Holiday Food

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Latimer: After my study woes, I’m at last contemplating a holiday – and what’s one of the first things I dream about when I think of a holiday? Food, oh food; I am such a fan of food.

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I’m not a good cook, I try sometimes and I make a mean Kedgeree if I do say so myself, but I don’t try often enough to be considered ‘a good cook’.

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So it’s always a big thing for me, going on holidays and looking forward to eating some nice food!

When Ridley and I went to Tokyo, I was always putting out my hand before she could eat; “WAIT! I need to take a picture!” She got so used to this she’d actually wait sometimes, staring at me, holding her fork poised over the food… “Hurry up.”

I think the food-photo-taking started in Tokyo, but that trip was a major food event. There was so much yummy food to be had… and yes I have a food-porn collection as a result!  

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I also have nice photos of afternoon tea in London…

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I love taking my own photos of food (because it’s like you can then remember how tasty the food was) but I also like seeing other people’s food photos!

There is an amazing artist from deviantart (Jo aka cartoongirl7), that we now follow on Instagram and she takes some amazing food pictures – so amazing – check out her foody photos (she has seriously good taste mwhaha)! http://instagram.com/myrollingstar

Seriously, after the joy of actually going on holidays, food-joy is definitely next on my holiday joy list. I can’t wait to take lots of food photos on my next holiday 🙂

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Latimer watches… Spirited Away

I want my own Kohaku dragon... just like I wanted a Luck dragon... when will I get a dragon?!
I want my own Kohaku dragon… just like I wanted a Luck dragon… when will I get a dragon?!

Latimer: On Christmas Day, Spirited Away popped up on my television screen like the ghost of Christmas past. I paused in my chocolate-coma induced mindless channel hopping and smiled. It had been a long time since I saw Chihiro and Kohaku. Then I frowned remembering my fan-girl grudge against this movie.

It was the start of the movie and despite my grudge (which will become apparent), I decided this would be a nice movie to sit down and watch. On the first break, I went out to the kitchen to make some tea and about 30 minutes passed by – the Christmas Day time vortex appeared. It’s the weirdest day of the year where time speeds up; when even getting some tea manages to turn into twelve other things that zap all the time away.

I never got back to Spirited Away that day. But it popped up again recently, urging me to confront my grudge.

Jumping briefly into the ‘way-back machine’ of nostalgia, I remember when this movie came out (13 years ago this year). Spirited Away was the first anime I’d seen that had a proper Japanese feel to it; from the moment Chihiro and her family step into the spirit world town, you get immersed in the Japanese-ness of it all, the food, the mythology (radish spirit?! Really?! That’s cool…!)

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 Spirited Away was also the first anime I saw subbed (it was an extra on the DVD). I was a fool and turned up my nose and stuck with the English dubbed version at that point though (damn fool Latimer!).

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 I love the feel of Spirited Away, the view into Japanese culture and mythology.

Not sure what sort of spirit they are but they are kawaii ne?
Not sure what sort of spirit they are but they are kawaii ne?

The animation is wonderful too. There’s the wonderful, beauiful moment where Chihiro is crying, falling through the air with Kohaku, and her tears are breaking off the little mouse and bird.

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The story between Kohaku and Chihiro is so sweet and lovely… and well, that’s where my ‘grudge’ comes in….I always have this moment of sighing sadly at the end, when Chihiro leaves Kohaku…. I am a fan-girl, so of course I would be frowning at this!

The ending is a bit ambiguous; you can read what you like into it. Hayao Miyazaki (the creator of Spirited Away) said that Chihiro has lost her memories after leaving the spirit world.

