Our Street in Paris

Paris is a city that people live IN, they wear it like a glove, millions of them.   It seems that none of them live in the suburbs … they live in the city centre where they work, where they go to school, where they shop, where they socialise and protest (they love to protest).

Aside from the stores that tourists frequent, the streets are filled with a mix of small stores that cater for Parisians daily needs and their WANTS. They have many wants …. wants that are far from basic needs.

They do ‘WANT’ with style.  And of course, they indulge themselves.  

Fine food, fine coffee, fine clothes, fine chocolate, fine paper, fine ……. their preference for very, very stylish – EVERYTHING – means that you find an eclectic collection of stores  in every street, and no two streets alike. 

The big multi-national shopping centres that have destroyed small businesses in other cities around the world, don’t appear to have damaged the traditional Parisian infrastructure.  The big stores thrive but so do the ‘corner’ stores – and every store between corners.  Parisians simply won’t accept things being forced on them.  An Italian publisher ( unknown to me) is quoted as saying: “the first word of French that a baby learns is `Non’ and the first complete sentence is ` It is not possible’. Unless of course the French want it – in which case it’s no problem at all.

Our Street in Paris (1 of 23)I spent Christmas / New Year in an apartment in a small street located in the St Germaine district of Paris – a five-minute walk from the Louvre.  Only three blocks long and not part of the tourist hub, it is typical of many of the streets Margot and I walked during our stay. 

Our Street in Paris (2 of 23)

Our street looking southward

Our Street in Paris (3 of 23)

Our street looking north

Our Street in Paris (4 of 23)

Our front door, sandwiched between an upmarket Indian Restaurant and an Antique Store.  Our apartment has its windows open and lights on.

We visited few museums …. not just because of the long, long queues, cold and drizzle, but because we enjoyed walking the streets, meeting the locals and attempting to understand what makes Paris tick.  There is no greater joy than wandering into a cafe ( or any place – park, store or public transport) full of locals and striking up conversation. It was easy … that is once they realised we were Australian. Their pretense of not understanding a word of English simply faded into perfect English. It seems the same rules don’t apply for the English and they pick and choose which Americans they can understand.

Let me share with you a sample of our experience ….. a brief depiction of the stores in our street?  

Follow the photo captions  ….. and no …. this isn’t a special street. There were no stores that only sold vacuum cleaners or toothbrushes for left-handed people ( they exist … I’m sure) but none the less it was amazing. The street was only 3 blocks long and this election is from just our block.

Our Street in Paris (11 of 23)

Grocery Store

Our Street in Paris (22 of 23)

Shoe Designer & Maker

Our Street in Paris (21 of 23)

His Store

Our Street in Paris (20 of 23)

The Baguette Shop

Our Street in Paris (12 of 23)

The North Africa Property Developer

Our Street in Paris (5 of 23)

The Book Binder

Our Street in Paris (23 of 23)

The Cheese Shop (just cheese) – taking delivery of a wheel of cheese. You should see the large ones !!

Our Street in Paris (9 of 23)

A Porcelaine Shop

Our Street in Paris (7 of 23)

A Chocolatier – there seems to be one in every block on every street.

Our Street in Paris (18 of 23)

Deceased (modern) Musicians Residence

Our Street in Paris (14 of 23)

Art for Sale

I haven’t included any of the one-off cloths stores,  I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.

Watch the book stores in March for my new book “Understanding Wills & Estate Planning’

Who am I ?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.

 


Love and Locks in Paris

Paris has the reputation of being the City of Love. A well earned reputation from my recent observations.

If you have visited perhaps we could share notes, if you haven’t – lift Paris to the top of your To Do List.

It’s a romantic city, oozing with history, charm and splendor. Be warned – she is very seductive …. you’ll  fall in love with her.  She’s also the city to love … second only behind Sydney of course. 

Is it the romantic French, who claim to be the world’s best lovers that makes this city so appealing? The buildings, their architecture, history and tasteful grandness?

Or is it perhaps the impact of the ever-present sea of pheromones  wafting through the air from all the visiting honeymooners and young lovers. Yes, thousands of them in the middle of the European winter. 

Perhaps it’s the thought of being restricted to indoor activities due to poor weather that attracts them ??? But no, they are out and about enjoying the city’s museums, streets, and other offerings …. all the time infecting the rest of the city with their inner glow.

The bridges crossing the Seine are blessed with dedications of romance – padlocks adorn every inch of handrails from shore to shore.

