Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Vote for Zach at the People's Choice Awards

Shameless plug for my favourite guy.
Please vote!

This is my choice for:
Favorite Breakout Movie Actor
Zachary Quinto
You can vote as often as you like, so keep clicking that VOTE button!!!

While your in a Zach frame of mind, why not check out these links & Twitter accounts;
SArmy AKA Sylar's Army @Sylars_Army
Zachary Quinto Official Site @ZacharyQuinto
Before The Door @BeforeTheDoor
Zachary Quinto UK @ZacharyQuintoUK

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Obituary: D.Monic. The end of an era.

I'm going to tell you a story. It is not a new story, it will have been told thousands of times before, this is simply my variation of it.

This is the story of a band that for 12 years played a big role in my life. Last night it came to an end. As those of us involved stand on the precipice of turning 30, the death of D.Monic symbolised the cutting of the last point of contact with our youth. Now there is no choice but become 'grown-ups'. Today is a sad day, I am full of reflection for a period of my life that was the making, breaking and remaking of me.

All bands have crazy politics and drama, it goes with the territory. D.Monic had it in abundance, unfairly so. I'm a scorpio, so I hold grudges. I still hold grudges for the way this band was treated by certain people 10 years ago, so it is fair to say that the actions of some just over a year ago, have set in motion a grudge that is still in it's bitter, early stages. I could use this blog to name names, point fingers and generally bitch it out, but I won't. If this blog gets to those involved, they will know who they are. That said, I'm spiteful and vindictive, so I hope that upon reading this, they remember the great times, and feel like shit.


This is me at 16. A few days into college, fresh out of a posh, pressure cooker high school. A total outcast, up until this point I was the only metaller I knew. Of course, in college, that was never going to last long. A few months later I had met some other metallers and was part of a 'group'. A bunch of teenagers who listened to Kurt Cobain sing, "Our little group has always been, and always will until the end" and knew those words really meant something.

At the centre of our group was a band, there had to be a band, that's how these things work, you're a teenager, you listen to rock/metal, so you're either in or know a band. Our band was called (at the time) Peroxide, they had a few songs, but didn't gig yet. The singer, Barry, and I were very similar people, before long we became best friends and not long after that we were a couple. He the frontman, me the aspiring photographer, I was painfully aware of the cliche!

Me and Barry at Ozzfest '98

Playing The Walthamstow Standard circa 1999

So drama, politics a new, better bassist and a year or so later, and Peroxide, now called D.V.8 were playing their first proper shows. I remember feeling so proud, all my friends up there, making everyone in the crowd so happy. I felt that same pride last night. The gigs were great, and the more they played, the better they got. Personally, it was a great place for me to practise shooting live shows, I developed quite a folio and understanding of light which helped get me a job at Kerrang! Magazine. Kerrang! liked D.V.8 or as they were about to become known, D.Monic, the ladies of Kerrang! liked Barry in particular, even making him their poster boy for an article. They were the band that should have been, all the opportunities were there, as was the skill and the image. Looking back, I feel very frustrated, I imagine I'm not the only one. I guess somethings are not meant to be, however perfect they may seem at the time.

Barry and I broke up after 7 years, like all great frontmen, he felt the need to self-destruct on a sizable scale. Despite playing the dutiful girlfriend, all the support in the world would not have stopped him from doing what he felt he had to do. I couldn't stand the majority of the people who were hanging around him, I didn't recognise the person he had become, so for me "Our little group has always been, and always will until the end" ended.

The strangest thing is, no matter how worried and bitter I felt about Barry, I still had as much love for D.Monic as I ever did. For the 7 years we were together, I put everything into that band, blood sweat and tears, literally. Even during that short period when Barry and I were not talking (we are close friends again and he is back to being as near to normal as he/everyone would like to be), I would protect D.Monic ferociously if anyone knocked them in an attempt to side with me. D.Monic was my youth encapsulated in one band. If you said anything about D.Monic, you were saying something about me, and I still stand by that. The bad times made us stronger and the great times brought us closer together. Those who fell along the way, either by choice or manipulation, have only served to show that those who will continue to be there now this journey is over, are better people, better friends. True friends.

