Wednesday, 26 July 2017


“Murder is like potato chips: You can’t stop with just one.” ― Stephen King 

We watched a thriller last weekend as we wanted something fairly non-intellectual, which required no deep thinking nor emotional investment. We do enjoy a good thriller as an entertaining and escapist “passive activity”, so to speak, but when we started to watch and I saw that the director (and screenwriter) was David Oondatje, I was a little cautious as I have no time for his more famous uncle Michael Oondatje whose infamous “The English Patient” I dislike (I must have started to read that book about five times and started to watch the movie three times, and I was unable to stomach it!)… 

The Lodger (2007) Thriller/Film noir - Director by David Oondatje; starring Alfred Molina, Hope Davis, Shane West. – 6/10

This is an oft-told tale of a serial killer, this time in West Hollywood. The movie has two converging plot lines: The first involves an uneasy relationship between a psychologically unstable landlady and her enigmatic lodger, while the second is about a troubled detective with family issues and unorthodox methods, who is engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the elusive killer, who is imitating the crimes of Jack the Ripper.

Although the movie was fairly conventional it was watchable at least! The acting was fine and the plot and direction competent, although the movie was a little overplotted and not tight enough. The final twist saved the film, because otherwise it would have been disappointing, especially on account of the rather glib and premature psychological explanation given by Rebecca Pidgeon who played (rather woodenly) the resident psychologist. Nevertheless, an enjoyable enough low octane thriller/film noir good for our wintry Sunday matinée.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


“You don’t stumble upon your heritage. It's there, just waiting to be explored and shared.” - Robbie Robertson 

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only.

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Bristol is a city and county in South West England with a population of 454,200 in 2017. The district has the 10th largest population in England, while the Bristol metropolitan area is the 12th largest in the United Kingdom. The city borders North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, with the cities of Bath and Gloucester to the south-east and north-east, respectively. Iron Age hill forts and Roman villas were built near the confluence of the rivers Frome and Avon, and around the beginning of the 11th century the settlement was known as Brycgstow (Old English “the place at the bridge”).

Bristol received a royal charter in 1155 and was historically divided between Gloucestershire and Somerset until 1373, when it became a county of itself. From the 13th to the 18th century, Bristol was among the top three English cities after London in tax receipts. Bristol was surpassed by the rapid rise of Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham in the Industrial Revolution. Bristol was a starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World. On a ship out of Bristol in 1497 John Cabot, a Venetian, became the first European since the Vikings to land on mainland North America. In 1499 William Weston, a Bristol merchant, was the first Englishman to lead an exploration to North America.

At the height of the Bristol slave trade, from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slave ships carried an estimated 500,000 people from Africa to slavery in the Americas. The Port of Bristol has since moved from Bristol Harbour in the city centre to the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Dock. Bristol’s modern economy is built on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and the city-centre docks have been redeveloped as centres of heritage and culture. The city has the largest circulating community currency in the U.K.- the Bristol pound, which is pegged to the Pound sterling.

The city has two universities, the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol and a variety of artistic and sporting organisations and venues including the Royal West of England Academy, the Arnolfini, Spike Island, Ashton Gate and the Memorial Stadium. It is connected to London and other major UK cities by road, rail, sea and air by the M5 and M4 (which connect to the city centre by the Portway and M32), Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway mainline rail stations, and Bristol Airport. One of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations, Bristol was selected in 2009 as one of the world’s top ten cities by international travel publishers Dorling Kindersley in their Eyewitness series of travel guides. The Sunday Times named it as the best city in Britain in which to live in 2014 and 2017, and Bristol also won the EU’s European Green Capital Award in 2015.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme. 

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Monday, 24 July 2017


“Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one.” - Gloria Steinem 

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, and Taueret, and in Greek, Θουέρις “Thouéris” and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name “Taweret” (Tȝ-wrt) means “she who is great” or simply “great one”, a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities. The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile. She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

From her ideological conception, Taweret was closely grouped with (and is often indistinguishable from) several other protective hippopotamus goddesses: Ipet, Reret, and Hedjet. Some scholars even interpret these goddesses as aspects of the same deity, considering their universally shared role as protective household goddesses.

The other hippopotamus goddesses have names that bear very specific meanings, much like Taweret (whose name is formed as a pacificatory address intended to calm the ferocity of the goddess): Ipet’s name (“the Nurse”) demonstrates her connection to birth, child rearing, and general caretaking, and Reret’s name (“the Sow”) is derived from the Egyptians’ classification of hippopotami as water pigs. However, the origin of Hedjet’s name (“the White One”) is not as clear and could justly be debated. Evidence for the cult of hippopotamus goddesses exists from the time of the Old Kingdom (c. 2686 – 2181 BCE) in the corpus of ancient Egyptian funerary texts entitled the Pyramid Texts.

