The Phantom of The Opera

Ridley: We’ve been to the musical, Phantom of the Opera. Both Latimer and I went to see this in the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin (now renamed the Bord Gais Theatre, though everyone refuses to call it that!)

Latimer: It’s a real shame that the theatre was renamed, because the ‘Grand Canal’ makes it sound very opulent and grand, but the Bord Gais (‘Gas board’ in Irish.. because the Irish Gas Board sponsor it now) makes it cringe-worthy. 

Ridley: It was really fantastic going though, name choice aside! I don’t often go to the theatre, but when I do go, I always wonder why I don’t do it more often, as I feel quite cultured! 🙂 The costumes were so vibrant, the set design was clever and the music just swept you along. If you ever get a chance to see this in theatres, go, you won’t be disappointed! Your eyes will just want to drink it all in!

Latimer: Myself and Ridley went to see Lord of the Rings, the soundtrack score in this theatre (‘Grand Canal’ at that point). I remember complaining that the seating was bad (we were about three rows from the front). And the layout felt very cramped.

But this time I was sitting on the upper circle and it was pretty fantastic. I recommend that seating area now! I went with my Mam and Aunt, and my Aunt has been to this theatre lots of times and she knows what seats to book now.

Ha. I suppose it’s trial and error.

And in introducing my Aunt, I introduce an old, old fact from the Grand Canal’s medieval past- a detour through time now if you will!

Outside the theatre, there are many red poles (as you see above).

Ridley, did you ponder, what these meant? I didn’t give them a second thought, only thinking; ‘oh, some arty poles’.

Ridley: I have asked before ‘what’s with the red sticks’ but no one ever knows! I’m sensing you do…

Latimer: Ah, my Aunt told me that they mean something…

There’s a street opposite the theatre called Forbes Street. And in medieval Dublin this was were the lepers were sectioned (it was known as ‘Misery Hill’).

The red poles are symbolic of the saying, ‘I would not touch them with a barge pole’ in reference to the lepers.

Very eerie now in that respect eh?

By night the poles are lit. The above picture is them after the show was finished!

Well now… back to the Phantom! I agree that the set-design was fantabulous! My god I couldn’t get over it. Ridley, please, explain the story if you will…

Ridley: Well, most people know the story of Phantom of the Opera. For those that don’t, it’s basically a tragic love story. The phantom is a deformed man, a ghost who lives in the depths of a theatre. He falls in the love with the young and beautiful Christine Daaé. He watches her from the shadows and teaches her to sing without revealing himself. She believes he is her Angel of Music, a being from heaven sent by her father to watch over her. It is the phantom that arranges for Christine to get her first big break in the theatre. He bullies and forces the owners to feature her as their star. While she is singing as the lead in the play, her childhood friend Raoul sees her and they reconnect. Thus begins the dangerous love triangle, where Christine must decide between her old friend and her Angel of Music.

The 2004 movie with Gerard Butler is the version that I know best. Not a bad version of the phantom to love, Gerard Butler, eh? Teehee. It’s a bit like Doctor Who, everyone has their favourite Doctor and everyone has their favourite phantom! Gerard is mine! (I also have the soundtrack from this version of the Phantom of the Opera and I play it often. It’s really beautiful.)

Now, I’ve always thought Christine should have chosen the phantom over Raoul. My view on this has never changed, no matter how many times I’ve seen the musical-either in the theatre or in the cinema. Raoul’s affections always seemed so fleeting and shallow. He only remembers his love for her when he hears her singing at the opera-after she’s become the lead performer. Whereas the phantom has loved her all this time, helping her and protecting her…

Dramatic, mysterious, passionate and powerful, that is what the phantom is for me. I’ve always found myself drawn to him. I suppose I’ve always liked the bad boy, the evil genius. The phantom had the swirling black cape, a mask framing eyes that captivated and a hidden lair that he filled with haunting music. At the same time, he was damaged and vulnerable in some ways. Raoul was always pathetic compared to him. He also certainly didn’t get the massive swells of music from the organ at his sudden appearance.

With regards to Christine, I don’t think I’ve ever liked her as a character. On one hand, I can understand that she’d be terrified of the phantom, having been suddenly kidnapped by him. He is quite menacing. But I can’t seem to shake the soft spot I have for him, despite being a kidnapper and a murderer (I seemed to have glossed over this part in past versions, I’d forgotten about it but I was abruptly reminded he killed a stage hand, when I watched the musical in the theatre the other day! The sympathy I feel for the phantom is certainly diminished when I take this into account, so I generally have to forget this happens!)

I think that Christine uses the phantom. She preys on his vulnerable side, the side that has never seen friendship or love. He’s had only hatred, disgust and fear thrown at him. Without him, her career wouldn’t have progressed as far as it did, nor would she have been able to sing like she does. She plays on his affections for her and then betrays him in the end.

Latimer: Actually watching it all again, in this form, I can understand her not loving the Phantom though. Because he wasn’t sympathic and he was pretty ruthless. I remember in the movie thinking, ah she should have picked the Phantom (I was annoyed that she didn’t to be honest!).

Yet in this musical version (possibly the real version- aside from the book!), I felt it was all mixed up, I didn’t like the Phantom. The characters I really liked were the two men who buy the theatre at the start. I found them funny and enjoyable (light-hearted among the grimness). My Aunt saw it in London and said that this Dublin version has been cut down alot, so we missed out on some backstory etc

Ridley: The funny thing is that all changes in the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, which I never realised existed! It’s called Love Never Dies, and I have some major problems with it. (Spoiler alert here)

Latimer: This is beyond ridiculous…!

Ten years after the events of Phantom of the Opera, the phantom tricks Christine and Raoul into coming to New York, where he wants to hear Christine sing once again (I’d like to point out, his love for her still hasn’t faded!) Christine has a son, Gustave. It turns out that this is the phantom’s son! (My jaw dropped at this! Latimer: what the Dicken’s? haha, this is just so bad!) Never, not once is there ever any hint that Christine and the phantom were in anyway intimate in the musical or the films. Perhaps this occurs in the book? (which i’ll admit I haven’t read, so i’m very open to being corrected on this) Not only this, through the phantom’s scheming, he convinces Raoul to leave Christine, which he does-without any fighting to save their marriage! Then suddenly it seems Christine has always loved the phantom and she finally stops fighting against this love. Based on the musicals I’ve seen, I would have always said she’d felt nothing but pity and disgust for him. Perhaps at most, she had an affection for her Angel of Music, but no this undying love. 

