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Showing posts from June, 2017

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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

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IT WAS A TIME OF TANS, BLONDS AND HOT PANTS, WHEN THE ENDLESS SUMMER WAS JUST A SHORT WALK DOWN A HOT SIDEWALK
Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.


Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

Home: Returning to Richmond

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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…

Dreaming of France: 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…

Dreaming of France: 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…

Bandol Revisited #DreamingofFrance

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I make a practice of walking down memory lane, frequently posting memoir pieces about the good old days. I'm mostly unapologetic about traveling back in time. What's the point of creating a life full of memories if remembering them gets you accused of living in the past?

Regular readers may know some of those treks were to a small coastal village in the south of France. I first visited Bandol, between Toulon and Marseille, in 1973. I was twenty, on my first trip abroad, and swept completely off my feet by pretty boats bobbing in the harbor, sidewalk cafes, a soft sandy beach and a French boy with a charming accent and a swoop of dark hair across his forehead.

You can read 'em if you want, my nostalgic bits and pieces, but the point of today's post (I'm getting there) is that my husband and I revisited Bandol while traveling in Europe last month. We spent a week on the Cote d'Azur and a couple of days in Bandol for my 64th birthday because my husband knew how dear…

Above Ground on the London Underground: Brompton Cemetery via Earl's Court Station

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If you've been following me for awhile, you know I've been fantasizing about a trip to England for ages. In fact for the past year or so I've been posting a virtual tour of London under the heading Above Ground on the London Underground. My husband and I finally took that trip to London 'in real life' and now I'm back after a month long journey which began in early May. We were in the air flying home when the London Bridge attack took place, we landed in L.A. to worried texts from family. My heart goes out to Londoners and no, the threat of a terrorist attack wouldn't stop me from visiting one of the greatest cities in the world. đź’” This week I've got a few pictures from our visit to the Brompton Cemetery in Kensington. One of London's Magnificent Seven, I also visited Brompton Cemetery on one of our virtual walks back in March of 2016 if you want to take a peek.
I can so imagine living in London ... except the town wasn't particularly kind with th…