London calling

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I’m off to London, one of my most favourite cities in the world, and my To Do list is ridiculously long.  Favourite bookshops and tea shops to visit; a Baroque concert (free) at St Martin-in-the-Fields church; a trip to the Tate Modern to see the Sonia Delaunay retrospective;  a further exploration of East London, but this time with a map because last summer I got hopelessly lost; Borough Market, of course, underneath the London Bridge; a ramble through Regent’s Park then over to Primrose Hill to climb to the top and gaze at the splendid view of London’s skyline; meeting friends and discovering new wine bars and restaurants;  touring my favourite charity shops to grab a bargain on designer clothes…oh, so many things to see and do!  Riding the number 22 bus (on the top deck) from Sloane Square all the way down King’s Road to Fulham (where I lived for a year in 2005) and Bishop’s Park for a stroll along the riverside walk. Then stopping to watch the rowers from the Putney Rowing Club on the river Thames. Then taking the number 14 bus back all along the Fulham Road.  Popping into Planet Organic for a healthy meal….and lots of other things.

And it looks like I’m leaving at just the right time!  Temperatures soared to 31 degrees Celsius today in Paris.  Next week is forecast to go up to 37.  Hot winds are blowing in from Spain and North Africa.

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If you haven’t seen my London posts from last summer, you can view them here to discover lots of addresses, a few hotels, and places to visit that are off the mainstream tourist guides.

My London – Borough Market

My London – South Kensington and Fulham

My London – Marylebone

My London – around Covent Garden

My London – Bloomsbury

East London’s Whitechapel Gallery

The Secours Populaire Français wants YOU!

secours populaire

The Secours Populaire Français (SPF), or the French Popular Relief, is dedicated to fighting poverty and discrimination.  And in honor of this year’s 70th anniversary, it’s organizing a giant party for children on August 19th.

Founded in 1945, this French non-profit organization operates on donations and aims to bring together people of all opinions, origins, and walks of life who wish to live in solidarity. It is particularly focused on providing victims of discrimination with emergency shelter, food, clothing, and referrals to health care facilities. The Secours Populaire Français also works globally, providing emergency aid and ongoing development projects, working closely with non-French associations capable of identifying local needs.

For example, here is the link to the SPF’s vital actions last summer in Gaza as it went to the aid of Palestinian children, traumatized by Israel’s sustained military assault that left hundreds of children dead, hundreds injured, hundreds disabled and/or orphaned.

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If you are free on Wednesday August 19th, the SPF wants YOU to help in the organization of a gigantic rally to take place on the Champ de Mars at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. This festive gathering will bring together thousands of children from all over France and from other countries – children who, because of poverty, are deprived of summer vacation.  In the morning a treasure hunt will take place followed by a giant picnic.  Numerous activities and a concert are scheduled for the afternoon.

Below is a link that will take you to a questionnaire. If you are free to volunteer your services (greet children at train stations, lead groups for the treasure hunt, accompany groups on Paris buses and in the metro, etc.) please fill it out and the SPF thanks you.

Comme le savez, le Secours populaire français fête ses 70 ans de solidarité cette année. Dans le cadre de la Journée des Oubliés des Vacances, nous avons voulu organiser un grand rassemblement au Champ de Mars le mercredi 19 août 2015.

Avec un objectif de 70 000 enfants et familles venus de tous les départements et 1000 enfants venus de 50 pays, le Secours populaire prépare  le « Pari(s) des Solidarités »

Ensemble, ils vivront une journée inoubliable : Chasse aux trésors avec découverte insolite de Paris le matin, puis pique-nique géant suivi de nombreuses animations et un grand concert.

Pour réussir ce grand rassemblement festif qui regroupera des milliers d’enfants privés de vacances, venus de toute la France et de pays du monde



Don’t you love TED Talks?  I listen to them while toiling in the kitchen.  Saturday mornings are sacrosanct for me and, I assume, everyone else who works all week.  Sleeping in an extra hour, bacon sandwiches for breakfast, numerous espressos, lounging around in p.j.’s and listening to TED Talks on YouTube.

TED (technology, entertainment and design) is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading ideas.

Here are three of my favourites.  Below is the main link to many many TED Talks that you can choose and listen to.

a new publicity campaign with (supposed) shock value

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I don’t know about you, but I find this new PETA advertisement quite boring. It’s supposed to be what the French call “pub choc”, which means publicity with shock effect, but the only effect it has on me is to make me yawn.  I don’t wish to offend the airbrushed Zahia Dehar, escort girl turned fashion designer, but it’s like, been there, done that.  And I suppose it’s the cause, too, that doesn’t excite.  Have a heart, become a vegetarian??  Errrr….OK, I guess.  I’ll give it some thought.  Actually, I did stop eating meat for a year and then realized I missed it, so now I’m eating meat again.

And my last beef (pardon the pun) is this – aren’t there more pressing causes in the world today other than to ask people to become vegetarian?

PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals   I can think of a dozen urgent causes right now concerning the ethical treatment of humans.  And in saying that I’m in no way discrediting or minimizing the importance of compassionate treatment of animals.

Want to see some advertising campaigns with shock value?  Here’s one – simulated gang rape, but at least they’re all stylishly dressed….what was D&G thinking??

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And just for fun, here are some ads from the past that, in their time, weren’t intended to shock at all.  But today they’re seriously shocking!


guns in my face


I am so sick of seeing gigantic posters of gun-wielding actors in my face as I make my way around my city.  As much as I love so many American films, I resent the glorification of weapons, not to mention the exportation of America’s gun culture to other countries.

In some posters, guns are flaunted like fashion accessories.  Guns are not glamorous.

Isn’t there enough violence in the world?

the Fondation Louis Vuitton arts center

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This dazzling newly-opened center is located 20 minutes away from my apartment.  Designed by Frank Gehry, it’s in the Bois de Boulogne in western Paris. The iconic structure resembles a ship with billowing sails, what Gehry calls “from nautical to natural”.

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Here’s what Mayer Rus wrote in Architectural Digest –

Commissioned by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault to design a signature arts center for the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, architect Frank Gehry conceives a radiant tour de force wrapped in swirling glass sails

A dazzling center for contemporary art and culture, the project is the brainchild of Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of the French luxury-goods conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton, and was brought to life by that most lyrical of architectural conjurers, Frank Gehry.  With its shiplike exterior of billowing glass sails, the 126,000-square-foot, 2.5-story building suggests an avant-garde update of the Jolly Roger, gracefully piloted by Peter Pan through the Bois’s verdant sea of centuries-old trees with a trail of pixie dust in its wake. Bewitching and majestic, the structure alights in the park with the delicacy of the Winged Victory perched at the head of the Daru staircase in the Louvre. Suffice it to say, it’s the kind of place that invites ecstatic odes and mixed metaphors.

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” When kids come to the Foundation Louis Vuitton
I want them to elevate their imagination,
so they grow up thinking of architecture differently “
Frank Gehry