This time, I watched it I came to my own conclusion (after, what 10 years or so? ha). When Chihiro leaves Kohaku, she asks, ‘will we meet again?’ and he promises that they will. And then she’s gone. I block out having read once that there’s one way of looking at this; Kohaku is a spirit and so, Chihiro will meet him again when she dies and becomes a spirit…

Okay, that’s too sad, so this is the way I choose to look at it! Kohaku also says in the subbed version that, ‘I’ll go back to my world’ – which means that the spirit world might not be his world after all. He saved Chihiro when she fell into the river when she was a child, so to me, it means he’s going back to being a river god – and where are the rivers – in Chihiro’s world (if he saved her before in her own world, then that’s the world he belongs in).

Got my fangirl mojo back!!
Got my fangirl mojo back!!

 As to memory loss… hmm, well she still has her magical hair tie in the end (which holds ‘everyone’s feelings’) – so I’m not worried about that 🙂 Thinking of this as the ending makes this ending nicer to me after all these years; I think I’m letting go of my grudge at last!

Ah, ambiguous endings – are they a pain or a pleasure?

Latimer watches… Shingeki no Kyojin

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Oh holy hell!

Latimer: I’m so behind the times! Like Ridley, I recently started watching Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan).Being a newbie to the show, I thought it’d be fun to document my initial thoughts as I watched the first 2 episodes!   

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Okay let’s go-go….!!

I just imagine the massive Titan looking over the wall and saying – “Hello dere!” All the Titans have faces that suggest they are about to say; “Hello dere!” instead of eating you. But in all seriousness, hell no would I still be alive in that world – as with zombie apocalypse I’m in the ‘first wave of non-survivors’!

HELLO DERE!
HELLO DERE!

I want one of the weapon rigs! Ah they’d be great – but I know I couldn’t use it properly!

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Well, I know it would all end badly for me!!

They have such a cool opening song!

This world looks very German, style-wise – I think it would be really cool to see this anime dubbed in German!

It really is suicide being a soldier in ‘Attack on Titan’!

Eren (the main character) said living behind the wall is like; “living like livestock for the Titans” – hmm, yup, that about sums it up all right!

Okay so there’s different soldier ‘corps’, with different crests – like Hogwarts houses… err… not really… well sort of; survey corps = Gryffindor (bravery); military police = Slytherin (smart, stay inside, let the Gryffindors do the hard graft :))… and garrison = Hufflepuff (who knows what you really do – who knows?!).

So the survey corps came back after their ‘trip’ (ha, their mini-break!) beyond the wall. There’s a guy with bandages around his mouth, ekk! Lots of soldiers were eaten; oh… one of the commanding officers is handing a bundle back to a crying mother…

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Jaysus… it’s…. an arm?! What…!

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God Eren, I’ve been here in your world 5 minutes and I don’t want to leave the walls (the outside world be damned I tell you, it’s not worth it! Sand and the sea, it’s not that impressive!). Why do you want to go outside Eren, you’re crazy!

Whooh, a big Titan just appeared (looking over the wall… ‘hello dere’)

Oh noo, he destroyed the wall, other Titans are coming in and eating people….. oh it’s on! IT’S ON!

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My immediate thought to describe Titans – “leering grins and naked arses!” I know all you people looked, they are giant naked people (where do your eyes go first?)!

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I love how in animes (this used to happen in Bleach too) there’s always cool-looking baddies (the big Colossal and Armoured Titans in this case; they are the important ones), and then there are the weirdest, oddest, bubble-headed, comical-looking strange ones, that you know the artist was like; “Bored now! Bring on the weird!”

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Hello dere!!
In all seriousness, you'd initially have to laugh if you saw this guy THEN scream and cry and run....
In all seriousness, you’d initially have to laugh if you saw this guy THEN scream and cry and run….

Ah, Eren’s house was crushed by stone from the wall – his mam is stuck under the house!

She told them to run away and save themselves (a Titan is coming!). I’d have asked them to kill me before they ran away – “I’m doing you guys a solid by letting you go; the least you could do is kill me before you run away!” (I don’t want to be eaten by a giant).

I wonder will Eren eventually befriend a Titan and that’ll be the turning point… – Oh holy hell… no he won’t!

