So It Begins

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Latimer: And so it begins… Christmas shopping… the last ride of the Rohirrim… 

Okay, that might (might) be an exaggeration! But I saw this funny post on Tumblr and it sort of fit:

It’s Christmas, you have one of two feelings:

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Or

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I’m not totally one way or the other, but it feels like this year, Christmas sneaked up on me – then knocked me out with a sledgehammer.

As I stumbled around half-dead for three weeks, I now find myself madly shopping in a delirium of, sweat, confusion and panic, blind panic!

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Over the past few years I’ve found myself buying children’s Christmas presents for nieces and nephews. The last time I had been in a toy shop was to… well, be the one who people were buying presents for! I was the last child I knew!

Now, I have five nieces and two nephews to be buying presents for!

And I panicked. When I stepped into the big toy shop to do my ‘buy, buy, buy SOMETHING… ANYTHING’ Christmas shop last weekend, I faltered. I got confused; really confused.

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I reverted back in time. I stood staring at the Sylvanian Families, laughing; “Aww, still as expensive as ever… oh! The Badger Family, I remember you!” 

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I was a child again. I forgot why I’d come to the shop.

I started looking at all the new dolls, thinking they were cool. Asking myself if a three year old could handle the awesomeness of gothic dolls based on monsters (no, thankfully I came to my senses on that one).

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I bought myself some glitter glue; which I needed for making my Christmas present tags for the kids, but it was weird because, I’ve not had glitter glue since I was a kid!

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Thankfully I did manage to leave the toy shop without going too crazy.

Although my last giddy thought as I left was; “I have money now… I could buy things if I wanted…I could buy the Sylvanian Families cottage/barge/windmill! Oh the POWER!”

I pray the power of the toy shop will not have grown stronger by next Christmas!

Visiting Hobbiton via Newbridge

Ridley: The Newbridge silverware shop in, of course, Newbridge is holding a Lord of the Rings exhibition. It has loads of the costumes and props from the movies on display. I wandered over on Sunday to take a gander, and what I saw was absolutely beautiful. Latimer and I have often watched the ‘making of’ videos on the Lord of the Rings dvds, I’m pretty certain we’ve both had starry-eyed dreams of one day working with Weta workshop. Well maybe it was more of a case that we wanted to wander in and out of the different workshops and visit different people and basically see what everyone was making and just make a nuisance of ourselves, rather than actually doing any hard graft. The detail and the designs gone into some of the weapons is absolutely awe inspiring. The pure craftsmanship and love of their art shines through in each of the pieces. Even for different parts, whether it’s the handle, or the blade, or the inside of the helmet, areas that will probably never be seen in the actual movie, they’ve still gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure every inch was designed, etched into, and craved to the best of their ability.

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Ringwraiths always freaked me out, especially when they made that weird screeching noise!!

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This is a Ringwraiths sword. Really fits with their image and rather creepy it was too.

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He was so tall, and scary!! I really wouldn’t have liked a whole troupe of Uruk-hai after me. Oh bloody hell!! Run!

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There was so much to see, I let my inner fangirl out with a massive smile. If you’re in Ireland and you get a chance, do get to Newbridge, it’s a completely free exhibition, and while you’re there you can check out some of Marylin Monroe’s dresses (she was tiny!!) and some iconic Michael Jackson suits too over in the other sections.Marilyn-Monroe-Icon

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In the Blink of an Eye

 
What do you mean... wasn't it?!
What do you mean… wasn’t it?!

Latimer: I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the 90s wasn’t 10 years ago… No, seriously, the naughties really did have its first decade… 3 years ago…

From time-to-time, I remember this and get scared.

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This post is where I float in the ether of feeling old because of a youtube video!

Recently I’ve learned there comes a point in life where you start to feel a real, proper, disconnect with younger people. It’s inevitable and normal, but when you start to notice it, it does take a minute to orientate yourself (in between screaming; ‘what happened to us!’).

