Something about Shakespeare

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Latimer: William Shakespeare.

There was a time when that name struck fear into my very soul. Years ago, when I, like so many others, was semi-scarred by compulsory Shakespeare plays on English exams.

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These plays required someone, who had studied Shakespeare in college, to go through it word-by painful-word and translate it, because Shakespearean language is just that – a different language! And it scares a young teenager, scares them bad!

Romeo and Juliet wasn’t really a great start for me.

I remember a girl in my class at the time, she got really frustrated and fidgety and just piped up in a loud confident voice:

“MISS! What use is Shakespeare? Thees and Thous – no one talks like this! I can’t go into a shop and buy milk talking like this!”

The teacher looked like a bolt of lightning had just crispy-fried someone right in front of her. She was speechless. We all laughed– what the hell was the point of this?

In hindsight I know now that poetry and stories and plays, none of them is any use in ordering milk – but it’s not about getting the milk – it’s about food for the soul. All art is pointless, as a Wild man once said 😉

Thankfully, after Romeo and Juliet, I had a break – no more Shakespeare for one year. Not much of a break as Emily Bronte stepped up to take his place for a while – ‘It’s me, it’s Cathy, I’ve come home’ (dear God, go away you crazy harpy woman!).

Then, in the school ending mega-national exam – the big guns were wheeled out– Macbeth! Nooo! NOT SHAKESPEARE AGAIN (we knew what to expect now) HOW WILL WE WRITE AN ESSAY ON THAT! DON’T MAKE ME LEARN QUOTES! NOO!

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Macbeth, initially I understood no better than Romeo and Juliet, then, again word-by-word it gets explained… and actually, I thought; hold on a minute, this play is epic! It is the ultimate story of a fallen hero, of how absolute power corrupts.

I even have this little quote that I semi consider ‘my life quote’ – Let me set the backstory… It’s Macbeth talking, he is thinking about what he’s done (killed the rightful King and plunged Scotland into anarchy by talking the crown for himself – the very land itself is festering, sickening under his unlawful rule) – Macbeth is thinking about turning back, trying to make up for what he’s done, i.e. do the right thing – ultimately this is what he decides –

“…I am in blood stepp’d in so far, that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er…”

Basically – ‘I won’t turn back, I can’t. I’ve waded out this far, that turning back now would be as difficult as continuing’. Now for him, this was a BAD choice…

…in my case, I consider this quote as my – “KEEP GOING LATIMER! Don’t give up! Going forward is as hard as going back – so keep going, keep going!”

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When we were in England, we went to Stratford-Upon-Avon to visit the Bard’s birthplace.

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The town is beautiful anyway, but with the summer shining, it was glorious… England and Ireland actually look amazing in the sun (though we hardly ever see it, and universally I noticed, we all go completely mad in the sun – it’s like we fully expect to never see it again!).

We went to the Bard’s house, and got an introduction video display, narrated by Patrick Stewart about Shakespeare’s life and work.

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Shakespeare was famous even in his own time (a proper celeb). The display showed all these great actors who have acted in Shakespearean plays and how it’s almost a feather in the cap for an actor to have done one (or many). And you get really amazed by the actual amount of plays that Shakespeare wrote and you start finding yourself starting to be awed by him – just look at all these amazing quotes…

“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players”

“There’s no art to find the minds construction in the face”

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves”

“All’s well that ends well :)”

 

Shakespeare’s house is really beautiful too and so well preserved.

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Writers from all over, down through the years, would used to visit and write their names on the windows, to show that they had been in the great man’s house. Now these signatures and, sort of property damage!, are artifacts themselves.

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There was this overflowing sense of respect, from the past and the present.

We also learned that his plays only exist for us today, because his friends collected them altogether into this epic compendium. This book of plays is why we know about Shakespeare today (otherwise we may have never known and Stratford would have a lovely car park instead of a cool piece of priceless history).

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While Ridley and I sat in Shakespeare’s garden, we wondered, was there some other fantastic playwright out there who wrote just as well, if not better, and had no wise friends with great foresight, and so was forgotten?