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Hannes the soldier – running away from the Titan instead of engaging – I feel you Hannes, you’re a soldier, but you’re afraid. Of course I never would have become a soldier because I’m afraid. Just sayin’

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“Hurry if you don’t want to be eaten…” I never want to hear someone screaming those words at me. Ever.

All those people living in that city are traumatized. The gate’s closed, leaving them behind to die by Titan, that’s horrible. But, well, maybe it’s for the best; like everyone in Game of Thrones… maybe it’s better to go out now, happy one day, eaten the next! I mean the soldiers are happy, then traumatized, then eaten!

Hannes, the soldier, is screaming at Eren that his mother died because he’s weak. In fairness the mother’s not gone because anyone’s weak, she’s gone because a massive man-eating monster ate her!

Eren’s having all these flashbacks of his Dad injecting him with something (he’s been acting the maggot!). I wonder… that dark-haired titan I’ve seen around on pictures and tumblr… is he a genetically engineered titan – from Eren’s DNA?

And… end 🙂

Update: I finished the series, I won’t ruin anything – only to say it’s as good as everyone says it is!

I noticed that… well, a lot of the Titans run… a little like I do…? (the fat, or short ones, not the cool ones) it’s sad, disturbing, but true… I run like a Titan… wow, wow… ah geez…

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And then, Just to say, my favourite character is Jean Kirstein… and I leave you with this epic gif of him fighting a Titan…

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Giant Human-Gobbling Babies

biggerqRidley: I’ve been in the middle of an anime marathon, or maybe it’s an anime coma? I’m never certain which is more accurate to describe what I do. Basically when I find an anime series that is really good, I devour each episode over hours or days without pausing (it depends on how long I have free), watching until my eyes hate me and my body begs for sleep. This time the series was called Attack on Titan. It’s being hailed as the must see anime for 2013, obviously as it’s now January 2014, I didn’t get that early memo, but better late than never, eh?

Basically it’s about a world where humans have lived inside huge high walls, sealed off from the titans, which are giant creatures that devour humans, just for the fun of it.shingeki-no-kyojin-episode-10-pic6 (1)

It starts off with all the settlements within the walls having lived in relative safety and peace for 100 years, then a colossal titan smashes through the main gate of the outer most wall and all hell breaks loose.images

The outer settlement retreats behind an inner war, there’s turmoil, famine and now the threat of the titans is far more real than ever before. For us, the story centres around three friends, Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert.images (3)attack-on-titan-mikasa-punch shingeki-no-kyojin-episode-8-pic1

After they each endure horrific personal tragedy, they decide to train to become elite soldiers that will fight the Titans, using special Manoeuvre Equipment, which enables them to swing (though its more like they fly) through the air on metal harnesses that harpoon out and attach to builds. I think I’d love the ability to travel like that and to use the double swords like they do, but if given half a chance, I know I’d probably accidentally slice something off or smash into a wall at high speed within three minutes of putting the equipment on.attack-on-titan-video-game-featured

I must say the series is creepy, it’s weird, it’s quite gory, and it’s brilliant.  It doesn’t pull any punches, you really get a feeling no character, no matter how important, is safe. Titans can snatch up anyone and eat them, and you will see them being eaten.bigger

To me, the titans resembled large human-gobbling babies, and actually when they start running can be quite terrifying, (though this one running is kinda funny) but then you have to imagine this 15 meter giant barrelling down towards you is about to crush or eat you:

There’s so much in this series to keep you watching, with various ongoing mysteries, which keep you pressing play over and over, you are left questioning where the titans suddenly appeared from and why they eat humans when they don’t need food.vnIMuIA There’s also pure raw human emotions and individual reactions to the devastation wrought by the titans. The author has said that one of the main influences on the series was the inner feelings of people. This is a strong element throughout, we see characters dealing with their total terror and grief, of seeing things they never should have to witness. Some of the characters overcome their fear, and others don’t.  At one point, I did stop and think about what a world like that would really be like, how I would react, and I decided I can’t say I’d have ever had the courage to become a soldier and fight off the giants. I think I’d still like to have the uniform though…images (2)

The anime doesn’t finish as such, it’s left open ended, it’s like a long teaser to get you hooked on the world and the story, so that you’ll then start reading the manga, where hopefully all our burning questions will be answered. So…

To the manga!

