Tag Archives: Australian author

Friday in Five: Time to fly

2 Sep

Oh, Paris, it gets harder and harder to leave you – but tomorrow I’m headed home to my own beautiful place, with fresh memories to tide me over.

I’ll always have my old favourites, like dinner at Polidor, where Ernest Hemingway’s napkin still resides, and the elegant and gracious Place des Vosges, my “go-to” for reflecting, people-watching and writing. And I have to be out at least one night on the hour, to watch Madame Eiffel dispense her sparkly love over the city:

 

But this week, I was on the hunt for new discoveries and, as always, Paris didn’t disappoint!

Fans!

Who knew? I packed one in my handbag mostly just because I found it while looking for my passport and decided I should try and get some use out of it. Then I arrived in Paris and found that fans are as “right now” as they’ve ever been. At the opera, in the cathedral, on the metro. Painted, tasselled, ruffled. Featuring Mona Lisa, Montparnasse and Monet.

FanMy cheapie, picked up in Hong Kong a decade ago, got a serious workout and started to fray, so I’ve updated it with this lace beauty, handmade by the artisans of Bruges. Elegant, effective, lightweight – and not just for Paris, I’ve decided!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s dance!

Wander along the Seine on any summer evening and you’ll have to pick your way between all the picnickers enjoying a balmy twilight with their baguettes and vin rouge. But on certain nights in certain spots you might stumble upon a more romantic way to see in the sunset!

And still on the dance theme…

In a little boutique near Palais Garnier I found this gorgeous window full of used pointe shoes, with brief messages from their former owners. Such a simple display; so many dreams realised and, perhaps, broken. Ballet, mBallet shoesusic, storytelling – these were things I’d forgotten mattered, from my youngest years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tucked away in the Marais…

Wandering through almost any arrondissement in Paris you’ll find alleys and courtyards and passages – and doors! So many beautiful doors! I could dedicate a whole blogpost to the mysterious and magical doors of Paris.

PassageI’d seen plenty of ornate passages in previous visits, but tucked away in the Marais I found this beautiful, open, airy passage filled with wonderful stores. What I loved most, though, was the trailing vines which, with the soaring glass walls and ceilings, suggested a tropical haven in the middle of this most chic of cities.

 

 

 

 

 

And magnificent Magnum!

Finally, emerging from the back of the Marais and its little streets of synagogues and historical libraries of ancient artifacts and quiet, shady rose gardens, I saw the temptation to end all temptations: Paris’s divine Magnum store. My photo does it no justice, so I’ve included this link so you can view the magnificence yourself.Magnum

To be honest, with all the sequins and glitter and precious metals paraded in the shopfront windows, I was too intimidated to go in (and anyway, I was running a little late for a concert, which is a much more acceptable excuse for my gutlessness!).

I’m not a huge fan of ice-cream, and particularly not ice cream that comes in a packet on a stick, but the window displays were drool-worthy in their own right.

 

 

 

And so: some new favourites from Paris, off my usual beaten and beloved tracks. But that’s one of the things I love about this city – there are surprises and delights literally on every street, and it makes me somehow bigger and braver when I return to my Real Life.

And that’s what I’ll do tomorrow… but now I’m off to Opera Bastille for opening night of the American Ballet Theatre’s The Sleeping Beauty – and I’ll report back on that next week, if only to keep my Paris summer magic alive a little longer!

Au revoir,

Gracie x

Friday in Five: City of Rainbows

27 Aug

Paris in summer is all about colour, from temples of retail to temples of grace. These are a few of the fabulous rainbows I’ve loved this week.

What’s more quintessentially Paris than a mandala of macaroons?

I don’t like licorice, but I love the happy colours in these licorice blocks!

Late afternoon twilight sends rainbow shards across the pillars inside Sacre Coeur.

In glorious Sainte-Chapelle, Paris’s little jewel box, the rainbows cast their magic.

Centre Georges Pompidou’s rainbows march defiantly down the streets of Parisian white and grey.

Harry’s New York Bar in Paris splashes its rainbows all over its walls. (It’s the money shot!)

I fell in love with these cute and colourful hand-made African homewares… and am bringing one home with me as my souvenir of a brilliant Parisian summer.

How could a writer resist this alphabet rainbow?

Row upon row of rainbow tassels, in all sizes and shapes!

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Anthropologie in Galleries Lafayette takes a whole new approach to decorating with paint!

