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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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: 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

Travel theme: four

Ailsa from ‘Where’s my backpack‘ has chosen a travel theme inspired by St Patrick’s Day and the luck of the Irish this week. I have no photos of the elusive four leaf clover lucky charm however I hope you’ll enjoy my selection of ‘Four’ themed images regardless.

Four artists in Crail, Scotland
Four artists in Crail, Scotland
Four numbers featuring the number 4
Four archways, home to Venice emergency services
Four more of Venetian arches on the canal
Four corinthian columns in the Borghese Gardens, Rome
Four gnomes in Paris
Rugged up and exploring Berlin

My 11 year old self’s bucket list

This post was inspired by Nathaniel Boyle’s interview with Robert Reid, episode 152 on Nathaniel’s travel podcast, The Travelers. Robert Reid is currently National Geographic’s Digital Nomad and during his interview he talks about travel, why and how people travel, what they’re naturally drawn to and what his bucket list might have looked like as an 11 year old. The interview caused me to ponder the things that would have been on my 11 year old self’s bucket list and whether they have influenced my interests and travel preferences.

tent in the backyardA tent for Christmas! My brother and I set for camping in the backyard.

Sam’s 11 year old self’s bucket list

I wanted to be a vet or a flight attendant, sadly I was not academically suited to being a vet and being a flight attendant required at least one language in the eighties and a more outgoing personality. Although I achieved neither of these career goals, volunteering at a shelter  and working with dogs feeds my soul and provides me with great joy and satisfaction. What I loved about the idea of working as a flight attendant was the travel, seeing and exploring the world. As children my brother and I were always exploring the countryside with friends, on foot or on horse back. When I got a tent for Christmas we camped in the backyard, except for the lack of proper toilet facilities I used to love camping. As an adult travel is still important to me, even though I don’t travel overseas as often as I would like. Taking a day or a weekend to visit local areas of interest, travelling interstate for a long weekend and taking the occasional overseas trip helps to satiate my hunger (just) for travel and adventure.

At school and at home we watched historical dramas and documentaries on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) many of which focused on British history, the unearthing of the ancient ruins of Pompeii and mysterious deaths of explorers. To this day I still love to watch programs that dig deep into the history of Roman and British history. Visiting Europe and the UK in 1999 was my first opportunity to wander the ruins of Pompeii and it was mind blowing. To be standing in a forum that was bustling with activity almost 2000 years ago and look up to see Mt Vesuvius, the volcano that ended it all, was a dream come true. Wandering ancient streets, imagining how people lived and what the cities looked like fascinates me. When I travel, I like to explore and understand what it is I am seeing and experiencing. Hubby loves to sit at a cafe and people watch or wander aimlessly but for me, the excitement is in discovering the places and things that I have seen in art books and documentaries or read about (a long time ago) in history class.

Ancient road of Pompeii
Ancient road of Pompeii

Save the whales! Save our koalas! Save the baby fur seals! They were things I was passionate about as a child and nothing much has changed. My childhood was spent in the country, living on dairy farms, visiting stables, riding my horse Rio through the bush and herding sheep on horseback in New Zealand. I cried every time one of my pets died and watching movies like Lassie Come Home and the Yearling always brought tears to my eyes. Now I choose not to watch those movies, and I will stop to help an animal in distress or seemingly lost. During a recent heatwave I left containers of water out for the birds and wildlife and made sure the bird bath was always full. I don’t understand how our government can ignore the plight of our native wildlife and I cannot support politicians that believe climate change to be a furphy. On my adult bucket list are trips to Antartica, Patagonia and Alaska, I want to stand and stare in awe of those places before they are destroyed and before we lose the beautiful creatures that inhabit that environment. Funnily enough, I am not a vegetarian even though I probably should be given my love for animals of all shapes and sizes.

Art and photography, drawing and taking pictures. I cannot remember a time when I did not want do either. A collapse in confidence saw me take a break in drawing and painting for a couple of years yet the desire still burned within. My sketch books were full of horses and princesses, I loved drawing beautiful things and still do. The photos I took were numerous, my Mum was horrified at paying for a roll of film to be developed only to find that there were umpteen photos of my friend’s kittens. Very few of them were in focus. My camera always goes with me when I travel, capturing colour and light is what appeals to me most and as with my drawing, beautiful subjects always get my attention. Once I am home my photos provide me with an extensive source of inspiration for my art, pastel illustrations of Venice, Tuscany and Sorrento are stacked in my office and this year Scotland will feature as I recreate the memories of my 2016 holiday in Fife and the Highlands.

Sunlight on a foggy morning
Sunlight on a foggy morning

For the most part, I have stayed true to my passions with the exception of my current career path. Whilst I am not working in an area that is related to any of my interests, my job does enable and afford me the luxury of pursuing them in my spare time. Would my 11 year old self be happy with my life choices? For the most part I think yes, but she would probably be disappointed that I don’t go camping anymore.

Wordless Wednesday: window dressing

Window display while cruising the canals of Venice
No washing hanging from these windows in Venice

Wordless Wednesday: sunset departure

Boat at sunset Gardenstown
Pink sky at night sailors delight, Gardenstown Scotland