Thursday, 14 December 2017

Historic London, Leadenhall Market and Pizza Express

The city of London is full of culture, it has amazing listed buildings and has history that goes back to the first century. One such place in the East End of London is the Leadenhall Market a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station. The market was built on the site of a Roman Basilca in the first century. After the Romans left, sadly the site was left to ruins. It was only in the 1300 that it was relisted and it became a meeting place for poulterers and cheesemongers. It was in 1400’s that the Leadenhall market became the hub of the east end as it became the best place to purchase meat, game, poultry and fish.

As the market grew in popularity a granary and a chapel were added to the site and in 1463 the market became the most important centre of commerce as the beam of tronage and weighing wool. In 1488, the market grew bigger as the leather merchants set up there and in 1622 cutlery was also sold at the market. Sadly after so much growth, the great fire 1666 wiped out and destroyed many parts of the market. The market was rebuilt after the fire and it was divided in to three parts, the beef market, green yard and herb market and it continued to thrive. In 1881, the market had another refurbish and many of the stone structures were replaced with wrought iron and glass. The building was listed as a Grade 11.

In 1900 the market went through another restoration process and it had a Victorian setting with the roof and cobbles. The poultry market continued to thrive in the market until the mid-20 th century now the market is a modern retail centre with the Victorian features of cobbled floors, ornate glass roof and beautiful architecture reminiscing of the old London. The market has had some very famous people visit it such as Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and for those die hard Harry Potter Fans, the Diagon Alley scenes  from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone were filmed in the market.

I had the opportunity to Visit and dine at the recently refurbished Pizza express set in Leadenhall Market. The restaurant is set in a lovely Grade two listed building. Its recent refurbishment has really enhanced the beauty of the building. The original stone features and wooden beams have been brought back to life and used to accentuate the décor. The restaurant has capacity of 165 seating indoors and 22 seating outside is spread over two floors.

It has been tastefully furnished  to fit in with the historic building . The use of  beautiful paintings, low lighting, mirrors and the addition of appropriate dining  booths and seating has given this pizza express a setting that is modern  but retaining the historic feel and mood of the market.

The restaurant is open Mon-Friday , since the area around is full of city dwellers and not much activity happens around there at weekends.

The restaurant also offers pizza making parties, hosts corporate parties and is available for private parties too.

Unlike any other pizza express restaurants I have visited this certainly was my favourite in view of the ambience, setting and décor.

The food was of course delicious too. The olives and sundried appetisers and the dough balls were a lovely start to the evening together with glasses of prosecco.

The pizza making class that followed was enjoyable and the chef was very funny and engaging. There was a good vibe during the pizza making session.

It was great to mingle with other bloggers as our pizza creations were cooked. My vegetarian pizza was cooked to perfection and was delicious.We finished off our evening with coffee, Baileys and Limoncello.

I was a guest of pizza express all the views and opinions are of my experience of the evening. I really enjoyed visiting the restaurant, the pizza making class was most enjoyable as was the food and drinks. At the moment pizza express also offers a 3 course Christmas menu. I would highly recommend visiting Leadenhall Market and dine at the Pizza Express it is a lovely experience.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Finding the perfect Dinner Service

I have just recently had a kitchen clear out, I have de cluttered all my broken, chipped and mismatched china. I am in the process of replacing everything. Luckily there are so many sales and black Friday deals, that it was the perfect time to do a spot of research. My search led me to the Debenhams dinner set range and I am really pleased to find out there was a massive on line sale and there are 30% - 50%  discounts on a majority of the range.

Ideally I want to purchase a range for daily use, one set for entertaining and I also wanted a basic set for my daughter who is a new graduate living away from home.

A few of my favourite sets that I have short listed are:

My first choice for the formal dinner ware is this Denby - Cream glazed 'Monsoon Lucille' 16 piece dinnerware set. 

