A Travellerspoint blog

February 2012

What is the deal with…Ugg boots?

The 90's stand-up "what's the deal with..." Series


“Fashionless hobo declares war on UGG fashion. Says is fUGGing disgrace. Then wears socks and shorts”

It might seem of late that I have nothing positive to say about living in London but that's not entirely true and i'll write a full page article on Minstrels the chocolate Smartie at a later date.
Meanwhile back at the negative ranch...

I have a fashion issue. "You, a fashion issue?" I hear you mock. Shut up and listen.
My issue is this ridiculous London trend of wearing UGG boots outside. Look, I said nothing when camel toe jeans came in, or jeggings were a thing but I’ve tried to ignore it, get passed this disdain, but it’s hard when I find it disrespectful and offensive to something I truly believe in, slippers and indoor comfort items.

For the most part London is trendy and I regularly feel like a homeless person with a penchant for colour but recently I saw a girl working in H&M, a somewhat reputable fashion store, who had worn black leggings and black UGG boots to work. Now I’m not a fashionista but not only should you not wear leggings as pants to work, you shouldn’t even wear them outside the house. And to team them with slippers!

You're fiiiiiired!

UGG boots are not shoe. They are slippers and slippers are to be worn either with pyjamas or teamed with a dressing gown ensemble. Inside. Preferably in front of the TV or on a couch while reading a book. Look I realise UGGs have become fashionable in the past few years for some such reason like Mischa Barton etc. being snapped kicking around L.A in them pretending to drink a frappé or they were one of Oprah’s ‘favourite things’ or some such nonsense but this my fair feathered friends, is where the issue lies. Even Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz realised this in The Holiday, L.A and London are two very different places, for many reasons but namely, the weather.

See here in London it rains a lot. Like more in a day than my home town gets in a year. So as the rain falls and the pavements fill with puddles, the trend of wearing ₤100 gumboots actually makes some slight sense, still idiotic, but acceptable for those with dispensable cash but not UGG boots.
UGG boots are not water repellent. Londoners walk the streets in these slippers which by a days wear out in the elements are all disgracefully floppy and wet because they are indoor shoes. Basically, you can’t wear UGG boots in the rain because they are made out of sheep. Australian sheep at that, an animal very unfamiliar with the concept of being dragged through puddles.

It’s the horrendous sight of someone walking lopsided in a pair of damp slippers that sticks in my craw. They are slopping along, standing on the backs as they walk because there is no support in the heel. Their foot slips off the sole with every step. They are all soggy from walking the filthy streets in the rain and dirt sticks to the boot because, again it's sheep and not shoe leather. It's really quite repulsive.

This is how I imagine this issue began, back when UGG cracked the UK market and were on a flight home after securing a deal:

Graeme UGG: “Ah, shit, did you tell ‘em they were slippers?...”
Trevor UGG: “…Nah mate…they’ll figure it out...I mean, they are lined with fluffy wool. The outside is made of animal skin. The soles are a piece of foam. Trust me, they’ll work it out…”

Oops. It’s like all of Australia is sitting back and laughing. Oh man, this is super awkward we can’t tell them now. It's been too long.

So to sum it up. Stop wearing slippers as shoes. It’s just gross.
Shut it down London, just shut it down or we I'll see a ban on all Australian exports, and that’s includes Neighbours and Home and Away and any other mediocre programming we give away.

Don’t think I won’t do it.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 18:03 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london fashion ugg_boots Comments (2)

Instant New Best Friends

Making new friends is a big part of my love of travel. I don't actually mean travel friends, though I have met some amazing people over my travels who have become some of my best friends and my favourite people, the type of friend I mean is an Instant New Best Friend.

You meet an INBF on public transport, in hotel elevators, waiting for a bus, in a taxi, trying to sell you things or in a restaurant. Any kind of public place with a limited time for interaction. An instant new best friend is willing to make a quick friend out of boredom. An INBF gives you amazing unsolicited advice on your travels, you will hear stories of their own travels to your part of the world, and whether or not you know their friend Ken in Perth may come up. If you are lucky you might see photos of their children. Get overly personal details about their life, marriage, relationships all in a short space of time in a public location. These are the people that come in and out of your life as a traveller that make up the stitches to the fabric of a nomad. Your instant friendship is soon over when you arrive at your destination and then you and your new acquaintance go your separate ways.

As a solo traveller you get used to strangers coming to talk to you. Sometimes they are weirdoes but it’s usually safer to have a quick chat and move on rather than be rude. Plus I am often in need of a chat after too much alone time. A lot of the time people are up for a chat out of curiosity or boredom. I get a few, ‘what the devil is a young woman doing in these parts, on her own and with a bag that big’ type discussions. Usually I’m not a conversation initiator but even I sometimes try to make an INBF because I’m finished my book and I’m bored. Recently I chatted to an American couple from the Polish border to Dresden, they told me about all the ‘real neat’ places to visit around Ohio and I listened on. Our friendship ended abruptly when I realised we had made it to my station and I ran off the train with a wave.

