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The following lines, which I met with in a poem composed some years since, may serve for an Introduction to the history of this place:. Of all the elogies at which I aim, Antiquity does the precedence claim, By me, with order, and with air inspir'd, The oldest glories shall be first admir'd. Thetford , thy age shall introduce my rhymes, I honour all thy joys in ancient times, And wish thee happy, in what now appears The relicts of above a thousand years.

Next, I congratulate thy charming site, Fit for accommodation and delight, On Ousa's banks conveniently placed, With all her troops of wanton Naiads graced, No situation but may envy thee, Holding such intimacy with the sea, Many do that, but my delighted muse Says, Neptune's fairest daughter is the Little Ouse.

Thus, Sitomagus , I take it, is no more than the city or habitation of the Senones or Sitones , upon the Ford , which induced the Saxons to keep its old name, only varied in their language into Deodford or Deodford Now Deod signifies Deod gens, populus , or provincia , and so the signification is much the same as the old name of Sitomagus , viz.

From Deod and Deodford , it came to Tedford , and Tetford , which last name it had in the Conqueror's time, ted being the natural abbreviation of deod and tet of deor About Henry the First's time, it was commonly written Tefford , and about Henry the Third's, generally Theford , and so continued till about Henry the Eighth's time, and indeed I much question if this might not be its proper name, without any further search; divide the word, and you will find it The-Ford , by way of eminence, the inlet into Norfolk ; as it always was.

Indeed, the present name hath prevailed for some time, occasioned, I suppose, by the invention of the new name of the river, from which they would have the place called. But upon the whole, I am of opinion, whether you will have it the city of the Sitones on the Ford , or the Ford of the People , or The-Ford , by way of eminence, it is much the same thing; and thus far as to my thoughts of its present and ancient names.

But least I should be thought to have explained the word Sitomagus in my own way, without any authority, I could not omit inserting a letter wrote to the Earl of Arlington , by the learned Dr. Plot , upon this subject, which, I believe, will not be thought impertinent by my judicious readers. My Lord, It being your pleasure to intimate, when I had first the honour to wait on your Lordship, that you would gladly know somewhat of the ancient Sitomagus , now Thetford , near your magnificent seat at Euston , I thought it my duty to interpret your Lordship's desire as no less than a command, that I should search not only the ancient but modern writers, concerning it, and then to give your Lordship the best account I could.

Nor groundlessly with Isacius Pontanus , to run up so high as the first ages of the world, and derive it from the Hebrew magon , which says he signifies habitationem vel habitationis locum , or with Goropius Becanus and Skinner , to fetch it from the German mac, whence the word machen, facere , and whence the things made were called magen, all which seems to refer to the building of houses; with whom agrees Beatus Rhenanus, "Magum, priscis Gallis, domum significasse.

To avoid and pass by, I say, all such trifling etymologies, and proceed upon surer grounds than such mere fancies of the brain, without foundation in the things themselves, I thought fit, my Lord, to search out all, or most of, the cities and towns, as well in the neighbouring nations to us, as here at home, whose ancient names did terminate in magus or magum, and then consider their antiquities, situations, whether fortified or no, their initial differential titles, preceding the common one of magus, and other accidents attending, from which I thought might be raised much more probable conjectures.

Secondly, as to the antiquity of the places, that had these terminations, I find them, to have been long before the coming of the Romans into these western parts of the world, though it be also true, that the Romans did make use of them afterwards, as will appear anon. For had this termination been brought in by them, or at all used by them, before their coming this way, we should certainly have had towns in the heart of Italy of the same name in great plenty, whereas we find but two, and those in Gallia Italica , Bodincomagus and Camillomagus that ever enjoyed it.

Thirdly, for the situations, I find them all upon rivers, and most, if not all, upon the most fordable places, as indeed it seems but necessary, that all cities should be, before the building of bridges and boats, all passengers being absolutely obliged to flock to such places, where they might either wade through themselves, or upon the backs of cattle.

Fourthly, to have been fenced for the most part, with ancient works cast up, and to have had the reputation of strong holds. First, that the people of Germany, Gaul , the Alpine countries, and part, at least, of Britain , were originally but one nation, of one language, viz.

Cambden , and after him, Mr. Burton , are of the same opinion, both of them citing Pliny's authority, which had I found true, I should gladly enough have closed with them: Now which of these conjectures concerning the signification of magen comes nearest to truth, is wholly left to your Lordship's judg ment, the magus enquired after answering all the three; first, being situate on a ford , as its present name imports; secondly, there remaining now a high mount, fenced with a double rampier, and as report goeth, fortified in ancient times with walls; and thirdly, having been a large city, and an episcopal see.