Latimer: She found this false, undying love very quickly, considering how she left things in the Opera house in Phantom of the Opera. I’m still shaking my head at this. It was obviously fabricated in light of creating another cash cow.

Incidentally, he’s (the Phantom) running a theme park in Coney Island when we meet him again in ‘Love Never Dies’. And it’s called Phantasma… oh my…. oh my… 

Ridley: Well, also, the other final thing I have a problem with is when Gustave finds out the phantom is his father. He decides to stay and join him at the theme park in New York, instead of following after Raoul when he leaves. Raoul is the man he’s known all his life, the one he’s always considered his father and yet he wanders off with this random stranger instead? What? Would that really happen? I don’t think so! Hmm…

All the same, despite all my nit-picking and wish to change the ending, I still love the story! I think there are quite a number of people out there that love it too, or am I wrong? 🙂

Latimer: While I really enjoyed my trip to the theatre and also, the set design and experience of the musical was just amazing, I don’t actually like the story of Phantom of the Opera.

But still, it was a nice night! Also, random that we both attended separately, but we have joined together, like bubbles caught in an updraft to write this post. After-which we’ll pop, likely never to speak of it again! Ha 🙂

Ridley: Yes…bubbles…..  *pop*   😀

Advertisements

Now for Something Completely Different

Latimer is made of star stuff? Hurrah!

Latimer: Okay, so in this post I well and truly get my nerd on. What follows is an indulgence of my science fetish!

It might come as a surprise that I am a factual being, when my dreams are so rooted in the fantastical. But sometimes the truth is just as mysterious and awe-inspiring as the dream. I think that science is the great dream; the greatest mystery.

Recently I went to a general science conference, covering everything under the sun. It was the European Science Open Forum (ESOF) which was held in Dublin this year (Dublin is the City of Science for 2012 🙂 ).

This conference was incredible; for a start the program included five Nobel Laureates. Heavy-hitters as I was calling them.                                                                                 

The conference had two speakers that without a doubt I had to see: Prof. James Watson and Dr. Craig Venter. They’re like celebrities in science.

Now, you may or may not know who these men are. If you don’t, let me explain…

A conversation with James Watson

Professor James Watson, co-discoverer of the struture of DNA

Prof. James Watson co-discovered the structure of DNA in the 50’s with Dr. Frances Crick. He is quite an incredible man- at 84yrs of age, he is still active in research today!

The talk was a ‘conversation with James Watson’. It was very interesting. He can be quite controversal though.

He wrote a book called How to Avoid Boring People; one interest thing he said was to avoid being in a room with more than 2 Nobel Laureates (you have to laugh at the likelihood of that happening).

Watson said he hated going to the Nobel meetings because you end up with 10 Nobel Laureates in a room and they are incredibly boring. He snorted thinking you’d have to be boring to be one and that he was the exception.

It was amazing to get the opportunity to see him.

Dr. Craig Venter: ‘From Reading to Writing the Genetic Code’

Dr. Craig Venter, the background shows the cover of Science, the journal in which his group published their sequencing of the human genome in 2000

Dr. Craig Venter, sometimes called the ‘bad boy’ of science, was involved in the sequencing of the human genome. There were two groups racing to sequence the human genome at the time; the public group led by Dr. Frances Collins and the private group lead by Venter.

Venter had declared to the public group that his company could sequence the genome faster and for cheaper than they could. This kicked off the race between the two groups, leading to the genome being sequenced far faster than the public group had estimated it would be (3yrs ahead of the expected time-frame).

Craig Venter’s synthetic micro-organism, a bacteria called Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0

In recent years, more famously perhaps, Venter’s research group made the first synthetic organism.

It was very interesting to hear what his group (or an assembly of many groups) was up to and also to hear his thoughts on the future of science. 

He believes, for example, that in the future, during disease outbreaks, it will be possible for people to download vaccines from the internet and use boxes, containing his technology, to synthesize the vaccines themselves.

What an amazing thought eh? And not that farfetched.

Prof. Brian Greene: ‘The State of String Theory’

Professor Brian Greene

This was an incredible talk (even though I don’t do or understand Physics!). I am fascinated by the science of the universe.

Did you know- the heavy elements in our body came from the heart of an exploding star? All the particles that make up this universe have always been and always will be; how incredible is that?

It leaves you with a sense of belonging to the universe.

Prof. Greene also mentioned the multiverse- the notion that we are only one of many universes.

If these multple universes exist, it is believed that they would collide with one another and cause ripples to pass through each universe. 

Prof. Greene said, if we could detect these ripples, we could prove the existence of other universes. He said people were working on searching for these ripples (and they would be possible to find, if they exist).

Wow.

The infamous strings of String Theory… hypothecially!

Specifically though, Prof. Greene was talking about String Theory.

The idea behind it is that, if proven, it would be the unifying theory of physics- explaining all the parts that make up the whole universe and the energy in it.

It is a very complicated idea, and one that I can’t explain- so I found this brilliant TED talk that Prof. Greene gave (and it’s very similar, down to the letter in some parts, to the talk I heard). It’s about 20mins long, but it’s fascinating and he explains it in a clear way, so it’s easy to follow, if you are interested, I highly recommend it!

I left his talk feeling invigorated, awed and amazed. I had to jot down all I could remember.

Prof. Rolf-Dieter Heuer: The search for a deeper understanding of our universe at the Large Haldron Collider: the world’s largest particle accelerator

Large Haldron Collider at CERN

I couldn’t miss this talk. CERN is all over the media at the moment.

Prof. Rolf-Dieter Heuer (a particle physicist and Director General of CERN) was talking about the Higgs Boson. Which he said, if you ask him professionally he would say, ‘we have probably found it’, if you ask him personally he would say, ‘we have found it’.

Scientists, we are always so careful!

Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN

He was a brilliant speaker, very funny and very interesting.

Professor Peter Higgs, Theoretical Physicist who first predicted the existence of the Higgs boson

Briefly (and in a very simple way, because I am no physicist!), the Higgs Boson, when found (as it likely has been), would prove the existence of the Higgs field.

