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Saturday, November 30, 2019

In Which I Don’t Go To France On A Food Study

By Shane Cubis

“Obviously I am not paying for you to go to France on a food study,” wrote Nicholas, in my second disappointment of the day.* The third disappointment quickly followed on its heels, when another email popped in from Nick that wasn’t a change of heart accompanied by a first-class ticket to Provence. “I want you to explore the services of Jean-Marie Liere from Our French Impressions.”
Still, all wasn’t lost. My local pub was doing a $15 sardine nicoise with a complimentary house white that might have had some sauvignon blanc in the mix, getting me in the Gallic spirit for a chat with Jean-Marie Liere, who takes people on tours of France to soak up the culinary scene, cultural and historical surrounds, and excellent company.
In Australia, we are blessed with a frankly ridiculous range of cuisines, especially if you live in a rapidly gentrifying, former working class suburb where pubs that used to house hulking men covered with the filth of their day’s labours can offer reasonably priced sardine nicoises with a straight face. From my place, on the seven-minute walk to the Northcote Social Club (formerly the Commercial Hotel, whose carpets would have had an entirely different aroma, I suspect), my path passes eateries offering the following international options: Israeli, Vietnamese, Thai, Ethiopian, Irish, Japanese, Macedonian, Italian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Turkish, Indian, Modern Australian and French. There was also Egyptian, but it closed down.**
But, of course, there’s nothing like actually eating a nation’s food within that nation’s borders. Especially when you’re being guided about by someone like Jean-Marie, whose life experience seems to have been custom-designed to lead hungry travellers on bespoke tours through the “real” Provence, showing off authentic cuisine, local wines and expert craftmanship that winds up in your belly.

“One day my wife said, ‘You’re not doing anything with your French-ness’,” he explains. “The next morning, I went and researched how I could build a website for no money and start blogging. So, basically, Our French Impressions was born that day as a website, and it grew up from there. That's why we are ex-wife and ex-husband – we have very different ways of going about things. My wife is a perfectionist, which means she doesn't do anything until it's perfect, where I stop and I fine-tune it all the way.
“So, these trips didn't really happen until we were separated because I said, ‘Even if I have only two clients, I’m going to run the tour, and then the next year will be better, and the next year we'll have more people.’ Now, I'm at this stage where I have done three trips. One professional with Pepe Saya – a research trip on butter in France that was entirely financed by him, and we did a book about it. Then I had two private tours with clients who I knew through somebody else. I mean, it's word of mouth, really. Now we have two trips planned for next year. I think we will fill them up because there's a lot of interest.
“But it’s also very personal, too. The best testimonial I've got was in September. It touched me very deeply, because the lady said, ‘Where we were expecting a tour guide, we ended up with a friend.’ It's not necessarily that I want to be friends with everybody, but I want people to feel that they have taken care of very privately.”
Pained, I turned the conversation back to Australia’s culinary scene, which has changed significantly in the time our man has been here. And he has a theory as to why that is.
I think a big change has occurred because of MasterChef,” he says. “MasterChef has brought into everybody’s home an interest for better cooking, and also has driven people to buy better ingredients, fresher things, paddock-to-plate kind of things. That has forced the chefs and the restaurateurs to actually up their games, as well. So, it's been a win-win situation, I suppose. And then they also involved children, so those children are now young adults and they want to cook properly and have a nice feeling.”
It’s no revelation to say that for a lot of us, food is a major component in our upbringing. Whether you were a fussy eater who would only tolerate peas, mashed potato and sausages, or a Dora the Explorer type who wanted everything in their mouth and make it snappy, there’s hardly a person you’ll meet who won’t be able to wax lyrical on the meals they necked in short pants. Or, you know, pinafores.
“My mum was at home,” explains Jean-Marie, “so her duty was to take care of us as children and keep the household running while Dad was away working. Her mum was the same and her grandmother was the same. So, basically, she had the same training as I had, which is just watching people you love doing the things that are going to feed you.
“Over in France at the time, kids didn’t go to school on Wednesday. And I vividly remember that was the day where we would go to the market and then maybe to the butcher or do all the food shopping with her. And the butcher would always give you a slice of saucisson, or whatever. He was doing a loss, basically, saying, ‘Well, that piece of saucisson that I’m giving away today will bring back business.’”