But as for the city Sitomagus , I take it either to have received its name from some other foreign city of the same denomination, forgotten and lost, or else from a colony of people themselves, that lived formerly among cities of that termination, who might plant themselves here, and give their city the name of Sitomagus. In the Military Tables of Conrad Pentinger , perhaps more truely written, Sinomagus , or Senomagus , from themselves, being a colony of the ancient Senones of Gaul , whose capital city was Senonorum Civitas , now Sens in Champayne ; or that the name Sitomagus should seem more agreeable as to its.

And thus, my Lord, I have given you my thoughts concerning your neighbouring town, Sitomagus , and of all others of the same termination, wherein, if I have not satisfied your Lordship's judgment, yet if I have given your Lordship any diversion, or but shewed my readiness to serve your Lordship, either of these will appear abundant satisfaction to your Lordship's most faithful and most obedient servant, Rob.

As to this town's not being the ancient Sitomagus , as some authors have lately advanced, one placing it at Wulpit in Suffolk , another at Wymondham in Norfolk , and another, as I am informed, never having seen the work, not so much as mentioning the name of Thetford at all in his whole book, I must observe the reasons that convince me that this was the Sitomagus , and no other. And first, the unanimous consent of most, if not all writers, till these appeared, is to me no small argument; next, the natural deduction of its name, which I have spoken of before.

In the third place, the coins and Roman fortifications which are still visible. And in the last place, the agreement in the Itinerary , as to the distance, being so exact, it being from Thetford to Norwich 30 measured miles, wanting one quarter, by the wheel, and I presume, carry your road, as in this case must be done, down to Castor by Norwich , as it is now called for distinction sake, and you will find it not half a mile over or under the complement of the Itinerary , which says, that Sitomagus is 31 miles distant from the Venta Icenorum , which all mankind formerly placed at this Castor , and not at Castor by Yarmouth , which, in my opinion, is altogether impossible, as I hope to make out when I come to treat of that place.

Neither am I certainly convinced that this Castor was the Venta Icenorum , though there are several reasons, I own, to induce me to think so, but there are also as many to incline me to imagine it might be at another place in this county: In the next place, then, let us see where the Romans , at their coming, found this city of Sitomagus placed, and in what condition it is likely to be, before, and during the time they possessed it.

As to the first, without doubt that ancient city was wholly on the Suffolk side of the river, and was not then fortified; but after the Romans once settled here, they, according to their wise custom, made it a place of some strength, by enclosing it with an intrenchment, and making two fortresses, one at each end of the city; the first, close by that ford , or most frequented passage over the river, from whence the city had its name, and the other, at the western extremity of the city, to guard another ford that was the passage for that end of it, both which fortresses, and great part of the intrenchment or city ditch, are very visible at this time, and plainly discover to us its extent and situation during the Romans possession of it.

The ford from whence it derives its name, is the place now called the Nuns Bridges , where the great Roman way crossed directly through the Market-street end, up to Kilverstone , it being not only, before that part of the town was built, but long before the present Castle-Hill through the ramparts of which the present road passes was thrown up; directly upon this ford , as Mr. Salmon rightly observed, is the first of the afore-mentioned fortresses, or military agger , as he properly calls it, which comes very near the river, and hath the site of St.

George's nunnery on its east side: From this fortress the intrenchment, in all probability, went up to that field in which a windmill lately stood, but is now removed, and enclosing that field, crossed the London road, and so met that large intrenchment or ditch which runs directly down to the second castle, aforementioned, now called Red-Castle , or more probably, as sometimes spelled RedeCastle.

Here is a plain fortress, its rampart and ditch being still perfect. This entirely guarded the other ford , which to this day is called Dichenford , that is, the ford at the dic, ditch , or intrenchment ; and it being plain that the road on the other side of the river was never a very large one, there being no appearance of its ever being so, shew me clearly that this was not the ford that gave the city its name, but only a convenient passage for the inhabitants of that part of it.

The castle, for so I may venture to call it, in strict speaking, was certainly built in the middle of the present intrenchment, and whether it received its name from the red colour of the bricks it might be adorned with, or whether it is more properly Rede Castle , from its being situated by a low place, that abounded with reeds , to which the situation corresponds, I cannot determine; but certain I am, that it was standing long since, either the time of the Romans or Danes , as I am convinced, by what Mr.

