Irishisms

Ridley: It is said that the Irish people are a nation of storytellers. While I don’t know if this is true, it’s hard to judge yourself, I do believe that everyone here has at least one good tale to tell. We all also have one friend who was the class clown with the best, most outlandish long tailed stories, ever. This pal was just all round good craic. And when I say craic, I don’t mean the sniffy sniffy powder up the nose and now your flying through the stars kind. Craic here is everything from good banter, teasing (or slagging, which is basically good natured insulting, we love to do this), sarcasm, the atmosphere, jokes, music, singing, fun and just generally all of these combined to ensure you have a great time or night out.

Each country is unique. Personally though, I like to think the Irish sometimes have the strangest and sometimes hardest quirks to understand. So we’re going to share a few of them with you!

1. Irish people use a lot of fillers in their sentences that make no sense, though we understand them all the same and they sound nice. It keeps the conversation flowing (no awkwardness), examples included:

‘ah, sure that’s that really.’

‘You couldn’t be hoping for much more.’

‘Sure, what’s the use.’

We even have conversations with our cars-we just can’t shut up. The Irish like to talk. Des Bishop does a hilarious sketch of this actually. When we overtake someone in the car and they’ve moved aside to let you pass them. We switch on our hazard lights for a few seconds to say ‘thank you’ in car speak, then they will flash you with their head lights with a ‘you’re welcome’. You also get a ‘flash flash’ from oncoming cars, sometimes, to warn you about guards or speed cameras ahead of you (ah ha, policeman you won’t win today!) For the rude drivers or the ones in a particular hurry (but still rude) they come up behind you and flash you with their head lights asking you to move in. Once you do this and they’re safely ahead of you, you should receive a ‘thank you’ from their hazard lights.

2. Des Bishop also mentions the infamous immersion! It really is something that people in Ireland freak out about. Basically the immersion is turned on to heat up the water in your tank for the main taps or if you want a bath. Every single Irish mammy is convinced if you leave the switch on too long, the tank will explode. Even after my brother, who is an engineer, gave a massive explanation showing that it was actually impossible for it to blow up, my mother was silent for a moment and then said ‘Even still, just make sure you turn it off, you can never be too sure.’ No matter how many technical or scientific terms are hauled out, she’ll never be convinced!

3. We give the most confusing directions: “You go left, right, then you go right, right. When you come to the fork in the road, there’s a white gate to your left, ignore that and go the opposite way. Go down passed Lynch’s house, they’re the ones with the giant bullock in the field. Their dog is always digging up my azaleas, the fecker, go passed there, then go left, I think, and you’re there. Did you get all that?”

Despite these confusing directions, we’d prefer them to the sat nav. We have a deep seated suspicion and hatred for sat nav systems. We talk to them as if they can hear us. “You hadn’t a fecking clue where you were going, you got us lost again, you eejit!”

4. We’re a nation obsessed with the weather, we talk about it, complain about, analysis it and predict it. And at the merest hint of sunshine, we all strip down to our vests and shorts to show off our white chicken legs. We make the most of every sun ray as we know it won’t last long!

A good hello for any Irish person on rainy day would be; ‘Jesus, the weather’s desperate.’

And a typical answer to this? ‘Isn’t it just! You wouldn’t know what do be doing with it all.’ Nothing has actually been said here. It’s basically gibberish but the whole point is not to impart any important information as such, it’s just to be friendly and you’re showing a united, similarly miserable, front against the grey leaking clouds above.

5. In the summer, when the days get longer (the clocks change-we’ve daylight savings time) and eventually it’s still light at half 10 at night. People here will always remark, ‘There’s a grand stretch in the evenings.’ Grand here means nice or good.

Grand pops up a lot in Irish conversations. I tend to use it all the time. I don’t notice this, unless I’m abroad and I start to get funny looks. I like using it, though it is another example of a sentence filler. Say for answering something with a No, it softens it; ‘Ah no, you’re grand.’ Or you can also use it with a yes, ‘Oh grand, that would be great.’ Confusing, yes?

