Friday Base Camp Music™ – Songs To The Summit

…with the alternative title of “Peeing your way to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro”.

Why that, now? Well, altitude sickness is your main enemy up there – and drinking lots and lots and having it come out the natural way again flushes some CO2 out of your system and so helps avoid the problems. Luck and genetics probably have a big hand, too.

My wife had a bout of the sickness when we first reached 4600 m at Lava Tower in dreadful weather – wind and hail. Altogether, she had two tough afternoon hikes on the way to Barafu camp – the base camp. But she fought through them and earned a lot of creds and respect from our guide and porter team.

The other main secret in getting there: Pole Pole. That’s Swahili for “slow slow”. And that is necessary! 

I didn’t get hit by the altitude until very shortly before Stella Point on the final leg up. But at the top, I had a pounding headache, some nausea and for a short while saw double of everything. Exactly as our guide had said: you may feel like you just had 500 beers. And the summit hike was brutal, hard, long, and cold – we started out with head lamps and max. warm clothes. But thanks to our two brilliant guides on the mountain, Joseph and William from Zara Tours, we got there. And right in time for the sunrise, too!

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But there in the tent, I collected energy for what was to be the 6.5 hour hike up –

Heroes – David Bowie

Waiting for Dawn – Sinne Eeg

The Healer – John Lee Hooker / Carlos Santana

Love Me Two Times – Joan Jett

Ain’t No Cure For Love – Leonard Cohen

As Long As You Follow – Fleetwood Mac

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Thursday Motorway Music™, January 21 – A Thought On Seeing What’s Around You

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OK, so I couldn’t help sneaking an extra one in…

I was sitting in traffic this morning – not too bad, but still quite a lot of cars with quite a lot of people inside them. And the few I caught a look of seemed to be all the same – just staring ahead, plodding along.

OK, I’ll give you that they might just have been doing what my driving instructor was telling me all those years ago: “keep you eyes on the bloody road!” (or words to that effect – he was a small and wiry and relatively colourful character). But what I was wondering was – don’t they see the mesmerising would around them?

This morning was cold – some news outlets have it as, countrywide, the coldest in three years. -11°C when I got in the car. But – it was beautiful!

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All these people. (I was tempted to say “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” but that reference seemed a little too tacky). How many of them saw the gradient from yellow to still dusk-gray and blue out in the horizon? With the birches lovely silhouetted against the light?

 

2016-01-21 08.45.26How many of them  saw the smoke or steam or what it was coming billowing out of a chimney at the industrial site along the motorway, catching the light from the sun still hidden below the buildings, making it an odd gray-and-orange luminous weird mushroom? Or the silver streak of airplane contrails up in a sky otherwise blue and golden?

And, when I’d parked the car, how many of my colleagues would have walked to their respective buildings with their head down in the cold instead of looking up and seeing the top of the birch transformed by the sunlight?

I’m afraid that I’m the odd one out here. But happy that I am. Because Nature offers so much for us to take in and have a much better start to the day with. And, in the words of Metallica along the way, Nothing Else Matters.

Hotblooded – Roxette
A.D. 1928; Rockin’ the Paradise – Styx
Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, January 18 – Going to go off the grid!

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Lovely weather yesterday: very wintery all of a sudden and in great contrast to the unusually warm December. We had -8°C or so, no wind and sunshine. Love it!

We spent the afternoon with family and took a walk towards the end of the day. Beautiful sky with a little cloud to perfectly show the colours from the setting sun. Red healthy-looking cheeks all around on our return!

And all that will be very different to the next three weeks – we’re leaving the kids to man the fort at home while we’ll be heading to Africa. Wildlife and nature to gawk at and enjoy with all senses, an interlude with sea and beach, local culture to peruse – and a 5890 m high mountain to hike up. Yep, we’ll be taking at go at the Kilimanjaro. Anyone want to keep fingers crossed, the 30th will be the day – with our sincere thanks.