My Brother Nicholas, Me and Barry - Halloween 2001

My Brother Nicholas, Me and Barry - Halloween 2009

No band lasts forever, not even the Rolling Stones. (Seriously, those guys died in the 80's, what you see are actually genetically modified prunes, animated via electric currents *BA BOOM CHISH!*) It is only a matter of when with most bands. Bands are just like families and take just as much work. Some fall apart when someone dies (Nirvana), some break up, exchange bitter words and then live with regret (Pantera) and some realise that they just can't do it forever, choose to go out on a high and leave the fans wanting more, that is what D.Monic did. I respect them, and especially Barry for being brave enough to make that decision, I know very well that it was not an easy one, but then, the right one so rarely is. It was time, as hard as it is, it was time.

Goodbye D.Monic, goodbye last link to our youth. Good and bad, laughter and tears, love, hate and everything in between. Whatever the emotion, I always felt it with a significant degree of passion. Thank you for making me feel alive. I will miss you very much.
Sweet Dreams.

'Embrace The Fallen' - 31/10/09

~~~~~ D.Monic was brought to you by... ~~~~~

Barry - Vocals / Guitar

Paul - Drums

Dan - Bass

Chris - Guitar

Photos by Me

Thursday, 8 October 2009

'For Edgar'

Today is National Poetry Day.

I used to be quite the little poet back in the day, not so much now. Perhaps I'm no longer tormented enough. For me, poetry has always been about torment. I was introduced to reading and poetry at a very early age, however, it wasn't until just after I turned 9 that I stumbled upon a writer who I really connected with. No other writer has held such a place in my heart for so long. So this blog is for him, one Mr Edgar Allan Poe. I feel the timing for this blog is perfect as not only is today National Poetry Day, but yesterday was the anniversary of Poe's death.

Late November, 1989, Keble School For Boys Christmas Bazaar. I had been given around £2 for spending money (no sweets!), £2 could get you a lot at a Christmas Bazaar then, even one held by a nice public school. If my memory serves me correctly, I had already purchased 10 neon friendship bracelets and was proudly wearing them. It was when I was browsing the jumble stall that I noticed a very tatty, small, interesting looking book. The front cover told me this book had scary stories, just my sort of thing. I opened the book onto a random page and saw the title of a story; 'The Premature Burial' (a story which to this day is the cause of my irrational fear of being buried alive), I read a couple of paragraphs, getting more and more excited with each sentence. I knew then, I had found something so very special, I wasn't sure why anyone would have wanted to get rid of it, so I quickly bought it before this 'anyone' changed their mind! It cost me 50p. 50p for a book that in a round about way became the most influential book in my life.

Skip forward 20 years and I now own a sizable collection of various publications of Poe's work. Some books are old and worn, over-read, others I have managed to keep pristine despite reading, because they have been bound so beautifully. Needless to say I still have the book that started it all, it is very precious to me.
When I was about 18, I found my poem. The Poe poem that I fell in love with the most. Of course, the stories all have their special places, and The Raven, well, my photography business took it's name from that ("Darkness there, and Nothing More."), but for me, this poem had everything that made Poe my favourite writer. The poem in question is 'For Annie'.

'For Annie' was written by Poe in the year of his death. This poem was written for a woman called Nancy Richmond, Poe called her Annie, and she was one of his closest friends. In a letter dated March 23, 1849, Poe sent this poem to Nancy saying, "I think the lines 'For Annie' (those I now send) much the best I have ever written." I'm inclined to agree.
The poem takes the reader on a wonderful emotional journey, through the darkest recesses of a suicidal madness towards a light, a love and an acceptance of what has passed and what is to come. The rhythm is Poe's trademark rhythm, the words create a world both of nightmare and of daydream for the reader. I adore this poem and I would like to share it with you today.


by: Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

      hank Heaven! the crisis--
      The danger is past,
      And the lingering illness
      Is over at last--
      And the fever called "Living"
      Is conquered at last.

      Sadly, I know
      I am shorn of my strength,
      And no muscle I move
      As I lie at full length--
      But no matter!--I feel
      I am better at length.

      And I rest so composedly,
      Now, in my bed
      That any beholder
      Might fancy me dead--
      Might start at beholding me,
      Thinking me dead.

      The moaning and groaning,
      The sighing and sobbing,
      Are quieted now,
      With that horrible throbbing
      At heart:--ah, that horrible,
      Horrible throbbing!

      The sickness--the nausea--
      The pitiless pain--
      Have ceased, with the fever