I know I’m not that old, not really, but technology and entertainment moves so fast that if you take a break, you come back and realise that the craze you experienced what seemed like yesterday, was in fact another generation ago…

Let me show you – look at this youtube video; it’s one of the ‘kid’s react to…’ videos – about The Hobbit trailer. Listen to the people behind the camera asking the kids; ‘what age were you when lord of the rings came out?’…

Although I knew it already, the full force of being closer in age to the people behind the camera than those in front hit me. Usually my people are the ones in front, but now they are the ones making the shows.

I nearly choked on my tea. The kids were… 1 year old… not born… NOT BORN when Lord of the Rings came out? What?! (They don’t remember a world before Lord of the Rings!) I was older than they are now when I first saw Lord of the Rings.

My head is spinning at this point – this series just doesn’t feel like it was that long ago!

Then I realised that even most of the ‘youtubers’ are actually, I blush… younger than me. In some ways I don’t feel as old as them, but then I think I suffer from distorted perceptions of my place in time and space!

This post in some ways harks back to the fact that last week was my birthday…I am now 27! There! Oh I said it.

When I went to get my haircut at the weekend, the hairdresser mentioned dye to me and initially I smiled thinking ‘sure, that’s cool, I was thinking of flaming red or something’ then a few moments into the conversation she mentions my Dorian’s (my code for the greys) and that’s why she was talking dye…

 Again I am forced to say in my mind; look I have very dark hair, those Dorian’s have nowhere to hide…. And they aren’t Dorian’s – they’re Gandalf the White’s actually… argh!

There are lately lots of things to remind me of my passage far away from teenager-hood (okay it was a long time ago at this point– but still!).

I look at my dog for example. He’s managed to live far longer than anyone could have expected, but even he’s starting to show the strain of age… you know intolerance to the younger generation and general exhaustion..

My poor dog Levi, sweetest creature in all of creation - FACT
My poor dog Levi, sweetest creature in all of creation – FACT

He’s 17 years old.

He’s older than the kids in the youtube video.

Let’s put it this way, my dog remembers Lord of the Rings… 

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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!)

An Unexpected Feeling

Last week we went to see The Hobbit.

Latimer: It’s very strange to think on this, but I have – sort of – a long history with Peter Jackson.

He made a movie called ‘Bad Taste’ many, many years ago. When I was a very, very small Latimer, I often saw the cover of this movie in an old video shop in our little town. It was back in the VHS days to put it in perspective.

I have the cover image of Bad Taste imprinted in my mind; really weird white alien-type creature in a black suit giving the finger.

This still scares me!!! WAHHHH!!!!

And… I remember watching it, a little, when my older siblings rented it. It’s a dark comedy; but not really when you are a kid; it’s actually a nightmare that plagued me for many nights afterward!

I never thought then that I would come to love Peter Jackson so much!

Myself and Ridley have a long tradition of going to see Lord of the Rings.

It was a sad thing to realise that the first movie is now 11yrs old! And I guess, so its Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Honestly, I haven’t thought about Middle-Earth in a long time. I started to forget how much I loved it. I remembered I loved it, but I didn’t feel that love anymore. Time passed, obsessions came and went, as they do.

So, when they announced Hobbit; I wasn’t very interested.

When they released the trailer, I didn’t think much of it and when they said, it’ll be three movies, I rolled my eyes. It’s true. Sounds harsh, but don’t get me wrong, time had just passed, and well, I didn’t care so much anymore.

When I sat down in the cinema; which was more or less empty, I thought back on how myself and Ridley used to arrive early to a packed cinema in the Lord of the Rings days; we would queue;we would get jumpy, trying to organize everyone; myself and Ridley would race for the best seats, glancing back to make sure the rest of our fellowship had made it.

This time it was just me and Ridley and the cinema was pretty empty. And, we had 3D glasses (that’s new too, and not sure I’m sold on it at all).

Then it started. Then I started to remember…

The music; the props; New Zealand… I smiled; I had missed middle-earth! It was wonderful to be back.

