The blacks and whites in Paris

……. and all shades of grey in between ….

Paris and Provence  are a delight if you like black and white photography.  Any photography for that matter.  I resisted shooting plates of food – – – and stuck to eating it.

Below I share a selection of photos I took during a recent visit to Paris and Provence.

There is no rhyme or reason to the selection … more random than thoughtful. If you don’t like these I have LOTS more.

The first is a colour photo – just to let you know I did see lots of colour too – then a few with dashes of colour to ease you into the B&Ws that cover the full range from high to low contrast.

I hope you enjoy them.

VIEWING TIPS

1  if you received a copy of this post in the body of an email – don’t read the email version …. Unless you have no choice.  Click on the link to the blog website. Reason: see tip 2

2  when you view the blog on the website – double  click on the first photo and it will fill your page to full size.  The other photos should also automatically fill your page as you scroll through them.

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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.

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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. 

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… 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.

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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.


Italy, Denmark, Portugal and India in a day

When was the last time you experienced a day that was truly magic ….. beyond your wildest imaginings?

Biblical stories record that when Solomon sat on his silken carpet he sailed through the air so quickly that he breakfasted at IMG_0204Damascus and supped in Media.

Our transport last Sunday was a little more conventional (a small bus) but our ride was no less giddy than Solomon’s, or Aladdin’s for that matter.

An adventure gift from family for our 60th birthdays, Margot and I had our taste buds transmitted across four countries in as many hours .… dragging our bodies in close pursuit.

We departed Sydney CBD at 9am and minutes later we were being led up a narrow pathway between old buildings. It was hard to tell if they were in a state of demolition or restoration.

Our destination – a roller door set in a graffiti laden back lane between derelict cars and industrial skip bins.

Beyond the door …. a pristine Paesanella family ricotta factory which has been a local Italian institution in Marrickville for decades. Basket after basket of ricotta has been filled since 3am that morning, at 9.15 we catch the last few batches.

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The taste of freshly made ricotta still warm form the vat is a treat I recommend to all.

… and then to the Paesanella Café and store where Mumma Paesanella has prepared our breakfast: fresh meat ball lasagna with home made smoked buffalo mozzarella, cannoli to die for and her special cake made from marscatone and blue cheese – I could feel my arteries filling as my taste buds exploded in joy. There were lots (and lots) of other treats she’d prepared for us and (unfortunately) we couldn’t resist.

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I let out my belt a notch (or two) before arriving at our next destination: a plain unadorned doorway on a busy road with just two words ‘Blond Catering’ marking its existence.

Beyond the door, decorated Danish caterer Jesper Hansen and his kitchen … a perfect host.

Our treat?

A ‘colding’ demonstration. No cooking, but rather a demonstration on how to make the classic ancient recipe – Gravalax. The curing of salmon using salt, sugar, fennel and dill …. and then of course a tasting, and more tasting, and then more…. WOW

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I guess that was morning tea ??!

Our next port of call – ‘little India’ also know as Harris Park where 20 Indian restaurants line Wigram Street separated by Indian supermarkets, spice emporiums, sweets palaces and sari shops. Candy to treat every sense, plus some.

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We lunched at the Billu Restaurant (the first in Harris Park). You go a long way (outside India) to find authentic, quality Indian food …. not so in Harris Park … a few steps in any direction will suffice.

DSC00373-2Another belt notch …. a only walk amongst the India shops and we’re back on our chariot destined to Portugal.

Sweet Belem, a Petersham pastry store serving the local Portuguese community with the best Portuguese custard tarts in the land. Crammed in Jose Silvia’s tiny kitchen he talks us through the preparation and cooking process. Hot, very hot, busy and space deficient. It’s a buzz, the out come a treats, a REAL treat.

Preparing the pastry before an audience

Preparing the pastry before an audience

Perplexed – are these treats to die for or die from??? Either way, if you get a chance go for them.DSC00390-2

All in all a decadent day of self indulgence, the discovery of cultural enclaves in Sydney I’d never dreamed of and lots of fun with our fellow travellers.

Nutella Tarts

Nutella Tarts

Not to be out done he then produces a new novelty tart – Portuguese nutella custard tart – yep – nutella.

Not to be out done Jose then produces a new novelty tart – Portuguese Nutella custard tart – yep – Nutella.

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Thanks to our host Maeve O’Meara (of SBS fame) and her Food Safari ……. and of course a big thanks to Cate, Laura, Isaac and Simon who made it all possible for us.

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Its now back to calorie counting.

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.


Soulmated ? !

Unlike the chess equivalent, the last move makes all players a winner.

Have you visited Fiji?  Even the new luxury resorts are contagious.

Isolated from the locals by fences and a socio-economic divide that can only be measured in light years, the infection they spread is jaw-numbing.

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The symptoms begin to appear before you even exit the airport.  They grow unrestrained.

Two days into my three-day visit my jaws ache, and my heart has swollen.

It’s inevitable …. this Fijian plague …. a direct consequence of the ever-present goodwill that comes with every utterance of the local greeting: Bula, Bula and the warmth of the grin that follows.

That’s right – smiling, laughing and being continuously overwhelmed with generosity takes it toll.

All the self-imposed barriers we erect around ourselves to survive our busy lives are rapidly stripped away and we stand naked. Exposed to genuine courteous social interaction with no purpose beyond …. genuine courteous social interaction.

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Beyond the decadence of our delectable resort, we visit old friends, Suli and her husband Amos – locals we first met over a quarter of a century ago.