So it’ll be a while before I post major things here again in the “regular” columns. But here’s to hoping that I can sneak in a photo or two on a wi-fi connection along the way…

See ya’ :)

 

2-4-6-8 Motorway – Tom Robinson Band
At The Hop – Danny & The Juniors
Roadhouse Blues – The Doors
Total Eclipse of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler
Dansevise – Lars H.U.G.
Bring Me Some Water – Melissa Etheridge
Too Much Time On My Hands – Styx

Photo by me.
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Cobblestone Cooking Music XXIII – (almost) Sole with Soul

Natural history of the animal kingdom for the use of young people Brighton :E. & J.B. Young and Co.,1889. http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/91187

Natural history of the animal kingdom for the use of young people
Brighton :E. & J.B. Young and Co.,1889.
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/91187

Well, it wasn’t sole. Plaice took it’s place…

(Yeah, I know. Sorry. It’s Friday and I’ve had a caipirinha. And wine… ;) )

  • Lionel Richie, Do It To Me
  • Barry White, Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby

Anyway, I had this fish in the fridge, caught in the freezer yesterday. And the thought was to do it rather traditionally by breading and pan frying. But first the, equally traditional, cooked potatoes were swept aside for sliced and roasted and then the limes in the caipirinhas demanded some attention – so I decided to have a wee experiment.

  • Kool & The Gang, Cherish
  • Dennis Edwards, Don’t Look Any Further
    (which I so far only knew in the M People version)

The plaice fillets were marinated for 20-30 minutes in orange and lime juice along with some decent olive oil and salt and pepper. Some of the peel was cut very thinly off the fruits (you want to avoid the white stuff underneath the colour – it’s develishly bitter) and sliced very thinly and set aside along with as thinly cut carrot, cabbage (should have been spring onion) and parsley root (works well when you don’t have celeriac).

  • Ben E. King, Stand By Me
  • Linda Fields, Shame Shame Shame

Peeled and sliced potato went on a medium hot pan – those are clearly the most time consuming thing here. Takes probably 20 minutes if not more to get them soft in the middle and brown and crispy on the outside. Once they’re about done, salt them well and sprinkle with parsley (nope, the one in the greenhouse is frozen down) or thyme.

  • Teddy Pendergrass, Love T.K.O.
  • The Whispers, And The Beat Goes On

Get an inch or so of water going in a pot and some oil on a pan. The fish goes on first – 2-3 minutes on each side. Do not throw the marinade away! Once that’s frying away a bit, drop the fruit peel in the boiling water and after a minute, add the vegetables. After one more minute, drain and arrange on the plates that have magically materialised.

When the fish is done, lift them carefully off the pan and on to the plates. Pour the marinade on the pan, get it boiling and then add a spoonful or two of creme fraiche. Bring to a boil, stir and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over fish and vegetables.

  • The Spinners, It’s A Shame
  • Roberta Flack, Killing Me Softly With His Song

Serve at once, either adding the potatoes to the plates or have them on the pan on the table to self-serve from (keeps them warmer).

Went rather well with a light, fresh Pinot Grigio.

Bon appetit – and happy cooking out there!

PS: And I must get better at remembering to shoot some photos… And you have to admit that the music really was soul!

Photo courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library on Flickr.
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Thank you, gracias, merci, Спасибо

  

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Some travelling getting in the way of posting these days…

   
   

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Jeg er træt af at blive skåret over én kam! Et svar om ikke at være religiøs.

[Danish-centric, a debate-post sparked by articles in Danish newspapers over the holidays about atheists vs religiousness]

Her i jule- og nytårsdagene er der jo dejlig meget tid til at læse aviser og debatindlæg og den slags. Det vil sige – hvor dejligt, det lige har været, er jeg blevet i tvivl om efter at have læst et par af de religions-debatterende indslag. Skrevet af nogle af dem, som er religiøse og står ved det – og lad mig skynde mig at understrege på det allerkraftigste, at dét har jeg intet imod og intet at sige på – er der et par indlæg, som lader til at være enige om i hvert fald ét: dem der, som ikke er religiøse, de er godt nok nogen klaphatte.

