Memories – made by Disney

Latimer's Disney selfies - can you guess what movies they're from?
Latimer’s Disney selfies – can you guess what movies they’re from?

Latimer: Ah Halloween, it came and went and I am about half a stone heavier as a result (damn Trick r’ Treat leftovers!).

As it was Halloween season I had to watch ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.

I love it, but it honestly scares me. Like, if I ended up in Halloween Town, with Dr Finkelstein, I’d start shrieking, smack him over the head with a gravestone and run, like my life depended on it (which it probably does at this point) to the forest and the Christmas Town door.

So scary!!!!
So scary!!!!

I like Jack and Sally, even the Mayor (just about), but not the Doctor… no…

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The thing of nightmares!!

The thing is, as I watched (mumbling to myself, ‘oh the horror!’), I started to think, as I always do, that the Doctor isn’t actually a bad person. He just looks creepy… So yeah, it’s a moral (don’t judge people) – ah the moral, it’s a Disney thing isn’t it?

I don’t think there are many people in the world who haven’t been shaped by Disney movies in some way. Every generation has their Disney’s.

I come from the Disney Renaissance, animation wise – to me, that’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast (my fave), The Lion King (such a big deal at the time my God!) and Toy Story (the first full-length CGI movie!), Aladdin and Mulan (LOVE Mulan, I entered a competition for a giant Mushu teddy – I lost but I’ve always wondered about that lucky sod who won it).

Hehe.... Cos she does!!
Hehe…. ‘Course she does!!

Way back when, I used to get these magazines every week, called Disney and Me.

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Yup. And I never read them, nope, just looked at the cartoons and tried to draw them. Funny thing, I wasn’t a big reader in my childhood… The extent of my reading?

“I’m going on adventure today!” I’d say, packing up the essentials – bread for the eating, dock-leaves for potential nettle stings and an illustrated copy of Alice in Wonderland.

My copy did not look this cool... ah, I still wouldn't have read it though!
My copy did not look this cool… ah, I still wouldn’t have read it though!

I’d precede to the climb the trees around my estate and think to myself, “Today, I will read this book”.

It was a big book at the time. And… 5 minutes later, “Yup bored now.” How many pages did I read? None, ha.

Then I’d head to my friend’s house and watch, watch, and re-watch, her VHS copy of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. She hated me for that.

My mother’s friend had a copy of Beauty and the Beast that I used to borrow and watch… I spent a whole weekend watching it once and I cried when I had to give it back (seriously).

I can still hear Angela Landsbury singing in this scene... yup (aside: I also loved Murder She Wrote!)
I can still hear Angela Lansbury singing in this scene… yup (aside: I also loved Murder She Wrote!_

But, even when I was young, I felt there was one MAJOR flaw in this movie… The Prince… He just isn’t a good-looking man! My heart always dropped a little in disappointment! (It still does…!)

He's just... argh.... such a disappointment!
He’s just… argh…. such a disappointment!

This is a good looking ‘prince’…. 

Ah Flynn... Eugene... whatever, you're beautiful!
Ah Flynn… Eugene… whatever, you’re beautiful!

Anyways, when The Lion King came out, in 1994, I didn’t get to go to the cinema to see it. Back then no one was taking child-me to the cinema. I’d only been once in my life at that point – to see Jurassic Park.

Luckily, a girl in my class in school, her father worked overseas and he got a pirated copy of The Lion King (ohh… hehe). And the teacher said we could watch it! We were astounded (now that I think of it, the teacher probably just wanted to see it too – I know now that’s what I’d do!).

With the blinds pulled down in our classroom, we all got to watch the wonder of The Lion King. I was also madly in love with Jonathon-Taylor Thomas (voice of Simba) at this point, so it was the best movie I ever saw in my life at the time.

What ever happened to him? Hmm...
What ever happened to him? Hmm…

There was a girl in my class (we’ll call her Sara) – she was one of my art rivals (Everyone had one. But she never viewed me as her rival – ah ha, oh that’s cold!). Sara was the best at drawing Disney-style animals. And after The Lion King she was like a celebrity; “Draw a Simba on my desk!” everyone would squeal.

A years later, I did manage go to the cinema to see Toy Story. I have very vivid memories of standing in line, being so excited to see this movie. I think that’s why I cried so badly at the end of Toy Story 3 – I was finally saying goodbye to them after 18 years! It was pretty heart-breaking…. The scene where Andy plays with the toys for the last time! Argh, I… I just can’t….

