Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye 2018...

Don't worry 2018, it wasn't your fault. We won't hold it against you. You were just overpowered by a lot darkness. We hope your replacement will have strength and fortitude.

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? 2018

The sublime songbird Ella sings the ultimate version of this lovely song..."What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

I hope whatever you do, you have fun.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy Hogmanay 2018-2019!

Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's celebration that takes place over the course of several days. While the festival and its customs date back to pagan celebrations of winter solstice, the word Hogmanay itself is harder to trace. Scholars have guessed that the word possibly comes from the French, Norse, or Goidelic languages.

This year, the world's largest Hogmanay festival in Edinburgh--Scotland's gorgeous capital city--starts on December 30th with a spectacular torchlight procession.

A group of 30 or 40 Up Helly Aa Vikings from the Shetland Islands carrying torches and weapons will lead over 35,000 celebrants accompanied by pipers and drummers, fire and fanfare in a river of light through the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town culminating in the historic Holyrood Park. On reaching the Park, torchbearers will form the distinctive outline of Scotland. 14 wicker sculptures, each representing a region of Scotland and created by young people as part of #ScotArt will be placed within the outline and set ablaze as Scotland's beating heart.

December 31st is Auld Year's Eve. Street parties, outdoor concerts (homeboys Franz Ferdinand headline the main stage festival this year), indoor concerts (a Baroque evening by candlelight in St. Giles' Cathedral), and The Ceilidh Under the Castle (a concert of traditional pipe and drum Scottish music held at the base of Edinburgh Castle) all culminate in an overwhelming firework display at the stroke of midnight.

There are many charming New Year's customs in Scotland. "First footing" is the idea that the first person to cross the threshold of your home is a harbinger of good luck. Starting immediately after midnight, people call on friends, going from house to house for much of the night and even into the morning and next day, with over half the population of Scotland observing the practice of "first-footing." It is good luck for the "first-footer" to be a tall, dark male. Traditionally, this male would bring gifts of a coin (symbolizing prosperity), bread/ black bun fruitcake (symbolizing food), salt (flavor), coal (warmth), or a drink (good cheer). These days, a "first-footer" usually just brings the whiskey!

January 1st is Ne'erday, a contraction of New Year's Day. The celebrating and "first-footing" continue, the annual Loony Dook takes place in the Firth of Forth (a wacky costumed cold plunge for charity), and many Scots still observe the day with a special dinner of steak pie.

Haud Hogmanay, everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Alice & Fifth

If you're in Johannesburg, South Africa looking for a place to celebrate the new year, perhaps you could give the newly opened Alice & Fifth restaurant and nightclub a try. The fantastic decor by interior designer Tristan Plessis combines the glamour of Hollywood Regency (I love the paneled wall that warps up onto the ceiling!) with more industrial touches (exposed cement and raw wood).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Currently listening to...

...a grand mix of trance dance music. I'm zoning out...join me.

"Madeleine" by Konstantin Sibold.

"Broken Melodies (Nicholas Van Orton Remix)" by Julian Rodriguez and Frankie M

"Look Closer" by Michael A

"Intergalactic Plastic" by Luttrell

"Four Tone Reflections" by Max Cooper

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Ice Hotel 2018-2019

The annual Ice Hotel that is built from actual snow and ice every year in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden is now open for the 2018-2019 season. And every year, the design for the hotel as well as each of the rooms is different! Participating artists and designers come to sculpt and craft the suites into works of art that one can sleep in. And the rooms for their 29th season are wonderful.

While the chambers are indeed made of ice, the ICEHOTEL recommends that you spend perhaps only one night in them and the rest in the warm sections of the Hotel!

The website has some helpful information:

One night in a cold room and a couple of nights in a warm room is ideal, as it gives you time to join wilderness excursions on the days when you have a warm room to return to in the evening.

If possible, we recommend you book your first or last night cool, the remaining nights in our warm cabins or hotel rooms, or join an overnight snowmobile excursion (only on select days).

