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Food, glorious food!

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“Writing is an incurable disease…” Caroline James talks to Prue Leith, CBE

  [caption id="attachment_18749" align="aligncenter" width="318"] Prue Leith - Photo Colin Thomas[/caption] Prue Leith CBE, has bee...

Bookshelf Reviews

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The Bookshelf – April news and reviews

The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!  Our APRIL Bookshelf S...

People with a passion!

Couple

Why poetry means so much to those who write it …

Bob Dylan once said: "I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet." Obviously some ...

In Search of a Happy Ending

Bonnie

When sexual ‘adventures’ go too far…

Q.  My boyfriend and I are in our twenties and have been together for almost five years. We’ve always had an exciting and inventive sex ...

Lifestyle articles

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Made in Nashville: Reliving Country 2 Country 2015

This year the fans flocking to London's O2 arena for a weekend of country music made up the biggest crowd ever! Since the two-day event st...

Made in Nashville: Reliving Country 2 Country 2015

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This year the fans flocking to Londoncountry 2 country‘s O2 arena for a weekend of country music made up the biggest crowd ever! Since theIMG_0446 two-day event started in 2013 numbers have increased year on year and that looks set to continue after another amazing weekend of US and UK talent.

Thanks to Deep South USA my weekend got off to an early start with the Country Music Association Songwriters Series at the Indigo O2 on the Friday night. Here we were treated to an intimate session full of stories and acoustic performances from Kix Brooks (Brooks and Dunn), Brandy Clark, Sam Palladio (Gunnar from the TV show Nashville), and songwriting husband and wife Jessi Alexander and Jon Randall.

L-R Kix Brooks, Brandy Clark and Sam Palladio

And then some surprise guests turned up and stole the show. In my report of last year’s festival I mentioned the wonderful duo, Striking Matches. Well, they were back and they are better than ever.

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Striking Matches

Saturday kicked off with music from the four pop-up stages plus The Saloon featuring Bob Harris’ Under the Apple Tree sessions. Everything from bluegrass to country pop/rock accompanied shopping for leather goods (boots/hats/bracelets/saddles), eating ,and drinking (hot dogs to ice cream – beer to cocktails,) and signings with the artists at the CMA stand.

IMG_0472IMG_0476InBlauk and Holloway Road

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David Bradley and Millers Daughter

IMG_0515And then it was time for the main event. Four great artists took to the stage to give UK country music fans IMG_0514the ride of their lives. CMA Song of the Year winner Brandy Clark kicked things off with songs from her 12 Stories album followed by country legend, Lee Ann Womack. Then it was time for things to rock up a little. CMA Vocal Duo of the Year, Florida Georgia Line brought the house down with a non-stop set.

Florida Georgia Line

Then it was the turn of CMA Entertainer of the Year to take the stage. Luke Bryan brought everyone onto their feet with hits That’s My Kind of Night, Rollercoaster, Crash My Party and the song that finished the night on a real high, Country Girl (Shake it for Me).

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Luke Bryan

Sunday started early with a huge queue for the Brooklyn Bowl to see Striking Matches followed by the fabulous Scottish duo, Raintown who really had the venue buzzing.

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Raintown

A wonderful performance by history-making UK band, The Shires followed. Ben and Crissie became the first British country act to chart in the top ten album chart over that weekend, proving that country music is on the rise in the UK. I couldn’t help grabbing a selfie with Ben.

IMG_0445IMG_0548 The Shires

A quick pit stop and a listen to the brilliant, Honey Ryder Band, and it was off to the arena for a second night!

Kip Moore was first on the list and after his performance he can expect a whole lot of album downloads.

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Brantley Gilbert followed with his unique blend of southern rock/country that personally I love. Kick It In the Sticks set the standard and was followed by hit after hit including the anthemic One Hell of an Amen.

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And I got to meet him backstage and hand him a signed paperback copy of my book, Made in Nashville, thanking him for the inspiration he gave me at Country 2 Country 2013.

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Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum closed the show with dynamic performances that had the crowds begging for more.

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Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum

It was one amazing weekend and I can’t wait for Country 2 Country 2016!

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The Imitation Game ~ Film Review

Sheryl Browne

Courtesy of Image,net  © 2014 BBP IMITATION, LLC. Distributed by STUDIOCANAL

Courtesy of Image,net
© 2014 BBP IMITATION, LLC. Distributed by STUDIOCANAL

The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, a brilliant British mathematician and cryptologist, who, during the Second World War worked at Bletchley Park along with a team of code breakers. Their mission: to break the complex Enigma code, thus deciphering German coded messages and ultimately being one step ahead of the enemy. Various reviews have argued the historical correctness of events, pointing to Polish endeavours at breaking the code and information subsequently passed to the British and French which helped facilitate Turing’s achievements. Accepting those points of view, I can honestly say this is a film that will stay with me and one which I would highly recommend. Not only did it open my eyes to an important piece of WWII history I knew little about, but The Imitation Game tackles themes of homophobia and prejudice against those people who might be different in some way to what the majority see as ‘normal’.

Benedict Cumberbatch, rightly nominated for best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Turing, a character as complex as the codes he attempts to break, plays Turing quite brilliantly, bringing us a believable genius, and also someone on the autism spectrum, which often goes hand-in-hand with high achievement. Cumberbatch, in my mind, played the character sympathetically, sensitively bringing to life Turing’s own sensitivities, his awkwardness, his innocent lack of ability to empathise with people, interpreting their words literally. We cheer as he achieves his goals, our hearts break as we see him trying to cope after the court case, brought because of his homosexual activities. Convicted of indecency, rather than serve a prison sentence, Turing opted for the alternative ‘punishment’, chemical castration.

Turing died in 1954. An inquest determined it was suicide.

Granted a posthumous pardon, Turing is now considered the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. It takes someone different to do something amazing is an appropriate epitaph.

