Tuesday, 13 March 2018


“Those who own much have much to fear.” - Rabindranath Tagore 
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.  
New Delhi is the capital of India and one of Delhi city’s 11 districts. Although colloquially Delhi and New Delhi are used interchangeably to refer to the National Capital Territory of Delhi, these are two distinct entities, with New Delhi forming a small part of Delhi. The National Capital Region is a much larger entity comprising the entire National Capital Territory of Delhi along with adjoining districts.

It is surrounded by Haryana on three sides and Uttar Pradesh on the east. The foundation stone of the city was laid by George V, Emperor of India during the Delhi Durbar of 1911. It was designed by British architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker. The new capital was inaugurated on 13 February 1931, by Viceroy and Governor-General of India Lord Irwin. New Delhi has been selected as one of the hundred Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.

New Delhi is a cosmopolitan city due to the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural presence of the vast Indian bureaucracy and political system. The city’s capital status has amplified the importance of national events and holidays. National events such as Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi’s birthday) are celebrated with great enthusiasm in New Delhi and the rest of India. On India’s Independence Day (15 August) the Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from the Red Fort. Most Delhiites celebrate the day by flying kites, which are considered a symbol of freedom.

The Republic Day Parade is a large cultural and military parade showcasing India’s cultural diversity and military might. Religious festivals include Diwali (the festival of light), Maha Shivaratri, Teej, Durga Puja, Mahavir Jayanti, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Holi, Lohri, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Raksha Bandhan, Christmas and Chhath Puja. The Qutub Festival is a cultural event during which performances of musicians and dancers from all over India are showcased at night, with the Qutub Minar as the chosen backdrop of the event.

Other events such as Kite Flying Festival, International Mango Festival and Vasant Panchami (the Spring Festival) are held every year in Delhi. There are also a number of Iglesia ni Cristo members, most of them Filipinos and some Indians who are married to the members. In 2007, the Japanese Buddhist organisation Nipponzan Myohoji decided to build a Peace Pagoda in the city containing Buddha relics. It was inaugurated by the current Dalai Lama.

The Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex (seen above) is a Hindu mandir, and a spiritual-cultural campus in New Delhi, India. Also referred to as Akshardham Temple or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the complex displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. The temple, which attracts approximately 70 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi, was officially opened on 6 November 2005 by Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. It sits near the banks of the Yamuna River adjacent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games village in eastern New Delhi. The temple, at the centre of the complex, was built according to the Vastu shastra and Pancharatra shastra.

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.

Friday, 9 March 2018


“The kitchen is where we deal with the elements of the universe. It is where we come to understand our past and ourselves.” - Laura Esquivel 

We had some avocadoes ripening in the kitchen and our next door neighbour asked if we could use some green tomatoes that she had picked (she/we usually make chutney with them). As we had the avocadoes, we decided to make guacamole with a couple of them. The recipe was given to us by a Mexican acquaintance. 

Guacamole with Green Tomatoes

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 ripe avocados; peeled, stones removed
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red birdseye chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped (optional)
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
small handful chopped fresh coriander
2 green tomatoes, seeds removed, diced and drained
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional) 

Heat the olive in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the cumin and ground coriander for 1 minute or until aromatic. Transfer to a bowl. Add the avocado and mash until smooth. Add the onion, garlic, chilli (if using), fresh coriander, salt and lime juice. Add the diced tomatoes and stir to combine, sprinkle with cayenne (if using). Season with salt and serve with corn chips.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018


“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” - George Lorimer 

The topic for this week’s Midweek Motif at Poets United is “money”. Here is my contribution: 

The Will 

And finally the will was read,
At the appointed time,
To all interested parties
As stipulated to the solicitor
By the testator. 

“I give all my tangible personal property
And all policies and proceeds of insurance covering such property,
To my son…”

How odd, that he only called me “son” after his death,
While when he lived he simply ignored my existence.

So I have my “father’s” money,
Making his other relatives sour,
Their eyes dripping poison, choosing for me a slow painful death
(Had their eyes been daggers
I would have succumbed to multiple wounds and an easy death).