Thomas Martin , the curious searcher of the antiquities of this place found, when he dug here, viz. Holyoke , in his Dictionary rightly explains it, it was, " Loculus, in quo caro defuncti consumitur ;" the loculus or coffin that the body was consumed or burned in; and indeed I believe that such stone chests as are sometimes, but rarely, found, were not used by the Romans , as many imagine, but rather by the Danes , after they had got footing in this isle; and what induces me to think so is, because what few have been found of that make, are in such places where it is well known they had settled themselves; now this being of the common shape, we must infer that it was buried in the chapel within the castle walls, which was a very small one, as the foundations shew us, since the time, not only of the Romans , but the Danes also.

Though I am apt to conclude, that in this very place, before the light of the Gospel shone here, there had been some religious rites paid to the heathen gods by way of sacrifice, as the many bones of beasts which were found three feet deeper than the coffin, discover to us. I am very sensible it must seem strange to most people, that there should be no remains of the walls of this castle above ground, or that there should be no memorial left of the time when it was thus levelled.

All this may be; but if I may give a guess at the reason of it, it will not only shew us why there are no walls left, but also when they were thus destroyed; and then, considering the time, I believe, most people will wonder that the hills themselves should not have been as much decayed and ploughed down, as those of the other castle are, considering there was nothing to hinder it.

I may add also, that it is not unlikely, when this part decayed, by the town's passing the river, but that the bishop's mansion, and the cathedral church of the Holy Trinity , with other parish churches, chapels, and religious places, might be built out of them, this being the only way that I can account for there being no ruins to be seen of any buildings at all, that exceed the Conquest.

And I must own I am at some loss to conceive how the churches that were in this part, such as St. And now, in the next place, let us consider at what time the Romans seem to have come and settled here. Indeed it appears to me that it was very early, because the coins found here are chiefly those of the largest size, and of the oldest emperors. Or Britons yet untouch'd in chains should come To grace thy triumph through the streets of Rome.

By this defeat of the Iceni , other states, then wavering, were settled: And thus having given you the best account I am capable of concerning this city during the time of the Romans , I shall only add to this head, an account of some few coins I have now before me, that were found here. The first was given me, it being one only of a great number that were sold to a brazier for old brass, of whom I had it. The word Caesar being so very plain, made him take it from the rest, which were not so plain as this; it is of the largest size, and very fair, the circumscription this,.

The reverse is a womau standing upright, holding her gown with one hand, and her other arm is held straight out; but it is so imperfect just in that place, that I cannot presume to say whether it is a crown or no that she holds; the circumscription is, SPES AVGVSTAE, and under her feet, S. This coin, as I take it, was struck by decree of the Senate , at the Empress's request, when he had conquered the Iceni , in the aforementioned battle, in hope of a continuance of the good fortune he had already met with.

But as I shall have occasion very often to mention the inscriptions on Roman coins, it will not be amiss once for all to explain these several titles of the emperors that we meet with, upon most of them, and this I cannot do so well as I find it already done to my hand by the learned Cambden , and his judicious translator, whose words I beg leave to make use of: For by virtue of this authority, if any one gave them ill language, or offered them any violence, he was to be put to death without a hearing, as a sacrilegious person.

They mostly renewed this Tribunitian power every year, and some of them by it computed the years of their reign; at last, they were called Emperors , because their empire was most large and ample , and under that name was couched both the power of Kings and Dictators. And they were styled Emperors as often as they did any thing very honourable either in person or by their generals.

The reverse is a Roman , holding a spear in one hand, and raising his other in a dictating posture, with an angel or good genius at his back, and this round it, S. And under the effigies, S. This, I suppose, was struck after the revolt of the Britons from this Emperor, when he had brought them to their former obedience, the reverse seeming to intimate, if I mistake not, that by his good fortune that there attends him, he was still to dictate and give laws to the subdued people.

This is n the collection of Mr. I have seen several imperfect ones of Vespatian, Domitian , and Trajan , but the name only being legible, I omit taking any further notice of them. This is in my own collection; but the next is in Mr. Thomas Martin's , the word Antoninvs only being legible, though the face is very perfect, as is the reverse, which seems to be a woman, in the Roman dress, holding a spear in one hand, and making a libation upon an altar, but the circumscription is imperfect; it might be struck about the year of Christ , and the reverse may be, the Genius of the Romans offering to their gods, for their good fortune in subduing the Brigantes , who had then risen against them, as Speed informs us.