Director:

Morten Tyldum

Writers:

Graham Moore

Andrew Hodges (Novel: Alan Turing: The Engima)

Stars:

Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode

Genre:

Biography, Drama, Thriller

Certificate:

12A

Sheryl Browne Author Links:

WEBSITE, BLOG, TWITTER, FACEBOOK, AMAZON, AMAZON.UK, SAFKHET PUBLISHING

ROMANTIC NOVELISTS’ ASSOCIATION

Tough Plants for a Dry Shade Garden

 

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How many of you have at least one tough spot in your garden? I am sure there must be a few who have an area that challenges your aspirations of being the Master Gardener of your domain. I know I do. More than one area, in fact.

Ever since we put in the front bed along our narrow rural road back in 2001 and the big changes that began on the front garden in 2004, I have been struggling to find “what works” in my garden. My problem? Six trees in a relatively small area.

Three of the trees pose the biggest problems for me. Simply put – they are big. Really big. Their roots go everywhere. So let me put one gardening myth to rest. The feeder roots DO NOT end at the outer reaches of the tree’s canopy. And Graham Rice concurs in his book Planting the Dry Shade Garden (Timber Press, Inc. 2011). According to Graham, and it makes sense, tree roots will reach out as far as need be in their search for moisture and nutrients.

When it comes to planting underneath big trees with all their roots…man, it can be a hard slog finding plants that are tough enough to cut the mustard and stand up to those trees.

Acer campestre and underplantings

Acer campestre and underplantings

Well, surprise, surprise. Two of my six trees made Graham’s list of tough trees to plant under – Acer campestre (hedge maple) and Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut). John has one on the list, too…his Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’ (Norway maple).

I also think my Acer saccharinum (silver leaf maple) should have been on Graham’s list. As should any tree that is over seven metres (23 feet) tall…I don’t care what the species. When it comes to the root system on a large tree, you are talking tough planting. But through trial and error, plus sheer perseverance, my front garden is now “getting there” to where I am happy with the results.

Most of my problem in designing the front garden was incorporating specimen plants that I liked or wanted in my garden. Almost all were totally unsuitable for the growing conditions.

Bad mistake and shame on me. There are certainly a dizzying number of plant species available, some of which are much more suitable for what I had to work with, and every bit as beautiful in their own right as the ones I had previously selected. I just had to wrap my head around this factor and start nursery hunting for those plants. Sure as day follows night there would be some species in this category that I would absolutely fall in love with.

Three years into this re-model of my front garden I am pleased to report good success with some shrub species. These are a good design element that will pull the eye’s focus from the tree canopy down towards ground level.

Here is a list for dry shade Zone 7a garden in the Pacific Northwest region.

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Arbour gate and azaleas

 

Rhododendrons. Being shallow rooted they do not have too much problem competing with the tree roots. Water and nutrients are another story but I provide some manure and mulch with chopped up chestnut leaves. It is doing the trick, although the last two summers with their weeks of heat and no rain were a tad tough on the rhodos. A small sprinkler placed underneath each rhodo in its turn, delivered water directly the roots ahead of the trees getting any. Fifteen minutes of the sprinkler once a week helped the rhodos through the sixty-four days when we only had 96 mm (3.8 inches) of rain during that period.

Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’. This is the deciduous, yellow double-flowered, or pom-pom, kerria. It absolutely thrives in shade and does not mind competing for water. The flowers are sterile so there are no seeds produced. But it is does send up new branches from the root crown every year. An annual thinning of the oldest branches to one-third the total number of branches overall keeps this shrub looking invigorated. The tall, green, bamboo-like stems provide great winter interest.

Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’. (Dog hobble, drooping laurel, or switch ivy.) References refer to leucothoe as an erect shrub but it better suits its “drooping” common name. I actually have a love/hate relationship with this evergreen shrub because it is crammed in between the kerria and a viburnum which means cleaning the maple leaves out of this shrub in the fall is a nightmare. This shrub is also not meant to be pruned at all, which makes it doubly awkward in its present location in my garden. Have decided to move it and give it the room it deserves. On another note, the varied colours on the leaves are a definite bonus in breaking up an all-green monotony. Its drooping habit also effectively shades out any weeds.

Viburnum x burkwoodii. Third shrub in this close grouping beside my Acer saccharinum (silver leaf maple). Another evergreen, it helps hold interest through the winter, albeit its shape has been described as “lax”. While it may prefer full sun, it is highly tolerant of almost complete shade, although at the expense of more blooms. I can attest this particular species of viburnum is resistant to the dreaded viburnum leaf beetle.

Weigela. I have five because they do well in my tough conditions. The old-fashioned Weigela florida with its red tubular flowers performs the best which is not surprising. Specially bred cultivars do tend to be a little less robust than their parents. But still, Weigela florida ‘Variegata’ is doing quite well, especially since I moved it into a sunnier locale. (All Weigela spp. like five to six hours of sun, if you can provide it.) I love its delicate pink tubular flowers on ‘Variegata’, as do the hummingbirds.

Also moved my dark-leaved Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’ (Wine and Roses™) for the same sunnier reason. The chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) branches refuse to stop growing outwards and into what was once sun-filled garden space.

Weigela florida 'Briant Rubidor'

Weigela florida ‘Briant Rubidor’

My last two weigelas…I absolutely love the dwarf version of Wine and Roses™, Weigela florida ‘Elvera’ (Midnight Wine™), which also has the luscious dark leaves. Great to tuck into a small space as it only grows to a maximum height and spread of two feet, although I am beginning to think this dwarf shrub may actually look really nice in a container. And finally, my pride and joy…Weigela florida ‘Briant Rubidor’, a yellow-leaved specimen with deep red flowers. This one best suits a shadier spot where it absolutely shines when it gets only a brief, four hour caress from the morning sun.