Do you ever wonder if there were hundreds of fantastic writers in the past, who never told that amazing story because they couldn’t write?

Or there were fantastic writers whose books were burned or lost, or never printed at all?

Think of all the forgotten stories 😦

Later that night we went to see a Shakespearean play; All’s well that ends well, in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (but of course!) in town.

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In honour of our trip to Stratford, and our Shakespeare adventure, we both bought Moomins in the town (random I know), and named them after Shakespearean characters.

Ridley’s is Hamlet Moomin… Mine is Bertram Moomin.

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We are odd, we know… but – This above all; to thine own self be true :)” (even if that does involve buying a Moomin and calling it Bertram or Hamlet!)

Period Dramas

Latimer down the rabbithole

Latimer: “Argh…” I blink, staring bleary eyed at a person I know, but can’t remember. The obsession fire has dulled my senses.

“Are you okay?” they ask, raising a dubious eyebrow. They kick at my leg, forcing me to scramble up onto my feet.

“That is…” I wave my hands at them, my fingers threading the air. I start to remember who they are. “I think truly… pray some tea!”

“Oh jezz, it’s happened again hasn’t it!” She shakes her head and sighs.

“Ridley my old friend, pray some tea… I feel very ill!”

“I’ll make you the tea, but really you need to let go of all those BBC period dramas – you have to let go Latimer!”

“……”

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This all started with my kindle.

Yes, my kindle… and some 10 pride and prejudice variations that I have amassed like a hoarder, over the last few months.

It was inevitable that I’d get an urge to watch the actual Pride and Prejudice TV adaptions. I sat down and watched the 2005 movie – and it resulted in this comic thing…because my love for P&P overflowed!!

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And, one thing led to another, before I knew what I was doing, I was putting the Colin Firth P&P DVD into my laptop (note: yes, it is a truth universally acknowledged that all women are born with a copy of this series :)).

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Ah, no you won’t… it’s why we love you!

I think if I tried to express in words, how much I love this series it would just come out as; “Ohhh Mr Darcy” and you’d know what I meant! 

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I’ve come to the conclusion that, to me, Mr Darcy is the ultimate man of any series – I think he might be the perfect literary man and the romance with Elizabeth and him; ah, it’s the most well done and most loved in my heart of hearts.

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I sashayed back into Austen, thinking; “Pride and Prejudice, that was fun, I shall be off again now…” but no – I ended up finding the 2009 BBC adaption of Emma – well more like it found me, as if it knew… “Hello there, would you like to watch me?” (and this started a massive chain reaction of drama watching!)

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The only Emma adaption I’ve ever seen was the movie, and I did like it, but didn’t love it. This 2009 BBC series was really good though – and Johnny Lee Miller (Mr Knightley) was lovely 🙂

When the series was over, I thought, “more! I want more!”. Yes, by this point on the obsession scale I am almost lost to coherent thought, like a kid hopped up on sugar. My high led me to the North and South BBC series (based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell)…

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Oh my god… this was brilliant!

Brilliant… Richard Armitage (Mr Thornton)… haha, how could I not love it (I can’t help but focus on the men, I mean they are a central theme to these period dramas!)! I don’t want to say anything much about this one – you should just go watch it, blissfully unaware of anything that will happen, it’s just so good.

And after that the journey went ever on an on – 

Little Dorrit (BBC series – very good, recommend this as much for the mystery as the romance! The father and uncle are so sweet, and pitiful and silly… my heart bled for them, really did)

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Mansfield Park (ITV movie – my main thought, Fanny is a very unfortunate name, very unfortunate!)

Northanger Abby (ITV movie – It’s a bit of an odd Austen story – but the ending was very sweet… – just look, Henry’s a lovely Austen man!!)

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Sense and Sensibility (2008 BBC series –  I’m not a fan of Sense and Sensibility but this was a very nicely done series)

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I started to think, that the country life of a period drama was a very sweet one – with all these ladies of leisure, painting, reading, drinking copious amounts of tea and walking to the ‘parsonage’ down glorious sunny country lanes.