Reading movies

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Latimer: I love watching TV series and movies in other languages. It really immerses you in the story and gives you a sense of that culture.

Having spent so much time watching anime and Asian dramas, I’m used to subtitles. Once you get into the swing of reading them, it becomes like second nature and it doesn’t distract you.

I usually have to go looking for the subtitled dramas or movies, but this week, one found me!

On Irish television I happened across the finale of a German TV miniseries called ‘Generation War’ (in German it’s called ‘Our Mothers, Our Fathers’).

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The series is a gritty Second World War series about 5 friends in Germany and their experiences during the war. It’s full of heart-wrenching moments (moments where you are shaking your head wondering how these things happen), and moments where you are screaming for one thing – just one thing to work out for someone…!

Watching this series reminded me of a few of the great foreign language series and movies I’d seen over the years. It resulted in me taking a little trip down memory lane.

Pans Labyrinth

This is quite simple a gorgeous, eerie movie; it has that supernatural gothic, dark element that I like. It also has this ambiguous feel to it; is the girl dreaming all this fantastical stuff, or is it real? Full of fairies and demonic creatures – Pan is one scary fawn it must be said! – this is one of those movies I could watch again and again. I still will randomly start humming that theme tune (epic)!

Joyeux Noël 

About a true event during the First World War where during Christmas time at the front there was a brief ceasefire, where all the men on all sides came together to celebrate Christmas. It’s in French, German and English. A very sad, but inspiring story.

Moving on from war, to romance… yeah, bit of a drop from drama to mindless fun…

My Princess

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A Korean drama that follows a girl who finds out she’s related to the defunct Korean monarchy. The story is about how a wealthy group in Korea want to re-instate the monarch with her as the Princess. Okay, it follows the typical girly love story, but – hey, that’s soul food to a fan-girl! It’s a fun series!

Hana Yori Dango

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Ah, this might well be our (Ridley and I) most favourite Japanese series! As a result of watching this series, Ridley and I knew all about the actor that plays the leading man – Matsumoto Jun (who’s in a band called ARASHI :)). And so, when we were in Tokyo and we saw some Japanese girls holding up a sign which said in English – ‘Foreigners, do you know who are ARASHI?’

Well, Ridley and I looked at each other, ‘Shall we?’.

And so we sidled up to the girls and said; ‘We know of ARASHI’. Then the girls asked us how; Ridley beamed, ‘Hana Yori Dango’. Then all of us, across language barriers smiled and started laughing (ah, fan-girls unite!).

Trollhunter

A Norwegian film about… a Troll Hunter. I now have a greater respect for Norwegian folklore about trolls and love saying the Norwegian word for bear (bjørn)!

And finally… Ros na Rún

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Okay, this is not technically ‘foreign’ language – it’s Irish – but it is subtitled (sometimes!)!

We have an Irish Language TV channel here called, Teilifís na Gaeilge (TnaG) (basically Irish TV).

When we were getting ready to do our ‘Irish oral and aural exams’ in school, our teacher made us watch Ros na Rún without the subtitles to practice. While I didn’t get the nuances of what was going on, I thought at the time that this was a great series (probably because there was a scandal involving a cute guy and a baby he may or may not have been the father of!).

Stephen Fry also did a cameo in it once (those two auld lads have been in the series for YEARS… and yet, they have not aged).

Plus Ros na Rún also had a cross-over with Cold Case (sort’a)!

