I decided to give this one its own space, as it was such an intensely magical adventure. While Mum went to Bath, Sarah and I delved into the New Forest near Brockenhurst, and found a childhood dreamland. The photos kinda speak for themselves…

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We spent about 5 hours just wandering wide-eyed through the forest. Then we hopped back on the train down to Lymington, where we found a totally different landscape, but similarly charming! We stopped at a strawberry farm we happened to come across while looking for the path to the beach.

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At last, after some local help, we found the walkway to the beach, via this amazing path lined with flowers!

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Finally the coast, complete with a view of the Isle of Wight.

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That day is a precious jewel I will treasure for ever.

After our brief but enjoyable few days with the Owlers, we headed down to Southampton to stay with my very dear friends Sarah and Lloyd in their little home. I was so so excited to see them, as we are very close, and it has been really tough for all of us to be apart from each other.
The week we spent there was so beautiful, such good weather and wonderful adventures, interspersed with picnics and impromptu music practice. I was very very sad to leave.

We went on some outings with Sarah. (Lloyd had to work, of course, but we saw him in the evenings and weekend) We went to Salisbury and out to see Stonehenge! It was pretty surreal. I thought we might have to stand miles away, or the surroundings would be all “touristy” but actually we got quite close, and the whole presentation was pretty tasteful! I’d love to go back and explore the surrounding area. There are miles of walking trails and old barrows to roam around. You could spend a whole day there easily!

Also during our stay, Sarah and I seized the opportunity to take some portrait photos of each other, which was great, and resulted in some photos of her that I’m very happy with, and some photos of me which are the best ones I’ve had for ages!!

(Apologies for the lack of pictures of Lloyd. He doesn’t really like being in front of the camera much so I try not to do it unless it’s really necessary. He is in the film journal though!)

During a walk, Sarah suddenly declared "Those buttercups! I want to get in them!" So she did.
During a walk, Sarah suddenly declared “Those buttercups! I want to get in them!” So she did.
One of our adventures took us to Salisbury.
One of our adventures took us to Salisbury.
Some great countryside views.
Some great countryside views.
Look! It's the real-actual Stonehenge!
Look! It’s the real-actual Stonehenge!
Oooooh!
Oooooh!
It was a bit bright that day.
It was a bit bright that day.
There were heaps and heaps of these big crows about, I liked them a lot, they gave the place even more atmosphere.
There were heaps and heaps of these big crows about, I liked them a lot, they gave the place even more atmosphere.
Also in Salisbury, we visited the cathedral, and it WAS pretty impressive. Though I must say, I liked St Albans better.
Also in Salisbury, we visited the cathedral, and it WAS pretty impressive. Though I must say, I liked St Albans better.

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And a couple of “outtakes” for fun!

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This is my “Ha! You still have the 10 second timer on!” face.
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A-mazing. Just look at that shoe.

This is going to be a (mostly visual) account of my Adventures with my Mum in the UK and in Canada, 2016.
We are headed to England to visit some family, and some friends who might as well be family, and to Scotland to see where our family came out from. We’re then headed over to Canada, to Prince Edward island, for the biannual L.M.Montgomery conference, which my Mother has attended the past few times.

We came to England via a stopover in Singapore, where we spent a leisurely few hours wandering through the indoor gardens and napping in the rest areas.

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Singapore Airport butterfly house
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The wishes of hundreds of travelers, lying forgotten in the koi pond.

Our flight from Singapore to London (13 hours) was pretty unpleasant. Mum was feeling very nauseous even before we got on the plane, but the turbulence didn’t help. We did our best to sleep but to no avail. We followed the sunrise for the last few hours and arrived in Heathrow at 5:55am.

When we arrived we were met by David and Janet, some very extended relatives, who live in nearby St Albans. They took us to their place where we had a lovely nap and a wash and then some delicious soup before heading out to Cambridge for the afternoon.

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The view across the fields on the way to Cambridge was lovely, with many new and unfamiliar wildflowers.
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Wandering the strikingly narrow alleys and streets of Cambridge
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One of many incredible buildings…imagine studying here!
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I loved the names on the punts.
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The back of King’s College, across the river Cam.
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Janet tells us that these lovely flowers have been given the unceremonious name of Cow Parsley.
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Mum alongside one of the last examples of flowering Hawthorn for the season.