The Higgs field is the way a particle gains mass (by interacting with the field). The stronger the interaction with the field, the larger the mass of the particle.

The field also has a peculiarity, in that, it can interact with itself.

So, again, a particle gains mass by interacting with the Higgs field, in theory, but in order to prove that the field exists at all- you must find the Higgs boson.

But why?

Why would finding the Higgs boson prove the existence of the Higgs field?

Prof. Heuer had a brilliant way of explaining the reason why:

He used this analogy: if he walked into a room full of journalists (representing the Higgs field). He could pass through the crowd, unnoticed, because they don’t know who he is.

The journalists don’t react to him.

Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN… pointing!

However, if Einstein passes through the crowd, the journalists will react and crowd in on him.

And so Einstein gains mass (which is what the Higgs field does to particles).

The more known to the journalists, the more massive that person becomes (as they are all crowding in on them).

This is an explanation of how a particle gets mass in the Higgs field.

But, Prof. Heuer said, if for example he whispers a rumour into the room of journalists. They start to crowd in on each other, saying, “what did he say? Oh? Who?”.

This is a self-interaction of the field.

This forms the Higgs boson- self-interaction of the Higgs field= Higgs boson!

WOW! We all cheered. What a perfectly simple explanation of something I did not understand at all.

Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN
“So, particle physics is really easy!!”

After he explained this, Prof. Heuer said: “So, particle physics is really easy!” (His wry smile implied he was making a funny; everyone laughed).

You might wonder, this is all very well and good, but how does the Higgs boson help us really?

Well, Prof. Heuer made this point; the internet was developed in the 80s at CERN. It was developed by the scientists so they could transmit their research to one another in a quick manner. At the time, they didn’t envisage any other purpose for the internet. But in later years, obviously they realised it could be used for other things. And it was only later that other uses became known.

Prof. Heuer doesn’t know yet what the Higgs boson can be used for, but in the future who knows?

I really loved this talk.

Prof. Heuer is amazing. I want to go to CERN and follow him around and have cups of tea with him and get him to tell me about the universe!

Would it freak him out? If I was in his shadow, with a cup of tea in one hand and a notepad in the other, going:

“Okay Rolf, tell me about the universe!” Latimer

“How did you get in here?!” Rolf

“I live here now…” Latimer

“Security!” Rolf

“Shush; I locked them in the Large Hadron Collider- anyway, let’s talk physics!” Latimer.

Ha…

‘What does Art bring to Science?’

Moving away from Physics now, I also went to a series of talks on; ‘What does art bring to science?’

The most interesting of these was the story of an American painter, William Utermohlen, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This of course is incredibly sad, but Mr. Utermohlen gave a valuable, as before unseen insight into this progressive, destructive disease, by charting its progression with his self-portraits:

I found them haunting and somewhat disturbing to be honest, particularly the final portrait. It does illustrate a clear decline though, in a media that had not previously been shown.

It gaves the disease a very human element.

This was a very interesting talk; Mr. Utermohlen’s story really stuck with me.

Prof. Christian Keysers: ‘The Empathic Brain’

Professor Christain Keysers

Carrying on from this, I delved a bit more into the brain.

This was a brilliant talk about the biological basis of empathy.  Prof. Keysers gave an overview of empathy research.

He explained to us that empathy is not localised in a single area of the brain, rather empathy for different things is localised in different areas of the brain.

So,  people with damage to the brain, could loose the ability to feel certain types of empathy, but retain the ability to feel other types.

In terms of loosing the ability to feel empathy, Prof. Keysers said, if you loose the ability to feel e.g. disgusted, then you also loose the ability to feel the empathic disgust of others.

There was an interesting study carried out, where two groups, one male one female, were shown a card game. While they watched, the researchers monitored their brain activity.

The groups were shown a person playing fair and a person cheating, and winning. The cheater was punished and given an electric shock.

While watching the fair plays, both men and women had the same empathy levels. While watching the cheater being shocked, women had slightly reduced empathy, but they still had some empathy (sharing the cheater’s pain at being shocked).

However, men had no empathy while watching the cheater being shocked- in fact, it had activated a reward sensation in the brain! Indicating that the men were happy to see the cheater being punished, while the women were still empathising with the pain the cheater felt!

This begged the question of men and war, versus women and war. That perhaps there might be more psychological impact on women and this perhaps should be monitored more carefully.

Interesting right?

There was also a study carried out on ‘reading about emotions’. This study showed that people could empathise by reading; for example, they had a paragraph describing something disgusting and people felt disgusted by reading it.

The study suggested that people who read more may have more heightened empathy; but the reason why is not known.

Is it because people read more, that they have more empathy? Or is that they get more out of reading because they have the ability to empathise more with the characters (and that’s why they read more)?

Prof. Keyser mentioned something his old poetry teacher, from school, told him and it sort of stuck with me in terms of writing.

The teacher said that if you want to describe a person sailing on the ocean for the first time, don’t tell your readers what the ocean looks like, they already know- tell them about the person.

Tell them about their expressions. This is more informative, because this way they empathise more.

And in a scientific sense, you are activating the right parts of a person’s brain to feel attachment to your characters. So talk about the person, not the scenery.

Prof. Keyser wrote a book called The Empathic Brain and it’s a self-published one.

It describes an overview of empathy studies (not just his own). I haven’t read it, I did buy it though, it’s waiting on the Kindle- with many others, ha. But he said it was for everyone, so it’s not written in an overly scientific way.

Well, the conference was absolutely amazing.

I wanted to share some of the things I learned, though I appreciate that I might have rambled on a little. I hope it was clear and maybe a bit interesting in some way!

Being at this conference reaffirmed my love for science 🙂

Book Trailer Unleashed!

Ridley and Latimer have been turned into chibis! Ridley: I only need one eye, like Sauron… Latimer: Takoyaki (octopus balls) anyone? No.. I didn’t think so.

Well, the book trailer is done! Here it is, as we promised! It’s all our own work (animation and art).

Hope you like it!

_________________________________________________________
Product description of Legend Unleashed
 
When an infamous criminal is unleashed from his prison, it has consequences for everyone in Carwick. Temperance Levinthal in particular…
Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…
_________________________________________________________________

Ridley: It’s a stop motion animation with black silhouettes, kind of in the style of Lotte Reigner. Here’s some of the pictures below that I took while making it- and when I remembered to take them!

