What Happened to my Marvelous Heroes?

Latimer: My love of comic book characters comes from the past; the not so, and yet so, distant past. Back in the mid 90s, Saturday mornings were filled with marvel cartoons. Ah yes, despite it being a non-school day I would be up at the crack of dawn to see them, my favourite being X-men (and come on, I can still hum that epic opening tune!).

Sometimes I had to watch Spiderman, or The Incredible Hulk, to get to X-men; now Spiderman I didn’t mind, but God, the Incredible Hulk left me feeling so depressed (even as a child). Nothing ever, ever, went right for Bruce Banner.

I traveled with him, though he didn’t notice, and every episode the promise of a hulk-cure made me feel elated along with Bruce and we’d go together to the place of promised salvation, only to find it wasn’t what we thought and then we’d leave – him with ripped clothes and inevitable fleeing from the army, and me, with a broken heart and dejected for about an hour afterward.

In my reality of Saturday morning cartoons, ‘Earth 90s’, Bruce never found a cure. Also, his cousin became the She-Hulk… Which, by the way, what the hell was the deal there?

How come she became this buxom babe with full control of her powers (remained a practicing lawyer) and Bruce… Bruce was essentially this instinct-driven beast. Well, in the cartoons a least this was never explained (only that she was really, really happy to be the She-Hulk, well in fairness, she looked amazing, of course she didn’t mind!).

Then there was Spiderman, where I left him… let’s see, vaguely I remember he was searching for Mary-Jane (she had gone missing, then he had found her again, for a while, only it turned out she wasn’t really Mary-Jane she was a water clone! Yeeaah…).

A water clone who evaporates and is no more! It was horrific to me at the time, honestly it still kind of is…

He never found the real Mary-Jane in my Earth 90s. Either I stopped watching (that’s unlikely!) or they stopped showing it (more likely!).

The X-men was the same; I remember lots of stories. I remember I really didn’t like boring, boring, Jean Grey (she was always collapsing – always – even though subsequently I found out that she is one of the strongest mutants in Marvel – what the…?!).

Oh my God, and I remember Jubilee… argh, she was so pointless (sparks… seriously? You are lucky Wolverine was your friend, that’s all I’m saying!).

Rogue and Gambit – now this is me all over; perfect couple, I shipped them all the way! I also remember Cyclops and Jean Grey got married (okay I didn’t like her but I shipped them – I still ship them, ships are hard to leave).

fantastic fanart by New Moon Night Mike Choi

Now in Earth 90s, Gambit and Rogue never kissed and couldn’t touch, because of Rogue’s powers, but in comics… love must’a found a way! I’m fan-girl squee-ing even after all these years…

They brought the X-men cartoon back; years and years later and I watched it, but it just wasn’t the same anymore. Spiderman’s not the same, and God, I’m not watching the Hulk. There’s a time for everything and my days of watching them had passed – unless it’s my other thought, that 90s cartoons were just better.

This brings me full circle; recently I’ve being sticking a toe (here and there) back into the Marvel world, via comics. There is some absolutely beautiful, gorgeous artwork in comics too…

Stunning image of Magneto (who survived a concentration camp) by Marko Djurdjevic… Stunning

I’m now skirting around the great cosmic comic-world windows, peaking in and going; ‘ohh, err, can I come in? I think I’m ready!’. This I should warn you, is how obsessions start for me!

In preparation for my skipping into comic books (baring in mind, I know very little and these are just random nuggets I uncovered!) – I have found out some strange things about the heroes I actually never knew at all…

Firstly (and shockingly) Peter Parker… is dead… seriously… You killed Peter Parker…. What…?

There are only like 200 mutants left in the Marvel universe following a big ‘event’ (an epic arc of a story that crosses across lots of titles etc)… WHAT?! NOOO, they are the coolest thing in Marvel!

Jean Grey is dead… Do I care…? Argh, yes, with age I now care, because she married Cyclops and damn it, a ship must not sink while part of me is still on it, or I turn into a pumpkin! Save me Marvel!

