Detective Fiction Meets Ornithology

A review of a new find – Steve Burrows’ Birder Murders, with some Norfolk bird pictures of my own for company.

INTRODUCTION

This post concerns two books by a writer I discovered in the last few days:

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MAKING THE DISCOVERY

When I saw these in the library there was never any doubt about borrowing them – detective stories set in Norfolk and heavily concerned with birds looks a darned good mix. 

THE BOOKS

There is much of interest about birds and about North Norfolk in these books, and the strikingly different characters of each of the police officers makes for some good interplay between them. 

In the first of these two books, “A Siege of Bitterns”, the first victim is actually a birdwatcher. The second victim is a suspect in the first case until he is found dead. It eventjually turns out that the first case was not murder but suicide, and that the murderer in the second case was the MP.

In “A Cast of Falcons”, the hero’s boss, DCS Shepherd, is shown up in a very poor light when she initially refuses even to entertain the notion that the exceedingly rich Sheik who has bought an old dairy farm for his pet project (research on method of carbon capture) could be guilty. She shows herself to be more concerned with not annoying someone who is rich and powerful than with justice, which given her job is entirely unacceptable.

There is a third book in this series that I know of, called “A Pitying of Doves”, and it is sufficient comment on just how good these two books are that I have reserved a copy (costs 60p) and am awaiting it’s arrival at King’s Lynn library.

Siege of BitternsCast of Falcons

If you get the opportunity to pick up a book with the name Steve Burrows on the cover please take it!

SOME NORFOLK BIRDS

To finish this post here are some new pictures of Norfolk birds…

Bird MootBirdsCormorand and gullCormorant and gullsCormorant close-upCormorantGGGullsMagpieMoorhenPoserWingspan

The Musical Keys Session That Wasn’t

A walk, some dreadful weather and a double-booking. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Musical Keys run regular sessions for NAS West Norfolk, and I attend these sessions both as a participant and in my role as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. Today should have been a Musical Keys day, and after lunch I set off on an afternoon walk with the Scout Hut in Gaywood as my envisaged final destination. 

A LITERAL DAMPENING

Although I was ultimately aiming for Gaywood I decided to lengthen the walk by going along the river bank as far as my regular cormorant observation point and then returning to the route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Red Mount Chapel. Unfortunately I was near the end of the riverside stretch when the rain started coming down in stair rods, and it stayed raining all the way to Gaywood. Although Gaywood Library is small there are sometimes good books to be found there, and I did find some today.

A METAPHORICAL DAMPENING

While in Gaywood Library I logged into a computer, and it was there that I saw a facebook post telling me that Musical Keys had been cancelled due to a double booking. As I was still not fully dried out from the walk to Gaywood I was more than usually annoyed by this.

A POSSIBLE CHANGE OF LOCATION

This is not the first time we have had problems of this nature with this venue, so it is natural to be considering new venues. The British Red Cross have a suitable room in thier building at Austin Fields which is close to the centre of King’s Lynn. It is true that the principal approach from outside King’s Lynn, Edward Benefer Way/ John Kennedy Road, is prone to traffic jams, but I think the good outweighs the bad in terms of this venue. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Even in the poor weather I experienced I was able to get a few decent photographs:

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This was taken in Fakenham yesterday – this window ledge is immediately outside my work area at James and Sons and these doves have been using it for a few days now.

moorhen family 1Moorhens and ducksMoorhens and ducks 2Tern 1Glaucous GullTern 2

2 flying cormorants
Two flying cormorants ine one shot – a first for me.
Flying cormorant
My second edit of that same picture, focussing on the nearer of the two cormorants.

Cormorant PlatformCormorantsKing of the Cormorant castleIII CormorantsFarewell to Cormorant PlatformMoorhen adult and child

Monday Miscellany

A mixed bag of an offering this Monday afternoon!

INTRODUCTION

This post will be every bit as varied as its title suggests, featuring a mix of politics, mathematics, music, nature and photography (and possibly more). 

SOME MATHS RELATED STUFF

I start with one of more recent followers, RobertLovesPi, and I have several pieces of his to share:

My next piece, courtesy of whyevolutionistrue is titled “The Coffer Illusion“, which concerns the picture below:

If the illusion defeats you, you can find out where the circles are by going to the original post. 

