Tuesday, 3 May 2016


“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust

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.
Luxembourg (Luxembourgish: Lëtzebuerg; German: Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital Luxembourg City is together with Brussels and Strasbourg one of the three official capitals of the European Union and seat of the European Court of Justice, highest juridical instance in the EU.

Its culture, people and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and Germanic cultures. The repeated invasions by its neighbour countries, especially in World War II, resulted in the country’s strong will for mediation between France and Germany and led to the foundation of the European Union. It comprises two principal regions: The Oesling in the north as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland (“Good Land”) in the south.

With an area of 2,586 square kilometres it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe (about the same size as the state of Rhode Island or the English county of Northamptonshire). Luxembourg had a population of 524,853 in October 2012, ranking it the 8th least-populous country in Europe. As a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is headed by a grand duke, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and is the world’s only remaining grand duchy.

Luxembourg is a developed country, with an advanced economy and the world's highest GDP (PPP) per capita, according to the United Nations in 2014. Its central location has historically made it of great strategic importance to numerous powers, dating back to its founding as a Roman fortress, its hosting of a vital Frankish castle during the Early Middle Ages, and its role as a bastion for the Spanish Road between the 16th and 17th centuries.

Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, OECD, United Nations, NATO, and Benelux, reflecting its political consensus in favour of economic, political, and military integration. The city of Luxembourg, which is the country’s capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the EU. Luxembourg served on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2013 and 2014, which was a first in the country’s history. In 2016, Luxembourgish citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 172 countries and territories, ranking the Luxembourgian passport 6th in the world, tied with states like Canada or Switzerland.

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!

Monday, 2 May 2016


“Imitation, if it is not forgery, is a fine thing. It stems from a generous impulse, and a realistic sense of what can and cannot be done.” - James Fenton

Combining Art Sunday and Movie Monday this week as I have been extremely busy with work and family! The bane of the art lover is forgery. For a serious collector to be able to obtain an original art work from a favourite famous artist is the holy grail of his existence. Enter the forger, ready to make a dream come true by providing the desired art work… Often of course the forgery is masterful in its own way and the forger can be an accomplished artist with much talent (if not genius). The niggling concept of “originality” is raised along the way, but one has to consider how often great artists plagiarised others and even their own works. In any case the subject is fraught with difficulty and always along the way the matters of “money”, “investment” and “financial gain” rear their ugly heads. These of course have nothing to with love of art and some of the great collectors of art have been pure and simple investors with no genuine love of art per se.

For Movie Monday, an interesting 2014 film by Philip Martin, “The Forger”, starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer and Tye Sheridan. The plot centres on the world’s best art forger (Travolta) who makes a deal with a crime syndicate to get an early release from prison, but in return he must pull off an impossible heist - he must forge a painting by Claude Monet, steal the original from a museum, and replace it with a replica so perfect that no one will notice. He takes on the task but has to ask the help of his father (Plummer) and son (Sheridan). The three generations of the family plan together the forgery and heist, but on the way their relationships are examined and each has to deal with some issues that have been causing some consternation for some time.

The film is not a typical action/thriller but has elements from these genres. However if one goes in to see it and expects high adrenaline action scenes will be disappointed. It is more of comedy/drama piece of relationships between male members of a family and the way they deal with their feelings and lack of communication along their way. The forgery and heist have a part to play in the story, but they also act as a catalyst for the very real issues faced by each of the main characters.

The acting is very good, with veteran Christopher Plummer adding class to extremely good line delivery. Travolta does a great job and seems to cope well with the different demands of a portmanteau role and Tye Sheridan delivers a brilliant performance as the troubled son. Cinematography, music and direction are excellent and the plot (apart from a couple of small holes) is engaging and balances well the two strands of the narrative action vs human interest. Some critics have said of the movie that it is a little slow-paced, but when we watched it we found that its 92 minutes runtime was just right for what it was trying to say.

