Many of you thought I was crazy. You couldn’t see my vision. At times I lost my way with this craft project and my mannequin head gathered dust. She had a couple of stints as a misunderstood fruit bowl but mostly she functioned as a talking point for how I start things and never finish them. NOT ANYMORE.
The head was sourced from Ebay many moon ago and everything else (the potting mix, the ceramic saucer and the succulents) from a plant nursury.
The hardest part was giving my girl a lobotomy and opening up her head. This was accomplished with an electrical saw and my friend Rebecca’s very handy husband Ryan (Thank you guys!). We tried a hand saw, but it made our hand’s sore. If you were determined though, you could make it work.
I inverted her skull top (above) so I wouldn’t have to waste potting mix filling her from the neck up. Then I stuffed her full of succulents.
I chose succulents cause they’re hardy but equally you could plant wheat-grass, a maiden-hair fern, a string of pearls succulent or herbs like mint or basil. You could also experiment with different sized plants to give her a mohawk look.
I love her little-shop-of-horrors meets madame-tussauds vibe. It also reminds me of a grown up version of those Chia Pet planters from when I was little. But way more awesome.
When I thought about visiting Kyoto during the cherry blossom season I imagined a peaceful, haiku-writing, kimono-sleeve-fluttering experience. However, in reality, its actually more raucous, like a hello kitty kegger. Kyoto is overflowing with crowds during April’s Sakura (Cherry Blossom) season, but it’s also overflowing with awesome as well so don’t let the masses keep you away!
Your night should begin in the Beer Garden of Eden (aka Maruyama Park). All the blossoms are illuminated and hang just above your heads like wispy low-altitude pink mashmellow clouds.
So nice I photo’ed it twice! Night cherry blossom viewing is so important in blossom lore that it even gets its own word, yozakura.
Another must-see is Kiyomizudera, or “Pure Water Temple” which is the most famous temple complex in Kyoto. It looks pretty lonesome in this picture but I had to wait a good 10 minutes to take this shot without accidently taking someone’s family photo.
Behind Kiyomizudera’s main hall is the Jishu Shrine, a place dedicated to Okuninushi no mikoto, the Cupid of Japan. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed 18 metres apart. Successfully finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to signify you’ll find true love. Or that you peeked, cheater.
Kyoto at the height of the cherry blossom bloom is like a Japanese watercolour on acid, dip-dyed in a vat of Walt Disney. Here’s a shot down Okazaki Canal at sunset where small wooden boats move you gently down this famous cherry blossom corridor of Kyoto. (And we know wooden boats are my jam!)
Next we took a short train ride from Kyoto to the city of Nara. Nara is famous for the thousands of deer that roam the massive park at its centre. Deer are considered sacred in the Shinto (native Japanese) religion and considered adorable by me. This bambi is totally punch drunk on blossoms. Look at that sweet little smile.
While exploring Nara-koen Park, we stumbled on this grove of blossom trees that were sprinkling their petals like snow. 30 or so deer had also discovered this secret spot and were feasting on the silky pink groundcover. My favourite memory of Japan was happening upon this little blossomy dreamworld.
Every now and then the wind would kick up and deliver a blossom blizzard. The deer didn’t take any notice.
The only thing that could stir them from their blossom banquet was the rustle of a bag filled with deer cookies. These are available to buy all over the park. They’re like Bambi crack and taste like dirt flavoured peanut butter. (Just had a little nibble! No judgement please!) Nara deer are so crazy for these biscuits that they have trained themselves to bow for food. They “bow” over and over until you cough up your cookies, making them look like those dashboard animal bobble heads.
The cherry (blossom) on top was blowing bubbles in this fairyland. The deer were trying to work out whether it was an airborne transparent version of their crack cookies.
And there you have it, a guide and recap of my Sakuradventures in Kyoto and Nara.
And Happy New Year readers/Mum! My New Year’s resolution is to write weekly. Not for any other reason than this: “Great stories happen to those who can tell them” (Ira Glass)
If you know me even a little bit, you’ll know I have a raging ladyboner for everything floral. So, when I decided to visit Japan, the trip was very deliberately timed to coincide with cherry blossom season. Despite global warming’s best attempts to rain on my parade (by not raining) and producing Tokyo’s warmest March since records began (triggering the earliest full bloom ever) Tokyo was the explosive, fluffy, pink Enid Blyton style floral orgasm of my dreams. It was a while ago yes but here’s a little sprinkling of Tokyo’s awesome:
Walking shoulder to shoulder with the blossom worshipping masses through the Hanami food stalls in Ueno Park.