From drawing rough sketches of the different scenes and characters.

From cutting out the silhouettes.

From recording the animation.

The animation was carried out in my garage room (as you can see from the clutter! Go look back at the picture of the camcorder, do you see the empty Tayto box from many Christmases ago? Told you we love crisps in Ireland-see the post Irishisms, if you’re now going ‘Huh?’) Despite the chaos, this was the darkest place in the house, so the best room for animation creating! In a way, I made the light box. It’s a long frosted glass table that I got second hand (at an excellent price) and I went to Woodies (local hardware shop) to buy a light, which I placed underneath the table. It beat paying a 100 euro plus for an official A4 light box. The tripod and the camcorder aren’t mine, they were borrowed!

Latimer: At this point, please imagine me texting, and viber messaging Ridley, saying ‘how’s it going? yeah, yeah? Harder, monkey! Work harder!’, sipping my tea, crackin’ the whip. Editing on the side 🙂 (as Ridley bled real blood, I bled metaphorical editing blood).

Ridley: I recorded the frames of the animation with the programme ‘I Can Animate’, then I used Windows Movie Maker to gather the clips and create the video. Audacity was a programme I used for the music and sound effects. It’s fantastic to use, quite simple once you learn the ropes.

Latimer: I wish I could have strapped a camera to Ridley’s head while she did all of this. Because I would have loved to hear the, ‘oh dear god, noooo! what happened?’ moments. Next time, I will- I’ll document it!

Ridley: Latimer and I collaborated on it all (Latimer: she’s being nice, the animation is Ridley’s brain-baby- I was a sound-board for the story-board, music and descriptions- but really props to Ridley for this!), deciding on what worked in the animation once it was recorded, the font used on the slides and the type of music we needed to create the right ‘feel’ for the trailer.

For the parts like the chains behind the clock and blood drops, I used Deleter screen, which is used all the time by manga artists. The paper has grey tones and designs, which can be cut out and stuck onto your picture. It’s great stuff. I bought it with the trailer in mind when we were in Tokyo after we found one of the best art shops there, Sekadio in Shinjuku (Latimer: working holiday, the only way to holiday! Haha!).

 We were in heaven, except for the fact it was packed and all the aisles were really narrow! And I am a browser, I wander the aisles, which you couldn’t really do there! (Latimer: yeah, poor shop design really too narrow! and claustrophobic!)

Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time making this. It’s my first ever video, though I’ve always had a love for animation, second only to writing! Most of my favourite movies are animated. Aardman, Pixar, Blue Sky Studio, Dreamworks-I love all their stuff. In Ireland, we’ve Brown Bag films,  Boulder Media and Cartoon Saloon to name but a few of the companies here, all of which are making waves in the animation industry!

So as you can see, I relished the chance to create this trailer and join my two great loves, writing and animation. I just really hope people like it!

Easily Amused

Ridley: I’m amused easily. I’m also a people watcher. Add these two together and you can have endless entertainment! Who needs television when you have a brain like mine?

I find amusing or entertaining things just staring out my bedroom window. Now I don’t live in a beautiful picturesque mountainous region, overlooking a glacial lake, or even in a bad neighbourhood with knife wielding hoodlums (not that I’d class this as amusing, more dramatic with a pinch of terrifying).

It’s all fairly standard, there are houses around me and across the road there is a green area.

Despite the normal surroundings, the other day I leaned out the window absolutely fascinated by two scenes that were happening simultaneously. Most people would probably have passed by without a second glance, while I stood for twenty minutes staring out, absolutely riveted. (Part of it, of course, was also to do with me making up the story and adding dialogue in my head as it was happening. I probably looked strange, staring out, unblinking with a glazed expression and a wide grin….creeepy….)

Now, that makes me sound a bit like one of those nosey neighbour types (or worse) that always have the net curtains twitching, I’m not! Though I do fear it for my sixties, but I’ll fight against the urge. 

Back from that little side journey…the first scene had two cats. The second had two male students, moving out for the summer.

Let me set the first scene…

Travelling through tall grass, a sleek black cat spotted something ahead and froze. Then after a full body quiver, he crouched low along the side of the green. He was every inch a miniature lion from the Serengeti, stalking its next prey. Paw by paw he stepped forward through the grass.

Behind him, slipping round the corner of the wall was a cute fluffy orange kitten. He looked like he was high on glucose injected skittles.

Whatcha doing, Spike?

Meanwhile, in a house across the street, the two male students were loitering outside their front door. They were soon joined by a car pulling up beside them; their parents. The Irish mammy and daddy had arrived to the rescue, to help them move out. They had a trailer too. They started parking it, awkwardly, up the drive way.

In the green, the kitten had joined the hunting cat, scurrying up alongside him to stare down at him with its head cocked. The black cat’s tail flicked, he tried to ignore his cute fuzzy visitor. Still almost lying flat along the ground, he sped up to try to escape him. Orange kitten paused, peering after him and then bounced forward. 

Play? Play?

In the house across the road, it soon became clear that the two boys had decided to collect their rubbish during the year, instead of paying for the weekly bin collection. Black plastic bag after bag was carried out by them from the back garden, as the mother wrung her hands, and supervised. The father crossed his arms with a heavy glare.

You can just imagine the conversation once they’d finished and the trailer was packed high.

Irish Mammy shook her hands at her boy, “Oh Johnny, why did you do this to me? If you’d asked we’d have given you the money for the bin collection.”

“Sorry, Mam,” Son rubbed the back of his neck. Nearby, his friend was kicking the side of the pavement with his head lowered, trying to avoid the frowns and anguished cries.

“What sort of state is the house in?” Irish Mammy wandered to the front door. She disappeared inside.

At the same time, the black cat had almost reached his prey, all the while valiantly ignoring the bouncing kitten at his side.

Irish Mammy reappeared at the front window as she threw back the curtains and turned to stare at the room with her hands on her hips. With her back to the garden, the Son glanced at his Dad.

“Eh…there’s more…” He jerked his thumb to the side of the house and began to walk backwards. His friend was poised, ready to sprint to the back with him and help. They were both staring at the Dad.

“For feck sake…” Irish Daddy sighed and folded his arms. “Go on, but don’t let your mother see, otherwise I’ll get it in the neck and then you’ll be hearing about it from me.”