Now in terms of what I would like hanging on my wall, a forgery or an original… Of course an original is better if for nothing else, sentimental reasons: Knowing that the creative hands of the artist had touched the canvas and applied the paint on it gives a frisson of pleasure and makes of the painting a little of a precious artifact. However, if I had in my possession a good forgery I would enjoy it almost as much and revel in the knowledge that another artist (albeit a forger) had devoted so much time to learn about the artist he was copying, study the way he prepared the canvas, sketched out the design, applied colour, wove the brushstrokes and swirled the palette knife so that even the experts were fooled. We live in an age of duplication (i.e. “art prints”, cheap factory made “originals” and dubious “modern art” that is produced to a formula), so a forged canvas of a great artist of the past seems to me to be a good way to enjoy truly great art. Which raises another thorny topic, what makes art “great”?

How do you feel about forgeries? I guess the main objection to a forgery is that is made in order to profit from it by defrauding the person who buys it in the belief that it is genuine. Financial considerations aside, is a good forgery an imitation? If a copy were made for the love of art and an artist, and not for ill-gotten profit, is it still art?

Saturday, 30 April 2016


“Most people think that Heaven is a choir, and all you will do is sing.” - Bruce Wilkinson

Samuel Scheidt (baptised 3 November 1587 – 24 March 1654) was a German composer, organist and teacher of the early Baroque era. Scheidt was born in Halle, and after early studies there, he went to Amsterdam to study with Sweelinck, the distinguished Dutch composer, whose work had a clear influence on Scheidt’s style. On his return to Halle, Scheidt became court organist, and later Kapellmeister, to the Margrave of Brandenburg. Unlike many German musicians, for example Heinrich Schütz, he remained in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War, managing to survive by teaching and by taking a succession of smaller jobs until the restoration of stability allowed him to resume his post as Kapellmeister.

When Samuel Scheidt lost his job because of Wallenstein’s actiities, he was appointed in 1628 as musical director of three churches in Halle, including the Market Church. Scheidt was the first internationally significant German composer for the organ, and represents the flowering of the new north German style, which occurred largely as a result of the Protestant Reformation. In south Germany and some other countries of Europe, the spiritual and artistic influence of Rome remained strong, so most music continued to be derivative of Italian models. Cut off from Rome, musicians in the newly Protestant areas readily developed styles that were much different from those of their neighbours.

Scheidt’s music is in two principal categories: Instrumental music, including a large amount of keyboard music, mostly for organ; and sacred vocal music, some of which is a cappella and some of which uses a basso continuo or other instrumental accompaniment. In his numerous chorale preludes, Scheidt often used a “patterned variation” technique, in which each phrase of the chorale uses a different rhythmic motif, and each variation is more elaborate than the previous one, until the climax of the composition is reached. In addition to his chorale preludes, he wrote numerous fugues, suites of dances (which were often in a cyclic form, sharing a common ground bass) and fantasias.

It is Eastern Orthodox Easter this weekend, so rather appropriately, some religious choral music by Scheidt. It is his “Cantiones Sacrae” performed by Vox Luminis under the direction of Lionel Meunier.

Friday, 29 April 2016


“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.” - Miguel de Cervantes

Sambucus nigra is a species complex of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae native to most of Europe. Common names include elder, elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry and European black elderberry. It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations.

It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m tall and wide. The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10–30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven (rarely nine) leaflets, the leaflets 5–12 cm long and 3–5 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The hermaphrodite flowers are borne in large, flat corymbs 10–25 cm diameter in late spring to mid summer, the individual flowers ivory white, 5–6 mm diameter, with five petals; they are pollinated by flies. The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn; they are an important food for many fruit-eating birds, notably blackcaps.

The dark blue/purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripe state. All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides. The berries are edible after cooking and can be used to make jam, jelly, chutney and Pontack sauce. The flowerheads are commonly used in infusions, giving a very common refreshing drink in Northern Europe and the Balkans. Commercially these are sold as Elderflower cordial. In Europe, the flowers are made into a syrup or cordial (in Romanian: Socată, in Swedish: fläder(blom)saft), which is diluted with water before drinking. The popularity of this traditional drink has recently encouraged some commercial soft drink producers to introduce elderflower-flavoured drinks (Fanta Shokata, Freaky Fläder).