We had dinner at a pace called Carluccio’s and arrived home around 9pm, just as the light was fading. The weather had been quite cold and blustery and not at all summer-ish, so David and Janet lit the fire and we sat by it for a while drinking Chamomile tea before collapsing into sleep. The following day we woke feeling a little more like human beings and set out with a mission of exploring St Albans.

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“Commit No Nuisance” (Also, the first example we saw of walls built with flint, apparently the most common building stone in St Albans’ !)
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Good spot for a picnic!

One of our most significant stops was the St Albans Abbey, a very very old and very impressive piece of architecture.

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St Albans Abbey
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Graffiti of varying ages inside the abbey.
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A replica of the astronomical clock made by one of the Abbots, complete with a symbol of a dragon, to represent the creature that “ate the sun” during an eclipse.
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The incredible painted ceiling.
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Amazingly detailed carvings of fruits and flowers. Each column depicted a different plant.
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Beautiful embroidered cushions.

We stopped in the Abbey cafe for a cup of tea and a scone, then headed out to the nearby park where many sections of the old Roman wall which used to surround the town have been excavated. On the way we saw this cute little building, originally a pigeon house.

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This pub claims to be the oldest pub in Britain…it’s a very popular claim.
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One of the long hills, which cover the old roman walls.
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Some of the walls that have been excavated.

We managed to fit in some more Roman ruin exploring, and a circuit of the Roman museum, before a late lunch and then straight home to pick up our luggage for the train trek to Southampton.

Em xoxo

 

 

So my lovely AirBnB host suggested a few shrines and temples I should visit, so somehow I decided to visit them all in one day. Not so crazy considering there were only three, but they were pretty far apart, and given my tendency when travelling to start walking and just keep walking, by the end of the day my feet hated me. But it was worth it.

First of all, I visited Yasaka, a huge Shinto shrine complex, with many different buildings with numerous purposes, and small shrines to different Kami.

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Persimmons are one of the Japanese symbols of Autumn, along with chestnuts and sweet potato. I can see why because these beautiful looking fruits are everywhere!

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Next was a Buddhist temple; Kodai-ji. This one was a bit more of a tourist spot it seemed, and there was a very strict route around the grounds that the staff wearily directed us along. I felt like a bit of a burden, but still, the autumn colour was lovely.

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My host’s favourite was the Zen shrine, Kennin-ji, which I visited last, and I have to agree with her, it was my favourite too. It had a beautiful atmosphere, and long covered corridors where red-slippered visitors wandered peacefully, making the old wooden floorboards creak. The rails and steps were worn smooth with much wandering and sitting.

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One of the most amazing things was this incredible painting on the ceiling of the largest building. It is actually on thick paper, painted with ink by Koizumi Jinsako, and it’s roughly 11.5 meters long and 16 meters wide! It’s pretty awe-inspiring.

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On the trek home, spotted this extra tiny shrine by a street corner. Nice. :)

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– Emily

 

 

 

 

So as one does when travelling, I decided on a whim to stay on the train late one afternoon and visit Nijo castle, as it was on the same subway route. I got there around 3:30 in the afternoon, which allowed an hour and a half before closing time to wander around and take in the gardens.

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I noticed a whole lot of people running about in big red raincoats, and worked out that there was an art event on in the evening, after closing time, so I got in line and bought a ticket. The installation was called “Art Aquarium Castle” by the artist Hidetomo Kimura. It was all these really interesting glass sculptures filled with water and koi fish. He’s been making similar installations all over the world. There’s a website here if you want to see more about it. Definitely worth it, the atmosphere was so magical. There was some really good music playing and a beautiful vanilla-incense kind of smell.

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Such a good way to see the castle!

– Emily

So just a little update from today. I had a great day of interview shooting with Scott, and afterwards I decided to stay on the train to Kyoto station and do some evening shopping! (Because in Japan shops always stay open late!)
I found this gem of a store; full of traditional Kyoto sweets. My immediate thought was “Christmas presents!!”

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I bought a selection of pretty looking things, with no idea what any of them tasted like.

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Seeing as tonight is editing, I suppose I really have no choice but to eat them. You know, for research! Can’t go giving my dear friends and relatives bad gifts, can I?

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– Emily

Hullo again from Japan! I thought I’d share a few pictures from my first day of exploring.

This is the area where I’m staying.