The other three, though I think they were found here, yet not being positively certain, I shall take no notice of. And here it will not be amiss to add my thoughts, how these coins came here, and what use they were of, during the Roman government. Romane on That is, "This year [] the Romans gathered together all their goldhoards money and treasure which were in Britain , and some they hid in the earth, that no man might afterwards find it, and some they carried with them into France.

If they buried their treasure at their departure, where so likely, as at their camps and cities? And how, or to what purpose can pots full of their coins, which are often found, be supposed to be buried, unless this way? I know some will urge that these coins were scattered and buried to continue the Roman name, after they had left us, and that they were not current money, but struck in memory of the exploits of that great people; but give me leave to ask them, did they bury these pots, their altars, their gods, their valuable things of gold and silver, for this purpose?

Or is it to be supposed, that that knowing people would have sown coins of gold and silver, many of which we find, when brass and copper would serve that turn as well? No, give me leave to say, I have greater notions of the policy of the Roman state, and rather believe, that when Alarick took Rome , and Honorius recalled Victorinus's army, that the Britons took up arms, and at once shook off the Roman yoke, which caused such a general consternation among them, that rather than let their treasures fall into their enemies hands, they buried them immediately, not choosing to attempt to carry them away, for fear of having them taken from them; though it seems they did carry away great part of their gold and silver coin, which was most portable, into France , because we find few of those metals, in comparison to the number of brass and copper ones, of which we may suppose there was originally a greater number coined than of the other.

And as to those that will not allow them to be current money, I should be glad to see them produce their reasons for their assertion: I really believe they were all current, except the medallions , and sometimes I think I need not except them, and my reasons for it are these, because we may observe, the different sizes, and consequently the values, are all regular, and some so small, we cannot conceive them for any other use but for money only, as the as, semis, triens, quadrans, sextula , and such like, it being impossible that any body would pretend to strike such small things, to perpetuate any great exploit, they being so liable to be worn out and lost, and come to nothing; and had it not been for burying of them, I believe fewer had now been to be seen than there are.

And had these laws been received by all nations to this day, there are many would have made a far better figure in history by their coins, than by any other remains that we have now left us. It may reasonably be supposed, that the Christians enjoying much tranquillity in Britain , under this truly pious Emperor, who published an edict against their accusers, began to build places for Christian worship in his reign, and it is not to be thought but they erected them in cities, and the most frequented places; and if so, no doubt but they had some in this large city, though I confess there are no remains that I know of, nor yet any account of it, so that it amounts to nothing more than a reasonable conjecture.

The Britons being ruined of all their strength, by the Romans continual carrying off their youth, and now abandoned by their garrisons, which alone could have supported the declining state, fell into miserable confusions, and terrible calamities, occasioned by the barbarians invasions on one hand, and the tumultuous factions of her own great men on the other, striving for the supreme government, every one being for usurping it to himself; and thus as Ninius tells us they lived forty years in fear and affliction.

Vortigern , who was then king, fearing attacks from such Romans as remained here, and from the Picts and Scots , and troubled with the opposition of Aurelius Ambrosius , who survived his slain parents, that had worn the imperial robe, sends for the Saxons out of Germany to his assistance, who were called in as friends, but proved indeed the greatest enemies, for after the event of several battles, they dispossessed the poor Britons of the most fruitful part of their country, and ancient inheritance, as Cambden , from Gildas , informs us.

Now, agreeable to this account which all authors gives us, we are informed by John Brame , a monk of this place, in his manuscript History in Bennet College Library, in Cambridge , that one Rond , a valiant man of this city, who flourished in the time of King Vortigern , seeing the Roman forces withdrawn and gone, and the remaining Romans sluggish and inactive, and perceiving Vortigern and his army fully employed against the Picts and Scots , he thereupon usurped the supreme government of this city, and became King thereof; and it seems not unlikely but the inhabitants might be well satisfied with it, especially if he was as popular as he seems valiant, for he did not continue idle, when he had got the government, but endeavoured immediately either to gain or subdue his neighbours, and bring them under his power, which was no bad policy, as things then were, because, by so doing, he made himself and people the stronger to resist the approaching invasions of the Saxons.

Norfolk and Suffolk , of all which when Hengist was entirely possessed, he let the King have his liberty. Then began Hengist's reign over Kent , in the year , who gave the other provinces to his generals that had assisted him in his enterprises.