6. Red lemonade, it’s like normal clear lemonade, but with lovely chemical red dye in it. It’s unique to Ireland. We fought the E.U. to keep it, you know, when they tried to ban it. Yet I don’t know many people who actually drinks it these days, though because it’s ‘ours’ we don’t want to give it up.

7. Irish people and punctuality do not go hand in hand. We are generally late, for everything. This includes the public transport systems too I might add! 

8. When you pass an absolute stranger in your car on a country road, always wave, not crazy fast side to side wave, you’ll get a strange look for that. No, it has to be a slow hand up as you pass by (the even cooler, laid back farmer way is just raising a single index finger and a nod-the nod is optional.) If it’s a sunny day, you may get the wave out the open window. Exciting.

9. We all love cheese and onion flavoured Tayto crisps. Anyone who says they don’t isn’t a true Irish person. Quite a number of people will also get two slices of white bread and put the Taytos in between them to make a crisp sandwich. Yummers. (I don’t actually do this. Loads of other people do this though.)

10. We’re a nosey nation, we like to know about our neighbours and we gossip about them constantly. A simple hello can lead to the history of a single family, an example of an actual conversation I overheard yesterday:

“I saw Johnny Mac Donagh up town.”

“Johnny Mac Donagh, now whose he?”  (This question is really more, where does he come from, who are his people? You’re judged on your family, relations and connections more so than what you’ve achieved yourself.)

“He’s related to Josie who married Jim Murphy, the garage man. Bit of a scandal in that family. He was originally going with her second cousin Mary, then dropped her like a hotcake when he met Josie, but sure it all worked out in the end. They got married and had little Eoghan who ended up being a doctor. Or was it a vet? No, a doctor! Now he’s over in the Amazons or some such place, playing with monkeys.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, Johnny was just out for the milk and the papers.” 

(And I was left wondering, what happened to poor Mary? And if little Eoghan was a doctor and not a vet, why was he ‘playing with monkeys’ in the Amazon?)

11. We have to refuse something three times before accepting it. It takes a type of coaxing to get us to agree. I think we say the first no out of politeness, we don’t want to impose, the second is to double check the person offering is serious and not just doing it out of courtesy, then the third time you can relent. When it comes to food or drink, never just assume an Irish person’s first no, actually means no. Always check with an ‘Are you sure?’ There will probably be a ‘Ah no you’re grand’, in this instance you just have to say ‘Ah, go on!’ And with a giant grin the other person will get stuck in to whatever you’re offering. You HAVE to ask again- this is very important. If not, when you walk away the Irish will turn to each with horrified looks and go, ‘the cheek of that! What was yerman/yerone thinking? Oh I’m ripping (angry)’!

If you’ve ever seen the show Father Ted, Mrs Doyle’s offer of tea with ‘Ah go on, go on, go on….” is a more exaggerated version of what actually happens. Speaking of tea, it is drunk the country over. There are two brands that rival each other here. You’re either a Lyon’s or a Barry’s tea drinker. Choose your side! (Lyon’s would be our preferable brand. We love you Lyons!) Tea is drunk for numerous reasons, and for no reason at all. I think the average is four cups a day per person in Ireland. Perhaps when I’m working I average around 4 cups, but on a day off….that could be easily doubled! I do like fancy coffees too, but if I was only ever allowed one or the other again in my life, I’d always choose tea.

12. When we go abroad, we love to use Irish. It’s our secret language. We could hate it with a passion when we’re at home, but when we visit a different country we all suddenly start using a cúpla focal as gaeigle (couple of words in Irish), knowing gleefully no one else can understand us. Though I’m waiting for the day someone turns around and starts talking back in Irish to me, that would be awkward!

13. Despite speaking English, we’ve warped it in such a way that someone visiting the country, even if they’re completely fluent in it, might think we’re speaking a different language all together. We’ve different sayings or ways of saying things that make no sense to visitors.

