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Monday, 16 December 2013

Top 10 apps for monitoring your energy consumption.

This winter, don't get caught out in the cold by the always unexpected energy bill from hell. Too many of us rely on good cheer to see us through dark days, putting off any sort of monitoring until bills begin to pile up. Then, grimacing against the chill of bitter finance, we're forced to open them all at once. With low prices for energy tariffs being hard, but not impossible to find - and the cost of the festive season, you're better off investing your time in some of these free apps for smartphones.

Kill-Ur-Watts
Available on: iOS

Utilising Green Button technology, this app was developed for the US Department of Energy's 2012 'Apps for Energy' challenge. Residential customers can track their energy usage across all appliances, and it's easy to use interface provides graphic that's converted into an 'Energy Score'. The overall aim is to allow customers to develop strategies for 'going green(er)', with the added incentive of allowing you to challenge your friends to compete for the greenest household.

JouleBug
Available on: iOS

This app takes the concept of creating a 'green' competition amongst friends and turns energy efficiency into a game. Perfect for those who fear monitoring their usage, and an ideal introduction to principles of sustainability for younger consumers. Play with friends, collect trophies and learn about your environmental impact.

AlertMe Energy Map
Available on: iOS

Sharpen your competitive green edge with this app, which provides details on energy consumption per UK borough. Compare how well you're doing with the local average, or enjoy a slice of humble pie as you knuckle down to some serious energy saving.

Energy Consumption Analyzer
Available on: Android

Similar to Kill-Ur-Watts but for Android, this app utilises manually entered readings from your electricity, gas and water meters. Input data at your convenience and, over time, the app determines usage per hour, day, week or month. A handy graph allows you to work out peak times and areas where energy is used in excess.

The Green Deal App
Available on: Android and iOS

Recent government schemes such as the Feed-In Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive are awarding loans to many homes where occupiers are seeking to reduce energy consumption and their carbon footprint. This app allows you to work out exactly how much you could save by participating in the Green Deal.

Electricity Calculator
Available on: Android

Work out the actual cost, as well as usage, of electricity per appliance or device. It's designed with long-term efficiency in mind, allowing users to forecast costs and determine return on investment for new appliances.

Standby Energy Cost Calculator
Available on: Android

According to The Guardian, appliances left on 'standby' use up to £86 in energy costs per year. Use this app to determine the price of electricity per appliance. Comes complete with standard costs for each of 50 different appliances, and colour codes to help you determine the main offenders.

Drip Detective
Available on: Android

Using touchscreen technology, this app allows you to measure any drip – be it tap, pipe or toilet – by tapping in time with the drips. It then calculates the amount of water wasted over a period of time, whether that's by the day, month or year, and exactly how much it costs you in water bills.

FuelGood
Available on: Android and iOS

Select your car type, engine size and age and use GPS to track your journey and provide details on your carbon footprint. If you're already concerned about the environment and take measures to lessen your impact, this app will tell you exactly how much you've saved compared to the average driver.

Ecobee Smart Thermostat
Available on: Android and iOS

This ingenious app allows you to control your home thermostat remotely. You will need a compatabile Smart Thermostat, but the savings you can make from monitoring and adjusting your homes temperature are worth the investment.


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post

Personal Planner Giveaway

Earlier this year i was introduced to Personal Planner a company that allows you to create your own unique planner from a huge range of different options. I was instantly impressed that you can choose your own pictures and texts for both front and back covers, of course i selected to have pictures of the little men but you can also just add text or select from a range of pre-made designs.

From colours right the way through to the month that you want the planner to start, the amount of things that you can personalise is very impressive. As well as all this there is also the quirky little details like being able to add colouring pages (great if you are a doodler like me) or suduko pages.

Personalised pages


The Personalised Planner make a great gift idea

I have joined forces with Personal Planner to offer one of my readers the opportunity of winning their own personal planner. To enter simply use the Rafflecopter widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A holiday in the UK... can it be possible?