Any Aussie in a romantic relationship with someone of certain European heritages knows that almost everything is food (and what’s left over is sex). It has to be discussed, planned, anticipated, dissected and judged. You can’t just off-handedly tell your Italian father-in-law that the place on the corner does a great Lebanese pizza. And you can’t tell Nonna you had Macca’s before visiting, unless you want to cop the wooden spoon.
“My family lived a very nomadic life because my dad was posted regularly elsewhere,” Jean-Marie explains. “So I think I have moved 45 times in my life. I lived in France and Mexico and Scotland and Holland and in Australia. I visited, I don't know, over 40 countries for sure, or not far from 50. So, I have also an appreciation of different cultures and different foods, and now even the language and the food are related. A lot of the jokes in France or the expression are food related, and it’s really weird because this is a big, big part of French life. I mean, I know when I'm with my mum and my sister, who live on the west coast now, it’s going to be, ‘Oh, where are we going for lunch tomorrow?’
“It’s very funny – you can be at a two-Michelin-star restaurant for lunch and then the conversation will go on to, ‘What are we going to have for dinner?’ Even if it’s just a piece of saucisson and some red wine, you never miss a meal. That doesn’t happen.”
I tell him it’s actually a bit of a shock for me to spend time with some unreformed Aussie-Aussie mates, who enjoy endless cups of tea and sunny-side-up eggs on dry toast. Who’ll order the beef and black bean, and look suspiciously at any beer that doesn’t come in a marone and gold can. It’s actually a bit of a palate cleanser, or a nostalgia trip that takes me back to dunking Milk Arrowroots in sweet milky tea while Nana Jean played tennis with her gossipy friends on the Russell Vale court.
(Actually, I didn’t tell him a single word of this, but you can imagine me as a far better interviewer, forging spontaneous connections between cultures and praising rather than burying my own family’s relationship with food. No? Okay, let’s move on to when I asked him about how things are different for diners in 2019 as opposed to the late ’90s.)
“When I first came here,” he replies, “about 22 years ago now, there was not much table manners. Kids would run around freely in restaurants, screaming their heads off. A lot of people would go to a fancy restaurant, and not know how to use the cutlery. And then the waiters were backpackers that didn't know anything about waitressing.
“I remember my first boss, we've been very busy, we have done very well, and one night she said to me, ‘Oh, here is a couple of hundred dollars, go and take your wife to a good restaurant on us.’ So we decided to go to Café Sydney – and we didn't get our wine until the middle of the main course. That's the sort of thing that has changed tremendously.
“In Sydney, anyway. It was slightly different in Melbourne because of the influence of the Italians and the Greeks. There was a culture of waitressing being a job, where in Sydney, it's very recent that people are actually employed to that job or at least trained to be properly.”
I threw in some words like sommelier to let him know I knew my cuisine, that I’d be something of an asset on his overseas tours, but upon reading the transcript of our conversation, I realise I’m probably too gauche. But at least I crossed out the questions I had about Gabriel Gaté and Manu Feildel.
Last word belongs, as it should, to Jean-Marie: “It is a very, very personal trip. Most tours that are run in Provence, or elsewhere in France, are usually by expats – people that are English or Australian or American who settled in Provence years ago, they bought a property or whatever. And in many ways they know Provence today better than me. But they don't have the anchor in the terroir, if you will. My roots are there.
“And actually, this last trip there was really, really strong as a feeling. Aborigines here talk about country, and I really felt for the first time, in my bones, it was not intellectual at all. It was really a deep connection, a physical connection, really, with the land in Provence, which I have never had happen before. I suppose it was just too much noise in my head about it. All these things happen to you in curious ways.”