The flowers can also be dipped into a light batter and then fried to make elderflower fritters. In Scandinavia and Germany, soup made from the elder berry (e.g. the German Fliederbeersuppe) is a traditional meal. Both flowers and berries can be made into elderberry wine, and in Hungary an elderberry brandy is made that requires 50 kg of fruit to produce 1 litre of brandy. In south-western Sweden, it is traditional to make a schnapps liqueur flavoured with elderflower. Elderflowers are also used in liqueurs such as St. Germain, and in a mildly alcoholic sparkling elderflower ‘champagne’. In Beerse, Belgium, a variety of Jenever called Beers Vlierke is made from the berries.

Here is a recipe for homemade elderflower cordial:

Elderflower Cordial
2.5 kg white sugar
2 unwaxed lemons (preferably cut off the tree)
20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
85g citric acid

Put the sugar and 1.5 litres water into a large saucepan. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again.
Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well.
Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven).
The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016


“Just because a door appears closed it does not mean that it is locked - nor that it will not open with the right heart, call or touch” - Rasheed Ogunlaru

The Midweek Motif for Poets United this week is “Openness”. My contribution below:

You Read me Like an Open Book

“You read me like an open book,” she said,
“And always know what to do and what to say to me.
Why cannot you be the same,
Why must I always guess (and always wrongly!)
Of what you hide deep in your heart?”

I smile (and I do enigmatic well), and reply:
“My dear, were I too like an open book,
How boring we two would be,
Going around reading each other
And bumping into trees and poles and such?”

She looks puzzled and frowns –
“But it’s so frustrating, all this guessing,
This suspense, this uncertainty!
You are shut up like a clam
And I never know what pleases you…”

I open up my hand and on my outstretched palm
There is a verdant oasis of palm trees
And sweet, inviting water;
I open my arms and there is a peaceful place,
Disarmed, serene, eirenic.

“Come,” I say, “I am accessible,
Just don’t read me, simply feel,
Listen to my constant heartbeat
And let your fingers perceive the braille of my skin
That spells out my love more eloquently than printed words.”

She touches me and divines my meaning,
Wordlessly and so divinely quiet;
And she rightly guesses this time
My hidden meanings and understands
That for so long I have been staring at her open book
With the unseeing eyes of an illiterate.

This post is part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


“Mexico is a safe, as well as a beautiful and warmly gracious, place to visit.” - Margaret Chan

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.

The Tijuana Cultural Centre (CECUT) is a cultural centre in the Zona Río district of Tijuana, Mexico. The centre opened 20 October 1982, and accommodates more than a million visitors per year. A major feature of the complex is an OMNIMAX cinema designed by architects Pedro Ramirez Vazques and Manuel Rossen Morrison. It is the only IMAX cinema in Tijuana, and has come to be popularly known as La Bola (“The Ball”). The cinema, which uses a 360-degree projector to surround viewers with a panoramic image, has 308 seats. The OMNIMAX cinema has been part of the cultural centre since the complex first opened in 1982. In October of that year, it premiered the film “El pueblo del sol”, which was made especially for the cinema’s opening. The film presents images from the most representative regions of Mexico, and got very good reviews. It was the cinema's only film for 13 years. Today, the centre offers a daily selection of films; it premieres about four films per year.

The centre encompasses a large esplanade that accommodates up to 6,000 people. The esplanade is a venue for performances, festivals, and expos. There is also permanent exhibition, called “Museo de las Californias”, which stores over 200 pieces and is a walk through the history of the Baja Peninsula and the state of California from the prehistoric period until the first half of the 20th century. Also a pre-Hispanic garden, called “Jardin Caracol” (Snail Garden), that contains sculptures from the different regions of the mesoamerican cultures that inhabited south Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish Army. Visitors can have the experience of going through the exhibition while enjoying a coffee since there is a little coffee shop in the garden.

There is also a scenic theatre, which has a room for around a thousand visitors and it is mostly used for private concerts and plays. There are also lecture rooms, video room, café, and a bookshop. There are several spaces for temporary small exhibits. In September 2008, on the eve of its 26th anniversary, CECUT opened its doors to a brand new building called “El Cubo” (The Cube), so named because of the contrast between the nickname of the OMNIMAX cinema “The Ball”. This represented the very important opportunity for CECUT to start receiving International Exhibitions, and since then it has been the home for exhibitions that have traveled from other countries including Buda Guanyin, Gabriel Figueroa, Alice Rahon, Venus en Tijuana, Proyecto Civico, and Animated Painting among others.

