Friday, 21 July 2017

FOOD FRIDAY - CHELSEA BUNS

“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
Filling
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 


Method
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

ALL ABOUT SOUTHERNWOOD

“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

MIDWEEK MOVIES - THE COBBLER

“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.

TRAVEL TUESDAY #88 - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO

“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

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 20, IAH

“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

ART SUNDAY - TEODOR AXENTOWICZ

“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

MUSIC SATURDAY - JOHANN PHILIPP KIRNBERGER

“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

FOOD FRIDAY - THICK PANCAKES

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

Method
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

ALL ABOUT ROCK SAMPHIRE

“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

WATCHING MOVIES - ELSA & FRED

“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.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #87 - BANGKOK, THAILAND

“The attainment of the present status of Thailand has to depend on the ability or the actions of all the inhabitants of the country.” - Bhumibol Adulyadej 

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.
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over 8 million, or 12.6 percent of the country’s population. Over 14 million people live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, significantly dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centres in terms of importance.

 Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of the modernisation of Siam, later renamed Thailand, during the late 19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was at the centre of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and several uprisings.

The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact on Thailand’s politics, economy, education, media and modern society. The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a major regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and health care, and has emerged as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment. The city is well known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts.

The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is among the world’s top tourist destinations. It is named the most visited city in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, and was named “World’s Best City” for four consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Bangkok’s rapid growth amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have led to chronic and crippling traffic congestion, which caused severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Five rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

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, 10 July 2017

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 19, URAEUS

“Archaeologists are underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty.” - John Agar 

The Uraeus (plural Uraei; from the Greek οὐραῖος, ouraîos, “on its tail”; from Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), “rearing cobra”) is the stylised, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

 The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet. She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The centre of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt. The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: Either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet’s protection and reinforced the pharaoh’s claim over the land. In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh’s head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh’s crown.

The pharaoh was recognised only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well. At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, the goddess who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt. The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as the nebty or The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt.

Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei. Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. Wadjets are also the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, and the Eye of Ra (depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols).

As the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, the deities Horus and Set were also depicted wearing the symbol on their crowns. In early ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus would have been the name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being identified as the son of the goddess Isis. According to the later mythology of Re, the first Uraeus was said to have been created by the goddess Isis, who formed it from the dust of the earth and the spittle of the then-current sun deity. In this version of the mythology, the Uraeus was the instrument with which Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris. Isis is associated with and may be considered an aspect of Wadjet.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

ART SUNDAY - ARKHIP KUINDZHI

“A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace   

Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (or Kuinji; Russian: Архи́п Ива́нович Куи́нджи; Ukrainian: Архи́п Іва́нович Куї́нджі; January 27, 1842(?) – July 24, 1910) was a Russian landscape painter of Greek descent. 

Arkhip Kuindzhi was born in January 1842 (1841?) in Mariupol (nowadays Ukraine). His Christian name is a Russian and Ukrainian rendering of the Greek, Ἄρχιππος, (Archippos, from ἄρχων (archon) “master” and ἱππος (hippos) “horse”, i.e. “master of horses”; cf. Colossians 4:17;) and his surname came from his grandfather’s vocational nickname meaning “goldsmith” in Tatar (cf. Turkish, kuyumcu).

He grew up in a poor family; his father was a Greek shoemaker, Ivan Khristoforovich Kuindzhi (sometimes spelt Emendzhi). Arkhip was six years old when he lost his parents, so he was forced to make a living working at a church building site, grazing domestic animals, and working at the corn merchant’s shop. He received the rudiments of an education from a Greek friend of the family who was a teacher and then went to the local school. In 1855, at age 13–14, Kuindzhi visited Feodosia to study art under Ivan Aivazovsky, however, he was engaged merely with mixing paints and instead studied with Adolf Fessler, Aivazovsky’s student.

A 1903 encyclopaedic article stated: “Although Kuindzhi cannot be called a student of Aivazovsky, the latter had without doubt some influence on him in the first period of his activity; from whom he borrowed much in the manner of painting.” English art historian John E. Bowlt wrote that “…the elemental sense of light and form associated with Aivazovsky’s sunsets, storms, and surging oceans permanently influenced the young Kuindzhi.” 

During the five years from 1860 to 1865, Kuindzhi worked as a retoucher in the photography studio of Simeon Isakovich in Taganrog. He tried to open his own photography studio, but without success. After that Kuindzhi left Taganrog for Saint Petersburg. He studied painting mainly independently and at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (from 1868; a full member since 1893). He was co-partner of travelling art exhibitions (Peredvizhniki), a group of Russian realist artists who in protest to academic restrictions formed an artists’ cooperative which evolved into the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions (Peredvizhniki) in 1870.