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Rosa glauca flowers

Want roses? I can attest Rosa glauca, a dark-leaved species rose, can handle tough growing conditions. It will not attain its full lusciousness but does well enough to be an asset in a hard-to-grow garden bed as long as it can manage the requisite six to eight hours of sun.

Rugosa roses also do well, particularly those in the Pavement series which were specially bred for along the median of the Autobahn in Europe. I have made a hedge of the Pavement roses along the boulevard where the soil is the absolute worst. Lots of tree roots, hot afternoon sun, a tough place to water adequately, and yet…these roses throw out masses of fragrant blossoms throughout the summer. If I keep up with the dead-heading. Another bonus: the large resident deer leave these roses alone.

Not to be left off the tough shrub list are the spireas. I have three: ‘Goldmound’, ‘Goldflame’ and a cutleaf spirea. All are worth their salt as they thrive well in tough, dry areas. But they too will benefit with some sun. Placing them at the very perimeter of the tree canopy will give you good colour in the gold-leaved cultivars.

Pieris japonica 'Variegata'

Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’

That pretty well wraps up my list of tough shrubs for my dry shade garden with a few exceptions. I did not mention the Osmanthus x burkwoodii, the dogwood tree, the vine maple or the Pieris japonica. All great plants too.

  Website: www.duchessofdirt.ca

FB: http://ow.ly/CkBnz

Put Some Zing In Your Spring With These Fashion Musts!

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Hello and welcome to another edition of The Fashionista! In case you didn’t know, or get it from the obnoxious banner above, I’m Steph Keyes and I’m here to talk fashion. I’ll admit, not all fashion appeals to me. Some of it is just a bit hoity-toity for my taste. Let’s face it–at the end of the day we all want to wear something that’s comfortable and flattering.

For me, that’s just not going to come in the form of a $275 shirt. Why? Well, not only am I a writer (new flash–we don’t make much unless we’re J.K.) but I’m also a stay-at-home-mom on a budget. So one of the changes that you’ll start to notice in this feature is that my fashion recommendations are dropping in price. I’ll be offering up clothing options from TJ Maxx and Top Shop. That’s okay, right? Because my motto is:  you can still be fashionable on a budget!

Let’s talk about some of the trends in fashion that are in this spring!


Minimalist Couture

Keep It Simple! I try to apply this approach in every aspect of my life. When I can, anyway! And guess what? Fashion’s doing the same. Minimalist couture is the trend, with clean lines, straight tops that flare at the bottoms and bright solids. Check out these cute cage sandals and scoop tops!

Keep It Simple

 


Geometry: Not Just For High School Anymore

So, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I sucked at Geometry. Yeah, really. The good thing is, you don’t have to be a Math lover to enjoy these sweet geometric patterns. They’re cropping up in everything from skirts (check out this cool pink one from Ashley Stewart) to purses and pillows.

Geometric Party

 

 


Seventies Throwbacks

Who doesn’t love the seventies? There’s some great style from that era and it’s so popular that it continues to make a comeback. I love this turquoise beaded jewelry and oversized glasses to pull in some seventies glam. Flowered skirts and oversized tanks also spice up the seventies look.

Seventies Chíc

Why poetry means so much to those who write it …

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Bob Dylan once said: “I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.

Obviously some poets write to share their work widely, others write for personal pleasure, or to record moments in life that move them in some way. When I decided to ask two very different poets the ‘why’ behind their verses, what I discovered was that whether published, or not, the passion is the same.

Audrina Lane is the author of the Heart Trilogy and often her poems are linked into the stories she pens. “I guess that my first poetry writing began at school and I have to admit that most of the time I hated it as we tended to have to rhyme things in certain ways. I did, however, write two poems during my school years that I still vaguely remember and they were based on other poems that had inspired me or touched a nerve. I wish now that I still had them!!  For me poetry is much more fluid and free flowing, if the words rhyme then that’s a bonus, but it’s more to do with the image or feelings that I am trying to portray.

When I next put pen to paper it was while I was writing the final book in my Heart Trilogy and dealing with all the complex themes that the characters are facing on their journey. I thought that maybe some poems based on the way they were thinking and feeling in the novels would continue to inspire my writing.  Being a self-published author I discovered lots of fabulous writer’s pages on Facebook and saw other people publishing their poems and this spurred me on to share mine with, in the first instance, fellow authors. I feel that if perhaps a poem can capture a person, hold their attention, capture their own feelings, then they might decide to take a risk on an unknown writer’s novels.

The whole poetry writing thing does tend to come from my own personal experience and I find that the more I portray, whether by prose or poetry, the more it helps me grow. I find that poetry is that snapshot of a feeling.  A moment when what your mind has been struggling with clarifies into words that spill out. I can understand how a poem can be such a personal statement that sharing it would be difficult and I am always in awe of the written word. I find acceptance of mine a truly humbling experience. All I would say to any aspiring poets and authors is just to take that step. It might feel huge and terrifying to share your words and feelings at first, but when your touch someone else’s heart and soul then it is magical.”

DancerBallerina
On pointe she glided
Her body bending and stretching
Like the wings of a butterfly
Shimmering in the spotlight
Trapped inside its confines
Every step an attempt to escape
Until he emerges from the dark beyond
A shadow that mirrors her every step
His arms outstretched to hold, mould and
In an instance she leaps
A whisker of breath between them
He catches and she soars
Held aloft to the sun, her arms open
Can he hope to keep her captive?