For many years when i have sat down to think about holiday destinations i have been surrounded by brochures boasting warmer climes, clear blue seas and what you can get for your Euro. However this year when planning our first holiday as a family of four i began thinking of the holiday memories from when i was younger and me and my sister would go away with parents or grandparents.

It wasn't all about sun and lying on sun loungers, it was about family time, crazy golf and ice creams, about getting wet and cold and enjoying the unpredictable British summer weather. Most of all it was about the magic of going on holiday, having fun and making memories.

I want to create those memories for my children, for my family so i thought about my ideal location and what we want from a holiday. A home from home, being away but still being able to enjoy home comforts, somewhere where there are activities and entertainment that we can indulge in should we wish. The option to eat in and eat out, a bit of flexibility. So after flicking through numerous brochures i found a selection of UK holiday parks offering all this and more.

This year we have packed up the boot of the car and headed off on road trips to explore some of the holiday locations closer to home, and the boys have had a ball playing in outdoor pools, running through sand dunes and meeting some of their favourite characters over breakfast.

So although the British weather may not guarantee sun and the children may be making sandcastles in the rain, there is something to be said about a holiday in good old Blighty!


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.








Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Heat Holders Hat and Gloves Giveaway

With the cold weather well and truly upon us, its definately the time to be wrapping up warm. Last winter I was introduced to Heat Holders when i tried a pair of their socks. I have once again joined forces with Heat Holders to offer my readers a chance to win a lovely thermal  hat and gloves set.
To be in with a chance of winning simply complete the rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Family trip to the Zoo

Last week we were amongst a group of bloggers lucky enough to be invited along to Chester Zoo courtesy of Matalan for a fun filled day. Both the boys were extremely excited about going to visit the animals, little man keen to see the elephants and tiny excited for his very first trip to the Zoo.

Matalan had very kindly provided us with vouchers to spend online for a new outfit for the boys. So both boys were kitted out in new jeans and topsand the gorgeous woolly bear hats were left in the car (these are so cute and will definitely be worn throughout the winter) and exchanged for suncream

As we arrived at the Zoo we made our first stop the chimps were we listened into the talk and met up with some of the other families before heading to the picnic area for some lunch before setting off to see the rest of the animals.



As expected little man loved watching the elephants and the monkeys, whilst Tiny seemed in his element exploring the sights choosing the day to really get to grips with walking.





After watching the penguins being fed it was time for a refreshment stop for cool drinks and ice creams before moving onto the big bug exhibition.

One of favourite stops of the day was the Giraffes, and both the boys loved watching them feed and walking in and out of the sheds.


There is certainly lots to see and we finished the day taking in the sights of the butterfly house before heading of to the gift shop for a few souvenirs of our day.

We all had a fantastic day and were all tired out after a fun packed day. A huge thank you to Matalan.







Monday, 2 September 2013

Walkers Mighty Lights Review

When a parcel arrived with the New Walker's Mighty Lights crisps we were eager to rip open the box and check out the contents. Its no secret that we are a bit partial to a packet of crisps of two, and were more than happy to put these new crisps through their paces.

When it comes to snacks for the little men i do like them to have healthier snacks and whilst they are still quite young i do allow them the occasional treat. Mighty Lights are made with 30% less fat than standard crisps, are made with real potatoes and contain no artificial colours or preservatives. Available in three flavours of Lightly Salted, Roast Chicken and cheese and onion they are all suitable for vegetarians.

So with this in mind i was keen to see how Walker's Mighty Lights stood up against other crisps so we cracked open a couple of packets of each flavour ready for a taste test. The boys shared a packet with their lunchtime sandwiches whilst daddy and i went straight for our favourite flavours. Our first impressions were that these crinkle cut crisps were a great size for little hands, had a nice crispness and were packed with flavour. The lightly salted were a big hit as the the flavour wasn't too salty but yet packed a sufficient tasty flavour into each crisp. Daddy's favourites were the Roast Chicken and he was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that the crisps had 30% less fat than other crisps.




When my sister and i went for a picnic in the park with the boys and my two youngest nephews ( aged 6 and 7) in the midst of a mountain of sandwiches i decided to throw in a few packets of Mighty Lights. The boys tucked in to the cheese and onion numbers and they were gone in minutes. These would definitely be a great idea for in their lunchboxes now that they have returned to school.