      That maddened my brain--
      With the fever called "Living"
      That burned in my brain.

      And oh! of all tortures
      That torture the worst
      Has abated--the terrible
      Torture of thirst
      For the naphthaline river
      Of Passion accurst:--
      I have drunk of a water
      That quenches all thirst:--

      Of a water that flows,
      With a lullaby sound,
      From a spring but a very few
      Feet under ground--
      From a cavern not very far
      Down under ground.

      And ah! let it never
      Be foolishly said
      That my room it is gloomy
      And narrow my bed;
      For man never slept
      In a different bed--
      And, to sleep, you must slumber
      In just such a bed.

      My tantalized spirit
      Here blandly reposes,
      Forgetting, or never
      Regretting its roses--
      Its old agitations
      Of myrtles and roses:

      For now, while so quietly
      Lying, it fancies
      A holier odor
      About it, of pansies--
      A rosemary odor,
      Commingled with pansies--
      With rue and the beautiful
      Puritan pansies.

      And so it lies happily,
      Bathing in many
      A dream of the truth
      And the beauty of Annie--
      Drowned in a bath
      Of the tresses of Annie.

      She tenderly kissed me,
      She fondly caressed,
      And then I fell gently
      To sleep on her breast--
      Deeply to sleep
      From the heaven of her breast.

      When the light was extinguished,
      She covered me warm,
      And she prayed to the angels
      To keep me from harm--
      To the queen of the angels
      To shield me from harm.

      And I lie so composedly,
      Now, in my bed,
      (Knowing her love)
      That you fancy me dead--
      And I rest so contentedly,
      Now, in my bed,
      (With her love at my breast)
      That you fancy me dead--
      That you shudder to look at me,
      Thinking me dead.

      But my heart it is brighter
      Than all of the many
      Stars in the sky,
      For it sparkles with Annie--
      It glows with the light
      Of the love of my Annie--
      With the thought of the light
      Of the eyes of my Annie.

If this blog has interested you in any way then please check out these links for further reading;

....and just because it's poetry day, here is The Raven, as recited by Vincent Price. You'll never hear it read better from anyone else. (...not biased at all.)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Water baby since birth.

This is totally self indulgent, I apologise. Maybe it will be amusing for you, I hope so, I'm sorry if I go on a bit.

I love to be underwater, I've been able to swim since I was a baby and attended baby swimming classes with my Mum. My Dad has always referred to me as his water baby. I have no fear of water, but respect it completely. When I was about 8 I tried drowning myself in the bath on a few occasions in the hope that I would come back as a mermaid or water baby. In short, I adore water.

So far I have found it to be the main thing that calms me and helps me to think clearly (apart from being in Japan which is not always so accessible!). Last night while in the pool I spent a significant amount of time underwater, mostly thinking while I work on developing and pushing my lung capacity -which I totally recommend for other asthmatics by the way. I came up with 2 lists; what I love about being underwater and what I hate. This will probably only serve to enhance how weird/kooky people think I am, but what the hell, I never thought that was a bad thing!

10 Things I Love About Being Underwater
  1. Staying still and splashing my arm through the water with force so as to feel all the tiny bubbles burst against my face, arms and hands.
  2. Watching very fat people swim. I just love the way the flab moves with the water, it's beautiful.
  3. Watching people in general, the way they kick to stay afloat, they way they chat, their various expressions, babies swimming underwater with ease and without fear etc.
  4. Studying professional/amateur-professional swimmers, the way they literally carve their way through the water with no spray is just awe-inspiring. The pool I swim in is very large, I once saw a guy sweep across it in about 6 strokes, it was incredible.
  5. Watching big muscled guys try to swim really fast due to their competitive streak, but they in fact swim quite slowly and just splash around a hell of a lot. I once passed a guy doing this -I was swimming breast stroke at the time!
  6. Clinging to the side of the pool with the tips of my fingers, forcing myself down at extended arms length (a bit like hanging off a cliff) and staying under until I feel dizzy.
  7. Swimming to the very bottom of the 12ft pool, staying down for a second or two and then shooting up like a bullet. Head rush!!! Then seeing people look impressed (show off!).
  8. Seeing children and young teens swim together free of the concept of sexuality. Last night I saw two girls aged about 13, locked together in a karma sutra style position, doing double somersaults underwater, their friends cheering them on. I think the danger of it mixed with their youth made it even more beautiful.