The stranger who on his deathbed acknowledged me
As his son and legal heir, made me a millionaire.
And yet how poor I feel, when no tears came to my eyes
At his death;
When no sense of loss accompanied his passing…

He left me money, but no memories;
I have no photos in an album;
He taught me nothing, we never spoke;
I know nothing of him, I have no knowledge of his heart;
He spent no time with, he took no interest.

The money willed to me, is but an afterthought,
A neat sum to buy some ease for his troubled conscience;
Atonement for sins of omission,
A purchase of a ticket to heaven,
Where all good fathers go.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


“We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge: so many lives wouldn’t have to be lost if there was enough disaster preparedness.” - Petra Němcová  

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.  
New Orleans (French: La Nouvelle-Orléans) is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The population of the city was 343,829 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. The New Orleans metropolitan area (New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area) had a population of 1,167,764 in 2010 and was the 46th largest in the United States. The New Orleans–Metairie–Bogalusa Combined Statistical Area, a larger trading area, had a 2010 population of 1,452,502. Before Hurricane Katrina, Orleans Parish was the most populous parish in Louisiana. As of 2015, it ranked third, trailing neighbouring Jefferson Parish and East Baton Rouge Parish.

The city of New Orleans is geographically coextensive with Orleans Parish. The city is known for its distinct French and Spanish Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is famous for its cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz) and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. The city is often referred to as the “most unique” in the United States.

New Orleans is located in southeastern Louisiana, and occupies both sides of the Mississippi River. The heart of the city and its French Quarter is on the river’s north side. The city and Orleans Parish (French: paroisse d’Orléans) are coterminous. The city and parish are bounded by the parishes of St. Tammany to the north, St. Bernard to the east, Plaquemines to the south, and Jefferson to the south and west. Lake Pontchartrain, part of which lies within the city limits, lies to the north and Lake Borgne lies to the east.

New Orleans was catastrophically affected during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the Federal levee system failed. By the time the hurricane approached the city at the end of August 2005, most residents had evacuated. As the hurricane passed through the Gulf Coast region, the city’s federal flood protection system failed, resulting in the worst civil engineering disaster in American history. Floodwalls and levees constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers failed below design specifications and 80% of the city flooded.

Tens of thousands of residents who had remained were rescued or otherwise made their way to shelters of last resort at the Louisiana Superdome or the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. More than 1,500 people were recorded as having died in Louisiana, most in New Orleans, while others remain unaccounted for. Before Hurricane Katrina, the city called for the first mandatory evacuation in its history, to be followed by another mandatory evacuation three years later with Hurricane Gustav. 

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

Saturday, 3 March 2018


“A human being is only breath and shadow.” - Sophocles 

For Music Saturday a wonderful piece, surely one of the masterworks of the repertoire of sacred music. It is Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater”.  Stabat Mater refers to a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary, variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III. The title of the sorrowful hymn is an incipit of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa (“The sorrowful mother stood”).

The Dolorosa hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Dolorosa has been set to music by many composers, with the most famous settings being those by Palestrina, Pergolesi, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Haydn, Rossini and Dvořák.

The Dolorosa was well known by the end of the fourteenth century and Georgius Stella wrote of its use in 1388, while other historians note its use later in the same century. In Provence, about 1399, it was used during the nine days processions. As a liturgical sequence, the Dolorosa was suppressed, along with hundreds of other sequences, by the Council of Trent, but restored to the missal by Pope Benedict XIII in 1727 for the Feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist. In his short life he managed to write some amazing music and one wonders what further marvellous works his genius would have been capable of had he lived longer.

Above is the Pietà,  a painting by the Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden dating from about 1441 held in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels.

Stabat Mater (1736) for soprano, contralto, strings and basso continuo by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) Margaret Marshall (soprano) Lucia Valentini Terrani (contralto) Leslie Pearson (organ) London Symohony Orchestra Claudio Abbado (conductor) Recorded in 1985.

Friday, 2 March 2018


“Do you know the land where lemon trees are blooming,
Where in the dark foliage, the golden oranges glow?
A gentle wind blows from the blue sky,
The myrtle stands still and high is the laurel.
Do you know it? Go there! Go there!
May I go with you? O my beloved!” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

This is a cake we often have at home, especially if we are expecting company, or for special afternoon teas. It is quite simple to make and tastes lovely. We generally make our own almond meal, except when time does not permit, and we buy it from a very good nut shop in our neighbourhood where its freshness can assured. 