Firefly Beauty
Her firefly beauty
Lights up the darkness
That has held him
Inert in his obsession
To use, abuse and remain aloof
An endless cycle
She is different
He takes her, breaks her, leaves her
Prone before him
But he wants more
He needs to feel her, softness
Swelling breasts, slim hips that undulate
Taste the sweetness of her skin
Her folds, her innermost
Sink into her once more
Gather some dignity
He has been trapped
But she lights the way
Freedom from his wounds

Find out more about Audrina and her work here:

Heart Trilogy Facebook page    Audrina Lane Facebook page   Twitter link  Website

 

Noemie Verlan: Writes poetry simply for the love of it! I asked her what inspired Lip Deep: “I was brought up on the edge of the sea, I lived and breathed it. I was in the sea in all weathers and my parents thought I was half selkie, but what I loved most was the power and beauty in the storms. When I wasn’t actually in the sea I was on the cliffs, beaches, and caves with my dog.

As a child, books meant so much to me and I loved to read. I read everything on my parents’ bookshelves from Asimov to Tolkien. I didn’t care – I just had a hunger to read and I loved the books themselves. The sea is in my soul, part of my heart, so my only few pieces of poetry are about the sea because it has such a hold on me.”

Lip Deep

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i stand lip deep in the fuming vast ocean
black as a witch’s cat it seethes around me
eye level with spume and spray
dark harsh jagged shapes are visible
high cliffs and ragged then torn down to shore level
dull blunt clouds race along in the night
no sight of the moon that pulls my ocean
tonight its light is lost to me
stolen by the black and brooding storm clouds
i feel the pressure on my body the sea pulls
softly but i cannot disobey its drag
my toes skim the rocks and sand of the bottom
and i am taken giving in to its vastness
no sense of me any more
it pushes me on a whim and i am tossed
the charging grey horses crash and burn around me
as i am thrown to the blunt stoney shore
the fight to stay in my beloved ocean leaves me drained
wasted i lie prone on a pebble bed
but not yet done i feel a delicious cold pull curl around my foot
it is the King come to court me again
higher than any normal tide the King
this time has come in the night at the height of storm force
and again although prone i am lip deep
my darkly glorious stormy ocean pulls me in

As an author myself, my love of poetry, too, began at school. I don’t write poetry specifically for publication, although I have had some published in the past. I write when I’m inspired and often it captures a moment, or incident, that left an impression. I love having poems going back to my pre-teens, as it’s a reminder of the way my mind worked at such a young age. I went through an obscure phase, then a religious phase, and then an ‘in love with nature’ phase. The two poems here were inspired by love. ‘Moonlight‘ takes me back to a magical evening at Versailles, and ‘Sorry‘ was penned after watching a couple who were walking ahead of me along a beach.  It was a stormy day and, ironically, their walk began with what appeared to be a row. However, by the time I’d followed them along the full length of the beach, they’d made up and it was a rather touching scene that stuck in my mind.

Moonlight

Steely visions intrude upon an ocean calm
Where only lovers’ moons do lurk amid the scattered stars
And does the sea stretch out her deft, entwining fingers
Foamy white they spread eagerly towards the shore
Laughing they dance and proffer dreams to lovers
Ethereal moons and jewelled nights
Where none but Cupid’s hand lay safe
Then cheat the eye in pure reflection
So only lovers fail to see the multitude of stars
Found twinkling in the moonlit sky above

Heart

© stoekenbroek Fotolia com

Sorry

He looked into my eyes
A deep, lingering stare
Searching hopefully
But the wind
Played with my hair
Whipping strands
Like a manic blow-dry
I tossed my head
Trying to free my face
And let him see
What he was looking for
But the wind was playful
Took his cap
And launched it
High into the air
We ran, along the beach
Chasing as it cart-wheeled
On and on and watched it
Suddenly caught and lifted up
Out of reach
Across the water
We stood awkwardly
The wind noisy and strong
Pushing against us
Wind and water raging
Their own little war
Of foamy white frenzy
Tasting the salt spray
Stinging, hair-whipped cheeks
And I shivered
He laughed and put his arm
Around my shoulders
I could feel the heat
Radiating out from his body
And he squeezed me
Lovingly, and gently steered me
Towards home

Many claim that a poem is never finished, that they find themselves constantly making small changes; it evolves and continues to evolve as the mood takes them. Whether you write poetry for your eyes only, or to share with the world, it doesn’t matter. It comes from the heart and, I believe, is more ‘telling’ about the inner you, than any other form of writing.  Why not have a go – you just might surprise yourself! If you’d like to have your poem featured in one of our future articles, send it to loveahappyending.com@gmail.com telling us where you found your inspiration!

Linn

Website/blog: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Twitter: @LinnBHalton FB: Linn B Halton Author

Linn bookshelf final 2015

It’s Easy to Love Eze

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Renowned for its breathtaking setting, this is EZE. If you have visited this popular tourist destination in the south of France, you undoubtedly have a photo just like this in your album. Who can resist such a spectacular panorama?

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The medieval hilltop village perches on a rocky outcropping overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean and the coastline of the Côte d’Azur. On a clear day, the view reaches over St Tropez to the west and Italy to the east.IMG_8035

This area has been inhabited since 2000 BC and vestiges of the Greeks, Romans, and Moors are still being discovered.

That jumble of buildings at the top of the photo is the village of Eze. At the bottom is Eze-sur-Mer. I took the shot from a boat cruising along the coast on a very sultry afternoon. Sorry it’s a bit hazy … but that’s the French Riviera on a hot summer day!

To get to Eze, take the picturesque  Moyenne Corniche route up to the village. Visitors often combine the trip with a drive down to Monaco a half hour away.

For those more adventuresome, the Nietzsche Trail (formerly a goat and donkey path) winds its way up this cliff. My suggestion, on a cool day,  is to take the bus up to Eze and walk down the trail (about 1-1/2 hours). Reward yourself with a cool beverage and fresh-from-the-sea petite friture at a beachside bar in Eze-sur-Mer. Wear walking shoes and take water. It’s not overly challenging and there is some shade. For more information about it, click here.

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To get there from Nice for just 1.5 euros, simply take bus #112 from Gare Routiere, the central bus station.  This is the famous drive from a car-chase scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. That movie is a lot of fun to watch for great views of the Côte d’Azur throughout the film!

