Beyond the Pale


Oddness Writ Large: Twine, Beagles, UFO’s & Prawns

Sleep evades me yet again, so I am lying on the bed, slightly jittery yet happily reminiscing about playing the Sam & Max PC game – specifically the part in The World’s Largest Ball Of Twine. I have no idea why, except perhaps that it was so deeply, deliciously odd and amusing. Much like the game itself.

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This then led me to wishing I could travel the world visiting bizarre landmarks and staying in The World’s Largest Beagle (for example). The toilet is located in a building designed as a fire hydrant, apparently. Of course it is, why would it not be?

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It has long been an ambition of mine to visit the awe-inspiring UFO Hotel in Switzerland (now THERE are some holiday snaps people would be genuinely interested in looking at).
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Of course, when talking about the subject of Oddness Writ Large, you cannot help but wish to see all of Australia’s Big Things (though they’d have to turn the heating down for me and rid the place of large insects), famously written about by Bill Bryson and gawped at by countless thousands, I shouldn’t wonder.

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You may well ask why I should want to stand in front of these structures, hands on hips, looking up and thinking “well I never…” but my question would be, why the Hell not? The world is a bizarre place, and oddness pleases me, so why not take a road trip, visiting places that make you smile or scratch your head and wonder what on earth they were thinking…



I’d Rather Be Watching the Cricket (Somewhere Hot!)
January 7, 2010, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Cricket, Etsy, Fashion, Holidays, Summer, Vintage | Tags: , , , ,

Last year was something of an eye-opener for me: I learned to love cricket. Oh, I had flirted with it from a distance, but never actually been to a game before. So, when the be-ringleted fiance suggested we go to watch our local team (Kent) play at Canterbury, I was more than happy to go along… but took a book (just in case).

Illustration by Simon Letch

That book went untouched. I was gripped. GRIPPED, I tell you! But sedately so, obviously. It was one of the most exciting yet relaxing ways to spend a day, I loved the atmosphere, the traditions and that sense of laid-back sportsmanship.

Cricket Awning by Deckchair Stripes, £175

This year we shall certainly be watching Kent play again, but right now, right this very second, I wish we were somewhere hot watching the cricket. With a cold beer and a picnic.

Blyton Picnic Basket for 2, by Optima: £70

This Enid Blyton inspired basket is just darling. I also have a shade of lipstick that would match the red tin perfectly, which is the most important thing to consider when planning a picnic, I think you’ll agree.

Now, I have to tell you this is very rare for me, wanting to be somewhere hot, but I’m a contrary so-and-so, t’was ever thus. When it’s hot, I crave snow and log fires. When the snow comes, I spend time browsing Etsy for cricketing holiday items. Sometimes I even annoy myself. ;p

Direct links to items shown, left to right:

1st Row: 1) Shrunken Cat Heads, 2) Serena Jane, 3) Clayswan

2nd Row: 1) Crrysstall, 2) Monkeys ‘n’ Mermaids, 3) DNTX

3rd Row: 1) A Good Vintage, 2) Nostalgic Treasures, 3) To Funky Town

4th Row: 1) Mohop, 2) Miss Brache, 3) Ayelet77

We would definitely have need of the sunscreen, slathered head-to-foot, as we are both lily-white and thus turn scarlet in the blink of an eye. I like the idea of using a mineral-based sunscreen, too – and one that doesn’t smell of coconut. WHY do sunscreen makers assume we all want to smell of coconuts? Deeply odd.

Oh, how I love this hand painted silk scarf. Delectable – and practical, too, as you could tie it around your neck to keep the sun off, or over your head a’la Jackie O. It’s on my Wish List, of course.

Hand Painted Silk Scarf by Crrysstall: $81

Just look how stunning those Mohop sandals are. They come with a set of interchangeable ribbons, too! I am madly in love with them and shall be coveting a pair for summer.

Mohop Walnut Sandals

I would be stocking up on ribbons to wear with every holiday outfit imaginable – there are a number of different ways you can tie them, too (and the soles also come in wedges for a higher heel).

Well, I do hope this post has warmed your cockles. 🙂

Until next times, duckies,

Miss Nightingale

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Berlin: Rococo-a-gogo
October 18, 2009, 7:42 pm
Filed under: Berlin, Castles, Decadence, Etsy, Fripperies, History, Holidays, Marie Antoinette, Palaces, Royalty, Trinkets

Aha! My last post seemed to get lost somewhere between me writing it and, um, anything whatsoever appearing on my blog. Therefore – if you have been pining, desperately worried about the lack of posts or wondering if I’ve been residing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure – fear not, Gentle Reader!

I have been to Berlin on holiday and returned yesterday evening. Marvelous and full of wonders, it was, but I shall break up the many, many pictures and post about differing sections of the holiday, I think. It seems best not to leave you in the lurch and then bamboozle you with an overload of information.

I absolutely MUST begin with what was actually one of the last days of adventure during our week away. A trip to Schloss Charlottenburg – the city’s largest and most impressive palace. The following two photos were taken by me, in the pouring rain, so forgive their slightly blurry and dull appearance!

Schloss Charlottenburg

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The audio tour was extremely interesting & informative – I am now quite fascinated with the various inhabitants of the Schloss [castle] and purchased a book in the museum’s shop to learn more about them.

Sophia Charlotte of Hanover – later, Queen of Prussia – had the palace built – then known as Litzenburg – as a little place to hold her court and, mainly to surround herself with philosophers, scientists, artists and musicians. She was renowned for being incredibly intelligent and a huge supporter of the Arts, as well as an internationally acclaimed beauty.