Almond and Orange Cake
2 medium thickness skin oranges (i.e. not too much pith)
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau)
3 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup caster sugar, extra
300g almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
Orange flower water
Icing sugar
Seville orange marmalade (optional) 

Preheat oven to 170° C and grease a 22cm round cake pan.
Take the whole oranges and carefully remove the zest superficially without damaging the integrity of the orange. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place whole zested oranges into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Drain. Repeat. Refresh under cold water and drain.
Coarsely chop warm oranges and remove and discard the coarse stem, membranes and pips. Place into food processor and process until smooth, adding the liqueur in the last few moments.
Using an electric mixer, whisk eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Add processed orange mixture, almond meal and baking powder and gently fold until combined. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle with some orange flower water as soon as it is out of the oven and dust with icing sugar. Cool.
If desired, warm some marmalade and spoon over cake instead of the icing sugar.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” - Abraham Lincoln 

This week, Poets United has as its theme “Carpe Diem”, a phrase taken from one of Horace’s odes, which incites us to seize the moment, take every opportunity presented to us and enjoy ourselves, for time flies… 

Carpe Diem 

“Carpe diem,” you said and boasted your classical education
By completing the quote: “…quam minimum credula postero.”, 
And not missing the opportunity to drive home my lack of Latin,
You translated it for me…
“Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow.” 

And I smiled, because I loved you and whatever you said
Was music to my ears, flammable fodder for the fire in my heart.
And I failed to heed the dire warning of the quote’s meaning
And the smirk on your face as you carefully drew out the Latin long vowels
And clipped the short ones… 

You were always one for seizing days (and nights moreover),
Taking each opportunity, like plucking a ripe juicy plum;
Mindless of the consequences, unthinking of tomorrow,
Using all and everyone as accessories of your momentary enjoyment
Mindless of the long-term pain you inflicted.

And I forgave you, as I gave you my all, because I loved you,
And my pleasure was to always ensure yours,
Giving you all the plums your heart desired,
Plucking all happiness and making your days worthy of being seized,
(And all the nights, moreover…)

Then came tomorrow and you left, deserted me,
Your only goodbye the hackneyed words by Horace:
“Carpe diem…” and you didn’t complete the quote this time,
As its ending was self evident from your actions –
Nor did you bother to grace me with long and short vowels… 

And I wept, because my understanding of ancient tragedy is deep,
Even though I lack a classical education.
And I cursed Horace and Epicurus and their ilk who fill people’s minds
With hedonistic platitudes (or so do shallow people interpret them);
And I bawled with long vowel “a’s” and screamed with short “e’s”,
Piling maledictions on you, and I trust that your tomorrow
Will make you pay dearly for every day you seized from me
(And every night, moreover).

Tuesday, 27 February 2018


“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” - Buddha 

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. 
Borobudur, or Barabudur (Indonesian: Candi Borobudur) is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, and the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.

Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple design follows Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana. The temple demonstrates the influences of Gupta art that reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian.

The monument is a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The pilgrim journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades.

Borobudur has the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world. Evidence suggests Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians.

Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, followed by the monument’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Borobudur remains popular for pilgrimage. Once a year, Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the monument, and Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.

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

Monday, 26 February 2018


“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain 

Books I’ve read lately and enjoyed: 

Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome by Lesley Adkins and ‎ Roy A. Adkins
This is a detailed, scholarly work on every aspect of Roman daily life, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD. The chapters are arranged thematically and the information is organized methodically and lucidly. While it is a valuable reference work, I found reading through it quite enjoyable. 

Music A Very Short Introduction by Nicholas Cook
This was an interesting book on music/musicology written in an engaging way, which draws the reader into thinking about the nature of music in all of its numerous manifestations. While some of Cook’s analyses of topics and interpretations of musical styles and pieces are useful, obvious or even self-evident, others no doubt will be controversial and give rise to much cogitation in the mind of the reader. 

Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly
This is a “boy’s own adventure” style thriller with good measures of supernatural/fantasy, action and historical/mythological elements thrown in. Reilly is an Australian author who has written quite a few similar books in this genre and provides readers with thrills and escapism in what are easy to read and digest (and then excrete, I guess) novels.

