Travel tips from someone who doesn’t travel very much for good reason.

I thought I would join in with Friday Reflections this week and give my top 11 (weird number but why not?) travel tips.

1. You will get sick. Deal with it. Pack drugs. Though make sure they’re not the kind that gets you into trouble.

Is this just me? So far on every overseas trip I have ended up getting a case of plague. On my very first trip out of the country, I ended up sitting next to a woman who had sneakily snuck her particularly diabolical case of influenza/black death onto the plane under the cover of what must have been about 800 doses of very strong cold and flu meds. Sadly they wore off about three hours into the flight and I was stuck next to this sniveling snot machine for another five until we hit Singapore. While I rushed out of that aircraft as soon as I could to shower and spray myself with antibacterial lotion, the damage was done. A week later, while I was in my friend’s flat in Japan, the cold hit. And then we went to China and I nearly died. The cold turned into one hell of a chest infection. Beijing at the tail-end of Winter was not the brightest idea I’d had at that time.

I was coughing up black shit for months after I got back to Australia.

And lets not forget that time I got honest-to-God DYSENTERY during a trip to Perth a few years ago. That was one fucking well-earned hemorrhoid.

2. Slow walkers are EVERYWHERE. Try not to kill them.

Bloody tourists. Sure, it’s fine when you’re one of those lucky sods who has the time (and money) to amble about a city for weeks at your leisure but for the rest of us, sometimes we only have a day, maybe two, in one particular place before being dragged away on a bus or needing to catch a plane to the next destination. We need to get places quickly and make smart use of our time and nothing pisses us off more than Slow Walkers taking up an entire footpath while they shuffle along. No amount of polite coughing gets their attention. Fuck, I don’t think a full-blown asthma attack would so much as garner a head-turn.

I have felt the rage. Seethed with it. Cheated death by walking out onto a busy road in order to get around groups of Slow Walkers.

3. Eat the damned food. And pack Immodium.

The whole idea of travel is to see and experience new things. In my opinion, those experiences include eating the food of the country you’re in. Now, I am not suggesting you go and eat scorpions off a stick or drink snake venom wine, but at least try something different. Don’t be That Guy who calls out from the back of a tour bus in the middle of Xian, China “Hey, were is the nearest McDonalds?!” (Yes, we had that guy at the back of the tour bus while we were in Xian, China.) That being said, if you’ve got a sensitive gut (like I totally do at random times), always pack some tummy meds. Nothing screws up a holiday like being stuck in the shitter for hours on end.

4. NEVER play “Pot Luck” in exotic places. And DEFINITELY pack Immodium.

Ok, imagine this, if you will. You’re in a foreign country. You wander into a restaurant that is in the very non-touristy area of a city. You sit down and your friend mentions something about the kanji for “beef” in Japanese is similar to that of Chinese. You blithely smile and nod because you’re tired and “hangry” and over everything and just need food.

Let’s just say I don’t think it was beef.

5. Don’t buy books at the airport. You’ll have to carry them.

Look… I’m a bibliophile. I love my books. When there are a couple hours to spare at an airport and I can’t find anything better to do, I will invariably end up in the newsagent/bookshop. And I will buy, at the absolute least, three books – and I can guarantee they won’t be 100-page novellas. These will be new large format editions that take up at least 6kg of my 7kg carry-on weight limit. And because I love my books, I will not read them and discard them. OH, NO. My babies come with me.

I carried no less than four giant books with me everywhere last time I was out of the country. Don’t do that. Buy a Kindle. Or download a reading app on your phone or tablet.

6. Don’t give street vendors your name. Ever. Just don’t.

Tourist traps are everywhere. And where there’s a tourist trap, there’s a gauntlet of street vendors plying their trade in souvenirs and keepsakes. Don’t give them the promise that you’ll be back to take a closer look at their stuff because you know you won’t. Don’t try to be kind. Keep your eyes down and plow straight on through. I made this mistake when visiting the Great Wall of China. It was the slightly less popular area of the wall, but still teaming with people selling the odd “genuine” fur-lined, Mongol cap and colourful kites. Like the sap I was, I gave a particular vendor my name because she said that she would put something I had a passing interest in away for me. I can’t even remember what it was but the sound that came at me when I returned from my walk on the Wall is ingrained into my brain for life. The entire line of vendors knew my name.