  9. Seeing the fear on a child's face as they swim alone underwater for the first time and their the joy & pride as they reach their parent's arms.
  10. Feeling the weight of the water on my legs and arms by slowly moving them up and down.

10 Things I Hate About Being Underwater
  1. Realising I'm that grumpy, boring, female swimmer who gets annoyed when teenagers messing about almost bump into me and get in my way. I was there once and was so sure I'd never become 'grumpy swimmer', I'm so disappointed with myself!
  2. Teenagers who mess about almost bump into me and get in my way, making me swerve quickly and deviate from my lovely straight line.
  3. Happily swimming along and then seeing a manky used plaster heading my way. Panicking to get away from it and finding my splashing has only served to wrap it around a part of my body.
  4. Swimming behind someone and then seeing said person fart.
  5. That first moment when water seeps through my swimming cap and goes into my ears.
  6. Having to wear a swimming cap in the first place!
  7. People who splash too much, either by bad swimming or messing around. Inconsiderate bastards!
  8. Getting cramp. It doesn't happen too much but it's very scary when it does, usually because I'm fairly deep underwater at the time. I had cramp that put me out of action for 3 weeks this summer. :(
  9. Lifeguards who do nothing when people are being a nuisance/breaking pool rules because they are intimidated by large groups. Do your job!
  10. Swimming along, feeling hair between my fingers and then looking only to see it's blonde, ginger, brown or some other colour that obviously isn't mine!!!
To be honest, although I adore swimming, I really hate having to share a pool. Owning my own large pool with a diving area has been an aspiration of mine since I was about 8 and visited the pool of a friend's grandparents fairly regularly. I've also been lucky enough to swim in large empty pools on several occasions, it's only enhanced my need to own one all the more.
One day Natalie, one day...

Sunday, 26 July 2009

San Diego Comic Con ‘09 – Heroes, geeks, fangirls & ZQ

Archaia panel_0076

Blogging at Comic Con is all but impossible, as I have now discovered.  I have SO much respect for those who are able to do this kind of thing on a regular basis!

I’m very aware that much of what goes on here is lost on me.  I don’t watch any TV shows like Star Trek, Doctor Who or even things like Dexter & Lost.  I don’t like Star Wars, I don’t like games, I don’t read ‘regular’ comics (I’m a manga girl).  So I do have a certain amount of guilt as I know so many would love to be in my position and would probably gain even more from the experience.  That said, there can be absolutely no doubt as to the level of joy I have experienced, especially today!  I came to Comic Con (lets call it SDCC from now on) for 3 things, Heroes, Zachary Quinto and most importantly, to see my friends.  I can now put a big ‘tick’ next to all of those.


Let me start with my friends, my wonderful friends.  Kirsty, my little pervy saviour who was able to get me a press pass at the last minute, I wouldn’t even be here without her.  What she lacks in height she more than makes up for with smut, and I love her dearly for that.  She superbly runs the very best ZACHARY QUINTO FANSITE.  If you are a fan, you should really check it out.  Thank you Kirsty, thank you so very much.

DSCF1432Kirsty post-ZQ meeting.

Mabes, my sweet, submissive American twin, my partner in crime.  There are few people who are able to match my ZQ admiration and not fangirl with it, but Mabes is most certainly one of them.  She helped to create and runs the SARMY, a ‘special’ group of individuals most precious to my heart.  She has taken me under her wing during this trip, and stopped me from feeling intimidated by the enormity of it all, a true, true friend.

DSCF1430 Mabes, post-ZQ meeting.

Last but by no means least, is Kat. Mabes’ RP bumchum, and all round saucy, great girl.  We really got a chance to know each other properly on this trip, and I am proud to call her a friend.  An original SArmy member, you can find her and her dirty mind in the pants of various male Heroes cast …probably.

DSCF1431 Kat, post-ZQ meeting.

I’m not such a meany that I would post vulnerable, goofy photos of my friends & their post-ZQ faces.  I looked just as bad, no… worse.  Behold, my biggest grin…

DSCF1434 copy

So I guess I should do a quick round up of the trips events so far.      Thursday was the first proper day of SDCC, it was hell outside.  The reason?  Twilight.  Fucking Twilight, currently the bane of my existence.  Why do fangirls have to exist?  Why?!  How does their behaviour not cause them to implode with shame?!  I feel this should refer to ALL fangirls.  I’m talking about the kind of girls who have no social understanding, no concept of their actions or how what they say and do might make the object of their affections feel uncomfortable or even petrified.  Fangirls make girl fans look bad, really bad.  We all get tarred with the same brush, and I fucking hate them for that.  Since my arrival in San Diego, I have met many ‘real life’ fan girls, the type of people I avoid like the plague in the UK, I can quite honestly say I disliked every one of them.  They are like groupies but worse, at least groupies put out, fangirls just scream en masse and take what they can.  U’gh, disgraceful.  Go away and come back when you are mentally mature and have some style.  Rant over.  Thursday night we went for ice cream with Heroes actor David D H Lawrence XVII and his lovely partner Mia.  A delightful couple, very interesting, very funny, very generous with their time.  They have an abundance of links between them, but THIS is a good place to start.