I started to admire it all, thinking it looked blissful. Then (as if to test me) the power went in our house (because a relay station exploded, or something!) leaving me standing around for two hours admiring the calm and peace of the warm sunny evening, reading from my kindle.

Then, I got bored and ran around screaming; “where is the power! Where is it! I want power! I want tea!”

When it finally came back, I did a little dance and song about, “power” and how it’s awesome.

So much for my dreamy wistful side – still, it’s so much fun to be lost in period dramas – truly; I highly recommend it 🙂

Any suggestions are more than welcome (I’m running out of dramas! Is Downton Abbey any good?!)!

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!)

Forging Magic

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~~~

“I’ve finished it!” Ridley skipped into the room, waving a thick folded piece of cream paper. Purple glitter tumbled out from the folds in the page to flutter down into her hair, making her look like a giant demented pixie. ID-10022438She jumped to a stop beside Latimer, who ignored her. The only sound in the room was Latimer furiously tapping away at her keyboard. Ridley rocked on her heels and waited. When the other girl was finished typing her sentence, she peered up over her glasses. Her wary expression was highlighted by the glow from her computer screen. With a sigh, she took a fortifying swig of her tea, while Ridley smiled at her and nodded, urging her to ask.

“What’s finished?” Latimer said, setting her cup down on the table with a dull clunk.

Ridley’s grin widened. She thrust the sparkling page at her and the tinsel bits scattered everywhere. Latimer’s hand shot out to close down her laptop and prevent the pieces from falling into it. Shaking her head, she took the page and prised it open, then groaned at the avalanche of glitter that slid off the smooth paper and landed in her lap. A huge swell of lavender perfume rose up from it.

“I got tired of waiting, so I stopped…waiting that is, and I started making instead,” Ridley said, twirling around the room. “I figure my letter isn’t coming, that or my owl got really lost…I wonder…do you think something happened to it?” Her face fell and she stopped spinning to stretch back and squint out the window. Hulking grey storm clouds lumbered by overhead. “Poor owl…”ID-10084553

“What are you – is this gold leaf?” Latimer said, leaning closer to stare at the ornate writing at the top of the page.

“Yep, I figured they’d do it right, especially on their invitation letters.”

Dear Ridley, we are pleased to announce you have been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…you forged this!” Latimer’s head swung up and she scowled. She shook the letter, part of it creasing under her thumbnail. “Where’s mine?”

“Yours?” Ridley frowned, reaching forward to carefully extract the letter from her friend’s grip. She tried to smooth out the crinkles with her fingertips. She averted her eyes, refusing to glance up and tried to hide her smile. “Why would I have one for you?”

Latimer scoffed, pointing at her. “You don’t expect me to believe that you’d be happy to go to Hogwarts on your own?”

“Of course I would!” The other girl stuck her chin up in the air. “You’re very presumptuous to think I’d spend my time making one for you, it takes-”

“Hand it over.” Latimer smirked, thrusting her hand out between them. “I just know you’re lying when you start using words like presumptuous.” There was pause; she wiggled her fingers.

“Fine.” Ridley reached round to her back pocket and tugged out a heavy envelope.

“Thank you!” Latimer said, hugging it to her chest. “What’s brought this on?”

“Don’t wrinkle it!” Ridley said. She waited until the letter was placed on the table before answering. “Well we’re going to England. Where we’ll be in both London and Oxford, if we can just find a door, just one entrance into Diagon Alley or platform nine and three quarters, I’m pretty certain my papers are good enough to fool anyone once we’re in. In your packet there, you’ll find your letter, a train ticket, bank statements for Gringotts and a few other handy bits and bobs.”20130405_1087

“Impressive.” Latimer said.

Ridley nodded and smiled. “I know.”

“Forget about the glitter though.”

“What! Why?”

“Because…” Latimer grimaced, she tried to brush it off her legs but it just collected in her shoes and stuck to her palms. Another wave of lavender fragrance was released with the movement. She sneezed and held her hands up; the little purple pieces sparkled in the light. “It’s a Pandora’s plastic bottle of twinkling chaos! It was only invented to look pretty when it’s locked away, but you should never release it.”