Nowadays this important institution has different programs for all ages, since classes for early stimulation for kids around 2 months and 2 years, plastic arts and artisan workshops for children from 5 to 15 years and concerts, conferences, movies, documentaries, exhibitions, and all kind of services for the whole family to enjoy the day and spend a nice time learning. CECUT is a short distance from the Mexico–United States border at San Ysidro, San Diego.

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 and link back to this post from your own post!

Monday, 25 April 2016


“Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

In Australia and New Zealand we observe Anzac Day on April 25th as a day of commemoration for those who died in the service of their country, and is a day for honouring returned servicemen and women, whichever battle or war they served in The 25th day of April is the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli in 1915. On the first anniversary of that landing services were held throughout both countries in remembrance of the thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died during the eight-month Gallipoli Campaign.

Since 1916 Anzac Day has evolved to the observance we commemorate today. The day of observance begins before dawn with a march by returned and service personnel to the local war memorial, where they are joined by other members of the community for the Dawn Service. This is a solemn and grave ceremony which brings to mind the lives lost and the terrible futility of warfare, whether it happened in Gallipoli, in the Middle East, in America, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, the Gulf or in Korea…

The assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula began on the 25th April 1915, as an attempt by Allied Command to weaken the strategic position of Germany, Austro-Hungary and Turkey who were allied in the first world war. It was the Australasian Expeditionary Force’s first major engagement of the First World War after their training in Egypt. By the end of the first day of warfare on the Gallipoli peninsula, about 2,000 allied troops lay dead. The bloody fighting continued, and by the end of the first week more than 6500 ANZACs had been killed or wounded. No ANZACs ever reached the Turkish trenches, however, many thousands of Turks also died there.

In 1919, after the war was over, several ANZACs went back to Gallipoli to bury their dead properly. At the Nek, they found the bodies of more than 300 Australians in an area smaller than a tennis court. After eight long months of bitter fighting, the British High Command decided that the war at Gallipoli was too costly when they were also fighting other battles in Europe. The ANZACs alone had lost 10,000 men, and so the order came for a withdrawal.

Since the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing in 1916, Anzac Day has evolved to acknowledge the sacrifice and service of subsequent wars and to encompass new understandings of the full impact of armed conflict on those who have served their country.

The 1981 Peter Weir film “Gallipoli” captures the spirit of Anzac Day and makes for poignant viewing, especially for anyone who has been in a war zone of been affected by warfare. It is acted well by the young Mel Gibson, Mark Lee and Bill Kerr and it is a film that established Gibson as an international star.

It is an excellent anti-war film that establishes this premise subtly and often with wry humour. It is Australia’s version of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, but instead of using the soldiers’ conscience as its premise at that film does, Gallipoli hinges on the Australian cultural foundation of “mateship”. War brings together mates, then it cruelly separates them. The last twenty minutes of the film are particularly illustrative of the callous and brutal nature of war. I think that long though the film is, and a little slow at times, it still is one of the best Australian films, having substance and meaning, but also emotional strength and a pillar in Australia’s culture.

Sunday, 24 April 2016


“In essence the Renaissance was simply the green end of one of civilisation’s hardest winters.” - John Fowles

Pinturicchio, original name Bernardino di Betto di Biago (born c. 1454, Perugia, Romagna Italy – died Dec. 11, 1513, Siena, Republic of Siena) early Italian Renaissance painter known for his highly decorative frescoes. He was born in Perugia, the son of Benedetto or Betto di Blagio. He may have trained under lesser known Perugian painters such as Bonfigli and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. According to Vasari, Pinturicchio was a paid assistant of Perugino. The works of the Perugian Renaissance school are very similar; and paintings by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna and a young Raphael may often be mistaken one for the other. In the execution of large frescoes, pupils and assistants had a large share in the work, either in enlarging the master’s sketch to the full-sized cartoon, in transferring the cartoon to the wall, or in painting backgrounds or accessories.