“Erreeeeeeeeeen! Erreeeeeeeeeeeeeen! Come here, Erreeeeeeeeeeeeen! I have many good things for you, Erreeeeeeeeen!”

FML.

7. If they’re still smiling when you walk away, you got DONE. Learn to haggle.

If you are game enough to browse for keepsakes of your trip at any sort of outside store or market, you will have to haggle. You could be a wuss, like me, and just hand over ridiculously large amounts of money for a small ancient, yet surprisingly plasticy-feeling artifact, but that’s no fun really. Regardless of what they might say, if they’re still prepared to sell to you at the highest price you’re saying you will go, they are still making a big profit. Trust me, you are not ruining that person’s day if they are glaring at you as you make off with your goods.

8. Stay in hostels. You find the best people in them.

If you’re light on cash flow, this might be the only option for you anyway, but if you have the choice, I totally recommend hostels as a place to lay your head for the evening – or continue partying, depending on your choice of hostel. You don’t have to do it all the time but do it at least once. Apart from saving a shitload of money, you get to meet people – people who encourage you to go out and do stuff. Explore a city a little deeper. Actually eat that scorpion-on-a-stick.

And sometimes you may find yourself rooming in a hostel in the middle of Old Town, Edinburgh, with two young men from Australia and New Zealand respectively who gleefully announce at five o’clock in the evening that it’s “Beer o’clock!” and vanish down to the Grassmarket for the rest of the day, only to return at some time in the wee hours and very drunkenly navigate their way onto the top bunks while alternately trying not to talk too loud or throw up and then fall into such a state of unconsciousness that you feel compelled to check for a pulse on one of them the following morning before you leave for your day of sight-seeing and then come back to an empty-but-for-a-bucket-of-vomit room in the afternoon…

NOT THAT THIS HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

9. Choose the path less traveled. Avoid tourist traps.

The best advice we ever got while in China was to avoid Shaolin at all costs. The lovely staff at the hostel in Pingyao warned off the area after overhearing a conversation my friend and I were having about going there. Instead we were handed a big brochure about Chengdu. What’s special about Chengdu?

Lemme give you a hint:

Yep. ALL THE PANDAS.
Yep. ALL THE PANDAS.

Chengdu is still a big city and fairly touristy, but I reckon we chose the better option. An awesome time was had by all. So if a local warns you off somewhere, pay attention. They might have a good alternative. Though be safe, make sure you research any suggestion thoroughly before actually going – you don’t want to end up the victim of some nefarious crime ring.

10. You will inevitably fight with your travel companion(s). Don your big girl/boy panties.

Look, it’s going to happen. Weeks on end with the same person, sharing each others very personal spaces, enduring massive culture shock, the stress of traveling, getting used to each others REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING habits… Yep. It’s just a matter of time. What is important is that you get it out of your system and then get over it. Sometimes you just need to quit whatever plans you made and do something else. Sometimes you need to take a break from each other.

Sometimes all the situation needs is for some weird and slightly sleazy European to attach himself to you and start asking you all sorts of personal questions to make you forget whatever pithy argument you were in the middle of giving/getting the silent treatment for and instead haul arse to the train station to take shelter there while you wait the four hours for your train back to London…

(This may or may not have happened to us.)

11. JUST TRAVEL.

Go. See the world. See things. Take it all in. Don’t wait for a more convenient time. Do it while you’re young and stupid enough to enjoy being in mild levels of danger and getting drunk at five o’clock and eating stuff that will give you the runny shits for a week and staying up all night talking philosophy to people you just met.

Write Tribe

Road-tripping with RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance

Disclosure: this is a paid post for RACV sponsored by Nuffnang.

RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance
A late Summer evenin’s drive…

Until we got a little busier with Life and Stuff™, road-tripping was one of our favorite things to do almost every other weekend. We’ve spent many a Saturday and Sunday traipsing around the waterfalls of the Otways and enjoying the wealth of fresh produce of the Jindivick region on the (slightly defunct) Jindivick Food Trail… not to mention a plethora of other places around Victoria.

Unfortunately we also have horrible luck with our cars. Terrible luck. The Worst Ever.

The manbeast is a little worse off than I am – if he so much as looks at anything vaguely mechanical in the wrong way, you can be guaranteed it won’t work the next day. (Really, I’m not even going to mention the way the engine literally fell off his motorbike. That was FUN.)

Me? I just do silly things like leave my lights on or lock my keys in the car.

Or end up with flat tyres that I still don’t know how to fix by myself.

Yes, I am such a helpless nuftie sometimes, though in my defence, I do know how to check my oil and know exactly where the transmission fluid goes! Moving on!

With our horrible bad luck in mind, being members of RACV’s Emergency Roadside Assistance has been a no-brainer. I’ve used RACV for my insurance needs for my entire driving career and in that *cough*twenty*cough* years, I’ve been a member of the RACV’s Emergency Roadside Assistance service.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be without them. They’ve been my heroes more times than I would care to admit. Even as recently as last month I had to call them when my car decided to pack it in on the way to work for reasons known only to itself. They made what could have been a disaster of a day easy to deal with. With no one else I could contact to help me out, they were there as they pretty much have been for nearly two decades. They’re heaps more helpful than relying on a mate who might have better things to do or a reluctant family member to meet you with a set of jumper cables.

It’s that service that I rely on to be there when I’m traveling long distances on my holidays and during my day-to-day commutes. They’ve been invaluable to me and a reassurance that if I need help, they’ve got my back.

So here’s my tips for road-tripping these school holidays – or any time you feel like going for a drive to places unknown…

  • Check your oil, fluid levels (water, transmission, etc) and tyre pressure before you head out. Also make sure your car kit is in working order and your spare tyre is in good condition. Why tempt fate?
  • Take snacks! The occasional treat makes a long drive bearable.
  • If you have kids, pack a play kit with stuff that they can do in a moving vehicle and maybe even something they can play with while you’re making a pit-stop.
  • Take a camera and leave it somewhere visible in the car – it’ll remind you to get out and explore along the way to your destination.
  • Consider getting yourself covered with RACV’s Emergency Roadside Assistance, for help when you need if you need it so that you’re not caught out on the roadside with narky bored kids or a partner who will say “I told you so!” if you don’t.

Check out this link about how RACV’s Emergency Roadside Assistance services can be heaps more helpful for any emergency while you’re traveling.

The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 4 – Day 1 of DragonCon 2014)

So Friday, the 29th of August (bloody hell that seems like a long time ago now) was the first official day of DragonCon 2014. I was all a-twitterpated and excited to get started on my first real con experience. However there was one minor problem…

I was fighting a losing battle against the dreaded Travel Lurgy. The cold which had remained hidden until the moment I sat my arse down in that first plane out of Melbourne, reared it’s ugly, snotty head in a proper manner. I had gone from a tickly throat and a bit of a cough to starting to feel claggy and unwell. Really unwell.

John was doing his best for me, as per usual – loading me up with medication we thought would help but what we thought might have just been a coughy thing turned out to be an actual cold thing. It wasn’t bad at that stage, I could deal with it. If it didn’t get any worse, I would be just fine with that.

When it came to costumes for the day, it was decided that Friday would be Firefly Day. Unfortunately, in my forgetful and somewhat panicky blondeness, I had left my costume neatly folded on top of my dresser – IN MELBOURNE. Not much help to me there, was it? I’d gotten dressed in civvies at that point, quite prepared to be the tagalong friend who carries everyone’s stuff (aka The Handler) and just enjoy the sights. Well, my mate Tracy wasn’t having any of that and in her preparedness, offered me a choice of Indian saris to wear so I could play Inara. Watching everyone else get dressed up made me maybe a tiny bit jealous (and foolish) over having no costume so I let Tracy wrap me up in a gorgeous black and gold number.

