Thursday, December 22, 2011

Northern Disclosures

We have just returned from a couple of days in northern New South Wales. That must be one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
We based ourselves in dinky little Brunswick Heads. It's quaintness has not gone unnoticed, the gentrification has certainly set in, although its not that obvious on the surface. We investigated the notion of a weekender there, but tiny, rundown cottages sell for 750k, and they aren't necessarily anywhere near the beach.
There are some great little shops there to have a poke around in. I found one called The Fabulous Mrs Fox, but it was closed, and then we left town too early the next day to get in there. Has anyone checked it out? It looks fabulous indeed.
I had a very thorough look through the window. It's chock full of what my friend Fi calls 'whimsical f**kery'  - just what I love. If anyone has been, let me know if it's worth the trip back. Me thinks, yes it is. I found a blog of theirs, but it had no posts on it.
We also dropped in to see our friends and neighbours from Red Hill. They have a second house at Possum Creek just near Bangalow, which gets rented out. Check out the details here, it's called Basil's Brush (guess who's just nailed links).
Kitty, with her wonderful local knowledge, gave me a list of all the antique/vintage/retro/second hand shops in Northern New South Wales from Alstonville to Yamba, from Ballina to Woodburn. Apparently Lismore is where it's at. I visited Carrington Street Bazaar, which was particularly good.
Back to pretty old Brunswick Heads.The beach is so beautiful, I could almost turn. As they say in that hideously corny Byron Bay ad, 'her beauty changed me' (temporarily at least). I nearly wanted to go for a swim. We went for a walk along the river and down to the beach yesterday at twilight.

If you haven't been to northern New South Wales for a while, get yourself down there pronto. It'll do you good.
Before I go, here's the list. It would be inhumane not to pass it on.
Gingerlily Vintage Wares, 76 Main Street
Summerland Antiques & Collectables, Cnr Smith Dr & Pacific Highway
Leah's Secondhand Furniture, 19 Moon Street
Heaths Old Wares & Collectables, Station Street
Little Peach Japanese Collectables, 17 Byron Street
Lazy Bones Emporium, 16 Station Street
The Little Antique Shop Jewellery, 30 Byron Street
The New Collector, 64a Byron Street
The Retro Shop Bangalow, Shop 5, 1 Lismore Road
Vintage Eastern, 87 Byron Street
Vintage Retro & Collectables, 14 Station Street
Brunswick Heads
Clem's Cargo & Collectables, Shop 1, 38 Tweed Street
Resould, 48 Tweed Street
Secondhand Rose Emporium, 8 Park street
Sentimental Treasures, Shop 2, 38 Tweed Street
The Fabulous Mrs Fox, Park Street
Byron Bay
Byron Bay Furniture, 8 Grevillea Street
NV New Vintage, Byron Arcade, Shop 3B, 13 Lawson Street
Polish Antiques, Centennial Cct
McKee's Old Bakery Antiques, 99 Centre Street
Olley's, 153 Canterbury Street
Ian Norris Antique Brass Beds, By Appointment Only Tel 02 6662 4532
Ray Evans Chinderah Bay Antiques, Cnr Waugh St & Chindera Bay Drive
The Old Romantic Shack, Main Street
Secondhand & Old Wares, 93 Richmond Terrace
Jatana Interiors Antique Tiles, By Appointment Only, Tel 02 6688 4048
Lewie's Portal, 7 Stratheden Street
Plum Vintage, 143 Summerland Way
Alba Vintage, 40 Carrington Street
Books  & Stuff Cnr Magellan & Keen St
Carrington Street Bazaar, 40 Carrington Street
Lizzy's Furniture, 59 Wyrallah Road
Rosemont Collectables, 91a Molesworth Street
Vintage & Antique Boutique Stores, Star Court Arcade, Molesworth Street
Penny Farthing Antiques, 151 River Street
Cedar House Antiques, 140 Dalley Street
Country Spirit, 3/104 Dalley Street
Open House Mullumbimby New & Used, 22 Tincogan Street
Down the Alley, 59a Burringbar Street
Gabriel's Closet Antiques & Collectables, 130 Main Street
Country House Antiques, 19 Old Pacific Highway
Old Grevillia
Calamia Cottage Collectables, 8 Calamia Road (off the Summerland Way)
Tiny Shoppe of Memories, Coolman Street (next to the Flutterbies Cafe)
Junction, 26 Riverside Drive
Contrary's on Clarence, Pacific Highway
Old Codgers Antiques & Collectables, Old Norco Building, Pacific Highway
Re's Intrigues Old Wares & Bric-a-brac, The Old Butter Factory, 1454 Kyogle Road
Vintage Clothing & Collectables, 81 River Street
Angourie Road Secondhand & Antiques, 8 Angourie Road