The design is inspired by a 1950's lace panel. The gold fine design on soft cream china is elegant and very ornate. It would grace any dinner table beautifully. The set is freezer, microwave, dishwasher and oven safe to so it’s perfect for the modern lifestyle.
The set is on sale for £121.80

I also liked Novello 12pce Dinner Set is part of the Belleek Living Novello Tableware range. I adore the blue/ grey swirl design on the white. The set looks dainty yet robust in its own way.

The set consists of 12 pieces; dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 bowls. This design is inspired Georgian architecture, this is a modern and extremely stylish and dishwasher and microwave safe.
The set is on special offer at £59.00

Royal Doulton dinner sets are very well known for their quality and class. This luxurious 'Platinum Trim' formal dinner set from Royal Doulton is made from white porcelain. 

It comes as a 12 piece set and includes 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 cereal bowls. The set is dishwasher safe only. With this is mind I think it would only be practical for occasion use.
The set is on sale for £65.00

For that alfresco dining and summer days the sea green and white Denby 'Azure Coast' range is perfect. The white plates with a mosaic type blue design is both modern and stylish and smart

The stoneware set is practical for daily use since it is, dishwasher, freezer and oven safe. It comprises of 4 x dinner plate, 4 x tea plate, 4 x cereal bowl and 4 x mug. The set is on sale for £188.30

The Denby Jet sixteen piece dinner Set is very masculine, so I am not surprised that my husband really likes it and it was his first choice. It has a smart urban feel with its bold, gloss black with soft dove grey finish. 

This stoneware set is dishwasher, oven, microwave and freezer safe and consists of 4 x dinner plate, 4 x tea plate, 4 x mugs, 4 x bowls.
The set is on sale for £161.00

For my daughter I thought this Home Collection Basics - Blue 12 piece stoneware dinnerware set is real good value for money. 

It is dishwasher and microwave safe. It includes 4 x cereal bowls, 4 x dessert plates, 4 x dinner plates

This set is only £40.00, for a student its affordable and will not be too upsetting if any of the pieces should break!!!

I really like the look of all the sets I have short listed and I think I am going to go for the “Monsoon Lucille” for entertaining, the “Home Collection Basics” for my daughter  and the “Denby Azure Coast” for daily use.

Whilst shopping for dinner sets, I did get sidetracked and stumbled across a range of lovely kitchen ware and electrical gadgets on their website. I instantly fell in love with the Chrome Pressure King Pro - 3L, 8-in-1 Digital Pressure Cooker, . With its 8 pre set settings it would be the perfect kitchen companion for a working parent like my self to create healthy delicious meals in minutes. Do check it out and see what you think.

What do you think of my choices what would you have picked???

**This post is in collaboration with Debenhams. Images used with permission from Debenhams.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Tidbits in my Pantry from B&M

This month I am really excited to show you some tidbits that I got from B&M stores. For those of you who are not aware B&M stores are a type of department store where you can purchase toys, household goods, home furnishings, electricals, kitchenware, stationary and food too.

This time of the year they have a lot of Christmas themed products too.The store offers great bargain and value for money items and lots of deals on food products too.We have a small office at work and wanted to put up a mini tree and have some nibbles and treats for Christmas.

I managed to pick up quite a few things for under £20.00. Our tree decorations had seen better days and needed to be replace badly. I picked up some lovely Christmas bobbles, tree decorations in gold and shimmering champagne pink which will look great and give the tree a much needed face lift.

For our Christmas snacks table I bought  some really delicious savory nibbles such as nuts, bruschetta bites, crackers and pringles too.

For the friends with sweet tooth, I picked up sweet treats too such as these Guylian chocolates, shortbread, Christmassy chocolate wafers in the adorable snowman tin and chocolate coins  and chocolate biscuits too.

I do love shopping at B&M as I can be assured that I can get lots of value for my money and make it stretch further. This is great as I can stick to my budget and not go over it.

Are there any money saving tips that you can you have? Do share them with me in the comments below I would love to know them.