WE spent a big chunk of Friday morning/afternoon at the FANTASTIC Heroes carnival, having fun and unknowingly being burned by the sun.  It was so lovely to see so many people having fun and coming together in such a way.  I think it was really the kind of positive promo boost that the show needs.  Plus, I had my first ever snow cone!!!  I was lucky enough to meet David and Mia again at the Heroes All Access party later that afternoon, along with my friend and Heroes artist Jason Badower (BLOG), Heroes writer Oliver Grigsby (BLOG), Heroes head prop guy James (TWITTER), and others.  It was a great afternoon, so full of laughter, not too geeky, just a few people with a common interest getting together.  Oh, and I got to wear HRG’s glasses…

DSCF1396 copy DSCF1395 copy

DSCF1389 copy copy Someone finally found a way to shut me up.

Today was the day, I mean THE DAY.  Pretty much the last two years of my life have been building up to today, the day I met Zachary Quinto.  Maybe it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but through this guy I have made some of the very best friends a girl could ask for, friends I’m sure will be with me to the end.  In a funny sort of way, this guy means the world to me mainly because I wouldn’t love the people I love right now if it wasn’t for him.

Myself, Mabes and Kat started queuing at 11am to see the 5:30pm panel featuring ZQ and his production company Before The Door.  I was front row centre for a whole bunch of panels that, though very good, I knew very little about.  I had guilt, big time guilt, like I was a Twilight fan.  If it wasn’t for the god awful fangirls around me I would have thought I was as bad as them, but their terrible behaviour kept me grounded and safe in the knowledge that although I was eager, I was NOT one of them!  The Archaia panel did not disappoint, even without ZQ it would have been interesting.  Jeff Loeb came out as the surprise guest, I think I cheered more for him than I did for Zach, in fact, I know I did.  It was a lovely surprise, he was such a fan favourite, it made me remember how upset I was when he was dropped from Heroes.  Anyway, back on topic, the books Archaia are working on and that are due for release all sound excellent, even I will be straying from my normal manga path to check them out.  You can check out their releases HERE.  I will be uploading my photos from this panel at some point in the very near future, check back for updates.

As soon as the panel ended everyone, including myself, Mabes, Kirsty & Kat were whisked away to avoid the fangirl menace.  I still don’t know how Zach left the room.  Neal (Before The Door) told us to follow him quickly, which we did.  Zach WAS behind us but somehow managed to get to the holding room before we did (powarz?).  Once inside, Zach was, as we had no doubt that he would be, a true gentleman.  Very grateful for the work we have done, very humble and somehow has the ability to stare right into your soul, which while very exciting was also really unsettling!  I actually think he was trying to work out if I wear contact lenses or not, I’ve never had anyone look at me that intently before, it was quite wonderful. *blushes*  He signed my canvas, actually he did a better job with that than I could have hoped, I would have been happy with just his name, but he went the distance and totally personalised it.

Archaia panel_0197 copy Archaia panel_0199 copy

I shot so many photos at the panel, it will take a little while to organise them, but I hope to get them online ASAP, more than likely this will be once I get back to England.  In the mean time, I will leave you with these little teasers…  Hope you have enjoyed reading!

Archaia panel_0188 copy Archaia panel_0034 copy copy Archaia panel_0076 copy Archaia panel_0169 copy Archaia panel_0182 copy copy


Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson's strange influence on my life.

Micheal Jackson introduced me to my all time favourite actor, Vincent Price when I was 6, and for that I am grateful. Sure I would have discovered him sooner or later because I loved old movies back then, as I still do, but to find someone so great when I was just 6 years old, could only really have been down to Jackson using him for Thriller. I truly appreciate discovering Vincent Price at such a young age because it gave me extra years of enjoying his work, and a real grounding/understanding of cinema.

If Micheal really is dead then I feel for his family, but one of the first things I thought was thank god those kids have a chance at a relatively normal life now. It isn't right for kids to have the life they had, it's cruel. Hopefully they will be well looked after and any kind of damage from their childhood won't harm them in their adult lives.