“I think glitter is fun!” Ridley raised her arms and clapped her hands, a small cloud of purple shiny bits puffed up into the air from her fingers. “Dumbledore would have agreed I’m sure.”ID-100100592 Laughing and dancing beneath the falling particles, she accidently inhaled a few of them and started coughing. Latimer jumped forward and began whacking her between the shoulder blades.

“Hack them all up, Ridders!”

“All I can smell is lavender!” she cried out, her eyes and nose started streaming. She bent over and clutched the edge of the desk. “I think I’m allergic. They’re trying to kill me!”

Latimer nodded, still clapping her on the back. “What did I say? They’re evil in a bottle.”

“Tea!” Ridley wheezed, she grabbed the cup up from the table and washed down the last of the glitter. Taking deep breaths, she glared down at the tiny glinting choking hazards on the wooden floor. “I think you’re right Lat, we’ll forget about them.”

Latimer crossed her arms. She waited until the blond haired girl was upright and breathing normally again. “So…you have a plan then?”

“Our best bet is the train I think.”

“So it’s off to platform nine and three quarters!”20130405_605

~~~

“Ridley?”

They pushed the trolley forward, closing their eyes just as they reached the wall and then suddenly, they were through. White steam billowed out from the large black chimney of the train; it swirled around them, obscuring everything and leaving only large purplish shapes and shadows to hint at what was there. Laughter, voices and music drifted to them from all directions. As the mist started to clear, a large black engine emerged from the thickest of the cloud. A sharp whistle pierced the air.images (3) Students in Hogwarts robes bumped past the two girls who huddled to the side and stared around with open mouths. They side stepped away from the crowd, avoiding the large wooden trunks that trailed after people, each one with familiars perched on the edge. Latimer and Ridley grinned at each other and clutching their envelopes, they lunged forward.

Ridley! Wake up! We’re here.”

Ridley’s eyes flew open and she glanced around. “Ah nuts.”

They were nowhere near the gleaming engine of the Hogwarts train; instead she was almost blinded by the blue and yellow colour scheme that had been slapped on everything throughout the cabin of the plane. The intercom crackled overhead as they taxied towards the docking bay at the airport.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to London. We hope you had a nice time on your flight with us. We have arrived on time to Gatwick airport.” Trumpets and music blared out; celebrating the fact they’re arrived as scheduled. Ridley shuttered and touched her throat; glad the flight crew had no access to glitter or confetti.

Latimer grinned over. “Let our adventure begin!”

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Ridley: And did it ever begin! We wandered all over Oxford and as Latimer mentioned in our previous post, we stayed in Christ Church. For a lot of the holiday it really was Harry Potter themed. Before we took a bus to Oxford, we popped over to Kings Cross train station. 20130405_619There we waited in line for around twenty minutes to get our picture taken at the wall where they’ve set up the platform nine and three quarters sign (and a fake trolley with suitcases).

20130405_607They let you borrow scarves and Harry Potter glasses for it as well. We took individual photos and then a joint photo, for the craic!

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While I did worry a little bit that we were probably too old to be in the crowd queuing to get this done, when I glanced behind me, there were quite a few women older than us there (and only women actually now that I think of it! No men!) waiting to have their picture taken. Not that I cared really- never let embarrassment stop you from doing something you love or really want to do, in the end it will always be something you regret if you let your red cheeks guide you!! So Latimer and I snatched up our Slytherin scarves (Slytherin were just misunderstood you know, we firmly believe we could have infiltrated them and brought them over to the good side. ‘Draco, come with us, escape snakeface!’) and we posed to the best of our abilities! I had my suitcase with me (not on purpose, I’m not that sad, yet, we’d just literally arrived off the plane and this was just a little detour), so I incorporated that into the picture, it was Latimer’s brilliant idea!20130405_1053

After our ‘photo shoot’, we wandered into the Harry Potter shop just down from the sign. 20130405_610We both couldn’t help thinking that when we were younger, in the height of our Harry Potter fangirling, we would have given anything to visit there. They had amazing things for sale.20130405_61620130405_105520130405_106120130405_105720130405_1062 It’s just as well I suppose we didn’t end up there all those years ago, I would have been extremely broke afterwards!20130405_105920130405_61120130405_1060