It was not until the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BCE) that Taweret became featured more prominently as a figure of religious devotion. Her image adorns apotropaic magical objects, the most notable of which being a common type of “wand” or “knife” carved from hippopotamus ivory that was likely used in rituals associated with birth and the protection of infants. Similar images appear also on children’s feeding cups, once again demonstrating Taweret’s integral role as the patron goddess of child rearing.

Quite contrarily, she also took on the role of a funerary deity in this period, evidenced by the commonplace practice of placing hippopotami decorated with marsh flora in tombs and temples. Some scholars believe that this practice demonstrates that hippopotamus goddesses facilitated the process of rebirth after death, just as they aided in earthly births. These statues, then, assisted the deceased’s passing into the afterlife.

With the rise of personal piety in the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1069 BCE), household deities like Taweret gained even more importance. Taweret’s image has been found on an array of household objects, demonstrating her central role in the home. In fact, such objects were even found at Amarna from the reign of Akhenaten (c. 1352–1336 BCE), who promulgated the monotheistic cult of Aten.

Taweret’s survival in the artistic corpus found at Akenaten’s capital demonstrates her overwhelming significance in daily life. In this time period, her role as a funerary deity was strengthened, as her powers became considered not only life-giving, but regenerative as well. Various myths demonstrate her role in facilitating the afterlives of the deceased as the nurturing and purifying “Mistress of Pure Water”. However, Taweret and her fellow hippopotamus goddesses of fertility should not be confused with Ammit, another composite hippopotamus goddess who gained prominence in the New Kingdom. Ammit was responsible for devouring the unjust before passing into the afterlife. Unlike Ammit, the other hippopotamus goddesses were responsible for nourishment and aid, not destruction.

Taweret’s image served a functional purpose on a variety of objects. The most notable of these objects are amulets, which protected mothers and children from harm. Such amulets, appearing before 3000 BCE, were popular for most of ancient Egyptian history. She also consistently appeared on household furniture throughout history, including chairs, stools, and headrests.

Sunday, 23 July 2017


“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me!” ― Dorothea Mackellar 

Bruce Swann was born in 1925 in Brighton, a seaside suburb of Adelaide, and enjoyed sailing at Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club. After his schooling at Pulteney Grammar School, Bruce began work in 1941 for pastoral house and woolbroker, Goldsbrough Mort & Co. On his 17th birthday, Swann joined the Royal Australian Navy and spent four years at sea. His first ship was attached to the American Navy and his second, the Corvette HMAS Bendigo, sailed with the British Pacific Fleet. Even then he was sketching – the sea and boats.

Following World War II, Bruce Swann resumed work as a stock agent, and remained with Goldsbroughs and then Elder Smith, for 33 years. He dealt daily with woolgrowers and cattlemen on properties and in stockyards, in South Australia and the Northern Territory. He travelled continuously, forming long-lasting business and personal friendships and developed a keen insight into the culture of rural Australia, its natural beauty and its unique landscapes and architecture.

Bruce Swann married Clem in 1948, and they had two sons, Steve and Phil. Aged 39, Swann suffered his first of three heart attacks. Two years later, in 1967, he had a second attack and, while recovering at home for four months, he started to sketch, from memory, many of the places he knew and loved from his country travels. Bruce Swann’s first exhibition of drawings was held at Rachel Biven’s “Off The Beaten Track” Gallery in Sydenham Road, Norwood. The exhibition was highly successful and Bruce then went on to exhibit pen and wash drawings, followed by watercolours and then oil paintings. After his first two exhibitions at ‘Off The Beaten Track’, exhibitions were held regularly at various galleries.

In 1974, Bruce Swann left his job as a stock agent to concentrate full-time on his art. He was commissioned to produce a book of architectural drawings for the University of Adelaide for its Centenary Year. These works are held in the University’s collection. His work from across his career can further be appreciated through the nine books that were published, including “Swann’s South Australia”, “Swann at Home and Abroad”, as well as “The University of Adelaide”. In 1976, Bruce underwent open heart surgery from which he recovered well.