In 1872 the artist left the academy and worked as a freelancer. The painting “On the Valaam Island” was the first artwork which Pavel Tretyakov acquired for his art gallery. In 1873 Kuindzhi exhibited his painting “The Snow”, which received the bronze medal at the International Art Exhibition in London in 1874. In the middle of the 1870s he created a number of paintings in which the landscape motif was designed for concrete social associations in the spirit of Peredvizhniki (“Forgotten Village”, 1874; “Chumatski Path”, 1875; both – in the Tretyakov Gallery).

In his mature period Kuindzhy aspired to capture the most expressive illuminative aspect of the natural condition. He applied composite receptions (high horizon, etc.), creating panoramic views. Using light effects and intense colours shown in main tones, he depicted the illusion of naturalistic lighting effects (“Evening in Ukraine”, 1876; “Birch Grove”, 1879; “After a Thunderstorm”, 1879; all three are in the Tretyakov Gallery; “Night on the Dniepr”, 1880 in the Russian Museum, St.Petersburg).

His later works are remarkable for their decorative effects of colour building. Kuindzhi lectured at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (Professor since 1892; professor-head of landscape workshop since 1894; but was fired in 1897 for support of students’ protests). Among his students were artists such as Arkady Rylov, Nicholas Roerich, Konstantin Bogaevsky, and others. Kuindzhi initiated creation of the Society of Artists (1909; later – the Society was named after A.I. Kuindzhi).

The painting above is his “Morning on the Dniepr” and shows his mastery of light and space, with a deceptively simple composition and a reduction of detail in the background that makes it seem quite modern, although most his landscapes would be described as “realistic”.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

MUSIC SATURDAY - NICOLA FIORENZA

“There are two great days in a person’s life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.” - William Barclay 

Nicola (Nicolò) Fiorenza (born after 1700 in Naples; died 13 April 1764) was an Italian violinist and composer of the Neapolitan Baroque period.

Reliable biographical information concerning Fiorenza is extremely scarce, thus little is known about his schooling. Fiorenza was educated at the Conservatory of S. Maria di Loreto, presumably also by Francesco Barbella. In 1726 Fiorenza was a cellist in the Neapolitan Royal Chapel (Court) orchestra, replacing Francesco Alborea who had moved to Vienna. He later got a steady job as a violinist.

In 1743 Fiorenza and four other equally qualified candidates were vying to become the head of the strings class at the Conservatory. The decision was to be made by drawing lots. Fiorenza drew the winning lot and became teacher of the class of the Institute that was led by Francesco Durante. However, from around 1760, claims were made against Fiorenza that he beat and mistreated his students resulting in some of them abandoning their studies. For this reason, the management of the Conservatory was forced to dismiss Fiorenza in 1762. From 1758 he held the post of concert master or head violinist of the Royal Chapel Orchestra, as successor to Domenico de Matteis.

At the end of 1762 Fiorenza was fired from the Conservatory owing to longstanding complaints about his rough treatment of musicians. Fiorenza died less than two years later, and little else is known about his life.

Fiorenza’s musical legacy consists of about thirty traditional hand-written compositions that date from the period between 1726 and 1736. However, it is assumed that during the period he taught at the Conservatory he wrote more works. His surviving works, mostly instrumental, are collected in a manuscript at the Naples Conservatory S. Pietro a Majella: Fifteen concertos for different combinations of instruments and nine symphonies, some of which are enlivened by virtuoso solos or wind instruments, which make them comparable to the concerto form. The currently available works include violin sonatas, trio sonatas, string symphonies with three and four violins and solo concerts for various instruments. Stylistically, his works range from the strict pattern of Corelli’s church sonatas to the ‘galant’ work of Durante.

Here are some of his concertos and chamber works performed by Dolce & Tempesta:
Concerto for flute, violin, viola, cello & continuo in F minor
Concerto for 2 violins, cello obbligato & continuo in D major
Concerto for 3 violins & continuo in A minor
Trio Sonata for violin & continuo in G major
Concerto for 2 violins, viola, cello obbligato & continuo in D major
Sinfonia for flute, 2 violins & continuo in A minor

The painting above is Salvatore Fergola’s (Napoli, 24 aprile 1796 – Napoli, 7 marzo 1874). “Il Vesuvio fumante con un tratto della ferrovia Torre Annunziata-Nocera”.

Friday, 7 July 2017

FOOD FRIDAY - CREAM SCONES

“Wilful waste makes woeful want.” – English proverb

Do you have some cream that has been in your fridge a few days past its use-by date? You know it’s still good, smells OK, but maybe it’s just turning? Well, use it all up by baking some scones that need some of this “turning” cream and no butter, nor eggs. They will taste wonderful and fluffy and there will be no hint of sourness! 