Perhaps it’s the semi-journalist in me but I seem to be very good at getting people to talk by asking a lot of prying questions in a safe, trusting environment. I should probably be on 60 Minutes.

For instance after I met Tammy and Matt on a flight from Las Vegas to New Orleans last year I talked about them to my friend for the next week. As it turns out my friend and I couldn't sit together because we boarded our flight in ‘gap filler’ zone Z, so I squeezed in next to the window beside my INBF’s Tammy and Matt. We had become acquainted before take-off. She seemed a bit on edge, the reasoning behind which she offered early, it was their first trip without their kids and they were excited but really nervous to leave them at home.
It snowballed from there. We talked for three hours about life, love and the universe. Before long I had seen pictures of her kids, her dead dog (who was the smartest dog in the world). I learnt she enjoys jazzercise and had been doing it for years. It’s how she got her figure back after the kids. She ‘does hair’ and her dream was once to 'do hair’ on a cruise liner so she could see the world but life got in the way. She was married before and he was an asshole but Matt, there, is a good man and looks after her. Her children are good kids; one has a disability and we talked about the concerns of raising a child with a disability in this kind of social environment and the warrant of private education vs. public because as parents they were dealing with bullying. The INBF me is an expert on most subjects because my friend will never know enough about me to realise I actually don’t know a lot about raising children. Really she was lucky to have the kids at all having had cervical cancer and her cervix removed when she was in her 20s. Tammy and Matt looked like every other middle American couple in their early 40s. He was a big and tall guy with extra-large polo shirts. She was short with a curly blonde fringe. I thought I spotted them for days after but it was every other couple in America.

My flight flew by with my INBF and we chatted and laughed, covered some serious issues. As we left the plane we continued to chat until I found my friend at baggage claim. I said my farewell to my new friends much to my friend’s amusement no doubt as she saw me board the plane alone and leave it with a middle-aged couple on first name basis.

I wished them well, they were lovely people and part of me wished I had of got her email so I could check in on her and the kids, see if they had got the next belt in karate. I spent the next few days saying, “well Tammy was saying…” which then was followed by “who?” and a “You know Tammy, from the plane?”

My time in America provided me with some amazing characters for my nomad fabric. I listened to a lady from the south tell me how Australia is a backward country and doesn’t have equal gender rights. And how the world aluminium is pronounced alooominum because she was around when they invented it and its bloody aloominum not aluminium. She also told me the way to make good frosting for cupcakes is to add liquor.

A man at a bus stop told me about how he once met an Australian and they kindly flew him out to see Australia because he had never been. He looked vaguely homeless and for some reason I didn’t quite believe that this had happened but I let him tell me his stories of Sydney’s grandeur until the airport bus arrived in which he kindly pointed out that that was in fact the airport bus and that was the one I wanted.

You can always rely on kindness of strangers.

So I leave you with this video from my travels to Vietnam last year when an old lady selling things on the beach took a shining to me and sat beside me most of the afternoon then pushed me in the hammock for a bit. It came to the point where I knew everything she had to sell in her basket despite her English being minimal and my Vietnamese being average at best (non existent). I thought that she deserved to be in retirement and not flogging crap on the beach, and as I only need a certain amount of Tiger Balm products, perhaps I could help shift some for her.


Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 15:12 Archived in Vietnam Tagged friendship tiger_balm Comments (1)

The Pilgrimage

Collecting Heaven Points

I don’t conform to any religion. I’m not even a Christmas Christian or a Hanukkah Jew. Not even a statistical Protestant on a census form. I’m a nothing. So the idea of a spiritual pilgrimage didn’t really float my boat, the idea of going to the top of a hill to see a church and hopefully get nice view over a city was, I thought. How wrong I was.

There was nothing relaxing or peaceful about this pilgrimage, there was no great view to be had and it wasn’t up a little hill, it was atop Everest, or at least it felt that way.

The scene of this holy hike was Bologna, Italy. I was finally back in Italy, it had been almost two years since we had last seen each other. Italy is my spirit country, it makes me happy to be within its borders. There is good food, good coffee and an appreciation, nay encouragement even, of laziness. Workers mosey into work late then take a siesta for three hours after lunch then perhaps a casual strike at their leisure because driving a bus is a pain in the ass.

After an early flight from London we arrived in Bologna, the food capital of Italy, home of all things delicious. We had a quick look around, stuffed in a family-sized pizza, downed a delicious coffee and then headed towards the city’s star attraction, the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca. The basilica sits atop a hill overlooking Bologna and is famous for housing an important icon of Madonna and Child.

A 3.7km covered arched walkway takes you on a pilgrimage which originally began in the Cathedral of San Pietro in the town centre to the basilica at the top. Each year since 1433 the icon was taken from one to the other for Ascension and there are 666 arches (sounds like the devils number to me) which were built in 1674-1793 to protect the icon on its march.

It was a must do. That’s all we knew of it. It was a steady incline of ramps and steps and orangey-ochre arches. Arches. Steps. More arches. More steps. More walking. More exhaustion. Up I trudged. Wow, we must be nearly there.
No fool. We are not.