I’d like to note at this point that neither of us knew what the hell we were doing. Thanks to the Font of All Wisdom on Random Shit, aka Google, we managed to figure out how to put on a sari. So we wrapped and folded and wrapped and folded and pinned, pinned, pinned, and wrapped and folded some more until I looked like… well, me. In a sari. I was the blondest Inara you could imagine. I was also buggered if I needed to go to the toilet at any stage. There were pins everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. They connected the sari to my pants, my tank top, to itself. It was almost scary sitting down for fear of popping one and ending up with a pin ending up somewhere it ought not be.

So, I was Inara (chubby blonde version), then we had John who was Wash and Tracy and Grant who were Kayley and Jayne respectively. Naturally Kayley and Jayne have the biggest following in that show so Tracy and Grant got a load of attention. A couple people asked to take their pictures and then belatedly realised John and I were part of the group and called us in for a group shot when they recognised who we were playing.

Renlish.com - Firefly Friday
John, me, Tracy and Grant.

Yeah, we don’t fit the mold – but it’s still loads of fun.

And thus began my first foray into cosplay and conventions.

The first panel of the day was this guy:

Renlish.com - Patrick Stewart
His thinking face, maybe? I dunno.

That’s THE Sir Patrick Stewart there, folks. Sorry for the fuzziness. My camera couldn’t quite handle the lighting situation but… I was in the same room as one of my favourite classic actors. I was a little bit in awe. (Actually, a lot in awe. And it wouldn’t be the first time that’d happen too.) He is such a great speaker. So engaging and witty and absolutely adorable. Of course he was peppered with the usual questions about X-Men and Star Trek and it was great listening to him tell his stories. The hour-long panel went by so quickly.

Speaking of panels – there is one common thing that links them all.

THE QUEUING.

God in Heaven. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Lines for panels went around the block and double-backed on themselves to head back around the other way. Queues snaked up the middle of buildings for several floors. People were milling everywhere.

Lining up to get into Sir Pat’s (we’re totally on casual name basis now) panel was an exercise in patience and sheer force of will. We had lucked out when we arrived and joined the line when it was just a few hundred strong. From where we stood, we watched what seemed like thousands walk past us to find the end of the line and it was like that for a good hour. I won’t mention the incident where one of the volunteers tried to get the small group of us in our area to move off because we weren’t standing in the right spot – even though we’d been told to stay there. Pigs would fly if we were going to join the end of the line at that point, not with the several hundreds/thousands who had tacked themselves on in all the time we’d been waiting. Needless to say, we scared the poor lass who, to be honest, was only doing what she was told as well. But she came through and made arrangements for us to stay where we were.

Oy. So, lesson learned. Turn up at least 90 minutes early to have a better chance of securing a place in the queue.

With that panel done, our next appointment was in another hotel to see a Firefly panel. This was pretty much the whole reason we dressed up.

We saw this guy:

Renlish.com - Adam Baldwin
A terrible picture of Adam Baldwin and panel moderator.

Adam Baldwin of Jayne Cobb, Firefly fame.

He’s a funny bugger too. He really took over that panel. Sadly Ron Glass (who was Shepherd Book in the show) was a late-comer to the panel, having been “caught in traffic” (I can imagine) and much quieter than Adam, though he had his moments as well. Grant was totally geeking out at this point. Adam is his hero from that particular show.

There was an amusing moment before the panel started where an Indian couple actually asked if I was in costume or not. Tracy confirmed that I was and they were impressed at the good job we’d done. We laughed and said there were pins everywhere and there would have been no chance of me putting it on by myself, to which they replied that Idian women grow up dressing in saris and still need the help of many hands and many pins to make it work. We felt rather proud of ourselves after that.

The last event of the day before we were totally wrecked and needed to eat was the Doctor Horrible Sing-a-long. John is a massive fan of Dr Horrible. I’d only ever seen a couple of episodes as they were being posted up online years ago. It was fun seeing the whole thing together in that environment.