This was a diverting read based on the following conceit: Around 4,500 years ago, the capstone upon the summit of the Great Pyramid of Giza absorbed the energy released by the Tartarus Rotation (a monstrous sunspot that occurs every 4,000-4,500 years), and saved the earth from major flooding and catastrophic weather. This capstone was later divided up by Alexander the Great with one piece hidden in a booby-trapped location within each of the other seven wonders of the world. If and when they are reunited and replaced on the capstone during another solar event, they can bring 1,000 years of peace or power for the nation that possesses them. The Tartarus rotation is about to recur and the search begins to reunite the fragmented capstone. Reilly’s derring-do hero Jack West Jr plays a central role in the novel.

Saturday, 24 February 2018


“Graupner is one of those unfortunate victims of fate and circumstance - a contemporary of Bach, Handel, Telemann, etc., who has remained largely - and unfairly – neglected.” - David Vernier 

Christoph Graupner (13 January 1683 in Kirchberg – 10 May 1760 in Darmstadt) was a German harpsichordist and composer of high Baroque music who was a contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and George Frideric Handel.

Born in Hartmannsdorf near Kirchberg in Saxony, Graupner received his first musical instruction from his uncle, an organist named Nicolaus Kuester. Graupner went to the University of Leipzig where he studied law (as did many composers of the time) and then completed his musical studies with Johann Kuhnau, the cantor of the Thomasschule (St. Thomas School).

In 1705 Graupner left Leipzig to play the harpsichord in the orchestra of the Hamburg Opera under the direction of Reinhard Keiser, alongside George Frideric Handel, then a young violinist. In addition to playing the harpsichord, Graupner composed six operas in Hamburg, some of them in collaboration with Keiser, a popular composer of operas in Germany.In 1709 Graupner accepted a post at the court of Hesse-Darmstadt and in 1711 became the court orchestra’s Hofkapellmeister (court chapel master). Graupner spent the rest of his career at the court in Hesse-Darmstadt, where his primary responsibilities were to provide music for the court chapel. He wrote music for nearly half a century, from 1709 to 1754, when he became blind. He died six years later.

Graupner inadvertently played a key role in the history of music. Precarious finances in Darmstadt during the 1710s forced a reduction of musical life. The opera house was closed, and many court musicians' salaries were in arrears (including Graupner’s). After many attempts to have his salary paid, and having several children and a wife to support, in 1723 Graupner applied for the Cantorate in Leipzig. Telemann had been the first choice for this position, but withdrew after securing a salary increase in Hamburg. Graupner’s “audition” Magnificat, set in the style of his teacher, mentor and predecessor, Kuhnau, secured him the position.

However, Graupner’s patron (the Landgrave Ernst Ludwig of Hesse-Darmstadt) would not release him from his contract. Graupner’s past due salary was paid in full, his salary was increased; and he would be kept on staff even if his Kapelle was dismissed. With such favorable terms, Graupner remained in Darmstadt, thus clearing the way for Bach to become the kantor in Leipzig. After hearing that Bach was the choice for Leipzig, on 4 May 1723 Graupner graciously wrote to the city council in Leipzig assuring them that Bach “is a musician just as strong on the organ as he is expert in church works and capelle pieces” and a man who “will honestly and properly perform the functions entrusted to him.”

Graupner was hardworking and prolific. There are about 2,000 surviving works in his catalogue, including 113 sinfonias, 85 ouvertures (suites), 44 concertos, 8 operas, 1,418 religious and 24 secular cantatas, 66 sonatas and 40 harpsichord partitas. Nearly all of Graupner’s manuscripts are housed in the ULB (Technical University Library) in Darmstadt, Germany.

After he died, Graupner’s works fell into obscurity for a number of reasons. His manuscripts became the object of a long legal battle between his heirs and the rulers of Hesse-Darmstadt. A final court decision denied the Graupner estate ownership of the music manuscripts. The heirs were unable to obtain permission to sell or publish his works and they remained inaccessible to the public. Dramatic changes in music styles had reduced the interest in Graupner’s music. On the positive side however, the Landgrave’s seizure of Graupner's musical estate ensured its survival in toto. Fate was not so kind to J. S. Bach's musical legacy, for example. Another factor that contributed to Graupner's posthumous obscurity was that, unlike Bach, Graupner had very few pupils other than Johann Friedrich Fasch to carry on his musical legacy.