So although I was apathetic before, I’m now really happy to be back in Middle-Earth and I’m looking forward to travelling more with Thorin Oakenshield’s company! 🙂

Our Giveaway is almost at an end! Don’t forget to click and enter the LEGEND UNLEASHED GIVEAWAY! It ends on the 22nd!

Broken Laptop & Delirium

Ridley: Apologies for the radio silence recently, we’ve been a little absent from the blogging and twittering world. Mainly because I’m down with a cold (What’s new! I’ve the immune system of a dead person!) and Latimer is currently banned from the internet. Well…her laptop is broken. Yes, I heard the collective wince. I winced even as I typed that. I will readily admit I’m an internet addict (and a chocolate and caffeine one, we all have our vices!) so that would be hell on earth for me (and it is for her too!). You really don’t realise how often you turn on your computer until you no longer have it!

Now, you’ll have to picture her pulling out her hair and pacing furiously, while simultaneously pleading and threatening her silent blank screen. I’m just hoping the IT peoples she brought it to can recover the information on it! I’d say she’d have had to hold back the urge to not punch the IT man as he dithered over whether he could fix it. I imagine it could have gone like this, (but for the fact that she’s a nice, polite self-restrained individual):

Latimer slams in through the glass door of the shop. It’s still fairly empty, having just opened a minute and a half ago. Her feet make a scratching sound as she scurries across their grey carpet, zipping in between the aisles of empty boxes advertising anti-viral software and straight to customer service. When she reaches the white counter, a man in a yellow t-shirt has his back to her. She swings her laptop bag around and slides onto the counter top.

“Help me…please.” She whispers. “It’s broken.”

The man jumps and twists round, dropping his pen. He blinks at her sudden appearance. “Wel-welcome to the IT help desk.” He stumbles and then swoops down under the desk to pick up his biro. “How can I help you?”

Latimer frowns at him and points at the black square bag. “It’s broken. I don’t know what happened. It won’t turn on.”

“Of course, well then you’ve come to the right place. Let me take a look.” He slides the laptop out and peers at the underside of it.

“So it won’t turn on…now, you did plug it in, right?” He asks.

Latimer’s hands drop down to her sides, her fingers twitch. She narrows her eyes. “Yes.”

He nods and opens it up. “Intel pentium core processor…good…”

“Hmm hmm…” Latimer’s fingers begin to drum against her thigh.

He examines it, there’s silence for a little while. Latimer bounces on the balls of her feet.

“So…” She bites her lip. “Does it look bad, can you fix it?”

He starts mumbling to himself. ‘Well…I suppose, I could try to…but then I don’t know if that would work. Hmm…’ He scratches his head with his blue pen. Latimer’s hands curl into fists. ‘I wonder if I…’

He turns the laptop round. He jams his pen behind his ear and jabs at a few keys, frowning down in intense concentration.  Latimer leans in nodding, her eyes widen. “Yes?”

After a few moments, he draws back with a shake of his head. “No, the power button isn’t the answer anyway…”

*SMACK* Latimer throws down her laptop case.

“I’ll kill you!” She leaps over the counter and shakes the man by his collar. “Fix it! Fix it, god damnit!”

“No Latimer! It’s not worth it!”  (Some random person who happens to know her shouts-as I’m not there, but if I was, ’tis what I would say! haha.)

People haul her off of him. He’s unscathed, but the same can’t be said for her. The police are called. It all ends up with her rocking in the corner of a damp mouldy cell, giggling and muttering to herself. “Fix it…fix…fix…fix….I’ll fix it…”

Her one phone call is made to Ridley-not a good idea this time (is it ever a good idea? haha).

Ridley is at home, her flowery covers have been tugged up to her chin. She’s shivering and sweating in bed. There are empty tubes of Tyrozet throat lozenges littering the floor in amongst scrunched up tissue paper and tatty brown cardboard toilet rolls.