The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 3 – A Large Coke)

Thursday was the first official day in Atlanta and first task of the day was to grab our passes for the convention.  This was a relatively painless process of lining up, presenting our blue passes and exchanging them for the bit of plastic that would provide safe passage through all the hotels during the con.  Without those passes on (at all times), you were seriously rooted if you wanted to get anywhere.

Then we headed out to the Georgia Aquarium for a bit of a sight-see, however, upon getting there we discovered that the cost of a couple tickets (PLUS TAX!) was insanely expensive.  $40+ per ticket was just a little much for everyone involved and we were reluctant to spend that much.  Fortunately we were planning on going to the party being held at the aquarium on Saturday evening.  Not only would we be there in the evening but the aquarium would be open to the party goers for the bargain price of $30 even.  With that in mind, we turned towards the Coke Museum.

For my readers who are not familiar with Coca-Cola history, Coke was born in Atlanta and as a result, there’s a big-assed museum with all sorts of Coke-themed paraphernalia housed within.

Rather than bore you with talking about it, here’s a collection of my favourite pictures from the day.  It was actually more interesting than I thought it was going to be.  There was some very, very cool retro stuff to be found…

Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Wise words.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
A collection of Coca-Cola signage spanning decades.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Toothy purple frogman in a hat that looks like a boob… I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to know.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
The original Cola!
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Pretty colours!
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Vintage Cola!
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Fast cars and even faster women. Maybe.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
I don’t know, I just thought the sign was funny.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Possibly the fabled Machine That Goes PING!? No? Oh well.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Contemporary Cola.
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
I fell in love with these bottles, the one made from computer boards in particular. They were huge!
Renlish.com - Coke Museum
Ah, the room where you could taste all the flavours of all the Coca-Cola softdrinks of the world… Whatever you do, do NOT drink the Beverley. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

So yes. Coca-Cola Land was certainly an adventure. Funniest moment of the day was awarded to my friend Grant who declared (as he fairly buzzed from a massive sugar overload), “I’ve only tried 87 of the 60 flavours!”

The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 2 – Hello Atlanta!)

After a very comfortable night asleep in a bed that I could actually lay down in (plane seats are not comfy and not made for sleeping) I awoke to something warm and furry vibrating against my hand. I would have thought that my friend John was up to things nefarious and kinky but our relationship is not like that at all. Then I remembered… he has cats.

Three of them, to be precise, and one of them had decided she liked me enough to wake me up in the morning and demand cuddles.

Renlish.com - Jeanne
The beautiful face of Jeanne. (Photo stolen from John.)

Ugh. Impossibly cute. I thought I would miss my two spewkitties at home, and I did, but these kitten cuddles went a long way to starting my day off with a smile.

So after a shower and a repacking all my stuffs, John and I collected the rental car, our other two friends; Tracy and Grant, and then headed out on our four hour trip across a couple of states from North Carolina to Georgia.

And what can you really say about a four hour drive apart from it was long and boring with a few moments of humour interspersed throughout…

That became our theme song for the trip.

Anyway, by early evening we finally made it into Atlanta and the Peachtree area where DragonCon was taking place.

The Atlanta Marriott Marquis, where we were staying, is also one of the five hotels that hosts DragonCon and all of it’s visitors. And it was huge. Really huge.  BIGLY huge.

Renlish.com - Atlanta Marriott Marquis
Looking up into the belly of the beast!

I thought I had been in some big hotels before but the Marriott was something else entirely. It just seemed to keep going. And the hive was already buzzing.

While John was checking us in, I made a quiet remark that the hotel was fairly busy. My friends just looked at me and smiled in that kindly, “You poor, naive thing, you” way.

It was only Wednesday evening, the Con didn’t officially start until Friday…

Renlish.com - Atlanta, Georgia
Goodnight, Atlanta. See you in the morning!

The Short-but-Epic Trip to USA for DragonCon 2014! (Part 1 – LAX SUCKS!)

I’m back!

Actually, I’ve been back a week already but I’ve needed all that time to simply get over the delayed jetlag that has claimed my soul upon my return to be able to even think straight about what I did last week, let alone write about it.

