An obsession with Paris

The Tuileries Garden in Spring
The Tuileries Garden in Spring

Perhaps it is because I have itchy feet or maybe it is a form of escapism, but I have recently become obsessed with finding and reading books featuring Paris. Although reading fiction has always been a passion of mine it is non-fiction that holds my attention at the moment, in particular memoirs, essays, and narrative history.

Currently on my bedside table is ‘Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)’ by Amy Thomas, a light and easy book to read especially if you have a sweet tooth. If you like more depth and less self-indulgence then this book is not for you. Amy works for an advertising agency and writes copy for Louis Vuitton, she loves chocolate and all things sweet and likes to make comparisons between her former life in New York and life in Paris. I have not yet finished reading it. Some of my favourite books featuring Paris that I have finished reading are:

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. A collection of 23 essays and journal entries chronicling the time he spent living in Paris with his wife and son. Paris to the Moon is a humorous portrayal of life in France, filled with personal observations and cultural commentary.

Paris Revealed by Stephen Clarke. I loved this book. Witty, informative and highly entertaining this book is a joy to read.

Joan DeJean’s book How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City. 17th Century Paris. The inclusion of illustrations from that period provides the reader with glimpses of life in Paris several hundred years ago before Haussmann stripped the city of medieval character to create the wide boulevards and squares that we recognise today.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter. I loved following John through the streets of Paris, he provides a fascinating view of parts of Paris that are not familiar to me (and there are many). Baxter refers to Hemingway and other authors frequently and after reading all the stories contained within ‘The Most Beautiful Walk in the World’ Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’ is on my must-read list.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard. A true story that started when the author met and fell in love with a French man. Each chapter is interwoven with delicious food and recipes making this a delightful read for anyone who loves food and dreams of romance in Paris.

Ann Mah’s Mastering the Art of French Eating: From Paris Bistros to Farmhouse Kitchens, Lessons in Food and Love. Journalist Ann Mah’s husband is given a diplomatic assignment in Paris, a dream come true but then her husband is called away to Iraq for a year and Ann is left alone.  To contend with her feelings of loneliness Ann decides to explore France and seek out regional dishes such as cassoulet, Boeuf Bourguignon, and crepes, delving into the history and stories behind these well-known dishes.

The Only Street in ParisLife on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino.  A tour of the author’s favourite street in Paris the Rue des Martyrs. Sciolino’s focus on this one particular street gave me a complete picture of what it must be like to live on Rue des Martyrs. I enjoyed reading her stories about the locals who lived and worked on Rue des Martyrs and the history of the buildings.

Macarons and chocolate, Paris
Macarons and chocolate, Paris

 

Early morning markets, Paris
Early morning markets, Paris
Fountain of Apollo, Versailles
Fountain of Apollo, Versailles
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Taking pleasure in the simple things

On a recent stroll around the lake I noticed a plethora of spider webs dripping in dew and sparkling in the sunlight. The delicate webs were clinging to trees, long grass and anything else that would hold those sticky strands. Each creation varied greatly in shape and size and I couldn’t help but admire them although had I walked through one I may have felt differently.

It is mornings like this that make me realise how much I love being close to nature and how the simplest things can put a smile on my face.

Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?
Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.
What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle – it’s just a web.
Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.

― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Travel theme: rain

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa at Where’s my backpack is apt. When travelling, I have a knack of attracting heavy rain either directly or indirectly to the point where my family suggested that I holiday in drought affected areas. When visiting Los Angeles in the early nineties we experienced rain that led to flash flooding, then there was heavy rain and flooding in Europe when I visited in 1999 plus several holidays to New Zealand have resulted in very soggy shoes. Nothing much has changed with rainy weather impacting on my last three holidays but I don’t mind the rain and I love the drama that rain clouds inject into a landscape.

View of Arthur's Seat from Calton Hill, Edinburgh
A rainy afternoon in Edinburgh
Heavy rain over Edinburgh
Watching the rain roll in over Edinburgh
Rainy day in Venice
A spot of colour on a rainy day in Venice
Rain clouds and a high tide, Venice
Wet feet in Venice
Gardenstown before a Spring shower of rain
Gardenstown in the Scottish Highlands

Travel theme: Earth

Today is Earth Day, a global event with a focus on building environmental and climate literacy among all the citizens of our planet. Earth Day is also the inspiration for this week’s travel theme from Where’s my backpack? and I hope my photos do it justice, most were taken here in Australia. You will notice that I have also included a few environmental facts courtesy of Alpha Environmental, they are disturbing to say the least.

Tiny Green Frog
Tiny Green Frog

Nearly a hundred species of Australian animals face extinction and 1500 land based species are considered to be threatened. Since European settlement (1777) 23 birds, 4 frogs and 27 mammal species have become extinct.

Popular swimming spot, Springbrook National Park Queensland
Popular swimming spot, Springbrook National Park Queensland

In Australia, over 80 different pesticides which have been banned around the world are still legal. These include chemicals classified as ‘highly hazardous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ by the World Health Organisation such as hormone disruptors and carcinogens.

Pelicans and birds at rest
Pelicans napping

Australia has the highest rate of greenhouse gas production per person of any affluent country in the world.

Kangaroos at dusk
Kangaroos at dusk

As a result of intensive agricultural activities, around 19,000 tonnes of phosphorus and 141,000 tonnes of nitrogen are released into Australia’s freshwater systems each year, ultimately ending up in the sea.

Glacier fed river in Mt Aspiring National Park
Glacier fed river in Mt Aspiring National Park
Gardenstown sunset
Fresh sea air and at vibrant sunset at Gardenstown in the Scottish Highlands

From year to year, environmental changes are incremental and often barely register in our lives, but from evolutionary or geological perspectives, what is happening is explosive change.

David Suzuki

Travel theme: Colour

Where’s my backpack has colour as the uplifting travel theme this week. I typically don’t wear a lot of colour but I love to see it and my artwork is often quite colourful. In order to fulfill this week’s challenge I trawled through my photos from holidays in Scotland 2016 and Europe 2015, that was fun.

Unison handmade pastels
Unison handmade pastels
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A splash of colour, Victoria Street Edinburgh
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Barrels of colour pigment at the Unison pastel factory
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Tulips in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
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Flowering gorse, Gardenstown
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Gardenstown sunset
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David comes in many colours in Florence
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Flares create colourful smoke at a protest in Paris
Colourful entree of empanadas at an Argentinian restaurant in Berlin
Colourful entree of empanadas at an Argentinian restaurant in Berlin
Venetian window display
Venetian window display