Eller, det er sådan set værre end det…

“Jeg er tilhænger af håb og visioner, og særligt når de er gjort af en støbning, der er værd at bygge på. Herunder historien om Jesusbarnet i en verden, der vendte kærligheden ryggen.

Hvordan man ikke kan tro på det, er mig ærlig talt en gåde i et samfund, hvor pengemagten og egennytten for længst har affortryllet både virksomheder, velfærd og åndsliv. Kan det betale sig?” Kresten Schultz Jørgensen, politiken.dk, 27/12 2015.

– og –

“Nej, men til gengæld tegn på stor åndelig tomhed, en tomhed, der ikke bliver fyldt ud af noget i hans velfærdsdanske omgivelser. Her regnes alt jo for stort lige godt og lige meget, og man får at vide, at man kan gøre alt, hvad man vil, hvis det bare føles rigtigt. Men praler med andre ord af, at der ikke for alvor er noget, der hedder alvor.” Katrine Winkel Holm, Politiken, 2/1 2016.

Ok, godt så. Som en, der er gået fra i mange år bare at være ikke-troende – hvorfor jeg for eksempel i 15-års alderen forsagede en stor fest med masser af materielle gaver og ikke lod mig konfirmere – til på det senere at være en ganske aktivt debatterende ateist, ja så er jeg åbenbart optændt af pengebegær, helt fokuseret på egen gevinst og fløjtende ligeglad med, hvad der er vigtigt og alvorligt her i verden.

Kære Kresten og Katrine – ikke alene kan jeg overhovedet ikke genkende mig selv i de beskrivelser, jeg er både hamrende uenig i dem og egentlig mere end en lille smule fornærmet over at blive skoset sådan. Af en god håndfuld grunde – lad mig prøve at få hold på et par af dem her.

1933394_1076202415755610_3712494904366427872_oFor at starte med det sidste: “Men praler med andre ord af, at der ikke for alvor er noget, der hedder alvor.” Det er jo rasende almindeligt at påstå, at folk uden religion heller ikke har noget af have moral, begreb om rigtigt og forkert, alvor og leg og den slags i. Det passer bare ikke!

Det Facebook-meme, jeg har gengivet her til højre opsummerer det egentligt meget godt. Hvis du har brug for en tusinde år gammel bog eller for enten trusler om en krank skæbne eller løfter om en himmelsk belønning for at udøve moralsk tænkning – er du så et moralsk menneske? Eller er det noget, du bare påtager dig, fordi sådan står det skrevet, at du skal?

Det handler dybest set om menneskets evne til at udvise empati. Peter Lund Madsen, en af rigets fremmeste forskere i hjernen, har talt og skrevet en hel del om den evne – og den udspringer, skal man tro ham, ikke af ordene i Bibelen eller Koranen, men i pandelapperne forrest i hjernen:

“Evnen til medfølelse sidder i frontallapperne (pandelapperne). Herfra udspringer vore sociale evner. Her skabes det substrat, der binder os sammen som mennesker. I frontallapperne skabes kulturens sammenholdskraft. Der er to egenskaber, der har sat os afgørende i front i forhold til de andre dyr. Den ene er sproget, og den anden er evnen til medfølelse. Det er evnen til medfølelse, der har gjort det muligt for os at opbygge kulturer baseret på komplekse samarbejdsaftaler.” Peter Lund Madsen, Den høflige narkoman, Sept 2012.

Så lad venligst være med at umenneskeliggøre ateister ved at påstå, at denne centrale hjernefunktion, den er vi sandelig ikke i besiddelse af. Jo vi er, og rigtigt mange af os gør brug af den. I vores eget lille hjørne af verden endda i en grad, at det ude i verden bemærkes, hvor overraskende godt vort samfund fungerer, taget i betragtning hvor sekulært det er og hvor få af os, som er religiøse.