I finish this little section with a nod to the mathematical website Brilliant, which I am a regular visitor to (I am currently on a 64 day problem solving streak). As a sample here is a problem I solved today, rated at maximum difficulty by the site, pretty close to minimum by me:

Pythag

You can look at solutions to this problem on the website, and I will reveal the answer on this blog tomorrow. 

A FEW POLITICAL PIECES

There has been a lot of coverage from various people of events in Charlottesville. I choose to draw your attention to Richard Murphy’s excellent piece on Tax Research UK, titled “Charlottesville is a cradle of extremism: we should take note“. Below is a screenshot of the first few paragraphs:

charlottesville

My second link is to the petitionsite, regarding a young women in El Salvador who having been raped and then had a miscarriage has then been jailed for 30 years due to the Catholic church influence anti-abortion laws of that country. The screenshot below is formatted as a link to take you to this petition to sign and if possible share it:

Screenshot 2017-08-14 at 3.29.29 PM

I finish this section on a lighter note, courtesy of whyevolutionistrue. This little piece titled “Where is North Korea? Some Americans have no idea” reminds us how unacquainted USians are with that area known as the rest of the world! Here is a screenshot of the opening paragraph:
Screenshot 2017-08-14 at 3.39.40 PM

PHOTOGRAPHS

I usually end my blog posts with some of my own photographs, but this photograph section has an additional feature – as a nod to the principal subjects of many of the photos that follow I offer you a musica prelude – Ottorino Respighi’s “The Birds”:

cormorants and boatCormorants8Cormorant headsCormorants6Cormorants4Cormorants3Cormorants2Cormorants1Cormorants and gull 5Cormorant4Cormorants11Cormorants 10Cormorants and gull3TerngullCormorant3Cormorant2

Cormorant
I did not notice the white bird on the far side of the river until I was editing this one – I think from the shape and colour that is a Little Egret but the image is not clear enough to be sure.

Cormorants and swimming gullPollinator3Flybutterfly wingPollinator2white butterflyPollinator

Squirrel does Meerkat impression
This squirrel is clearly an impressionist – and his meerkat is very good!

Norfolk Pictures and Some Shares

Some local photographs from earlier today and some interesting links.

INTRODUCTION

I had expected to be blogging about the first ever NAS West Norfolk curry night at The Globe today, but the event had to be postponed due to the severe weather that affected King’s Lynn yesterday. In addition to the decision to postpone the curry night made because those who would have had to travel (as opposed to me strolling down the road) to get there did not feel safe doing so I have a couple of other little pieces of evidence to back my claim that the wind yesterday was the strongest I have experienced while living in King’s Lynn, which is a fairly windy town anyway. Firstly I had to retrieve one of the legs of my outside table from the roof of Artertons (this roof adjoins my balcony but is one storey lower, so to access it I have to descend to street level, ascend a fixed steel ladder to the Artertons roof, retrieve the item, descend the ladder and ascend the stairs to my own flat). For this to happen, the table top, which when the table is not in use I position covering the legs, had to be blown clear of the legs and then one of those legs had to be blown across the width of my outside space and down on to Artertons roof, and it has never happened before. Secondly, the 813th King’s Lynn Mart made what was in truth the only sensible decision they could have done, not to open yesterday evening on safety grounds, again a first in my time living in this part of the world. Therefore with a couple of links at the end as a bonus I am falling back on a staple of this blog, some local pictures taken today.

THE PICTURES

Weatherwise today has been the calm after yesterday’s storm, so after lunch I went out for a walk with only my trusty Nikon Coolpix P530 for company. Below are the highlights of this walk in picture form…

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Daffodils just emerging in The Walks
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Signs of life in what I call the “Trivial Pursuit Beds” in The Walks

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A cormorant showing its wingspan on the west bank of the Great Ouse
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Cormorant just in the western edge of the Great Ouse

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A view of the town from Harding’s Pits
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The Nar was so calm that these modern houses were clearly reflected in its water.
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A tern (probably in origin an Arctic Tern.
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A Moorhen

SOME LINKS

My first link is to a new petition on change.org calling on the UK government to treat hate crimes against autistic people as seriously as race hate crimes. Here is the body text of a suggested message provided by change.org:

I just signed the petition, “UK Parliament: Make autistic hate crime as punishable as racism.” I think this is important. Will you sign it too?