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I’m here for one more week in spectacular, welcoming, warm (hot! high 30s most days), beautiful Paris, and will be back next week with more Friday in Five from the City of Light.

Beaucoup amour,

Gracie x

 

Friday in Five, live from Provence 2

20 Aug

Villeneuve-les-Avignon street art 3

This week’s Friday in Five comes from the thoroughly charming village of Villeneuve-les-Avignon in Provence, where I’ve been privileged to stay while travelling through some of France’s most beautiful southern districts.

Provence is already famous for so many things: wine, food, history, culture.

For me, though, the memories are more personal.

 

 

 

IMG_2525Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, on the ‘wrong’ side of the car for the first time, I found myself dodging other cars, cyclists and surely-lunatic runners on an unspeakably narrow route all the way up Mont Ventoux, otherwise known as the Beast of Provence.

My reward? Views all the way to heaven, the realisation life can still surprise me, and… bonbons!IMG_2517

 

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Then there was Carcassonne, one of Europe’s most famed and best preserved medieval cities, overrun by tourists and sweating with late-summer fervour. Knights jousted in the tiltyard, and the charismatic and supremely knowledgeable Jean-Francois Vassal gave insights into the life of a thirteenth century knight.

But the real magic happened at dawn, before the hordes returned…
Carcassonne at dawn 2Carcassonne at dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carcassonne at dawn 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Orange, there was a Roman theatre, built early in the first century AD and survivor of Christian disapproval, Visigoths, wars, fire andencroaching housing developments. In the awe stakes, its scale was matched only by its acoustics.

Theatre Antique d'Orange 5, 10816

 

And behind the theatre, the Orange markets were rich with colour, noise, flowers, cheeses, spices, bags, garlic, and fresh truffles – another first on a trip full of firsts.

Orange market bagsOrange Market garlic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truffles from Orange, 180816

 

Finally, Avignon.

Papal palace from Villeneuve-les-AvignonRomantic city of legend and intrigue, capital city of Christendom in the Middle Ages, its immense fortress-cum-palace, the Palais des Papes, soars above its ancient walls.
On a scorching summer day, the small, private studium where successive Popes read and reflected must have been a welcome relief from both the pomp and the oppressive heat.

 

 

Tomorrow I return to Paris, City of Light, City of Love, my favourite city on this wondrous planet.

Meantime, I’d love to hear what you’re loving this week! Drop me a line or leave a comment? I’m always happy to share!

Au revoir!

Gracie x

And the winners are…

22 Jul

PackshotA huge drumroll, please, for the winners of the “Eye in the Sky” DVD competition!

Congratulations to:

Judith Maunders
Mardi Chapman
Stella McLeod

Congratulations! You should already have an email from me with details of how to collect your prize.

To those who didn’t win, my commiserations – and also my encouragement! This is such a great movie, well worth the investment, and available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. Don’t miss the chance to see it!

Thanks for reading, following and entering, and have a glorious weekend. I’ll be back next week with more Friday in Five!

Gracie x

Win “Eye in the Sky” – just need to reply!

15 Jul

PackshotSorry for the cheesy headline: I couldn’t help myself!

I’m so excited to be able to offer you the chance to win your very own copy of this year’s sleeper-thriller flick, Eye in the Sky. I have three DVD copies available to Australian readers, and all you have to do is enter a reply in the comments below.

Winners will be selected at random. I’ll keep comments private for now in case of spambots but I’ll publish the respectable comments, along with winners’ names, here on this blog next Friday, 22 July. So let your movie-loving friends know, too, because you and they have a week to enter!

Now, what’s all the fuss about?

You might recall I blogged about this little beauty a few weeks back.

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) in a scene from EYE IN THE SKY, directed by Gavin Hood. In cinemas 24 March 2016. An Entertainment One Films release. For more information contact Claire Fromm: cfromm@entonegroup.com

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) in a scene from EYE IN THE SKY, directed by Gavin Hood. In cinemas 24 March 2016. An Entertainment One Films release. For more information contact Claire Fromm: cfromm@entonegroup.com

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) leads a secret drone mission to capture a terrorist group living in a safehouse in Nairobi, Kenya. When Powell learns that the group plans to carry out a suicide attack, her objective is changed to kill the terrorists. Drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) targets the safehouse for destruction but reports a nine-year-old girl entering the kill zone. Powell contacts politicians and lawyers to determine whether or not to take action.