So.

The USA.

It’s fun. Different, but fun. There’s lots of similarities between Us and Them (Us being Aussies and Them being Amurrikans) but on the whole, they a nice – if interesting and slightly strange – bunch.

My trip started with an early morning run to the airport. I was stressed. I’d never had a flight with so many stop-overs before and I could think of nothing else but horror scenarios with my connections. Usually when I’d booked my own flights, I made sure there was no more than one connection to make or I was flying direct. However, that’s simply not possible when one is flying into North Carolina. And after all the horror stories I’d heard about the big and awful LAX, I was in panic mode.

Unfortunately the Manbeast had to get to work so couldn’t stay to keep me company (and calm me down) so after a quick hug and “love you” we went our separate ways.

As I checked in, the guy at the desk seemed to sense my unease (and by “sense” and “unease” I mean was he was watching me pretty much fall apart in front of him) and talked me through the whole damned thing as well gave me a little map of LAX and described exactly where I would need to go to meet my connections. That settled me somewhat. I had a good three hours between flights at LAX. I would have enough time to get lost and find my way at least once…

AND THEN THE FLIGHT WAS DELAYED BY AN HOUR AND A HALF.

It was the last thing I needed. My anxiety took over sometime during the flight and I had a cry because I am a big baby.

Renlish.com - Up and Away!
Calm. What my flights should have been like – but weren’t. (Photo from RGBSTOCK).

When we arrived in LAX (that horrible, HORRIBLE airport!) nearly 15 hours later, I was ushered into the express line into immigration and, after a lengthy conversation with a typically surly customs officer regarding internet friendships and how cool they are, I was officially let into the country!

Of course that triumph was short-lived. I had to run-run-run, collect my luggage, transfer it and then make it to the next gate to make my connection all within an hour. No small feat in such a big airport. Thankfully, I made it with about ten minutes to spare – though not without an x-ray scan AND a pat-down by a lovely TSA officer. Yeah, wearing my most comfy but metal-studded t-shirt for the trip? Not the brightest idea I’d ever had.

I will say here and now that whilst I know that people who work at airports are usually the grumpy sort because they’re dealing with Average Joe (and Decidedly-Below-Average Joe) en masse on a daily basis, the folks in American airports take grumpiness to a whole new level. I don’t ask for much but I don’t suffer fools or rudeness gladly, so when I ask for help I expect a civil reply. The grunts and glares and “this is shit you should know, lady” attitude I got were disheartening and infuriating. Anyway.

Fortunately the last connection I had to make in Detroit was much easier and, after a total of 27 hours traversing the globe – but still managing to arrive the evening of the same day and only seeing about seven hours of daylight (talk about a mind fuck) – I was in North Carolina.

And it was deliciously warm! I hadn’t noticed when I first hit fresh air on the continent. I was rushing so much in LA that the warmer temperature didn’t really even register for much of it until I realised that I was feeling a little warm in my cardigan while I was jogging to my terminal. I looked at the sky and thought “Oh, that’s right, it’s Summer here.”

The Weekly Bindi – Week 12… and corsets… and OMGI’MGOINGTOAMURRIKA!

Renlish.com - The Weekly Bindi
“I’m cuter than that kitten you’re watching on Youtube, right mum? RIGHT MUM?!”

I actually can’t remember what video I was watching, but I was cackling away and then all of a sudden I felt the SCRAMBLE-THUD of Bindi on the bed. She started on my hip and slowly worked her way up my back until she was within petting reach and purring happily into my ear as I obliged her.

And then of course I flipped the webcam on and took a couple of shots. She didn’t mind so much. It’s cold now and I was the warmest spot in the house.

Anyway… last weekend I went to OzComicCon at the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings in Carlton in search of all things geeky and nerdy and, joy of joys, I found it! I have become somewhat obsessed with cosplay after my first experience playing at SupaNova a couple months ago and I’m now part of Facebook cosplay group where some local talent show off their amazing work and works in progress for up-coming conventions.