How heart-breaking is this?!?!
How heart-breaking is this?!?!

Disney’s stamped all over my memories.

There came a point during growing up that I threw away the Disney cloak. That’s for kids, I thought, and I am a child no more! (ha, yup, that did NOT last)

The Disney Renaissance had ended anyways. But, then, it entered a revival era! The age of the CGI animated movies (Pixar) came into being and I was pulled back in!

By about Finding Nemo I was back on the Disney bandwagon. My counterparts on the wagon, who had stayed the course, eyed me with disdain; “We stayed true!”

I still do a bad impersonation of the surfer dude turtle!
I still do a bad impersonation of the surfer dude turtle!

The Incredibles is a brilliant movie.Tangled? Oh god, love it. WALL-E – how gorgeous is that movie?

I love this movie for her glorious hair alone!
I love this movie for her glorious hair alone!

Brave, Brave… yup… Disney’s back in my heart.

And now I’m waiting hopefully for Frozen.

Really looking forward to this! I’ve even starting doing some fan-art – take that Sara it only took… err a few (a lot) years! Ah, ha…

Kristoff and Anna... please let this movie be Tangled epic!!
Kristoff and Anna… please let this movie be Tangled epic!!

All those memories… Disney really is King of Childhood Dreams…

Everyone has a Disney favourite! Right :)?

 

(When we were in Tokyo a while back, we stumbled across the Disney store! It also brought back a lot of childhood memories!) 

My, My Little Ponies

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Latimer: I think my first real obsession was with My Little Pony. I adored them.

Recently, My Little Ponies have made an amazing comeback in the form of a cartoon; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

new my little pony

There was a cartoon in the 90’s too, that I used to watch. There were a few different ones. The one I remember most is the My Little Pony Tales, which is possibly what the new cartoon is based on?

Seriously though… how are those Ponies grabbing anything! They have no fingers!

The return of the Ponies is a complete shock to me, because they disappeared years ago without a trace. They were popular in the early 90’s, and then they just vanished – cartoons and toys.

When the toys came back, very briefly, I bought them, but I was getting older and I couldn’t squeeze myself back into the fangirl suit I used to own. But I tried… lord I tried.

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I tried but couldn’t love them again!

They didn’t stay around long.

I’m going to hit the nostalgia button now and bring you back to my My Little Ponies…

Yeah, I still have them. It’s because of all my old toys, these meant the most. I couldn’t toss them out or give them away. 

Taking them out of the bag was weird because I remember actually getting a lot of them. My birthdays always involved getting a My Little Pony.

They are chunky, clunky beasts, but they have this beautiful old familiar weight to them. The more I took out the more I remembered.

The bride Pony (with a cake, her veil is missing but I remember she had one, I think I gave it to Barbie) – with no bridegroom!

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Poor girl, you have no one to marry!!

The ballerina young Ponies. They were novel because you could move their legs. We were very impressed at the time!

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I had two teacher Ponies (Pony groups came in sets of 4 generally). I still have their school bags and their combs (all Pony groups had specific combs).

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The Beach Ponies where my very first set. I remembered that their hair was all matted and could never be brushed out, because of the carpets we used to have in my old playroom in the garage (I used to drag them over the carpet).

Memories!

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I got this beauty Pony after being in hospital for an operation during Halloween one year.

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This Pony smelt like sweets (that was her ‘thing’) – and she still does.

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These were tiny baby Ponies, so cute (they have massive heads and are weirdly-distorted).

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This is a funny one – maternity Pony. You flick the heart…

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and her babies drop out.

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Yup…

This baby Pony was an interesting one; not because it did anything, but because of what my sister used to say it could do.

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The Pony came with a baby’s plate. My sister would put crackers and coffee grains in the little sections, then she’d tell me;

“I can get your Pony to eat these.”

I was wide-eyed, “Really?”

She’d nod; “But you have to wait outside.”

So out I went (happy, believing) and I’d come back in and the food was gone – except the coffee grains.

“The Pony didn’t like them.”

I was astounded at the time. I wondered why I couldn’t make my Pony eat like my sister could.

The way I packed away the Ponies was also kind of sweet. I packed up all the combs in little bags and the accessories in another. It was like I fully expected to play with them again someday.

I vividly remember thinking, “What do grown-ups do without toys? What do they do all day?” Thankfully you realize people never grow up and toys of childhood morph into those of adulthood and it’s a relief.