From 1977 onwards, Swann had become a well-known artist and his works were purchased for many important private and public collections not only in Australia but abroad. Important commissions also followed, including The S.A. Syndicate’s commission to produce a book of drawings and paintings of the America’s Cup challenge races in Fremantle in 1987. A large exhibition at the Waterfront Restaurant featured the paintings of the 12 metre yachts in action and the harbour views and the life of Fremantle and was a tremendous success in raising funds for the S.A. Syndicate.

The last one-man exhibition by Bruce Swann was in November 1986 at the Barry Newton Gallery, where the public and corporate support at the opening was so great that there was hardly standing room in the Gallery – and it was a complete sellout. The list of corporate collections with art by Swann within Australia and overseas is extensive, and was growing fast at that time. Sadly, Bruce Swann died in November 1987, aged 62. Bruce Swann’s heritage is a portfolio of art works in a wide range of media – pencil, ink, watercolour, gouache, pastel, acrylic and oil.

The painting above is a favourite of mine, “Dutton Township, South Australia”. It seems to encapsulate the vastness and arid beauty of Australia’s outback settlements. Implicit in this of course, also is the resilience, strength and ruggedness of the Australian people. Being able to not only survive in adversity, but make a success of one’s life is something that one encounters again and again in Australia – especially so in the Outback…

More information from the artist's site here.

Saturday, 22 July 2017


“The Kangxi Emperor also used to write music notes, and let me review, giving me his own pen, he made me write on his desk, and we often played together the same harpsichord, each with one hand” - Teodorico Pedrini’s letter of 1727 

Teodorico Pedrini, C.M. (June 30, 1671 – December 10, 1746), was an Italian Vincentian priest, musician and composer, but mainly missionary for 36 years at the Imperial Court of China. Pedrini was born in Fermo, in the Marche, then part of the Papal States. He was the founder of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Beijing (西堂). He was the music teacher to three sons of the Qing Dynasty’s Kangxi Emperor, he was co-author of the first treatise on Western Music theory ever written in Chinese: the LǜlǚZhèngyì-Xùbiān, later included in the Siku Quanshu. His Chinese name was 德理格 – Dé Lĭgé.

He was baptised Paolo Filippo Teodorico Pedrini on July 6, 1671, in the parish church of St. Michael the Archangel, in Fermo in the Marche. His father, Giovanni Francesco Pedrini, who had been born in Servigliano on February 5, 1630, had worked as notary in his native town for two years from 1654 to 1656, before going to Rome for ten years, as Chancellor for the Auditor Camerae. He then became the most important notary in Fermo, from 1669 to his death in 1707. Teodorico’s mother was Nicolosa Piccioni, born in Fermo on March 14, 1650, daughter of another notary, Giovanni Francesco Piccioni, from Altidona.

Teodorico received his clerical tonsure in 1687, and the minor orders in Fermo in 1690. He attended the University in Fermo, graduating in Utroque Iure on June 26, 1692. From November 16, 1692 to August 7, 1697 he lived in the Collegio Piceno in Rome. In this period he joined the Academy of Arcadia in 1696, where he received the name of Dioro Taumasio. On December 21, 1697 he received the Subdiaconate; on February 23, 1698 he joined the Congregation of the Mission of St. Vincent de Paul (known as the Vincentians or Lazarists), in March 1698 he was ordained a deacon and two weeks later (on the Easter night of 1698) presbyter, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. In June 1698 he entered the Lazarist house of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Rome, where he remained until January 1702, when he was sent to China, as a missionary of the Propaganda Fide, after meeting Pope Clement XI.

Pedrini’s journey to China was very long, at first following the Via Francigena to Livorno, then by ship to Toulon, and then Paris, where the Nuncio was Filippo Antonio Gualterio, also born in Fermo. Although selected as a member of the first papal legation of Patriarch Carlo Tommaso Maillard de Tournon, who had already left from Spain to the Canary Islands, Pedrini never managed to join him, and, after waiting a year and a half, sailed from Saint Malo with other missionaries, on December 26, 1703, on a French ship heading to South America. The ship landed in Peru December 31, 1704, and stayed there for more than one year. In 1705 he arrived in Mexico but only in March 1707 did he manage to sail from Acapulco, on a Manila galleon.

After reaching the Mariana Islands, Pedrini arrived in the Philippines, where he stayed for almost two years. In Mariveles he joined five other missionaries of the Propaganda Fide, among whom was Matteo Ripa (who later founded the Chinese College in Neaples, now Università degli studi di Napoli L’Orientale), and together they reached Macau in January 1710. Here they met Cardinal Tournon, who recommended Pedrini as a musician at court, in answer to a request from Kangxi himself. After assisting him on his death-bed on June 8, 1710, they set off for Beijing, where they finally arrived on February 6, 1711.