Not one to feel left out on several occasions over the last few weeks a packet of Mighty Lights have made an appearance in my lunch bag and i do find that the lightly salted flavour make a lovely addition to my sandwich of the day. That is fact assuming that they make it to lunchtime as today i found myself being a little monkey and sneakily working my way through a packet at my desk at 11am.

With our next family party being planned i already have Mighty Lights down on the shopping list and have some ready for our next DVD night.

We found Mighty Lights Mighty Crispy and Mighty Tasty.

Disclaimer: We were sent three multi packs of Walkers Mighty Lights and received financial compensation for this review, but all opinions are our own.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

My 99p Store Summer Challenge

This summer the 99p stores set out a challenge to see how much fun could be had with Ten pounds. Eager to get started I went for a mooch around our local stores to see what goodies I could find to create some fun little activities for the boys.

I was keen to find a range of things and had set myself a little brief of finding things that may have more than one use, or that could be used for in different activities. So when I spotted these little sandcastle pots I new I had a winner, not only where they filled with candy lollies that I could steal, they came with a selection of mini tools, which were are perfect for the little ones for playing in the sand. In addition to using the little castles for playing in the  moon sand  that we created we also used them as fun moulds for our jellies.


Bubbles are always a big hit in our house so when is spotted a giant, giant bubble wand I couldn't resist. Now to be honest I wasn't expecting much from these but they were in fact the best bubbles ever, so much so that I keep paying a trip back to see if I can get my hands on any more. The bubbles that this wand created were immense and watching how excited the boys got as the clusters of huge bubbles were blown across the bathroom. The added bonus was that little man could catch and hold these monster bubbles without them popping. Priceless!

In addition to fruit shaped ice cube trays that not only helped cool our drinks but will double up as several messy play activities over the coming weekends, I purchased a pack of glow sticks which the little man loved to have hanging in his den to read a story or two before bed.

Thank you 99p stores for this allowing us to join the Summer challenge

Disclaimer: we were sent a ten pound voucher for the 99p store to participate in this challenge 

Monday, 26 August 2013

What inside my Handbag?

It never fails to amaze me the amount of stuff i can cram inside my bag. I don't know whether it is an inbuilt trait of a mother, or an amazing talent that runs in my family but whatever size or shape of handbag  i choose i always seem to acquire something for every occasion.

Today whilst routing through my bag to try a find my purse i ended up emptying half the contents on my bag onto the counter whilst the girl behind the till looked at me with a bemused look on her face (perhaps she doesn't have children) I decided it was time to for a little sort out.Tonight i have emptied the cross the shoulder bag that i have used all week and i these are the things i found, starting with fairly normal to the wierd and wonderful;

Phone
Purse - with a couple of loose loyalty cards, the children have been in there again!
Keys
Diary
Mints
Paracetmol
Loose copper
Baby wipes
Pack of bobbles
Child's vest
A dummy
Nappy bags
A little book
And a plastic wheelie bin.

Am sure that within a matter of days that i will have acquired another plethora of items and i will be routing through to the bottom of the bag trying  frantically to find ringing mobile.

What is the strangest thing in your Handbag?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post



Saturday, 24 August 2013

Blackpool Tower Sid and Scrat Ice Age Tickets giveaway

As the school  holidays are drawing to a close the Sid and Scrat from Ice Age will be making an apperance at the final of the Blackpool Tower Ballrooms Summer family fun days on Thursday the 29th August.

The fun packed day will include dancing, games, characater apperances and a giant tea party with lunch boxes included.

Tickets for the event can be purchased from www.blackpooltower.com

I have five family passes to the Ice Age character day to giveaway. To be in with a case of winning simply fill in the Rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Blackpool Tower Ballroom Bob the Builder Tickets Giveaway

Win the Character Events at Blackpool Tower Ballroom now in full swing next up on the list is Bob the Builder who will be making an appearance on the 22nd August.



