Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Importance of Kindness

After seeing the extraordinarily touching Australian Story episode on Tara Winkler and the Cambodian Children's Trust a few weeks ago, I was so moved that I decided to touch base with CCT, who kindly replied right away. (Amazing, given the response they've had). Long story short: I'm heading off on a business trip, and have decided to do a detour to Cambodia, at the invitation of one of CCT's lovely staff.

Supplies are going along.

It doesn't take much to help people. An extra suitcase. A helping hand. A decision to do something, however small, that might just help someone else. I spent a long time assisting a few people early last year with everything from travel advice to logistics, and even travel funds, and a couple of them complained so much that I think I went into shock for a short while. But so many people in our family and in our social circle are quietly generous souls that it rubs off, and you realise how important it is to be kind rather than critical, and to be caring rather than castigatory. After a while, you realise there's no other way to live your life.

If you haven't yet seen this lovely doco on Tara Winkler, you can watch it here. Full episode – Tara Or there's a trailer here: Australian Story - Tara

We'll be moving to a new website shortly, so this and my email will be transferred over, and there may be glitches with the new site and the old/new email. I hope you'll bear with us in the meantime.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

April in Paris

Some destinations are sublimely beautiful in April. New York City with its abundance of cherry blossoms is one. England, with its magnificent gardens, is another. 

But perhaps one of the prettiest place to spend an April afternoon is Paris. 

Paris in April is pure magic. It's a cinematic sweep of postcard-style streets, overflowing florists, cheerful shopkeepers and charming maƮtre ds, scented parks and gardens, exquisite window merchandising, elegant exhibitions and altogether entertaining street scenes.

April is also one of the best times of the year to travel to Paris—and many other places, for that matter. recently revealed that the cheapest week to travel is the last week of April and the first week of May. 

I tested the claim last night. Sure enough, return flights from Sydney to either New York or Paris that are normally A$1700—$2000 are just $1350. 

Oh April, you really know how to tempt us.

Here in Australia, my publisher and I have been working on ideas for a new book. It's about—you guessed it—Paris. I had planned to go to NY for work this month but now it looks like I may have the take the long (and scenic) way around the globe. Who can resist a chance to photograph Paris in spring?

I hope to show you some beautiful new 'finds' from the City of Light, from secret fashion museums and ateliers to gorgeous stores and hotels and even delightful walking trails that take in the best bits of this photogenic city. 

Some people abhor Paris (including my partner). And I must admit that every time I return I think: perhaps we should try a difference place next year? And then I find myself going back, yet again. Paris will do that too you. Almost 30 years after my first visit, some things haven't changed. My French is still shameful, but my love for the city hasn't waned.

On this note, I want to thank everyone who kindly bought Paris: A Guide to the City's Creative Heart. We've just learned that it recently hit the No. 1 Ranking on US Amazon for Illustrated Travel books. 

Actually I can't quite remember the category: it was a niche one, so it's not a big deal, but we were still very surprised—and grateful for the No. 1 ranking.  I'm deeply grateful to everyone who bought a copy. Book buyers are the loveliest people.

I also want to recommend some other Paris books. Nichole Robertson's Paris in Colour is delightful if you want some photographic inspiration, while the new book The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World's Grandest Garden by Alain Baraton is a superb read if you love gardens. 

Another I've recently bought is A Day at Versailles by Yves Carlier; a sumptuous behind-the-scenes look at the inner-workings of this grand estate. 

And Edmund White's new memoir, Inside A Pearl: My Years in Paris is... well, I had mixed feelings about the name-dropping and cruel characterisations, but there's no doubt he's a brilliant writer. And when he admitted he also struggled with the French language, well, it was a sign he's as human like the rest of us... It's an evocative book that beautifully sums up Paris in a way I could never do.

Au revoir for now. And once again, a sincere thank you.

[All photographs by me.]
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