The blossoms creating a fluffy dappled canopy as we walk through Ueno Park.
Still in Ueno Park, this shot is looking down from Kiyomizu Kannon Temple
Getting your Swan boat-on at Inokashira Park is essential if you want to feel like you’re trapped in a Wes Anderson movie. And who doesn’t??!! There’s also an urban legend that claims any couple who ride in these swan boats will break up. It’s called self-sabotage, Ben. (Nah, just kidding, you’re alright.)
On our way to the world’s only Parasite Museum (yes, that happened) we stumble across an avenue of cherry blossoms lining the banks of the Meguro River. I love how the fallen blossoms float along with the current like some weirdly gorgeous pink algae.
Is there a more sweeter sight than a random kitty sitting in a blossom tree wearing a scarf??! (Untapped market for friends over at Scarffaces?)
As well as picnicking amongst them, frolicking in them as they swam in the air around me like snowflakes and at the end of one particularly blowsy blossomy day, even finding one in my undies… (Cherry blossoms, did we have sex?) I also ate cherry blossoms in every imaginable form. The culinary highlight was the indoor hanami picnic we attended in honour of my lovely friend Misato’s birthday.
We made DIY sushi cones with special cherry blossom vinegar rice
How amazing is this spread Misato and her friends created?
The little blue bowl of “natto” takes pride of place in the centre of the table. Natto is a weird sticky mix of fermented soybeans that smells as good as it tastes… And that is the most diplomatic thing I can say about it. It’s thought of like a Japanese version of vegemite… a very acquired taste.
For dessert, we had amazing homemade champagne and cherry blossom jelly Misato made served with fluffy sakura cake.
Misato also prepared a very special green tea for us, which had an exacting brewing temperature of 60 degrees. It was served with traditional cherry blossom snacks (Variations on sweetened red bean paste, rice and blossom)
Also, some flowers were more conceptual than actual…
Like this weird free fall ride called the Sky Flower at Tokyo Dome City in Suidobashi
Other Tokyo adventures were more fruitcake than floral, more bizarre than blossom-laden…
This photo is taken inside the Instant Noodles History Cube at the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama which showcases over 3,000 product packages released over the Cup Noodles 55 year history.
We happily stumbled into an indoor night picnic craft beer festival in a disused shop in Harajuku.
I won the raffle at the craft beer night picnic. As far as I can tell I only won a can of Indian Pale Ale but equally there’s a chance I’m now the owner of a small Japanese micro-brewery gifted to me in some Willy Wonka/Charlie Bucket type exchange.
We went to the afore mentioned Parasite Museum, the only museum of its kind in the world. There was no English translation so as you can probably tell from the above photo we had to use our imaginations.
Ball and pit. The words on their own strikes dread and fear in some people…. but add in a hyphen and you’ve got yourself a party. Well I love parties, so I’m going to present you with the answers to all the questions you’ve never knew you had… about ballpits. I could say I’m revealing the seedy underbally, but that would be incredibly inappropriate and gross. I would never say that, so don’t worry.
Question 1: Where is/was the world’s biggest ball-pit?
The largest ballpit was made on 30 Dec 1999 in Wouwse Plantage, Netherlands by the Stichting Carnaval. (Carnies, it was always going to be carnies) The ballpit had a surface area of 252.9 m² with an average depth of 0.4 m and contained approximately 130,000 sweaty balls. It was open for three days and attracted 2,700 visitors in this time. There is no visual record I can find of this so I can only assume everyone’s cameras were swallowed up into the bally of the beast (or I’m terrible at googling in Dutch). Here’s an unrelated vintage photo of some synchronized swimmers ‘aving-a-laff in a ballpit.
The largest permanent ballpit I found in my research was at Fundazzle in Beijing. It makes sense that the largest ballpit in existence would be in China home as they have the most people to fit in a ballpit. You win this ’round’, China. (…right? cause its a ball!) On a sidenote, that kid has been stranded on that plastic island for so long he’s drawn a face on one of the balls and called it Wilson.