**This post is in collaboration with B&M Stores.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Avocado Supper Club

Avocados also known as the alligator pear, are considered a superfood as they have lots of health benefits. The avocado is high in protein and has mono-saturated fat which is the good fat. They are low in sodium and fructose but high in potassium, and essential vitamins and minerals such as fiber, vitamin K, B5, B6 and C and foliate.  

Eating an avocado a day helps to lower the risk of heart disease, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and helps the body efficiently absorb fat soluble nutrients. It also reduces arthritis symptoms and lowers the risk of certain cancers. It helps to maintain good eye health and also promotes weight loss.
Avocados can be eaten in salads, smoothies, added to soups and can be substituted as spreads or used in baking too.

Before you eat the avocado make sure your avocado is ripe, it usually takes avocados 4 to 6 days to ripen. You can tell when they are ripe by gently pushing down on them. A ripe avocado should give a bit when you add pressure, if the avocado is hard it means it is not yet ripe. You can speed up the ripening process of the avocado by placing it in a paper bag with a banana or apple. The ethylene gas released from the apples and bananas will cause the avocados to ripen faster.

I was recently invited to attend a masterclass in Avocado carving followed by a Avocado supper club sponsored by Avocado fruit of life and Hello Fresh Kitchens in London. 

I was unsure as what to expect but believe me, I was totally bowled over with the entire evening. Look at the amazing menu that was served at the supper club.

The evening started with a masterclass and a demonstration by Food Stylist Colette Dike of Fooddeco in the art of Avocado carving.  

To carve the rose you peel the avocado and de -stone it after which you rub it with some vinegar or lemon juice to stop it going black. 

Next you slice the avocado as thinly as possible and then lay out the slices in a long line overlapping each other. Finally starting at one end you start to roll the slices to create the rose which can then be transferred to a rice cake or a plate.

You can serve the Avocado flower as a starter, drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing and garnished with chilli flakes, poppy seeds and rose petals. 

I really enjoyed creating and carving my own avocado rose which I was rather proud of as I had not done it before.

After the masterclass, we had a chance to mingle over more avocado inspired mocktails and cocktails before we sat down to enjoy a delicious avocado themed supper at a beautifully decorated table.

The starter of sweet corn fritters, served with an avocado centre, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese drizzled with tangy dressing and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds was absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed it as it had all the flavours and textures well balanced.

The main course was spectacular, an avocado bun served with a quinoa burger, avo mayo and sweet potato fries. It was very innovative way to use the avocado itself to sandwich the burger.

The highlight of the evening was the dessert, a vegan avocado and pecan chocolate brownie served with dairy free ice cream, chocolate shavings and raspberries. It was delectable and you would not have guessed that the brownie was vegan.

The meal was delicious and I am totally inspired by the recipes and hope to make more use of avocados in my recipes.

 I was a guest at the Avocado supper club and all the views shared in this post are of my personal experience.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Chai Spiced Banana Muffins and The Vegan Cook book review

My favorite all time fruit is banana but I am rather fussy as to how I like like my bananas. I like to eat them when they are just yellow as soon as they go a darker yellow and brown spots appear I don't like them. That is when they are perfect to add to smoothies and for baking.

My second favorite thing is spices and I love masala chai spice, you can read all about my masala chai spice post here which shows you my love for this awesome fragrant tea spice. So when I was reading The Vegan Cookbook by Adele McConnell, I was really excited to see a recipe for Chai Spiced Banana Muffins. I did not need too much persuasion to recreate the recipe.

The Vegan Cookbook  has 100  recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner together with some love sweet treats and desserts. The book is beautifully illustrated and has inviting food photos.I really like the fact that the author has added symbols to the recipes to annotate if they are soy-free, seed-free, raw, gluten-free, nut-free and sugar free.
The book is perfect for anyone who has newly become vegan as the recipes tips ans ideas are very useful and easy to follow.