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There’s a bit of an uphill walk from the parking lot and bus stop to arrive in the village proper. The walk starts from just below the cliff you see under the church, so it’s not that bad!

Enter Eze through the ancient archway for a delightful day meandering the labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and galleries. Slender passageways lead to hidden squares. The oldest building, La Chapelle de la Sainte Croix, dates to 1306.

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Remember it’s a hilltop, so there’s a lot of up and down. Comfortable shoes make it a more enjoyable experience. Eze can be crowded so pick your times carefully and avoid midday in the summer if possible.

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This is the tiny gate the Moors snuck through in the 8thC to overtake the sleeping inhabitants and rule for 80 years. That’s just a little vignette of the turbulent history of the area. There’s so much more! Visit the tourist office near the parking lot to pick up brochures.

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031_31Famous for its beauty and charm, the village is a popular honeymoon destination with two luxurious 5-star hotels that also feature fine dining in former grand houses that once belonged to royalty. The Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or and Chateau Eza offer truly unique experiences, whether it is for an exquisite meal or simply a cool beverage, as you drink in the view. There are also a few opportunities in the village for a light snack or a drink. One you will find as soon as you enter Eze and the other is conveniently located at the entrance to the exotic garden.

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When you plan your day, make sure you do not miss the exotic Jardin d’Eze. Built by hand, an amazing feat in itself, after WW2 and with the help of donkeys that were traditionally used in the village, the array of cacti, agave, and aloe create a magical display of botanical wonders. The path leads to the ruins of the 12th C hilltop castle that was destroyed in 1709.

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The gardens also serve as a sculpture park showing a permanent installation of ‘Earth Goddesses’ by the artist Jean-Philippe Richard. A world famous sculptor, his work can also be seen in New York and Palm Desert as well as throughout France.

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Visiting the garden at sunset is an unforgettable experience … but any time is pretty exceptional. Don’t miss Eze!

All photography in this photo essay is under copyright to Patricia Sands.

More tourist information about Eze can be found by clicking on this link.

Do check out the websites for the Chateau de la Chèvre d’Or and Chateau Ezaand you will see even more fabulous photos!

RIVIERA PEBBLES is my go-to website for every kind of information you might want about the Riviera. It’s up to date and user friendly. Click right here to check it out.

Bonne vacance … whether it’s from your armchair or the real thing! 

P.S. Wherever I go in France, I’m always fascinated to see they still use these old-style brooms. I can’t resist taking shots of them. This one was in Eze. What strange things attract your camera lens?

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The Bookshelf – April news and reviews

Janice New Banner LLm 2015The very latest Loveahappyending book news, author buzz and blogger reviews!

 Our APRIL Bookshelf SPECIAL GUEST is…

Fabulous Brook Cottage Books book reviewer, blogger and promotor JB Johnson

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JB

 

My name is JB Johnston in the great online world, but in the real world I am actually called Debbie. I run Brook Cottage Books, which initially started off as a review blog but has now evolved into a valuable online promotion resource for authors and publishers. Brook Cottage Books also helps readers find their next read and offers the opportunity for readers to find out about the latest book releases, to read honest reviews and guest posts from authors. It also helps readers to link with their favourite authors or be introduced to some new ones. It has become a book community. Come join in the fun!

 

 

I asked JB what keeps her busy when she’s not online blogging…?

I am always super busy but that’s the way I like it. One of these days I will be able to concentrate on my book work full time. Imagine being paid to work with authors all day? Heaven! But until that day comes I’ll keep working hard to bring myself one step closer to the dream. Being a busy mum and book blogger, plus working full time certainly keeps me on my toes. But, I always find a little time to squeeze in some reading.

I review books from my own personal bookshelf also and support a variety of Indie authors. I am a monthly contributor on Siren FM radio for the show ‘Books Rock’. I’m a reviewer for the award winning LLm, which won the 2013 Romance Industry Innovation in Romantic Fiction award the same year I was shortlisted for Romance Blogger of the Year 2013 in the Romance Industry Awards.  I am involved with the books groups and regularly read and review books for professional review panels. Life is too short not to have fun, laugh a lot and read great books!

Find out more about JB Johnson

  WebpageFacebook: Twitter

 


LOVEAHAPPYENDING AUTHOR spotlightSPOTLIGHT

on  LINN B HALTON

Linn B Halton writes about love life and relationships but romance is always the one thing that holds each story together. Often there’s a light, psychic touch. Linn says that she never dreamed she would write stories drawing upon her personal psychic experiences, but as her interest and understanding in the subject has grown, it is now such a part of her life that it finds its way into her fictional tales. What is heartening is that most of her experiences have been uplifting, and she says, it’s wonderful to know loved ones are around her always. “I hope it will make readers stop and wonder ‘What if?’”

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Find out more about Linn on her Website and on her LLm Cafe Author Page


NEWS This Month!

A NEW Romantic Adventure novel by bestselling author Janice Horton

Castaway in the Caribbean

Available NOW exclusively from Amazon for Kindle

No Kindle? No problem. Amazon provides a free to download Kindle App for all devices.

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More fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure…

 For more information on LLm Author Janice Horton visit her: Website and LLm’s Authors’ Cafe


 

The @LLmAuthorsCafe Snapshot

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Click here to follow The LLm Authors’ Cafe on Twitter


 

 Loveahappyending BOOK BLOGGER Reviews

Bringing you independent reviews from some of the Best Reviewers in the Book Blogging world!


 

Shades of Appley GreenShades of Appley Green

Author: Miriam Wakerly. Genre Contemporary (Village) Romance

Appley Green is a charming English village. Everyone says so. But people are still people. With the emotional turmoil that comes with love, birth and death, a close-knit community can harbour betrayal and guilt, as well as joy and laughter.