Cyclops was unfaithful when married to Jean Grey – okay, hold on a damn minute, I’m not happy about this! He is now, subsequently, having a relationship with the mutant he was having an affair with – a mutant called Emma Frost (who was played by January Jones in X-men: First Class). Main thought here; ‘Oh NO you didn’t…!’ Of course on the other side I wouldn’t be surprised if Jean Grey had a fling with Wolverine… I can tell relationships in comics will hurt me

Jean Grey is not happy when she finds out! In this instance, I am with you Jean, even though I don’t like you really…

Weirder still, Cyclops has turned into like a revolutionary leader for mutants (where Magneto is almost his second in command!) and he’s  – my thought? ‘When did Cyclops get so interesting?’

What the hell… Cyclops has gone mad! MAD!

AND Cyclopes killed Prof X… buh?

Don’t just stand there! This isn’t going to end well Prof!

Hard to know how permanent that is, he’s died ALOT apparently! As has Cyclops!

Cyclops is in jail… look at this. God, what happened to him, what made him turn into this character? I really want to know! What a spiral from the pure boy scout I remember!

Psychologically what the hell happened to you?

Wolverine is on the opposing side to Cyclops. He also runs a school for mutants…

Okay this is weird, but I’m intrigued by this school (there seems to be some interesting characters there)…

There are so many stories that happened before and after my time; the world of the Marvel characters is far bigger than I realised. Earth 90s was an introduction and I thought it was the story. It’s funny really, but I’m starting to wonder again about all those crazy characters. I love a good story and I really did love those characters.

Okay, it may be time to open the door to that comic book world, step in and have a look around 🙂

Winner of winners!

signed book hop

We just wanted to thank all the hundreds of people who entered our Signed Book Blog Giveaway!

The comments and answers that we got to our blog entry question were just fantastic. We asked a question; ‘for you to love a book, what elements does it have to have? (examples: funny characters, love triangles, smart heroines, complicated friendships, loving family, magic, mystery, horror….)’.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to share your thoughts, we agreed with so many of them!! 😀

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Now, the moment everyone is waiting for, the winner of a signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, is…..
congrats ashley

 

 Congratulations Ashley!!  We’ll be emailing you shortly!

(Ashley has a YA book blog over at YA big BOOKworm, if you go visit her, say hello from us! 😀 )

Signed Books Blog Hop

signed book hop

April 16-22

Signed Book Blog Hop (International Giveaway )

We’re excited to be part of the Signed Book Blog Hop hosted by the fantastic I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Wholly Books!

Today we have a fantastic read up for grabs, it is a signed The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Whether you’ve read it or not, this is a must have for any bookshelf! 😀

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Book description (from amazon):

‘Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.’

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Click HERE to go to the Rafflecopter and enter!

Best of luck!

Next on the blog hop is number 50, Celestial Reviews!

For the full list:

Time for Tea

A man after my own heart 🙂

Latimer: If there is one thing in life that is the universal response to, well, everything – a piece of good news, bad news or a general break – it has to be tea. A good cup of tea (which must be roughly one out of three cups – I think!), a fine cup of tea, a tasty cup of tea – it must be what dreams taste like.

Dreams, they taste of good tea! At least, our dreams must (I speak for Ridley, hehe, she is like, “Err no, I’ll have you know my dreams taste of chicken! I’ve checked; took a bite out of the last one – chicken!”).

Either way, we adore tea, I mean we really do. It lately seems like we have been visiting tea houses all over the world (well, here and there, now and then!).

For example… Tea in Galway, in the lovely quaint and beautiful Cupán Tae (cup of tea in Irish!)…

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And fancy tea in the Ginza district of Tokyo… (we couldn’t stop going on about how expense tea was in Tokyo – seriously to this day we still talk about it! But well, it was sooo nice here though!)

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So, really how could we go to Oxford, England in general, and not have a cupan tae? Sure we couldn’t; it was top of the list, high-tea (it was something we dreamed of doing when Legend Unleashed was published – to toast it, we dreamed of high-tea in Oxford!)! We researched this a bit, and decided that The Old Parsonage seemed like the high-tea spot of Oxford.

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As the name suggests it is an old parsonage from the 1660s and it’s like walking into a mini-cottage in a forest with twisted, gnarled alien trees with branches that claw at the building.

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It’s fairy-tale like; quaint, English, very lovely. The fire burning in the hearth warmed our chilly bones; for whatever reason Ireland and the UK had been experiencing very cold weather and it was raining and snowing in Oxford.

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It was perfect weather for a hot cup of tea and some cucumber sambos (sandwiches) (that was a first and they are very tasty!) and scones, with clotted cream (which I never really knew what that was, but it’s got the consistency of butter, but it’s yummy!) and strawberry jam. It was lovely; I had the old parsonage blend of tea and Ridley had old English breakfast tea.