  • She’s a pain in the face (she’s very annoying).
  • How’s she cuttin’? (how are things going? Very much a country saying.)
  • I was scarlet for her (a Dublin saying, meaning I was embarrassed for her.)
  • Fair play to you. (well done to you-if you’ve succeed at something.)
  • It’s Baltic in here or it’s perishing in here (it’s absolutely freezing in here)
  • The craic was ninety! (it was fantastic fun)
  • What’s the story? (Another type of hello with also how are you incorporated into it, it’s a more Dublin version)
  • He’s a fine thing. (he’s handsome)
  • Don’t be foostering (don’t be messing around/wasting time)
  • She’s going to eat the head off you (she’s really angry and going to yell at you.)
  • Well (very lazy hello, how are you, between very good friends)
  • You made a hames of that. (you messed that up badly)
  • Would you cop on. (would you get some sense. Stop being an idiot.)
  • She’s a goose gob (she’s a silly idiot)
  • You’re gone in the head (You’re crazy/mad)
  • I’ll give you a shout. (It’s a way of saying good bye, ‘I’ll speak to you later’ but without any sort of actual commitment to do this. It’s an empty promise really!)
  • You wouldn’t be going to the shop? (‘be going’ comes from a tense we have in Irish, it’s called the continuous present. Also, we tend to ask for things in the negative. You wouldn’t be getting milk in the shop? Hinting that you’d like milk too.)

That’s just a few quirks that we have. It probably makes us all look a tad mental. But crazy can be charming….right? 🙂

If you’re looking for a funny look at Irish people and the strange things they love and say try this book: Stuff Irish People Love. Everything in it is so true!!

I’d love if anyone would like to share national traits from your country, are there many of them? Is there a country quirkier than Ireland? While you think of a few, I shall return to my book trailer creating! The days are flying by too quickly, we’ve so much to do before our book is published!

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The 47 ronin

In the damp wet of Ireland’s ‘rainy season’ (a.k.a. summer), Latimer thinks back on ancient Japan. She exchanges her wetsuit for some samurai swag and sets off on a journey through Japan’s shogun past…

Latimer: Modern Japan is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. It’s fun; it looks crazy, but it does leave me thinking, ‘that’s intense… sort of unreal’.

The Japanese past is sometimes hard to find in Tokyo.

But find it you must, because it’s full of fantastic stories waiting to be told!

We were on a pilgrimage of sorts that day. We wanted to find the temple of the 47 ronin- otherwise known as Sengakuji!

My Dad was the one that told me the story of the 47 ronin (master-less samurai). I’m not sure how or why he came to know the story; but he told it to me in his ‘every single detail’ manner…

The story begins in the age of the shogunate… I will attempt to set the scene… actually I may have to leave it to your imagination because my historical knowledge is firmly European. I could tell you to imagine a castle, a wild windswept hill; rough spun tunics and broad swords… but I won’t because I’d be wrong, your picture would be wrong and we’d all be looking at Braveheart and that’s not right! We are going to the orient after all….

The shogunate age was the golden age of the samurai and their masters. The samurai were a noble class and they followed a strict code called bushido. This was all about honour. Honour and respect; that was key to the samurai- you could lose your honour very easily back then it seemed. We use the term perhaps a little dismissively today- but back then, to them, it meant something…

Asano Takuminokami was the Feudal lord of Ako. He was asked by the shogunate to entertain vistors to Edo (the old name for Tokyo). Asano asked his loyal advisor Kira Kozukenosuke for directions on how best to do this. Apparently Kira didn’t like Asano and ‘with malice’ disgraced his honour as a samurai (bad mouthed him basically. This was a major no-no in bushido!). Asano decided to put Kira in his place for insulting him. He drew his katana (sword) and managed to cut Kira on the forehead- but not kill him (ah fiddlesticks!).

It was strictly forbidden to draw your sword in Edo castle. There was also a law that stated ‘equal punishment for quarrels’ so both men were expected to be punished. Now the story gets foggy here, but for some reason Kira got off the hook and only Asano was punished. He was forced to commit seppuku (samurai suicide, not to be too graphic but it involved a knife to the stomach and then your stomach on the floor- grim). Anyway, Asano was forced to commit seppuku in the garden of another lord’s house. This was bad, because seppuku outside was for felons not a lord like Asano. And as if that wasn’t bad enough- his family were stripped of their titles and forced off of their estate!