“Thanks!” The two boys scuttled away. They brought back five more bags.

It was then the orange kitten finally realised what his more serious friend was doing…

what is that…it’s moving…

Colourful!!

He shot passed the black cat, no finesse, no planning, just pure enthusiasm. He ploughed at the butterfly, which then fluttered into the air, untouched.

The black cat turned away with a violent flick of his tail and a hiss, leaving the kitten leaping after a butterfly that was now around ten feet too high to ever reach.

Teehee…jumpy jumpy!

At the house, the parents folded themselves back into their car and beeped as they drove away. 

Once they were out of sight, the two boys abandoned their slumped shoulders and bowed heads. They glanced at each other, gave a massive high five and then scrambled back inside with giant grins….

You’ll just have to imagine I was like a spectator at a particularly fantastic Wimbledon match, my head was whipping from side to side, trying to catch it all!

Ah easy amusement, never leave me…

Book Cover Unleashed!

We are absolutely thrilled to share the cover for our new book with you!

It’s called (as you can see!); Legend Unleashed.

On the back of the book we have the blurb:

“Temperance Levinthal is in danger. She’s been dragged in Alastair Byron’s deadly world. Before she met him, everything was normal. Now she’s fleeing from werewolves, fighting wizards and finding that some secrets are best left untold.”

Our cover artist, Collette was absolutely fantastic! She’s an industrial designer, working in Australia and she also happens to be the sister of one of our best friends. It really is a case if you just look around you and ask, you already know some amazing people who are more than willing to help when you start to chase your dreams.

We provided Collette with a brief (perhaps one that was a little too detailed and long!! Haha…) on what we wanted in terms of colour scheme, images and our over all general idea for the cover. We’ll be the first to admit, we’re both perfectionists and hard to please at times, but we were delighted when this winged it’s way into our inbox. She even gave us quite a number of options to choose from, after much debate between us though, we decided the above cover was the one for us, it was our cover. We’ll show you some of the other options below though!

Sometimes it’s a pity you can’t use every option, isn’t it?

Ridley: We really wanted a black and white theme (as you can see). I’ve always found black and white very striking. A cover like that has never failed to make me double back and pick it up (or click on it, if I’m online). Having done its job to stop me and tempt me, it’s then the blurb’s duty to hook me into buying! So unfortunately, I do judge a book by its cover, I like pretty things, so sue me! Haha! I can’t wait to hold this book in my hands and then slide it, pride of place, onto my bookshelf. It will be a fantastic day. Even if no one else ever buys it, I’ll be extremely proud of all we’ve achieved! It’s an exciting time to be a writer….

Latimer: We love silhouettes, this will become a theme I think 🙂 This is certainly a very exciting time for us. We’ve spent years writing and it almost seems unreal to now be standing where we are, pushing our own machine forward, so to speak! It really is a great time to be a writer.

Also, if you are interested in hiring Collette to do your own book cover, we can pass on your query to her! Just sent us an email. We’d be delighted to share her with the world, she’s fantastic at what she does and extremely helpful! She listens to what you want and makes it a reality. 

You’d be hard pressed to find a better designer!

Thanks again Collette! 🙂

MLR

Also finished and coming soon is our book trailer! Stay tuned!

It’s Hard to Dance, with A Devil on your Back

It’s festival time- whah-hey!

Latimer: I’m not a festival goer- let’s just say that straightaway.

I’ve been enjoying a few gigs, here and there. I like the intimate setting of a small venue. But the first and only major music event I attended was when I was a wee child of fifteen. Ridley was there too. It was Slane castle; we went to see The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Myself and Ridley were well out of our depth. We were lost on a hill with heavy drinkers, heavy party-ers, no tea and most importantly no creature comforts.

She won’t like me saying this, but we spent hours on that parched hill, in the blistering sun, wondering, when, when could we just go home! It was torture. While our other friends swayed, we guarded bags. I remember someone actually came into our protective circle, picked up my friend’s bag and walked away. Determined I plunge after her, and nabbed it back (sounds more forceful than it was, I literally just took it back!).

The sad thing about this is, we actually got so annoyed by being there that we both left before the ‘Chilli’s’ even started. Ridley does find this a bit cringe-worthy to this day. It’s not a story that would make music-lovers treat you well!

So, the Phoenix Park was, ‘ding-ding’, round 2 for me.

First off, the Phoenix Park is a very nice park in Dublin. Though Sunday was a very grey and rainy day, so picture quality was limited.

Phoenix Park is where our President lives, in Áras an Uachtaráin (‘house of the president’). As we walked in, I was asking ‘is this the Áras? Is that the Áras? Where is the damn Áras?’ to which a mutual friend of mine and Ridley’s, Orbie, said, ‘it’s over there! I was in the Áras once, I shook Mary Robinson’s hand.’

I gaped at her, I had known her years and never once heard this story. Why I pressed? Why was she in the Áras?

‘I was at a Saw Doctors concert in the garden’. That was plain weird. Now, I wanted to know why were the Saw Doctors playing a concert in Mary Robinson’s garden?

It was a pretty rainy day. We were kitted out in cheap welly-boots bought in the Irish retailer of Primark goods (Pennys) (probably the equivalent of Wall-MART, though I’m only guessing at that, as I’ve never been inside a Wall-MART before… though for some reason, I want to go to one!).

We were all moving in a pack. It seemed like everyone was going to the concert. Everyone knew each other by their wellys and rain-jackets- basically everyone was a walking Penny’s advertisement. I saw my boots repeated too many times to count over the course of the day.

By the time we got to the concert, we were already talking about how great our wellys were and how we were ready for muck-war. And muck-war we got. I have never experience such a vast amount of muck before in my life. We were herded into the main arena, through cattle gates. Patted down and checked for alcohol. I snapped a picture of a girl dressed as a cow going through the gates.

I found out later that said girl was stowing lots of bottles of vodka in her udders, and was subsequently ejected from the arena.

Once inside the arena, I scouted the field- food, check, toilets, yuck, check… massive stage dominating the skyline check! Hurrah, we’d made it!

We staked out a spot by one of the massive hoists near the stage. A meeting spot if anyone got lost. The concert started with The Temper Trap- they were good, but not as good as I thought they’d be. Somehow I don’t think I’m feeling their new stuff.