Love Locks (1 of 4)
 

Lovers attach the locks and cast the keys into the Seine as a sign of their undying affection and commitment.

Or perhaps is just affection ….. perhaps commitment is optional or limited to ‘for the  time being’.  That’s one explanation for the increasing number of combination locks that are being used …. You know …. Just in case the lock needs to be removed at some future date.  An escape hatch. A back door. The equivalent of a stenciled tattoo. 

Love Locks (3 of 4)

… you know …. as I preach in all my blogs …. always plan ahead …. Estate planning isn’t just about doing a Will.

Or perhaps, like internet passwords, the lovers imagine they’ll simply forget the code – if

Love Locks (2 of 4)their relationship lasts long enough. Perhaps they’re not thinking at all … well not about the type of padlock anyway.

Regardless the reason, it would avoid having to find a bolt cutter if the need arose.

Love Locks (4 of 4)

Visit Paris and take a padlock – if you’re not in love before you go – you may just get lucky.

Keep an eye open for more blogs from about Paris. It’s a photographers paradise.

And …. watch for my new book, being printed right now ‘Understanding Wills and Estate Planning’ it will be available in bookstores, newsagents and online in March.


Our Longest Journey

 

What does 1955 mean to you?

1955 has had an impact on all of us, regardless of our current age: the Mickey Mouse Club and Dame Edna Everage had their debut performances, Disneyland California and the first McDonalds opened … Fibre Optics, Lego and Velcro were invented … Twelve Angry Men swept the Emmy  Awards …. Albert Einstein died  – and both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were born. And of course Elvis was in full flight

Fast forward to 2015 ……. for my contemporaries we’re celebrating a landmark.  It marks a journey of 60 years toward our ultimate destiny. For some that’s a spiritual place, and others dust.

It’s has been a year of parties where we have caught up with current friends and others past, some merely shadows at the edge of our recall.

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Like photos in a travel journal, memories are shared and reflectful thought (and perhaps liquid refreshments) cast new light on experiences long past, some best forgotten, others joyfully salvaged from dusty neurological pathways.

Loud music, dancing and the noise of banter ….. all a distraction from the enormity of the elephant in the corner.  Like contemplating the return elephant

journey after a long trip, there is much more to be enjoyed but we’ve reached a point where the journey is no longer outward bound.  We have seen more years come and go than we will see again.

Measured in time, our past has been much longer than our future will be.

So why celebrate our short future rather than mourn our travelled decades?

Having reached my 60th, my life expectancy just increased by 20%  – just by getting here!   Nothing pays a better dividend than that !

But that’s not why it’s a time to celebrate – well not the only reason – accumulated experience and a lifetime of work make this a time we can begin to at least notice the roses around us, even if we have yet to stop to smell them.

Our appreciation of each experience begins to overtake the mere fact of having had the experience. The appreciation too … of the existence of a relationship as an experience …. itself to be appreciated and savored.  Again and again, but for making the time to do so.

By other measures, the future holds rewards for which the past has merely set the scene.

Education, career ambitions, family and work commitments consume decades that pass like the vista flashes past the window of our very fast train.

train 2-2

Beauty to be beheld at every glance … but decades pass by all too quickly to absorb it all.  The rim of our mental cups fill to the brim and overflow with the vastness of a life time of events, joys, experiences and learnings … flow over and away, flow into the distance, flow toward oblivion.

It’s time to stem the flow, dam the memories before they’re damned.  Time to notice, time to capture the scent …. time ….

The Future for all of us

60 years past, fast forward by 20 and what do we see …. from today 10 years maybe 15 to exploit the opportunities of 60 years of preparation before a quieter, more sedentary existence will consume us.

There’s not a lot of time to sit around thinking about what we’ll make of this envelope of time.

If life were a recipe, we hold at hand a concentrate, an essence, we have distilled over time to enrich what we have to savour, to achieve ahead of us.

What now? … the certainty of inertia, or the uncertainty of a change ….

Reflective of my professional career, planning is central to identifying what the future can deliver

…implementation central to delivery

…procrastination the potential of an unfulfilled wandering from cradle to grave.

What do you plan to do?

No idea.

Think about it.

Who am I ?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS

If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


60 and counting. Counting down.


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When did you last have a night out that satisfied your every dream?

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I can’t remember either, but last night I came very close.

A celebration of our 60th birthdays – that is, my wife Margot’s and my birthdays.

Family, friends, good food, good wine, great dancing music and the perfect location – watching the sun set in the west across Sydney Harbour from the verandah of a community yacht club with the full moon rising over our shoulders to the east…the sound of bubbles escaping capture as they are fluted in well wishing salutes.

