Bettering Ridley

SECONDARY
Ridley: So last year, Latimer had the idea that 2015 would be a Year of Self Betterment. Basically, it was a plan to become the best version of yourself in all aspects of our lives. After she explained to me what exactly she meant, I (of course) loved the idea, and I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Now, obviously it’s 2016, and the year of self betterment did happen in 2015, but not nearly to the extend that I’d intended. So, this year, and more than likely next year and probably the year after (I see this as an ongoing project to be fair…there’s a lot of about me that needs bettering…) I want to continue and expand on this idea, so I said I’d share some of the areas in which I have been trying and will continue to try to be a better person.

Personally, I think there are very few people in the world who truly know where they’re going in life, it takes years of introspection, deep thinking, and list making before you start to understand what it is you really want from life. There are some people who are lucky from an early age, they find their ‘calling’ and they pursue it with a vigour and passion that is impressive. For the rest of us, it is trial and error, it is circumstance and happenstance, along with a vague idea of what you think you might like, and continuous questioning.

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So we hold on to what we do like, we avoid and change what we don’t, and we live. But my question would be, are we actively living? Are we aware of the days that pass? How often does it happen you let weeks and months and even years just drift by and the things you wanted to do, that course you meant to sign up for, that hobby you wanted to take up again or that place you really wanted to visit, just didn’t happen? I know I’ve done this, and once you take a minute to stop and think, it’s like emerging from far under water, you take a deep breath, look around at where you are and think, what happened? How did I get here? How did so much time pass and nothing has changed, despite having the desire for it?

The year of bettering Ridley, we’re taking control and actively living! It can mean anything, for anyone! So for me, it’s continuing some things I already have in place and it’s starting others:

  • Taking control of the direction of my career, so I began a masters October 2014, it finishes this year, which i can’t believe, that time has gone so quickly. It was something I’ve always wanted to do though, and education is never, never a waste, and I do like learning, and also i love all the new stationary, pens, highlighters and beautiful clean A4 pads that I get to buy (I know I have a problem….help me…. 😀 )download (1)
  • It’s continuing to write more, publish more books, to build upon the foundation Latimer and I already have in place. Do what you love, right?4863_9387c327726cfdaa62521c68712ec5ad
  • It’s to give back to my community, using my professional skills and my time, and to reconnect with charity organisations I was once part of when I was younger or becoming involved in new ones. While I’m trying to better my own life, it’s important to me that I do the same for someone else.images
  • It’s making more time and going to greater effort to better include the people I love in my life. It isn’t about what you have, where you are or what you do, life means nothing if you don’t have people in it who you care about and who care about you.images (2)
  • It’s finally mastering some sort of skill on the guitar after years of haphazard practice. I’ve been taking lessons!images (6)
  • It’s becoming fluent in a second language to a level that I understand the idioms and nuisances of a different culture, which many one day open doors to a new way of thinking. (Not to mention I’m always in awe of people who are able to flit effortlessly from one language to another, I find it so impressive.) This I have decided can wait towards the end of the year….or maybe 2017….but I will do this!! I need to decide on a particular language first!2073435727eb8d3f2f21e8192a3238a1
  • It’s about taking my health more seriously, taking time out to exercise regularly, relax, get proper sleep and meditate. Live the good life, not the fast life.Live-your-life-inspirational-quotes
  • It’s seeing more of the world, to do what I love to do and travel, experience different ways of living, expand my horizons and in doing so my views and beliefs.images (4)

 

All I’ll say is a big thank you to Latimer for her idea, for sharing it with me and letting me take part too! I look forward to trying to become a better person, and sure I’ve always worked well with targets, and with inspirational sayings (obviously I hear you say! Yeah yeah, you know you like them too 😀 )

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So….

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Feels like Christmas

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Ridley: I absolutely adore this time of year! I’m generally a big kid at the best of times, but I am a hundred times worse come the month of December! I love how happy people are during the weeks leading up to the 25th, how so much nicer they are to their fellow man, how more generous they tend to be, more caring, everything seems brighter and nicer bathed in sparkly fairy lights. This time of year, we all tend to look outside ourselves more at those around us, and really stop for a moment to realise just how lucky we are. 