Then on to Oxford where we stayed in rooms in Christ Church itself.  20130405_624We were allowed to have breakfast, from 8am to 9am, in the Great Hall; my god that was an experience of a life time. Both mornings we were there, we arrived promptly at 8 and didn’t leave until 9, we made sure to spend the full hour there. 20130324_092211Drinking tea, eating sausages and corn flakes, discussing life, humming the Harry Potter theme tune softly (and not so softly), all under the giant oak rafters (as Latimer said, it was like we were sitting under the inverted hull of a great wooden ship).20130405_98520130405_982 People were reading their newspapers, or discussing all sorts literary things (we were there during the Oxford Literary festival, we caught the tail end of it, so there were writers and literary people staying in the college too and we had breakfast with them all surrounding us). 20130405_989

20130405_98620130324_09124220130405_981While they continued to discuss high-brow, intellectual topics (which were interesting, I won’t say they weren’t), I gazed around, wide eyed and kept imagining owls flying in through the windows and circling above me. It made me very happy.

Randomly over toast, I ended up chatting with a retired classics professor; he was visiting a friend who lived in the college. He told me about how in his time as a researcher, he’d studied Latin wax tablets and Egyptian papyrus scrolls-you can imagine how much my eyes gleamed at that and how impressed I was!20130405_978

After breakfast on our last day, we wandered around the room, studying the portraits and as we were ‘residential guests’ we were allowed up at the top table (you were allowed eat there too, but no matter how early we arrived, the seats were always taken!). We took loads of pictures! Of course.20130405_100120130405_1005

It was such a privilege to able to wander the grounds. On Saturday night, after a dusting of snow had covered everything, we stood in the large courtyard at the heart of Christ Church.20130405_65520130405_67220130405_96820130405_95620130405_949The fountain in the centre bubbled away and the church bell started to toll. We were completely alone, though there was a murmur of voices coming from the Great Hall, where an official dinner, part of the festival we guessed, was being held and dull light shone out through the stained glass windows lining the long room. 20130405_105120130324_091142All the wrought iron lamps around the courtyard were lit and the gates were closed to the public. We paused on the flagstones, we were absolutely frozen, our feet and hands were numb, but the world stilled and we just marvelled at the beauty of an absolutely perfect moment.20130405_974 Then there was a cough behind us, as someone hurried down the stone stairs to join us outside and we started forward again in search of warmth and a cup of tea.

No wonder so many magical books have been set in such a wonderland.

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Find more of our Oxford Tales here 🙂

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

– Time for Tea! 🙂

Through an Oxford Shaped Looking Glass

Latimer: Last week we finally managed to go on our long anticipated trip to Oxford!

We had planned to go as a treat to ourselves after Legend Unleashed was published. But well, it took much longer than we thought, because life and work got in the way, but FINALLY we went… and it was glorious and freezing, haha.

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It’s spring and you wouldn’t think it in Ireland, or England as it turns out. But, we didn’t mind, we were there to enjoy the place, rain or shine.

The Oxford Odyssey will probably take a few posts 🙂 For today, let’s take a short trip down the rabbit hole!

Myself and Ridley were staying in Christ Church College, which I continuously referred to as the Harry Potter College! I felt a bit bad reducing the 467 year college to the ‘Harry Potter College’; but well, currently it is… But it’s actually also the Alice in Wonderland College 🙂

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Alice Liddell’s father (Henry) was the Dean during the time that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was teaching there. Dodgson is the real name of writer Lewis Carroll.

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He was a lecturer in Mathematics at the college, and he befriended Henry Liddell and his children. Alice in Wonderland was born from the stories he would tell to amuse the children. While his book was very popular in the 1800s when it was published, he was a very shy man and he didn’t want to be ‘known’.

Supposedly fans of the book would write to him at Christ Church, addressing the letters to Lewis Carroll. When people tried to give him the letters, he was look at the name, then back at the person, replying with a smile; ‘oh, I don’t know this man’. And so, he managed to duck away from the fame.

Walking the corridors and cloisters of Christ Church, I found myself trying to picture Dodgson walking with the Liddell children and dreaming up Wonderland. In the grand meadow that surrounds the college, you could just picture the little Liddell’s racing through the icy mists chasing white rabbits.