The Events include character appearances at intervals throughout the day, dancing, party games and a giant tea party with children’s lunch boxes included. Tickets can be purchased from www.blackpooltower.com.

I have joined forces with the Blackpool Tower to offer my readers the chance to get their hands on one of five family tickets to the Bob the Builder Event. To enter simply complete the Rafflecopter below:

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Blackpool Tower Ballroom Ben 10 Event Ticket Giveaway

Throughout August Blackpool Tower Ballroom are hosting a series of family character days, filled with fun, dancing, a giant Tea party and host of favourite characters. The 15th August will see the Ben 10 themed event with visits from Shocksquatch and Water Hazard.

The events run from 10am until 4pm and tickets can be purchased from www.theblackpooltower.com

I have five family tickets to giveaway to be in with a chance of winning simply fill in the Rafflecopter below. Next week i will have a giveaway for the Bob the Builder Event.


 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Blackpool Tower Ballroom Family Ticket Giveaway

Blackpool Tower have planned some fun filled activities days during August with vists from some character favourites.

Families can get to spend a day in the Tower Ballroom and meet some of their favourites characters including, Katsuma & Poppet from Moshi Monsters, Ben 10 Aliens’ Shocksquatch & Water Hazard, Bob the Builder and Sid and Scrat from Ice Age.

Each event includes character appearances at intervals, dancing, party games and a giant tea party with children’s lunch boxes included. Tickets also include entry will also include a Blackpool Tower Circus performance valid for one visit within 90 days and entry to the evening’s Family Party Night .


The events are planned for each Thursday in August from 10am until 4pm and include appearances from a different children’s character each week:

8th August – Moshi Monsters’ Katsuma & Poppet
15th August – Ben 10 Aliens’ Shocksquatch & Water Hazard
22nd August – Bob the Builder
29th August – Sid & Scrat from Ice Age

Tickets cost from £9.95 and can be purchased from www.theblackpooltower.com.

I have got together with Blackpool  Tower to offer my readers family tickets for these events throughout August. To get your hands on family tickets for the Moshi Monsters event  on the 8th August complete the Rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 15 July 2013

Little Learners Peek a Boo Rainbow Book Review

Tiny is currently loving playing Peek so when he got his little mitts on this Peek a Book Rainbow board book he was straight into it, pushing his fingers through the peek holes which are cleverly  placed throughout the book.


The way the book has been designed shows the Rainbow above the pages of the book and creates a neat little carry handle.

The book introduces the first five colours of the rainbow with cute pictures and animals, the pages link together really well with the peeking colours on each page.


Tiny loved:

Pointing out the little animals on each page.
Wiggling his fingers through the peek holes.
Turning to the last page to see the rainbow.


Mummy loved:

Watching Tiny exploring each page
The clever design of the book
The cute illustrations and the sturdiness of the book.

Publisher: Parragon Books

Disclaimer: We were sent this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Project 365 Days 188-194

 188- Where you are....Cheering on Murray to win!
189- Path, down to the park, we love this walk
190 Three things, strawberries, banana and cream

 191- Smooth, little man smoothing over his painting
192 Despite the many picture i took today none where what i wore so i picked
my favourite little man pushing tiny man round the garden.
193 Bad habit, the box gets emptied everytime the tracks come out



194 4 O' Clock time for a story in garden with Tiny

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Monday, 8 July 2013

Our Big Night In with Money Supermarket

When Money Supermarket set us the Big Night in Challenge i wondered how we should spend it but with the sun definitely putting on his hat and coming out to play i decided that an  impromptu garden party was the way forward. So i set out to the shops with tiny man in tow and came back with two nephews, Grandma , Grandad and a couple of bags full of shopping.

So as the boys got busy out in the garden i began preparing some snacks and putting together some fun ideas for the boys to burn up some energy. First up was setting up the water table and tent for little man and tiny man to play in, and the older nephews were easily amused with a football and goalposts. It wasn't long before the games began, we had the 'crossbar challenge' and 'hitting a target'.