So…in order to get more into the Christmas spirit I’ve lined up my favourite Christmas ads. Now, hear me out, I know Christmas ads are now big business here, and I shouldn’t be using them to get me into the Christmas spirit, as this holiday is not all about presents and what you’re going to get from Santa. I know different companies spend millions developing these ads, recording them, and then they have big Christmas ad reveals, which get shared by thousands on social media sites (if they’re any good, and some of them really are). But I’m not afraid to admit (don’t judge me!) that I’ve gotten choked up watching a few of them!

Somehow, even though the ads are obviously trying to sell you something or encourage you to shop somewhere in particular (overlook this), they still, in strange way, capture the meaning of Christmas too, where it’s not about what you get or buy, but who you’re with. It’s about surrounding yourself with the people you care about, it’s about trying to bring a big smile to their faces, being the reason for them to laugh and just generally spreading the love!

So this Christmas, stop for a minute, and just remember what it’s all really about:

 

John Lewis, their ads just get me every time, I adored last years one with the bear and the rabbit, but this one with Monty the Penguin kinda chokes me up at the end, so so sweet. This is what I’m taking about, make others happy, it’s the secret to your own happiness too! (Also who wouldn’t want a best friend like Monty I ask you?):

 

The Sainsbury ad is just beautiful, heartbreaking, heart warming and just plain fantastic all at the same time! That this really happened (though possibly without the addition of the chocolate bar obviously) just makes it all the more special:

 

All I’ll say is…she really is worth it, don’t you think? Show others how important they are to you!

 

Make someone happy, the song says it al!! Coca Cola ads are always Christmas to me anyway.

 

And this is not an ad, but it’s still my favourite songs to sing this time of year! Muppets Christmas Carol is on repeat in our house!

 

So, if I haven’t hammered the point home enough, Happy Christmas to all our friends and family, have an absolutely fantastic one, and we’ll see you in the New Year!!

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Beautiful Cambodia

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Latimer: This post has been such a long time coming. For various reasons I never got round to finishing off my South East Asian adventure posts! 

Yummy Fish Amok, a Cambodian dish

Yummy Fish Amok, a Cambodian dish, it’s inside a coconut!

Well, last time I left off, I was leaving Vietnam for Cambodia. I was really looking forward to this. One of the main reasons I’d gone on this trip was to make it to Cambodia. I’d heard such good things about it from my brother, who is still as taken with it now as it was when he’d first been there. It grabbed hold of him somehow. And, now I know why.

For those of you that don’t know, Cambodia was once the jewel of South East Asian; prosperous and full of very well educated people. It was once the ancient empire of Kampuchea; it ruled South East Asia.

That glorious past was blotted out in the 1970’s when Pol Pot’s terrifying Khmer Rogue communist organisation came to power. I wouldn’t get into the horrific details; these people, if you can call them that, declared that the country had entered Year Zero, and that meant going back to the Stone Ages in some respects. The educated people were viewed as traitors (the  were sent off to the countryside to work as labourers on the farm, the country entered a famine; neighbours were encouraged to ‘spy’ on each other and inform on each other (even though no one did anything, it was all about fear and mistrust).

Pol Pot’s regime committed genocide; they tortured thousands of people, wiped out whole families (men, women and children), sending them off to the Killing Fields.

People leave bracelets at burial markers in the Killing Fields

People leave bracelets at burial markers in the Killing Fields

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When we visited one of the most horrific and infamous prisons, Tuol Sleng (S-21), our guide told us that in Pol Pot’s reign of terror (which he lived through), there were only two words; Friend, or Enemy… Friend meant ‘life’, Enemy meant ‘death’. The Khmer Rouge preached that they had the ‘eyes of a pineapple and ears everywhere’ – they preached that everyone should spy on each other (or face death), and so no one was safe.

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Tuol Sleng prison

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Our guide, his father (a Professor) had been taken by the Khmer Rouge during the regime. They never found out what happened to him.