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Across the road from the meadows, there is a small shop called Alice’s Shop.

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Alice Liddell used to visit the shop to buy her favourite barley sweets. And became the inspiration for The Old Sheep Shop in Wonderland.

We had fun poking around the shop and taking some sneaky pictures; well I say sneaky, sometimes I don’t know if people don’t like customers taking pictures… I just always assume they don’t, so it was sneaky to me (I do it all the time though! Got caught in Tokyo… one of the guys in the shop came up to me and crossed his arms in an ‘x’ sign, basically telling me ‘uh-uh, no pictures!’ hehe).

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While I was taking some pictures, Ridley hissed, ‘Tá sí ag feachaint!!’ (Irish for she is looking’). Sheepishly I withdrew my phone. Basically the girl in the shop thought I was stealing, oh crumbles, that’s embarrassing.

Anyway, we both ended up finding lots of nice things to buy in Alice’s shop.

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Book marks, for the marking of books 🙂
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Note pads and lovely mug 🙂

We both bought one of the Cheshire mugs! I love mugs.. I really really do! I constantly pause while drinking tea and will hold up my lovely cup and turn to the person in the room and say, ‘isn’t this a lovely cup?’ (haha :)) 

I love mugs! some are now pencil holders due to cracks, wahh :(
I love mugs! some are now pencil holders due to cracks, wahh 😦

The Cheshire one has this great trick… when you put hot water in it, Cheshire disappears leaving only a grin. You have no idea how much fun I had showing that off to people… yes, Latimer is easily amused 🙂

Find more of our Oxford Tales here 🙂

Forging Magic (Harry Potter-style!)

– Time for Tea! 🙂

Kindle Fire Giveaway!

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There’s a fantastic giveaway happening over at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer! We are one of the sponsoring authors for the Kindle Fire Giveaway for March. Go quick and enter, you could be in to win that beautiful gadget above! 😀

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Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International).
Ends: 3/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW

Go HERE to enter.

Sponsoring Authors

The Stone Guardian by Theresa McClinton
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From Books to Television

Latimer: I just saw the Game of Thrones Season 3 trailer this week. God, it looks good! Mostly it reminded me of the brilliance of Tyrion Lannister.

He must be the top reason for watching Game of Thrones. He’s my top reason at least. He’s witty, intelligent and calculating. He’s not good by any means, he’s in it for himself, but you have to respect him like you can’t respect many of the other characters, because Tyrion knows how to play the game. 

His dwarfism makes him an unsuspecting player, it defines him a little at the start, but eventually he just becomes one of those characters almost Sherlock-like in his quickness. He’s got the best comebacks and in Peter Dinklage’s hands he is portrayed in such a cool way. Every moment he’s on screen, you find yourself screaming; “You rock!”

I’m starting to think about the quality of TV shows lately and how some books and comic book series make excellent TV shows.

I heard that Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series (which shamefully I have but haven’t read yet! Grr, bad Latimer!), is being made into a TV series instead of a movie.

Supposedly there is a lot in it that is more suited to TV than a movie. I think Game of Throne’s is the same, it makes an excellent TV show, but lots of the richness (and grim roughness) would have been lost in a movie.

And of course The Walking Dead is a comic book series that makes a fantastic TV show (that I have yet to fully watch, I’m so behind! :()

I wonder what Harry Potter the TV series would have been like? In a parallel world where it was a TV series, maybe produced by HBO with astronomical financing and effects (and I bet it was epic!).

The Vampire Diaries makes a good TV series, but it would have been a bad movie. And then I do think that Hunger Games and Twilight make better movies (the TV series’ would have been a bit too drawn out). 

And then there’s The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I’m reading it at the moment (and enjoying it, but that’s a later post!), and I keep thinking… ‘this would be a great TV series’. Apparently it’s one of those ‘it’s on, it’s off’ series. But… wow, seriously, watch out for it if it ever comes!

It seems to be a good time for TV! I can’t wait to hear of the next series to make it onto the little screen! Derek Landy’s Skulduggery, or Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl maybe? They might be fun to have running through our weeks 🙂

 

Artist Spotlight: mseregon