I’m happy to see my old obsession has reinvented itself and flown off to another generation 🙂

Tumbling over Kid’s TV

Latimer: I have this ritual at the weekends. For maybe an hour I watch Jamie Oliver cookery programs, while relaxing with a cup of tea. I sit on the lovely comfortable couch and blissfully salivate over Jamie’s lovely food, thinking; “yes, I could make that… oh that’s yummy!”

But lately, my nieces (who might be over in the house visiting) will pop into the room and the following will happen (in this case it was my two-year-old niece E)….

first

As per usual, I was happily watching Jamie Oliver (with my tea) and E’s small figure appeared in front of me. She stood staring at me a moment, then looked at Jamie… then squealed…second

‘cbeebies’- that’s the BBC baby’s channel and it’s one of the first words any of my nieces seem to have learned. You know after ‘mammy’ and ‘daddy’ it’s ‘cbeebies’!

My first reaction…

third

“No….!”

Then I’m arguing with a two-year-old, trying to convince her of the merits of watching food being cooked. Her only response is to repeat herself more adamantly. 

There’s nothing else I can do in the face of her continuous repeating of the word. I give in and we start watching one of her favourite programs, ‘Mr Tumble’.

This is what I learned about the show – Mr Tumble dresses in polka-dots, lives in a house filled with polka-dots (and my thought was, ‘I wonder do they rent that house just for that one shot? Or does BBC own the house… do they have to stick the polka-dots on everyday?’), he uses sign language (which I tried to learn) and has a magic bag.

Well E was very happy, me not so much.

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I have been happily detached from baby TV for, well, since I was a baby. But now, with baby nieces and nephews, I think I could tell you what’s popular among the 1-4 year olds!

I sat there watching Mr Tumble, thinking; “this is actually painful!”

Mr Tumble has a friend on the show called Justin.

And actually, Justin IS Mr Tumble (same actor). I got to the point where I was trying to convince my niece that Justin was Mr Tumble (it was the only enjoyment I could get out of having to watch the show), but she was having none of it! She basically thought I was a fool to think they were the same person (bested by a two-year-old who stopped listening!).

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She’s probably learning a lot from the show. I’m sure baby TV taught me a lot too. Like I actually remember watching Bosco (an old Irish show that was from the 70s but re-run in the 80s and 90s so weirdly it feels like everyone in Ireland remembers Bosco).

(It still makes me smile)

I also remember one of my sisters accusing me later in life that; “Oh yes, when Bosco was on we had to change the channel so Latimer could watch it.”

Okay, so I was grateful that people let me watch Bosco, so I guess I have to do the same and let the kids watch cbeebies.

One day I’ll be accusing E of denying me Jamie Oliver and I’ll still be insisting that Justin was Mr Tumble, maybe she’ll finally agree with me!

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! 🙂

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Go West

Latimer goes West…

Latimer: It’s been a very long time since I ventured to the West of Ireland. I put up my hands here and admit it’s been at least ten years.

I don’t ‘Go West’ often, clearly.

Another admission here is that I don’t think I’ve ever been to Galway (I don’t think even Ridley realises this and it’ll probably come as a shock to her, because she goes to Galway pretty often and has lots of childhood memories of the place I’m sure).

I don’t want you thinking though that I haven’t travelled around Ireland much- the Irish childhood, if you were a child in the late eighties and early nineties (and before this), generally involved great family holidays travelling around Ireland because no one had money to be going abroad.

I have all these vague memories of being in odd places in Ireland; places that have become almost like dreamscapes, because back then I never knew where I was anyway. As a child the places you visit are just backdrops that weave and change without you paying real attention to where or what they are.

Dreamy scapey

I remember being in old manor houses, and stone castles, and forests with waterfalls; and I have this vivid memory of a green valley; standing overlooking massive lakes.

Sometimes it really annoys me, because these are places I would like to visit again.

There’s a massive cave in Ireland; the best way I can think to describe it, is that it appears as if the earth has caved in; you can stand around the edges and look down (WAY down) and this cave opens up beneath you. There are steps than lead down (I remember the walk was a steep decline). And, my memories tell me, that people used to hide down there during Viking raids. The roof of the cave is black from the fires people used to light down there to cook their food when they were hiding. I also have this other memory of someone saying Vikings used to throw people off the edge.

 I would love to go back to this cave, but I can’t remember where it is 😦

Back to the present, I had a ‘fly-by’ visit to Galway this weekend.

Very fly-by; two days, one of which was work related so, really I only had one day to get out and see the small city.