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This is the dark side of Cambodia. To this day the Cambodian courts are trying the last living high ranking members of the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot died in the early 1990’s having never acknowledged how he’d tried to destroy his people and his country).

It’s very, very sad, but the Cambodian people are truly incredible. They are strong; stronger than I think I could ever be. I was very touched by what had happened to them, but I think they should be beyond proud of their resilience. 

It was a hard day when we went to Tuol Sleng and then the infamous Killing Field, Choeung Ek. A very hard day. But Cambodia is more than that, so when we went to the amazing Angkor, we got a glimpse back in time at the ancient Kampuchea Empire.

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Walking towards something wonderful

Angkor Wat is the most famous temple in the Angkor complex; it’s a Hindu temple originally. And it was interesting to learn that the languages and scripts of Khmer, Laotian and Thai derive from Hindu and India, not China as I always expected. Many of the temples in Angkor are Hindu; or at least originally, they later became Buddhist.

We got to Angkor Wat for the sunrise – which as it turns out it very popular – haha, of course it is. Anyway, it was packed full of people and I didn’t get a very good picture… but I was there and it was amazing. This is me trying to remember it’s not about the picture but the experience.

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

Angkor Wat sunrise

This is the sort of photo people try to get, where the temple is reflected on the lake in front... yeah we all tried!

This is the sort of photo people try to get, where the temple is reflected on the lake in front… yeah we all tried!

Inside Angkor Wat

Inside Angkor Wat

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A guy getting a Hindu bracelet in Angkor Wat temple… I still have mine!

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Blessing bracelets inside Angkor Wat

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After Angkor Wat, we went to Angkor Thom, the ‘great city’. This was an emperors capital city during the Kampuchea empire. There is a temple inside that has his face built into the walls.

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My travelling buddha makes it to Angkor Thom – onward Buddha, onward…

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We then went to the ‘Tomb Raider’ temple, where the first movie was shot. The temple is actually called Ta Prohm. It’s spectacular. You might know it as the temple with all the roots on it.

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Cambodia really is an amazing country.

We had the opportunity to visit some schools, built and run by international donations and the people of the New Hope Cambodia organisation (which is fantastic). We had dinner at the school, cooked by local teenagers being trained to enter the hospitality industry, giving them a trade. We also sat in on an English class (the kids were amazing) – there’s one classroom called the Irish Classroom (I wasn’t in it) – it’s because there’s an Irish woman that donated a lot of money to the school. That’s great.

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The thing to remember is after Pol Pot’s regime the country lost it’s teachers and educated people. The schools in Cambodia are far behind the rest of the world and lots of children don’t even go to school. So it was great to see that there are grassroots initiatives for Cambodians to help get their country back on track. 

It goes to show you that you can’t keep good people down; people are more resilient that you’d think.

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After a few days in Cambodia I was back in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, where I’d started my amazing journey. I had some time to collect myself before flying back home.

As always, I’m thinking of the next adventure to come! 

Shush! It’s a Secret!

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Latimer: I have just learned about the amazing Secret Cinema in London, but guys, it’s a secret so don’t tell anyone 🙂

I would love, love, love to go to one of these. I will make it my mission to experience at least one major Secret Cinema! So, what’s the premise exactly? Well, it’s a fully immersive cinema experience. The Secret Cinema releases what the movie will be, you buy your ticket, then they assign you an identity in line with whatever the film is. You dress up and you turn up to where the Secret Cinema event will be.

The area is a replica of various parts of the film in question, so to use an example, the most recent event was Back to the Future.

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You get dressed up like someone in the Fifties, from the town in question, then you go to the fully immersive town. It was a complete replica of the town square – you could go to the diner, or the school dance. You could talk to the people there, the idea is to ‘be’ in the movie. So, the more you talk to people there, the more ‘story’ you get. They might tell you to do things, or go places. You could even sit down in the diner and have a burger! As in the movie, Biff comes in and fights with Marty and they race outside and jump into a car and drive around the town square! It’s all fully interactive.

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And then, after about 3 hours exploring the area, you go and watch the movie, but there’s still some tricks and stuff. Like an actual DeLorean appears and so on!