Book Details :The Vegan Cookbook By Adele McConnell
ISBN 978-1-84899-338-9
Retails  £9.99

My score for the book: 12/15

Content -4/5
Recipe Instructions-4/5

** I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Coming back to the Chai Spiced Muffins, sadly the first batch I made were really dry and not sweet enough as the original recipe does not have any sugar added to it and relies on the natural sweetness of the banana. I recreated the recipe for the second time but this time I added half a cup of brown sugar to the recipe and also sprinkled some sugar on top of the muffins. I also added a touch more liquid and the muffins turned out much better. Vegan muffins do not have the same texture as normal muffins and these were a little more dense, more like banana bread than muffins. Despite this we did enjoy them.

I took inspiration from the original recipe from the book and below you can see my version that I recreated with minor changes.

print recipe

Chai Spiced Banana Muffins
Delicious Chai flavoured Muffins, that are vegan and healthy too.
  • 2 cups Plain Flour
  • 1/2 cup (plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling) Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chai Spice
  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped Pecans
  • 1/3 cup Sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/ 375 degrees F2. In a jug add the coconut milk and the vinegar and keep aside.3. In a large bowl, add the bananas and mash them up with a fork. Add the oil and vanilla and the milk mixture from the jug and whisk together.
4.Sieve the flour, spices, baking powder straight into the bowl. Add the sugar and gently fold the mixture till combined. Fold in the chopped pecans.5. Divide the mixture into the cake cases and sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top ,bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. 6. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12

** NB If you want to make your own chai spice mixture mix together 1/2 teaspoon cardamon powder, 1/2 teaspoon clove powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon all spice and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder.

Do you enjoy muffins, what is your favorite combination? Do tell me in the comments below.

I also  have a copy of the Vegan Cook Book to giveaway to one simplyfood reader so you too can create your own mouth watering Vegan recipes.

How to enter:
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  • Please read the rules they form the terms and conditions of this Giveaway
  • Closing date – 18/12/2017 12.00 AM, Open to UK residents over 18 yrs only
How Rafflecopter works:
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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Review and Giveaway ~Nala Cutlery Gift set by Viners

I love entertaining and host many dinner parties. Together with planning the menu, it is equally important that your tableware goes hand in hand with the menu. Having a beautifully set table with appropriate crockery and cutlery is an equally important part of entertaining. Your guests will love to sit at a table that is beautifully dressed to enjoy the meal.

This Christmas I am planning my table settings to be very traditional with greens, reds and gold. I have chosen gold place mats with red chargers and classic white plates with a simple gold inlay on the rim. To complete the setting I have chosen the most beautiful Nala range of cutlery from Viners.
The Nala range is ombre effect finish that blends from long, elegant matt handles out to a bright mirror polish. 

It is made from high quality 18.10 stainless steel and finished with a titanium coating. The finish is resistant to corrosion, rust and tarnishing. The 16 piece range comes presented in a flock inlay gift box and consists of a set of  4 x Table forks, 4 x Table knives, 4 x Dessert spoon, 4 x Tea spoons. This stunning cutlery is dishwasher safe and comes with a 50 year guarantee.  

My family have always purchased Viners cutlery, it is long lasting and gives great value for money. The range is available from many kitchen ware stockists and retails at RRP £144

*This post is in collaboration with Viners.

As always I love it when my readers can get a chance to try products that I have used. Viners have been very generous and they have agreed to send one simplyfood reader a set of Nala cutlery  RRP £144 so they too can have a beautiful dinner table at Christmas.

How To Enter

·         Simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries
·         Entries can be via blog comment, Facebook, Twitter etc
·         Please read the rules they form the terms and conditions of this Giveaway
·         Closing date – 14/12/2017 12.00 AM, Open to UK residents over 18 yrs only.

How Rafflecopter works:

  • You will need to complete the mandatory entry first – usually making a blog comment. You can do this by clicking on leave a comment at the bottom of the post and leaving your reply in the comment box. Please note your comment will not show immediately as it needs to be moderated however rest assured it will appear on the site, so carry on with rest of entries.
  • Login to Rafflecopter – click to see what the question is. Make a comment answering the question on the blog.
  •  Go back to Rafflecopter and click the green button to tell me you have made a comment, this will unlock all the other options. All entries are checked to see that the mandatory question is answered, if its not all bonus entries will become void. 
  • Rafflecopter will tweet, like and follow on your behalf.
  • For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here
  • For bonus entries you can return to this page and enter the daily bonus entries. 
  • If you are still unsure as to how Rafflecopter works please do check out this short video.