Sadly I didn’t get any pictures at OzComicCon because I was simply unprepared for the amount of people there and the crush inside the exhibition hall but the bro in-law and I are planning a visit to Armageddon to take pictures of the awesome cosplayers that show up there. And I know there will be many!

The other reason I went to OzCC was to go looking for bits to add to my steampunk costume.

Because…

Renlish.com - DragonCon
DragonCon. ATLANTA, GEORGIA, USofA, BABY!!!!

I am going to DragonCon!

I’m going to AMURRIKA!

Yes, due to the extreme kindness and generosity of a dear, dear friend, I have found myself America-bound for one of the biggest conventions in that country.

AND I AM STOKED.

Because I don’t really have the body to be comfortable cosplaying most of the characters that I like, I am sticking with what makes me look good and feel good and to that end, I’m joining the American steampunk ranks and revisiting my steampunk costume. Steampunk is huge over in the States so I’m hoping to see some amazing stuff at DragonCon.

As my original corset is looking somewhat sad at the moment, I decided to go corset hunting at OzCC with one of my mates and my mother and, at Wonderland Corsets, found the most glorious corset I think I have ever seen and when the helpful shop lady strapped me into it, it looked like it was made to fit me. I had a perfect hour-glass, my boobs looked awesome and my back-cleavage all but vanished. I bought it immediately. Who wouldn’t?

Renlish.com - Corset of Wonderment
Steel-boned gorgeousness.

I cannot wait to wear this baby out with my new, pimped-out costume.

“All the pretty things!”

This weekend just past, I had the delightful chance to experience a new market event as somewhat of a guest of honour.

Err. Well, no, not really. Hehe. More of a serial pest than a guest of honour.

But Nuffnang and Piccadilly Market had come together to allow 10 bloggers (including yours truly) to check out what is a new-to-the-area artisan market now being held in Williamstown. Being a local yokel, I said yes to the invitation (twice, I was so chuffed) and scampered across to Williamstown to see what it was all about. And I was so glad I braved the bright but chilly weather. The morning included a lovely, yummy breakfast and then a fun scavenger hunt which took us all around the market to look at all the pretty things!

Check out the video to get an idea of what it’s like:

A lovely lady by the name of Janina Lear has been running the market out of Deakin Uni in Geelong for the past four years and this was the first time the market had been held in Melbourne – and I’d have to say it was a crazy success from what I could tell.

There was around 60 stall-holders for this market, all beautifully arranged in the ballroom and function room of the Williamstown Town Hall. There is a clear focus on quality and original hand-made artisan clothes, jewellery, toys, decor and homeware, food and more. If trash ‘n treasure markets aren’t really your cup of tea, this little gem might be just the ticket.

As I said in the beginning, we were supposed to be doing a scavenger hunt, but to be honest, I got so completely distracted with all the pretty things that I forgot to go in search of what was on the list (even though I stumbled across a few by accident).  And sadly, my reluctance to enter the modern age and get a smartphone so I can play with Instagram truly bit me in the bum this day – there were prizes up for grabs for the best Instagram picture of the morning and I couldn’t complete! WAH!

To top the morning off, the folks at the market had very kindly  contributed to the biggest goodie bags I think I have ever seen for us all. Everything from fudge by The Fudgeman, pompom garlands from Dear Mabel, gorgeous steampunk necklaces from Run Wild Horses, bags from Saquito, lip balms from Bellalu, earrings from Gabby,  soy candles from Love & Light and so much more.

You can find all of the stall holders links, including many more not mentioned right here.

Thank you, Janina and Nuffnang for arranging our gathering.  Even though I am a small-fry, non-professional blogger, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to get down to Geelong to see the Piccadilly there too.

Piccadilly Market is on again in Geelong on August 3rd and in Williamstown on November 9th!

Here’s a MASSIVE photobomb of some of my favourite bits from the market.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Piccadilly is held in the gorgeous ballroom of the Williamstown Town Hall

Williamstown Town Hall is a beautiful building and I confess in the 17 years that I have lived in the area, I’ve never gone inside!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Breakfast! (Omnomnom!) And our little scavenger hunt sheets.