Question 2: Where is/was the world’s deepest ball pit?
There is no official record holder for the deepest ballpit but my money is on Italy’s balls. In 2008, performance artist Graziano Cecchini dropped half a million plastic balls down the Spanish Steps in Rome. Wow Graziano, you think of that all yourself? It was a ballsy move by Graziano who incited the rage of several stop owners. One guy said, “This is ballshit! I didn’t sell any gelato today.”
Question 3. Who invented the ball pit?
The first known ball pit was opened in 1976 at Sea World San Diego.It was designed by playground specialist Eric McMillan, who is often considered the “father of soft play”. (What a title. You kiss your mother with that title, Eric?)
I can’t find a verified photo of Mr McMillan so I like to picture him as half Einstein and half Mother Theresa. Mother Thereinstein. I also really dig Eric’s philosophy on adult play… “If adults played more,” McMillan is quoted by People magazine in 1979, “there would be far less fear and more understanding, because play is an open and honest exchange.”
Question 4: Who is the oldest person to enter a ball pit?
Patrick Stewart. I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here’s the visual proof.
That was sudden! When did Patrick Stewart go balld?!
Question 5: What is the world record for the longest continuous stint in a ball pit?
Great question, you in the back. I know that in Australia, the Crows Nest Pub near Sydney made a valiant attempt to take the record for biggest ballpit party. Despite the lack of actual bodies, there was probably someone (out of the seven people who turned up) that sunk a couple of coldies and then sunk to the bottom of the ballpit, only to be discovered 16 hours later. This is all conjecture though.
Question 6: Please tell me other ballpits of note, Camilla?
Well since you asked so nicely… There was a man called Josh Ente who in 2012 had a vision to turn an derelict, abandonned New Orleans house, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, into a giant ball pit with foam walls and no entrance fee. Basically utopia. With over 200 backers on Kickstarter, its a shame that Josh didn’t get council approval before he took people’s money. Way to kill the dreams of millions, Josh. Also thanks for not replying to my email.
In more successful news, at MIT in the US, students have converted a meditation room into a ballpit.
Probably so they can do this…
Hope you enjoyed this entry… I had a ball writing it! Here’s an adorable life-affirming, heart a-warming video from Soul Pancake which inspired this entry.
Ok, let’s get this travel series done, last installment, rip the bandaid off.
It seems strange writing about summer in Bavaria when it probably looks like the inside of a shaken up snowglobe right about now but… the blog wants what the blog wants. Basically, Baravia is the tits in summer – warm days, mild nights, cold beer and the most beautiful glacial lakes and inlands fjords.
The highlight was Lake Königsee, Germany’s third deepest lake located in the Berchtesgaden Alps. We stayed in the little town on the lake, Schönau am Königsee, at a lifesize gingerbread house called Hotel Schiffmeister which overlooked the water.
Lake Königsee may not win the prize for Germany’s deepest lake but it is the cleanest. No motorcraft is permitted and tourists are ferried from one end to the other in pretty wooden electric boats.
This guy and I had lunch (river trout, potatoes and beer) at the boat’s first stop, St Bartholomew church in the sunshine.
Here’s our dude of a boat driver steering us towards Eden (also known as Salet-Obersee, the last stop). The lake is flanked by walls of moutains which create a beautiful echo and to showcase this, every boat tour has a flugelhornist… (flugelhorner…? flugelhornet…?) on board. 100 years ago, in place of a flugelhorn, a cannon would be fired and the sound would be heard seven times as it bounced off the mountains.
The scenary was absolutely surreal. I felt like I was in Middle Earth. But a hypercoloured, disney version.
Once the boat dropped us at Salet-Obersee, we hiked for about 5km to get to Lake Obersee. The first part of the hike is easy and flat (see how cocky we are – “Here’s a rock, watch me climb it”) but then it starts to incline and you want to call out for your mother.
This is looking down at Lake Obersee. The water is so clear, its reflecting a mirror image of the moutains, the sky and the little boat house. Above the boat house is a little dairy, called Fischunkelalm, where they serve fresh buttermilk (also sausage salads) to weary, calcium-deficient hikers.