CREAM SCONES
Ingredients
450g self-raising flour, plus extra to dust
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons icing sugar
200mL thickened cream (“turning”)
125 mL cold water
Pinch of salt
Vanilla essence
Some sultanas (optional)
Milk, to brush 

Method
Place an oven rack in the top third of oven. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200˚C. Lightly dust baking paper with self-raising flour and place on a metal baking sheet.
Sift flour, baking powder and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the sultanas (if you are using them) and stir to cover with flour. Add the cream, vanilla essence and the cold water. Cut and fold mixture using a spatula until it starts to come together.
Form mixture into a ball with floured hands. Place ball on baking paper, dust fingertips with flour and knead lightly until just smooth and slightly springy. Do not overwork. Mould the dough to roughly form a square, about 2cm deep.
Dust the spatula with flour and use the edge to cut the dough into scone shapes. Gently separate each scone.
Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake the scones for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Split the warm scones and serve with thick cream or butter, and jam or marmalade if desired.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

TRAVEL TUESDAY #86 - LOS ANGELES, USA

“Nationalism: The curious notion that barbarism becomes a virtue when it reaches tribal proportions.”― Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewsky

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.
Los Angeles (Spanish for “The Angels”), officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the cultural, financial, and commercial centre of Southern California. With a U.S. Census-estimated 2016 population of 3,976,322, it is the second-most populous city in the United States (after New York City) and the most populous city in the state of California. Located in a large coastal basin surrounded on three sides by mountains reaching up to and over 3,000 m, Los Angeles covers an area of about 1,210 km2. The city is also the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the country. Los Angeles is the centre of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, with 13,131,431 residents, and is part of the larger designated Los Angeles-Long Beach combined statistical area (CSA), the second most populous in the nation with a 2015 estimated population of 18.7 million.

Los Angeles City Hall (above), completed 1928, is the centre of the government of the city of Los Angeles, California, and houses the mayor’s office and the meeting chambers and offices of the Los Angeles City Council. It is located in the Civic Center district of downtown Los Angeles in the city block bounded by Main, Temple, First, and Spring streets.

The building was designed by John Parkinson, John C. Austin, and Albert C. Martin, Sr., and was completed in 1928. Dedication ceremonies were held on April 26, 1928. It has 32 floors and, at 138 m high, is the tallest base-isolated structure in the world, having undergone a seismic retrofit from 1998 to 2001 so that the building will sustain minimal damage and remain functional after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake.The concrete in its tower was made with sand from each of California's 58 counties and water from its 21 historical missions.

City Hall’s distinctive tower was based on the shape of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, and shows the influence of the Los Angeles Public Library, completed shortly before the structure was begun. An image of City Hall has been on Los Angeles Police Department badges since 1940. To keep the City’s architecture harmonious, prior to the late 1950s the Charter of the City of Los Angeles did not permit any portion of any building other than a purely decorative tower to be more than 46 m. Therefore, from its completion in 1928 until 1964, the City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles, and shared the skyline with only a few structures having decorative towers, including the Richfield Tower and the Eastern Columbia Building.

City Hall has an observation deck, free to the public and open Monday through Friday during business hours. The peak of the pyramid at the top of the building is an airplane beacon named in honour of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, cf Lindbergh Beacon. Circa 1939, there was an art gallery, in Room 351 on the third floor, that exhibited paintings by California artists. The building was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1976. 

This post is part of the Our World 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.

I am sorry this meme has been late in getting online this week, I have been very busy with work, which kind of gets in the way of doing more pleasant things...

Monday, 3 July 2017

MYTHIC MONDAY - EGYPT 18, BASTET

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” - Terry Pratchett 

Bastet was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion, worshiped as early as the 2nd Dynasty (2890 BCE). As Bast, she was the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt. Her name is also translated as Baast, Ubaste, and Baset. In Greek mythology, she is also known as Ailuros (Greek for “cat”, αἴλουρος). The uniting Egyptian cultures had deities that shared similar roles and usually the same imagery.

In Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was the parallel warrior lioness deity. Often similar deities merged into one with the unification, but that did not occur with these deities having such strong roots in their cultures. Instead, these goddesses began to diverge. During the 22nd Dynasty (c. 945–715 BCE), Bast had transformed from a lioness warrior deity into a major protector deity represented as a cat. Bastet, the name associated with this later identity, is the name commonly used by scholars today to refer to this deity.

What the name of the goddess means remains uncertain. One recent suggestion by Stephen Quirke (Ancient Egyptian Religion) explains it as meaning “She of the ointment jar”. This ties in with the observation that her name was written with the hieroglyph for ointment jar (bas) and that she was associated with protective ointments, among other things. The name of the material known as “alabaster” might, through Greek, come from the name of the goddess.

Bastet was originally a lioness warrior goddess of the sun throughout most of ancient Egyptian history, but later she was changed into the cat goddess, which is familiar today. Greeks occupying ancient Egypt toward the end of its civilisation changed her into a goddess of the moon. As protector of Lower Egypt, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra. Along with the other lioness goddesses, she would occasionally be depicted as the embodiment of the Eye of Ra. She has been depicted as fighting the evil snake named Apep, an enemy of Ra.

