Monday, 19 November 2012

Dear souvenirs

I thought the nicest way to get to know one another might be a cutesy tour of my favourite souvenirs. I count the things I bring back amongst my most prized possessions, mainly because they always have such lovely memories attached. It's like a miniature trip away every time I see them.

Oh jeez, and reading back over this I realise I sound like the spoilt princess to end them all. Let me explain: my family travels so much because we put a priority on it, valuing it above other things and saving accordingly. I know how lucky I am! Phew, okay, little moment of anxious defensivism (is that a word?) over.

I got the two glass birds in a New Zealand junk shop. My pa and I went over there a couple of years ago to indulge a mutual love of Lord of the Rings (am I excited about the Hobbit? In a word: yes.) Along the way, I was permitted to indulge in a not-so-mutual love of Art Deco architecture, and thus we pilgrimmed it up to a town, population 22, that turned out not to be Napier. I mean, the four buildings in the town were lovely, but... The birds are grand anyway and serve a reminder of a happy road-trip amongst the most beautiful mountains and plains you could find.

The house is probably my favourite thing all of all my things. I was lucky enough to spend last Christmas in Austria, leeching off some friends over there. You're supposed to put a candle in it: then the windows and the door ajar welcome you warmly. I bought this in the Kristkindlmarkt out the back of Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna. Those Christmas markets... They're like a fairy tale. Twinkle lights and good company and gluhwein and schnapps ahoy. Even thinking about them now makes me tingle.
The cranes in snow is a cloth something I got in Kagoshima, Japan, when I stayed on exchange. Japanese people are right into cloth somethings, I found. If there's an excuse to use one, eight'll be procured. If not, they're just beautiful things to hang around the house and occasionally wrap lunch in. This one I found at a rest stop with my host family as we travelled through brittle Autumn mountains, eating sticky-sweet bontan ame and driving through clouds of sulphur.

My Sturt's Desert Pea dishcloth's been through a lot. My folks decided it was time to see our own country, so we went up through the outback a couple of years ago, from Adelaide to Alice Springs. And, despite days and days of searching for the famous plant, this tea towel is the closest I got to the real thing. We got eerie piles of rocks beside abandoned roads instead.

And this little owl! Another Japan favourite, from Miyajima Island (famous for that torii gate in the water). He's a little clay bell that I got as consolation for never making it to the handicrafts museum (a wound that still stings; God, I love handicrafts!). On Miyajima, the trick is to rent a bike, avoid having your map eaten by the terrifically tame deer, buy as many lucky charms from the shrine as you can carry and eat seventeen soft serve cones. If I took anything away from Japan (metaphorically... I took lots) it's that soft serve is goddamn everywhere. And the convenience store fried chicken is to die for.


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