Photographs by Elizabeth, unless otherwise stated. Do not reproduce without permission, please.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

French bulldog with Attitude

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak Rachel Zoe
I don't do fashion. I am fashion. Coco Chanel
The best thing about a man is his dog. 
French proverb 

Life is an attitude ………….
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Friday, 16 September 2016

Autumn in France - a new experience


1 September. North-east France
From my bed, the morning sky is noticeably different – nature has removed the familiar, saturated hues from the sky. Dull, white and grey clouds fuse together to obliterate the insipid blue backdrop.  There’s a "nip in the air": a different coldness to that of a cool summer’s day. It appears that while I was sleeping, a deity has flicked the weather-switch from “l'été”  to “l'automne”. 
The hollow sounds of my foot steps on the stairs linger a little longer than usual as I descend the wooden 
spiral to commence my daily routine: open shutters; a cup of tea; bathroom rituals; boulangerie; a croissant and coffee on the terrace. 

But today I falter as the tatty, internal shutters of the sitting room are flung aside: familiar village roof tops are revealed, but strikingly with unfamiliar thin wisps of smoke hanging above their chimney stacks. No movement - just perfectly still. 
Something else is awry – the feathered acrobats that keep us entertained each morning and evening are missing. Squinting, I can just make out their motionless silhouettes across the valley – a row of small dots along the spine of the church roof. 
Opening the terrace door I investigate further: no familiar morning kiss from a timid dawn breeze.  The air is paralysed - devoid of any movement or sound; its chill has mingled with the herbaceous scents of damp foliage, proclaiming “summer’s over”.  I stand transfixed by the canvas before me. Such a dramatic change. So sudden. So unfamiliar. The motionless smoke continues to play statues. I stare, “perhaps I’ll catch it out?” I stare further.  No. 
Time stops. I feel at one with the world; utterly content; incredibly grateful.
..................my first autumn in France.

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Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Melbourne’s Autumn brings Back a French Summer



The start of autumn this week has seen the return of summer heat to Melbourne, with skies and light reminiscent of our summers in north-east France. A recent discussion during dinner had us recalling the first July we spent at our house in France - an unforgettable event.

Late July: our first French Summer

Plaster dust, spider webs – old and new, airborne grime generated by decades of neglect, and reconstituted glue from soggy pieces of wallpaper, manage to amalgamate with perspiration generated by the summer heat, to form a sticky coating on our skin.

Empty glasses and water bottles litter the deep, buckled windowsill. Actions are laboured, but spurred on by the limited time available to renovate this minuscule room – a task that appeared to be straight forward and quick, but is now proving otherwise.

There is no movement in the village. Lunchtime has extended into a siesta as patches of bitumen on the road start to resemble tacky molasses. Charlie and Kenzo, our neighbour’s cats, lie splayed in the cool under the lone conifer that stands like a sentinel to the cluster of houses in our ancient ruelle (lane).

Unexpectedly the faint sounds of plodding hooves pierce the silence, echoing as they rise from the street that sits in the valley below. Inquisitively I poke my head out of the second storey window while straddling its sill – a precarious move.  Nothing new in the landscape to report.

As the sounds grow louder, the shouting of children becomes faintly audible. Peering left through the breaks in the tree-tops, I get a brief glimpse of the scene below just before a parade of tired, hot bodies becomes fully visible.

A young boy, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, leads a pony on a slackened reign. Like his 2 friends trailing him, he’s abandoned his saddle. A fourth pony, head drooping and strapped into a cart harness, slowly edges into the picture.
The poor animal is pulling a tatty canvas covered wagon, reminiscent of those of the Wild West, albeit smaller and in proportion to the creature’s size. 

My pity for this equine slave soon gives way to warm amusement as the rear of the cart and source of the high pitched voices, come into view. Pushing the wooden structure up the road’s steep incline, and almost parallel to the ground themselves, are 2 small lads, shirtless and gasping for breath amidst their encouraging shouts to their hoofed companion up front..........The doors to my childhood memories are prised gently open.

My husband now joins me at the window.  “How stupid to be riding in this heat, but what a great adventure” I mutter. “Oh to be young again.” “ But we are young, and a touch foolish – look what we’re doing!” he chortles as he deposits a sticky kiss on my damp, grime-encrusted face......
Life alters quickly when one’s perspective changes!

One clean and painted room - small, but mighty significant
for us.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Hidden Secretes: Weekend Reflections


Reflections appear as ghostly figures in the Majorca windows. This building is an art deco treasure found in Centre Place - one of the City's iconic laneways.