But I love the old album… when they played Fader, the crowd surged!

Afterward, we waited for Florence and the Machine to set up. That was taking a while; Orbie decided she wanted a drink. So I went with her to the O’Brien’s sandwich trailer. As we waited to be served- Florence appeared on stage.

Orbie looked back at me, her face panicked, “NO!” she mouthed as Flo started singing. I waded back into the mud, to look up at the stage.

When Orbie got her drink, we struggled back to the stage. But people were surging forward now, a massive crowd. We ducked and wove through them; we couldn’t move too quickly because the muck was sticky and I was panicking over what would happen if I fell out of my boots!

I wove through a huddled circle of people- protecting their drinks between them.

I overstepped them, Orbie hot on my tails. Orbie raced up behind me; “They were so mad at you! They pushed me back!”

“Stupid place to leave their drinks!” I declared continuing onward. No one would stop me from seeing Florence! Bah, I thought, Bah to them… (yet, I’m still thinking, oooppss maybe i shouldn’t have done that!)

Florence was an angel. She jumped, and floated around the stage like a force of nature. There was something very ethereal about her. She’s a free spirit. She wore a flowing dress and gliding down to slap the hands of her adoring fans, who were straining to reach her.

One banner read ‘Hey Flo, want to shake it out with me later?’ another stated ‘Flo! Marry me!’.

When Florence asked people to get up on each other’s shoulders and sway- they did. When she asked people to jump, to sing- they did! It was like for that split moment we were her giant, multi-person-ed, puppet.

And of course when she sung Dog Days the crowd almost imploded in on itself…

Her set reminded me how great her Ceremonials album is… wow..

Once Florence disappeared, telling us repeatedly how much she loved Ireland, and therefore us (we took it with solemn nods, with accepting, slight shrugs, ‘but of course Florence, of course’). Orbie and I raced off to Wok n’ Fry for some Pad Thai noodles- for which we waited at least 40mins. By which time Snow Patrol (who I was repeatedly referring to as Snow Play) had appeared on stage. I looked at Orbie and said, “I want my Pad Thai though!”

Pad Thai in tow, we stumbled back to the stage; mud wrestling had started up and various drunken girls and boys had started to toss each other around the field.

Myself and Orbie stood with our Pad Thai and watched Snow Patrol, happy smiles on our faces as the world turned to muck around us.

Snow Patrol were brilliant. While I preferred Florence’s music, I found that Snow Patrol got the crowd going in a way Flo hadn’t. But then, maybe she had warmed us up?

I’m not a massive Snow Patrol fan- I don’t even have one of their albums, however, everyone knows Chasing Cars, and when it started, I swayed, gobbling down my yummy noodles (with wedge of lime and heap of coriander- the ‘crowd divider herb’ I’m starting to realise- Orbie despises it- but I think it’s KING of herbs).

We had been in the park since 5pm. It took us about 2hours all in all to get to the stage from town. It was Sunday evening, my back and feet were killing me. The rain had left us in a murky haze for the entire day. But it was all somehow very cool.

Like a crowd of confused zombies, we waded out of the muck and started the walk out of the Park at 11pm. By this time, the crowd was full of drunk people- to be honest a lot of people were drunk going in- well, listening to people talking got to be very funny… one conversation;

Man: “Stop talking to me like I’m stupid… I’m not stupid… I pick up languages like a tick picks up *BLEEHH!*” (wherein he, well, got sick)

Woman to the above man: “AHHH! I thought we’d gotten rid of you!” Which begged the question, had they come to the Park just to lose him?

The woman and her friends started singing a song; like they were racing on horses, the ‘na na na nananananananahhh nanananana ananah’. It has no words, it’s just sounds.

Man (same as before) chirps up again: “Ah, is that Spanish? Are you’s speaking Spanish?”

I nearly died laughing.

We finally plodded out of the park and passed this interesting piece of graffiti on the way. The book spines were left blank and a message had been left on the bottom, stating ‘add your own’. So people had written their favourite books names on the spines- there was even a Chinese one there, which was pretty cool.

When we got home again, we debated what to do with our mucky boots as we have no outdoor space. We left them soaking in a basin and went to bed at 1am.

The following day, the dreaded Monday, I was so tired I wanted to cry.

But all in all, a very cool Sunday!

Yeats Country

“Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!”

Ridley: I’ve been wandering Ireland and I’m back from Yeats country (Yeats country being Sligo, in the West of Ireland!). 

Latimer and I have decided we’d like to see more of our own country, we’ve such amazing landscapes and tourist attractions but we really don’t appreciate them. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been to a lot of our most famous spots. So we decided to change the record this year. We’re lining up a few mini-adventures in the coming weeks, which we will, of course, be sharing with you!

Starting this was a solo adventure of my own to my fantastic relatives in Sligo, who put me up for the weekend. We all socialised into the wee hours. They have an absolutely entrancing view of the sea; I caught myself staring out the window quite a number of times at the continuously changing landscape. It’s completely solidified my desire to one day live by the sea!

While we were there we took a detour to Drumcliffe, which is just a ten minute drive from Sligo itself. This beautiful church yard rests within the large shadow of the arresting mountain that can be seen no matter where you are in Sligo. This of course is Ben Bulben, which is immortalised in Yeat’s poem ‘Under Ben Bulben’. At this church site, you will find three things of interest, well four if you count the church! There is a magnificent High Cross, the ruins of a Round Tower and the resting place of W.B. Yeats.

In a grassy cemetery filled with mossy ancient graves is one of the finest examples left in Ireland of an 11th Century High Cross.

It is truly beautiful, magnificent even. I’ve always wanted to visit one. The West shaft of the cross holds scenes from the New Testament, a camel and two unknown figures in high relief. The East side shows Adam and Eve, Cain slaying Abel, Daniel in the Lions’ Den and Christ in Glory. 

They are often known as Preaching crosses as they had ‘sermons carved in stone’ on them; these crosses enabled people to tell stories from the bible. Almost like stone books. Even if you aren’t remotely religious, visit it for the pure craftsmanship of these engravings, the intricate designs and also to marvel at its height. It’s 3.38 meters high and it towers over the rest of the graveyard, which once belonged to a former abbey. Couldn’t you imagine the tales that old engraved stone could tell? Of monks gliding by it in their brown habits, with their arms wrapped around precious books filled with ornately decorated manuscripts. 