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On my first full day (Wednesday) I decided to catch the subway into the main city area. The subway was surprisingly easy to navigate! I got off here, on the hunt for something in particular…

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It was a cat cafe!! If you aren’t already aware, Japan has a number of these amazing things. It’s basically a room full of cats and cat things where you can have tea and coffee and play with cats. Pretty much the best.

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This one, Moka, has bad allergies so she has to wear clothes all the time.

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After I managed to tear myself away from the cats, I wandered down an interesting looking street and found an amazing network of alleys and arcades. This shop was particularly incredible. It was paper goods and art supplies. There was an entire wall of brushes!

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And all the cards, envelopes, papers, notebooks you could ever possibly want.

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There was also a lot of shrines which had their gates right in the arcades.

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After more wandering I found the river. A man was flying this beautiful kite in the evening light.

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I also saw this fantastic specimen. Maybe it’s from watching too much anime, but I always associate this kind of wire pole mess with Japan.

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More adventures soon!

– Em

So! For my first post in ages: I’m in Japan! I’m here to make a short documentary film about Scott Groom, an SA scientist who is based in Kyoto studying bees. I’ll be here for 10 days, thought I’d try to bring you along for the ride. Apologies for the low quality phone photos, I just haven’t felt like being the huge-camera-tourist yet.

Ok so this entry is about travelling. Let’s start with an obligatory plane photo:

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Followed by an obligatory Singapore airport koi pond photo. (Really big koi!!)

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I had a stopover of about 9 hours in Singapore, so I pottered about a lot, had some delicious dinner:

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And a really good massage (but it resulted in a serious case of “massage-chair-face”)

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This is my first glimpse of Japan, flying in to Tokyo airport!

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Was pretty wiped by the time I got to Tokyo and had another 8 hours to kill. Spent a lot of it napping on chairs. Had a good comfort meal of chicken soup, rice and iced chai.

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Eventually it was time to fly to Osaka. This is Osaka airport, where I was picked up by a shuttle bus and delivered another two hours away at my AirBnB host’s home!

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This is my comfy room! Complete with sliding doors and tatami mats and futon!

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I’ll post more adventures soon!

– Emily

As you have no doubt noticed, there has been a period of silence on my end, due to the extreme pressure of our festival deadline! We have all been working madly to finishe editing and shooting last minute bits and pieces, and there has been many late nights and cups of coffee and naps on couches. BUT! We made our deadline, and the Skagastrond screening has been a fantastic success!

Friday 21st February

The festival officially opened on Friday night with a lovely intimate gathering at the Cafe. We all had drinks and chatted and relaxed for the first time in weeks. There was also a screening of all 8 of my completed Film Letters, which received a great response!

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Saturday 22nd February

The day began with an afternoon screening at the local town hall, of Oz the Great and Powerful for the local kids. There was an abundance of popcorn and soft drinks and comfy floor cushions! A good number of the kids turned up and had a great time, which was really wonderful to see.

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Many of us sat out in the sun-filled foyer and did absolutely nothing for the afternoon, which was bliss.

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Doing absolutely nothing

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Morgan’s “Actor-face”

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Melody and Tim being wonderful children in front of the TWOM logo.

Saturday evening was the main event, with all of our films screening together (both completed and polished works-in-progress). The turn out was more than we could have hoped for, the room was packed, and there were people there we had never even spoken to before! Each of us gave a brief introduction to our piece, and at the end we all stood up to take a bow and to our delight and surprise, recieved a standing ovation! After the screening, many of the guests stayed to have coffee and cake and chat with us. I was assured by a number of people that my Icelandic was indeed understandable, and that they admired my courage. It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience, showing my film to native speakers!

We will be showing our films again in Reykjavik this coming Friday, which is a very exciting prospect!

-Em xoxo

So I accompanied Melody and Rachel to Reykjavik again last week, to spend the day there and to see Phillip Glass perform at Harpa.

While I was there, I got myself a shiny new lens, which I absolutely love! It is a 70mm – 300mm, so it is can get super close. I had such a fun time wandering about the city, taking photos of all the tiny details I wouldn’t usually be able to capture. I only got a few weird looks for hanging about taking photos of people’s windows…

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I love the colours of Reykjavik, and the textures.

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This is part of an epic mural on a two story house, which, unfortunately,

I could not capture with my shiny new lens, as it was too long…oops.

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This cat was hiding from another older grey cat, and trying to sneak in through the grey cat’s

catflap when he wasn’t paying attention. I stayed and watched their antics for a little

while, this one reminded me a bit of my housemate’s cat at home.