I won't lie, I'm enjoying the jokes but I'm also thinking of my friends who were big fans and how sad they must be today.

More than anything though I am reminiscing about how much I loved Vincent Price's part on Thriller when I was small. I remember reciting his lines over and over again, I think it might have been the first thing I actively made an effort memorize.
Price in turn introduced me to the world of Edgar Allan Poe just 3 years later when I was 9 (possibly a little too young, I have mild claustrophobia and a massive fear of being buried alive). I think all this has a lot to do with my love of the macabre. I'm certain that, along with my love of watching funerals and hanging around in the cemetery behind my house, helped to shape the person I am today. Kind of a big deal considering Thriller was just a song. I do appreciate it because I like the person I am. I like the influence it has had on my work. I like that my love and knowledge of cinema is rich and varied.

I remember how utterly distraught I was when Vincent Price passed away. That I would never hear him say anything new, that Edward Scissorhands would be the last thing I would ever see him in. I imagine these are the feelings Jackson fans are feeling now. How horrible and sad.

So in a round about way, I'd like to say thank you to Michael Jackson. I may not have been a fan, but despite being a strange person and very controversial figure, he brought a great deal of happiness to an incredible amount of people across the globe, and there is something very special about that.

Vincent Price - Master of the Macabre

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The long awaited final Japan blog (aka MechaBlog)

Those of you reading this that know me, will know that my time in Japan this year was sadly cut short. This was purely due to some bad luck and is nobody's fault. Had I known how quickly I was going to end up back in England, I would have posted another blog far sooner!

This blog will be pretty much what it was going to be while I was in Japan, a recount of the last few days. It just so happens that these actually were my last few days and the end of the blog will tell of my flight home, rather than what would have been coming next.


So let us start at the beginning of last week and the place I was so excited about visiting; the seaside!

CIMG3257 copy I pwn the sea

It was a fairly early start, 6am, but that didn't bother me in the slightest as being by the sea is one of the few things on this planet that gives me pure joy. We were picked up by Junko's friend Ito-san, a very kind and lovely man who was happy to offer to take us, if only so he could have a 'family' day out. He sadly lost his wife and daughter some years ago, but you could tell how excited he was for us all to spend the day together.

CIMG3236 copy Ito-san, a very kind and gentle man.

After about an hour and a half I could see the coast and couldn't contain my whoop for joy. We stopped off at a large building from which we were able to view the whole area, it was incredible, but all I wanted to do was get in that sea!

Unfortunately, it was time for an early lunch (to beat the crowds), so I would have to wait just a little while longer. We found a lovely little place with good food at incredibly cheap prices. I was lucky enough to shoot off a load of photos just before an ENORMOUS family with about 300 children under the age of 5 came and sat next to us.

Seaside_0073 Our room in the restaurant, before the madness.

After the food, it was time for THE SEEEEEEA!!!! The moment the car stopped I was out of the door and in the water like the child I really am. The area reminded me so much of the beach I used to play at while my Nanna lived by the sea, I felt completely at home. Searching for life in rock pools, climbing among the rocks, feeling the pebbles push between my toes, it's just the most natural feeling in the world for me.

The starfish at the end of this video was totally fine, I just panicked, like I always do!

CIMG3238 Crabs shed their skins like snakes –I never knew!

CIMG3195 There were lots of these pretty blue starfish.



Yuki and Junko collected seaweed for us to have with dinner later, Ito-san wandered around just enjoying the area, I sat on a large rock, legs in the sea, a serene grin on my face.

CIMG3259 copy Just leave me here, seriously.

Then, woe of woes, it was time to move on. We got back in the car and drove a little way until we noticed there was a festival happening in a nearby temple, of course, we had to go and take a look! At first I was startled by the beautiful flowers, the kind you expect to see recreated in kanzashi form in a geisha's hair, not in 'real life'. I took a few photos around the temple and then went to see what all the noise was about. I crossed a bridge to find several young people lifting and walking around with a mini shrine. I say mini, but the things actually weighed 500kg. The participants have to get incredibly drunk before starting the ceremony and every year someone dies either during the festival or during the practise. These ceremonies happen in hundreds of temples all over Japan, the fact the death is so closely linked to it makes the event all the more worthwhile for the participants. At one point during the video below, you will see a man dancing with a large picture. The picture is of one of the members who 'didn't make it' to the ceremony.