Being, along with Matteo Ripa, the first non-Jesuit missionaries to settle at the Chinese court, 100 years after Matteo Ricci’s death, in 1714 Pedrini spoke with the Kangxi Emperor about the Pope’s decisions over the Chinese Rites, so he could send back to Rome the emperor’s peaceful reactions on the matter. His reports to Rome met the negative reaction of the Jesuits, who strongly opposed the Decrees. This contrast marked all his missionary life, and led him to the dramatic events of 1721 when, at the end of the second Legation of the Patriarch Carlo Ambrogio Mezzabarba, he refused to sign the final document called Mandarin’s Diary, and was imprisoned in the residence of the French Jesuits in Beijing until 1723. The Yongzheng Emperor set him free in February 1723 but the whole fact caused the bitter polemics in Rome in the following years until 1730, which anticipated the final condemnation of the Chinese Rites, with the papal Bull Ex Quo Singulari in 1742.

In 1723 Pedrini bought the residence at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Beijing (popularly called Xitang or “Western Church”), where he established the first non-Jesuit Church in Beijing. Towards the end of his life Pedrini reconciled himself with the Jesuit missionaries, without denying his faithfulness to the Holy See, which had brought him so many problems in all his life, especially from 1714 to 1721. Pedrini died during the night of December 10, 1746, in his house at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel without ever returning to Italy, and was buried in the cemetery of Propaganda Fide, at the expenses of the Qianlong Emperor. Pedrini’s gravestone, visible till the first part of last century in the wall of the All Saints Church, does not exist anymore.

Besides being a priest, Pedrini was also a musician. This competence helped him first to be admitted to the court of the Chinese emperors and then to gain the favour of three successive emperors, ruling during his lifetime – the Kangxi Emperor (1662–1722), the Yongzheng Emperor (1722–1735) and the Qianlong Emperor (1735–1796). As a musician, Pedrini was the teacher of three sons of the Kangxi Emperor, and he constructed musical instruments and mended those present at court.

In addition, carrying on with the work of his predecessor, the Portuguese Jesuit Tomas Pereira, Pedrini completed the text of the first treatise on Western music theory ever published in China, the LǜlǚZhèngyì-Xùbiān, which was later included in the huge encyclopaedic work called Siku Quanshu (1781). With this work Pedrini asserted himself as one of the main figures in the introduction of western music in China. Furthermore, Pedrini is the author of the only Western Baroque music compositions known in China in the 18th century: The Dodici Sonate a Violino Solo col Basso del Nepridi – Opera Terza whose original manuscript is still preserved in the National Library of Běijīng.

Here are some of his representative pieces, as they may have been performed in Chinese Court of his time, performed by Musique des Lumières XVIII-21.

1. Premier divertissement chinois
2. Sonata No. 1 for violin & continuo in A major (Adagio; Allegro; Largo; Adagio; Allegro)
3. Premier divertissement chinois
4. Sonata No. 7 for flute & continuo in B flat major (Grave; Vivace; Adagio; Balletto Allegro; Allegro)
5. Troisième divertissement chinois
6. Sonata No. 4 for cello & continuo in G minor (Grave; Cantabile; Allegro; Grave e Arcate Lunghe; Allegro)
7. Deuxième divertissement chinois
8. Sonata No. 10 for violin & continuo in C minor (Preludio; Corrente Andante; Grave; Sarabanda Vivace; Minuetto Allegro; Adagio; Giga Allegro)
9. Troisième divertissement chinois
10. Sonata No. 5 for flute & continuo in G major (Largo; Allegro; Vivace; Allegro; Adagio; Allegro).

Friday, 21 July 2017


“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis 

A cold Winter’s day is simply begging for some hot, gooey, and very sweet baked buns. These Chelsea buns are lovely with lots of hot tea to have on a cold afternoon. Enjoy! 