It went on for quite some time, a never ending passageway, up ahead just a blurry version of what was directly ahead. Up I walked. My god where is this place. It didn’t look that far. Is it too late to go back? If this is like another hour should we just stop now and go back and get a pizza and we’ll laugh about it later? Anyone? No one? Ok we are doing this. I brought up the rear and kept climbing, thinking how this A) better we worth it B) better get me in to heaven and C) would realistically would probably only be worth it if the Madonna and Child in question was actually Madonna and her weird look-alike daughter, or Madonna and her Malawi-born son David would also be fine. And if she was waiting with a microphone for us to do a duet of Borderline.

Walk. Walk. Stop to puff/admire chipped paint wall enthusiastically. Oh. Look. A. a. eh. A painting. Chipped. Off. That’s. eh eh cool. Ah Oo. Eee. Oo. Oh. A chip in the plaster. Ooo. Eh. Ahh.Good. Yep. Oooo.

A lady comes down past me with a wheelie shopping basket and kerplunks it down and few steps then lifts it for a few more and I wonder if she know just how many hellish steps there are to go and that she ought abandon that trolley now and stop being a show off.

Then a nun went passed and I got mad that she seemed to do it so easily and she was about 70. Given she probably does it more often than I and probably shares her family-sized pizzas and maybe skips the gelato.

Move it Sister Mary Clarence, can’t you see a girls try to pilgrimage.

P.s Do you know Whoopi Goldberg? Is she in your choir?

Also is there some kind of trattoria at the top? It’s is a good business idea, just sayin’. I mean I could murder a la Coca-Cola e la pizza slice.

I was nearly there. I had been through 650 of the arches and a gazillion of the steps. I can see sky ahead and not just more dastardly steps. At last! Walk toward the light. The liiiight. Seek your salvation. One last staircase lay ahead, I was walking towards a silhouetted cross looming above. I considered giving up but it was a mere 20 steps away. Air, freedom, hopefully a seat and a drinking fountain.
I burst out into the air with a gasp. It’s 2 degrees but I am generating about 100 with my coat, hat, gloves and scarf all dangling from me because I didn’t have time to take them off nor the will to carry them up. I’ll just unbutton it won’t be much further I thought after arch 20 of 666.

I arrive and begin stripping off my layers despite being able to see my own breath. I enter the famous church and literally pull up a pew and wait for my heart beat to assume a normal rhythm. It was vast, shiny and overly gaudy with marble, gold leaf and other such garish churchy goodness.

With every step my foot splats echo. I have a good look at a confession booth with someone in it, just like the movies. Have a quick look around for Madonna, the singer. Not there. Pretend not to be disappointed. The acoustics would have been rad too.
Pretend to be impressed. Wow that’s a nice and necessary use of gold.

Back outside into the cool winter air. My body temperature is almost back to normal and I realise yes, it is 2 degrees. The sun is starting to set reflecting rather magnificently on the bright orange of the otherwise somewhat unremarkable church. It’s getting dark. It literally took all day.
All a winter’s afternoon which granted isn’t long.

We go to head back down the way we came and realise that the final gate, just before the last ascension to air and the outside world (salvation) is locked. People are coming up to a locked gate. I panic on their behalf and try to open it. It’s locked. The church must be closing. These poor sons of bitches have got this far and the gate is closed.

I think how we must have made it by a mere 10 minutes and how I would have screamed bloody murder and cursed the hell out of life, the universe, and everyone in it, including most of those religious figures in that church if that had of happened to me. Imagine if I had of exerted all that energy for that long, to arrive at a locked gate. Heads would have rolled. I probably would have kicked that gate, and perhaps a priest’s confessional door down.

I pulled the gate to no avail and started frantically thinking how else they can get in, I mean they deserve to see the damn church they did the pilgrimage, that’s surely the rules. Then I realised, it’s not me, I made it and more importantly, I am on the way down and back to level ground with a promise of a delicious Italian dinner.
C’est le Vie, everybody knows Italian’s close on time if not early. It’s Italy.

I recovered with a mushroom risotto and red wine then promptly fell asleep from exhaustion at the next possible opportunity. I had been up since 5am, been sightseeing and done a massive amount of walking in a massive amount of heavy clothing all in one day.

So that was my pilgrimage and I pilgrimed the heck out of it. I probably made more noise and fuss than the Catholics do but that’s to be expected when there’s not the promise of divine anything at the top. Saying that, I dare say after my pilgrimage my chances of heaven have just been raised by around 12%. I probably lost a few per cent by cussing all the way up and hating every minute of it.

And to think these crazy Catholics did it back in the day for laugh, and regularly and probably wore no shoes and carried a heavy bible the whole way.

So as long as religion requires these kinds of sacrifices I will continue to be a ‘n/a’ on all forms but in the true Australian way, happily take them all as public holidays.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 04:45 Archived in Italy Tagged bologna pilgrimage san_luca Comments (1)

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