Seaside_0101Sooo beautiful!

Seaside_0125My house.  …ahem.

Seaside_0144Seeing plastic masks at these festivals is almost as old a tradition as the festivals themselves!

Seaside_0225 My other house…

After we had seen enough of this (it went on for some time), we got back in the car and went to check out a famous bakery that was very near by. This bakery only sells one thing, bean paste buns. I wasn't very hungry, but by all accounts they were delicious, and the shop owners had no problems with me taking photos while they were working. It was a lovely place, so rustic, it was totally stuck in the 1960's. I have encountered quite a few cafes and restaurants like this, I wonder why I never see such places in movies -they are perfect sets! This was our last stop for the day. We got back in the car and made a start on the journey home. I slept the whole way home, something I very rarely do, must have been all the sea air... ;)


^  Making bean paste buns!  v



Next up was the Doll Festival. Yuki's friend had a stall there and had kindly offered me some space to test the Japanese water for my friend's awesome t-shirts. (www.genkigear.co.uk)

Local!This is a local shop for local people!

It was a fairly strange affair, thousands upon thousands of people walking around carrying their dolls as if they were children. Men did it as well, straight men, some in business suits, some in crappy clothes, but all of them holding their dolls with such care and making sure these dolls were comfortable and able to get a good view of the whole event. Age, sex, style and race were irrelevant here, as long as you loved your dolls, you were welcome.

I'm not often thrown by anything, I find the fact that I have such an open mind to be one of the strongest areas of my personality, but this doll loving, I just don't get it. Perhaps it's because I had a massive fear of porcelain dolls as a child, or perhaps, despite loving He-Man and Transformers, I grew up in a world where boys just didn't play with girls toys, where girls who carried on playing with dolls after the age of 10 were immature and a little stupid. Either way, these people seemed to be very happy and content, and I certainly would never take that away from them.


The next day a trip to Ueno was planned. The point of going to Ueno? To get my new dog Flynn a dog protection charm from the same place Harry's came from ...of course!

Ueno_0026Downtown Ueno

Yuki was feeling a too unwell, but insisted I go anyway and meet up with Izumi who I met on my first day of this trip. We had a GREAT day, one of my favourites to be exact, which makes me so happy because without knowing at the time, this day would be my last proper day in Japan.

We met at Ueno station and promptly went searching for the temple I had to get the dog charm from. On the way there we stopped at a couple of smaller temples and then found something rather incredible, a flame. This wasn't just any flame, this was a flame taken created by 2 nuclear bombs, one which fell in Hiroshima, the other from Nagasaki.

Ueno_0036 Ueno_0040 Ueno_0042 I'm not ashamed to say that this almost brought a tear to my eye and certainly brought a lump to my throat.

As a teenager I was incredibly anti-bomb, in 1995 the French President Jacques Chirac decided it would be a good idea to test nuclear bombs, I was overcome with anger. Anger at him for even thinking that such a weapon could be used in the future and at myself for being too young to do anything about it. So, I reacted the only way I knew how and did a huge art project about the effects of nuclear bombs. Of course, almost all my inspiration came from the photographs and footage of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks. Seeing such images every day, drawing them, painting them, I grew incredibly close to the subject matter. Even though I was just 15, I still consider the final piece and the work leading up to it some of my finest art, because it was created with so much passion, emotion and understanding that it was as if I was actually there -of course, a highly visual & over-active imagination also helps!

The memorial in Ueno is a very fine way of reminding the world of the devastation a nuclear bomb can cause, and if you are ever in Tokyo I urge you to take the time to visit it and spare a thought for those who fell and those who still suffer.

After the memorial Izumi and I wandered into the Peony Garden. It was so beautiful, even on such a grey day. All the flowers had their own private umbrella to protect them from the elements, be they snow or sun. So much care had gone into keeping these little flowers happy and beautiful, it really was a joy to see.

Ueno_0091The peony’s had more protection from the rain than we did!