Sophia Charlotte, Queen of Prussia

A contemporary, on meeting her, described her thus: “She has big, gentle eyes, thick black hair, eyebrows as if drawn by a compass, a well-proportioned nose, incarnadine lips, very good teeth and a lively complexion.”

She may not be what modern standards describe good looking, today, but this goes to show our changing view of what constitutes female beauty. Back then she had such power and immense knowledge that, combined with her looks, Peter the Great on meeting her was literally dumbstruck. He couldn’t get a single word out, so intimidated was he; but Sophia was a naturally charming and humorous woman, so quickly put him at his ease. He was so grateful that he gifted her many trunks full of brocade and furs.

Sophia is now mainly remembered as the chief supporter of her former tutor, the polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who she persuaded to found the Academy of Sciences at her court in Berlin. She very much enjoyed challenging & lively philosophical discussions, and used to take regular walks with Leibniz for the purpose of these discussions.

Sophia Charlotte enjoying a stroll with Leibniz

Sophia Charlotte enjoying a stroll with Leibniz

Known as “philosophical strolls” they are said to have inspired one of the scholar’s major works, the so-called Theodicee, in which he strives to answer the question of how a loving and omnipotent God can allow evil to exist in the world He created. This was a question which particularly frustrated the Queen, and which she posed to him time and again. He was an incredibly busy chap, all things told, and in his spare time invented the binary system. Or “co-discovered” it. A topic that induces philosophers to rage, apparently, so I shall leave it for them to thrash out. Suffice to say, he was quite clever.

Freidrick III, King of Prussia

Sophia’s husband, Frederick I of Prussia, lived separately from his wife and was only allowed to visit the palace at her express invitation. He didn’t actually regularly use his apartments there until after her death, when he renamed the palace Charlottenburg in her honour.

Easily one of the most breathtaking rooms is the Golden Gallery. Click on the link for an awe-inspiring panoramic view of this magnificent ballroom! The gallery is 42 meters long and decorated with an abundance of golden shells, tendrils, flowers and fruit. The large, airy windows, many mirrors and the colours used lend to the impression of being in a garden.

Golden Gallery

Indeed, the idea was for guests to feel they were dancing in a splendid fairytale garden. It’s very much in keeping with the Frederican Rococo ideal and is spectacular yet somewhat overwhelming to walk through. I liked to imagine the candlelit scenes that would have taken place in the room.

I have never been to Versailles, but had the impression that Marie Antoinette would come sauntering through the room at any minute. Though Antoinette herself has nothing to do with Charlottenburg, the impression of Versailles is not an entirely misleading one. Between 1701-1702, the main axis of the building was extended on both sides, with a prestigious show-facade on the model of Louis XIV’s palace.

The urge to break into a waltz in the Golden Gallery was hurriedly quashed as the many disapproving attendants looked on. I had already been told off twice (once for having a bag – even though every other visitor did. Once for taking a picture of a ceiling, as all photography is forbidden, but they don’t tell you that until 10 minutes into the tour. Oops!).

Charlottenburgpainting

I have much more to say about Schloss Charlottenburg, especially the many famous and beautiful works of art that live there, and which I was quite enchanted by. Some particularly drool-worthy portraits of ladies in waiting and their fabulous clothes in the “Gallery of Beauties” and That Picture of Napolean-on-rearing-horse which they don’t really make a huge deal of having. You just walk into the room and there it is on the wall beside you. Quite stunning, but I shall save my frothing ferver for next time. 😉

Until then… were you expecting it? Well, then you are (hopefully) not to be disappointed! A selection of Etsy items, inspired – of course – by my visit to Charlottenburg. I hope you enjoy browsing though the gallery of gorgeousness.

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Direct links to items shown

1st row, left to right: Kirby, Mary Kaiser, Del Guidice Studio

2nd row: Friedasophie, Oh Miroir, Vorpal

3rd row: Rusalka, From Rags to Bags, Heatherly Designs

4th row: Pink Street, Cindy Mars 7, Mackenzie Frames

I also happen to think you deserve a closer look at some of these temptations…

Just look at how delicate and subtle this little print is:

Boudoir Fan 4x4 print, by Kirby: $10

Boudoir Fan 4x4 print, by Kirby: $10

And I just adore these wonderfully over-the-top (very Rococo) pin cushions. I’d use them for storing brooches or perhaps a collection of vintage hatpins, I think. Needles don’t get an awful lot of use in my household, and it would be such a shame to hide these darlings away!

Petit Pink Coussin by Mary Kaiser: $31

Petit Pink Coussin by Mary Kaiser: $31

The fabric used for this gorgeous bolero has a particularly Rococo look about it, don’t you think? I would so wear this with jeans and plain t-shirt or something underneath, just to add a touch of glamour to an everyday outfit. Love that look! Oh, and it can also be made to your exact measurements – be sure to contact the designer and let her know your requirements. She’ll gladly mail you swatches of her fabrics, too, so you can a better idea of the colours & patterns used.

The Palatino Bolero by Del Guidice Studio: $82

The Palatino Bolero by Del Guidice Studio: $82

I’d love to show you all these close-up, and all of the other items these talented designers sell, but I haven’t the time or room! I shall leave you to explore, but must show you one last item I didn’t include, as I had already featured a different item from their shop. Don’t you just love the witty nature of this ‘framed’ pearl? I don’t usually go a bundle for gold jewellery, but this is just perfect…

Portrait Pearl Necklace by Pink Street: $27.50

Portrait Pearl Necklace by Pink Street: $27.50

And now I must go and make pasta as I’ve been so entranced by the world of Sophie Charlotte and her contemporaries that I’m running several hours late! Oh well. As needs must.

Until next time (when I’ll bombard you with more holiday photos, waffle on about paintings and talk nonsense, one imagines) take care, darlings.

Miss Nightingale,

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