Bram Stoker Festival 2012

Spooky, ghoulish goings-on, in the courtyards of Dublin Castle this bank holiday weekend… welcome to Bram Stoker’s imagination!

Ridley: The Bram Stoker festival was packed with things to do all weekend, from talks by Patricia Cornwell, writing workshops for children, plays and discussions on vampires. Christopher Lee was even awarded the Bram Stoker Gold Medal by the Philosophical society in Trinity College for his past role as Dracula. Bram, in his time at Trinity, was the president of this society.

So many of these events were ticket only and sold out quite quickly!

Latimer: We didn’t realise until too late that you had to have tickets for these events! So we really missed out. Derek Landy (author of Skulduggery was talking in one of the theatres) and there were lots of talks about vampires and vampirism in Trinity College (as Ridley says, Bram’s old Alma mater). There were a lot of interesting talks, and I was really disappointed that we didn’t get to go to them! 😦

Ridley: Well, no matter, we did manage to get tickets to one event at least!

We attended a night time, outdoor performance by the award winning street theatre company, Spraoi, in the Grand Courtyard of Dublin Castle. It was held there as Bram used to have a tedious desk job in one of the offices in the castle.

Latimer: I like to imagine Bram sitting at a desk inside the fantastic building that is Dublin Castle, daydreaming about Romania and vampires! I wonder did Dublin Castle spark off any dreams of Vlad’s castle? You can just picture vampire’s roaming the darkness of the Castle courtyards…

Our good friend Orbie joined us on this night of terror! She told me that there was a Bram Stoker App (made by the Science Gallery), that was devised for the festival. The App uses your phone GPS to tell you if you are in a hotspot for vampires or ghosts in Dublin. When it tells you, you are, you take a photo of the street or area, and a ghost will appear on your image! Or so Orbie told me… While we waited in the queue to go into the Castle courtyard… we tried to find some ghosts!

Then we got bored and the queue started moving, so we were swept inside and pretty much forgot until now about this App!

There was the chilling sound of people moaning like ghosts… The idea of the event was scenes and characters from Dracula. As the crowd moved forward under the arch into the courtyard, we were met with a massive moon display, against the backdrop of a dark and eerie courtyard. There was a man sitting within the moon, screaming and shouting…

We were pulled into a dark world, filled with vampires and ghouls. There were performers wandering around the cold courtyard, screaming and hissing.

As I was standing staring at an eerie display (wedding dresses hanging off a man-made tree) a ghoulish performer came up to me and started pulling at a plastic bag I was holding (it contained a proof copy of our book, which I was handing off to Ridley). I gave a nervous laugh, “you’re really getting into this” I said, there was absolutely no break in character, she raced off to pull at some of the other people (some of the crowd was also dressed up for the night as vampire’s and devils – she was particularly fascinated by these people, me in my north face jacket didn’t do much for her! Boring I guess!). 

As we walked from display-to-display, a rock band played Gothic sounding music under arches lit in an eerie green glow…

Vampire girls dressed in haunting white dresses stalked through the crowd. They came together at one display (a bench lit by a single street lamp) and performed a strange struggle – pulling out of a young girl dressed in white (eventually turning her into a vampire). I think these girls were Dracula’s vampire women!

As Orbie was talking her photos of this performance… this girl crept up behind her!

Naturally, I started snapping photos, THEN, I said “Orbie… behind you!” and she turned and jumped out of the way with a yelp, “JAYSUS”!

The crowd started to move then over to a macabre display of an autopsy table… two vampire ghouls were pulling at the body… Afterward I got some photos and it looks pretty creepy… The face… the face! Very scary!

All the while, a carriage was working its way through the crowd… the man inside looks like he could be someone important… eh? Well, yep, as it turns out, this guy was playing Bram Stoker…

He was heading towards this large wooden construct;

Once he reached the top he read to us, telling us to stay in the light, and out of darkness… away from the shadows…

He then sat back, writing at a typewriter.

Nearby, there was a display in the corner that looked important.. 

There was a massive coffin beside it… Dracula making his way from the port (as in the book… which for me is actually the Gary Oldman movie… I remember the port from the movie!)

Out of it came this massive skeleton! Dracula!

A performer dressed up as a more manageable-sized Dracula, made his way to Bram in his wooden tower, along with all the hissing vampire ladies!

Dracula looks like he’s smiling here, haha, going, ‘this is great! look at me Mammy!’ haha

Bram brought the night to an end, with a brief final reading from the book. It was pretty cool.

Ridley: The event was really interesting! (Though it was wet and absolutely freezing!! Our hands were red raw, time to buy some gloves, me thinks!).

Latimer: Yea! My hands felt like I’d stuck them in a -80 freezer! The pain traveled right up my arms! It was so cold! God bless my north face jacket (the best buy ever!) – it did save me from the cutting breeze, I just needed some gloves!

Well, afterward everyone made their way home, out of Bram Stoker’s dreams and back to reality… Which took the form of a woman dancing in the window of her apartment (which faced an entrance to Dublin Castle)! She had the lights on, the curtains pulled back and was going wild dancing. Everyone stood there laughing (of course she knew everyone could see!). Then she jumped away, leaving her two flatmates (who were sitting down on the couch) staring blankly out at us! 

The festival was fun, hopefully they’ll make it a yearly thing! It would be pretty interesting. We’ll hopefully be more prepared next year! 😦

Go West

Latimer goes West…

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

I don’t ‘Go West’ often, clearly.

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

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

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

Dreamy scapey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map of the Camino de Santiago trail

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

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

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

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

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

Ard Bia is a tiny stone building by the sea.

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

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

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

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

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

Then, I slipped across the road to Cupán Tae.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poor Oscar!