Save yourself from heartache and take a ute so you don't have to leave anything behind.
If anyone's got any to add, leave a comment and I'll amend the list.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New York Part III - Shopping, the final chapter

While in New York I visited Bergdorf Goodman. I was expecting a brightly lit, cavernous pavilion of a store, but it was quite the opposite. The ceilings are low, the rooms are small and the lighting is dim, all exquisite of course.
We had lunch in their dining room, where 'ladies lunch'. It was beautiful, but the women eating there all looked un-nervingly similar to each other. I imagine there must be some nervous husbands standing at the door of the dining room some days, trying to locate their wife amongst 75 look-alikes.

I bought these red, suede shoes at Bergdorfs. I haven't worn them yet. They're quite 'flamenco' with a perfect stacked heel, so I can walk comfortably in them. There's nothing worse than girls all dressed up in ridiculous heels trotting around with the grace of a transvestite.
I have loved Anthropologie from afar for many years, so I was beside myself to actually go in there. You can shop on-line now and they'll deliver to Australia, even sale items. To have a look click here.
I bought this dress. It's a terrible photo. It's actually navy blue, and it's a style that Anthropologie release continually in different colours. The ribbon is from The Tinsel Trading Co, a beautiful haberdashery in New York, that has been open for a hundred years, and they regularly put out vintage stock to sort through. If only I were crafty.
After trying on every sparkly jacket in Manhattan, I decided on the one from Anthro.

Now, let's chat cosmetics for a minute. I'd heard how much less they were in America and made a b-line to the cosmetics counter of Saks Fifth Avenue. 'Oh, we always get the a-straylians in here buying up big. It's so expensive for you there' - Say the cosmetics counter staff, while pouting with their heads cocked sideways.
For example, the shampoo I use in Australia is $19 - in New York it's $8. We pay $20 for a bottle of O.P.I. polish here, there it's around $6-8.
My Estee Lauder foundation is $77 here, there $35. My question is, who is getting that money?
KitchenAid mixers, $199 in the US, at least $685 in Australia. I know we have to factor in freight, but are 10 of those KitchenAid machines sharing a cabin on a P & O cruise to get here? I would have thought they'd show up in a cardboard box.
Even after tips, getting around in a cab and eating out is so much cheaper in New York, a famously expensive city. I caught a cab from Red Hill to the Convention Centre recently, didn't get caught in any traffic, and it was $20. The meter just ticked over and ticked over. The cab driver told me that it costs $400,000 to buy one cab license in Brisbane now. What??
Anyway, enough. I had fun and hauled my massive suitcases through Customs with the super-human-strength usually observed in people who must lift heavy objects off loved ones trapped underneath.

Evolution of the Christmas tree

We put the Christmas tree up in late November.
Originally, my idea was to do what I termed 'colour banding', where we sorted the decoration into colours and put, for example, all the silver ones around the bottom, then the red ones on the band above, etc. But then I decided I really did have more of a life than that, and anyway, the idea was over-ruled by a pair of bossy midgets who had obviously been discussing the aesthetic shortcomings of the result between them.
Our tree is about 8ft I think? This is it in it's natural, unspoilt, green plastic state.