After a while my nephews were asking for more games, so whilst tiny nipped off for a little nap I quickly put together our very own Sports Day challenge. Not being aware that we would be hosting such a prolific event, i  had to think on my feet and the old classic egg and spoon race was recreated as the mushroom and baby spoon race, whilst the obstacle race incorporated the newly purchased water table and the polystyrene packaging from the new hob we had fitted a week ago.



Refreshments and snacks were consumed, so we then moved on to hiding tiny dinosaurs in the garden and throwing the ball into the bucket. As we were all running out of steam the Ice Cream van played his merry tune and it was time to nip out onto the street for a cooler treat. By this time it was time for the visitors to head home and after five more minutes out in the garden the boys were ready for a bath.

When the boys were tucked up in bed it was time for strawberries and cream to toast Murray's Wimbledon success and to reflect on a lovely family fun day.

Our tips for a sucessful (Sporting) Night in with children

Don't over prepare (I made some of the games up as i went involved)
Get the children involved.
Be creative, do things you have not done before, invent, make new rules (Who new the mushroom and spoonn race could be such fun! You saw it here first!)
Have plenty of drinks on standby
Relax and have fun
Make memories, be silly and laugh.

Disclaimer: A big thumbs up and plastic gold medal to Money Supermarket who sent us £50 to enjoy our big night in.








Saturday, 6 July 2013

Project 365 days 181-187

  181- This always makes me smile how Tiny sleeps
182-Happiness is watching TV
183- Little man's well loved first shoes
184- Little man playing out with daddy in just his vest despite the cold
185-Spotted this huge Thomas engine, little man loves the blue engine
186- Just love watching these two play together

187- New oven- time to get baking one of my favourite smells

July' pictures

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 5 July 2013

Blackpool Tower Tickets Giveaway

Blackpool Tower is possibly one of the most well known attractions in the UK. With access to four different attractions there is something to occupy all the Family.

The Blackpool Tower Circus
Jungle Jims indoor play area
Blackpool Tower Ballroom
Blackpool Tower Eye

To enter simply complete the Rafflecopter below:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Messy Play- Vegetable painting

Having a few random vegetables lurking in the fridge that had seen fresher days i decided to set the boys up a vegetable painting session. I tried to find vegetables that would create interesting print and would also provide tiny with some different textures to feel.

I covered the Tuff Spot in a roll of white paper and prepared a palette of different coloured paints.

So armed with celery, broccoli, carrots, potatoes mushrooms and a well washed onion i let the boys begin. Both boys picked up the celery stick first, tiny exploring the texture and little man straight to dipping it in the paint. I imagined that they would roll the celery through the paint, but both the boys had a great deal of fun dipping and banging the celery onto the paper.



Little man soon got into the swing of the printing using the remaining vegetables to create different prints and was quick to help tiny showing him how it was done. Tiny was keen to try by himself and enjoyed pressing the vegetables down onto the paper. Little man liked to say the name and colours of the vegetables as he made his prints. Tiny was eager to make his footprints in the paint.


Although our finished prints didn't really show the different textures that were created it was interesting to see how the boys used the vegetables to create their prints and watching them interact together. Next time we set up this activity we will  try using some different vegetables and fruits too.








Saturday, 29 June 2013

Project 365 days 174- 180

174- Little man sat on mummy


175- A little duckling 
176- Little man tucking into his strawberries
177- Tiny playing peek

178- The boys being silly

179- Tea and Toast with no little hands in sight
180- Pigs at the local farm ( i dont think i have ever seen any with such striped skin)


TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 28 June 2013

Kitchen Nomad World Cuisine Box Giveaway

Kitchen Nomad have recently launched their World cuisine boxes which are a great way to experience world cuisine in the comfort of your own home. Focusing on a different country each month, a cuisine box is prepared with authentic products and recipes from that region and sent direct to your home. Each box contains:
  •   7 - 9 Speciality products
  •   5 recipes for you to create using the ingredients in the box from starter to main courses
  •   Information about the cuisine in that region.
June's focus was on Greek food and recipes included  Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), Youvetsi (a Mediterranean stew) and a fig & walnut bake. The boxes come with all non perishable goods and just require fresh produce to complete the recipes.