Here’s the link:

https://www.change.org/p/uk-parliament-make-autistic-hate-crime-as-punishable-as-racism?utm_medium=email&utm_source=notification&utm_campaign=petition_signer_receipt&share_context=signature_receipt&recruiter=181177831 

On a completely different note, courtesy of www.independent.co.uk here is a fascinating account of a new solar system in which no fewer than seven earth-like planets wouyld appear to be in the habitable zone around their star. Click on the picture below to read in full.

pia21425.jpg

Finally to end this post, a highly amusing video. Clearly based on the classic sketch “What did the Romans ever do for us?”, this is a sketch called “What did the European Court of Human Rights ever do for us?”

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/culture/video/2016/apr/25/patrick-stewart-sketch-what-has-the-echr-ever-done-for-us-video

Winter Pictures

A few links and some pictures – enjoy.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my first post of 2017. I have some pictures to share with you of course, and one or two other things.

SOME LINKS

My first link is a quiz from the British Humanist Association entitled “How Humanist Are You?” 

My remaining two links are to petitions:

  1. 38 Degrees are running a petition to stop filibustering in the House of Commons.
  2. petitionsite.com have a petition calling for the renationalisation of our railways.

Mention of the railways leads me to the following from twitter:

This is part of a nationwide protest against the continuing increase of fares for increasingly poor services on British trains.

PHOTOGRAPHS

These pictures comprise my last from 2016 and my first from 2017…

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This picture is the last of the 2106 vintage…
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…and this is the first of the 2017 vintage.

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Cricket Classic

An account of the finish of the Nottinghamshire vs Surrey game in the county championship, some quality photos and some important links.

INTRODUCTION

As well as an account of a classic finish in the county championship match between Surrey and Notts I have some photos and a few links to share.

SURREY’S UNAVAILING FIGHT BACK

Thanks to Kumar Sangakkara and Arun Harinath in their second innings Surrey came into the final day with half a chance of completing a Lazarus like come back. Surrey’s second innings ended on the stroke of lunch with them having built a lead of 168 – just enough that things might get interesting…

Opener Greg Smith played a solid innings for Notts, but when he was out the score was 152-7 and an upset was definitely possible. However, nos 8 and 9, with a pair of genuine tail-enders to follow saw through the danger to get Notts home by three wickets. There was no play anywhere else in the country.

PHOTOS

Owing to the nature of the day (cricket in the middle thereof), I took two walks, one in the morning and one in the evening and I have pictures from both to share…

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Shot through the window of a bus yesterday.
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All Saints Church
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The side of All Saints Church – note the checkerboard panel.

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These butterflies were enjoying the sun and the dandelions near Old Boal Quay

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This pic and the next have gone down well with my twitter followers.

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These three shots of the Brunel £2 set demarcate morning and evening pics.

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LINKS

My first link is to a piece in the Mirror which shocked me. This is a story of a school using leg gaitors to restrain a six year old autistic child.

My second link is a thunderclap “#Kidsneednature

My next three links all relate to:

ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES

The folks at disabledgo have put out a top 10 of fully accessible attractions in London which has led me to create:

  1. A new page on my London transport themed website, called “Attractions” and
  2. The introductory post to what will be a series based on the disabledgo piece.

My remaining links also belong together, constituting

THREE MORE REASONS FOR LONDONERS TO
VOTE FOR SIAN BERRY IN THE MAYORAL ELECTIONS

Sian Berry has been running the best campaign of all the contenders for London Mayor by the proverbial country mile, and today she has responded as a potential decision maker to not one or even two but three change.org petitions that I have signed. I have links below to the pages that show her very detailed and very positive responses to all three.

  1. The first is a call for a statue of a suffragette to be placed in Parliament square.
  2. The second calls for mayoral candidates to invest in youth work.
  3. Thirdly and finally is a call addressed by the creator of the petition to Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, but today answered by Sian, to protect independent shop owners in the capital.

 

 

 

Birds and a Coin

Some photographic highlights from in and around King’s Lynn and a coin used as case study in editing techniques.

INTRODUCTION

This post features some of my recent pictures of King’s Lynn’s thriving bird life, and also some pictures of a coin that I use to demonstrate the different degrees of editing to which a picture might be submitted.

THE BIRDS

The title of this section both refers to its contents and pays tribute to Italian composer Ottorino Respighi one of whose pieces has this title. Every bird you see pictured here was within walking distance of my town centre flat, in some cases very close indeed.