We already had the decorations divided into their colours, so we added each pile progressively. First the pinky dinks.
Then the sterling silvers.
Then we added the gold.
Then the rest.
For a good tree, I steer clear of tinsel. Tinsels for amateurs. You'll be the laughing stock of the street if you use tinsel.
As beautiful as Theodore Buttons is, he's a sandwich short of a picnic, I think. He seems to think the tree is real and loves nothing more than to laze under it for hours on end, occasionally whacking a dangling decoration off for fun.

Over the past couple of weeks we've been woken up a few nights by the frantic squeaks of a terrified mouse Ted has dragged in and thrown under the tree. The poor little things sit there shaking, eyes wide and chewing their nails until my husband 'rescues them' (a.k.a. throws them out the window).
And at night we spark her up, and she lights up just like a know what.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New York Part II - The Guggenheim

I planned to spend most of my time in New York people watching, eating out and doing everyday things to see what life was really like there. I was adamant that I didn't want to spend all day in museums looking at art that was irrelevant to the city itself.
However, after we walked through Central Park we crossed Fifth Avenue and went to the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum.
For an $18 entry fee I was dazzled, by the exhibition inside as well as the building itself.
Solomon Guggenheim is Peggy's uncle. We all know Peggy, if you don't, get googling. No one rocks a pair of specs like Peggy.
Solomon commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the art gallery. After only 15 years, 700 sketches and six sets of working drawings, he nailed it.

The Guggenheim was opened in 1959 and houses a magnificent collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Early Modern & Contemporary Art.
It's distinctive curves have been used in squillions of movies, I saw it myself earlier in the year when I took the girls to see Mr Poppa's Penguins.
As luck would have it, the exhibition that was on at the time was Maurizio Catalan. I happened to know him because my husband and I accidentally watched a documentary on him one rainy Sunday afternoon, and we were fascinated.
He is Italian but lives in New York. He's never shown a collection of his work like this before and apparently it took some convincing. The only way he'd do it is if his pieces were suspended from the ceiling.
It worked well since the inside of the gallery has an ascending, circular ramp.
Catalan is big on taxidermy. This horse is one of his most famous works.
Everyone needs a massive Picasso.
This is the artist himself, but I didn't see this piece in the exhibition.
He has a very dark sense of humour. I think he polarizes the masses. This little squirrel below is slumped over the kitchen table, the gun lays on the floor. He'd obviously had enough for one reason or another.
Some of Catalan's work is just too dark, like the hanging children, which I photographed but haven't included here. Apparently when they were exhibited in Italy, hanging from a tree, one poor many finally had to climb up and cut them down.
The ku klux klan elephant was hanging from the ceiling at the Guggenheim.
There was also an exhibition of Kandinsky in one of the smaller galleries at the Guggenheim, plus I saw this Picasso called Lobster and Cat. I want it.

And I didn't make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Natural History........
I'll do them next time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Lights

May I just interrupt my New York three part story to give you the hot tip on some OTT Christmas lights you may like to check out.
It's such a phenomenon, the whole Christmas Lights thing. What motivates people to cover their house with illuminated Christmas paraphenalia? I'm not sure, but I'm glad they do.
The first one is at Cougar Street, Indooroopilly. This is the last year they will be participating in the Christmas Lights competition and everything is for sale. The man who puts it together, Noel (no I'm not kidding), is an engineering genius and he's made dozens of little motorised displays, like a Zipper ride with Barbie dolls.
Every night there's entertainment from 7pm to boot.
If you like Las Vegas, you'll love the house on Dorrington Drive, Ashgrove. She really draws a crowd.
I'd love to know what their neighbours thought of the whole thing?
On the way, you can also swing past Amarina Avenue. There's a house opposite the Ashgrove Library that is worth a look too.
If you've got any Christmas Light tips, do share!