And thus this city came into the Saxons hands, of whose first landing and progress it will not be amiss to take some observations from divers authors, who, though they often disagree as to time, yet agree well as to matters of fact. In the year , the Saxons called over by Vortigern first entered this land, under the conduct of Hengist and Horsa , two brethren, who raised their reputation so much among the Britons , by beating the Scots and Picts in two engagements, that they too much trusted to their management, who being pleased with the country, determined to make themselves masters of it, and in order thereto, under pretence of manning the frontier garrisons, and diverting the enemy on the sea coast, sent to the Angles for more assistance, who got together an army out of three provinces in Germany, viz.

The Jutes had only Kent and the Isle of Wight ; the Saxons had three kingdoms, the East, West , and South Saxons , which were but of narrow bounds, if compared with the large dominions of the Angles , who were the most numerous of the three nations that came over, as well as the most valiant, for they erected three of the largest kingdoms, viz. Edmund's-Ditch on the West , but Holinshed vol. Edmund's-Ditch , which I believe was its boundary; and that that part of Cambridgeshire on this side the Ditch did belong to the East-Angles.

I make no doubt but Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire were part of the Roman Iceni , but cannot think, with Mr. Cambden , that they were included at first in the kingdom of the East-Angles , though they might be afterwards, for Sammes fol. Uffa, one of the three principals of the Angles , first united into one kingdom, and took the government thereof, in the year of our Lord , and settled at Sitomagus , the prosperity and grandeur of which city is allowed by all authors to be owing to the Saxon kings making it the metropolis of their kingdom of the East-Angles , by placing their chief residence there; and it was now that its new masters gave it the then new name of [Deodford], or Theodford ; and from this time was this royal city continually increasing in its greatness and glory, though labouring again under the dark clouds of paganism, and heathenish worship, which her heathen king had wholly introduced.

I meet with no further account of the acts of Uffa , but that he reigned about seven years, and then left his kingdom to his son,. Titulus, who began his reign in the year ; and though we find no mention of his acts, we must suppose his days were not quietly spent in the infancy of his new-erected kingdom, which he governed 20 years, having his chief residence here; he lived and died a heathen, and left his kingdom to his son,.

Redwald, the greatest of all the East-Anglian kings, and the first that embraced Christianity, from which he afterwards apostatized; he was a warlike prince, and conquered Ethelfrid King of Northumberland ; and it is to be observed of this kingdom, above all others, that in its first appearance in history, we find its full proportion, contrary to others, which were raised by degrees only. At first he was tributary to Ethelbert King of Kent , and served him as a viceroy over all his dominions, and managed so well, that at the death of that potent king he became monarch of the Englishmen , and had all his neighbours at his disposal, so that now this city was not only the seat of the East-Anglian king, but the metropolis of all the Saxon government; but he resided not here only, for Rendlesham in Suffolk was another of his palaces, which place, if we may credit history, received its present name from him; he was baptized in Kent , it seems more in compliance to Ethelbert , than persuasion of the truth of the Christian religion; but yet he was not, like many now-a-days, for rejecting all, but, on the contrary, that he might be sure on one side or other, he erected, in the same temple, an altar for the service of Christ, and another for burnt sacrifices for his idols.

He reigned monarch eight years, King of the East-Angles thirty-one, and died, according to Speed , in the year Erpenwald, his younger son, his elder brother, who was a strict Christian, being slain by a heathen, succeeded in the kingdom of the East-Angles , and was the first king of this province that openly professed the Christian faith, at the friendly exhortation of Edwine King of Northumberland , at which his subjects were much angry, and employed a pagan ruffian, named Richebert , or Rochbert , who murdered him, and thus he fell a martyr to the faith of Christ, after he had reigned twelve years; and leaving no issue, was succeeded by.

Sigebert, the son of Redwald's second wife, and half brother to the deceased king, whose father-in-law's jealousies caused him to retire into France , where he instructed himself in good learning, and became a sound professor of the Christian faith; at his return, he brought with him one Felix , a Burgundian , his great acquaintance, and made him Bishop over his whole dominions.

In the year , according to the Saxon Chronicle , he was ordained by Honorius Archbishop of Canterbury , and placed his episcopal see at Dommoc , or Dunwich , in Suffolk , a place then of great reputation, and strongly fortified, but not sufficient to withstand the raging ocean, which hath wholly devoured the city, and very near all its suburbs.

This Sigebert was the first that introduced the custom of France , to have publick schools; for sending for teachers out of Kent , he settled a place of teaching, generally thought to be the University of Cambridge , says Sammes.


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