Exploring Karori Cemetery


Opened in 1891, Karori Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in New Zealand. It covers 100 acres and is the resting place of at least one of our Prime Ministers.


I chose a path at random and we ended up in the section for children who died within a few hours or days of birth. I wasn’t allowed to choose paths any more. Too terribly sad.








S.S. Penguin!




Museo Criminologico, Rome

Criminological museum

One of the very last things we did in Rome – before our last meal, before our last artisinal gelato – was to visit the Criminology Museum.
(I have a degree in criminology – did you know that?)

It was brilliant.
The museum was teeny tiny, filled with students, and displays with half un-translated signs
I spent an inordinate amount of time poking around. Craig spent time looking around and then waiting for me so we could move on. He’s lovely.

Iron Maiden

The Poggio Catino Skeleton
The identity of the “Poggio Catino Skeleton” is still a mystery. The only historical fact is that the skeleton was found in 1933 inside the ruined tower of a baronial palazzo in Poggio Catino.


Fake passports

Fake canadian money

Revolver used to kill King Umberto I
The revolver used to kill King Umberto I in 1900


Tattoos are for losers and criminals.


Origins of criminology

Prison made tattoo guns
Prison-made tattoo guns with adorable handwritten display tags

Knife in a crucifix
Knife in a crucifix, two bits

Female serial killers

Milazzo Cage
The Milazzo Cage
This iron cage containing a human skeleton was discovered by chance on 17 February 1928 by a gang of prisoners who were digging in the area within the enclosure walls of Milazzo Prison in Sicily. The cage was located about 25 cm below the surface.

Papal Guillotine
A guillotine used by the Papal state.

If you are in Rome and have an inherent morbid fascination like I do? Then I highly recommend visiting this museum.
If you can read even a little bit of Italian – that helps.

La Specola, Florence

Panorama - taxidermy birds

Streets of Florence

On one little page in our City Guide to Florence is an entry with an especially enthusiastic star next to it. The entry is, of course, for the Museum of Zoology and Natural History, aka La Specola.

Down a side street from the Pitti Palace and up three flights of stairs, Craig and I spent a deceptively long time wandering the 34 rooms. It was a must see.

It is, essentially, a museum full of taxidermy and medical wax works. I could think of little better.


With a collection dating back to the Medici Family, and a nickname referencing the observatory that stood there in 1790, this unassuming little museum was just delightful. It’s also the oldest scientific Museum of Europe. At the time of its opening it was the only scientific museum or “wunderkammer” specifically created for the public to view.


Oh. And most of the labels were in untranslated Italian. Adorable.


Giant crabs


Odd looking lion

Yes. As you can see in the reflection next to the lion, I wore leopard print to a zoological museum.



Eee! Terrifying monkeys. I love them.

Rinolofio di blasius! Look at his little face!

Bird bird birds

Big alligator

Hey! There's the kiwi
Always look for the Kiwi.



I may have squealed just a little when I saw the room of rays.

Rays! Craig for size comparison
Craig added for size comparison.

There were only a few rooms of anatomical wax works but the detail was amazing.
(those of a sensitive disposition might want to skip the rest of this post)

Wax medical models from the 1800s

The art of anatomical waxworks was developed in Florence in the 17th century in order to teach medicine when practicing on corpses was illegal. Anatomical waxworks was slightly more true to life than learning surgery from a book. These waxworks are famous for having been modeled off actual corpses. How that is any worse than letting medical students loose on the deceased is simply beyond me.

Wax medical models from the 1800s

It’s just wax. It’s just wax.

Wax medical models from the 1800s

Saturday: Wax medical models from the 1800s


Wax medical models from the 1800s
I think this lady was my favourite. She was flayed open and yet her face was so serene. Like she was just about to fall asleep on a hot summer day.

Wax medical models from the 1800s

Wax medical models from the 1800s

One of my favourite parts of the whole museum was that, always a few steps behind us, we were shadowed by an Italian family, a mother, father, and a boy of about 6 years old who was just SO DAMN EXCITED to be there. We lost them in the anatomical section, they didn’t stay there long.

I am a little distraught that I didn’t notice the stuffed hippopotamus which was a 17th-century Medici pet that once lived in the Boboli Gardens. I know, I know they are, apparently, vicious killers but seriously? a hippopotamus ambling around your extensive gardens? it sounds pretty amazing.