It sounds like so much fun. Here are some trailers of what previous movie experiences have been – I would love to have been at the Blade Runner one!

Natural Wonders

Latimer: It’s been very hectic these last few weeks here at M. Latimer-Ridley! We’ve been busy with Unbroken Ties, Keeping Secrets 2… and editing the follow-up, Keeping Secrets 3!

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Added to all that – I’ve just moved country! Yup, for now I’m M. Latimer-Ridley’s London correspondent, at least for the foreseeable future!

I’ve been trying to get out and see things, subliminally advertised to me via the London Underground! There was recently an exhibition in the Natural History Museum, so last Saturday I took myself off to see some Mammoths and Neanderthals!

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I made the mistake of thinking London would maybe not be packed with tourists (this will never happen I’m sure)! There was a big queue to get into the museum, a queue to get to the exhibitions and a queue to see the dinosaur skeletons, which happen to be super popular (I’m not surprised, dinosaurs are great!).

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The Natural History museum is amazing. No one does buildings quite like the English – always so grand!

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The Mammoth exhibition was very cool; the museum had on loan Lyuba, the baby mammoth that was found in Russia – the most intact specimen of a woolly mammoth, she even has hair!

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I also learned here that ‘woolly mammoth’ is just a type of ‘mammoth’ and the biggest was actually the Columbian Mammoth. They had a life-sized model of it and it was amazing. I could have stood starring at it for hours. Nearby there was also a statue of a Short-Nosed Bear; which basically dwarfed a grizzly.

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The Proboscidea family tree!

The Proboscidea family tree!

This all led me onto the ‘evolution of man’ exhibition. I love me some evolution!

The great man himself!

The great man himself!

Recently, in the last few years the Neanderthal genome was sequenced, and it turned up some interesting details. Among other things, the results showed that non-African populations had some Neanderthal markers in their genomes, indicating that there had been some crossovers, and interbreeding between Neanderthal’s and modern humans in Europe.

It appears that when our common ancestor moved out of Africa they migrated north and eventually became Neanderthals, who were adapted to survive in the frozen climate. While, the African common ancestor evolved to become modern humans. Some of these modern humans then migrated north and became lighter skinned Europeans, and encountered their cousin the Neanderthal.

It was assumed that Neanderthal couldn’t talk, but actually the genome work showed that they have a similar gene to us called the FOXP2 gene that is involved in speech and language.

In the exhibition they also said that the Neanderthal markers that are present (to varying degrees, about 2%) in Europeans, largely affected the immune system. So it poses some interesting questions about responses to diseases.

There were also more ‘types’ of humans than just Neanderthal’s wandering around at the time, and they may have also contributed to the modern genome. This all raises the question of what we actually mean now when we say ‘modern human’.

Anyway, these were some great exhibits and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they show during the year!

And of course, I’ll be doing a series of museum hops around the city while I’m here 🙂

Thinking about Who

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Latimer: I used to be a pretty big Doctor Who fan back in the David Tennant days. I really loved the show. I loved Rose and the 10th Doctor’s relationship.

I watched religiously up until Rose left; I was heartbroken, I cried (seriously cried).

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For me, for a time, Doctor Who was the best show ever. After Rose left, I hung on for a while, with Martha and Donna; then when Rose returned for a while, I was right in the thick of it again.

When David Tennant left, I bowed out of Doctor Who.

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I didn’t want you to go either!

I didn’t really understand what it meant before, but everyone has ‘their’ Doctor. When the new guy comes, you kind of get repealed, thinking ‘that’s not him, it’s not him!’, and you get annoyed when the show goes on and forgets ‘your’ doctor, and you have to leave to heal and get over the loss of a friend.

You find yourself watching the show from the side-lines and you start to get further and further away, until you’re just not watching anymore.

Then you pop back for the anniversary special. You pop back because of old friends, because of your Doctor.

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I have nothing against Matt Smith, or Amy Pond, or Clara; they just weren’t mine.

I found myself popping back out of curiosity, for the new Doctor’s appearance this weekend. And, I really felt for the 11th Doctor’s generation of Whovians.