Finally we found the right temple for picking up the dig charms and as we did the heavens opened and well, didn't actually close again until late that night. It poured, and poured and poured some more. I got the charms, and we tried to dodge the raindrops on the way into downtown Ueno. After a little browse there we went on to Asakusa where we found some adorable little shops that sold trinkets etc made out of kimono material. I didn't buy a thing, no matter how much I loved some of the pieces. I am still very proud of myself! After a delicious lunch we decided to head to Shibuya, just because I hadn't had a chance to really give it some time *read as 'Visit The Loft'*. We stopped by Shibuya 109 first as I had never been there and was slightly curious. It's tall building with many, many small shops with clothes specifically for the Shibuya Girl. I am NOT a Shibuya Girl, I am a Harajuku Girl, the two don't tend to get on. I certainly didn't feel comfortable, I felt totally out of my area. Even though I was not born and raised in Tokyo, I know the areas where my kind (Loli/Otaku-types) are more welcome, and as such, I am more likely to frequent such places. Shibuya is great for shopping, but if you are just hanging around and wearing black, it doesn't go down well. I remember the last time I was here I wore clothes that subtly showed my Loli-allegience, I was practically stared out of Shibuya by a bunch of Ganguro. Despite staring back just as hard, I knew I was the one out of area. Sad really.

Once we left Shibuya 109, we made a B-Line straight for The Loft. Oh The Loft, how I love you... It's a huge department store with a massive stationary floor, an awesome toy floor and so many floors of joy in-between. I found a stationary soul-mate in Izumi. I think she will have tgo back me up on this, but we may have spent an hour on that one stationary floor alone. The Danger Floor. So named because of the danger it can cause to your purse. So. Many. STICKERS!!!!

After managing to escape the stationary floor (with purchases), we started making our way up, stopping on each floor to look at things we wanted but couldn't buy, things that served no real purpose other than to look really cool. Like the glowing large reeds of 'grass' that blow like read grass when a fan is put near them. Or the huge cuddly bear pillows that will hug you right back. We finally made it to the top floor, the toy section, where we found the most awesome fancy dress hats! I am a HUGE takoyaki fan (octopus dumplings) so imagine my joy when I found a takoyaki hat! Izumi and I tried on various hats, stopping for photos each time, but the takoyaki hats remained a firm favourite for us both. Before I knew it, it was time for me to depart and make the long journey back to Narita. I was very sad because it had been such a fun day ...and I had left my ipod at the house that morning.

 CIMG3338 CIMG3342 CIMG3345 CIMG3347 CIMG3348

We decided there can be no hat better than a Takoyaki Hat.  Thanks for a wonderful day Izumi!


Due to reasons beyond anyone's control, I had to spend the next day packing in preparation for my early departure from Japan. Yuki had become very ill and my wonderful friend Hiroko, who I was due to spend the remainder of my holiday with, had dislocated her shoulder. I wish them both speedy recoveries.

CIMG3368 It becomes very clear that my life has a distinct colour theme!

I flew home the next day, Friday 8th of May. That morning I was woken at 4:20am by terrific thunder so loud and so constant that I couldn't tell if it was an earthquake or just weather. I didn't go back to sleep and instead just lay on my futon listening to nature do it's thing and thought about some decisions I would have to make when I got back home. Storms always help me to put things into perspective.

Skip ahead a few hours and I have just purchased my new flight, had to remove most of my clothes in order to get past security (but also told by 3 members of staff that my things were really cool, of course, I know... :P), bought a giant novelty box of Pocky, and am sat on the runway for the next hour due to bad weather.

CIMG3375 This is the departure lounge at Narita Airport.  NOT 1st Class!

CIMG3372This stuff finds me, I swear!

CIMG3381 Boooooriiing….

There were just 76 people and 13 staff (inc pilots) on my Friday morning post-Golden Week Virgin Alantic flight, a sign of recession if ever there was one. Finally we were able to take off. I caught some good movies (If you haven't seen Milk, please watch it!) and yet again, ignored my own advice and watched Flight of the Conchords (and then Family Guy -what was I thinking?!). I didn't sleep. The flight seemed much shorter than before, strange as I was on the plane for well over an hour longer than my previous flight. I guess by that point I really just wanted to be at home with my family and pets.

CIMG3388 copy bwSwine Flu madness.  There was barely anyone on the flight without a mask on.

CIMG3406   My England.


This was a great trip, and I will always concentrate on the fun times I had before I had to come home early. This certainly won't be my last time in Japan and this won't be my last blog either. The blog was originally set up to document my time there, but I will be continuing to post when I can, be it thoughts on certain events, things I want to share with you all, or even my photography. For now though, I will leave you with a parting gift. A video, of the greatest most pointless toy in the land. My Gloomy bear.