are, but once kids reach a certain age and want to try them, you have no choice but to get on the rides… and actually, it makes you feel young again! It’s also a wonderful feeling experiencing it all with your child. Seeing how excited and thrilled they get, this whole new world…. then there’s no going back!

As Teen got older, we have become regular visitors to the Thorpe Park’s Fright Nights! I wrote a review of our very first visit a few years ago and this event gets better and better each year! These nights are Halloween themed and are scattered throughout the month of October, when Thorpe Park erects a number of Horror Mazes for your entertainment! These nights are extremely popular!

If you haven’t been to Thorpe Park before I would without a doubt, wholly recommend. It’s situated in Surrey and is so easy to get to via the M25, and only 20 minutes from London. It’s definitely worth a visit if you live in the North and are thinking about travelling down. You won’t be disappointed.

What I love about Thorpe Park too is that, even though it packs a punch with the amount of attractions there are, the place doesn’t feel too big. Everything feels quite compact which means you can run back and forth to the different areas and don’t have to go on everything in order! Maybe because I’m used to it, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming like some theme parks where you can’t really get everything done in one day!

We absolutely had a blast last year and I can’t wait to make the most of our Annual Passes again this year, and tell you more news about what’s on at Thorpe Park as I find out!

Don’t forget, you can still buy Annual Passes and they’re worth every penny (59.99) and mean you get invites to Exclusive Events, 20% Off Food and Beverages, 20% Off Retail and up to 20% Off THORPE SHARK Hotel Stays!

Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon

This week I’ll be back at Thorpe Park for the pre season press night and to be one of the first people to ride on the all new Derren Brown’s Ghost Train!

derren brown ghost train

I was lucky enough to have ridden the train last year when it first opened and for me, it certainly lived up to all the hype. It’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced before and I found it incredibly scary! I had to hold on tight to my Teens arm throughout (much to his annoyance) because this Virtual Reality ride really did take you away beyond the realms of reality and only by holding on tight to someone else was I able to get through it!

It was brilliant.

But it wasn’t without it’s criticisms. Some people wanted more (are they mad?!) and this year it seems that those people have been listened to!

Yikes!

Remastered for this year, the ride has been revamped and was recently ‘tested’ out on some so called fearless participants, chosen especially for their perceived ability to withstand shocks and fear!

One terrified participant’s heart rate TREBLED to 183 bpm as they tried out the shocking VR attraction under laboratory conditions.

The below video footage, captured with the approval of the participants, shows Derren Brown experimenting on the subjects, who were the very first to preview the new VR additions to the illusionist’s upgraded Ghost Train – renamed Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon.

Derren Brown said: “Over the last few weeks I have been testing out the components of the attraction and decided to run scare tests on a selection of participants who claim they are totally fearless – the reactions have been incredible.

“Visitors to the Ghost Train will experience a heart stopping combination of next generation technology, grand illusion, live action and special-effects, completely unalike anything they will have seen before.

“We are making this bigger, better and scarier than last year. The changes and improvements that have taken place will scare the sh*t out of guests”.

The trials resulted in terrified reactions including spine-tingling screams, falling out of the chair and curling into a ball, with one test even resulting in a VR headset being flung across the room. The average resting heart rate is 60 – 100 bpm – however one subject’s heart rate reached 183 bpm. When combined, the participant’s heart rates reached a total of 1,452 bpm and typically their heart rates increased by 31.9 bpm each.

Matt Sproit, an ex-prison officer said: “I’m used to dealing with terrifying situations, so I was never expecting the VR footage to scare me that much. “When I took off that headset I was physically shaking.”

Stunt woman, Carol Nulty said: “I thought I had to be pretty fearless in my job, but this lived up to expectations, the VR is flawlessly real – you really believe there is a demon in the room with you!

“This is not a ride for the faint hearted.”

Another participant, Emilia Cain-Heritage, said: “As a bungee jumper, I face fear on a regular basis but this was a new level in fear – so, so real and absolutely terrifying.”

Ok, so I’m not sure what I’ll be letting myself in for when I go on Thursday but I’m looking forward to it! Just have to make sure there’s someone to hold onto!

Derren Brown’s Ghost Train: Rise of the Demon opens on 31 March 2017. For the latest updates on the attraction and advanced booking visit: www.thorpepark.com

FULL RESULTS FROM THE TEST:

Name:                        Occupation:                                        Heart rate (bpm):

Nick Ferreira                Ex-Boxer                                           138bpm
Joseph Sands                Security Guard                                129bpm
Alo Raptopoulos        Martial Arts                                        127bpm
Matt Sproit                Ex-Prison Officer                                112bpm
Matthew Larmond        Security Guard                               169bpm
Carol Nulty                Stunt Woman                                       145bpm
Freddie Pearce        High School Teacher                            133bpm
Emilia Cain                Bungee Jumper                                   183bpm
Faye Carmichael        Police Detective for Gangs Unit      159bpm
Roxanne Gregory        TA Army                                                157bpm

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