Så er der den der med “i et samfund, hvor pengemagten og egennytten for længst har affortryllet både virksomheder, velfærd og åndsliv.” Undskyld mig? Affortryllet? Det kan godt være, at jeg ikke kan falde i svime over historierne i Bibelen – så gode er de altså heller ikke i min optik, selvom min far kaldte det “alletiders samling røverhistorier”. Men til gengæld kan jeg atter og atter forundres, begejstres og ja, fortrylles, over, hvad videnskaben formår at klarlægge for os.

Og selv da er det jo heller ikke sådan, at valget af videnskab, målbarhed og reproducerbarhed fremfor – lad mig bare sige det, som jeg mener det – overtro, vage himmelske begreber og religiøse bøger, hvorfra man bekvemt kun tager de bud, regler og begreber, som passer en, er et valg, som fratager mennesket evnen til at begejstres over litteratur, billedkunst, teater, film og musik.

Ude i verden er det vel oftere omvendt. Når de gale mennesker – for det mener jeg, at de er, uanset i øvrigt deres religiøse overbevisning – i Taleban og Daesh/ISIS forbyder musik og underholdning og springer kultur-minder i luften, så er det vel det stærkest mulige udtryk for, at det omvendte ligeså godt kan være sagen: at hvis man vil være meget ortodokst religiøs, så vil man helst ikke udfordres af kulturens evne til at bringe fantasi ind i vor verden. Så drop også lige den, be’ om.

I familien her er vi meget enige om ikke at være religiøse. Men vi kan enes lige så meget om, at kunsten og kulturen har en masse at byde på. Der er stort set ikke tider på døgnet, hvor musik ikke spiller et eller andet sted iblandt os. Der er læst tusindevis og atter tusindevis af sider i det her hus. Film og teater sluges i ganske godt og bredt omfang. Og inden nogen tror, at det sikkert bare er den poppede og lettere del af slagsen, så læses f.eks. Shakespeare i huset – og hele familien drager til Shakespeare 400-året i London i foråret og glæder sig i den grad til at begejstres – og, jo da, fortrylles! over jubilæumsforestillingen af Hamlet på The Globe. Så kulturformørkede og affortryllede? Niksen biksen!

I dagens Politiken (3/1) har Bertel Haarder og Jens Christian Grøndahl en noget mere balanceret og – lad os da bare sige det – høflig samtale på tværs af det her trosskel. En af de ting, de kan enes om, er, at vi herhjemme skal bygge på og forlange opbakning til de demokratiske værdier, ytringsfrihed og lighed for kvinder. Lige den sidste vil jeg gerne tage fat i.

Ikke fordi jeg er uenig – absolut ikke, det er og bliver en kerneværdi. Men fordi jeg har lettere ved at forestille mig, at lighed for kvinder kan blive til noget, hvis den baseres på en videnskabelig og “hvad kan vi konstatere” tilgang til tilværelsen end hvis den baseres på en kristen, Bibel-baseret livsanskuelse. Hvad er det, Bibelen siger om kvinder? Kvinder er urene dobbelt så længe, når de føder piger, som når de føder drenge? De skal tie i forsamlinger og underordne sig? Og så videre og så væk. Dét lyder ikke særlig meget af lighed for kvinder for mig, må jeg indrømme.

Og det leder mig så let og elegant over til en af mine favorit-anker over for religioner. Hvis man skal leve i et moderne samfund som det danske – som vi jo gå rundt og gør og i det store hele er glade for – så kan man efter min bedste mening ikke være kristen og bekende sig til hele Bibelen. Man er simpelthen nødt til at vælge en hel del af dens tekster fra – for vi har jo udviklet os, og det har samfundet også, og Reformationen og alt det der. Jamen derfor står de her ting der stadigvæk – og det er altså nu blevet det enkelte kristne menneskes ret at vælge og vrage i budskaberne efter behag. Undskyld, men det er sgu’ da relativisme, så det vil noget! Jeg føler mig fristet til at gentage Katrine Winkel Holms ord – “man kan gøre alt, hvad man vil, hvis det bare føles rigtigt”, i hvert fald når det som kristen gælder, hvilke dele af Bibelen, som har relevans…