Chelsea Buns
Ingredients - Dough

2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 cup lukewarm milk
4 cups strong plain white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup caster sugar
60g butter
1 egg, beaten
1 cup mixed dried fruit
1/3 cup chopped mixed peel
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or mixed spice
30g butter, melted
2 tablespoons clear honey, warmed
Sugar, for sprinkling 

For the dough, stir the caster sugar into 2/3 cup of the milk and whisk in the yeast. Cover the bowl and leave to stand in a warm place for 15 minutes, or until frothy, then stir in the remaining milk.
Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast liquid, add the beaten egg and mix to a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Put into a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Combine the fruit, peel, sugar and spice. Grease a 30 x 23 cm baking or roasting tin. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead for 2–3 minutes, then roll out to about 50 x 25 cm. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle evenly with the fruit mixture and roll up, like a Swiss roll, from one long side. Cut into 15 equal pieces and space evenly, cut sides up, in the greased tin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave until doubled in size.
While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 190˚C. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven, brush immediately with the warmed honey and sprinkle with the sugar. Cool in the tin.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday, 20 July 2017


“The young habitually mistake lust for love, they're infested with idealism of all kinds.” ― Margaret Atwood 

Artemisia abrotanum (southernwood, lad’s love, southern wormwood) is a species of flowering plants in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Eurasia and Africa but naturalised in scattered locations in North America. Other common names include: Old man, boy’s love, oldman wormwood, lover’s plant, appleringie, garderobe, Our Lord’s wood, maid’s ruin, garden sagebrush, European sage, sitherwood and lemon plant.

Southernwood has a strong camphor-like odour and was historically used as an air freshener or strewing herb. It forms a small bushy shrub, which is widely cultivated by gardeners. The grey-green leaves are small, narrow and feathery. The small flowers are yellow. It can easily be propagated by cuttings, or by division of the roots. This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

A yellow dye can be extracted from the branches of the plant, for use in dying wool. Its dried leaves are used to keep moths away from wardrobes. The volatile oil in the leaves is responsible for the strong, sharp, scent that repels moths and other insects. It was customary to lay sprays of the herb amongst clothes, or hang them in closets, and this is the origin of southernwood’s French name, “garderobe” (‘clothes-preserver’). Judges carried posies of southernwood and rue to protect themselves from prisoners’ contagious diseases, and some church-goers relied on the herb’s sharp scent to keep them awake during long sermons.

The pungent, scented leaves and flowers are used in herbal teas. Young shoots were used to flavour pastries and puddings. In Italy, it is used as a culinary herb, especially with fatty meats. It has a strong, overpowering flavour and should be used sparingly in cooking.

In herbal medicine, Southernwood was used as an emmenagogue. It was said to be a good stimulant tonic, possessing some nervine principle. It was given in infusion of 1 ounce of the herb to 1 pint of boiling water, prepared in a covered vessel, the escape of steam impairing its value. Apparently, this type of infusion or tea is agreeable, but a decoction is distasteful, having lost much of the aroma. Considerable success was also attributed to it as an anthelmintic, being chiefly used against the worms of children, teaspoonful doses of the powdered herb being given in treacle morning and evening.

Southernwood should not be used by pregnant women. Some people are allergic to Southernwood and one should exercise caution in its use. People with hay fever may find its pollen bothersome and some experience contact dermatitis from the plant.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of southernwood foliage means “constancy”. A flowering stem means “A jest; good humour”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


“Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.” - Iris Murdoch 

“The Cobbler” (2014) Fantasy/Comedy – Director: Tom McCarthy; starring Adam Sandler, Melonie Diaz, Steve Buscemi – 5/10 

Max Simkin (Sandler) repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way. Sometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way one can discover who they really are.

Well, we watched this last weekend and it was a rather tiresome film, even for a Sunday matinée. There was quite a bit of to do with magic and fluff but the film was not a typical fantasy film (it took itself too seriously to be that). There was an attempt at slapstick (but very heavy handed); there were good guys and bad guys and gals (but they were rather half-hearted at what they were about). Sandler looked bored or bewildered most of his screen time and Dustin Hoffman had a gratuitous presence that must have made his bank account look a little healthier. The romantic interests were tokenistic and the single idea of the film about “stepping into someone’s shoes to really understand them” wore thin by the first half hour.

If you haven’t seen this don’t bother hunting it out to watch and if it’s on and you have time to waste, watch it while you are doing the crossword perhaps.


“Mexico is a mosaic of different realities and beauties.” - Enrique Peña Nieto

Welcome to the Travel Tuesday meme! Join me every Tuesday and showcase your creativity in photography, painting and drawing, music, poetry, creative writing or a plain old natter about Travel.

There is only one simple rule: Link your own creative work about some aspect of travel and share it with the rest of us. Please use this meme for your creative endeavours only. 

Do not use this meme to advertise your products or services as any links or comments by advertisers will be removed immediately.
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahía de Banderas. The 2010 census reported Puerto Vallarta’s population as 255,725 making it the fifth largest city in the state of Jalisco, and the second largest urban agglomeration in the state after the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta, which comprises the city as well as population centres outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border (the Ameca River). The city is located at 20°40′N 105°16′W.