Here are some of his Orchestral Works, played by Nova Stravaganza under the leadership of Siegbert Rampe from the harpsichord:
1) Sinfonia in G Major GWV538 (9:38)
2) Overture in E Flat Major GWV429 (21:07)
3) Concerto in E Minor GWV321 (15:38)
4) Overture in E Major GWV439 (23:11)
5) Sinfonia in G Major GWV578 (7:08)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


“You have no choice. You must leave your ego on the doorstep before you enter love.” ― Kamand Kojouri

For this week’s Midweek Motif, Poets United is exploring the theme of “Voice”. Here is my offering: 

The Silent Telephone

Waiting for a promised call
By the silent telephone
While the sky rotates up above
And the stars laugh mockingly.

Waiting for the silent ‘phone to ring
Watching the clock mark time so slowly,
While the moon hides behind a cloud
And her face thankfully is obscured.

Waiting for your honeyed voice
Once more to drug me,
While my flesh pains me
Its unfeeling inertness a wound incurable.

Waiting for morning light
Waiting for the night to end
Your promised call a slender, sickly hope
Losing more of its tenuous life each passing second.

My life away from you, no life,
An empty waiting game, a vacuum;
Your call, your promised call,
How far away it seems
As endlessly I wait
By the silent telephone,
And as your voice’s drug is lacking
I face the terrors of withdrawal...

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


“In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world.” - Federico Garcia Lorca 

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. 
Valladolid is a city in Spain and the de facto capital of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It has a population of 309,714 people (2013 est.), making it Spain's 13th most populous municipality and northwestern Spain’s biggest city. Its metropolitan area ranks 20th in Spain with a population of 414,244 people in 23 municipalities. The city is situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers 15 km before they join the Duero, and located within five winegrowing regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Tierra de León, and Cigales.

Valladolid was originally settled in pre-Roman times by the Celtic Vaccaei people, and later the Romans themselves. It remained a small settlement until being re-established by King Alfonso VI of Castile as a Lordship for the Count Pedro Ansúrez in 1072. It grew to prominence in the Middle Ages as the seat of the Court of Castile and being endowed with fairs and different institutions as a collegiate church, University (1241), Royal Court and Chancery and the Royal Mint.

The Catholic Monarchs, Isabel I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, married in Valladolid in 1469 and established it as the capital of the Kingdom of Castile and later of united Spain. Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid in 1506, while authors Francisco de Quevedo and Miguel de Cervantes lived and worked in the city. The city was briefly the capital of Habsburg Spain under Phillip III between 1601 and 1606, before returning indefinitely to Madrid. The city then declined until the arrival of the railway in the 19th century, and with its industrialisation into the 20th century.

The Old Town is made up of a variety of historic houses, palaces, churches, plazas, avenues and parks, and includes the National Museum of Sculpture, the Museum of Contemporary Art Patio Herreriano or the Oriental Museum, as well as the houses of José Zorrilla and Cervantes which are open as museums. Among the events that are held each year in the city there is Holy Week, Valladolid International Film Week (Seminci), and the Theatre Festival and street arts (TAC).

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

Sunday, 18 February 2018


“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.” - Iris Murdoch 

Alexander Sigov was born on February 25, 1955 in Leningrad. He graduated from the V. A. Serov Art College in 1975. Since 1994 he is a member of the Soyuz artist group. Collections where works are exhibited are in the Museum of Modern Art in Seoul, South Korea; private collections in Russia, Germany, France, Turkey, Japan, Sweden, Czechia, Canada, and United States. He has participated in many group exhibitions and has had several one-man exhibitions in Russia and abroad.

In an autobiographical note, the artist states: “Salvador Dali, in one of his Ten Commandments says: ‘Do not be afraid of the perfection you did not achieve’. Painting is something that helps me to draw near to this mystery of perfection. If in life we aim to achieve certain goals, such as to understand the mystery of truth – as perfection must be considered – not rarely comes disappointment. However, in art there is hope to approach this ideal, learning much from the process every day.” 

