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Dreaming of France: Paris doors

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There's something about Paris. #ilovedoors#doors#doorsandwindows#doorsofinstagramhttps://t.co/Qz3uiQU1us — Chapter1-Take1 (@simcarter) July 24, 2017
I don't know why but even with the ugliness on the left side of the image, there really is something beautiful about French doors. Amateur photogs like me try and capture the feeling on our iPhones, posting our images on our Instagram feeds but there's a world of amazing photographers who really know how to put the magic of Parisian doors in a picture. Luckily for those of us who can't get to Paris as often as others, they share their stunning images online and in gorgeous books that have us drooling. 

One of my favorites


Doors of Paris: A Photo Essay
Photographer Rebecca Plotnick has some stunning doors on her blog.


Do you share my love of doors, especially French doors? 
There are instagram accounts devoted to nothing but doors. Just plug in #doors and see what comes up. While I'm equally obsessed with doors I'm not…

Baker Street Station—Sherlock Holmes was there

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Baker Street Station The main thing my husband wanted to see in London was London ... as Sherlock Holmes saw it. So our first move, like any fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation was to take a double decker bus to Baker Street. As it turns out I read the map upside down or sideways or maybe it was backwards but we found ourselves in Putney at the bridge. Very much in the wrong direction. Over half an hour by car, which we didn't have. We wound up taking the tube back in the right direction which delivered us to the Baker Street Station. The station is one of the original stations opened when the Metropolitan Railway—the world's first underground railway—was built in 1863.  While we don't immediately think of Sherlock dashing out on the tube, he very well could have and in fact the rail, train etc is alluded to in several dozen Sherlock stories.

The Baker Street station is situated on the very block where Sherlock lived at 221B Baker Street. Or should I say the fict…

Dreaming of France: Evening in Paris

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When we were in Paris this past May we stayed in the Saint Germain des Pris at the weirdly named Welcome Hotel. Despite the generic moniker—which to my mind sounds like a youth hostel with cots, bathrooms in the hall and community rooms with pingpong tables and tvs—the hotel was charming, clean & comfortable. 

It was small but super affordable and in an fantastic location, just a couple of blocks from Les Deux Magots, Cafe Flore and Brasserie Lipp, the places Hemingway and all the other expatriot glitteratis hung out, along with artists like Picasso and intellectuals like Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Bouvoir and Camus. John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein. All the folks we saw in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.

We could have taken the metro which was also just two blocks from our hotel but since we were a ten minute walk from the Seine, we decided to spend our first night taking a nice long walk along the river, all the way to the Eiffel Tower. It took about an h…

That Thing We Did: We’re ready for our close-up, Mr. Hanks

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My boy and me on the set of That Thing You Do with Tom Everett Scott, 1995





“What size?” the wardrobe assistant asked, rifling through a garment rack full of pointy white cotton bras and silky slips, a measuring tape hanging from her neck. I was suddenly acutely aware of the line of women behind me, waiting to pick up their own period-perfect brassieres for the filming of Tom Hank’s directorial debut, That Thing You Do. I briefly debated tying that tape tightly around the wardrobe woman’s neck.

“34?” It came out as barely a squeak. Even with the additional plumpness that comes with motherhood, my breasts would never be called knockers.

She gave me a quick glance, and without asking my cup size, handed me something white and institutional looking — they were all white and institutional looking—the kind of serviceable bra I would have worn myself when I was a teenager in the sixties. 

“I don’t want to wear someone else’s bra. Can’t we just wear our own stuff?” a young brunette behind me in l…

Happy Fourth of July! [Joyeux Jour de l'Indépendance???]

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It was May 27th. It wasn't Bastille Day—that French fete is coming up on July 14th. It wasn't the national Fete de Musique, that happens on June 21st. And it definitely wasn't the fourth of July. Still, for some reason, on May 27th, our last night in the small beach community of Saint Raphael, the town was putting on a feu d'artifices to rival any Independence Day celebration.



My hubby Mark and I had enjoyed one last day down on the sandy beach, taking a couple of quick dunks in the mediterranean and then strolled back along the promenade, looking once more for souvenirs from the south of France. 


We stopped at Spar, the small convenience store where we found ourselves shopping every day for sunscreen and shampoo, beach mats and beer. We picked up one more package of the sesame seed biscuits we'd grown incredibly fond of over the last few days for the road. My husband had his little chat with the pretty young blonde cashier who complimented him on his French. Really …

Home

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It's the strangest thing. 

When we landed at Gatwick Airport, I proudly went through the line labeled for those arriving passengers bearing passports from the U.K. or the EU, while my American husband went through the much longer 'all the rest of you suckers' line. My little old British-born heart felt all funny, swollen with British pride. I held my maroon colored passport with the royal insignia conspicuously facing out so that it showed, so there would be no mistake. I wasn't from France, Spain, Germany or any of those other EU countries. I was from the UK. Ignore my American accent. I was English. A True Brit. 