*My first disappointment of the day, of course, was spotting myself in the mirror and realising I hadn’t spontaneously dropped 15-odd kilos overnight.
**And now you know why.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Gold Labels - For The One Off Pieces - Le Noeud Papillon Of Sydney

Arriving this week were our new limited edition gold labels for one off pieces on the website. They're super cool, super sexy. I am hoping our customers will find them equally exciting. First cabs off the rank will be early next week.

Be Prepared For Your Next Black Tie Function

It's that time of year again and of course, once you pick up your tuxedo you'll have to make a decision on your bow tie and pochette. We are here, as always, to serve you, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week on Whatsapp +61413140994

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Bespoke Tailor In Sydney - Leng Ngo - And Also Does The Best Alterations In Town

Flash as a rat with a gold tooth. That's what my old business partner used to say to me if I wore anything too ritzy. But ritz is sometimes just my thing. This most recent suit was supposed to be an homage to the gangster films such as Goodfellas and Casino - where slubbed silk dupioni was de rigeur in the world of gambling, mafia connections, cocaine use, women of ill repute, wives who disdained women of ill repute and threw things at their husbands, murder and intrigue and what not. Not that anything like that happens in my life. But I do love the theatre of clothes.

So the first problem to solve was where to find the silk dupioni. We found it out of the New York office of Holland And Sherry through Zalman Lever, of Alexander Black NYC, a custom clothier. Zalman sourced the fabric and measured me, took notes on the styling I wanted and then I have him carte blanche to do the trousers as he saw fit. I wanted the suit to have presence as it will be in the window of the Studio for the spring carnival horse racing season.

Once the suit was finished in the Chinese workroom is was then sent to Sydney where I then took it to my tailor, Leng Ngo, below, and he finished the suit by bring it in here and there, finishing the trousers, bringing them slightly in to be more tapered and he also finished the button position and put grey Australian mother of pearl buttons on front and sleeves.

The result was to my mind, spectacular. The slubbed silk and the shimmy of the electric blue is so visually arresting that every time I walk past the Studio window I have to stop myself. Even after all these years of working with fabrics and making bow ties, I still get so excited when something really catched my eye and this is one of those stand out cloths I have worked with.

But it's not on the mannequin that it really comes alive. It needs a human. So I walked out of my office last Friday night and went to a bar. I wore no socks with a pair of Lobb Kiplings, put on a high collar pink shirt that was made for my by Studio Shirts in Macquarie Street and then I threw on a triple warp garza grossa bow tie made by us. You know, you have no idea how wonderful it is to take a portly somewhat long in the tooth man like myself and voila, a star is born. A movie star. A sheik. An oil baron. A shipping magnate. Such is the fun with good tailoring that nobody in the bar that I went to thought of me as a small artisan working out of a 30 square metre space. It was like, if you will, letting the genie out of the bottle.

If you, like me, enjoy a bit of theatre in life. Google Leng Ngo and he can knock you out a suit like that. Or google Alexander Black NYC if you are stateside and he will sort you out.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

What Are The Best Tailoring Scissors In The World - Potentially They Are Kai 7300 Series

In the Sydney Studio where I cut my silks I generally stock to rotary blades. The best rotary cutter in the world, in my opinion, is the well balanced and weighty Gingher rotary cutter - but I ordinarily switch out the Gingher blades for the titanium Fiskars blades which, depending on where you can source them, are a more economical and sharper blade (though the gingher looks more sexy). The other thing is I am left handed, and Gingher, which is made in Italy, is the only company that offers a left handed rotary cutter.
But when I am not using my rotary blade to cut silks, I am using my tailoring scissors to either cut fabrics or else to cut the patterns in the workroom that don't suit a rotary blade. For example, aspects of cutting ties, cutting rolls of fabrics and cutting the curved shapes of silk eye shades, require scissors. Over the years I have tried many varieties of scissors. There were the Schneider (German word for tailor) scissors from Zwilling, titanium ones from Fiskars (which are excellent), the classic red-handled ones from Mundial you find at fabric wholesalers and then, finally, the more upmarket Kai scissors with Japanese blades.
Of all of them, and it's now been eleven years that I have been applying myself to this craft, I recommend the Kai 7300 professonal tailoring scissors range. Made from Japanese steel they have not only a presence and feel in the hand that makes you feel more confident, but they blade is much much more smoother to the cut and it doesn't take much to splice the fabric without actually using the scissor mechanics. Despite their size (I use the 300mm version), it doesn't take long to get a grip on using them. The only problem I have encountered with scissors is that there is not enough information on how to sharpen them effectively and not enough information on how to maintain them over time. As is the case with many of my scissors, I am never quite sure if I am tightening the blades back correctly.
So if you are starting out for the first time cutting fabrics my suggestion is this. Start with a premium Fiskars rotary cutter and a self-restoring mat from Olfa or Fiskars. Concurrently start with the Fiskars titanium scissors. When you get a grip on it, buy yourself a Gingher rotary cutter for the balance and weight of it and concurrently move up your scissors to the Kai professional tailoring range. 
kai 7300 tailoring scissors le noeud papillon blog review