She’s randomly hollering out words in her delirium.

“Nurofen!”

“Batman!”

Ridley often gets up and wanders to the kitchen like a grumpy Lurch, peering in the cupboard for things to make her feel better and making endless cups of tea.

When she returns to her room, she peers around.

“Who put these little flashing lights in my room, they won’t turn off!”

Then she realises they’re in her eyes.

A distinct overpowering whiff of TCP wafts from her to join the smell of cooking chicken that’s drifting up from downstairs. Her mother is in the kitchen, she’s like a witch over a cauldron with a big wooden spoon. Churning and churning a bubbling broth in a large saucepan. She’s making Chicken Penicillin and she’s tossing in vegetables, spices, whole chicken carcasses and chanting about, “Bone marrow and antibodies!”

Ridley gladly accepts anything to relieve the misery. She really doesn’t remember when she swallowed the barbed wire that is now stuck in her throat.

As she feasts on her soup, and having taken more drowsy medication, her mobile beside her rings.

“Hello?” She whispers in a hoarse voice.

“Ridley! Help me, my laptop is broken! And I’m in jail!”

Ridley pulls back and peers at the number on the screen. She puts the phone back to her ear. “Who is this?”

“What do you mean, who is this? It’s Latimer! You need to get me out of here, I need to fix my computer!”

Ridley yawns, her tablets begin to kick in. “I don’t understand…my brain it’s not…Lat I can’t help right now, ‘m sorry…ring back later.”

“What!? No, wait…”

Ridley hangs up and immediately nods off.

When she wakes up. She begins to remember the dream, which involved chicken soup and a phone call. She shuffles downstairs, trying to recall its ending. There’s a reporter in the kitchen. There are also two scientists in white coats, huddling over the grubby silver saucepan and poking at a raw onion. 

“I’ve just won a prize!” Her mother beams. “I found the cure to the common cold!”

“Your mother’s made a massive break through.” The man at the kitchen table says with his head bent over his notepad.

“Has she.” Ridley nods to her mother. “Well done. Always said your soup was some good stuff.”

“Your phone keeps ringing, I just took it out of your room, as you were fast asleep and I didn’t want it to wake you.” Her mother hands her back her mobile.

“I’m sure it probably wasn’t important.” Ridley shrugs and scrolls down through the missed calls, the log shows numbers that get longer and more foreign with each hour. There are numerous text messages too.

Ridley, I’m now in Panama. It’s quite hot here.

2 hours later:The Spanish is confusing me, amigo.

7 hours later:Could you send me sun cream?

7 hours and 2 minutes: “Rid, how do you cure burns?

8 hours later:Slowly rising up the ranks, turns out one of the main mob bosses likes Lord of the Rings too. Lots in common.

10 hours later:Am now his right hand man…woman. Thinking of getting a tattoo. Ideas?

12 hours later:It’s a bit loco here at the moment, we’ve decided to stage a break out. I told them all about that one episode of ‘Prison Break’, I watched. It seemed to give them all ideas.

15 hours later:Success! On the way home, can you pick me up from the airport? I’ll show you my new tattoo! Arriving at 5.”

Ridley sighs and glances at the clock, it’s 4.30. Lights from a camera flash blind her. The reporter has started taking pictures of her mother holding up a soup bowl and a spoon.

“I’m going to go change. Gotta pick up Latimer.” Ridley turns to go climb back up the stairs and texts: “Fine. Going to be a little late though.

She gets an immediate reply.

No problem. BTW I’ve brought friends. See you in a bit 🙂

“Have fun!” Her mother calls.

“Depends on your definition.” Ridley mutters.

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And that, my friends, is how it all went down, in my head. Haha. Who knows what happens when I got to that airport. I was probably insanely jealous of Latimer’s great tan and cool tattoo (or horrific sun burn and hodge-podge black smudge?) Either way, fun times!

Need more sleep I think! 🙂

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.com for my pictures (except the TCP one,that’s all mine)