Images of Bastet were often created from alabaster. The goddess was sometimes depicted holding a ceremonial sistrum in one hand and an aegis in the other (the aegis usually resembling a collar or gorget embellished with a lioness head). Her name was associated with the lavish jars in which Egyptians stored their ointment used as perfume. Bastet thus gradually became regarded as the goddess of perfumes, earning the title of perfumed protector. In connection with this, when Anubis became the god of embalming, Bastet came to be regarded as his wife for a short period of time. Bastet was also depicted as the goddess of protection against contagious diseases and evil spirits.

Bastet was a local deity whose religious sect was centered in the city of Bubastis, which lay in the Nile Delta near what is known as Zagazig today. The town, known in Egyptian as pr-bastt (also transliterated as Per-Bast), carries her name, literally meaning House of Bast. It was known in Greek as Boubastis (Βούβαστις) and translated into Hebrew as Pî-beset, spelled without the initial ‘t’ sound of the last syllable. In the biblical Book of Ezekiel 30:17, the town appears in the Hebrew form Pibeseth.

More than 300,000 mummified cats were discovered when Bastet’s temple was excavated. Some mummies of people have been found to have their pet cats mummified and placed in their tombs with them. The main source of information about the Bastet cult comes from Herodotus who visited Bubastis around 450 BCE after the changes in the religious sect. He equated Bastet with the Greek Goddess Artemis. He wrote extensively about the religious sect. Turner and Bateson suggest that the status of the cat was roughly equivalent to that of the cow in modern India. The death of a cat might leave a family in great mourning and those who could would have them embalmed or buried in cat cemeteries—pointing to the great prevalence of the cult of Bastet. Extensive burials of cat remains were found not only at Bubastis, but also at Beni Hasan and Saqqara. In 1888, a farmer uncovered a plot of many hundreds of thousands of cats in Beni Hasan.

Cats in ancient Egypt were revered highly, partly due to their ability to combat vermin such as mice, rats (which threatened key food supplies), and snakes, especially cobras. Cats of royalty were, in some instances, known to be dressed in golden jewelry and were allowed to eat from their owners’ plates. Because domestic cats tend to be tender and protective of their offspring, Bastet was also regarded as a good mother, and she was sometimes depicted with numerous kittens. Consequently, a woman who wanted children sometimes wore an amulet showing the goddess with kittens, the number of which indicated her own desired number of children.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

ART SUNDAY - SERGEY IVANOV

“To live without hope is to cease to live.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky 

Sergey Vasilyevich Ivanov (Russian: Сергей Васильевич Иванов; 1864-1910) was a Russian genre and history painter, known for his Social Realism. His father was a tax collector for the Customs Service. Sergey displayed an early talent for art, but his father was opposed on the grounds that it would not be a secure way to make a living so, at the age of eleven, he was enrolled at the Konstantinov Land Surveying Institute.

Surveying was not to his liking and he was an indifferent student, so a family friend who was an amateur artist encouraged his father to send him to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (MSPSA). With a recommendation from Vasily Perov, he began attending classes there in 1878; studying with Illarion Pryanishnikov and Evgraf Sorokin. He left there in 1882 to attend the Imperial Academy of Arts.

Dissatisfaction with the Academy’s administration, as well as financial difficulties forced him to return to Moscow in 1884. He went back to the MSPSA and graduated in 1885. At that time he started work on a series of paintings devoted to “Pereselenchestvo”, the process of resettling peasants to outlying, vacant areas (mostly in Siberia) in an attempt to ease overcrowding in the villages after the Emancipation reform of 1861. The move was often very arduous and many died on the way. From 1885 to 1889, he toured the provinces of Samara, Saratov, Astrakhan and Orenburg, documenting the migrants’ lives. This was followed by a series on convicts.

In the mid 1890s, he began to focus on historical works. In 1899, he became a member of the Peredvizhniki, but was soon dissatisfied with their emphasis on “lovely scenes”. In 1903, he was one of the founders of the “Union of Russian Artists”, temporarily replacing the better-known “Mir Isskutsva”. In 1905, the Imperial Academy conferred on him the title of “Academician”. Later that year, during the Moscow Uprising, he made numerous sketches while also helping the wounded. From 1903 to 1910, he taught at the MSPSA. He was also known as an illustrator, creating drawings for classics by Gogol, Lermontov and Pushkin, among others. He died of a heart attack at his dacha near the Yakhroma River.

The painting above is “Death of a Migrant” from 1889. The stark realism of this work draws attention to the plight of the countless peasants who were resettled willy-nilly to the under-populated Siberian plains. Many did not make it and Ivanov records in this painting the fate of the hapless family who have lost father and husband on the migration route.