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Later that evening we made our way to the famous Eagle and Child pub; this was where the Inklings (a literately discussion group J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis were part of) used to have their Tuesday meetings.

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As we sat and tucked into our fish, chips and mushy pea (and more tea!), supper…

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…we wondered if there were untold stories, or remnants of half-dreamed characters, hidden in the walls, or in conversations waiting to be had… and as we munched away, we dreamed our own Carwick dreams!

Then we toddled off back to our quarters, wandering the dark cloisters of Hogwarts… no wait, Wonderland… ha, Christ Church College 🙂

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Let me in!! Latimer screams…

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Fine, don’t *sniffle, sobble*..

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Find more of our Oxford Tales here 🙂

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

 Forging Magic (Harry Potter-style!)

Make Good Art

Ridley: I love inspirational quotes, especially from people whose work I admire or who I really look up to for what they’ve achieved through hard work and determination. I always feel really motivated after I’ve read them. So I said I’d share some of the really good ones with you!

  • This quote often has me nodding rapidly in agreement…

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  • ‘We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.’ Jesse Owens
  • Latimer found this one from Kevin Smith. Never were there truer words.

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  • Technically not a quote, but it inspires me, so I’m adding it it! This is my favourite poem, do other people have favourite poems? I have this painted on my bedroom wall, depending on the type of day I’ve had, it can mean different things to me.

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  • The prolific Stephen King, who is definitely the King of hard work! (see what I did there? :D)

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  • This is taken from the move, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’, one of the best films I’ve ever seen and one that always has me sniffing at the end. What a fantastic story.

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  • Grant Morrison, Glaswegian comic-book author extraordinaire.. an amazing personality, who has this great quote that makes me feel like ‘yes! yes, let’s do that!’
  • Walt Disney, if ever there was a man who inspired dreams in generations of young children, it was him. He never let failure stand in his way, no matter how many knockbacks he received. 

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  • Neil Gaiman, a rock star author, I just love his quotes!!

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  • This picture happens to be the background image on my phone! This is what I look at every day, it reminds me to always keep going forward, to strive for what I want to be.

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  • So true Kevin Smith!! If ever you worry that someone’s better than you (there’s always someone better than you), if someone is more successful (without a doubt there is) or if you aren’t good enough (if that’s what you believe, then it will be true), read this quote, duck your head down and work harder. Keep focused.

kevin-smith-quotes‘The main goal in life careerwise should always be try to get paid to simply be yourself.’ Kevin Smith

  • Darn tootin’!

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  • Make Good Art. More Neil Gaiman. I’ll just repeat his lines like a parrot, as I’ve nothing that could add to this quote. This is a snippet taken from his commencement speech at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, it’s absolutely epic!

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You can watch it here:

Other quotes from him:

‘The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.’ Neil Gaiman

‘As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.’ Neil Gaiman

‘It’s not a bad thing for a writer not to feel at home. Writers – we’re much more comfortable at parties standing in the corner watching everybody else having a good time than we are mingling.’ Neil Gaiman

  • Insert the word books for movies and you got that right Walt!! 😀

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  • Thankfully, Latimer and I both love to read and write. To be sucked into another world without leaving your armchair is the most magical experience there is! Is it still called work when you enjoy yourself? 😀

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  • Will Smith, the master of thought provoking quotes, I could have a whole post dedicated to him you know, or even a website! He’s a fan of inspirational quotes himself, Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ is one of his favourite books. I quite enjoyed it too, makes you think.

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‘Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity.’ Will Smith

  • Sometimes we all have to do this!

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  • This is one of my absolute favourite quotes, it just sums up the lives of so many people!

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  • And always remember, the most important piece of advice, from the funniest man ever:

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PS. I own none of the above pictures  (* _*)

Forging Magic

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~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Impressive.” Latimer said.

Ridley nodded and smiled. “I know.”

“Forget about the glitter though.”

“What! Why?”

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

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

“Hack them all up, Ridders!”

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

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

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

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

“Our best bet is the train I think.”

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

~~~

“Ridley?”

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

Ridley! Wake up! We’re here.”

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

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

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

Latimer grinned over. “Let our adventure begin!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Find more of our Oxford Tales here 🙂

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

– Time for Tea! 🙂