Working On Animal Line Drawing Silk Jacquards

The perfect place to start on a new silk design is by looking at nature, both flora and fauna. The Japanese, who inspire me most, seem to be able to capture the best lines to show fluidity and detail, just enough, never too much. Recently I have been looking at animal designs again and I went back to some photographs that Sydney wildlife photographer Margaret Weiss suggested I use as reference for a second design using her photographs. The photos are stunning. Eagles in flight. Whether I manage to turn it into something beautiful remains to be seen.

In Praise Of The Ruffled Dinner Shirt

Not everyone can pull of a ruffled dinner shirt. It has that 70's peacock appeal but the problem is that most people in today's climate would make it look Austin Powers cheesey. However, Andy has made it work for him. Read our instagram post below.
I prematurely posted this image of Andy the other night that was his ensemble for a trip to Las Vegas. He's channelling the 70's with a ruffled bib shirt he designed with the wonderful artisan shirt makers at @buddshirtmakers of which we once interviewed their cutter @cutteratbudd James for our own blog. The wide beige shawl lapel works so well with the shirt and his eye for good tailoring and proportions means his look, though referencing 70s black tie, is still so fresh even in 2019. And you can see said ensemble at the @bellagio by following through to @styleafter50 .
andy poupart black tie bow tie style influence le noeud papillon

Make A Booking At The Studio And We Can Cut It In Front Of You

There is a feeling of joy that those that visit the Studio in Sydney get that surpasses the web experience. You get to see and touch with the naked eye. And we will the Studio with art and knick knacks and prototypes. I try to replicate that experience on our Instagram stories but nothing really matched what I call hand-to-hand combat - the getting to know someone in person experience. For those of you in Sydney who have the time in your schedule to swing past, Whatsapp me on +61413140994 to arrange a time. 
le noeud papillon studio sydney vaucluse made to order bespoke bow ties cravattes pocket squares

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Private Label - Are You A Tailor Wanting To See Your Tuxedo Look Its Best?

It's sad when you see a tailor do and amazing piece of work and post it up to his Instagram wall with the customer wearing a very ordinary silk bow tie, the worst being the pre-tied ones. We have been making private label bow ties for very reputable tailors for many years, both in Australia and overseas. If you are interested in us making bow ties for your tailoring or retail business, Whatsapp us +61413140994 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Where To Find Bow Ties In Australia ?

If you are looking for a bow tie, especially a luxury self-tying bow tie, then stop past. We have over a thousand silks on hand and eleven years experience making bow ties for some of the most discerning men around the globe. So, what are you waiting for? Log onto or Whatsapp us directly on +61413140994

Monday, August 19, 2019

Mount Kosciuszko - The Highest Fashion For The Highest Mountain

There is a troubled romance I have had with the Snowy Mountains of Australia that comes from my childhood and has played out over a few decades and has given me an endless amount of material as fodder for story telling. For example, one time I broke my leg on Mount Selwyn as a young boy, broke it at the shin from memory, my leg was twisted in such a manner and I was in agony. They got me up the mountain on the banana and I was in their makeshift room for the injured waiting on an ambulance with my mother holding my hand. Outside I could hear skidding tyres for a couple of hours. Everyone from our skiing party came to commiserate the end of my skiing for the year. I was teary eyed. Later I would learn that the skidding tyres was the ambulance that was bogged outside and could not take me to Cooma until they freed it. By the time I got in the back my mother and I got wacked on the happy gas all the way to hospital though she sternly told me I was to tell nobody she had a hit.