From each decade passed through, each stage of our life experienced, each challenge worked through, each success celebrated, each failure diluted, those present have contributed to making our lives special.  And they’re not all our vintage.  Children of friends, their partners and friends, all part of a circle that welcomes us, and shares.

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And the stories begin, individual discoveries ranging from God, travel, grandchildren and new loves through to a new golf handicap and commonly – the simplicity of de-cluttering…. garages, homes, work and minds. Expensive cars and other trappings giving way to a quest to achieve that rarest of commodities: more time.  Or rather, making the most of the time we have.

Loud conversation, louder music, food shared, the floor bouncing under the gyrations of discordant dance, stories abound and a few themes emerge… Universally, Health and friendships have become our most valued treasures.  Finding time for both our biggest challenge.

Actuaries predict our life expectancy increases by 20% if we reach the age of 60. I limped across the line and at midnight on the eve of my 60th I grasped the promise of extra time as if it where the winning ticket in a multi million dollar lottery.

10 years to do those physical things that I’ve planned for 60, thereafter a more restrictive diet of physical goals and a focus on the cerebral.

So I ask, what will I stop doing to make time for my priorities?

Good question.

When?

Another good one.

The shared camaraderie I experienced last night is a stark reminder of many shocking and comforting truths.  We are social beings.  We are capable of sharing and caring.

image

We need to spend more time doing so and the time to start doing more is now, not tomorrow.

Professionally, I deal with preparation for death. Wills and estates.  Important stuff.  Not half as important however as living life while we still can as life will pass us by, whilst death will consume us forever.

Pregnant with ideas … it’s stocktake time …. or rather, spring cleaning time … It’s time to do a list of ‘will-do’s’ not a list of ‘like-to-do’s’.

For those interested, I’ll post all the photos from the evening on Instagram sometime in the next week.

Who am I ?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS

If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


A Rock Solid Legacy

Have you visited that little known, secret hide away modestly called the Garden of Stones?

With two profession photographers from Fairfax Media, Tia McIntrye (the Clique Event Organiser), and 14 other wannabe photographers I visited the Garden of Stones last weekend.  Just 2 1/2 hours from Sydney it’s a geological wonderland on the edge of Lithgow and is at the centre of a battle between the coal industry and local conservation groups.

Natural Pagodas

Natural Pagodas

According to those with the money it is an area of no historical, geographic or other important significance ….. not much good for anything except digging up.

I don’t judge, but invite you to have a think about it.

Below are a few snaps I took in my short visit.  If you haven’t been there…… do so …. but quickly.  I’d hate you to miss it.

Keep an eye open for a photo exhibition featuring the Garden of Stones in the next few months in Sydney’s CBD – not sure where yet, possible at Customs House.

If you want to know more contact the: Colong Foungation Website

…. and then there is the future of the mine workers … where is it?  It’s certainly not with their current industry which has a used by date that’s looming fast.  What are we doing for them?  Like the Gardens of Stone,  they too need some love and protection … perhaps,  alternate job opportunities.  The alternate energy sector  is a viable option for them … oops, I forgot our Prime Minister is sun struck and has layered the industry with a thick coat of greasy sunshine screen to shield it from growth.

We all have a role to play in protecting all from extinction: The Garden of Stones, mine workers and the alternate energy sector.

I ASK:

What legacy should we leave future generations ?

The Garden of Stones0876 The Garden of Stones0846 The Garden of Stones0807 The Garden of Stones0743 The Garden of Stones0737 The Garden of Stones0708 The Garden of Stones0416WHO AM I?

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS

If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me.

Use the “Follow” link at the bottom of the column on the right to subscribe to this blog.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


Breaking my blog drought

It’s been a while … a long while since my last blog. Not for lack of things to share …  Just wait. For my regular readers, I’ll share the reason for my silence.  For new readers, I have so many “lessons” to share – helpful lessons I’ve learned that I’m confident can help you in your journey.