The Round Tower nearby is even older than the cross; it was built in the 10th century. 

It would have even more stories to tell; perhaps it could whisper of chaotic Viking attacks as it sheltered the monks safely within its thick walls. It would have witnessed so much as it stood for so long, high above the landscape observing the sea, the mountains and of course Sligo, where it is the only known example of a Round Tower to have existed in the county. Now though it is a ruin, barely half of it is still there, as in 1396 it was struck by lightning (Thor, a god worshipped by the Vikings, exacting his revenge for thwarting his people perhaps!) and then most of the tower was dismantled to build a nearby bridge.

There is a local legend that the last of the tower will fall on top of the wisest person who passes under it- so I kept well clear of it, naturally! 😛

The third thing of interest there is the grave of W.B. Yeats, one of Ireland’s most famous poets. His grandfather was Rector of Drumcliffe and despite Yeats being born in Dublin, his heart belonged to Sligo.

He was buried right next to the stone church, which I might add is beautiful inside. Even the doors to the building are decorated. The bronze swan handles are a nod to Yeat’s poem ‘The Wild Swans at Coole.’ Inside, the back wall over the altar immediately draws the eye.

Though before entering there was this charming poster, they seem to have a problem with pious pigeons! There were a number of stone plaques along the walls, not to mention the arched stone glass windows and the organ up above in the gallery.

Yeats wrote very inspiring poetry and it’s not surprising when he had landscapes, like those found in Sligo, surrounding him.

 He also drew a lot of ideas for his works from Irish mythology and folklore, which are filled with rich tales of warrior maidens, Chieftains, druids and ancient magic (another burial place in Sligo is the cairn of Queen Maeve. One day I will walk to the top of that particular ‘hill’ to see it!).

Also a powerful inspiration for his poetry was the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne. He met her in 1889, and proposed to her four times over a ten year period. He was turned down each time. His unrequited love for Maud has always been a source of fascination for me. She is forever immortalised in his words, made famous by them, however she was never able to return his affections despite his efforts. Rather sad for a man who seemed to have spent his life searching; searching for love, the meaning to his existence, for things ‘not of this world’- Yeats was extremely interested in the occult and the supernatural, something else that can be seen in his writing. In his book ‘The Identity of Yeats’ Richard Ellmann states that Yeats ‘does not offer a fixed set of positions at the end of his life.’ It seemed he was always questioning, always searching and never definite on anything.

Perhaps this is why so many people connect with his poetry, aren’t we all searching for something? Meaning? Love? Happiness?

Perhaps this is why despite his death in 1939, his memory still endures and his words still inspire people?

If you want a thought provoking day out, one filled with beautiful poetry, magnificent crosses and fabulous views, pop on over by way of Sligo and visit Drumcliffe! You’ll feel all the wiser for it but then don’t go strolling passed any Round Towers afterwards! 

Food, glorious Food!

When lunchtime rolls around in Ireland, Latimer and Ridley find themselves getting hungry, but roast dinners and stews aren’t what occupy their thoughts; no, they’re reminded of their culinary adventures in Tokyo!

Latimer: whenever I get hungry, I think back on food I had in the past. And for me, it can be the very distant past.

For example, my sister went to college in London when I was 6yrs old; when she moved there, myself and my mother went with her, to help her settle into her dorm for a few days. One night we were very hungry so we decided to get chips. I can remember it vividly, how dark and cold it was (my sister tells me now that it wasn’t a good area to be in at night time!), the roads were black, wet with rain, and the chippy was a little suspect.

We got three bags of chips wrapped tightly in newspaper (old school!). They were massive bundles and the chips were delicious!

There were so many that we could only manage to eat a few.So the majority of those chips were tossed in the bin.

That was a lifetime ago, but to this day, I remember those chips when I get really hungry. I think back and always say to myself ‘oh why did I toss them! I wish I could eat them now!’

It’s such a strong memory. We always remember a good meal, as if our body is saying ‘yes, remember how much you like to eat! How tasty food is! REMEMBER!’ Somehow it seems like the body is afraid one day we might not like food anymore!

When we went to Tokyo, it was one of our aims to eat well everyday. When we were in Japan 4yrs ago, we were with other people and it was hard to find food that everyone wanted to eat. This time, we had no worries; we’re pretty similar in that we wanted true Japanese food, and we wanted to eat!

Thankfully, Tokyo was only too willing to feed us!

Every time we went somewhere, I took out the camera and snapped some pictures. Because we wanted to remember the food; we wanted to show people; ‘look, look at the food! Look how yummy it is… we ate that! We remember the taste’.

Looking at these pictures now, I have very fond memories of sitting in these places, munching on this food as Tokyo and its people flashed passed us; we ate in good company, had good chats and dreamed good dreams… so with that, let me show you our food memories!

Day one of serious photo taking involved yummy okonomiyaki (sort of savory pancakes) at the famous restaurant, Sometarou in Asakusa. We mentioned it in a previous post, but it’s worth another mention. It was amazing!

It was also the most tradition place we ate in, and while it was roasting sitting by those frying-slabs, it was just perfect!

Ridley lovingly paints our pancakes, with a substance we didn’t recognise but had the consistency of tar!

Cuttlefish and tiny red shrimp- probably us at our most adventurous I think!

The next day we were off to Ueno Park.

Now the Lonely Planet guide book didn’t recommend many eateries in Ueno, so we were stuck. It was a hot day, the park was vast and we were hungry. Looking around the periphery of the park we managed to find the Korean cafe.

Ah, we love Korean food, it’s hearty stuff, so we were very happy with this find!

Although the waiter didn’t understand us, and we had some mishaps ordering, which left Ridley with food, and me with a drink! Ha! We managed to sort it out and I ended up with food, but Ridley didn’t get her drink! But she didn’t care by then, it was too much hassle!

But actually, the drink was AMAZING! Like drinking sunlight (big assumption!).

The food was typical Korean fare (yummy!)….

Except for these….

Ahhh! What are they? They’re looking at me! Ridley ate them without looking as far as I’m concerned! When I pointed it out to her, she was two mouthfuls in… she was rightly aghast!

When we went to Ikebukuro, we ate in one of the shopping malls.