“I told you I don’t understand English” – Daniel

“Where is this woman? Did you murder her?” – Lieutenant Stillman

“Do you understand now Daniel?” – Detective Rush

Yup, I think this post has made me want to re-watch some things! I do like me some subtitled stuff 🙂

I wonder what else is going on around the world that I should look into! Suggestions very welcome!

Manga and Me

I'm a manga nut and I'm okay!!
I’m a manga nut and I’m okay!!

Latimer: I’m a bit of a manga nut.

I really adore them. They are also the means through which I’ve developed, rightly or wrongly, my view of Japanese, and to some degree Korean, culture!

I’m a fangirl, so I love shoujo – the girly manga! I love the ones set in schools; the drama between the school president and the yankee, or the shy girl and the cool guy.

In Korean ‘shoujo’ manhwa there’s always (ALWAYS) a jjang (leader of the gang), in the story. Sometimes it’s the girl, and sometimes it’s the boy. So again, I know I’m misguided, but I just assume in every Korean high-school there are warring factions of gangs, and everyone can fight and kick-ass! And everyone is angry… so angry!

I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment if I turned up (very randomly) at a Korean high-school and I wasn’t caught in a show-down between two rival gangs from opposing schools. Even though I don’t speak the language, I’d know… I’d just know what was going on. I’d know the first jjang had kissed the other jjang’s sister, or belittled her… and I’d stand there fists waving in the air screaming.

“Oh it’s on! FIGHTING”

Then if I ended up at a Japanese high-school, I’d be looking for the yankee (the bad boy, delinquent) and the bookish girl – or the tsundere (initially cold character who shows their good side in time – a staple of the shoujo!) school president and the silly, but kind-hearted girl… and I’d be chuckling to myself thinking; “Oh how is this going to turn out!”

It's Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!
It’s Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!

Ah, manga (and manhwa), you really distort reality for me (but in a way that makes me so happy)! Reading them is a roller-coaster ride of emotions!

Pandora Hearts, confuses me, makes me gasp in awe, then confuses me again…

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Naruto always makes me emotional – it’s the best manga for making you empathize with the baddies, because they were good once… or they have these tear-inducing back-stories…

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Kamisama Hajimemashita makes my fangirl squee – such a lovely romance story! 

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Tomoe is a Kitsune (fox) demon – not a vampire (though it looks that way here!) …. Anyway, I’m off on Cloud Squee!

Anything by Minami Maki will make me laugh and wait desperately for the next chapter; her stories and artwork are sweet and cute and hilarious…

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Then, recently (and as it’s a week for pets!), I came across this webcomic (they seem to be v.popular in Korean – at least to my untrained eye). It’s called My Young Cat and My Old Dog (by Cho) and it is… wonderful…

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If you have a pet, it will make you cry.

At times the issue/episode/chapter is about the young playful pet and all the silly things they do. Then at times it’s about the old pet, who isn’t quite as fast as they used to be, or sleeps more than they used to. It’s those one’s that grab your heart and squeeze the feels out, leaving you gasping and in tears (I am an emotional being!).

I'm 16 years old 1 im 16 I'm 16 years old 2I have an old, old dog, and those episodes make me pause and think of him 😦

Well, but there’s lots of joy to be had in the series too, things that make you remember how wonderful your pet is. How selfless and how they love you unconditionally; they love you for you, no other reason and we love them too..

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Ah, manga and manhwa, you give me so many different feelings – and I love you for it 🙂

Robin Round #1

PaperArtist_2013-06-30_13-50-42Ridley: A Robin Round actually stems from maths class in secondary school. My teacher used to do ‘Robin Rounds’, he’d skip around the class and fire out hard questions at individual students, giving only seconds for the person to try work it out before he’d shout, ‘next!’. Very rarely did anyone ever get it right when they were the first person asked. I did once, there was an impressed stir throughout the room, I had to duck my head though, knowing full well if anyone really looked at me they’d see my mouth hanging open in surprise and be able to tell I’d just guessed the answer! 🙂

Anywho, the whole point of these quick fire Robin Round (sounds dangerous, ja? It surely, isn’t…) this time is to have a little bit of fun, to scatter a few information crumbs about us (if anyone cares!) and for us to get to know anyone that may be out there and cares to share.*points at you*

I’ve numbered this post, so I’m presuming I’ve the intention of doing more than one of these… do I, Brain? (‘I don’t know Pinky, do you? Never mind though, now it’s time to try take over the world!’…..sometimes I’m ashamed of myself….but not today! 🙂 Pinky and the Brain, if you’ve never watched them, your life is just not complete! Get thee to youtube peeps.)