deviantid_by_mseregon-d55ou3dOne of our favourite artists on deviantart, mseregon, is current creating a new series of drawings which we’ve been following! We pop over often to see what new image has been uploaded. What is this series I hear you ask? It’s a brilliant idea, she’s drawing women who are main characters in various fantastic novels that she’s read. Fan art is such a fantastic way to express and share your feelings with others about a particular book and to extend your time in the world of the characters. So this series is fan art at it’s finest.

Ridley: I just love the way mseregon picks one colour per character and implements it in various parts of the picture, simplistic but very beautiful and effective! It’s also given me more of an appreciate for how many brilliant, strong female main characters there are now in literature. I don’t know why, but when I was much younger, I seemed to find it hard to find books without male leads. Not so now!!

Latimer: I’ve really been enjoying this series so much! mseregon has such a wealth of book knowledge behind her; she’s always picking such great characters to draw! Every time she uploads a new image I’m over in her gallery 🙂 The one colour per character really works so well, very graphic (I can’t wait for the next images!!). 

Here we’ve been given permission to share her pictures with you. Each image has a link to it’s place on her gallery so if you’d like to you can pop over to see more, leave a comment or just tell her how great she is! 🙂

First up we’ve Katniss from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If you haven’t read these books, definitely check them out!  A great series and the reason behind the new popularity in dystopian novels at the moment!

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Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Our favourite novel with one of the best independent, smart female main characters ever, and not to mention the ultimate fictional crush that can be found in the swoon-worthy Mr Darcy! Elizabeth’s dress is adorable in this and the colour is so pretty.

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Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre 🙂 by Charlotte Bronte. There is something very beautiful about Jane’s plainness.  The grey-blue really suits the character of Jane. This picture conjures up a great image of such a strong character. Makes us want to delve back into Charlotte’s world!

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Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. With her dramatic blue hair in the book, it is the absolutely perfect colour to have picked for her picture. Her laid back pose in this is just brilliant. The book by Laini is a real page turner, some really magical world building to be found in it too.

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Tris from Divergent by Veronica Roth. Now we are both ashamed to say we haven’t read these books yet! They are on our list!! This picture definitely peeks our interest, if we hadn’t already bought the books, we would be a-buying after this. Tris looks like one kick-ass character!

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Sookie from The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Everyone knows Sookie by now, even if you haven’t read the books you’ve surely seen True Blood, with the  handsome Eric Northman?

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Tessa from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. If you are currently clueless as to who this is and have never heard of Cassandra Clare, for shame! Get thee to a bookshop, or Amazon! I would recommend City of Bones as your first venture into the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

The purple is really spectacular in this and it’s very similar to how I’ve pictured Tessa too!

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Alina from Shadow and Bone of The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. Honestly can’t say too much about this yet, it’s one of the next books on the reading list… really can’t wait, it looks like a fantastic story!! Alina looks brilliant in her regal gown 🙂

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Claire Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The frills of her dress and her hair are brilliant. Again….Outlander is a series that we need to check out, mseregon is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to book ideas!

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And finally, Temperance from Legend Unleashed by M. Latimer-Ridley…. yes, us! Wow. We were surprised and so happy when one of the next images in the series was our Temperance Levinthal! Look at her, the pose really captures her nonchalant personality!

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This isn’t the end of the series, not yet! mseregon has a few more images up her sleeve, we’ll be certain to follow along until the end!

Look up at them all, they’re so pretty!

If you want to keep up-to-date on mseregon’s works or get some really brilliant book suggestions: you can follow her on twitter, tumblr or deviantart!