Where the Nar flows into the Great Ouse - always a good spot for observing birds
Where the Nar flows into the Great Ouse – always a good spot for observing birds

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No cormorants this time, but  these will feature later.
No cormorants this time, but these will feature later.

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The last two pictures you have seen were taken on the bridge over the upper Purfleet, separated from my flat by the length of a car park.
The last two pictures you have seen were taken on the bridge over the upper Purfleet, separated from my flat by the length of a car park.
On Wednesday afternoon the cormorants were back in force - on both sides of the mouth of the Nar...
On Wednesday afternoon the cormorants were back in force – on both sides of the mouth of the Nar…
...as witness
…as witness

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The mouth of the Nar showing the cormorants on both sides.
The mouth of the Nar showing the cormorants on both sides.

SOME OTHER PHOTOS

Of course it was not only birds that caught the eye while I was out and about on these occasions…

The next two pictures show fallen leaves.
The next two pictures show fallen leaves.

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Yes, even in October boats still moor on the Great Ouse
Yes, even in October boats still moor on the Great Ouse

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Greyfriars Tower
Greyfriars Tower
A carving on Greyfriars tower.
A carving on Greyfriars tower.
A picture in my aunt's kitchen
A picture in my aunt’s kitchen
I carried this across from the neighbour with whom it had been left in my aunt's absence. Note that this delivery had been made on the Saturday and then look a the big sticker on top of the box! (and the box already had three extra bottles in it to compensate for previous blunders!)
I carried this across from the neighbour with whom it had been left in my aunt’s absence. Note that this delivery had been made on the Saturday and then look a the big sticker on top of the box! (and the box already had three extra bottles in it to compensate for previous blunders!)

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THE COIN

On Tuesday I happened to notice that one of the coins with which I was going to pay my bus fare was one that had been issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, so I photographed it while waiting for the bus to arrive. Later while editing the shot I decided to use it to demonstrate various editing techniques…

This is the coin picture after cropping but nut other editing.
This is the coin picture after cropping but no other editing.
This is the coin after cropping and sharpening.
This is the coin after cropping and sharpening.
This is the coin after my usual edit (shadow and highlights protection, lighting adjustment, sharpening and brightness for extra clarity.
This is the coin after my usual edit (shadow and highlights protection, lighting adjustment, sharpening and brightness for extra clarity.
This one features the use of colour boost as well (I almost never do this)
This one features the use of colour boost as well (I almost never do this)
Finally this one also had the contrast enhanced (something I used to do regularly but now only do on rare occasions)
Finally this one also had the contrast enhanced (something I used to do regularly but now only do on rare occasions)

Emails and Cameras

An account of a day at James and Sons, including my first public mention of a new project, some important links and some photographs from in and around King’s Lynn.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this post about yesterday at James and Sons. I also have some pictures from King’s Lynn and a few links to share.

EMAILS

Today there were two bulk emails to dispatch., The first was a straight forward email to everyone living within a sensible distance of the locations concerned about the two fairs that James and Sons take part in every month. The second, following instructions relayed by a colleague was a targeted email about our auction for buyers of Medals and Militaria. I chose as well as altering the strapline of the email to create a new graphic featuring military themed items only , and as a matter of necessity I very carefully made sure that the list of recipients for this email did not include any of those who had received the one I sent out on Friday. Here are the images involved…

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This was the image I decided to use.
This was the image I decided to use.

Militaria IMG2 Militaria IMG 499 451 448 447 440

CAMERAS

As well as my usual duties connected with an auction, and my role running the database, and my role doing press releases and my unofficial role as in-house “Gordianus” (Gordianus is Stephen Saylor’s central character in his Roma Sub Rosa series and has the nickname “the finder”) I have yet another area os responsibility relating to our 28th October auction – we have received a car load of vintage cameras, and I will be responsible for catalogiuing them, as well as for producing the images. I have made a start on this new project, and the images will give you an idea of my approach…

This lot are just about worth listing as a boxful.
This lot are just about worth listing as a boxful.
A close up of the Thornton Pickard name.
A close up of the Thornton Pickard name.
Camera open and ready for action.
Camera open and ready for action.
Closed case - ready for carrying
Closed case – ready for carrying
This is the star item of the collection thus far (and likely to remain so - I have given it a deliberately conservative estimate of £60-80 - there is one without the case, instructions and accessories on the net at 119.99) This is one of four images I took of this item.
This is the star item of the collection thus far (and likely to remain so – I have given it a deliberately conservative estimate of £60-80 – there is one without the case, instructions and accessories on the net at 119.99) This is one of four images I took of this item.

point and click Kodak Mixed EKF EKF -b

A genuine antique, should attract some inetrest.
A genuine antique, should attract some inetrest.