In Cooma they performed surgery but poorly. In Sydney a few weeks later I had to go back into hospital where they broke and reset it again. By the time I came out of my fibre glass cast (which was new back then) I had put on so much weight I looked like a human pudding. When it came time to get it off I was presented with the oldest doctor in the world who used an electric metal rotary blade to get it off and apart from the excruciating pain managed to leave me with a keloid scar down my left leg that took fifteen years to become barely visible.

That's just one boyhood experience. The adult ones are perhaps less gruesome but what wasn't done to my body was perhaps done to my heart. But would I take any of it back? No, not ever, never. A priest once described to me the duality of pleasure and pain, they were the two faces of the same coin. The Snowy Mountains are a little like that coin - if you want the pleasure you must be willing to take the pain. A good example is that when high winds blow fresh powder over the ridge of Crackenback, the time to ski that powder is when the wind is still blowing, not the next blue sky day when everyone's all over the mountain like a cheap suit. So the wind will bite through you and the visibility will be poor and your goggles iced over, but, the skiing will be good. The mountains offer in those moments a very terse set of prose, written in the vein of Hemingway. Something like: "the wind blew hard against the helmet. His moustache was frozen, he could not feel his fingers. Then he pushed off and his skis skid first on the ice but then he hit powder and it was good." Pain. Pleasure. Pleasure, then pain.

The thing that skiers often describe to me, which I agree with, is that it's very difficult to think about anything else in the moment. You can't be running debits and credits in your mental ledger when you have a mound of snow coming up in front, when a snowboarder comes into your field of vision to the left and when you can see a patch of ice two turns away. It forces you to stay present and to stay in the zone. Otherwise, you'll be the next guy going down in a banana.

My skiing has improved. I kind of like the fact that I am not a great skier nor does it come naturally. Like everything I have ever put my hand to, I have had to work for it. I was not naturally gifted with anything except perhaps the ability to tell stories - which I believe was some offshoot of having had an unhappy childhood and having to live in my own head. In having to fight for it I think I am more appreciative of the gains I make. This season I set myself an additional goal, to climb up Mount Kosciuszko wearing one of our kerchiefs with the help of my friend Lewis Foster

I met Lewis in Switzerland. He was in a neck brace having fallen off a cliff. He was young, enthusiastic and one of those positive people who make good use out of any bad situation. He had rented a ski apartment and though he couldn't ski, he didn't give it up, instead he decided to make use of the European ski season by learning French and he did a very good job of it. So much so that often now we talk in French on the chairlift just so we can have a private conversation about the people who are also on the chairlift. :) 

Mount Kosciuszko is 2228 metres above sea level. You can get to the summit by a number of ways and in a number of methods. In the summer you can hike it on the raised metal grates that are bolted into the mountain. But in the winter when its laden with snow, your main options are skis with skins or else snow shoes. Lewis encouraged me to try the snow shoes.

We had been waiting since Thursday for the conditions to be right and on Sunday I got the call that Monday was set to be blue skies and low winds. I cut short a wine tasting that evening, foam rolled my back and legs, dumped two sleeping pills and put myself to bed.

We set out from Eagle's Nest (1937 metres above sea level) as a group of three, the third being a ski instructor by the name of Tim Robertson. He is one of the doyens of the ski instructing community in Thredbo, a true gentleman and a chairlift confidante. I say chairlift because everybody blabs on the mountain but what goes on the chairlift, really, should stay on the chairlift.

As we gathered before the lifts opened at the Avalanche Cafe I noticed that I wanted to puke. I am not the sort of person that ordinarily gets nerves but perhaps owing to the additional hydralite and magnesium and the fact that I hadn't done anything like this in a while I dry reeched into the public urinal trough and walked out ready to rumble.