I have teamed up with Kitchen Nomad and have a giveaway for a world cuisine box, to be in with a chance of winning simply complete the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Prizefinder UK competitions

Monday, 24 June 2013

Picnic Hamper Giveaway with Pork Farms

I have teamed up with Pork Farms to offer one of my readers a super hamper of picnic goodies and accompaniments

Over the next three months, Pork Farms is giving everyone that purchases one of their delicious pork pies the chance to win £100 every day, and the chance to win a £2,500 jackpot, by sharing details of their pork pie eating habits in 30 words or less at www.yourpieyourway.co.uk . Pork Farms pork pies are very versatile. Whether paired with peas, smothered with tangy pickle, shared with friends, or gobbled on the run, there are many ways to enjoy one of the nation’s favourite snacks.

Some of the favourite way to serve up a pork pie are listed below:

On its own
With a Pickle
With a dollop of Mustard
Brown sauce
Pork Pie Salad
Helpings of Chutney
Tomato sauce
With a chunk of Cheese
Salad Cream
Baked beans, crisps, gravy, mushy peas

Personally my favourite is with a handful of crips and lots of tomatoes and black pepper

I have teamed up with Pork Farms to offer one of my readers a super hamper of picnic goodies and accompaniments. To enter simply complete the Rafflecopter below:




You can also downloiada money off coupon by visting Pork Farms Facebook Page


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Project 365 Days 167-173

 167- Not the best picture but Anne Hegerty from the chase at the town Carnival
168- Little man loving sitting in the box again
169 - Playing Thomas on the 'pad'

 170- A morning at the hospital
171- Little  man doing a spot of blob painting
172- The lovely entrance to the Brewery


 173 London Postcard- Heading home from Britmums
 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Project 365 days 160-166

160- Tiny has the run of the playground


161 Little man exploring the beach at Prestatyn
162 A must some Welsh crips
163 Little man taking tiny a walk

164 Little man and daddy exploring the sand dunes
165 A winning Thomas
166 Chocolate


TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Picnic Treats

I love picnics and i am always on the look out for new ideas to pop in our picnic basket so when Unilever got in touch asking if i would like to take part in their picnic challenge i was keen to sign up.

As part of the challenge i was sent a lovely picnic hamper with goodies to use in my challenge so keen to steer away from sandwiches i came up with these little dishes:

Tortilla Chips:

Crisps and dips are one of my favourite snacking foods, and this is a slight twist on the packets of tortilla crisps.

I simply cut up Tortilla wraps into triangles and placed in the deep fryer for a few minutes until they were crispy and golden in colour.Once cool they are perfect for dipping into a range of sauces.

Tortilla Chips


Chicken and Mango Pasta Salad:

1 cooked Chicken breast
1 red pepper
1 tomato
50g pasta shapes.
2 tablespoons of Colemans sweet chilli and mango sauce

Boil pasta and leave to cool
Diced chicken breast, tomato and pepper and add the mango and chilli sauce and mix.
Mix the pasta with chicken and mango sauce.

Chicken and Mango pasta

The chicken and mango sauce mix is also ideal for filling a tortilla wrap

Chocolate Scones:

Scones are a lovely picnic treat so  i decided to mix it up a little and try my hand at making some chocolate versions.

4oz Self Raising flour
1oz Cocoa Powder
1oz Flora Buttery
1oz Caster Sugar
2 fl oz milk

Mix the flour and cocoa and rub in the butter
Add the sugar and milk and mix to a dough
Roll the dough out and using cutters cut dough into rounds
Place on a greased baking tray and cook on 190 for 20mins

To served i added some whipped cream.


Chocolate Scones

 I was sent a hamper of goodies to create my picnic challenge recipes



Saturday, 8 June 2013

Project 365 Days 153- 159

 153- Feeding ducks
154- A huge cupcake treat
155- Little man sat in a box drawing 

 156- Rainbow rice play for the boys
157- Ice cold refreshments for mummy
158- Tiny playing in the moon sand

159-  Tiny cuddling up and falling asleep on me


TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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