Sigov in his paintings adopts the aesthetics and symbolism of images of the past and processes them in his own unique manner, creating his own personal universe, in which a certain familiarity becomes renewed and added to it are decorative elements, sumptuous textures and unexpected touches of whimsy. Saturation of colour on the one hand with delicate pastel tones on the other, a variety of beautiful embossed patterns with superimposed fine lines of masterful drawing, satisfying composition and a pictorial plane packed with fine detail allow the artist to express the fusion of styles and images in a harmonious end-product.

Saturday, 17 February 2018


“She had passed her whole life as does everyone, rushing and dreaming in blind, deaf refusal of the miracle of each moment.” ― Umberto Bartolomeo 

Luigi Rossi (c. 1597 – 20 February 1653) was an Italian Baroque composer. Rossi was born in Torremaggiore, a small town near Foggia, in the ancient kingdom of Naples and at an early age he went to Naples. There he studied music with the Franco-Flemish composer Jean de Macque who was organist of the Santa Casa dell’Annunziata and maestro di cappella to the Spanish viceroy.

Rossi later entered the service of the Caetani, dukes of Traetta.Rossi composed just two operas: Il palazzo incantato, which was given at Rome in 1642; and Orfeo, written after he was invited by Cardinal Mazarin in 1646 to go to Paris for that purpose, and given its premiere there in 1647. Rossi returned to France in 1648 hoping to write another opera, but no production was possible because the court had sought refuge outside Paris. Rossi returned to Rome by 1650 and never attempted anything more for the stage.

A collection of cantatas published in 1646 describes him as musician to Cardinal Antonio Barberini, and Giacomo Antonio Perti in 1688 speaks of him along with Carissimi and Cesti as “the three greatest lights of our profession”. Rossi is noteworthy principally for his chamber-cantatas, which are among the finest that the 17th century produced. A large quantity are in manuscripts in the British Library and in Christ Church Library, Oxford. La Gelosia, printed by F. A. Gevaert in Les Gloires d’Italie, is an admirable specimen. He left about 300 cantatas in total.

Here is Christina Pluhar with L’Arpeggiata playing Music at the Court of Ann of Austria, mother of King Louis XIV, including Rossi’s music. Performed by Véronique Gens: soprano Veronika Skuplik, Mira Glodeanu, Bruno Cocset, Paulina van Laarhoven, Mieneke van den Velden, Christine Plubeau, Richard Myron, Elisabeth Seitz, Elisabeth Geiger, Haru Kitamika.

Friday, 16 February 2018


“One day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines’, which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake.

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory - this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?”
Marcel Proust - À la recherche du temps perdu 

Madeleines are that famous little French butter cake, which have a literary reputation, having served as Marcel Proust’s muse in his famous book: “Remembrance of Things Past.” Although madeleines appear to be simple they require patience and careful measuring of ingredients and following of instructions. When well-prepared, madeleines are a delightful little cake, browned and crispy on the outside and spongy and soft on the inside. Perfect for your afternoon cup of tea. 


2 large eggs
2⁄3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
Icing sugar 

Preheat oven to 190°C. Generously butter and flour pan for large madeleines (recipe is for 20 pieces).
Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in vanilla and lemon peel. Add flour; beat gently until just blended.
Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each indentation in the pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 10-16 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch (can be made 1 day ahead). Dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, 15 February 2018


“So many books, so little time.” ― Frank Zappa 

Books I’ve read lately and enjoyed:  

“Puzzled” by David Astle 
A great book for Cryptic Crossword aficionados, this is partly a vade mecum on how to solve those devilish Friday DA cryptics in the “Age” newspaper, but also an amusing memoir, an eclectic autobiography of the master setter himself, replete with humorous anecdotes and examples of great clues and how to solve them.

 “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 
A lovely book, part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part romance, but above all a paean to books and the love of books. 

“At Home” by Bill Bryson 
An amusing history of “private life” through the ages and the place where it all happens, the home and its various rooms. But not only! Famous and infamous personages, common and uncommon people and also so many interesting tangents and tidbits make for a treat to read.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” - Buddha 

This week, Poets United has as its Midweek Motif the topic “word”. Words are the building blocks of our meaningful utterances. We speak them, write them, read them. They appear fleetingly electronically or acquire a more enduring presence when printed. Better still, words hand-written make the stuff of memories when the writer is a person beloved. 