Reviewed by: Surrey Life Magazine

Surrey Life says:Shades of Appley Green is one of Miriam Wakerly’s best novels to date. I’m the first to admit there’s something strangely addictive about the village, its residents and the dramas that stalk them like shadows. As readers, we want to know everything about them – including the passions that make them tick. Wakerly never fails to deliver and it will be interesting to know what other scenarios are bubbling away in this little corner of middle England.

READ Surrey Life’s entire review here on Page 70: Surrey Life

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Find out more about Miriam Wakerly from her Website and at LLm’s Authors’ Cafe


 

61rvKp39YbL._SL1400_Recipes for Disaster

Author: Sheryl Browne: Publisher: Safkhet Publishing: Genre: Romantic Fiction

She’s a single. He’s a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There’s just one catch – she can’t cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she’s got an ace up her sleeve and all she’s got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can’t cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they’ve got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?

Reviewed by: BestChickLit.com

Excerpt from the review: “Sheryl has created a lead character that you can’t help but root for. She has thrown her into a truly disastrous situation that will have you chuckling the whole way through (although I can’t help but shudder at the thought of a dog’s tongue joining in with a passionate kiss). Perfect for dog lovers, foodies, and anyone who has lost faith in the existence of good men.”

READ the entire review at BestChickLit.com

  Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Find out more about Sheryl Browne from her Website and LLm Authors’ Cafe

 

 

downloadSo you think you’re a Celebrity Chef…?

Author: Caroline James. Publisher: pulse. Genre: Contemporary Romance

When media agent Hilary Hargreaves travels to Ireland to look at a campaign for a new cookery school, she meets a blast from her past – the romantic but feckless chef Mickey Lloyd, who is hell-bent on resurrecting his flagging career. Her tough demeanour is rocked as it becomes apparent Mickey’s intentions involve more than a stint behind a stove in his quest to pursue her. But as plans for the school gain momentum, she realises that she’s developing more than a passing interest in reformed alcoholic Long Tom Hendry, who owns the crumbling old mansion where the school will be homed. Hilary has many ingredients to juggle with her demanding client list – which looks set to boil over if she doesn’t keep control. From London’s bustling Soho, to Southern Ireland and the sunny shores of the Caribbean, has Hilary got too much on her plate and is she really prepared to risk it all for love? 

Reviewed by  Lynsey’s Book Reviews

“I found all the characters interesting and very colourful. I loved escaping into this book and recommend it to others as its a lively entertaining read and there is not a dull moment inside. From reading this book I will give other books with food and cafes a chance now, as I really enjoyed this book.”

READ the entire review at Lynsey’s Book Reviews

Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Find out more about Caroline James from her Website and LLm’s Authors’ Cafe

 

In APRIL Look Out For…

 The Star Catcher by LLm author Stephanie Keyes – recently named a Finalist for the 2014 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Novels!

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Grab a Coffee and check out Stephanie’s LLm Author’s Cafe news page!

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American Prairie Country

AP header 2The beauty of the American prairie has been a well-kept secret. Since pioneer days, men have farmed and hunted on these lands, and it is mainly the farmers and modern day bird hunters who really appreciate the treasures to be found there. Why else would anyone  go to these seemingly desolate landscapes?

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The farmers care for the land because their livelihood depends on it. Their farming practices show great consideration for the wildlife that relies on food and water sources, and shelter. They are careful not to contaminate the water supplies. They leave strips of land natural at the edges of grain fields and around coulees, thus providing shelter and hiding places for small animals. Many farmers leave some part of their land in its natural state, allowing the natural vegetation of the area to take hold. This encourages wildlife survival and helps stop erosion of the soil at the same time.

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Farming is a hard life, and before the days of modern machinery to help lighten the load, the harsh land was too much for many a farmer. Still, those who tried to make a life of it, both then and now, are very conscious of preserving and caring for the land.

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The hunter has discovered what makes the prairies beautiful. Not only is the land far from desolate, with its grasses, shrubs and trees, but it sustains healthy game bird populations such as pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge, and a host of other species.

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On one of his many long walks through the fields, the hunter notices a hawk shrieking and circling a covey of grouse in a field, hoping to scare them up and perhaps catch the weakest one. Jack rabbits tear past at lightning speed. They, too, could be a meal for the hawk.

A hen pheasant bursts out of the grass not eight feet from the hunter. No cry; only the explosive sound of her flapping wings. The hen is not fair game but she didn’t know that, and held onto her bit of cover until she could no longer bear it. She will land a quarter mile away and continue her stroll through the grasses, picking up seeds and the odd grasshopper for her lunch. Eventually she will probably end up in the same area she started out in, seeking out her pheasant friends.

The English springer spaniel pushes through thick bushes at the sides of a tiny creek. Two whitetail deer come bounding out and continue across the grain field, stopping every so often to look behind them, but no dog is chasing them. The spaniel knows this is not what they’re after. She’s a great dog—works the cover tirelessly, sniffing at every knoll and depression.

The hunter watches her closely as she casts back and forth in front of him, always maintaining a certain distance, always there to do his bidding. He needs to be aware of every activity. The place is not without its dangers. If the days are still hot, as they often are in the fall, the occasional rattlesnake could still be lurking anywhere. Porcupines can do great harm to a dog just by being there when the dog investigates. Pieces of old discarded farm equipment or barbed wire are sometimes encountered half buried in the ground. An unlucky dog can suffer deep cuts from old machinery. And then there is the occasional bit of prickly pear hidden in the grass, with terrible spines to puncture a dog’s feet. It isn’t always possible to avoid all of these threats, but it helps to be watchful.

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Man and dog work as a team. Not a soul to be seen for miles. All around is what prairie people call “big sky.” The breeze swishes the grasses constantly and the two of them feel as free as the wind itself.

Upwind of them, a cock pheasant picking at grain at the edge of the field probably has no idea they are approaching.