Asano died and Kira got away scot free! Oh… that’s the perfect start to a story of revenge if ever I head one! The loyal samurai of Asano, the Ako Gishi (47 of them), pleaded against this indignity and demanded the reinstatement of the Asano house.

They were denied. And so began two years of plotting…

They set their plan of revenge in motion on December 14th 1702. They attacked and killed Kira at his residence. Apparently they pleaded with Kira, treating him with respect, to die as a true samurai should (commit seppuku and die with honour). The leader of the 47 samurai, Oishi…

… offered Kira Asano’s dagger (the one he had used to killed himself). Kira trembled before them, but would not kill himself. So, they did it for him (dishonourable) then cut off his head, taking it to Asano’s grave in Sengakuji.

One of the 47, named Terasaka Kichiemon, was ordered to go to Ako to report that revenge had been taken.

Strangely now, the 46 remaining ronin didn’t run. To run would be dishonourable. They turned themselves in to the shogunate straightaway.

They were sentenced to seppuku the following February 4th and buried in Sengakuji with Asano. In a strange twist, Terasaka Kichiemon was pardoned by the shogunate when he returned from Ako. Some reported it was due to his young age. Terasaka Kichiemon lived to be an old man; he died in his 80s and was buried next to his comrades.

And after hundreds of years, myself and Ridley found ourselves at the 47 ronin’s graves in Sengakuji.

It was one of the quietest places we had been in Tokyo. Tucked away from the bustling modern world (though that world did overlook the small temple).

When we got there, it felt like we’d finally found ancient Edo, beyond the lights and noise of Tokyo, behind the modern facade.

The story of the 47 ronin is one of the most popular stories in Japan, because it reminds them of loyalty (Chu) and justice (Gi).

There were no tourists there. The place was serene. It had history. It had a story. I’m in two minds about the samurai notion of honour. It’s an extreme version that I don’t understand to be honest. Then there’s the loyalty part, which is somehow easier to connect with. These men sacrificed their lives to avenge their master. There is something very powerful about that level of conviction.

It was amazing to finally see the place; amazing how such an old story, from so far away, could have found its way through time and tide to us. We were very touched and awed! (Thanks to my Dad for telling us about it!)

Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun

Well, here at MLR central we were absolutely chuffed when our virtual friend Maggie over at flyawayhomebook nominated us for the Sunshine Award-we were beaming! 🙂 So if you get a chance before reading below, pop over to her and say hello. She writes from the beautiful country of Norway and technically could be considered our neighbour-Ireland is only a couple of hours away after all!

The Sunshine Award guidelines are:

  1. Link the award to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Answer the questions that come with it.
  3. Pass it along to other bloggers and let them know they have received it.

Here be the questions (argh if ye accept da challenge… argh):

1. Favourite colour

Ridley: It’s definitely a toss up between turquoise and purple. When I was younger I used to love royal purple (that’s right, not just any purple, it had to have crown) Now though I do think I love turquoise, I’ve numerous tops and scarves this colour! It brings out my blue eyes *flutter flutter*

Latimer: Red. It’s always been my colour. Not that you asked, but my favourite food are tomatoes and strawberries (there’s a subtle theme- can you spot it?).

2. Favourite animal

Ridley: Again, there’s a choice between two-Latimer will tell you I can’t play this game properly-choosing things-I’m not good with the hypothetical. So…it has to be a panther (though I nearly picked a wolf…teehee)

Latimer: Wolf. Because it’s noble, wild, a thing of beauty. Almost a dog, but not quite. A panther- seriously? I question your choice- I question it!

Ridley: Quiet you!

3. Favourite number

Ridley: 33, for various reasons, mainly due to a very long standing in-joke between Latimer and I…

Latimer: 5 and all the multiples of 5. Because it was the only timestable I ever really knew and to this day I love to count in multiples of 5 (that’s a fact- I LOVE 5) 

Ridley: You’re weird.