When it was my turn to approach the counter, practically waving my passport in the air, I got a ridiculous lump in my throat. 

"I haven't been here since 1989." I told the official, getting all blubbery. "Thirty years! I was born here, but I haven't been back in almost 30 years!" I added needlessly and surely overstaying my welcome.

H…

Wedding Photos, Parisian-style

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The day we went to see Notre Dame the line was on the longish side so I left my husband to hold our places while I snooped around a bit. He's lovely that way, letting me wander off to see if I spot anything interesting to snap.
I found a bride and groom in a semi-quiet spot on the grounds, conferring with their photographer, his assistant holding a reflective aid (a bounce) in the background. Mid-May, the temperature in Paris was hovering in the low 60's and I wondered if the bride was cold in her frothy white strapless gown.
I watched from a discreet distance while the pair posed for the next shot, the pigeons pecking at the ground around them. She was probably too happy and excited to feel the chill. 
 A pretty picture for the photo album, especially with the way her dress sweeps off to the side but the couple seemed hesitant and I got the idea they were in transition. Something else was coming.
Suddenly they were holding hands and running right into the flock of birds, sending …

Above Ground on the London Underground: Embankment Station AKA What is this thing I love?

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It's not much to look at, the Embankment Underground Station but as we headed out from the station, on our way to Trafalgar Square we saw an extraordinary piece of architecture. On the left of the passage between the Embankment Underground Station and Charing Cross Railway Station, an ultra-modern building completely out of synch with the rest of its surroundings.

I love the two large round windows, set like a pair of eyes. This looks like a toy for a giant. I want to spin the center bit!
What is it????
The problem is, I don't know exactly what it is! My camera identifies the building as 34-36 Villiers Street but those readings aren't always exact, are they? When I look the address up, searching for info about the building—who designed it, when it was built, what is it—I come away basically empty handed. It's next door to The Arches Shopping Plaza, it could be part of the complex or it could be part of the Charing Cross Railway Station. Or something else entirely? Have you g…

Cruisin’ It : Meeting Tom Cruise

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Updated 6/22/2017
Originally published 9/8/16 
I've just read an excerpt from actor Curtis Armstrong's new autobiography. Armstrong is probably best remembered for his work on Moonlighting but he also worked with Tom Cruise on Risky Business. The chapter "My Summer with Tom Cruise" is fun reading if you like reading about stars before they were stars. It reminded me I have a Tom Cruise story to tell, albeit a tiny one, but since it's #ThrowbackThursday, I'm indulging myself.


Call me crazy but I'm a Tom Cruise fan. I'm not cuckoo about him, I don't have a fan page or anything so extreme but I tend to like his movies. He's got charisma, a ton of onscreen charm; I loved the first Jack Reacher adaptation and I'm actually excited about the next one coming out at the end of October. I gave his movie The Edge of Tomorrowa glowing review on my book-to-movie site. He is after all, despite—or some might say, because of — his association with Scientolog…

The Paris Metro: It's a work out

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One thing we noticed while we were in France last month; there are an awful lot of fit people in Paris. An awful lot of fit and trim, sexy and slim, attractive people. 


Casting Call: Slim, attractive French types please line up
I blame it on the Metro. My theory is that all the walking to and from the metro, and especially going up and down the stairs of the Paris Metro system has something to do with it. You see, there are very few elevators and escalators. 



The first metro line was opened in 1900 during the Paris World's Fair at a time when no one really thought about elevators. While the system is not so good in terms of its accessibility to the disabled, it's a built-in exercise regime for everyone else. 



By everyone else, I mean the 4 million plus people who use the Paris metro every day! Parisians walk from work or home to and from the metro, rush up and down those stairs, hurry along the sometimes long and winding passages. I say it must be part of what keeps them all looki…

Above Ground on the London Underground: A half a mile & a world away from Grenfell Towers

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What a difference a few blocks make.
Another heartbreaking week for England, and Londoners in particular. Watching BBC World News while the 24 story Grenfell apartment building went up in flames was horrifying. Thinking about all the people, families with children fast asleep in their beds as the fire consumed the tower, floor by floor, heart-wrenching for all. Reading the tweets put out by a hateful few, immediately blaming terrorists, was sickening, disturbing and depressing. 
Elgin Crescent is just a few blocks away from Grenfell Tower
As I prepare this post, there are 30 confirmed deaths and many, many people still missing. The death toll will surely rise—some say as high as 100—but it's clear the cause is not terrorism, but negligence on the part of the council's building management that is to blame. The building, situated in an otherwise fairly affluent area, is council housing, flats allocated for the unemployed and underemployed. 

Nehru, India's 1st prime minister live…