The municipality has an area of 1,300.7 square kilometres. To the north it borders the southwest part of the state of Nayarit. To the east it borders the municipality of Mascota and San Sebastián del Oeste, and to the south it borders the municipalities of Talpa de Allende and Cabo Corriente. Puerto Vallarta is named after Ignacio Vallarta, a former governor of Jalisco. In Spanish, Puerto Vallarta is frequently shortened to “Vallarta”, while English speakers call the city P.V. for short.

Puerto Vallarta was once named as La ciudad más amigable del mundo (The Friendliest City in the World), as the sign reads when entering from Nayarit. Today, the presence of numerous sidewalk touts selling time-shares and tequila render the city’s atmosphere more akin to tourist-heavy resorts like Cancun and Acapulco, but overall the city’s reputation remains relatively undiminished.

Tourism in Puerto Vallarta has increased steadily over the years and makes up for 50% of the city's economic activity. The high season for international tourism in Puerto Vallarta extends from late November through March (or later depending on the timing of the college Spring Break period in the USA.) The city is especially popular with US residents from the western U.S. because of the sheer number of direct flights between Puerto Vallarta and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Phoenix. The city is also popular with tourists from western Canada with a number of direct scheduled and charter flights from western Canadian cities.

Puerto Vallarta is also a highly popular vacation spot for domestic tourists. It is a popular weekend destination for residents of Guadalajara (tapatíos), and a popular national destination for vacations such as Semana Santa (the week preceding Easter) and Christmas. Also in recent years Acapulco has experienced a rise in drug-related violence and consequently Puerto Vallarta has absorbed a lot of the Mexico City resort vacation business (Acapulco has long been a common destination for tourists from Mexico City). Puerto Vallarta has become a popular retirement destination for US and Canadian retirees. This trend has spawned a condominium development boom in the city.

The city has dozens of nightclubs, hundreds of restaurants and some of Mexico’s best beaches. The original colonial town with many historic landmarks still shines through an endless selection of shopping, art galleries, water and land activities, and hotels. Walk the malecon (boardwalk) and enjoy the views, holiday atmosphere and the numerous pieces of public art and sculpture. Museums, historical sites, interesting architecture and cultural activities will also tempt the more discriminating traveller.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post: 

Monday, 17 July 2017


“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.” - Carl Sandburg 

Iah ( Egyptian: Jˁḥ, transliterated as Yah, Jah, Jah(w), Joh or Aah) is a lunar deity in ancient Egyptian religion. His name simply means “Moon”. By the New Kingdom, he was less prominent than other gods with lunar connections, Thoth and Khonsu. As a result of the functional connection between them he could be identified with either of those deities. He was sometimes considered an adult form of Khonsu and was increasingly absorbed by him.

Iah continued to appear in amulets and occasional other representations, similar to Khonsu in appearance, with the same lunar symbols on his head and occasionally the same tight garments. He differed in usually wearing a full wig instead of a child’s sidelock, and sometimes the Atef topped by another symbol.

As time went on, Iah also became Iah-Djuhty, meaning “god of the new moon”. Iah was also assimilated with Osiris, god of the dead, perhaps because, in its monthly cycle, the moon appears to renew itself. Iah also seems to have assumed the lunar aspect of Thoth, god of knowledge, writing and calculation; the segments of the moon were used as fractional symbols in writing.

Sunday, 16 July 2017


“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That's the thing about painting, photography, cinema.” - David Lynch 

Teodor Axentowicz (Armenian: Թեոդոր Աքսենտովիչ ; born May 13, 1859 in Braşov, Romania – August 26, 1938 in Kraków) was a Polish-Armenian painter and university professor. A renowned artist of his times, he was also the rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. As an artist, Axentowicz was famous for his portraits and subtle scenes of Hutsul life, set in the Carpathians.

Axentowicz was born May 13, 1859 in Braşov, Hungary (now Romania), to a family of Polish-Armenian ancestry. In 1893 in Chelsea, London, he married Iza Henrietta Gielgud, aunt of Val Gielgud and John Gielgud of the theatrical dynasty. A son, Philip S.A.D. Axentowicz was born in Chelsea in 1893. Between 1879 and 1882 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. From there he moved to Paris, where he was a student of Carolus-Duran and continued his education until 1895. During that time he started a long-time cooperation with various journals and started his career as a copyist, duplicating the works of Tizian and Botticelli for Le Monde illustré. He also made numerous travels to London and Rome, where he prepared a set of portraits, one of the first in his career.