Monday, December 12, 2011

New York Part I - A tourist's picture book

I'm back from New York!
New York is big, I knew that before I went, but I wasn't prepared for how beautiful it is. It's an old city with magnificent architecture.
One of the most famous buildings is the Empire State Building and for good reason. It was built in 1931 and is magnificent in every sense, from the art deco detailing inside to the gargantuan size of it.
We rode up in the old lift to the 80th floor, where we then entered another lift and went up to the 86th floor to the viewing platform.
This is the view from up top, from the 86th floor.
I'm afraid the guard rail round the outside wasn't high enough, or the rails close together, enough for my liking, but I did my best to control any creeping anxiety.
It's the original concrete jungle, from up above anyway.
Notice the Flat Iron building in the centre below. It's the triangular shaped one - like an iron.
It may not look so beautiful from the 86th floor, but at ground level it's spectacular. Manhattan is the wealthiest area on the planet, and Park Avenue, part of which runs along Central Park, is the top-end of the top-end of town. If you happen to stumble upon a spare US$20 000 000 or so, you too can have your own Park Avenue pad. These are the doorways to some of the buildings.

I'm stealing this planter idea. They're just downright handsome.
Some of the buildings have these beautiful gardens at the entry. I snapped some of the more colourful entry gardens below. They are ridiculously perfect.

We saw Central Park when the leaves had turned autumnal colours and the ice skating rink was in action.

I think this is a squirrel - or is it a chipmunk? We're viewing him from the tail end.

I spotted this spectacular building from Central Park, it's directly opposite. Speaking of which, in this same vacinity is The Pierre, remember Little Edie made her debut there. Getting back the building below, this is called The Dakota. It's magnificent. This is the building where John Lennon and Yoko Ono had their bed-in.
Yoko still lives here, her windows are some of the top ones on the left hand side, where the roof is pitched.
It was at the front door of The Dakota where John Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980. We were there not long after the anniversary.  Some many trinkets and tributes were left at the front door of The Dakota that the other residents started to get a bit annoyed (I know, sounds a bit harsh doesn't it), and it was decided that a permanent memorial would be created for John Lennon over the road in Central Park.
Hence, the creation of Strawberry Fields, which I have to say oddly smelt like strawberries.
This plaque says IMAGINE in the middle and people leave little bits and pieces here. New Yorkers just walk straight over the top of it though I noticed.
This was the view outside our hotel window, it's the service entry of The Marriott. Out the other side of us was the Waldorf Astoria, alas, our hotel was nothing like either of them. Michelle Williams was staying at the Waldorf at the same time. She was in town publicising her movie, 'My Week with Marilyn'.
This is Times Square. It's a bit grotesque but you have to see it. If New York had a bullseye, this would be it. FYI, if you take smaller children with you, tie them to you, I'm not kidding.

Illuminated trees. These ones are at the Rockefeller Centre.
Above and below is around Little Italy where we hung out a lot. I saw the sign below as we were on our way to a vintage clothing shop, Screaming Mimi's. We'd done a lot of shopping. I found this sign reassuring.
Below is the New York Public Library. It's magnificent. It was in one of the Sex and the City movies. This is where Big and Carrie had their pre wwedding dinner.

They had a special exhibition one with things from the archives including; Bob Dylan's handwritten notes, a handwritten score by Beethoven, the Declaration of Independence, Virginia Woolf's walking stick which was found floating in the lake after she'd drowned herself.
We weren't supposed to take photos, but I rebelled when I saw this below. These are the toys which belonged to A A Milne's son. He used them as the characters in his first children's book published 1926. That's Tigger, Kanga, Eeyore, Piglet, Winnie of course, Roo got lost.
Peaches has made me read her Winnie the Pooh every night for the last four months. I hate Winnie the Pooh. He will single handedly be responsible when I end up in the nuthouse.
The famous ice skating rink at Rockefeller Centre. It features in every movie set in New York in Winter. It's tiny.
This is how New York puts out its 'trash'. It gets collected every night.
We saw a Broadway play, Noel Coward's Private Lives starring Kim Cattrall. She's beautiful. Very beautiful and she's 55. While I was waiting near the theatre door to go in Cynthia Nixon walked past. It was opening night and the papparazzi were outside. How's that for an authentic Sex and the City experience?