SPEAKING OF SAUSAGE SALAD… In front of Fischunkelalm there’s a swimming spot. The water is still pretty nippy even in the middle of summer and this guy lasted about 2 minutes. No one questioned his manliness though. No one. After this, we sat in the meadow listening to the cowbells, while we waited for someone to air dry.
Oh yeah, Munich is okay too…. if you like laughter and fun and goodtimes.
Inspired by the painted ivy trellis ceilings and just the general down the rabbit hole loveliness that is Madame Brussels Bar in Melbourne, I wanted to make my own giant piece of pimped up lattice to sit against my bedroom wall.
<- To help with the visuals, here’s Madame Brussels Bar – You can make out the ceiling in the reflection and all the tiny crisscrossy shadows made from their lattice.
I bought the lattice online. It was the biggest piece I could fit through my door frame. It was also a diagonal cut because it looks waaaaaaaaaaay classier. Next, I ordered ivy and floral garlands from ebay as well as some warm white LED fairylights.
Let’s take inventory on the bed:
Then things took a turn for the awesome. I received a (pink!) Nikon SLR for my birthday and I decided to take it for a spin with the time lapse video to end all time lapse videos. (NASA, this isn’t nearly as impressive as mine)
The whole project took about 3 hours. I only regret one thing and that’s my choice of crafting outfit, immortalised forever in that video.
I pretty much love my a huge, ridiculous, overkill of a night light. I like the effect the fairy lights make against the leaves and the whole secret garden vibe. I think, I’ll probably end up using it as a bedhead.
A hideous birdnest of power cords……. and my giant leafy nightlight on steriods.
I love all the creepy leafy shadowpuppets
Anyway, I hope it inspires you or at the very least gives you some insight into the mad hatter’s tea party that is the inside of my brain.
(Yep……….. I’m still going with this travel series even though the dust has well and truly settled on the trip………. just roll with it…….)
After the boozehaze of Sail Crotia lifted, we did Austria…. like a bosstria. This basically involved a buttload of wiener schnitzel (my butt is still loaded with it), being underground, crisscrossing strangely inconspicuous international borders and the highlight of (what I now understand to be) a previously unfulfilling existance: the Keltenblitz.
But let’s start from the very begining, a very good place to start….
Salzburg was named for its surrounding salt-rock desposits (salz) and a castle (burg) built from all those salty salt dollars. Nowadays, the city had two golden geese – Mozart (born there) and the Sound Of Music (set and filmed there). And those geese have laid their eggs everywhere – you can’t turn around without getting von Trapped in stores dedicated to only selling The Sound of the Sound of Music… Or Mozaaaasked if you’d like to upgrade to the Papagena Suite, which costs about half your kidney but is inspired by some feathery character from Mozart’s opera the Magic Flute so that makes it okay.
Yep, that happened…
This is the view from Hohensalzburg Castle – Look at all those cute ant people! Salzburg is one of the prettiest cities in Europe but seeing it on foot is akin to having Jillian Michaels from the Biggest Loser chasing your fat arse until you cry for your mother. There’s a lot of steps, stairs, ramps and alpine inclines… But at the end of every weight loss journey, there was a gorgeous view and an even better looking beer.
This is the Stieglkeller beerhall and garden. We discovered it by accident because it looked pretty inconspicuous, sitting pretty in a deserted cobblestone street – with no one ever seeming to leave or arrive. It’s actually a deceptively large venue because its carved right into the rocks of Mönchsberg Mountain. They serve ice cold beer, delicious traditional Austrian dishes (in huge helpings) and you get to drink in one of the prettiest vistas of Salzburg while you drink in all those amber-hued carbs.
We did a segway tour of the Sound of Music sites. It was particularly satisfying zipping passed and lapping Frauline Maria’s Bicycle Tour who all looks like they were going on ‘sweatsteen’ cause they were climbing ev’ry mountain with only pedal power. Here on the left we have my manfriend and I posing in front of the Mirabelle Palace Gardens where the Von Trapp kiddies “Do-Re-Mi-ed”, then in front of gazebo from “Something Good” and “I am Sixteen” (located in Hellbrunn Gardens) and finally in front of Leopoldskron Palace which was the Von Trapp’s residence and backdrop to the scene where Maria and the children all tumble into the lake.
