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Showing posts from August, 2015

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Dreaming of France: 29 Avenue Rapp

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Scrolling through my Instagram& finding this image, I’m surprised I haven’t shared this particular French door for Dreaming of France before. 29 Avenue Rapp boasts what might be the most famous door in Paris. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful.



Designed by Jules Lavirotte in 1901 it’s a striking example of Art Nouveau architecture and features the very risque sculpted Adam and Eve above the door. I first saw the building in the movie Gigi as the building where Gigi's Aunt Alicia lives and where Gigi goes for her lessons in how to catch the right man. Preferably someone rich like Gaston.

Naturally when Mark and I visited Paris, we had to pay the building a visit. What struck us about 29 Avenue Rapp was how many people just walk on by, as if were nothing special, just another old stone edifice, the door, just another entry. I think even if I lived on the block, even if I saw the building and its door every single day, I would still have to pause and take it in. Not a whole …

Le Kiss [memoir]

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Last week I shared this blast from my past about a trip I took to the south of France in the 70’s. Here, at the risk of boring you, without further adieu, below is part deux. Or listen to The Walk & The Kiss, together, on the podcast.



Le Kiss
aka le petite baiser

It wasn’t a big kiss, not a French kiss, not even a kiss on the lips. It was just a quick peck on the cheek, a squeeze of the hand but I felt like a twelve year old getting kissed for the first time behind the big tree out on the schoolyard. I kept my eyes on the road ahead, silvery in the dark night, and tried to keep my smile from bursting out of my body, as we kept walking along that long country lane in the south of France, heading to a dance. 

Up ahead, a girl was sitting on a large rock by the side of the road. She’d taken her shoes off and was rubbing her feet while the guy she was with, peered at a map in the moonlight. He all but scratched his head.

The girl waved a shoe at us as we approached.
“Excuse-moi!”She proceed…

Preston, North of England Way

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My dad could always make us kids laugh when he put on a Liverpudlian accent, pretending to be one of the Beatles. While Liverpool was only forty odd miles to the south of his home town of Preston, Lancs, the Liverpool dialect was slightly different from the way he grew up speaking. These days they know Liverpudlian as 'scouse', a dialect influenced by the Scandanavian as well as Irish and Scots influx of workers via the Liverpool seaport. My dad didn't have that terminology; he just called it 'thick'. Thick it is, almost like you've got a cold or something nasty stuck in your throat. 

He had left home at seventeen, left England even, escaped to Egypt. Time and distance, and a bit of a determined effort on his part to sound more cosmopolitan, had softened the way he spoke, erased his broad north country accent, replaced it with something more elegantly BBC-ish British. 

Now, our dad warned in a long-distance phone call, when my sister and I, at sixteen and twenty …

New look, same old me

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Camille Pissarro, Les chataigniers a Osny (The Chestnut Trees at Osny), 1873
I'm changing up the look of my blog again. I knew my old design, which wasn't really old at all as I'd switched up the format just a few months ago, wouldn't last. I know myself. I get itchy, restless. Some women change their hair color. Others go shopping for a new pair of shoes. Me, when I get twitchy like this, I usually think about moving. Over the past month I've found myself looking in the windows of a vacant property I pass on my morning walk. I love the layout, the light that puddles across the hardwood floor, the glimpse of the stairway that disappears to who knows where. I go round back, peer in through the slats of the blinds at the patio door. The pull is nearly irresistible. But that fantasy won't fly. We can't move again. We simply can't. We've moved so many times, mostly when I get that itch. My husband would almost certainly—and rightfully—divorce me. 

Instea…

Ticket to Ride [memoir]

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It had been donkey's years since I'd seen my grandmother and my Uncle Robin. That's how my mother put it. Donkey's years. Still, she said, they'd love to put me up for a couple of weeks while I took a look round London. I was twenty, it was 1973, and I was itching to begin my grand and adventurous tour of Europe so I wasn't thrilled to be spending part of my summer visiting antique relatives. I had to admit though, my Uncle Rob's house in Chorleywood was just a half hour train ride away from the city, it was cheaper than a hotel, a B&B, or even a hostel, so it did make for a pretty decent base for my day trips. Then I was going to take off for the continent and have a real adventure. Despite parental worries. And despite Derek. 

Derek was my old boyfriend who I was supposed to go traveling through Europe with that summer. That had been the plan. The boyfriend I broke up with when he changed that plan. I can still see the look on his face, squinting behin…