You place your snow boot into the shoe and strap in. It's that simple. The snow shoe grips the ice and snow and provides additional displacement of your weight over a larger surface area than your foot. Rarely if ever do you find yourself sinking into the snow. It's extraordinarily simple. You use stocks of course, no different to hiking - and off you go. The first part of the walk was that corduroy patch that leads from from Eagles Nest to the top of the Basin. From that point onwards you are off piste and out of the resort. With packed lunches in the backpacks of Tim and Lewis, we did a quick inventory check and applied sunscreen, made a couple of videos for friends and family and onwards we went into the quiet of the open snow fields which were bright white under the blue skies with faint streaks of high stratosphere cloud.

But it's not just the vista of these expanses of snow above the tree line that are peppered with exposed rocks and boulders that make it so fresh and free for the traveller. It is the camaraderie that develops between the participants. A joke gets made, an observation about the day before, some banter gets passed around about old flames and former conquests. It is in that quiet and gentle wind that passes, broken only by the sound of the snow shoe crunching, that forms a bond between those that make the pilgrimage to the top of Australia's highest mountain. And it is coupled by the fact that you are off the grid and no longer a skier hustling to the front of a chairlift queue. Now you are relaxed, focused in a different way - towards the summit. Looking as you pass around each mountain on the undulating way there, the goal that you will reach in two and a half hours without any knowledge of how hard the journey may be ahead or what you might expect to see when you reach the summit.

At a few points we stopped to spray the snow golden a little way off the track. At times we would walk by the same grated metal track where, as a young boy aged 10, I had trekked that same path in Autumn to the sounds of my Sony Walkman playing Robert Palmer's album 'Heavy Nova' on cassette. How quickly that time had passed. It was like yesterday, but yesterday was so far away now. The teacher that had accompanied me on that excursion, I'd seen him, still smoking, resting at a bench by the fountains of Kings Cross not two years earlier, old now, no longer teaching.

As we approached the summit and the last ridge line that would take us to the top, a skier on skins and those unusual bindings which allowed for that style of skiing was making far better progress in a more languid manner and I stopped him to say hello and ask him how his journey had been. He was rather convivial and stopped to show me how his skins and bindings worked on the incline. As he set off he turned and said "you don't happen to own a bow tie Studio in Vaucluse do you?" - What were the chances? A customer, up here. It seemed serendipitous that he had been in not two weeks earlier to pick up his best mate's bow tie for his wedding. He was a trained mountaineer and so I was glad he had met up with Lewis, also an accomplished mountaineer and rock climber.

That last leg up the final ridge to the summit was tough. I rarely run these days, I am well over one hundred kilos. It was beginning to remind me of reaching Dead Woman's Pass on the second day of my trek to Machu Piccu. I was counting fifty steps and then pausing to breathe. At the top lay a simple plynth made of rocks with a plaque on top. The mission was successful. But like most hill tops and mountain tops you reach, the end result is a windy place that you don't really want to stay on top of too long. To journey is to arrive I thought, and then to leave quickly.

We made a couple of wind blown videos, one of which I'll post below. I soaked in the vista to Victoria one way, back to New South Wales on the other. 

Lewis found a quiet spot next to a rock at the bottom of the last ridge. He pulled out some soggy sandwiches and Tim, who had laid out a spread of crackers and dips, managed to use his new Leatherman multi tool to heap some duck liver pate into our half eaten sandwiches and they came alive and made them so much more edible. These men were very careful to clean up any mess they made in the snow and you didn't need to ask them whether they were environmentalists. They loved the mountains as much as I love Bondi Beach in the mornings.

As we descended I sang as many songs as I could remember and we told more stories to each other until we pulled into Eagle's Nest and I ordered a round of shots and Tim ordered some Kahlua coffees. We shared a schnitzel as well. When the bill came Tim refused my paying it. It was a lovely gesture from a man I have come to think of as friend as much as a ski instructor.