Eventually we ran out of money and were forced down into the Salzburg salt mines. I got a big kick out of completing an international border crossing 200 metres underground. Look, the giant slides were also pretty great. And sailing across a subterranean salt lake. All in all, I’d say there’s nothing to the defeated phrase “Back to the salt mines” because being a salt miner looks like a pretty sweet gig.
Another weirdly inconspicuous international border crossing that seemed to be in some guy’s backyard. Maybe it comes from living in a country that’s also it’s own continent but whenever I cross international borders on foot I always want to do this Homer Simpson dance.
Unsatisfied with just one underground adventure we also did a tour of the Salzburg Ice Caves on Mt Hochkogel. The cave system is INSANE with huge ice formations that look like waves snap frozen, standing 20 metres high. It’s the largest cave system in the world and spans 42 km… Thankfully, the tour is only the tip of the Ice(cave)burg and you complete a 1 km circuit – which is all you can take after the backbreaking climb to the cave entrance. Man-friend captured our alpine deathmarch perfectly with this shot. Can you see me?
Another day, another mountain. In winter Mt Dürrnberg (about 20km from Salzburg) is a tiny ski resort with one ski lift. In summer, the mountain becomes the home of the Keltenblitz, pretty much the new centre of my universe. After buying tickets, the ski lift floated us up the mountain slowly so we could take it the views.
At the top of the mountain we came face to face with the Keltenblitz, a 2.2 km long taboggan run on rails.
The descent takes around 3 minutes if you floor it. It was like being on a tiny one man rollercoaster and the hills were alive with the sound of my shrieking. (Seriously, I have video – but I’m too ashamed to post and also I don’t want your ears to bleed.)
US ad agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, is pure awesome, deep fried and wrapped in bacon. In 2009, CP&B gave the world the Whopper Sacrifice campaign and challenged the pervading culture of amassing superficial facebook “friendships.” And now, they have single handedly turned the desperate courting of Facebook fans by big name brands on its head.
For those Australians playing at home, Grey Poupon is a Kraft-owned, US-based mustard brand with a massive aristocratic ego. It was launched in the 80s with this television commercial.
…which spawned this parody….
and this one….
….and probably a thousand other home jobs on YouTube.
The brand’s entire personality is cemented in this Richie Rich delusion. So, the campaign plays to that and transforms the almost robotic act of liking brands on Facebook into something more involved. Instead of trying to herd a group of possible fans to engage with their facebook page, they are weeding and thinning the herd with a selection criteria and an application process.
The brand’s fan page has been renamed the Grey Poupon Good Taste Society and explains,
Now, Zuckerburg might think Facebook is like sitting on a chair, but I’d probably liken it to buying a Ferrari… you only do things on Facebook to one-up everybody else. I’m not saying a sportscar is on the same level as membership to an ‘aspirational’ mustard fanpage on Facebook…. but who doesn’t enjoy being part of something exclusive?!
So nicely played, Crispin Porter & Bogusky. I tip my top hat to you.
I say top hat because I’m made the cut. Top 30th Percentile.
According to the CP&B creative director, “Our development team built an algorithm that gives high ratings to things like movies and books mentioned in The New York Times, Ivy League colleges, and top restaurants. It checks for spelling, grammar, and politeness.”
There’s only one explanation for my application’s acceptance. I must have broken the application algorithm by previously liking super weird and embarassing things such as Grease 2 and every single Australian feminine hygiene brand… no matter. I’m in and I plan to lord it all over you, exactly the way Grey Poupon intended.
After Sail Croatia, we visited the turkishly delightful Mostar. Mostar is in Bosnia Herzegovina and fifty or so kilometres inland from the Croatian coast. It’s only fifty kilometres but it might as well be on the other side of the world: the Croatia coast is all about hedonism and excess whereas Mostar, while its not hardline islamist, has mosques dotting its skyline. Also there are no no sea breezes in Mostar, its like the song walking on sunshine, but in a greenhouse. Inside a hot car. Parked in a giant oven. Located on the sun.
