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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Dogs in Paris

No, this isn’t about the English, nor those Frenchmen who are barking mad (in fact we found the Parisians extremely friendly).

I’ll share photos of some of the fun times with the locals in future posts.

No, this is short photo collection that demonstrates the French love and tolerance of their beloved hounds.

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Brunch at Cafe Magot – one of the best in Paris

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Dinner with the family at a local restaurant

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Booties….well it is winter

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The very fast train is a hoot

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Inspecting fountains at the Royal Palace

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Puppy play-time in the gardens of the Louvre

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Wasn’t this why the Louvre was made?

Beer-O’clock

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There is an after-life for us dogs

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The French do irreverent well

 

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.


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. 

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Our street looking southward

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Our street looking north

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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.

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Grocery Store

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Shoe Designer & Maker

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His Store

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The Baguette Shop

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The North Africa Property Developer

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The Book Binder

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

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A Porcelaine Shop

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

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Deceased (modern) Musicians Residence

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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.

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.

 


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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When you finish reading my blog:-

CLICK HERE TO SEE DEMO STEP ONE

Step 2

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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.

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.


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.

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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.

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.


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.

PLEASE SHARE THIS BLOG WITH PEOPLE YOU BELIEVE MAY BE INTERESTED

VISIT OTHER BLOGS 

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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.