Det bliver en anden dag, jeg opremser mine andre årsager til at jeg mener, at religion, sådan populært sagt, er noget skrammel. Men for at slutte ordentligt, så vil jeg gerne nok engang pointere, at jeg under Katrine Winkel Holm og Kresten Schultz Jørgensen og alle mulige andre for den sags skyld retten til at være religiøse. Jeg tænker ikke hverken mere eller mindre om dem af den grund. Og jeg postulerer heller ikke, at det gør dem til den ene eller den anden slags mennesker, til at have den ene eller den anden opfattelse med meget mere.

Jeg står ved, at jeg gerne kritiserer den religion, de bekender sig til. Men det er fordi jeg tror fuldt og fast på, at religioner – lige som alle mulige andre ide-systemer – må være rede på at tage imod kritik, på at lade sig diskutere og anfægte og, i det omfang de da kan, stå på mål for sig selv og svare for sig. Jeg kan ikke se nogen som helst grund til, at religioner – ene af alle – skulle sidde oppe på en piedestal og have helle.

Så hvis nogen vil tage en diskussion på et redeligt grundlag, så for min skyld gerne. Men lad da til en start være med at kald mig affortryllet og uden begreb om, hvad der er alvor.

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Cobblestone Cooking Music XXII – New Year’s Dessert (Yes, with Chocolate!)

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What happened to this post? I did write it on the 31st – but ran out of time to post it. Saved it from the iPad or so I believed. But zip, nada, rien was to be found the next day… Oh well, this allows me to tell a bit about the outcome, too :)

Anyway, first things first: Here’s a Happy New Year to all of you!

Once again, we’d drawn dessert in the planning – and at some point I decided to throw myself at the art of making chocolate fondant or, if you will, molten chocolate cake. 12 of them, in fact – they’re portion sized cakes.

  • Roxette, The Look
  • Tom Jones, Burning Down the House

 

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Chocolate ready for melting

Chop approx. 335 g good, dark chocolate (I used 70%) reasonably fine – no need to go overboard but big chunks on the other hand melt very slowly. Drop it in a metal bowl over a water bath and melt it together with a good 200 g of butter. You don’t want it very warm, only just melted (but on the other hand, all melted).

 

 

 

  • Katrina & The Waves, Walking on Sunshine
  • B-52s, Meet The Flintstones

 

2015-12-31 14.56.42

Chocolate and butter melting

 

Next, take 9-10 eggs depending on size and mix well with 330 of sugar using the hand mixer. Mix in 180 g of flour (I sieved it first, makes it a little easier).

Carefully mix in the chocolate/butter mix and pour into pre-oiled forms.

 

 

  • Toto, Stop Loving You
  • Melissa Etheridge, Piece of my Heart

Oh yeah, the forms. I had a piece of trouble there. Of course recipes would suggest either cake rings – a sort of professional tool that I haven’t invested in, yet – or cup cake paper forms. And the ones I could find were certainly too small – the cakes here were going to be something like 6 cm in diameter and about the same in height.

So I decided to make my own – barbeque-duty aluminium foil to the rescue. Took a roughly quadratic piece, folded it twice to a qudrant once again, only now four times thicker and shaped it over the bottom of a, by (my!) eye-measure, suitable glass. You can see them in the back of the chopped-chocolate picture further up.

  • John Fogerty, Who’ll Stop the Rain
  • Queen, Another One Bites The Dust

Brushed them with oil and carefully poured the mix into them. A tip – which I didn’t find necessary but actually might have enjoyed – is to use a pastry bag, the type also used for decorating. Then you can “squeeze” the mix into the forms. Looks very elegant when the pros do it on TV…

Stored them cold until we were done with the main course – there was a geographical shift involved as the New Year’s party was at friends on the parallel street a few hundred meters away. The put them into a oven pre-heated to 180°C. And while the recipe called for 8-10 minutes, it took a full 17 or 18 minutes. Nerve-wrecking! One guess is that the folded alu foil with some air trapped in between layers may have slowed baking?