But words can be two-faced: Smiling or menacing, serene or agitated, calm or angry, superficial or deep, nonsensical or full of substance. Words can be our hope, our solace, our comfort, our joy; but words (or the absence of the right words) can be our nemesis, words can cut sharper than razor, words can wound more deeply than a knife, can kill more surely than a bullet.

Correspondence I
October 9th 1990

Waiting for your letter:
A promise of rain in the drought;
But why must so much die,
While waiting for the rain?

Waiting for your letter:
A promise of freedom to the prisoner
Who must learn to live
Alone with his thoughts in a locked cell.

Waiting for your letter:
A promise of hope to the betrayed
Who already knows that promises are hollow
And hope is an illusion.

“I’ll write...” you said, “I give you my word.”
And once again I dared to hope, that you write me that word,
Knowing full well of the falsity of smiles
And the despair of fruitless waiting.

Correspondence II
October 10th, 1990

Your “letter” awaited me
When I came home today...

It was as I expected it,
And a lot less...

Empty, cold, impersonal
Scribbled hastily on the post office counter.

Few frosty words,
A shallow wish of “...happiness to come...”

And not even a name, nor initial
Signed beneath, only a line quickly drawn
As if with the impatience,
The gladness of having completed
An unpleasant, onerous obligation...

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


“In France we have a saying, Joie de vivre, which actually doesn’t exist in the English language. It means looking at your life as something that is to be taken with great pleasure and enjoy it.” - Mireille Guiliano 

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.
Carcassonne is a fortified town in the French department of Aude, in the region of Occitanie. It is the departmental prefecture. Inhabited since the Neolithic period, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between historic trade routes, linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées. Its strategic importance was quickly recognised by the Romans, who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire. In the fifth century, it was taken over by the Visigoths, who founded the city.

Its strategic location led successive rulers to expand its fortifications until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. The city is famous for the Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval fortress restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853 and added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. Consequently, Carcassonne relies heavily on tourism but also counts manufacture and wine-making as some of its other key economic sectors.

The fortified city itself consists essentially of a concentric design of two outer walls with 53 towers and barbicans to prevent attack by siege engines. The castle itself possesses its own drawbridge and ditch leading to a central keep. The walls consist of towers built over quite a long period. One section is Roman and is notably different from the medieval walls with the tell-tale red brick layers and the shallow pitch terracotta tile roofs. One of these towers housed the Catholic Inquisition in the 13th century and is still known as “The Inquisition Tower”. Carcassonne was demilitarised under Napoleon and the Restoration, and the fortified cité of Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French government decided that it should be demolished. A decree to that effect that was made official in 1849 caused an uproar.

The antiquary and mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and the writer Prosper Mérimée, the first inspector of ancient monuments, led a campaign to preserve the fortress as a historical monument. Later in the year the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, already at work restoring the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, was commissioned to renovate the place. In 1853, work began with the west and southwest walls, followed by the towers of the porte Narbonnaise and the principal entrance to the cité. The fortifications were consolidated here and there, but the chief attention was paid to restoring the roofing of the towers and the ramparts, where Viollet-le-Duc ordered the destruction of structures that had encroached against the walls, some of them of considerable age.

Viollet-le-Duc left copious notes and drawings on his death in 1879, when his pupil Paul Boeswillwald and, later, the architect Nodet continued the rehabilitation of Carcassonne. The restoration was strongly criticised during Viollet-le-Duc’s lifetime. Fresh from work in the north of France, he made the error of using slates and restoring the roofs as point-free environment. Yet, overall, Viollet-le-Duc’s achievement at Carcassonne is agreed to be a work of genius, though not of the strictest authenticity.

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.

Sunday, 11 February 2018


“A true portrait should, today and a hundred years from today, be the testimony of how this person looked and what kind of human being he was.” - Philippe Halsman 

Aleksandra Mitrofanovna Beļcova (Russian: Бельцова, Александра Митрофановна, March 17, 1892 in Surazh, Chernigov Governorate – February 1, 1981 in Riga, Latvian SSR) was a Latvian and Russian painter.