In 1894 he started collaboration with Wojciech Kossak and Jan Styka during the preparation of the Racławice Panorama, one of the largest panoramic paintings in the history of Polish art. The following year he moved to Kraków, where he became a professor at the local Academy of Fine Arts. He was also active in the local society and cooperated with various societies devoted to propagation of arts and crafts.

In 1897 he founded an artistic conservatory for women and soon afterwards became one of the founders of the Sztuka society, whose members were such artists as Józef Chełmoński, Julian Fałat, Jacek Malczewski, Józef Mehoffer, Jan Stanisławski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Leon Wyczółkowski and Stanisław Wyspiański. In 1910 he became the rector of the Academy and since 1928 was also an honorary member of the Zachęta Society. He died August 26, 1938 in Kraków.

Throughout his life he had numerous exhibitions, both in Poland and abroad. He was awarded many gold metals at both national and international exhibitions. The most notable were organized in: Berlin (1896, 1913), St. Louis (1904), Munich (1905, 1935), London (1906), Vienna (1908), Rome (1911), Venice (1914, 1926), Paris (1921), Chicago (1927), and Prague (1927). His paintings can be found in almost all public collections in Poland and in numerous private ones there and abroad.

In 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair, Axentowicz received a Special Commemorative Award in recognition of distinguished service in connection with various national sections of the Department of Art. While in Paris, he received the prestigious title of Officier d’Académie Ordre des Palmes Académiques and Member of Académie des Beaux-Arts. In addition to Society of Polish Artists “Sztuka”, he was also a member of Hagenbund and a founding member of the Vienna Secession.

The painting above is his Święcenie (“Celebration”), typical of his folk scene paintings.

Saturday, 15 July 2017


“The flute is the true magical rod that changes all it touches in the inward world; an enchanter’s wand at which the secret depths of the soul open. The inward world is the true world, the moonlight that shines into our hearts.”― Jean Paul Friedrich Richter 

Johann Philipp Kirnberger (also Kernberg; 24 April 1721, Saalfeld – 27 July 1783, Berlin) was a musician, composer (primarily of fugues), and music theorist. He was a student of Johann Sebastian Bach. According to Ingeborg Allihn, Kirnberger played a significant role in the intellectual and cultural exchange between Germany and Poland in the mid-18th century.

Between 1741 and 1751 Kirnberger lived and worked in Poland for powerful magnates including Lubomirski, Poninski, and Rzewuski before ending up at the Benedictine Cloister in Lvov (then part of Poland). He spent much time collecting Polish national dances and compiled them in his treatise “Die Charaktere der Taenze” (Allihn 1995, 211). He became a violinist at the court of Frederick II of Prussia in 1751. He was the music director to the Prussian Princess Anna Amalia from 1758 until his death.

Kirnberger greatly admired J.S. Bach, and sought to secure the publication of all of Bach’s chorale settings, which finally appeared after Kirnberger’s death; see Kirnberger chorale preludes (BWV 690–713). Many of Bach’s manuscripts have been preserved in Kirnberger's library (the “Kirnberger collection”).He is known today primarily for his theoretical work “Die Kunst des reinen Satzes in der Musik” (The Art of Strict Composition in Music, 1774, 1779).

The well-tempered tuning systems known as “Kirnberger II” and “Kirnberger III” are associated with his name, as is a rational version of equal temperament.

Here are some of his flute sonatas played by Frank Theuns (flute), Richte van der Meer and Ewald Demeyere (continuo).

Friday, 14 July 2017


“There is luck in the last helping.” – Japanese Proverb

The other day I tried some thick, light and fluffy pancakes, which were delicious. These are said to be Japanese in origin, but an acquaintance of ours calls them “Scottish Griddle Cakes”. They are full of calories, but who is going to have them every day? They are a nice indulgence once every blue moon… 

Thick Fluffy Pancakes
2 large eggs
200 mL full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
220 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
30 g caster sugar 

Place eggs, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with a whisk until light and fluffy. Add in remaining ingredients. Whisk until batter is smooth.
Let batter rest for about 15 minutes, by which time it should have thickened considerably. Preheat your pan (if electric, heat to 150˚C) – don’t overheat as the pancakes will burn on the outside and not cook on the inside.
Use moulds 10 cm diameter and 3 cm tall and grease them well with cooking oil spray. Lightly grease the surface of your pan also. Place moulds onto pan.
Fill moulds halfway with batter, as they will rise to twice as high when finished. Let batter cook until bubbles form and break on the surface and the edges look cooked. Slowly place a large spatula underneath the pancake, until all of the pancake is on the spatula. Quickly flip the mould and pancake pushing the mould back down on the pan. You want to prevent the uncooked batter from spilling away from the mould.
Cook for a few more minutes until pancake is done when the pancake should easily pop out of the mould when you lift it.
Repeat with remaining batter and serve pancakes with toppings of your choice.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday, 13 July 2017