The temperature inside the hotel hovers at a constant of -5 to -7 C. We provide you with expedition-style sleeping bags which are tested for extreme temperatures, so you’ll be fine with just thermals, hat, warm socks and a mid-layer jumper. You are given access to your room at 6 pm, but the heated service building, the Riverside Lobby, is staffed and open 24 hours, this is where you store your belongings, collect your sleeping bag and use the bathroom, shower and sauna. There is a tutorial for guests sleeping cold every day.

Icehotel is carefully designed and handcrafted by artists from around the world so to make the most of your visit, make sure to attend one of the guided tours through the hotel and pick up a copy of the art catalogue to read upon all the details. We recommend that you book activities to get the most of your holiday. Dog sledding, skiing or snowmobiling in winter, or river rafting and cycling in summer, takes you into the vast uninhabited boreal forest. Fishing, midnight sun and northern lights safaris are amazing ways to experience the Arctic. Joining a class with one of our master ice sculptors is of course a must!

* Between 10 am and 6 pm, Icehotel is open to the public. Day visitors and guests have access to see all the rooms (except Deluxe Suites) and join a guided tour. This means overnight guests get their rooms at 6 pm and wake-up call is around 7:30 am when staying cold. (Check-in and out for warm rooms is at 3 pm and 11 am).
* All rooms except the Art and Deluxe Suites in Icehotel 365 have curtain doors.
* The beds in the cold rooms have a bedframe made of ice, slatted bed base with mattress, reindeer skins and pillows.
* There are no bathrooms (except the Deluxe Suites) or storage in the cold rooms. These facilities are housed in a heated service building, the Riverside Lobby, where you also keep your belongings during the cold night. * The service desk is staffed 24 hours.
* You get a locker or cubicle (if staying in a suite), where you can get changed and keep your belongings.
* The changing rooms, sauna and showers are communal for women and men respectively.
* There are no electric sockets to charge your phone inside the cold room, so be sure to charge your phone before going to bed.
* If you’re changing between cold and warm accommodation, there are about 6-7 hours when you don’t have a room to withdraw to. We strongly recommend you to plan one or two excursions during this time as exploring nature and local culture is a substantial part of getting the full experience. Our lounge and shop are open from 10 am.
* Ice is an organic material. We may carry out maintenance and repairs during open hours.
* Icehotel is built in sections, which means that there is still building work going on for some time after we’re open for guests.

Main Hall design by Marjolein Vonk and Maurizio Perron

‘Spruce Woods’ art suite design by Jennie O’Keefe and Christopher Pancoe

‘Blossom’ art suite design by Wouter Biegelaar and Viktor Tsarski

‘Differential Expansion’ art suite design by Jose Antonio and Juan Carlos Camara Zaragoza

‘Flock’ art suite design by Lisa Lindqvist and Ulrika Tallving

‘Haven’ art suite design by Jonas Johansson, Jordi Claramunt, and Lukas Petko 

‘ICEWOMAN’ art suite design by Linda Vagnelind

‘Lollipop’ art suite design by Luc Voisin and Mathieu Brison

‘Oak’ art suite design by Tjåsa Gusfors and Sam Gusfors

'The Living Ocean’ art suite design by Jonathan Paul Green and Marnie Green

All photos by Asaf Kliger for ICEHOTEL

Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Midnight At Christmas 2018

"Snowflake" by Kate Bush...

I was born in a cloud...

Now I am falling.
I want you to catch me.
Look up and you'll see me.
You know you can hear me.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

We're over a forest.
There's millions of snowflakes.
We're dancing.

The world is so loud. Keep falling and I'll find you.

I am ice and dust. I am sky.

I can see horses wading through snowdrifts.
My broken heart, my fabulous dances.
My fleeting song, fleeting.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

My broken heart, my fabulous dance.
My fleeting song, my twist and shout.

I am ice and dust and light. I am sky and here.

I can hear people.
I think you are near me now.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

We're over a forest.
It's midnight at Christmas.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

I think I can see you.
There's your long, white neck.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

Now I am falling.
Look up and you'll see me.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

In a moment or two.
I'll be with you.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

Be ready to catch me.

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I'll find you.

Kate Bush taught me how to fly.

Lights Will Guide You Home 2018

On this Christmas Eve, may you find your way home, where ever that may be, even if it is only in your heart.