The thing I noticed when I was there was that it was very Irish. I imagine that the image people have of Ireland- the closest thing to it, will be found in the West. There’s this real Irish vibe to the place; which left me feeling weird. I felt like a visitor. I walked the cobbled streets thinking; I don’t know Ireland. It did remind me of when I was young and on holidays. It had been a long while since I had seen the old Ireland. Aran sweaters; the Atlantic… it had been a long time since I stood anywhere looking out at the Atlantic ocean.

I heard people speaking Irish; people just walking along… it’s a sad fact that this doesn’t happen much. I had to turn and think, ‘cad é an scéal!?’ (what’s the story!?). I saw signs in shops written in Irish; I saw the word milseáin written on a sweetshop… It means sweets, but it has been so long since I had said or seen this word. 

Galway is known for having more than the average number of Irish speakers. If you were looking for an authentic, old world Ireland, that’d be the place to go.

The taxi drivers are very chatty too; one I had was telling me all about how he had spent 30-odd days last year doing the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain.

Map of the Camino de Santiago trail

He was so happy he had done it; and he said he had spent his days walking with people he didn’t know, even a French woman who didn’t speak English (‘and me not a word of French!’ he laughed). Still, he said they managed to have a great chat. This is the stamp of a friendly Irish person; they somehow just weave and dive around with random people. He seemed really nice; he spent the drive telling me, ‘you should do it, you should’ so much so, by the end of it, I was thinking’ yes! Yes I will!’ Even though, the Camino is not something I have ever considered!

I have mentioned, our friend Orbie before; Orbie told me two places I had to go in Galway- the breakfast place Ard Bia and the tea shop (whose name she had forgotten. It’s Cupán Tae; when I told her she texted me and said ‘how did I forget that!’…. the term means ‘cup of tea’ in Irish, it’s pretty common! Sometimes Irish people will say, ‘do you want a cupán tae?’).

So I had a mission; Ard Bia for breakfast, Cupán Tae for tea. Huzzah.

Ard Bia is located under the Spanish Arch. I’d heard a lot about this Spanish Arch. The image conjured up a massive arch… actually it’s really a tiny innocuous arch.

However, it was built in the 1500s and has links to the Spanish invaders, so actually pretty historic.

Ard Bia is a tiny stone building by the sea.

It’s a bit like the TARDIS (bigger on the inside :)). But it’s sort of hanging off this stone walk-way. I was staring at if from the outside thinking… that building looks like it’s going to erode into the sea! Well, not for a while, I was alright!

It’s a very sweet and pretty place. You open the door and it smells like freshly baked warm cakes; like a country kitchen (I assume a country kitchen might smell like cakes!). 

The view from my lovely window-box seat was very special.

I had express instructions to get the veggie breakie (Orbie’s favourite).

It was scrummy and very affordable! Got to recommend this place- if you are ever in Galway!

Then, I slipped across the road to Cupán Tae.

It reminded me of Japan. That sounds strange I know; it was packed with floral stuff- cups, tea pots, napkins and tablecloths. The word that jumps to mind is ‘kawaii’.

I got the ‘bad weather tea’ (haha, it rains in Galway a lot, apparently, if not the locals really go on about it- ah the Irish and talking about the weather, we love it) and a slice of biscuit cake… oh heaven on both counts!

And I don’t often like ‘different’ teas! But I figured it was a proper tea place so I should get something different. It was sort of fruity. Very nice anyway, really was.

It cost me 6euro… that in comparsion to our Tokyo tea adventure- 20euro each! I won’t lie, I really enjoyed that tea place in Ginza…

but Tokyo-high-flyers, you got to visit Cupán Tae… put that price in perspective!

After tea, I took a wander around the city (very easy as it’s quite small and nice). Found some interesting places (Druid Lane).

And The Hall of the Red Earl… the remains of an Earls house from the 1200s (lots of history).

There’s a pub called the King’s Head… it’s 800yrs old and used to belong to the Mayor of Galway- it was seized from him by Col. Peter Stubbers following Galway’s surrender to Cromwell; Stubber was believed to have been responsible for beheading King Charles I in 1649 (ergo the King’s Head pub I guess!).

Then there’s the Saturday market- lots of handmade fudge and fresh food- looked yummy (I really love food!)

I also passed a statue of Oscar Wilde (I think I have a thing about statues now…) he was sitting beside Eduard Vilde, as I walked away a child passed with her parents. In a loud, ‘trying to sound adult’ voice she exclaimed, pointing at Wilde; “WHAT on earth is that!”

Poor Oscar!