4. Favourite non-alcoholic drink

Ridley: Tea, I love tea. It helps wake you up in the morning, calms you down at night. It can be used when celebrating between friends, when mulling over bad news and made during commercial breaks to kill time! It’s a cure all really.

Latimer: Lyons Tea, the one in the green box (*wink, wink Lyons who’s your favourite addict?*)

5. Facebook or Twitter

Ridley: I prefer Twitter, I like that you can have instant, random chats with complete strangers from the other side of the world with the same interests. Facebook always feels a little more formal to me, I feel a little awkward asking people to be my friends on it when they don’t know me.

Latimer: Twitter, though I don’t think I understand it. One day I will master the @’s, the #’s and the RT (what’s that? I don’t know).

6. My passion

Ridley: Writing and drawing. I can become totally absorbed doing both, where the world and time passes me by and I never notice. I’d be a happy woman to be able to while away my time doing both.

Latimer: My imagination… I feed it stories, sounds and pictures and it feeds my soul so to speak. Without it, I am nothing. It’s my passion, the thing I love most (aside from red things).

7. Giving or receiving

Ridley: Definitely giving, I’ve never once been as happy to receive a present as I have been seeing the happiness or delighted surprise on someone’s face when I’ve gotten them the perfect present. It’s why I always love Christmas, not for what I’ll get but for what I’ve gotten my family and friends, I can’t wait to see what they think!

Latimer: Giving… when the money and mood are flowing and the person is someone I understand… otherwise, neither, I will live in a tree and neither give nor receive!

8. Favourite pattern

Ridley: Hmmm….don’t have one. So I googled it, here’s a nice one:

Actually, I like Celtic designs, this is from the Book of Kells, but I’ve always been a fan of Jim Fitzpatrick, he often incorporates things like this into his work!

Latimer: Hmm. Favourite pattern. The tri-spiral/triskele which was carved around Newgrange, Co. Meath (a megalithic tomb older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids at Giza… buuhhyaah).

File:Triskele-Symbol-spiral-five-thirds-turns.svg

9. Favourite day of the week

Ridley: Friday, about 5 minutes passed 6 to be specific. It’s the longest time I have off before I’m back in work again! Plus, I’m allowed to eat a Cadbury’s Crunchy and get that Friday feeling! If you don’t know what I’m taking about, you’ve been deprived, Cadbury’s is the best chocolate in the world (and yes, I’ve sampled a lot of different brands in my time, so I’m a self-proclaimed expert *puffs out chest and points to handmade badge*) This sums me up on a Friday:

Yes, including the singing, the rollercoaster and the giant vat of chocolate.

Latimer: Thursday night, because I know I only have to get through Friday (easy enough) then I have the whole weekend off. When you’re at Thursday night it’s all good, you have much to look forward to.

10. Favourite flower

Ridley: Flowers? Hmm…not really a fan of them, mainly because they make me sneeze, numerous times, like I’m trying to turn inside out. If I have to pick (and this will sound a tad creepy) I like dead roses. I think the colours from the dying petals are beautiful and absolutely brilliant to draw. Say the picture below, I took that in a friend’s house so that I could draw it when I got a chance (I did ask for it, but my friend is also of the view that drawing dead roses is fun, creepy creeps the pair of us!)

Latimer: Sa… Sa… SA KU RAAA (that’s a NEWS J-Pop song myself and Ridley have gone from loving to hating). Anyway, sakura, aka the cherry blossom. I have never been to a hanami (flower viewing festival), but one day I will sit in a park in some random Japanese city/town/village and watch the petals falling. There’s a cherry blossom tree in the house behind ours. When in season, the petals fall into our garden (bliss for me, hell for others). I love to watch the petals dancing in the wind when it’s blowing strong. There’s something very cinematic and ethereal about it.

We’re currently drawing up our list of nominations, so stay tuned, we’re pottering on over to our favourite websites and letting the bloggers there know before we post them here!

Many thanks again to Maggie!

MLR

One Piece of what?

Since returning home to Ireland from Japan, Latimer has begun to wonder- what is One Piece and why was it stalking her across Tokyo?