Aleksandra Beļcova graduated from the Secondary School for Women in Novozybkov in 1912. Later she started studies in Penza city art school, from which she graduated in 1917. While in Penza she met several Latvian painters who studied there as refugees. Among them were Jēkabs Kazaks, Konrāds Ubāns and Voldemārs Tone. Especially close relationships developed between her and Romans Suta, another Latvian painter who studied in Penza.

In 1917 she went to Petrograd to study in State Free Art Workshop under Nathan Altman. It was in Petrograd that her first solo exhibition was held in 1919. Just after the exhibition she moved to Latvia along with Romans Suta and became a member of the Riga Artists Group. The couple married in 1922 in Riga and after marriage they visited Paris, Berlin and Dresden.

In 1923 their daughter Tatiana was born in Paris. In 1925 she painted “The White and the Black” (above). She was involved in the Roller group exhibitions and Riga Graphic Artists Association in the following years. Her paintings were mostly portraits and still lifes, beginning as a Cubist she turned to realism in later years. Her mediums were oil, watercolour, ink and pencil, and she also painted on porcelain. Beļcova died on February 1, 1981.[1] The home of Aleksandra Belcova and Romans Suta in Elizabetes street 57A-26 in Riga is now turned into memorial museum and art gallery.

An excellent critique of the painting above can be found here: https://deepbaltic.com/2017/03/02/baltic-artists-brought-the-world-home-but-at-what-cost/

Saturday, 10 February 2018


“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” ― Maya Angelou 

Giovanni Benedetto Platti (1692 - 1763) was born in Padua or Venice in 1692 or 1697. He was musically educated in Venice. His teachers were most probably Francesco Gasparini, Vivaldi, Lotti and indeed Albinoni and the Marcello brothers. There is no significant information about his life before he came to Würzburg in 1722 together with a group of Italian musicians.

Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn who was Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg was deeply preoccupied with Italian music and wanted to expand the music at court. He employed a number of foreign musicians, mostly Italians. Together with Platti six further Italian musicians were employed in 1722. After the sudden death of the Prince-Bishop in 1724, conditions for the musicians at court deteriorated. The number of musicians was considerably reduced, and only two of the Italian musicians could stay on.

In 1723 Platti married the soprano Maria Theresia Lambrucker. She was also employed at court. When Friedrich Carl von Schönborn, brother of Johann Philipp, was elected new Prince-Bishop in 1729, conditions improved. Platti stayed in Würzburg until his death in 1763. His wife gave birth to at least ten children. She died in 1752. Platti was “Oboist, Violinist und Tenorist”. A list of the court musicians from 1730 shows that “Virtuos Platti” was the best paid musician, and continued to be so, despite changes of monarch. He earned twice as much as the “Kapellmeister”.

Platti’s position at court was unique. He was involved in chamber and church music and served as oboist and violinist. Later on he was assigned other tasks, including pedagogical ones. In a decree of 1730 it is stated that he was to teach Johanna Wolf (daughter of the Dance Master), the castrato Busch, and (after Busch’s disappointing lack of development) the soprano Vogel. In a record from 1757 it is mentioned that two military band musicians were to stay at court in order to follow Platti’s tuition. He was thus also supposed to teach oboists. Platti was no doubt a virtuoso.

As a composer Platti is renowned for his harpsichord sonatas, numerous pieces for cello and his church music. His work has distinct pre-classical features, associated with composers such as Haydn. His melodious imagination and lively, elegant style are apparent. His slightly anonymous existence in Würzburg obviously contributed to the fact that he never gained the recognition he deserves.

Here are some of his cello concertos:
1. Concerto in A for obbligato cello & strings, D-WD 654 0:00
2. Concerto grosso in D (after Corelli's Op. 5/1), D-WD 538 13:59
3. Concerto in D minor for obbligato cello & strings, D-WD 657 25:08
4. Concerto grosso in C (after Corelli's Op. 5/3), D-WD 539 39:18
5. Concerto in D for obbligato cello & strings, D-WD 650 50:36
Stefano Veggetti Violoncello; Andrea Rognoni Violin; Franziska Romaner Violoncello; Ensemble Cordia