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Pretty much every house I looked into (they aren’t big on curtains in Iceland) looked like a wonderfully quirky,

cosy place that I would quite happily inhabit. So many awesome houses must mean an abundance of awesome people!

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Then I got to see the inside of one of these beautiful buildings!

This is Adda’s house, a friend of Melody’s. We visited her and her daughter Ronja for dinner before the concert.

They were both so lovely and really interesting, self-confident people, and it was such a treat to spend

some time in their home. Look at all this cool old stuff!

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Stay tuned for the further adventures of Emily and the rad new lens!

– Em xoxo

 

 

I just wanted to share with you the results of a cooking adventure I had the other day. I discovered earlier on that the little black and red berries that grow wild and abundantly over the cape behind our house, are in fact crowberries! I had never heard of this tiny, hardy and surprisingly useful fruit before I got to Iceland, though Rachel says they grow where she used to live in the USA. Having always dreamed of collecting wild berries, I cannot express how childishly excited this discovery made me! Last week, I spent an hour on my own wandering among moss covered boulders and frozen pools, collecting these gems and listening to the roar of the sea down below. It was utterly magical.
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A few days later, I decided to have a cooking day, and I began with my first attempt at jam making, using the crowberries, and some fresh cranberries I had found in the local supermarket. The jam was a definite success! I was worried it might not set properly, but the consistency turned out just right!

I then realised that I had nothing to try out the jam on, so I made myself a loaf of spiced sweet damper bread, with ginger, cinnamon and cardamon.

Lastly, I have finally managed to source all the necessary ingredients for my chai recipe! I’ve been desperate for chai for a few weeks now, but it was surprisingly hard to get my hands on all the spices I needed. But at last I was able to sit down with a dinner of grilled zucchini slices, a cup of chai, some spiced damper and homemade wild crowberry jam.

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Bliss.

-Em xoxo

 

 

On my second day in Reykjavik, I woke earlyish and got a lift into the centre of town with Inga, on her way to Uni. It was still very dark, and as pretty much everything was closed, I decided to walk to a cafe I had heard about and have some breakfast while I waited for the city to wake up. I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu (porridge with caramelised banana)and a pot of tea, and sat reading the fantasy novel i had bought the day before, and watching the street outside.

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The Laundromat, yes, it is a cafe and it is actually also a laundromat!

Around 9:45am, it started to get light, so I walked up the hill to the big church. As I approached, the clock struck 10, and the bells in the tower rang out. I recall the feeling of the sharp morning air whipping past me down the street, the sound of the bells, calling out a slow, slightly mournful version of the melody you always hear from clock tower bells.

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I got a ticket for the viewing area at the top of the tower, and went up. There were a few people about, but not many. I overheard a group of welsh tourists and some english tourists comparing notes on what they had seen in Iceland so far; the blue lagoon, the whales, the northern lights of course.

164A0836SI stayed up there for a while, just watching the city come alive. Even though I have been thoroughly enjoying the company of everyone at Nes, it felt so nice to be on my own again, with no need to speak to anyone or go anywhere in particular. I just wandered at my own pace, stopping as I liked to take pictures of all the beautiful, colourful and highly quirky houses. Every street and corner and alley held some new secret wonder!

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164A0883SNote the guy with the spray can, who appeared to be tagging this wall quite nonchalantly in the middle of the day…odd, but strangely endearing.

164A0880S“Dead” is the name of the store. They appear to sell records and tshirts and things, and have strange opening hours.

164A0896SThis cat kind of reminded me of our old cat, in its plump furriness. It didn’t appear to have an owner, and was getting rather camera shy in front of a group of enthusiastic tourists. At first he treated me the same way, but soon decided I seemed safe enough and came right up to nuzzle my ankles and roll about. So lovely! I sat down with him for 10 minutes or so, right on the pavement on the main street of Reykjavik. A girl came up and took a photo of us and assumed I was a local and his owner, which was a flattering error.

164A0885SA beautiful bit of street art.

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164A0920SThis is the top floor cafe that Inga recommended where I treated myself to a totally raw vegetable burger and a ginger ale.

I have found there is something brilliantly liberating about travelling in an unfamiliar city on your own. The certainty that no-one knows you, and no-one is expecting anything of you at all. It’s almost like being invisible.

– Em xoxo