Quiche, yoghurt, fruit and chocolate. That’s my kinda breakfast!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
The beautiful scented soy candles from Love & Light.

Things that make you go “Mmmmm…”

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Seagals gorgeous little stand was filled with crafty, colourful odds and ends such as Scrabble tile bookmarks and hand-made gift tags.

Too much colourful fun. Loved the Seagals stand.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Fell head over heels for these TEEEEEEEEENY-tiny little street lamps from My Fairy World. Perfect for a wee fairy garden.

Actually, I fell in love with EVERYTHING at My Fairy World.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
My favourite print from Copenhagen Delights – this was a gorgeous little smock dress/top for a little girl.

The clothes from Copenhagen Delights almost made me want to have kids to wear them. I’ll have to borrow my friends’ children, I think.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Can you believe this is dog food? I was like “YES! COOKIES!” and then “Awww, maaaan!”

Fabulous doggy treats from Pooches on Pakington.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Some of the printed gift tags from Dear Mabel.

Dear Mabel had a gorgeous array of handmade decorations.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Apple Pie soap, anyone? (Oh, HELLS yes.)

Yummy soaps from Tubtime Treats.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Little Puddles had the most adorable stand that was filled with a plethora of goodies in cotton-candy colours

Little Puddles was definitely one of my favourite stalls – so colourful and sweet!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Possibly some of the best smelling lip balms I’ve ever tried.

Everyone needs Bellalu lip balm in their lives.  We scored a jar of the watermelon one in our goodie bags and… well, I died.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
A handful of my favourites from Gabby – Handmade Resin Jewellery.

Beautiful pendants from gabby.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Another sweet stand filled with quirky shelf toys, prints and jewellery.

Bird & Blossom

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
I wasn’t the only blogger drooling over these bags from Sophie Taylor. Fell in love with that pale mint one!

Sophie Taylor

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Gorgeous knitted clothes and hand-made jewellery from Lauren & Angie.

Lauren & Angie

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Got one of these beautiful vinyl bags from Saquito in our gift bags – SCORE!

Saquito

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
I need that sausage dog cushion in my life. Lilly Pilly Designs
Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
Some of my favourite designs from Miss Moi Jewellery.

Miss Moi

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown
I FOUND STEAMPUNK!

I get super-excited when I see anything assemblage like the jewellery from Run Wild Horses.

London

londonsilhouettes001

I absolutely adored London.  It was big and dirty and scary.  It has the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Churchill Museum (which I adored), the Brittish Museum (which was unfortunately filled to the brim with school kids). I loved the muffins and juice we got from the little cafe right nextdoor to the hostel we stayed in. I loved the fact that we were right across the road from Shepherds Bush station.  I even adored how people got really narky when you didn’t stand to the right on the escalators but didn’t actually say anything to you until they managed to get past and then they’d only grumble and insult you under their breath. I loved being in the shadow of Big Ben. I loved walking through Regents Park even though Allison and I were trying to find London Zoo.  I love how English people don’t know how to queue.  London is fun.

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Next stop; men’s underwear.

marksspencerminster

Allison and I were busily taking pictures of York Minster (one of the biggest Gothic cathedrals this side of the Swedish Alps) when an older lady approached us.  “Here we go,” thought I, thinking she might have had something to say about us and our cameras.

She did, but in a good way.  She was an off-duty tourguide!

“Are you visitors?” She asks.

“Yes,” says we, the Australian and American accents giving it away immediately if the cameras and fevered snapping wasn’t already a big enough clue.

“Well, I don’t usually let people in on this but there is an excellent view of the Minster from the third floor window in Marks and Spencer!”

So, obediently, we found our way to Marks and Spencer and went to the third floor, which just happened to be the men’s clothing department. Surrounded by socks and undies, we peeked out of the little window to find an awesome view, just like the lady said.

Sitting stately amongst the rooftops of the township and bathed in warm afternoon light, there was the Minster in all it’s glory.