Beneath wall to wall awnings and umbrellas, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, buzz of chatter and tinkling of table utensils embrace you like an old friend  as you turn into petite Degraves Street. Welcome to Mebourne's laneway and arcade culture.

Designer apparel, homewares, distinctive gifts, cobblers, dress makers, vintage whatever, fabulous coffee  and food, artisinal chocolate, pastries and cakes street art and  performers - whatever your fancy, it can be found in one of Melbourne's iconic lanes or arcades.
Graffiti takes many forms.
There is always a queue down the arcade waiting patiently for a table in the renown Hopetoun Tea Rooms - the meeting place for generations of Melbourne women in the Block Arcade.
























The city's CBD consists of a rectangular grid of wide streets - the most well known to visitors being Swanson, Flinders , Collins and Bourke Streets. Parallel to these is a series of narrow streets, aptly named Little Collins Street, Little Bourke Street and so on. Interconnecting theses thoroughfares, broad and narrow, are  laneways and arcades with their own distinctive architecture and culture - often referred to as Melbourne's hidden secretes. One can take a formal tour with a specific focus  or just amble along on their own voyage of discovery.

Royal Arcade
The mythical figures of Gog and Magog stand guard over the clock in Royal Arcade. 


The roof of Melbourne Central


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Paris Shopping - Rue du Bac

Streetscape reflections in the Deyrolle window.
Mention spending time in the city of light and most peoples’ hearts give a little flutter. I'm no different.  Despite the changing list of places to visit that is always packed into my luggage, I've found one of the greatest joys of staying in Paris is aimlessly strolling its streets to discovery the Paris that speaks to me. Rue du Bac is one such place.  If you are not familiar with this narrow street and its neighbourhood, I commend you to undertake your own voyage of discovery.

Sylvie Thiriez, the distinctively unique Deyrolle and the original La Pâtisserie des Rêves are 3 places to which I always return. Endless hours have also been spent perusing, the specialist antique stores that are clustered in the surrounding streets.

Climbing the stairs at Deyrolle for the first time is like walking through the wardrobe and finding Narnia. Established in 1831, a visit here can be is an education in itself – and a wonderful place to purchase a distinctive gift. Don't be fooled by the appearance of the ground floor - the magic of "the strangest shop in all of Paris" lies above. 
Courtesy of  La Pâtisserie des Rêves 
La Pâtisserie des Rêves is the creative amalgamation of culinary art and theatre: no place for those who can't resist temptation.

When "high quality" is synomous with creativity, precision, superb materials and techniques steeped in tradition, then the textiles of SylvieThiriez are of the highest quality.  I never leave Paris without making a Sylvie Thiriez purchase - a one stop gift shop for family presents as well as the occasional present for myself.
Stroll down Rue du Bac with Ines de la Fressange while she shops for gifts.....

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions & Bad Habits

The promise of a new year is accompanied by self-reflection and much optimism.

In attempt to avoid letting myself down, I make only a few  simple resolutions. For me, success is a better motivator than failure.


Regrettably, the last 2 years have seen every resolution I've made fail – not healthy for one’s self-esteem. Consequently, my new year's resolution list has grown, out of necessity.  It involves both forming new habits and ridding myself of some recently acquired bad habits, and unfortunately I've developed quite a few of these over the last 18 months. ........ sleep deprivation, indulging in too much chocolate and French pastries, neglecting to exercise, allowing clutter to invade my study, abandoning the pursuits that make my heart sing ........the list goes on. 

One week of the New Year has now passed and I’m happy to report that I’m on track with my resolutions for 2015 ……….. just 51 weeks to go!

Wishing you every success in fulfilling your New Year's resolutions.





Can't help myself , bad habits
Well I'm running wild, lost control
And it's a shame to see
That a girl like me
Has got so many, bad habits
Well I'm off the rails
My resistence fails, tempations got
A hold on me
And I can't refuse
Because I always lose
Can't help myself
Bad habits
Well it just ain't right
That it's something I can't fight
I can't stop going out and having spending fun.......(Christmas sales can be a curse)
Well I tried to be good,
But I knew I never could
Cause i've got more bad habits than anyone
When I get the urge
I just got to splurge ....... (France, books, gardening and technology - if only I could master it)
I'm a slave to all my desires
Well I'm in a mess
Because i can't repress all of these
Bad habits
Can't help myself
Bad Habits
Well I'm running wild ....... (relatively speaking, for a Capricorn who likes being in control)
Lost control
And it's a shame to see
That a girl like me
Has so many bad habits
Well it just ain't right
It's something I can't fight
I can't stop going out being distracted and having fun
Well I tried to be good
But I knew I never could
Cause i've got more bad habits
Than anyone
When I get the urge
I just got to splurge
I'm a slave to all my desires .......(cheese, chocolate and champagne is on the desires list during the festive season)
Well I'm in a mess
Because i can't repress all of these
Bad habits

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Joyeux Noël et une très bonne année 2015. 