Panorama - Medical wax works

It’s like they don’t know me at all …

I have had this conversation three or four times in the last half hour:

S: Oo! My Goat Antlers* have arrived!
Other: Wha?
S: My Goat Antlers.
Other: Huh?
S: my Goat Antlers with Cranium attached!
Other: Where did you get them?
S: Trademe**
Other: Are they … Do they … smell?
S: No. (sniffs antlers) No. I think that was the packaging.
Other: Why? What for? Ugh? Weird?
S: To mount. On the wall. Goat Antlers. With Cranium attached!

Goat Antlers!

Goat Antlers with Cranium attached!

* Uh yea. Goats have Horns. But they were advertised and sold as “antlers” so it stuck.
** NZ eBay

Week Twenty-Six

365 in 2009!

Sunday: the first time I ever tried french toast with bacon and maple syrup
The first time I ever had French Toast with Bacon and Maple Syrup. I can’t believe I ever doubted how amazing it tastes.

Monday: Tiny overpriced coffee and finall returned necklace
A teeny tiny overpriced coffee and the necklace that took tootoo long to be altered.
(chain shortened and split so it doesn’t run through the top of the horseshoe)

Tuesday: King and Queen of Spain
I went to watch the powhiri (maori greeting) for the King and Queen of Spain. Because really? how often do you see royalty?

Wednesday: my train hit a person!
It took 2 hours to get home on the train. Because it hit someone! they survived, thankfully, but the train & scene had to be inspected for a long long time before we could move on.
I yelled at a large man who was giving the train guard attitude whenever he updated us on the situation.

Thursday: GHD burns
I pinched my skin with my GHDs for a second and watched as the blisters came up. The burn didn’t hurt for about 14 hours.

Friday: Craig baked his first cake
I helped Craig bake his first cake.

Saturday: cold destroyed roses
I walked home from my hair appointment, and paused by the rose gardens.


Heidi Hair!

Madame Macabre

In March this year Craig bought me an itsy bitsy teeny weeny skull necklace with twinkling diamond eyes.

babyskull necklace

And when I showed it to a girl I worked with in London her response was Oh, you’re into all of that are you? and then my head exploded.

But while packing up my jewellery and moving it halfway back around the globe, I realised that Yea. I am into All of That. I of course don’t see what the problem is!
I think nowadays people may think that people are desensitised to death, horror, and the macabre, but I believe that it has become so that it is only acceptable in a horrific arena. In the nineteenth century and earlier people were painted holding skulls as a reminder of their own mortality, which may seem a depressing way to live and a reaction to short life expectancy but I see it as a reiteration of the idea that we, all of us, human existence in general, are here for all too too brief a time and we should make the most of the fleeting instants we have. But then again, I was the one reading books about decomposition as a pre teen. So maybe it is just my twisted tastes.

Of course I then proceeded to take photographic evidence of my macabre jewellery collection.

A quick disclaimer! I don’t wear all these pieces together. Unless it’s halloween. Though it would be amusing. Or terrifying.
And yet another disclaimer! I own a lot of jewellery. I do. It’s almost a problem. So this is not anywhere near half of the jewellery I own (okay, it might be 1/3) and is merely just the macabre or more unusual pieces in my collection.

Okay. Let’s proceed.

Skull Jewellery

See Through Eyes

Skull Studs

Babyskull ring by Michelle Chang

Skull Charm

Baby Skull by Michelle Chang

Skull Bracelet by ... Marvel?

(I love how his little nose is an upside down heart!)

Skulls by Tom Binns

Skull Bracelet - Alexa Chung for Made

Skull by Love from Hetty and Dave

Snake Jewellery

Snake Ring from the British Museum

Snake Bows by Meadowlark

Hearts and Tears

Eyelashes & Tears by Stephanie Simek

(Made from real human hair)

Ventricle Heart Necklace

Fang Jewellery

Fang Charm by BitterSweet NY

Fang Ring by Meadowlark

Fang Ring by Meadowlark

Fang Earrings by Meadowlark

Fang Necklace by Perks and Mimi

And hey, it’s not like it’s all huge and gaudy.

Well. Except for …

Tiger & Snake - Topshop & Diva

Rat Ring - Camden Market

I picked up this adorable rat ring in the Camden Market. I wore it on the tube home and it was one of the very few times anyone ever interacted with me on the tube (without being drunk and or hitting on me).

Little Rat

And, P.s. I promise to get over my obscene macro love soon. Soon.