This simple synopsis doesn’t begin to convey the complexity, intrigue and edge-of-your-seat tension packed into 100-odd minutes of fantastic filmmaking. Helen Mirren‘s taut, ruthless, edgy performance is balanced by a finely-nuanced and brilliantly restrained performance from Alan Rickman, in one of his last movies.

Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) in a scene from EYE IN THE SKY, directed by Gavin Hood. In cinemas 24 March 2016. An Entertainment One Films release. For more information contact Claire Fromm: cfromm@entonegroup.com

Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) in a scene from EYE IN THE SKY, directed by Gavin Hood. In cinemas 24 March 2016. An Entertainment One Films release. For more information contact Claire Fromm: cfromm@entonegroup.com

Iain Glen produces a terrific departure from his Game of Thrones character, in a scene providing one of the few lighter-hearted moments of this gripping tale of ethics, politics, risk and courage. The cast is rounded out by Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad).

It’s a movie that had me talking for days afterwards, with my son, with my father, with my friends and colleagues, about the choices we’re lucky never to have to make – and how we judge those who do.

EYE IN THE SKY is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from July 20. Or you can reply in the comments below for your chance to win one of three copies for Australian readers. Get to it! And pop back here next Friday to see if you’ve won!

Gracie x

Friday in Five: Vivid edition!

27 May

Got five minutes? Or maybe even ten? Here are some of the spectacular and wonderful things I’ve loved this week, brought to you from Sydney.

Awww of the week

o-BABY-GIRAFFE-facebookI spent the day at Taronga Zoo on Sydney Harbour and overdosed on cute! Penguins, wombats, sea-lions, meerkats… but still, the cutest sight of the week has to be the baby giraffe born at Taronga’s Western Plains zoo. How’s this for cute? (Also, kind of messy, but you’ll get past that!)

Song of the week

Gurrumul and KellyThis has been out for a few months now, but I’ve only just discovered it. Legendary Australian songwriter Paul Kelly joins equally legendary and soulful Australian indigenous singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who sings in the Yolngu language, in an exquisite rendering of Amazing Grace. Close your eyes and breathe it in.

Quote of the week

Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

Person of the week

nicholas negroponteIn the work I do when I’m not writing romance, I have the privilege of quite often hearing wonderful insights and ideas from amazing people. This week was one of those weeks when I was surrounded by ideas, courtesy of the World Business Forum Sydney. The best of them was from a man I’ve admired for a very long time – Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT’s Media Lab and also the One Laptop Per Child project, which influenced provision of over 50 million – that’s million – laptops to help educate the world’s poorest children.

Negroponte has had lots of amazing ideas over the years, but the one I loved this week was this: “connect the last billion people” by establishing a constellation of low earth-orbiting satellites, beyond the jurisdiction of any country. Why? Because access to the internet should be a human right and a civic responsibility, and if you assume that kids are our most precious natural resource and that education is the key to developing that resource for the good of everybody, then it just. Makes. Sense.

Negroponte costs such an initiative at $10 billion – that’s billion. That’s a lot of money. That amount of money would fund the US’s operations in Afghanistan for… oh, around five weeks. It would fund Australia’s illegal detention of 25 asylum seekers for a full year. So, you know… priorities.

Views of the week

Finally, here are the Vivid views I promised! I took a harbour dinner cruise with Vagabond Cruises and between scoffing canapes and quaffing bubbles managed to snap a few of the views I loved best. Hope you enjoy the Vivid colour and magic!

What have you loved this week? Drop me a line!

Gracie x

Normal transmission will resume shortly…

26 May

What a fabulous week I’ve had! I’m in beautiful Sydney, partly for my Other Life work but also to see Vivid in all its spectacle and finery. Lighting-the-Sails-SONGLINES

So I’ve got lots to share, but I’ll be a little late sharing it tomorrow because I want to bring you the best of the Vivid Festival Opening Night. I’m going to quite some trouble to capture some great views for you (I know! After all this enthusiasm, it’d better be good, right?!). darling harbour

 

So check in tomorrow night for some great music, a quote and a person that have really changed my thinking, a bit of cute and a lot of light and colour!

 

Vivid Sydney celebrating the Doctor's 50th anniversary! - Imgur(These are some photos from previous Vivids to whet your appetite!)

 

‘Til then…

Gracie x

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