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Friday, 3 November 2017

Apple, Cucumber and Spinach Smoothie in the Nutri Force Extractor.

My family are smoothie addicts and we adore our fruits and vegetable smoothie combinations. Each morning we take it in turns to make a smoothie for the family so that we can all take a on the go bottle full of this yummy goodness to work.

I usually make this in my Optimum 9400 blender by froothie and its my most used item on my kitchen worktop. However my daughter recently moved in to her new flat having just graduated from University and as much as I love her I was not going to let her take my beloved Optimum 9400 to make her smoothies in. Also her kitchen space is limited so we needed a compact version of a blender that she could use to make her smoothies. We found the perfect blender from Froothie the Nutri Force Extractor which fits on her work top and does the job really well. The blender is affordable, stylish compact, easy to clean and comes with many accessories such as a blend and take cup so you save on extra washing.


  • 1L Tritan BPA-free cup
  • 450ml Tritan BPA-free cup
  • Extractor blade
  • Grinder blade
  • Stay-fresh travel lids x 2
  • Flip-top lid
  • User manual
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee – Includes Return Postage!
  • Access to expert support team
  • Comprehensive warranty

My daughter loves using the blender and as mother I can be assured that she is getting her five a day. My daughter also tells me that she is been making some delicious pesto for her pasta in this blender so I can see a recipe coming up soon for it. Watch this space or alternatively sign up for email alerts so you do not miss any new recipe updates.

You can see in the video below a review and recipe demonstration of the Apple, Cucumber and Spinach smoothie that we made in it.

I used my trusty Nutri Force Extractor for this recipe. It is normally £179.00 but currently it is on offer for just £89 which means that there is a whopping £90 OFF right now. Just use the code AUTUMNSALE 90. That's not all, the fab people at Froothie are offering you lovely readers FREE DELIVERY too (for a limited time)! Just use this code 1572 FREE AMBASSADOR DELIVERY in the comments box when making your purchase, the delivery charge will then be refunded.

The blender is not just for smoothies , it can be used for many other recipes too:
You can also checkout some other exciting recipes and reviews of this awesome blender below:

Janice Pattie-Blender Banana bread
Lorna Korma -Eat myyy thoughts
Choclette Ammar- Beetroot green leaf smoothie
MandyMazliah- Tropical Cauliflower Smoothie

**As an ambassador I am testing the Nutri Force Bender, all views and opinions are my own.This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Optimum 9400 mini jug and a Mango Ginger Smoothie Halloween Special

For the last two years I have been the proud owner of the Optimum 9400 blender and unlike any other device its the most used gadget in my kitchen. It will blast any ingredient and blitz it to a delicious purée in moments, furthermore it crushes ice like it cutting through butter, it chops, grates, grinds and whips and you can use it with wet or dry ingredients in it without buying a separate jug. It also makes instant icecreams for the summer and warm soups for the winter so you can make use of  it the whole year around. The blender is totally a lifesaver in the kitchen as it has so many different uses. For a more detailed review of this blender do check my Optimum 9400 post here.

You may be wondering why I am writing another post about this blender? There are two reasons one is that I adore is but the second reason is that when I first got the Optimum 9400 it came with one tall jug only. I am now really excited that Froothie has introduced a mini jug which is perfect when I want to grind a small amount of spice mixture or only want to make a smoothie for one.