We are here but for a short time on this planet. There are experiences that can be had that are both beautiful and edifying that bring people together (although if they go wrong they can lead to cannibalism .... and I was considered the first meal since, in Lewis' words, I was already stuffed and ready to go), that require so little to be fulfilled. No waiters, no tap dancers, no fireworks, no champagne. The awe of a vista and the expanse of white snow under blue sky, which now, as we returned, was starting to form the snow storm that would come within two days; was just one of those things you stow in your mind - so that when I sing my last song and my death rattle steals me from this world, I will relax and let go knowing that despite all the pain, there was pleasure in this life that I took whilst I had the chance.

Lewis Foster - 0488592300 - on Instagram @lewfosadventures

Left to right: Lewis Foster, moi, Tim Robertson and my customer Alex right.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Recent Feedback - One I Feel The Need To Share

It can be a thankless job. There are times when on a Monday morning when I am packing and sending and adding in little small gifts as a token of my appreciation for our customers that I think to myself 'am I making a difference'. The stoics said that if a man were to live well he had to remain relevant to the society and times in which he lived. Viktor Frankl also believed this, that man's search for meaning and purpose was above all the most important aspect of one's life, beyond the pursuit of happiness, beyond the pursuit of wealth etc.

Anyway, without further ado, and without wanting to get ahead of my skis, I was very chuffed to get the testimonial below sent through from a new customer of ours.


Hello Le Noeud Papillon,

I wanted to share with you a story from today. A seven year old girl with mucopolysaccharidosis, who needs to come into hospital weekly for treatments, absolutely loves the colour purple. Last week when she came in she was very upset about some challenges she’d had sleeping. I promised her next week I’d wear a purple tie.

Today I wore your perfect bow tie, purple with white polka dots (and reverso of purple satin) and she was thrilled. I promised her at the start of her treatment (which takes 6 hours) if she weren’t too tired at the end I’d show her how it’s tied. After waiting patiently, she was totally enthralled with how it works.

Thank you for making wonderful bow ties!

C. Kundle,

Canberra, Australia. 


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Mercury In Retrograde And The Art Of Non-Violent Communication

It's been a tough July. A very tough one indeed. And when it was going very pear shaped I googled which dates Mercury was in retrograde in 2019 and lo and behold it pretty much started the moment that things started unravelling in my world.

The first time I heard about Mercury being in retrograde was when my psychotherapist, who has guided me through all sorts of mishaps and dysfunctional relationships, told me to be kind to myself during a particular period because of this astrological phenomenon. She said 'you cannot embark on a new project during this period. It is a time of revision, revisiting, checking over, reviewing and so on. Anything that has a re on it you can engage in. Anything new, don't do it, it will not work out.' At first I thought I needed to change therapists, but then I decided to follow her advice and it worked.

I went back over work. I checked on projects that were existing and revised and revisited them. I revisited dialogue between parties. I checked my own thinking too. And I came out the other side on top.

This time around it hit me sideways. I really thought the Gods were playing with me. I found myself bumping into people I hadn't seen in a while and revisiting old feelings and thoughts. I would leave my phone in my car and have to walk down four flights of stairs to go get it. My internet connection went down. My car needed a new battery.

Tuesday was, I hope, the worst of it. I had a huge family blowout and as usual I found it tough to see what part I was playing and instead wished to pass the buck on those that were reacting to me. The pressure gasket blew on Tuesday and so by Tuesday evening I did myself a favour and I revisited Marshall Rosenberg's art of non-violent communication. If any of you are out there and are experiencing the same phenomenon, of old wounds being prodded, of being challenged and being told you or your behaviour is unacceptable, then I would encourage you to watch the You Tube video below.

Non-violent communication is very hard to achieve. It requires you to step back and re-examine yourself, your moral judgements and the preconceptions we carry with us formed by what we learn from society, from friends, from family. And it requires you to carefully listen to others, a skill God did not bless me with. Instead I got ego and self-righteousness.

My life lessons these past two years have been bitter sweet. There is a level of self-entitlement in me which I do battle with daily. And I am indulgent in so many ways. My hope, by the time mercury in retrograde ends, is to have re-examined myself so that I can take enough time to listen to other people's needs and maybe, just maybe, August will bring some respite.