  • Thin Lizzy, The Boys Are Back in Town
  • Tina Turner, We Don’t Need Another Hero

The thing with chocolate fondant is to catch them when they’re done – except for in the center. So you take them out, arrange them on plates – we had pre-poured a nice swirl of blackberry coulis while the cakes were baking – and serve. And when you cut the cake open with your fork, the center that is still not done comes flowing out. Soooo nice!

But even if it went slow, it went well – and went down well with a lovely port on the side, a Burmeister Colheita 1996, bottled in 2010 (as I recall).

  • Swan Lee, I Don’t Mind

Once again, have a Happy New Year – and happy cooking out there!

Top photo courtesy of Kevin Stuke on Flickr.
Stove top photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™ Dec 28 – An In-between Kind Of Monday

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The weather has been quite lousy the last few days – even if, still, unusually warm. We had loads of rain – and with that I’d like to send drying-out thoughts to the people in the UK who’ve apparently been flooded and, well, seem to have taken most of the rain out of the clouds before they flew over here. Even in Denmark, I understand that there were quite extraordinary amounts of rain in some areas leading to roads, even motorways, being temporarily closed.

The headline of course refers to the days between Christmas and New Year. A couple of days and then it’ll be 2016. May all of you have a good one! And I’d like to send it especially to those of you who’ve been at the mercy of bad weather – whether too wet, too dry or too windy.

Sign Your Name – Terence Trent d’Arby
Sheer Heart Attack – Queen
Eventyr for begyndere – TV-2
Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx

Photo by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™ Dec 21 – Winter Solstice aka Very Dark Time Of Year

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Today is the shortest day of the year in this hemisphere. For those of you who live a lot closer to the equator- which is quite easy to achieve – that doesn’t necessarily mean much. But up here quite far north, the angle to the sun means a very big difference between summer and winter in terms of daylight:

Sun up: 8:41 am. Sun down: 15:36 (3:36 pm). Day length: 6 hours 55 min.

Just short of 7 hours of day. Which makes the day 10 hours and 33 minutes shorter than the longest one in June. To save you from having to do the math – our longest day this summer was 17 hours 28 minutes… :)

2222_1046459640254_116_nSuch long days mean that the evenings are very light in Denmark at the height of summer. The photo here on the right is from a scouting summer camp some years back – probably shot some time between 23 (11pm) and Midnight. After sunset but still…

The picture at the top of the post is from last week sometimes – shot some 45 minutes after official sunset. The definition of sunset is actually not that sharp – “the time where the sun’s center or upper edge disappears under the horizon”. That still leaves some light in the sky – hence the beautiful colour gradient above:)

Even if it is not normally cold and snow-covered, however you look at it, Denmark is just dark in mid-winter.  Which is what is behind my favourite quote about Denmark and darkness –

Sober-faced Danes queue at the bus stop in the rain, which they do not flinch at, and it dawns on you that a daylong rain is not unusual, this is a North Atlantic winter. The sun won’t shine tomorrow, maybe not the next day. You have arrived in a land where Christmas means more than in, say, Barbados; it is the last outpost on the long grim trek toward spring. Dark gray sky at noon, dull brown brick all around, dead trees, broken glass in the gutter, and you, sorry you, your head like a sponge full of mud. At first you think it’s jet lag, and then you realize that everyone else feels this way too. Welcome to the birthplace of existentialism.
National Geographic, “Civilized Denmark”, July 1998.

And lastly: please, we have no polar bears in the streets – at least not in this part of the Danish kingdom. You’d have to go to Greenland – yes, that is Danish territory – for that.

Engang til – Sneakers
Rough Boy – ZZ Top
Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed – Matt Bianco
Get Over It – The Eagles
When A  Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge

Photo by me.
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