The whole first episode was about coming to terms with the new Doctor, who is older and Scottish. I didn’t understand why they picked such an older actor, but I assumed they had their reasons. I didn’t feel strongly about the decision, just curious to why they’d shifted so much.

The first episode seemed to be all about making Clara feel bad for not liking the new Doctor because he was older. And it felt a bit like Clara was representing the audience in a sense. But last time, I couldn’t jump on board with Matt Smith, because he wasn’t my Doctor (regardless of his youth and attractiveness).

But well, Capaldi seems like he’ll be an interesting Doctor, he’s more brooding and intense than the other Doctors seemed to be. It looks like the character is potentially getting darker, which is interesting.

I do still feel sorry for the 11th Doctors followers, because it really does hurt to lose your Doctor. I’m still not back on board, and I’m not sure I ever will be. I still miss the 10th Doctor and Rose 😦

Holi One Colour Festival


IMG_20140816_145754_1Ridley: Latimer and I went to the Holi festival that was held yesterday in Kilmainham in Dublin!IMG_20140816_145745_1 We had a fantastic time chucking around our coloured powder, more often than not you’d have heard one of us shout, “Close your eyes!” before there’d be a face full of powder and you’d become a large puff ball of pink or blue.

We loved mixing the colours in the one bag, it was just so pretty! Like those old bottles filled with coloured sand in different layers, I remember I used to have one as a child!IMG_20140816_145314
IMG_20140816_145924IMG_20140816_144750 Of course, we also shared our powder with others, both by throwing it up in the air during the count down from the musicians on stage, and then one guy who had been watching us mess fight with the powder for ages, eventually plucked up the courage to ask if he could ‘have some too’, so as I happily said ‘of course’, Latimer was already lining up a handful of orange powder toss to onto his head, he even bent down so she could do it properly!IMG_20140816_145515

He wandered away well chuffed with himself. We later saw him arm in arm with a new girlfriend, though it was possibly one of those ‘just for the day relationships’ 🙂  but we both nodded in satisfaction that the oranging of his head had done wonders for our powdered friend! 😀 After all, the whole point of the festival was to promote ideas of togetherness and to have fun and bring colour to your every day life! IMG_20140816_152624

The festival itself, while not religious in any sense, was originally inspired by the Indian Holi festival, which is a Hindu festival of colours. It is a celebration of love, of triumph of good over bad. People hug and wish everyone a ‘Happy Holi’.pb-130322-india-holi-nj-03.photoblog900Everyone runs around tossing coloured powder and water at each other and into the air. Really it’s a free for all. I love the idea that there’s a specific festival in India that is as colourful as this and celebrates togetherness of friends and family. It makes me want to visit there one day and take part! As it was Latimer and I had a fantastic time at our own smaller version!

“If wishes come in rainbow colours then, I would send the brightest one to say Happy Holi!”

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Top 5 Villains

Latimer musing over her Top 5's (kawaii artwork inspired by Miss Wah)

Latimer musing over her Top 5’s (kawaii artwork inspired by Miss Wah)

Latimer: Another one of the Top 5 posts! This time, dangerous villainous villains!

The series comes from the archive of the ‘Top 5 Wednesday’ Tag. This Tag was started by Lainey on Goodreads; here’s the link if you want to check it out: Lainey!

This is a complete list of everyone partaking in the Tag if you want to check them out.

1. The Joker by DC comics

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DC’s the Joker has to be a top villain. No one knows his origin story, he never tells the truth. He’s absolutely crazy, but he’s also incredibly intelligent. He has no loyalties and yet can somehow manipulate those around him to do anything he wants. But the Joker is completely bananas, and as interesting and mysterious as I find him, he’s a villain I’d never want to meet!

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker

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I couldn’t stomach the original Dracula from Bram Stoker. He made me want to hit him with a shovel; the way he manipulated Mina and basically killed Lucy. It really annoys me now when I look at the screen versions of Dracula; he wasn’t sexy, or a fallen hero, he was an absolute narcissistic, megalomaniac. No tears shed when he died… and now I can’t really look at Dracula the same way anymore.

