I promise I’ll spare you the dreary analysis of why I’m going on hiatus but I feel I ought to tell you that I’ll be coming back, with more Rushes and some content aside from that. I don’t know when but I’ll be working hard behind the scenes besides hanging out with my dog heaps. My Instagram will be updated (that’s @sssalzig y’all) but good things are in the works. Til then!
Lovely, weird Berlin. It was a 10 hour bus ride from Amsterdam and the sun came out only once: at the border, entering Germany. Of course I believe in omens and it turned out to be mostly right, except for a few things that I can’t blame on the city, like losing my phone and being too stubborn to catch a taxi anywhere. Berlin is a good-value city and, for the price I paid in Amsterdam for a creaking mattress in a 21-bed dorm, I got a double bed in a private little loft, with curtains and a lamp. There was a market at the end of the street (I was in Kreuzberg) and a döner kebab on every corner. It was warm, then, and one day so stifling and cozy that I fell asleep (in the Stasi museum — unwise).
The trees are numbered because it’s Germany.
Ah yes, nature.
We met three artists in the Sherbrooke Forest. One was a man with a canvas who told us the lyrebird was likely female; there was a women who responded appropriately to a reference to Ents. The last was a girl and her parents who were working on an installation piece, a giant inflatable cube (transparent) that explored the concept of space. Her high school had subsidised the cube.
Would it be just terrible to tell you that I don’t remember a great deal of the day’s hike? My main memories are all the birds (but I love birds, goddamn) and the other group at the picnic spot who were eating McDonald’s as we waited for our ridiculous X celebrity chef for Coles sausages — which cost three entire dollars more than the regular ones, thank you — to cook on the ancient grill.
Am I being a cynical? Oh yes, of course. Nobody’s as passionate about ferns as I am; I think it came from reading fairy stories as a child. Ferns always featured so prominently and had little homes built into the base, crocks of gold (still haven’t the vaguest idea what a crock is) and little terrier dogs with silk wings. And I like native forests, all old-growth gums and bushfire scars. But something’s been corrupted in me from a lifetime in the city, by the sea; I need a little bit of civilisation to appreciate nature, like salt in hot chocolate that brings out the flavour. In truth, I feel much more in tune and relaxed beside a log fire in my aunts’ country cottage, the woods beginning in the backyard and the half-tame magpie who doesn’t come round so much since it found out the neighbours aren’t vegetarian and will give it scraps of meat. That worries me a little; does it make me shallow? Do I use this kind of casual luxury as a crutch and only experience nature-lite?
I’m not ashamed to tell you that it worries me, and I add it to the list of modern-day problems like a short attention span and literal addiction to sugar. Part of me does wonder, though. Should experiences in the natural world be all about noticing every tiny mushroom, taking every trail and making it to the waterfall only to turn and dash back up the hill to make the bus? It doesn’t feel right, to me, to make such an event of it all; it’s almost like treating the forest as the zoo, a sort of enclosed world that must be observed completely to be appreciated. Maybe it isn’t necessarily about weekly hikes and saying, “Hm, ah yes, stunning, what does the plaque say?”; perhaps taking a book or sitting on the porch or driving through the mountains is closer to being with nature. Or that could be me not wanting to get muddy. It begs the question, though: is there a right or wrong way to spend your time in the natural world?
(ps. the shy lyrebird, otherwise known as the bundle of feathers on the 10c coin. Lucky lucky to spot him!)
Amsterdam was a catastrophe mostly of my own making. I should have known better than a 7€ hostel and I shouldn’t have eaten mysterious fried — what? Chicken? I think it was chicken. The point is that I was sick for most of the time and spent it lying on my bunk feeling sorry for myself. I did hike across the city to get a kind of tomatoey buffalo mozzarella sandwich which remains the best I’ve ever had and I did go to the Rijksmuseum to watch people watching the Rembrandts. Still, I think Amsterdam deserves a better go (in a better hostel).
I never had a choice about liking Bruges because I’m too big a fan of the film. Fortunately it was lovely anyway, everything it was supposed to be and packed with the best goddamn fries you’ll meet. I was there an hour and dreaming of taking a house on a canal for a year to do… something. It didn’t really matter what because Bruges was too lovely. I snuck out at night after the day-trippers had left and Zara had closed and it was a fairytale. One day, I took the train to Antwerp to visit a friend; ate fries there as well. It’s converted me to mayonnaise. Actually, from memory, my goal was to eat nothing but fries and chocolate in Belgium and I think I was successful.
(The selfie game did not improve over the course of the summer.)
Probably irrelevant but I love it when autumn and spring collide in the middle of winter. The cherry blossoms are coming out, too; I always worry that they’ll peak too early but they manage themselves so well.
I have more teenage nostalgia to tell you about but this time it’s really more incidental. I haven’t been to the NGV in years (a terrible thing to admit) but there’s no missing that slab of a building and its stunning, dubious waterwall. As children (and older) we were never really confident about that water but we ran our hands through it anyway.
The gallery is hosting an exhibition of William Blake’s watercolours and etchings; I studied Blake in my final year at high school, so to see work he’d done, to be inches away from paper that he’d worked on, to be separated only by time from a man I admire so much — it was thrilling!
The exhibition was small but beautifully curated. Blake was a fascinating thinker; deeply religious but also extremely progressive. His views on industrialisation are as valid today as they were back then and he expressed them so stunningly. If you’re interested in his work my favourite poem is the Tyger; it’s brutal and beautiful and reminds me of looking at stars through a canopy of trees.