The Bad Ill-health, hospital, post-op prescription drug haze, medios’ neglect (and my ignorance) of the need for rehabilitation, specialists with the personality of Frank N. Furter (with none of the funside) at one extreme  – and – true carers at the other extreme….... AND then another round of the same all over again ( round two) all in a 12 month period – provides lots of fuel for interesting topics. The Ugly An immediate return to work on both occasions, no down-time to mend, the call of work commitments both real and imagined, married with my making light of the trauma ….  I camouflaged the worst from family and The Golden Door0306work colleagues …. all part of a senseless game that creates a walking, talking, self-deprecating zombi.  Present in body but elsewhere in mind and spirit. The Good Over the same period  a friend cured of cancer, others saved from the brink of financial failure and numerous other reasons to celebrate  – all good news stories that tilt the scales in favour of life being pretty good. I’ve been ploughing a fertile field of discovery for my interests in both estate planning ( in this case my own mortality) and travel (to hell and back and the people you encounter along the way) with insights into an array of good, bad and enlightening. And this week – my 60th.

The age fits me very comfortably.  NOW marks the beginning of some major changes in my life

The Golden Door0252

  • Implementing barriers: no more choking on the ‘no‘ word.  Focus has been a ‘concept’ but is now it’s a living force
  • Moving from efficient to effective use of time – no more efficient attention to needless tasks
  • Achieving goals often set, but hitherto illusive – now firmly in sight

60 years in preparation for the Jack … whose box has just been opened. I return to work next Tuesday.

That’s right, I’ve claimed Mondays for myself. Not a ‘transition’ to retirement but rather a release from the ordinary to enable time for the extraordinary.  … But for … some enforced downtime over the last 12 months I may only have achieved my goals as a lawyer over the next decade. Now I have greater ambitions. Much greater. Achieving my ambitious legal practice goals is nowThe Golden Door0273 in context, they’re just a task to achieve on the way to making a difference. It’s that difference that is my real focus, successfully achieving my current career goals notched on the wall along the way …. just a stepping stone on the journey.

It’s good to be back. Ready to laugh again. Ready to embrace.  And doing both.

Who am I ? I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your The Golden Door0257comments and tips will help all of us in our travels. Use the ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me. Use the “Follow” link at the bottom of the column on the right to subscribe to this blog.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.


Disputes over Wills – What are the main causes – Avoiding Will Disputes

A recent national survey revealed that over one third of Australians have experienced conflict over deceased estates.  Why ?  How can you minimise the risk? Read on….

The research conducted by Slater and Gordon Lawyers showed that the main causes of wills disputes are:
•  A sense that the assets were unfairly divided
•  The division of sentimental items, such as photos, letters or clothing
•  Differences of opinion around what the deceased would have wanted
•  The use of an asset such as a house
•  Unethical or unfair behaviour of the executor

The research also identified the main factors that could help minimise disputes:
•  Greater communication and clearer instructions while the person was still alive
•  A letter or video explaining their approach and reasoning
•  Those left behind adopting a less competitive approach to the distribution of assets

In my experience as an estate planning and asset protection lawyer, it is all too common for people to have Wills that do not clearly explain how and why their assets are to be divided. Uncertainly causes a great deal of added strain and stress on grieving family members …… what did s/he really mean is a question that resonates round the heads of those remaining behind, and the answers then to err on the negative.

Thank you to the copyright owner - home truths in a snapshot

Thank you to the copyright owner – home truths in a snapshot

To minimise the chances of a disharmony and dispute it is paramount that people clearly articulate in their wills how their assets are to be divided and communicate the reasons why to the family.  The earlier the better.  Sometimes a letter to the executor explaining their wishes can be very helpful.

The single most important thing is to avoid ‘surprises’ and ‘misunderstandings’ that arise when you have passed away.

Identify potential areas of dispute before you pass away, and address them yourself.   Communicate, communicate, communicate – before you pass away.  Don’t let your will be a grenade that you lob amongst your family from the other side.

Have individual meetings or even family meetings to explain yourself.  Just think – if you can’t resolve them when you are there to manage expectations, how do you think your family will resolve issues when you aren’t around? It’s not difficult to imagine what will occur.
Leave behind fond memories.   Don’t let your legacy be a family feud you created.

Have your will reviewed every three to five years to ensure it is current; and keep in mind that changed financial circumstances such as the acquisition or sale of an asset, births, deaths, marriages and divorces are just a few of the events that may require a will to be reviewed.

I’m a specialist estate planning lawyer + professional traveller + keen photographer + political observer. I like to share my experiences across all four devotions – often as a mixed lot. If you like this blog please subscribe for more.

 

I INVITE YOUR COMMENTS

If you have any comments about this blog or tips to add to this blog please do so – your comments and tips will help all of us in our travels.

Use the ‘leave a comment’ link at the top right hand side of the blog (above my photo) to send a message to me.

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Disclaimer: this blog is of a general nature for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should seek specific help for their specific circumstances.