Que cette année vous apporte, à vous et à votre famille, bonheur et prospérité.

Royal Arcade, Melbourne

Merry Christmas 

and 

best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2015.

                                  


Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Message of Peace and Hope


The message of peace and hope can be found in unexpected places.

This week, 17 of my fellow countrymen have been held hostage in the Lindt cafe in Sydney, with 2 of them being killed during the final minutes of the siege. Unimaginable. Sickening. 
The gamut of emotions across the faces of those who have laid flowers at a make shift memorial outside the cafe is heart-wrenching - especially those of the family members of the deceased. An act like this tears at the heart of a community and can catalyse irrational responses. Concerns were expressed of the possibility of racial riots like those experienced in Cronulla, 2005; the first, and hopefully the last in beautiful, multicultural Australia.

Instead of this week's tragic event fuelling fear and hatred within the community, it has galvanised people of all faiths, backgrounds and heritages to come together to support each other, pray and offer the family of the victims their condolences and blessings. Truly heart-warming signs of peace, understanding and hope for the future............a reflection of the Christmas message.






Monday, 8 December 2014

Holding On When You Want to Let Go.


If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. Lao Tzu

There has been a prolonged silence from Eiffel tells – nothing said since  mid September.
Dreaming of more of this and ...............

Pourqui you ask? A lot of self-reflection and soul searching has been going on here.

Too many years of multi-tasking and angst have taken their toll...... Then there is my newly acquired tinnitus as well as a few other body parts that no longer function properly, creating daily tests for my patience; nothing life threatening, but niggling enough to make me review where I am and where I would like to be at this stage of my life. 

Definitely time for a change of direction. 

After much thought, and unsolicited advice from friends who have already trodden similar paths, I've decided the best course of action would be to change from full time employment to part time, and further develop the skills I need in order to “follow my passions” .

......... and this 
As a mother and wife who has had a career, I’ve put the interests and needs of those whom I love, my friends and my employer first, leaving very little time or emotional energy for myself. Now it’s time for me – in theory, but alas not in practice.

Last month, my employer refused my request to work part time next year– an unusual response as many of my colleagues already have part-time status and most of those who applied concurrently with me to reduce their hours of work, were granted their requests. There has been no explanation for my application being refused. A compromise appears to be feasible, but it’s not to be an option – for me. I have been with my current employer for 25 years.

I haven’t the courage to resign, and to be honest, I’m not sure if it’s feasible and will not know for quite some months. What would you do if you were me – cautious, and nearing the end of your professional life with a burning desire to change direction, but lacking the knowledge or confidence to do so?


Yes, I know I am fortunate to have such a dilemma, but I am no ‘spring chicken’ and the other hens of my age have already flown the coop. It’s lonely being the oldest chicken on my perch and I’m being sapped of energy just by trying to hold on to the damn thing.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Une Célébration



Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories. Miller Williams

The faint sound of car horns constantly tooting is unfamiliar. Perhaps the gendarmes or pompiers alerting the traffic to make way? The cacophony grows louder before its source is revealed.  

Unexpectedly, a Citroen 2CV cabriolet, festooned in bows, appears around the 
corner of la grande rue. Its windows open and roof folded down, defying the intermittent rain. The female passenger is frantically waving to the empty street, while her male driver has his right hand simultaneously on the steering wheel and horn while making large circular motions with his left arm. Following closely behind the Citroen is a long procession of horn blowing vehicles, each with a bow and occupants who are whooping, cheering or waving. Obviously a celebration.  



The motorcade winds through the village, past the church then down Rue Jean Brugnon while, from our vantage point in the boulangerie, Mr R estimates its length - at least 1.5 kilometres. The noise trails off into the distance long after the last car disappears, leaving us to guess the reason for ces festivités. "C'est une célébration de mariage, bien sûr," explains our neighbour a few days later.


This is the France we want to experience - away from the tourist hot-spots, hotels and charms of Paris. The reason for buying My French Folly. It's the people and rhythm of daily life in les petites villages and countryside that we find truly enchanting.


Marriage brings one into fatal connection with custom and tradition, and traditions and customs are like the wind and the weather, altogether incalculable. Soren Kierkegaard