new memories and old flashbacks

Last week I was reminded about the emotional pull that a picture can have. 

On a trip to London’s National Gallery, my dashing date and tour guide reacquainted me with Piero della Francesca’s Baptism of Christ. As we entered the room with the painting front and centre, a wave of … well, I don’t know what it was, nostalgia I guess … whomped me. 

I hadn’t thought about this particular painting in 15 years but it abruptly deposited me back to a stuffy prefab building, tucked in behind the school gym, with the stifling smell of hot concrete and cut grass wafting in the open windows. The room darkened so that the photocopied transparencies could be shown on the overhead projector as we dutifully copied down names and dates and foreign words like sfumato and chiaroscuro. Emma and I racing to see who could write faster and produce the longer essays in the set time. Miss Sharp, speaking in hushed tones about the Byzantine influence and the importance of the patron. The feeling of being 17 and in my final year of high school, doing a specialist subject like Renaissance art history, and being both old and young at the same time. 

While a picture can paint a thousand words, it can also transport you back into another time and another version of yourself. 

Which leads me on, ever so tangentially, to Sri Lanka. I went there in March, on a trip with two friends. I loved everything about it. It was hot, chaotic, loud, calm, sweaty, spicy, fresh, magnetic, wild, frantic, sweet, cramped, exotic, surprising, satisfying, vibrant, rich, dense. A thousand descriptive words layered onto 17 days of travel.

Here are a few of my photos. They don’t properly convey what it was like to be there, but each one takes me back to that place and that time and that feeling. For now I’ll carefully file away these memories and they’ll simplify to anecdotes and stories for the pub, but hopefully these photos will have the same power of the Baptism of Christ to transport a future me back.

 

it's blindingly simple

A few years ago, I found this quote in a magazine somewhere, and took a photo to keep it with me. In just a few lines it reflects the tug that we feel, us wandering children, who choose to live so from home.

It's blindingly simple. 
You never fully understand or appreciate where you're from until you leave it.
Until you have to explain and defend it to others, to whom it is foreign.
Only then can you see why it is the way it is and why you love it. Nay, how intensely you love it. 

If travel does one thing, it shows your roots in a way that nothing else can. 

- Margaret Mead

There is no place like home, and when you do go back to visit, everything seems so much shinier and rose-tinted. 

On my last trip I was lucky to have a something close to a perfect day.
It was a Monday afternoon, and a post-wedding birthday celebration on Waiheke. Filled with some of my favourite people from all corners of the globe, it stretched on and on, as wine-soaked afternoons should. I took a lot of photos (that got progressively blurrier as the wine went on) but the day will always leave a little glow in my memories. 

seduced by a Q - a meander through Brussels

Through a comedy of errors involving an absent passport and a surprise birthday trip, I found myself on a weekend jaunt to Brussels a couple of weeks ago. My only previous visit to the city was a sad, grey tale of a group of rugby fanatics having their hopes dashed as the Les Bleus demolished Les All Blacks in 2007. I was looking forward to updating my Belgium anecdotes with something a little more positive.

I was already overly excited by the prospect of a weekend dedicated to moules frites, waffles and beer, but was not expecting Brussels to be a typographic haven. 

It was a chocolate box of design. A thousand references for inspiration. Like running around in a Wes Anderson film, only I wasn't dressed in pastels and I got conned into exorbitant paella at a tourist restaurant. On second thought, maybe it was like a Wes Anderson film. 

But from the elegant twisting of the fluorescent signage, to the elaborate box shadows on a shop facade, in every corner there were examples of beautiful typography. Both old and new. Proof that good design is infectious. 

While some parts were a bit tourist-twee, the intention to beautify was everywhere. 

All photos taken on my iPhone as, like the fool I am, I took my SLR but forgot the memory card.

It's the little details that grab you.

We stopped in at the Delirium Cafe, and it was like the mothership of vintage beer signage.

This Q for example, I was transfixed by this Q.

I tend to work in more muted shades, so the bold colours and sharp shadows seduced me from across the bar (definitely nothing to do with the four pints of 8% Red Cherry beer). 

I recreated it with a few favourite words* below, and the style seems delightfully adaptable to font and palette. I'll be nabbing that for a future project. 

*I like the way you kind of roll the word amalgamate around your mouth to say it...
ah-MAAAAL-gAH-mayte

My experimental versions of the Q's drop shadow

My experimental versions of the Q's drop shadow

But back to Brussels...
I geeked out and took photos of everything and anything in the Delirium Cafe.
A selection of the non-blurry ones below.

up, up and away

Göreme at 6am is still.

There's a slight chill, but no wind. The light filters through the sky, inky black softening around us as we stand on the roof of our hotel.

At first you can just make out a few of the little clusters, black rounded shadows, dotted around the the outskirts of the town. But then as your eyes adjust to the light, you see more groups surrounding the town and out into the distance. Now and then, you see a burst of colour, a glow in the darkness as one of them is filled with burning gas.

And then they start to rise.
One by one, they silently climb, until the skies are filled with hot air balloons, silhouetted against the dawn.

 

A few days later, and we're in the basket of the balloon. Our ride starts a bit later, as the pilots were concerned about the foggy weather that postponed the balloons the day before. But we're okay today, the skies are clear, and there are balloons in the sky all around us. We take off smoothly, with the rush of the fire above our heads creating butterflies in our bellies. The earth falls away, as we rise and rise.

150 balloons carry nearly 3,000 people every day in Cappadocia. It was one of the most magical things I've ever done. We went to 828 metres and the trip took just over an hour.

The balloon company we went with was Voyager Balloons. They were epic; from swing dancing with my sister and throwing her into the deflated balloon bag on her birthday, group macarena lessons in the transfer van, to a pilot who really experienced, but also took us up and down valleys, alarmingly close to rocks, and gave the whole thing an adrenaline injection.