The mini jug works in the same way as a large jug  and the good news is that currently the Optimum 9400 is on special Autumn half price offer at just £299  and you will also get the mini jug free if you take advantage of this offer. You can also get Free Delivery when you place your order here  Just use this code 1572 FREE AMBASSADOR DELIVERY in the comments box when making your purchase, the delivery charge will then be refunded.

print recipe

Mango and Ginger Smoothie
A delicious blend of mango carrot and apple with a hint of ginger makes this smoothie refreshing and delicious.
  • 1 large Mango peeled, stoned and cut into chunks.
  • 1 large Carrot topped and tailed and cut into chunks(no need to peel)
  • 1 Cox's apple cored and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 inch of Ginger peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • Juice of half a lemon and 50 ml water

1. Add all the ingredients into the Optimum 9400 jug and blend for 1 minute.2. Pour into serving glasses and serve immediately.
Prep time: Blend time: 1 Total time: Yield: serves 2

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Honey Afternoon Tea at St Ermin's Hotel London

St Ermins Hotel is in the heart of London, a short walking distance from St James's Park Station. Set in an iconic location in central London, close to Buckingham Palace, the hotel is truly grand in decor and look. It is built upon the site of a 15th century chapel dedicated to St. Ermin. The hotel boasts beautiful sweeping staircases, alcoves filled with lovely sofas and books so that you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a book or a quiet drink with friends at the bar.

Amongst other facilities there is a bar, terrace, grill and a library with a tea lounge which serves the most beautiful Honey themed afternoon. At St Ermin's  on the 3rd floor you will also find their own Bee and Bee hotel where you can view safely behind glass doors 350,000 bees living in special Hexagonal shaped suites.

The honey afternoon tea is inspired by the bees and its nice to know that for every Honey Afternoon tea purchased in October a donation of £1.00 will go to wards the BBKA to support their work with honey bees. Further more you also get to adopt your own bee and get an adoption certificate too.

I was really lucky to be invited to St Ermins with my two blogger friends Heidi and Manjiri to sample the tea. The hotel was able to cater for our dietary needs by providing a classic afternoon tea and also a gluten free tea and a vegetarian option too. Be warned this post will make you super hungry!!!!

We started with bottomless prosecco, well my friends did whilst I sipped on my freshly squeezed orange juice. Next came the tea menu there were lots of beautiful tea options but being a true Indian  nothing beats masala tea so I opted for that.

The waitress brought our afternoon tea on a beautiful three tiered stand, each layer was designated to our individual dietary needs. We enjoyed an array of mouthwatering sandwiches such as goats cheese with apricot chutney and bee pollen, cottage cheese with carrots, sultanas, shallots and honey truffle sauce, grilled mushroom with artichoke tapenade on wholemeal bread, honey and roasted squash with rocket pesto on rye bread and lastly my favorite the red pepper hummus with caramelised onion on white bread.

Next came the sweet treats, orange and yoghurt mousse pots, chocolate and espresso cups, jasmine cake with lemon frosting. The mousse was velvety and smooth and the jasmine cake was so delectable and aromatic that I could have easily eaten a couple more.

There were more sweet treats to follow, but before we devoured them we needed a break so we chatted over endless top ups of prosecco and orange juice.

Next came the white chocolate and honey macaroon, matcha sponge with yuzu and honey creme mousseline and blackberry gel and a delicious vanilla tart with a gold lustre raspberry.

With more pots of fresh tea we thought our afternoon tea feast was over how wrong we were, the waitress arrived with a basket of freshly baked scones.

The melt in the mouth scones served with dollops of fresh cream and strawberry jam were light and airy and perfectly scrumptious.

We most certainly enjoyed our delectable spread and surprisingly the afternoon tea turned into a four hour affair. We were having so much fun that we almost forgot to visit the Bees on the third floor.

Although the evening was closing in we did get a couple of pictures to remind us of the amazing honey themed tea we had enjoyed and also to adopt our own Bee. I have named my bee Buzzbee and I am honoured to receive my adoption certificate and a bottle of St Ermin's honey as a gift.

The Honey afternoon tea is £29.00 per person and you can upgrade it to get unlimited prosecco for £35.00 per person. Considering the grandeur of the hotel, the variety of the food and the location this afternoon tea offers great value for money.

I was a guest at St Ermin's Hotel, all views and opinions shared are my own as are all the photographs.

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