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The dog’s behaviour changes abruptly. The tail that swished back and forth steadily, is now wagging double time. Her nose snuffles along the ground more rapidly and all at once she seems to take a line and races along an unseen trail.

“Uh! She’s birdy,” the hunter says. He picks up the pace and hefts his shotgun a little higher to be ready. By this time, the bird senses danger and runs for thick cover.

Eventually, to evade its pursuer, the bird flushes like a rocket into the sky with that unmistakable flight call, “Gock-gockgockgockgockgock!” In a split second, the hunter shoots. His shot is clean and the bird falls to the ground. The spaniel retrieves the dead bird and brings it to the hunter’s hand. Teamwork.

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Granted, not all hunters have a love of the outdoors or respect for the preservation of nature, but by far the greater majority love being out on the land and appreciate the sensitivity required to maintain the status quo.

When oil and gas development threatens to expand into natural land, the hunter joins those who lobby hard to protect plant and animal habitat.

He would hate to lose the opportunity to experience his obsession—for that’s what hunting really is for him. An obsession. It’s not about the killing of animals; it’s about being a part of nature in a real and beautiful way.

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When he goes back to his camp, the hunter picks the burrs out of his dog’s coat, soaks the dog’s sore feet in salty water, and gives her an extra good meal after working so hard all day.

He plucks and cleans the birds, smiling in anticipation of a delicious meal. He can have a chicken dinner any day, but a pheasant is something special that he can offer his family.

It has been a long day with miles of walking through the fields. Man and dog  curl up in their beds for the night. The dog is soon  whimpering in her sleep, her nose and legs twitching as she dreams of chasing the ones that got away. The man closes his eyes and  smiles in the  dark as he  listens to the not-so-far-away coyotes yipping and howling in the crisp autumn air.

To find out more about Anneli Purchase, follow these links:

Anneli’s Website

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Money Matters…from storage ideas to indulging yourself!

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Welcome back to Money Matters, the place where you’ll find inventive suggestions for living well on a budget. In tough economic times it’s vital to learn how to downsize and stretch your money, as well as recycle or upcycle items you might normally discard into great home innovations. This edition offers you super cool storage methods and ways to beautify your home. It also brings you ideas on how to indulge yourself, since “me time” may be more important than you think. Remember, a little bit of ingenuity can go a long way to enhancing your life—even on a budget!

MANAGE YOUR MESS 

 

We all end up with lots of bathroom products of all shapes and sizes. One of the easiest ways to store items is to use small plastic waste-paper bins. Separate out hair products and equipment into one, cleaning products into another, etc. It’s easy to store the baskets in a cupboard and if you’re vertically challenged, they are easy to grab a hold of from a high shelf. These bins can be bought cheaply, and if you prefer to keep them out, they come in a variety of colors to complement your décor.

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Storing jewelry can be a problem. If you are in a rush and trying to find just the right accessory, using re-sealable food bags allows you to store earrings, necklaces, and bracelets together in sets, so that making your selection is effortless. You can keep the bags in one easy-access container in a drawer, and when preparing for travel, you’ll be able to quickly pair up your jewelry with the outfits you’ll be packing. You can even make a small hole in each bag and slide it over the hook of the hanger. Larger plastic bags hold socks, tights, belts – any items to be worn with that outfit. Easy Peasy!

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If you have china in your kitchen that isn’t in daily use, it can gather dust. Storing anything you only use for special occasions in clear plastic tubs with lids means that not only are they easier to move around when you are looking for something, but you can also see what’s inside at a glance. This smart idea will ensure your items remain dust-free.

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Kids love cardboard rolls – and it’s one thing that every household has. Whether they’re from kitchen paper towel or toilet paper rolls, they can be used to store so many things. Some favorite uses are for pens, crayons and pencils. Decide how many rolls you need and then find a suitable box. Line it with the rolls so there is no spare space and then fill them up! You can get the kids to decorate the outsides first if you want to brighten them up and create a fun craft to keep them busy.

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Another good use for cardboard rolls is for storing toy cars. You will need a large tray-like box and the cardboard rolls from kitchen towels work best, as you can cut them into three. Each section of roll is a home for one car. As long as you pack your rolls tightly, this works well and you can easily store the “trays” as a stack if you need to have differing heights to accommodate those vehicles.

Storage is almost always a problem for people, and most homeowners utilize every little bit of spare space. This stool can still slide under the worktop and accommodate a nice, neat little stack of boxes for paperwork. Always choose sturdy boxes, make the color appropriate to the room and where you don’t want them to stand out, choose muted colors.

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If you are touching up the paintwork/walls in your home, rather than washing out the brushes/rollers every single time you use them, try using polythene bags. Simply pop your brush inside and wrap the bag around it tightly. It won’t dry out for a couple of days and you can even slide a tray of paint into a bag and it will remain liquid for a few days.

APPEALING ACCENTS 

 

Necklaces make wonderful decorations when used to drape over lightshades and as tie-backs for curtains. However, a lightshade is also a useful place to “store” a necklace that is particularly fragile, or that you wear frequently. Each morning when you jump out of bed it’s there waiting!

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Sometimes you want to create a little feature, something to catch the eye and soften a room. Using fabric is a great way of doing that. Here, a tea-towel has been used to line a wooden tea-tray and the remaining fabric has been used to make a placemat. It’s inexpensive and there’s minimal sewing (just hemming the cut edges and the tea-towel).

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Simple window treatments can add so much to a room. Here, you’ll find a small swag of fabric to match the bedding and one, semi-sheer voile. As this window is not overlooked, the voile is never lowered so it’s simply a window dressing. However, in case it does need to be used, the voile has been arranged in folds and some metal dragonfly clips secure them. These are clip-on weights for holding-down tablecloths on picnic tables. They can be bought in sets quite cheaply and are a nice, fun little feature.