The loveliest thing about the gallery is its enormous stained glass roof. No-one minds if you go and lie down on floor beneath it. It’s so relaxed for a state gallery (which is maybe why a Picasso got stolen that one time).
After an accidental nap I went back to the Nicholas Building for some earrings. I can justify it by saying I’ve supported classic and contemporary artists but let’s be real: I just want pretty things.
I’ve been spending muuuuuch too much since moving back in with my parents. I have such mixed feelings, but for the moment it’s almost a relief to not think about life after the next paycheck. I’ve been doing some admin for a local real estate agency — not especially glamourous but so much better than pies or sweets or hotdogs. Last week some happy vendor gave us a big box of red velvet cupcakes and there are caramels at reception.
Fine decorations from Limedrop (support your local!). When I swing my head they rattle against my cheeks and it’s so lovely.
Growing up in Melbourne’s western suburbs meant that a) people thought I was part of a gang, and b) travelling to the other side of the bay for high school was pretty much a given.* As much as I regret the 180-minute daily round trip, travelling for school meant that I got my head around the city and the inner suburbs which is something I really appreciate now. The wonders of education: you won’t remember what an enzyme does but you will know where to get coffee.
Lately I’ve been getting to know all my favourite teenage spots again. They’ve changed, for better and for worse — so have I, I guess. It’s so good to see them through new eyes and also above the drinking age. Hence: Chapel str, which I remember as having the best vintage going, is suddenly a wonderful playground of elaborately/joyfully named bars and eateries.
If you can’t quite make it out that’s Borscht, Vodka and Tears and it’s as fine as it sounds. I took The Drink With No Name (not pictured because it disappeared very quickly) and found a new love in chili vodka. Still, you’ve gotta shop.
In this case it meant an incense burner shaped like a little pueblo because life wasn’t absurd enough at that moment. Pictured on my unnecessarily elaborate bedspread
And then to my best city/CBD/downtown. The wonderful Victorian-era Block Arcade which is populated by the kind of shops that only seems to exist in Victorian-era arcades: merino wool outfitters and photo restoration services. It’s caught in a sort of web of narrow alleyways and though I’ve been going there as long as I can remember I’m never quite sure which way the exits and entries will take me.
It also houses the Hopetoun Tea Rooms, which always have the longest queue but I know one day must be conquered due to its fully-restored, late 19th century realness. Maybe I’ll have to engineer a special occasion, I don’t know. Any ideas?
Finally the Nicholas Building, home to creatives of all kinds. All the shops I remember in the arcade have been replaced (with equally lovely things) but upstairs is still mostly the same; all fish-scale tiles and an unnerving elevator. Around the corner is L’uccello, which is a crafter’s dream and still heavenly for people who don’t understand how sewing works. Everything is lovely but they have piles of antique ribbon that I just feel I need, for some reason. Admiration, I think.
*For Catholic school, mind. Although it was the sort that let us watch Shrek in religion classes.
Paris intimidated me. More than anything else, it was expensive. My hostel (conveniently located in the middle of nowhere) was costing the earth and I was paralysed with fear at the thought of paying so much for strawberries. In the end I did discover 1€ baguettes and the pleasure that came from eating them on the slope in front of Sacre Coeur. I like that in a town full of tourists nobody really speaks English. And there were moments: sneaking into an Art Nouveau apartment block, following stunningly dressed elderly women down the Champs-Élysées, taking patriotic photos of my new friends under the Canadian embassy’s giant flag. Lovely, overwhelming Paris.
Exhausted after Saturday but managed to get up at the promise of cute dogs. Here’s the morning face with an attractive inclusion of the air conditioner. (Can add ‘an air conditioner is in the background of a wintertime portrait’ to the list of You Know You’re in Australia Whens.)
And to the other side of the city for the market. It’s a pretty strange mix of teenage wardrobe clear-outs, antique furniture and pirated DVDs. No luck (again! cursed!) but I did manage to see a bunch of caramel spaniels, patient golden retrievers and a German shepherd legitimately named Rex. Busker boy-bands covered songs from the Aristocats. I had a hot-dog. It was a good morning.
And this woman with absolutely the best jacket going.
On to my first crafty session with DIY miracle-gal M. I’m not a crafty type at all but an afternoon spent next to a log fire forming tiny, steep-roofed houses and golden stars is too dreamy.
If you’d like to make a little home you can find instructions here. Let me know if you do one — they’re so intricate and impressive! We moved on to stars and J arrived to lend a hand and drink kettles of milky tea. We had a pretty efficient assembly line in the end.
M’s house in the sun — I love this place, there are flowers and stacks of books and chairs big enough to curl up and sleep in. It’s a real homey kind of home; absolutely the perfect tea-drinking afternoon sort of place.
It grew dark; we kept on. The stars became a mobile and also a sort of crown that fell over one eye when you put it on. And I used a stanley knife all afternoon (crafternoon) and didn’t even cut myself.
I hated my job and London was still so cold and foggy, even in May. Stockholm turned out to be near tropical, which isn’t why I chose it but was a pleasant surprise. It was complicated, to me, to try and cope with pine trees and humidity at the same time. I lived off icy-poles (which were cheap) and Thai food (which was not, but was excellent). One night some Russians fed a bottle of honey vodka to a quiet boy from Malmö and he watched nearly half of Borat without headphones at 3 in the morning. It was high school graduation and students drove through the streets in buses blaring ABBA. One day, I caught the ferry to Vaxholm to buy gifts that I ended up keeping and to sit in the sun. Upon reflection I did very little in Stockholm but I had a wonderful time of it.