This is the ancient town of Počitelj near Mostar, a really old fortified Turkish settlement. I like the long thin towers attached to mosques (I think they’re called citadels?) because they remind me of Rapunzel.
This is a famous view of Stari Most, the old bridge, where the town gets its name: Stari means old and Most means bridge. The two towers that flank either side of the bridge are where the Bridge Keepers lived. They were called the “Mostari” and because the bridge was a huge part of town life, the city became known as Mostar. This bridge is the Eiffel Tower of Mostar. Its on every postcard and inside every snowglobe. It was build in the 1560s and stood for over 400 years until it was detroyed in 1993 during the Yugoslavian war. Reconstruction was finished in 2004.
The bridge stands 24 metres high over the Neretva river which is always freezing even in the heat of summer. It’s tradition for the young men of the town to jump off the bridge into the Neretva even though it’s illegal and attracts a $25 fine. This is now the bridge jumper’s fee they call for from tourists. You can see one professional bridge jumper poised ready to go. The summer before, an Australian guy doing Sail Croatia did the jump to impress a girl. They’re now married*.
This is the traditional Kujundžiluk (or old bazaar). We walked through this part of the town and snacked on Bosnian skinless sausage called Ćevapi. Then we watered that down with deeeelicious rosewater lemonade. Don’t tell Charlie but it was ACTUALLY the best lemonade of all time.
Most buildings are riddled with bullet holes from the conflict that played out here in the 90s.
Today we travel back in time (not far don’t worry, we’re not going to step on a bug and change the course of history) to June, when I boarded a dinky little boat called the Maya at the Port of Split, Croatia.
When you’re researching Sail Croatia it can be a little daunting- the bad reviews seem to outweigh the good and you start to envisage a week spent on a leaky boat, rooms infested with bedbugs and sharing close quarters with the type of people you usually cross the street to avoid. Luckily I didn’t have this holiday.
For me, the trip was smooth sailing the whole time. And I mean smooth sailing purely metaphorically cause that boat swayed and rocked so violently more than one person worshiped at the porcelain throne.
Speaking of food, as part of the sail fare, you get breakast and lunch daily. I only made it to breakfast once (too busy steering the boat…) but the 3 course lunches were basic and yum. Drinks are extra but really reasonable prices. If you’re lucky your beer mug will give you awesome DOUBLE FACE.
This is girice. I think its just fried whitebait but its delish if you don’t have an aversion to your food looking at you as you eat them whole. Croatians eat them like chips. Here we have the circle of life… what the Lion King took 90 minutes to explain, the girice accomplishes in a mouthful.
It should be no surprise to anyone that there’s a lot of boozing on Sail Croatia and while alcohol is great, my preferred social lubricant is bubbles… Seriously I met most of my friends on the bubble circuit*. Here are some friends blowing bubbles at this nightclub called Deep in Makarska which is actually a cave located right on the water.
And when I woke up, I was sticky all over.
By far though, the best night out was in Dubrovnik. First Ben and I went to Cafe Buza, an amazing hidden bar perched on a cliff face and then we went to meet our Sail Croatians at some awesome dirty nightclub. Here we are in the Old Town at 2am, after too much tea partying.
Even in the daytime, Dubrovnik is like some kind of shiny marble Eden. And everything is soaked in sunshine and gelato.
Most mornings we spent swimming off the side of the boat. Usually I’m afraid of deep water but I wasn’t here. I love this photo Chris took of Ana and I trying to sunbake in the water without drifting away from the boat.
A favourite highlight was visiting the Cocktail Bar Massimo in Korcula, which was located on top of a tower that used to form part of the city walls and is only accessable by ladder. The drinks are much more precious cargo and are delivered by pulley system up to the top bar. I also loved swimming and paddle boating at the beach in Makarska.
Now, we’re not talking your grandma’s paddle boat that she drives to church on Sundays, okay? These paddle boats were Lamborghini yellow and had slides and could catch waves… They were kind of like the magical schoolbus but less secretly educational and more THE BEST THING EVER.
So that was Sail Croatia in a slightly erratic nutshell. In summary, if you hate people, are a fussy eater and you don’t like pit-stop travel then Sail Croatia isn’t for you. But if you’re a normal person who needs to cram in a lot of holiday, you’ll love it.