a seventh day

Yesterday I commented on my regret not buying an early edition of the OED, though there was certainly an affordability issue involved. Another thing I regret from an earlier trip is not buying a glass snail in Venice.

It was a trip that I was organising as I went, an initial outline and direction but flexible as I went. I had originally planned to stay a day or so in Florence, and a few days in Padua, a town from which to visit nearby Venice. One day in Florence, became two, then three, and I think I finally departed on the fourth. That meant I could but squeeze two nights in Padua and a single day trip to Venice with a new friend I’d met on the train.

glass snail from Venice

While wandering around Venice, where glass making is a local craft, I saw many glass snails for sale. However I ended up not buying any as I was concerned about transporting them safely in my backpack. I have not let that stop me since and have successfully bought snails elsewhere while travelling.

Some years later, my cousin gave me a glass snail, made on the island of Murano in Venice, the home of Venetian glass making. So I at least have a lovely snail from Venice. However I am hoping to return in September and perhaps stay a night in Venice for the specific purpose of snail hunting.

money, money, money

This was given to me by old friends many years ago…I think it was a Kris Kringle present but my memory is a wee bit hazy. Quite simply, this is a moneybox snail as well as being one of my brighter snails. I smile a little every time I look at it. It used to sit on the bookcases in my old loungeroom but these days resides with the larger snail collection.

moneybox snail

a puppet snail

This was given to me many years ago, and is one of my older snails. A family I used to hang out with in my church days, spotted it and had to buy it for me. In the early days I used to wear it as a puppet to entertain their kids. These days it sits in a bowl, looking out on the world.

puppet snail

greek snail

This is one of my prettiest snails. I came across this one in Athens and initially decided against it as I think it was about 20 euros at the time. I walked on, went canyoning in Crete for a week and then returned to Athens. Upon my return, I decided I had to have one. Turns out there were two sizes and it took forever to find the size I wanted. Much to my joy I finally found it on my last night. A jewelled snail from Athens.


dash to the rescue

While my plush snail has pride of place in the bedroom, many of my snails reside on a cabinet display near the entry to the house. It’s hard to walk into the house without seeing them and all visitors have to walk past them. This snail is a wee bit special as it was handmade by the 2 year old son of good friends, several years ago. I thought it was an excellent attempt at making a snail and I had to pack it carefully when moving house.

handmade snail crafted by a 2 year old boy.

documenting snails

I’ve been using the nick of “snail” for a bloody long time now, at least 25 years or so and this year may even be the 30th. My memory of those times is rather hazy but 1987 was my first year of uni and the year I found usenet which became a home of sorts for many years to come. That means I have been calling myself “snail” for around three decades. Now that is scary.

My original life plan had been to go to uni and study computer science for 3 years, graduate, work for  a couple of years then spend a couple of years travelling the world. I did all those things but the timeline was much, much longer. I didn’t officially graduate in compsci though I did complete all 3 years and ended up with a BA with a double major in Philosophy and History & Philosophy of Science. Followed by a Master of Information Management (Librarianship) to celebrate my 10th year, or so, of uni :)

Somewhere along the way, I started collecting snails.

plush snail

I think it was in 1999 when I finally made it overseas for the first time. Not quite a 2 year trip as I originally planned but a decent 4 months at least and made it to the US and Europe. I spent quite a bit of time in London on that first trip and may have overused my sister’s generosity in letting me stay at her place as she’d been living in London for some years. I spent most days out exploring and I happened into a manchester shop as you do. I still vaguely recall that shop and the bin of stuffed toys downstairs. In that bin was this snail and I think it was only a few quid and I had to have it. So I bought it and it has been with me ever since. It normally resides on the bookcase beside my bed. That was my first snail.

For some years now, I’ve been wanting to document all my snails, as I think I have close to 40 now. I’ve taken photos of most of them with a few to go. I used to have an actual, rocking horse snail ie a real rocking snail for toddlers. However it felt a wee bit weird as I don’t have kids myself. Plus it was fairly large and I never did find the right spot for it. Ultimately, when my cousin had a baby, I gave it to them and they assure me their daughter loves it.