3. Hannibal Lector by Thomas Harris

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Hannibal Lector is a strange one. I always feel like I’m on his side in a way, which it not a comforting thought. I want him to get away, escape and survive (which is bad). He’s an amazing villain, I have a weird soft spot for him; I like him, but he’s a cannibal and a murder, and he’s scary. I’d never want to be in the same room as him. I haven’t watched the TV show, but I’ve seen the finale of season 2; Mad’s Mikkelsen is an amazing Hannibal. I’m still amazed by the vicious intelligence of the character. He worm’s his way inside people’s heads then destroys them.

4. Mr Wickham by Jane Austen

What an absolute arse...

What an absolute arse…

I’ve said it before; I’m a massive Pride and Prejudice fan.

Mr Wickham is the quintessential ‘arsehole villain’. He’s not scary and he’s not powerful, he’s just such an unbelievable jackass. He’s a Jane Austen villain. He’s the sort of guy that if you met him you’d punch him in the nose. Of course, I wouldn’t be afraid to be alone with him, because in a lot of ways, I’d love the opportunity to punch him in the nose.

5. King Joffrery Barathon the First of his Name by GRR Martin

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What a little pain in the ass this guy is. Brilliantly portrayed by Jack Gleeson (he’s an amazing actor, and he’s Irish, by default I’m almost programmed to love him as an actor!).

Joffrery has killed too many people I loved. He’s  malicious, vindictive and stupid – the issue here is when a villain is stupid and has power, his acts of violence are like a bull in a china shop, it’s impossible to predict who will suffer. What a fecker!

Legend Unleashed Chapter 6

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Ah! Another Wednesday release!

Again, in anticipation of the release of Unbroken Ties (Keeping Secrets, 2), we’re releasing some new chapters of Legend Unleashed (Keeping Secrets, 1) every Wednesday (next release 6th Aug!)!!

Synopsis:

“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…”

Catch up from the beginning here: Legend Unleashed Prologue to Chapter 4 and get the newest chapter release here: Legend Unleashed Chapter 6

Please share if you can!

And look forward to the August 2014 release of Unbroken Ties!

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The Riptide Movement and Amy Huberman

new3_1Ridley: Found another band that I really like the sound of, yes, I’ll keep sharing these posts until you demand I stop! And even then…. 🙂

The Riptide Movement are an Irish band, so I’m pretty impressed some more fantastic music is once again coming from our own.

They really seem to be out in force this year, they played a free gig at the Bray Summerfest last weekend, and they’ve supported both the Coronas and Neil Young and Crazy Horse this summer, and I’m sure there were others, but they’re the only two concerts I know of personally, as I was at one gig and had relatives at the other (who came back raving about how great The Riptide Movement were too I might add).

I actually tweeted about how much I liked their song, “All Works Out” and they favourited the tweet, so I was well chuffed with myself for the rest of the day, and I really liked that they took the time to acknowledge a fan too! They get major brownie points for that in my book!

I also love that there’s this video of them from about four years ago busking on Grafton Street in town.

 

So here’s hoping this band continue on their upward spiral to success!

So far I like a lot of their stuff, but my favourite really is ‘All Works Out’, and another reason for it is because of Amy Huberman’s acting in it.

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As an aside, for those who don’t know who Amy is, she’s an Irish actress, who has been in many shows, but in particular she’s in the hilarious Irish film, The Stag.

She is also married to former rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll. I don’t think I’ve met anyone, man or woman, who hasn’t had a nice word to say about her, I think she’s probably a bit of a national darling to be honest. But actually I’m only after recently going on to her twitter feed after seeing her in their music video, and I found out she’s hilarious too. Some of my favourites….

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I get a similar look with Bio-oil to be fair, though it doesn’t end up smelling any way near as good, I think I’ll jump ship to coconut glazing instead.

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Confucius was a wise, wise man. Actually, I love that Toblerone ad, you know the one with the song? And yes…I know the words by heart….

 

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Sometimes I think some seagulls sound like old banger cars with bad batteries trying to start.

If you get a chance, check out their brilliant music, and her fantastic acting, I’m pretty certain neither will disappoint you!

I’ll stop now…. 😀