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SO….Latimer……..we’ll start off slowly….

1. Favourite time of the day?

Latimer: 6pm, the day is more or less over and I know that I can look forward to relaxing 🙂

2. What was your last dream about?

Latimer: I was cycling along the motorway, trying to get home, and fell asleep on the side of the road. When I woke up someone was stealing my bike! What the Dickens?! “Come back with my bike thief!”

3. I have a puffalump, what do you think it is? (I don’t think I’ve ever shown you…and no, it’s not a disease or injury. Don’t google it!)

Latimer: It sounds like what a child might call a boil… hmm, I’m going to say some sort of soft toy… now I look it up… And so it is… They had a name? I think I used to have coats made out of that material when I was in primary school! 

4. If you had all the time and money in the world, where would you be and what would you be doing?

Latimer: Travelling the world and writing – 🙂

5. One of the best things (helpful, inspirational, funny) that someone has ever said to you? (It was me of course, I’m sure…it better have been! Haha….seriously    😛  )

Latimer: Eat the elephant one bite at a time, before you know it, it will be gone! Huzzah! (basically take everything one step at a time). Also, another one; ‘everyone is afraid in the dark, wait until you turn the light on before you start to worry’; I get wound up about the unknown, but you should really wait until you know what’s going on before you start to worry!

6. The first video game you ever played was? And your favourite game now is?

Latimer: my first game was this really, really REALLY old game; it was on an old ass computer, we are talking very pixelated. The game was 2D; think old fashioned snake:It was a box and you had to ‘herd’ a single elephant into the box. I was probably only three or four playing it.

In childhood I used to play a game called Toejam and Earl 2… haha, that game was weirdly brilliant. You played two aliens trying to protect their planet (called Funk-o-tron!) from these humans that had invaded it… You had to trap the humans in jars by.. well pelting them with jars… it was really weird!

My favourite game now… hmm, Kingdom Hearts (I fecking love that series!! SOORA!!)

(Disney and Square Enix… jaysus I died and went to heaven!!)

7. Favourite flavour?

Latimer: RED! Haha. You know me!

8. What actor would you most like to….meet? 🙂

Latimer: I don’t know really… that’s a hard one, while not really an answer you know I would love to go to the BAFTAs one day!

9. Where are you right now? And what’s the weirdest thing in or about the place you’re in?

Latimer: My room *turns around… what is the weirdest thing here, aside from me! mwaha* 

Well these are pretty weird…

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They are the shell from clams, or something, that me and my mam collected on an aboriginal shore walk in Cairns, AUStralia! We ate what was inside and I pocketed the shells. Yep. (Latimer= hoarder and eater of the strange) 

10. If you could send something to your future self, what would it be?

Latimer: future self… oh dear. Hmm. I would send my worries haha. Though future me would be like; ‘damn it! Why you doing that?! I got my own worries!’

11. What pops into your mind when you hear the words:

Pink- Dolls                               Glue- Art

Tree- Elves!                             Cup- Tea

Pen- Drawing!                          Puddle- Jemima Puddleduck haha

12. A portal opened right now, you didn’t know where it ended up or if you could come back, would you walk through it?

Latimer: Argh… no! I can’t take the chance, sure if I ended up in Hogwarts that’s great but if I ended up in Nightmare before Christmas Hallow’een Town I don’t know what I would do (cry… a lot)

13. What super power would you love?

Latimer: Teleportion! Do you see how I can pick a power? Ridley never plays this game right!