“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” - Jacques Yves Cousteau 

Crithmum is a genus of flowering plant with the sole species Crithmum maritimum, in the Apiaceae family, known as samphire, rock samphire, or sea fennel. Rock samphire is an edible wild plant. It is found on southern and western coasts of Britain and Ireland, on Mediterranean and western coasts of Europe including the Canary Islands, North Africa and the Black Sea. “Samphire” is a name also used for several other unrelated species of coastal plant.

The name of the genus Crithmum comes from the Greek κριθη (krithe), “barley”, due to the shape of the seeds similar to those of the barley whilst the name of the species maritimum = maritime in Latin refers to its habitat. κρηθμος and κρηθμον (krethmos and krethmon) are the Greek names with which the plant was called. The common name samphire comes from “sampere”, that is “St. Pierre”, St Peter’s herb as this saint is the patron of fishermen.

In the 17th century, Shakespeare referred to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs. “Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!”  In the 19th century, samphire was being shipped in casks of seawater from the Isle of Wight to market in London at the end of May each year. Rock samphire used to be cried in London streets as “Crest Marine”. In England, rock samphire was cultivated in gardens, where it grows readily in a light, rich soil. Obtaining seed commercially is now difficult, and in the United Kingdom the removal of wild plants is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The reclaimed piece of land adjoining Dover, called Samphire Hoe, is named after rock samphire. The land was created from spoil from the Channel Tunnel, and rock samphire used to be harvested from the neighbouring cliffs.

Rock samphire has fleshy, divided aromatic leaves that Culpeper described as having a “pleasant, hot and spicy taste”. The stems, leaves and seedpods may be pickled in hot, salted, spiced vinegar, or the leaves used fresh in salads. Richard Mabey gives several recipes for samphire, although it is possible that at least one of these may refer to marsh samphire or glasswort (Salicornia europaea), a very common confusion.

Samphire is quite a salt-resistant plant, but also very resistant to the drought and is one of the few Mediterranean plants blooming in full summer. Its deep roots that seek out nutrients and moisture deep in the soil, as well as its waxy, thick leaves and stems contribute to these characteristics.

It is a robust plant with irregular, ramified stems, grooved, often woody at the base, forming bushy aggregates of more than 50 cm diameter. The leaves are basal, waxy, compound, bi-tripinnatosect formed by 1-2 cm lanceolate pointed leaflets, fleshy, similar to those of a succulent plant, of glaucous-green colour with a long petiole having at the base a sheath wrapping the stem. The flowers, present from July to September, are small, of 2-4 mm, with white or yellowish, more rarely pinkish, rounded petals, carried in umbels with 10-30 rays, in their turn subdivided in umbellets surrounded by bracts. The rhizomatous root is fleshy but with tough cover, creeping for a distance of up to five metres. The oval fruits are formed by two achenes and are crossed by 10 longitudinal ribs. When ripe, in late summer, they have purple tinge.

Samphire has a rich spicy, slightly salty taste, its flavour a little akin to fennel with a touch of mint.  The fleshy young leaves can be enjoyed raw in salads, as well as chopped finely and added to aromatic sauces. The herb can also be sauteéd in butter as an accompaniment to meat courses, and it can be fried or pickled. Its high vitamin C content makes it a potent antiscorbutic.

In the language of flowers samphire foliage means “I shall sail away”, and if accompanied by flowers, expands its meaning to “will you be my bride on my return?”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” - Oprah Winfrey 

"Elsa & Fred" (2014) Romantic Comedy/Drama – Director: Michael Radford; starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Harden – 6.5/10 

“Elsa & Fred” is the story of two people who at the end of the road, discover that it’s never too late to love and make dreams come true. Elsa has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: The scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroianni but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa.

From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live (be it more or less) is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa’s frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness.

We watched this film last weekend and it kept us amused and interested, although it was a little predictable and just a tad saccharine sweet. Both Shirley McLaine and Christopher Plummer act according to type, and the romance they play out in the twilight years of the characters they portray adds a twinge of a bitter taste to the sweetness. OK to watch on a wintry afternoon, as we did.