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

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

Bastille Live

Wherein Latimer and Ridley attend a gig with the cool Indie kids!

Ridley: We went to a gig last Thursday night, the doors opened at 7pm and it was over at half ten. I’ve since realised I’m turning into an old fogie; I was happy that it was over early. It meant that while I had fun, I was still able to go home, potter round in my pjs and not have to go to bed too late as I had work the next morning. As I returned home, my feet aching from new boots I hadn’t bothered to break in (I never learn my lesson), I wondered what happened to my devil-may-care self, where did she disappear to? The Ridley who didn’t give a fig if I rocked in at 2am even when I was due to be up for 7am?

Latimer: Big mistake!! Always break in new shoes!

Ridley: To be honest though, devil-may-care me never really existed, that scenario only occurred a handful of times (and I always regretted them!). I’ve always been a tad too sensible for my own good and I hate early mornings as it is, so if I haven’t gotten my full night sleep, I’m like a kicked bear (very cranky I’d imagine)!

Anyway, we went to see the band, Bastille. I hadn’t heard about them before this, our excellent friend Orbie told us they are up and coming.

Ridley: I like being ‘in the known’, it feels like I’ve been let in on a secret only a few people are aware of. In a year or two when Bastille are playing on every radio channel, I’ll be able to sit back with a smug smile and say, ‘I went to see them long before they were famous.’ I’ll annoy everyone! Haha.

The gig was held in the Academy, a place I haven’t been in since it was only a grimy nightclub named Spirit (and that was seven or eight years ago).

The inner chamber… nah, just a stairwell, nice posters though!

Where are we the underground of a rail system!?

Nope… just Academy Level 2!!

Unsurprisingly, they’ve done it up-kind of. For the event, we were in a the basement (Academy Two), the ceiling was low, dark, with thick black metal columns supporting it (they were actually those industrial supports used when building work is being done, a tad worrying.), the walls were dark brick and the wooden stage was tiny, you could reach out and touch the band. It had an appealing hippy dishevelled look, though I’m certain I wouldn’t have been all that impressed if all of the lights had been turned on, showing every crack and dust pile.

There were two supporting acts to get the crowd going (there couldn’t have been more than about hundred people there). I found myself a nice pillar to lean against (helped me deal with my pinching boots! Oh, how my toes hate me.) Having found a perfect spot to see the stage, I noticed quite a tall man, with very large hair, in front of us, blocking the view of the stage.

Latimer was eyeing him too and leaned over to whisper, “I hope he’s not going to stand there all night, we won’t be able to see the band.”

Little did we know, he definitely wasn’t going to stay there, especially since when he turned around to leave, we realised it was the lead singer of Bastille; Dan Smith (who was born on Bastille Day, hence the band name! Louie, Orbie’s friend, told us this!)! We burst out laughing. Imagine complaining we wouldn’t be able to see the band, because their lead singer was standing in our way!

Though that wasn’t the last ‘interaction’ we had with him, well, that Latimer had with him anyway. 😀

They went through a fantastic repertoire of songs that had the room hopping and their speakers were so loud, my throat vibrated with the sound from them. At one point I was convinced I wasn’t able to breath properly!

Latimer: I love the atmosphere at these gigs when the band can play live and interact so well with the crowd, it’s incredible.Bastille are so talented. I love the sound of Dan Smith’s voice and their music is so lively.

They did a brilliant cover of Rhythm of the Night; a great song anyway, but they made it there own.

Ridley: During the second last song of the night, Dan put on a hoodie and descended into the crowd (Latimer hypotheses this is because he didn’t want people to touch his hair! His gorgeous gravity defying hair!), he sung with the microphone lead hanging over people’s heads. He ran around the sides and into the middle. People went mad, we were all like mini-paparazzi flashing camera at him and other people were patting him on the head. I was delighted, having only been half an arms distance from him, little did I know he actually tripped into Latimer who was in front of me somewhere! One day, it’ll be a story she tells her future children…maybe! She should freeze and preserve whatever part of her touched him (how sore!!), it could become very valuable! Haha.

Wonder what that would fetch on ebay?

Latimer: He came towards me, crouched low and I started backing away my mind screaming; ‘gaaaah, don’t come near me!’. I stumbled back into two girls, then as he twisted to bop along with the crowd, he fell into me, and I touched his back in a ‘gaah, get away’ kind of manner. Haha, is that how I’d react to all possibly famous and famous people?

If Ricky Gervais fell on top of me would I push him off screaming? Part of me hopes this won’t happen… the other, that it does! I laughed to Ridley afterwards, and said Dan falling on top of me was like two stars colliding. She stared.

“Well, you’re deluded.”

Probably!

We might catch up with Bastille again in March when they return to Dublin… will they play a bigger venue? How will life change for them… it’ll be interesting to see 🙂

Legend Unleashed Chapters 1 & 2

Latimer and Ridley: The clock is ticking down to our publishing date! Soon!!

Following on from the prologue in our last post, which if you haven’t read you can find it here, this week we’re posting chapters one and two of our book, Legend Unleashed!  We hope you like them! We’d love all and any feedback. Stay tuned, as more chapters will follow these in the next couple of weeks. We’ve also created another shorter teaser trailer, with new scenes in it, which will be released later in the week!

Legend Unleashed Chapter 1&2

For those of you who prefer our rambling posts on random things than our current ones (we know not everyone is interested in all things bookie!), we will get back to those!!

The Bram Stoker festival is coming up soon, which we will both be attending and we’ll report back! We’re also going to a small gig by the band, Bastille, this week (our excellent friend Orbie says they’re on the up and up, one to watch! It’s great to be ‘in the know’ about these things!! Haha 😀 )

So we’ll keep you posted!

MLR