Latimer: I am a massive manga and anime (subbed) fan. I follow, what I term, two ‘epics’- Naruto and Bleach.

While some would say, you like cartoons seriously? I would reply; stories are stories, no matter the media… and I love a good story!

Naruto (by Kishimoto Masashi) started out initially as the story of a very annoying child. But as it progressed it turned out to be a very deep story; one of friendship, love, loss and betrayal. Naruto as a main character grows as the series progresses and becomes an actual inspirational figure in his world. No, he isn’t the strongest; no, he isn’t the best looking and NO he isn’t the coolest. But, he is the most courageous and determined. He comes to embody a true hero; someone who never gives up and will sacrifice everything to save his friends and even random strangers. It’s actually a great story about the growth of the individual (not just Naruto, but all the characters, villians and goodies alike).

Then there’s Bleach (by Tite Kubo). The story of an ordinary boy, Kurosaki Ichigo (not that ordinary as it turns out) who becomes a substitute Shinigami (or ‘death god’/soul reaper). He reaps ghosts that have become wild, beast-like creatures called ‘hollows’. The story really comes into its own when the real Shinigami (a woman called Rukia) who appointed Ichigo as a substitute Shinigami, is arrested for doing just that. The story gets some real pace when we are introduced to the Captains of Soul Society (the Shinigami world).

I wouldn’t say that Bleach has the emotional heart of Naruto (Ichigo is typical shounen (boys) manga main character material- he’s strong and keeps getting stronger and has powers likely beyond anyone that’s ever existed).

Ichigo isn’t as limited as Naruto in terms of strength, which lessens his chance of having the same emotional draw. It actually highlights the importance of character flaws. It is often stated in the DC comic and Marvel comic worlds, that all superheroes must have a cap on their abilities, otherwise we can’t understand or respect their struggles- ultimately for us mere mortals to fully connect with a character we must see that they are at least in part, as crap as us!

That aside, Ichigo’s story is very intriguing and when he gets strong enough to stand up to someone- it’s great! But there’s only so many battles that that can stay cool for.

I enjoy both Naruto and Bleach for different reasons. But, as Naruto is my first epic (Bleach is Ridley’s) it has a slightly bigger place in my heart.

 

One Piece (my Tokyo stalker) is older than both Bleach and Naruto. I know this because Wikipedia told me.

I thought because Bleach and Naruto were massive in the West, we wouldn’t be able to move for Bleach and Naruto junk in Tokyo.

Oh, how wrong I was… instead I was stalked around the city by ONE PIECE… it was in the shops, on the subway… in the cinema… at the airport… it was FOLLOWING me and I knew nothing about it! That always annoys me.

It’s supposed to be a fantastic story. It is extremely popular… and the marketing was working on me… I wanted to know about it.

So, I decided I would A) do a One Piece Stalking me post, and B) in order to do this, I would watch 1 episode of One Piece.

It’s an epic story (551 episodes long TO DATE). The manga is a staggering 15 years old this August (and still ONGOING)!

I can’t commit to this; but I am curious (good marketing Tokyo… very good).

So, I am now going to watch my first episode (before this, I’ll get some tea, in my new Moomin Cup I got in Harajuku’s Kiddyland- that’s a shop, by the way!).

Okay, now I’m ready to go… (I will record initial thoughts):

(Pirates… uh-oh, not a fan of the sea)

(One Piece is some mythical treasure)

(That orange-haired girl has massive hands)

(Damn, this cup is SMALL… but that’s a fine cup of tea if I do say so myself- Lyons Tea, are you listening?)

(I’ve learned new words: Muri desu- ‘it’s impossible’. ‘KAIZOKU’ is a pirate- interesting because ‘kazoku’ is family- so you got to be careful when saying KAIzoku and KAzoku! Makes me wonder; have I ever said; “there are 5 people in my pirate”, in my old Japanese classes?)

(Monkey… the main character is called Monkey?)

(Monkey reminds me of Naruto- he’s pretty annoying… but this likely means he has great potential as a main character?)