EFV

Interesting again, but not worth a huge amount.
Interesting again, but not worth a huge amount.

Coronet Rapide

This is of an interesting type, and comes in its original carrying case.
This is of an interesting type, and comes in its original carrying case.

boxed mixed BN2b BN2a

This image and the next two are all of a camera that is worth selling singly only because of its antiquity and the fact that it is still in its original box.
This image and the previous two are all of a camera that is worth selling singly only because of its antiquity and the fact that it is still in its original box.

LINKS

I have three things to share in this section, starting with…

WARWICK’S WOBBLY WEEK

The title of this subsection refers to the actions of the Student’s Union at Warwick University. An ex-Muslim named Maryam Namazie had been invited to speak at the university about why she had abandoned her religious faith and other related matters. Some idiot within the Students Union then decided that there was “a danger of her inciting hatred” and barred her from coming. A petition was quickly organised on change.org to get the S.U to reverse this appalling decision, and with strong international support, notably from the team at whyevolutionisttrue it has duly been overturned. I have three links for you to gain further information…

  1. The original petition
  2. The official declaration of victory.
  3. A final word on the case from whyevolutionistrue.

VOTING REFORM

This is an update on a long running campaign. Apparently many MPs who have been contacted about this (and I did not deem it worth my while to contact my own MP given how obvious it is where he will stand) have been sending form replies about the vote in favour of retaining FPTP at the last referendum. This is calculatedly dishonest, since at that referendum FPTP was not being tested against PR, but against a system called AV (although I made a point of voting for the latter so that my opposition to FPTP was a matter of record). Thus, I have two links and, courtesy of George Aylett on twitter, a splendid infographic to share with you:

VR

A MUST-SEE VIDEO

This is a three-and-a-half minute you-tube video created by Autism-Mom and her son, the Navigator (it is more hearing than seeing, as neither are ever actually in shot, but there is some good text accompaniment to the voices). Please view this video by clicking here.

KING’S LYNN

I finish this post by sharing some of my recent pictures from around King’s Lynn…

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These pics from here until the second to last are from yesterday morning before work.
These pics from here until the second to last are from yesterday morning before work.

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This pumpkin field is near Knight's Hill, just beyond comfortable walking distance from the town centre - I took this from the top deck of an X8 bus.
This pumpkin field is near Knight’s Hill, just beyond comfortable walking distance from the town centre – I took this from the top deck of an X8 bus.
From yesterday evening, part of the light show at King's Lynn Minster.
From yesterday evening, part of the light show at King’s Lynn Minster.

Winter Sun and the Lower Purfleet Freezes Over.

We are in a post Christmas cold snap. There has been nothing yet to approach the icebergs on the Great Ouse of half a century ago, but at 11:30AM today under a bright sun the lower Purfleet was frozen. Birds of various species have been enjoying the conditions in spite of the cold. “Cormorant Platform” where the Nar joins the Ouse had no fewer than nine visitors today.

I have two days worth of pics to share with you (got some good ones yesterday too)…

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Gulls and terns walking on water!
Gulls and terns walking on water!

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This is the first of today's images.
This is the first of today’s images.
The next two images show the improvements happening at Hillington Square.
The next two images show the improvements happening at Hillington Square.

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Now we have some cormorant images.
Now we have some cormorant images.

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Behold - the lower Purfleet frozen!
Behold – the lower Purfleet frozen!

Sunday Pics

Having dealt with BT I now return my usual blog posts, sharing today’s pictures, which include a glorious shot of remembrance day at King’s Lynn War Memorial…

It's a little blurry I know, but this view is one reason why I enjoy living where I do.
It’s a little blurry I know, but this view is one reason why I enjoy living where I do.

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King's Lynn War Memorial on remembrance day.
King’s Lynn War Memorial on remembrance day.

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The first of a number of shots featuring "Cormorant Platform"
The first of a number of shots featuring “Cormorant Platform”

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A pair of mushrooms from above...
A pair of mushrooms from above…
...and from the side.
…and from the side.

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Thank you Jamie, these were delicious!
Thank you Jamie, these were delicious!