A nice weekend trip; I should make more of an effort to go West, more often!

Myself and Ridley will be off to the Bram Stoker festival in Dublin next weekend 🙂 Hope to have a lot to say about it!

Dreaming of Disney

Our chance visit to the Tokyo Disney shop in Shibuya reminded us how much we love Disney. Being children of the late-80s, our love is focused on early 90’s ‘renaissance era’ Disney; that’s Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and The Lion King. So, entering the magical world of Disney always brings us back to our childhood.

Latimer: We blindly walked the busy metropolitan streets of Shibuya and came across the amazing entrance to the Tokyo Disney shop. I have never seen a shop-front like it before! It was great! I was instantly a child again!

Stepping inside was like stepping into a cloud of fairy dust…

We were in heaven (even though we had no intention of buying anything- it’s freaky expensive). It captured the essence of being young, of stepping into a dream. The shop just spoke to your inner-child, completely ignoring boring adult you (perfect!).

It all reminded us that Disney is King of romance and happily ever-after. We were buzzing with happy memories. Our current selves, that aspire to write the perfect romantic adventure, were moulded in our youth by Disney stories. One of the favourites, was Beauty and The Beast.

The story is so perfect- the Prince cursed because of his cruelty, wastes away in his ruin of a castle, while the Beauty, Belle, chooses to save her father’s life by sacrificing her own freedom, becoming the Prince’s prisoner. And of course he is horrible to her (though really he is just misunderstood) but she doesn’t stand for it, a fierce heroine who stands up for herself. In time, they both realise their faults and find love in each other but not before the dramatic fight-scene with the rival man on the roof of the castle (in the middle of a dark storm, beautifully animated).

The story teaches us that cruelty rewards no one and kindness is a virtue that must be nurtured or it will whither. In fact Disney has always taught us valuable lessons through fantastical stories. We grow up and leave it behind one day of course (there’s no point in talking to me about The Princess and the Frog, or whatever else comes along thereafter), but we all have our Disney stories. And they create a little child within us that never really disappears.

A spark of fairy dust in our hearts, it’s why we write and draw and play, even if we grow up. Disney always brings a smile to my face. This shop was like being transported inside my own imagination for just a while. It was pure magic!

Ridley: It’s true, Disney is a master at invoking those warm fuzzy feelings, while always having imparted (unknowingly to our small minds) a valuable lesson at the same time.

My favourite Disney movie of all time is Mulan. A beautifully crafted tale set in China, where the Huns have begun to threaten the Chinese empire and the Emperor has begun to amass a defending army in retaliation. It’s a story filled with love, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness and courage. It also showed us young girls that it didn’t matter who or what you were, if you worked hard enough and believed you could succeed, then you would, even with severe obstacles hindering you.

 Again as with Beauty and the Beast, our heroine enters her current predicament because she wishes to protect her elderly father, Fa Zhou, from conscription into the army. Despite the threat of execution if she is discovered, she masquerades as a man and goes in his place. We follow her attempts at becoming a soldier, beginning as a truly abysmal recruit then progressing to a skilled and competent team member. During this she also gains respect and friendship from her fellow conscriptees and of course, Captain Li…

Even looking back at clips of it, the illustrations are absolutely beautiful, not to mention the music. To this day I still know the words of ‘I’ll Make a Man Out of You’ (mainly because it’s on my ipod!)

This story still stands strong, even up against all the impressive 3D animation and special effects. We become truly immersed in her tale, we celebrate and commiserate as she does and of course, we clasp our hands together as we wait to see how her relationship with Captain Li develops.

As with all of the best Disney films, Mulan brings us on a rollercoaster of emotional highs and lows, until it culminates into a dramatic ending where our heroine shows what she’s capable of against the Hun leader with the backing of her soldier friends, who have accepted her for who she is despite her previous deception.

When you enter the Disney shop, these are the wonderful happy memories that you instantly recall. All the fantastic relationships, the rollercoaster tales, the warm fuzzy feelings and without a doubt, the beautiful soldiers, princes and beasts, you remember everything. So Latimer and I couldn’t help wander the store with smiles on our faces, exclaiming over well loved characters (and the price tags on them!). 

Disney deals in dreams, possibly unattainable ones, but they’ve also taught us to strive hard for them no matter how difficult. For us, this really is why we write, to re-create these types of relationships, build these magical worlds and hopefully help to continue the dream for others.

While in the fantastic Harry Potter books, Albus Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” I personally believe our dreams make the living part all the sweeter. I think Disney might just have thought this too.