14. Batman, Superman or Spiderman?

Latimer: Batman; the hero that Gotham needs but doesn’t deserve… or needs right now, but doesn’t have… or something, he’s awesome!

15. Vampire vs werewolves?

Latimer: there was a time it would have been vampires, but no you have swayed me through the years Pidley… it would have to be werewolves!

16. If you had to choose between thunderstorm or snowstorm?

Latimer: Ohh, I like the after look of a snowstorm, but I pick thunderstorm… so dramatic and sitting in the dark (cos the lights usually seem to go) and seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder… oh too cool for school, yea!

17. An unusual pet hate of yours?

Latimer: People walking too slowly in front of me – is that unusual? I really hate it…

18. You’re reading a book, the one thing you’d love to find in it is?

Latimer: Characters I love. A bit quirky, or just interesting.

19. Favourite soundtrack?

Latimer: Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring

20. You’re only allowed one: films, books or music, which would you choose?

Latimer: are we talking infinite amounts here? Hmmm…Books then!

21. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Latimer: By the sea

Antrim coast – glorious

22. The best thing you’ve done or read or seen in the last year is?

Latimer: Publishing the book 🙂 and going to Japan again 🙂 (technically last year… hmm, well going on holidays and publishing the other book will still be this year too!!)

23. The creepiest thing ever would be…?

Latimer: Zombie Apocalypse! AHHH!!!

24. You see a camera crew filming in front of you on the street, what do you do?

Latimer: walk around it! *inches close and whispers fearfully* cameras steal your sooouuuulll!!

25. I’m sure I’ll be getting a question or two now…or maybe a new game will be a-foot! We shall see. Did you like the questions Latimer?

Latimer: That was fun… I promise a Pidley Wren Wround in the near future!

Why not share your answers to the questions above with us, we’d love to read them!!

Summer is coming

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Latimer: Ah blissful summer is here at last! The sun is shining, people are smiling and we’ve even got some really nice weather lately! The Irish curse of talking about weather – ah well you see we don’t get a proper summer very often, or at least it can’t be relied on, so we always have to mention it when it happens! So, for now at least we have really nice weather – people are getting sunburned… yeah, that’s a big deal!

Summer always ends up being a busy time of year; Ridley and I have been writing away working on the next book! Come on the editing stage 🙂

But, aside from that, the big thing about summer is holidays! Oh holidays! Thinking of the next adventure puts me in mind of the first real one!

This is the one where Ridley, Latimer and friends went to New Zealand and Japan!

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Oh magnificent New Zealand… as I sit here in the heat of the Irish summer, thinking back on the glorious holiday that was New Zealand cools me down at bit, because summer in the Northern Hemisphere is of course winter below!

This holiday was a big deal for us at the time because none of us had ever gone this far on our own (like real proper adults) – four of us, Orbie (who we’ve mentioned now and then), Latimer, Ridley and Bubbles (another friend of ours).

We got ready – this was a big deal.

We rented the glorious campervan, the Kea (and Bubbles was the only one who could drive)….we were going to drive around New Zealand and camp!

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We were given snow-chains in case of notoriously bad snow… we were so scared, we were so excited, we were…  grown up! This was such a great time, but initially we were very worried.

Day one in Christchurch – with the van and the maps… we were thinking it was a mistake. But then we got the GPS up and going, Bubbles got comfortable with the camper-van and were off, on this amazing adventure  –  this first taste of a now life-long love of travel, the dream of the faraway…

We had all these wonderful experiences…

we saw such amazing landscapes…

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we drove for miles on empty roads that wove past waterfalls and cut through snow-capped mountains…

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we climbed glaciers…

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we swung down canyons…

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we visited the beautiful Milford Sound…

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we dove out of the sky… like a boss 🙂

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I’ve always thought we look like we’re out of Top Gun here!

we met Maoris and went to a hangi (a sort of party, where food cooked in a pit)

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We skied and snowboarded… life was good!