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PAMPER YOURSELF

 

Maybe your budget doesn’t include a regular trip to a spa, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself! Set aside two hours a week – mark it on the calendar and choose a time when you can just stop whatever you are doing and chillax, even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom to escape the family. For a few pounds/dollars you can treat yourself to a pore cleanser, facial scrub and face-pack. Use them in that order (according to the instructions), and then slip into a relaxing bath to let your face-pack cure. Wash it off and then apply a good quality moisturizing cream. Your skin will glow and you will rid yourself of all of those dead skin cells that often make our skin look dry and jaded – especially in winter. Two hours out of 168 that make up your week – you don’t just deserve it, you NEED it!

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Want to help reverse the aging process? You don’t need to spend money on expensive collagen injections to do it. Restore collagen to your skin the natural way by modifying your diet to include foods rich in Vitamin C (lots of dark colored fruit, berries, and leafy green vegetables), lean protein, wheat germ, and garlic! Additionally, green and black teas contain anti-oxidants that can help to reduce wrinkles. When out in the sun, protect yourself from further collagen loss by always wearing 30 sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection.

DON’T FRET!

 

Feeling anxious? Anxiety is one of the most prevalent conditions we suffer from as a society. It can take over your life, if you let it. The more anxious we become, often the less productive we are. There are, however, some easy things you can do (and not do!) to relax, de-stress, and wipe anxiety from your life.

Don’t over extend yourself. Taking on more than you feel comfortable with at work or at home is a very common cause of stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed do only the things you absolutely have to, and learn to say no to everything else.

Think positive. Focus on shunning the negativity in your mind and embracing joyful and positive thoughts, whether serene places, happy memories, or whatever brings a smile to your face.

Laugh! Watch comedies, read funny books, share jokes with a friend—anything that makes you chuckle. Laughter releases anxiety and it really is the best medicine.

Exercise. Twenty minutes on the treadmill or a brisk walk around your neighborhood works wonders in reducing stress.

Meditate. If you don’t know how, just do an Internet search and you’ll find a myriad of ways to do it. This is a very effective method of settling down your mind and lifting your spirit!

Look out for more of Bonnie’s top tips

coming soon!

Website/blog:

http://www.bonnietrachtenberg.com/

Twitter: @Writebrainedny

FB: Bonnie Trachtenberg

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The Way We Were Watching Redford

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The Film Fatales remember the way they were while watching Robert Redford’s movies.

This time around, we’re focusing on our favorite work(s) by one actor. And, we’ve chosen the cream of the crop: Mr. Robert Redford. Redford’s career spans over 50 years, evolving from in front of the camera to behind–as producer and director. So much more than a pretty face, but oh, what a face it is. Take a walk down memory lane with us as we delve into some of Redford’s most memorable roles.

Elizabeth: Robert Redford is 78 years old. How the hell did that happen?  78! But I’ve got to say that he gives me hope that we can be vital and uber busy and enjoying life and creating art at 78. But truth be told, I want Mr. Redford (Hubbell Gardner) to look the way he did when he said, “You really think you’re easy. Compared to what? The Hundred Years War” to Katie Morosky who was played by Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. BTW – so many people have said that Katie reminded them of me so I am happy to say that I slept with Robert Redford. Pass it on.

The Way We Were

The Way We Were is a 1973 American romantic drama film, starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, and directed by Sydney Pollack. The screenplay by Arthur Laurents was based on his college days at Cornell University and his experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee. [IMDb]

This movie is one of my favorite movies for so many reasons. It was an intelligent movie that was well written. It told of a great love story while there much chaos was going on in the world. It told of two people trying to connect when they have nothing in common except for love. We want them to win, but how can they?

Redford played a bit of a cad in this movie, but who cares? He looks great in every scene even though he is tormented by his own demons. But dress him up and who cares – he is as close to perfection as you can get. And this is from someone who normally liked the drug addict poet, can I sleep on your couch kind of man. Redford made me consider another kind of man. Thank Mr. Redford for not signing that restraining order against me because I am back to my poet type. Nothing lasts forever.

Hubbell Gardner: “Are you really so sure of everything you’re so sure of?”
Me: “Yes. I am. This is my favorite Robert Redford movie of all time.”

 

Nicole: I will say this much about your favorite pick; it proves how good an actor Redford is–because he made me hate him. Playing against type as the conservative snob Hubbell Gardner, Redford walked all over Barbra’s progressive Katie and yet, it’s one of the most memorable love stories in modern cinema.

My favorite Redford roles, however, are the nail-biting political thrillers, namely All the President’s Men and Three Days of the Condor. 

All the President's Men

All the President’s Men. 1976. Co-starring Dustin Hoffman. Directed by Alan J. Pakula. Reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon’s resignation. [IMDb]

Who can forget that pivotal scene when Redford, portraying Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward, meets Deep Throat in that D.C. parking garage? All the President’s Men is an important film on many levels, but mainly because it had the audacity to reveal the inner workings of uncovering a political scandal that rocked the USA on its foundation and changed the country’s perception of its leadership.

Three Days of the Condor

Three Days of the Condor. 1975. Co-starring Faye Dunaway. Directed by Sydney Pollack. A bookish CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out whom he can really trust. [IMDb]

My love for the spy genre may have started with this movie. Redford’s Joseph Turner really carries this film on his shoulders as we wind and weave through the conspiracy he gradually uncovers. We follow him breathlessly through every chase, through every poorly made decision to avert his pursuers and his tension-filled, complicated and controversial coupling with Dunaway’s Kathy Hale. I don’t want to say too much plot wise, because if you haven’t seen this movie, the payoff is a real eye-opener. Put it on your must-see list if you enjoy political intrigue.

Hope we’ve inspired some misty, water-colored memories of your own…

Brought to you by: Film Fatales

Website/blog: http://filmfatales.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @Film_Fatales

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