They remain in the same cottage in the same coastal village living life the same way as their ancestors have for as long as history records.

Their son, an international jet-setting environmental advisor returns to village life after each trip and sheds his first-world self like a snake sheds its skin …  and steps into another world he contently shares with his family and his community.

Our friends, their daughter-in-law and grandchildren host a kava ceremony to welcome us and then treat us to fish caught only hours before, cassava, spinach and banana from their garden garnished with that wonderful Fiji dish of fresh coconut milk and greens.

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Spoilt to the point of tears Margot and I savour every morsel to the sound of our friends sharing glimpses of Fijian history through song. We sit stunned,  the music hypnotising, the setting breathtaking in its simplicity, the physical and emotional generosity humbling.

Sitting on hand-woven flooring we talk hypnotising and international politics, families, the economy, climate change, the changing world that is Fiji.  Worldly people. Admirable.

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We left with gifts … unexpected and embarrassingly valuable. … unique handicraft created by Suli and presented to us to celebrate our 25 years of friendship. Pure and simple.

What we carried away however hypnotising a lot more …. a reminder of the power of human bonds, no matter how much time passes between touches.

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Their farewell serenade:

Life is a checkerboard of pieces, all part of the one game.

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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.

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.


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.

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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.

PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG WITH PEOPLE YOU BELIEVE MAY BE INTERESTED

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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

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  • 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.

PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG WITH PEOPLE YOU BELIEVE MAY BE INTERESTED

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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.


You can learn an Estate Planning lesson from Mongolian sports: EP Tip 2

Have you been lucky enough to visit Mongolia during their Nadaam Festival?

I did recently. The festival is an annual celebration  of all things dear to their hearts – their heritage – their traditions – their national pride and in particular – their national sports  and games.  

Small desert communities and large urban centers alike create a spectacle of colour and action.

…and their national sports and games….

Wrestling

Wrestling

Wrestlers can spend hours in a single tussle

Tactics over brawn…..brawn over time

It’s intense

It’s a people’s sport but Mongolian wrestlers have a history of winning Sumo championships in Japan who like defeat as much as they like Greenpeace

Tile Flicking

Tile Flicking

 

The game of Tile Flicking involves flicking a tile over  distances of about 3 meters to hit a target.

A target the size of a 5 cent piece sitting on the small stage of a miniature ‘Punch and Judy’ setting.

I kid you not.

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Archers have mere millimeters over a distance of 75 meters to set themselves apart.

I share a few more of my photos at the end of this blog.

….and of course horse racing.

The jockeys… the younger ones (6 years) race for 25 km…  the older ones (max age 14) ride for distances up to 50km in each race.  Jockeys over the age of 14 years –  don’t exist.

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Check out the race finish at the conclusion of a long distance, bare back endurance race in the photos below.

Each of these sports/games involves intense concentration, precision and endurance.

 In each of these activities the competitors have to be totally aware of what they’re doing, while they’re doing it – throughout the event.

Sound simple? – try it

….when you are listening to someone –  focus – be consciously aware that you are listening  – every moment.  Be present in the moment and don’t let the mind wander.

It’s this presence of mind that helps the Mongols extract the most from their sports and games – their daily lives.

They are aware of their thoughts as they emerge and conscious of their actions as they undertake them.  They extract the very essence out of each moment – and use it.

They don’t let their minds wander – they hold onto the moment – and make the most of it.

So how does this apply to estate planning ?

EP Tip  2:  Estate Planning requires you to review things you already know (or think you know) – focus on current and longer term needs – and identify potential problems and devise solutions to solve them.  Unless faced with an immediate worry or threat the ‘why bother’ factor dictates our lack of attention to Estate Planning.  You’re a bear waiting to put your foot in an unseen trap.

Estate planners like me can help – facilitate – act as a catalyst  –  prompt – make suggestions – but ultimately the solution is always a personal one – yours.  You bear the weight of identifying the solution that meets your personal and financial circumstances.  As they say, ‘it’s tough but someone has to do it’  – and in this instance the ball starts in your court.

It’s all too easy to get distracted. Take the time and effort to be aware of your thoughts as they emerge – you’ll find it you helps lift your level of awareness – new insights – the blinding obvious appears – where a void existed before.

If you think it’s too hard just reflect on what these photos depict …. and dive into all those issues you can’t or don’t want to deal with.

If you like this blog, follow me and share with others.

Related BlogEP Tip 1 – What the Nomads of the Gobi Desert can teach you about Estate Planning

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Some last minute tips from grand-dad

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Last moment race preparations

A two hour ride to the start line

A two hour ride to the start line

Horse Racing

24 km down and 1 km to go – just  5 of the 120 who started – the rest follow over the horizon – a dust storm

and yet more horse racing

the finish line – a bare back rider romps in

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Everyone is captivated

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Even the local wild life – every one gets involved

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Both hit the target with their tile

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Preparing the crowd for the wrestlers

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The wrestlers are presented to the crowd

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Remember EP Tip 1: Its never too early to begin

Archery

Archery

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So here’s looking at you

As you can tell, I love travel and photography and seeing how other people live.  As an Estate Planning lawyer, I love to see how people from different cultures pass on traditions to and provide for future generations.

If you can recommend any places (or cultures) I should explore on my next adventure – please share in the comments section below.

Just being alive can be an adventure and a bit of planning can help you and your loved ones m

ake every adventure one to remember !