(Monkey ate a fruit that makes him essentially elastic… and therefore strong? Yep. Someone (a massive ‘woman’ pirate that looked like a man) just hit him with a giant Morningstar and he was fine)

(He is a lone pirate looking for a crew. Obviously that means the orange-haired girl anyway)

(End: if someone could download the story into my head, then fine, but I can’t watch 551 episodes…)

I’ll tell you what though, I am very interested in something as a result of one split moment… The orange-haired girl was running around in the background of the whole episode, looting from the pirates. Then, she’s escaping off the ship at the end of the episode; Monkey is also. His escape boat crashes down beside hers, spraying her with a wave of seawater (she screams). Then, the camera shot slows down and they look at each other for a brief moment…

My lasting thought… do they fancy each other? Does Monkey have a thing for the Orange-haired girl? I know she’s important because…

she was on the cover of the orange-juice I bought!

Tea shop

Ridley: When you go on holiday, there comes a point when, despite enjoying your time away, you eventually start to want a few home comforts and familiars. Whether its a television programme, a particular shop, a type of food, a drink, or your own comfortable bed. You start thinking about how great it is.

For us, it was tea. We just wanted a good cup of tea, so when we discovered there was a tea café in the Ginza district, we were a little too excited.

Mariage Freres, Ginza 5-6-6, has 450 different varieties of tea from around the world. Personally, I just wanted a good cup of Lyon’s or Barry’s tea.

The number of teas available was confounding. Sometimes you can have too much choice! I wanted a normal cup of tea, but that felt a bit boring with all the fancy blends, added to that, the prices had our eyebrows shooting upwards. (9 euro for a pot of tea- each!) So the pressure was on to make the experience ‘worthwhile’. In the end, I said feck it and I stuck with the breakfast blends, going for something that basically was like Lyon’s tea. I didn’t want anything fruity!

The presentation was gorgeous. China plates. It was the type of place where my pinky could have tried to stick out, in an attempt at some sort of misguided grace. It also had quite a French feel, though on the way there we’d been expecting an English tea shop.

We decided to splash out so we also had crème brulee. Very tasty!

Ginza is definitely an expensive district, where people with money flutter around. On every corner and street there was a large brand shop, whether it was Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, YSL, all the sort of places that I basically have a security guard dogging my steps as I wander round with an open mouth, releasing various gasps at the prices and the words ‘I could buy ten handbags for that!’

(Without a doubt, it’s a place where the rich and famous hang out. We (well Latimer did) spotted Sean Lennon strolling down the street.)

The tea shop definitely cater to them, less so to the tourists. Its a type of fantasy dining for the Japanese in a way. For an hour or two they can drink fruity concoctions and pretend they’ve step out to a place in Paris. Except for the all male cast of servers in white suits, there were just women eating there.

The ladies were all extremely well dressed with branded handbags, I like to think that they were the wives of hard working rich business men. As with everyone we saw, Latimer and I sipped our tea and we people watched while wondering ‘cad é an scéal?’-literally, what’s the story, or rather what we mean is, what is their story, where are they from, what do they do, what are their lives like? This happens all the time, you see someone unusual, someone normal, someone with a strange hair cut, it doesn’t matter, we’re fascinated by their background. I’ve always wondered, isn’t everyone like this? The more you see the world though, the more you realised there are more people not like you than you ever could have imagined.

Before we left we popped in to their bathroom (its a long standing belief of mine that you can tell a lot of how the way a place is run and its cleanliness by the state of this room!) It had a normal toilet too. There was no fancy stuff with a controller, numerous buttons, heated seat and automatic flushing. It was nice to know where you stood with it! (I’m a sad individual, I know.)

While the café was on the first and second floors, downstairs there was a shop, they sold tea pots and loose tea.

It put me in mind of what an old apothecary would perhaps have looked like, with large impressive black jars of tea for sale and weighing instruments.

If you look closely you’ll see Latimer’s covert picture taking was spotted in the photo below.

While definitely an experience, if you love tea and are up for a once off visit, you should try here. Especially if you’re gasping for a good cuppa! Just be prepared to pay a little (read, a lot) more than you normally would at home