Which we were kind of thinking was a cop-out as we should eat ‘authentic’ food out in the little restaurants. But the guide book (not that it had become God in the last few days…well actually it had, all hail guide book!) said that the malls actually have some really good places to eat in!

They were right! This was a veggie noddle dish, with rice, served in a pipping hot stone bowl. Which, in winter would be just amazing, in summer a bit too hot, but still lovely!

At one point I remember we spent hours looking for this one restaurant around the Ginza area I think.

Ridley had her google maps out and we managed to find the place where the restaurant should have been. But it was mysteriously absent (she was annoyed because we had spent all that time looking and it was almost like the map had bested her!).

So, falling back on the God, Lonely Planet, we headed into the nearest shopping mall. We judged based on pictures what restaurant we would eat in.

It was on the top floor and faced a massive sky-bar that loomed over the mall from across the road. We sat down, and a lovely waitress came over and explained the menu (we had been staring at it completely bewildered). She had very good English (we were soooo happy!). The first thing she asked though was…. ‘have you ever eaten Korean before’.

Haha, we didn’t even know we’d come into a Korean restaurant. We were even happier!

The food was cooked (by her in front of us) over a small hot plate, in a large steel bowl.

She asked us if we wanted rice or noodles, we said noodles…. but they didn’t materialize. We were baffled, but we ate away not caring.
It was great, sharing food over a hot plate like that. Korean food is so hearty and built to share (kind of facilitates conversation too!).
When we were finished the waitress returned with the mysteriously absent, much discussed noodles. She put them into the remaining sauce and added water, leaving it to bubble away… It was so good!
It reminded us of being in a Korean drama! It was the best feed I think we had while in Japan.

I get very hungry thinking back on this dinner… sigh. On another day we contemplated going back to this place, but Ridley frowned, “I don’t think I could find it even if we wanted to, we did so much walking around… I wouldn’t know the way.”

Ridley is like a human GPS, so if NavWoman couldn’t find it, it wasn’t possible!

Of note here, is that myself and Ridley have this deep love of ramen. It started really from watching anime (Naruto mainly). We always wanted to taste the real stuff in Japan. We managed to on our first trip a few years back and we always regretted not eating more of it (our other friends didn’t really like it that much).

So this time we were noodle crazy- we wanted to go to ramen places as much as possible. It’s a massive bowl of happiness!

This place was a ramen shop around where we were staying (Akasaka). It wasn’t the best ramen we had, but it was nice. We had to use the typical vending machines the Japanese use in eateries like ramen places and curry houses.

Bascially you select the meal you want, pay for it, get your ticket and give it to the people in the shop. It’s a brilliant idea, because us foreigners aren’t left feeling confused… although a few times some kind Japanese people had to step in and help us! You have to match up katakana, kanji and hiragana symbols to identify the food you want on the machine (a little time consuming, so we had to make sure no one was waiting behind us, or sidestep and let them in first!).

I was actually always very happy to see these machines in the places we were going to eat in- a deep sense of relief!

Our search for ramen brought us to another cool, traditional restaurant around Akasaka. This ramen was delicious!

These were Ridley’s gyoza (dumplings… she didn’t like em- too many onions!)

My yummy ramen (I love sweetcorn)

Ridley’s pork ramen (looks delicious)

The best ramen we had, we got in the Ginza district, in yes, another shopping mall! This was our last night in Tokyo, so we finished it with the food we had loved most- (well, next to the Korean food!).

This business man was eating beside us. He was a little rude to the guy making the ramen.

I found at times the meat that was being used was tough. But this was melt in your mouth pork. I feel like Homer Simpson at the moment, drooling away at the thoughts of eating.

I was so tired this night. Me and Ridley sat at this bench for ages. We were the only people there. I nodded to sleep at one point (resting my eyes, haha). When we got up to leave, the two ramen chiefs smiled over at us and gave us big goodbyes and thank yous. It was a nice way to end our ramen adventure!

A side project we had was to have proper Bubble Tea/Milk Tea. This is popular in Asia. Basically it’s a milk-based, flavoured drink, with tapioca balls in it. The straws are thick so you can suck them up. The desire to get the Bubble Tea wasn’t that strong as the days wore on. It was only as we passed through Harajuku on our third round that we found this Pearl Lady place. Which seemed to be where all the kids hung out.

It was all pink and open plan and full of cheap fast-food places selling curly potato fries and so on. 

After about 10mins of trying to remember my Katakana (argh, I hate Katakana). I was able to figure out two flavours, caramel and strawberry! That’ll do we thought!

We settled down at the window overlooking Takeshita dori. We slurped on our Bubble Teas, with intermittent coughing/choking fits when we gulped down a tapioca ball or three, or ten.

We’ve had some bad Bubble Teas (Christmas market, Berlin brings back bad memories of gingerbread, hot Bubble Tea! Oh nasty). So, I was dubious. But this was so tasty. I wish we had of known about this place sooner! Check it out if you’re ever there- it’s so good!

Following a delay in our flight (actually an out and out cancellation), we ended up in an airport hotel. I finally tasted the strange green-tea and cherry blossom flavoured kit-kat I’d bought. It was actually nice. But doesn’t it look weird?

We were offered a free all you can buffet lunch- I should never be offered such a thing! I tried a bit of everything (and felt sick afterward). I snapped a picture of the fancy Japanese sweets because they looked so lovely. But I didn’t like them- they were made from rice dough and filled with bean-paste… I was expecting chocolate- so I was left grimacing, while Ridley nodded, “yep, bean paste! Knew it!”.

On the way home, our fly was practically empty- it was heaven for a long-haul! Everyone, I kid you not, everyone had a three seats to themselves! 

I won’t end with airplane food- don’t worry (it makes me sick and I can’t eat it). But I was able for this ice-cream….

Our final taste of Japan, for a few years at least!

On a book related update, the editing of our book is nearly finished! By me at least… procrastination must be the way of getting things done in a weird way! I’ve done so much of it. Soon we’ll be sending it to the professionals. We are so excited to be walking down this road! Ridley is busy with her book trailer too, so all is going well!

In the editing process I have been armed with my moomin cup (always full of Lyons tea) and my moomin pen for the taking of notes (both bought in Kiddyland in Harajuku)! The kit-kat, yes, is one I bought in Japan. If it keeps I plan to eat it when the book goes ‘live’ so to speak! Keep watch… it might not last that long!