Schwartzsee

A short train ride or couple of miles walk outside Kitzbühel is the Schwartzsee (“black lake”). It’s full of minerals washed down from the mountains that give it the glassy black effect. Normally in the summer you can swim there, but there had been heavy rain for the past few days, and so the water was too cold and I settled for a walk around the shore instead.

The lake was also surrounded by alpine meadows. I learnt the German word for meadowsweet that day (the yellow flower in the foreground)- turns out to be the straightforward Mädesüss. The Mäde part is to do with it being used to flavour mead. (Or Honigwein as they also like to straightforwardly call it in German). Since I spend a lot of time in rural Austria and Germany, I’ve been trying to build up my vocab of wild plant names in German.

Under attack!

Even train stations in the Tyrol are picturesque.

Bodies and entitlement

CW- non-sexual nudity in photos, body fascism, misogyny, sexual harassment, sexual assault. Don’t even think about leaving a creepy comment.

I’ve been thinking a fair amount lately about bodies and entitlement to them. Mostly fuelled by a combination of being cat-called on the street a lot lately, and meaning to start going to life drawing class again but not being able to afford it/getting round to it.

I started going to life drawing classes as a teenage art student, and I think it did me the world of good even outside of the art training. Spending an evening every week staring intently at some naked middle aged hippies gave me a far more realistic idea of what bodies should or could look like than the media ever could, and a lack of concern about taking my own clothes off (aided by a lot of medical appointments over the years that have involved getting naked, and sometimes being watched by a load of medical students). The weird squeamishness about nudity is always something that has annoyed me about the culture of the UK.

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New print- Sheep Skull

So here’s a new illustration I did. It’s actually based on a drawing I did when I was 17 that I found while sorting out some paperwork recently. You can buy monochrome and colour prints for £3-£30 over on the shop.

I’ve also uploaded the artwork to Society 6 to create tshirts, vinyl stickers and other goodies– please note, if you order, the goods are printed and shipped by the printing company rather than me.

Kyoto II

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Here’s some more photos of Kyoto. I have split the pictures up into several entries. You can see more photos from Kyoto and other cities in the Japan category, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote. Kyoto is famous for its cherry blossom, but sadly we were there a couple of weeks earlier than it comes out in full bloom. You did see the odd bud here and there though.

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Instead of garden gnomes, people in Japan have tanuki figures. I didn’t see any wild racoon dogs.

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Charity shop finds

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I haven’t found as many good charity shop items lately as over the summer, but there’s been the odd few things. I got this vase for £2, which I’ve planted an aloe vera in, for my own plant version of Sideshow Bob.

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This box of Chris Ware stories, which hilariously was put in the children’s section as a board game for £7. Definitely not suitable for young children.

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This bananagrams game for £2. This one is suitable for all the family.

Triffids in search of a new home

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I’ve got a large number of cacti and succulents, some of which I’ve had for years (and have their own offshoot children growing in separate pots now). By the end of the summer, some of them were looking a bit sad, and were in serious need of repotting. I collected a load of Hornsea ware and other vintage pottery for £1-3 a time over the summer, and then had a big repotting session outside, just before the weather started turning cold.

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Here is how you successfully repot a cactus or succulent into a closed pot. They like dry soil that drains well- any moisture hanging around will make the roots start to rot. There’s a layer of gravel at the bottom for drainage, then a layer of activated charcoal to help stop any fungi growing. The soil is special cactus mix, which is dryer and sandier than regular potting soil (it feels very like coffee grounds). Don’t use soil from your garden as it will be too thick and might harbour pests. I used a brand of compost called Cactus Focus. The plants seem to like it, as they’ve been growing better in that than the stuff they came in. At the top of the pot you put more stones, for decoration, and to stop the fine-textured compost blowing away.

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General wandering round Copenhagen

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About 6 weeks ago I went on a short break to Denmark and Sweden. It shows how busy I’ve been lately that it’s taken me so long to post these. I unexpectedly had some extra holiday days I had to use up quickly before the end of my work contract, and none of my friends were free to travel on the specific weekend I had to use them, so I went by myself. I saw cheap flights to Copenhagen, and booked them on a whim, on the grounds that I’d never been to Denmark before, and it was also easy to visit Sweden from Copenhagen. I also have a danish friend Sanne I used to work with in London, so I arranged to meet up with her while I was there and drink some Mikkeller beer at normal prices (rather than the exorbitant prices they charge in the UK). (Good luck with the PhD viva Sanne!). I liked Denmark a lot, although I’m not sure if I’d want to live there. They seem very set in their ways. In fact it reminded me a lot of Austria, but with sea rather than mountains.

While I was there I spent a lot of time wandering round Copenhagen, visited Malmö and Lund in Sweden, and Helsingør along the coast, and also visited the Louisiana Art Museum and the Roskilde Viking Museum, which were also great. Denmark is not the greatest place to be a vegetarian without a kitchen (they are not so hot on the concepts of bacon or mayo free food or accurate labelling), and I had the worst hotel bed I’ve ever slept in (you can’t expect a lot for £30 a night in Scandinavia, esp if you have a problem with your AirBnB account and have to stick to hotels) and got a big tick bite on my leg, but I had a great time. There are a lot more photos, a few more blog posts, and a zine to come from this trip.

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Enfolding sunny spots of greenery

I haven’t posted here for a while because life has overtaken me a little, and I’ve been dashing from place to place. I’m in Palma de Mallorca right now visiting Marcos’ family, with a permanent move to London on the cards for the end of the month (it can’t come too soon). I’ve got a backlog of photos to work through.

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In July I worked at a summer camp at this place. It’s an old manor house that’s been converted into a boarding school and wedding venue. When the school is on holiday they rent it out for activity and language camps, which is why I was there. It was only a few miles from where my mum lives, but was a total pain to get to via public transport. It was fine to get home, and involved a leisurely walk through green lanes, apple orchards and fields to a tiny rural train station, but somehow the connections just didn’t work out to get there, so I had to arrange lifts for the morning.

These are some photos I took one day on my walk to the train home. It’s just kind of generic pretty English countryside, but I guess it could be exotic if you come from elsewhere.

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