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Then we left the snow behind and headed for the mind-melting Asian summer – the melting temperature of an Irish person isn’t high!

We visited Kyoto and got caught in a Matsuri festival we didn’t understand. The Japanese festival goers gave us beer and when the young Geisha arrived, a helpful man dragged Orbie off and helped her get cool pictures of the Geisha…

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We went to a tropical island – that was a random adventure. We were going to sleep on the beach, but decided against it and had a very strange time in a surfers hostel, where Ridley had to fight off ants as she slept and I screamed at a massive spider that then scuttled off to hide in Ridley bathroom…

Looks like paradise though, ne?

We went to Koya-san and stayed in a Buddhist temple and got up for prayers at 6 o’clock..

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So many random things happened.

All these memories that as I type I become lost in again; summer time is a time for making plans for adventures! The sun is out, the days are long; it makes me feel like there are adventures out there, beyond the walls of where we are.

I’m excited! I want to pull out my bags, hitch them up and go off into the world again!

Now all we really need to do is figure out where to go!   

Time for Tea

A man after my own heart 🙂

Latimer: If there is one thing in life that is the universal response to, well, everything – a piece of good news, bad news or a general break – it has to be tea. A good cup of tea (which must be roughly one out of three cups – I think!), a fine cup of tea, a tasty cup of tea – it must be what dreams taste like.

Dreams, they taste of good tea! At least, our dreams must (I speak for Ridley, hehe, she is like, “Err no, I’ll have you know my dreams taste of chicken! I’ve checked; took a bite out of the last one – chicken!”).

Either way, we adore tea, I mean we really do. It lately seems like we have been visiting tea houses all over the world (well, here and there, now and then!).

For example… Tea in Galway, in the lovely quaint and beautiful Cupán Tae (cup of tea in Irish!)…

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And fancy tea in the Ginza district of Tokyo… (we couldn’t stop going on about how expense tea was in Tokyo – seriously to this day we still talk about it! But well, it was sooo nice here though!)

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So, really how could we go to Oxford, England in general, and not have a cupan tae? Sure we couldn’t; it was top of the list, high-tea (it was something we dreamed of doing when Legend Unleashed was published – to toast it, we dreamed of high-tea in Oxford!)! We researched this a bit, and decided that The Old Parsonage seemed like the high-tea spot of Oxford.

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As the name suggests it is an old parsonage from the 1660s and it’s like walking into a mini-cottage in a forest with twisted, gnarled alien trees with branches that claw at the building.

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It’s fairy-tale like; quaint, English, very lovely. The fire burning in the hearth warmed our chilly bones; for whatever reason Ireland and the UK had been experiencing very cold weather and it was raining and snowing in Oxford.

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It was perfect weather for a hot cup of tea and some cucumber sambos (sandwiches) (that was a first and they are very tasty!) and scones, with clotted cream (which I never really knew what that was, but it’s got the consistency of butter, but it’s yummy!) and strawberry jam. It was lovely; I had the old parsonage blend of tea and Ridley had old English breakfast tea.

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Later that evening we made our way to the famous Eagle and Child pub; this was where the Inklings (a literately discussion group J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis were part of) used to have their Tuesday meetings.

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As we sat and tucked into our fish, chips and mushy pea (and more tea!), supper…

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…we wondered if there were untold stories, or remnants of half-dreamed characters, hidden in the walls, or in conversations waiting to be had… and as we munched away, we dreamed our own Carwick dreams!

Then we toddled off back to our quarters, wandering the dark cloisters of Hogwarts… no wait, Wonderland… ha, Christ Church College 🙂

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Let me in!! Latimer screams…
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Fine, don’t *sniffle, sobble*..

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Find more of our Oxford Tales here 🙂

– Through an Oxford Shaped Looking Glass (Alice’s Christ Church :))

 Forging Magic (Harry Potter-style!)