By 1481 Pinturicchio was associated with the Umbrian artist Perugino, whose influence on him was to be permanent. It is generally agreed that he assisted Perugino on some of the frescoes (“Journey of Moses” and the “Baptism of Christ”) in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican (1481/82). In the 1480s he worked in the Bufalini Chapel in Santa Maria in Aracoeli and in Santa Maria del Popolo (both in Rome).

Pinturicchio’s most important work of this period was the decoration of the suite of six rooms in the Vatican known as the Borgia Apartments for Pope Alexander VI between 1492 and 1494. In these frescoes he retains Perugino’s figure types but lacks his clarity of conception. Instead, Pinturicchio relies on brilliant, often jarring colours, gilding, and ancient Roman ornamental motifs. Pinturicchio’s last major works were the 10 scenes from the life of Pope Pius II painted (1503–08) in fresco in the Piccolomini Library in Siena. In these, space, colour, and detail are handled with a crisp proficiency that may have influenced Raphael.

The Ashmolean Museum (University of Oxford), Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Milan), the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Courtauld Institute of Art (London), the Denver Art Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum (University of Cambridge), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Louvre, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery, London, Palazzo Ruspoli (Rome), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (Milan), Princeton University Art Museum, Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the Vatican Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest) are among the public collections holding works by Pinturicchio.

Above is “The Anunciation” a fresco in the Baglioni Chapel, in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore commissioned in 1500 by Troilo Baglioni to the artist Pinturicchio.

Saturday, 23 April 2016


“A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.” - Leopold Stokowski

Baldassare Galuppi (18 October 1706 – 3 January 1785) was an Italian composer, born on the island of Burano in the Venetian Republic. He belonged to a generation of composers, including Christoph Willibald Gluck, Domenico Scarlatti, and CPE Bach, whose works are emblematic of the prevailing galant style that developed in Europe throughout the 18th century. He achieved international success, spending periods of his career in Vienna, London and Saint Petersburg, but his main base remained Venice, where he held a succession of leading appointments.

In his early career Galuppi made a modest success in opera seria, but from the 1740s, together with the playwright and librettist Carlo Goldoni, he became famous throughout Europe for his comic operas in the new dramma giocoso style. To the succeeding generation of composers he was known as “the father of comic opera”. Some of his mature opere serie, for which his librettists included the poet and dramatist Metastasio, were also widely popular.

Throughout his career Galuppi held official positions with charitable and religious institutions in Venice, the most prestigious of which was maestro di coro at the Doge's chapel, St Mark’s Basilica. In these various capacities he composed a large amount of sacred music. He was also highly regarded as a virtuoso performer on and composer for keyboard instruments. In the latter half of the 19th century, Galuppi’s music was largely forgotten outside of Italy, and Napoleon’s invasion of Venice in 1797 resulted in Galuppi’s manuscripts being scattered around Western Europe, and in many cases, destroyed or lost.

Galuppi’s name persists in the English poet Robert Browning’s 1855 poem “A Toccata of Galuppi’s”, but this has not helped maintain the composer’s work in the general repertoire. Some of Galuppi's works were occasionally performed in the 200 years after his death, but it was not until the last years of the 20th century that his compositions were extensively revived in live performance and on recordings.

Galuppi was much admired for his keyboard music. Few of his sonatas were published in his lifetime, but many survive in manuscript. Some of them follow the Scarlatti single-movement model; others are in the three-movement form later adopted by Haydn, Beethoven and others. Galuppi’s skill as keyboard player is well documented. Hillers Wöchentliche Nachrichten in 1772 made this mention of Galuppi’s reputation in Saint Petersburg: “Chamber concerts were held every Wednesday in the antechamber of the imperial apartments, in order to enjoy the special style and fiery accuracy of the clavier playing of this great artist; thus did the virtuoso earn the overall approval of the court.”

It is no surprise that a number of Galuppi's keyboard works should make it into print during his lifetime, including two sets of 6 sonatas, published in London as opus 1 (1756) and opus 2 (1759) respectively. Felix Raabe mentions the round number of 125 “sonatas, toccatas, divertimenti and etudes” for keyboard, based on Fausto Torrefranca’s 1909 thematic catalogue of Galuppi’s cembalo works. However, given some of the outrageous assertions on this topic that Torrefranca makes elsewhere (such as the claim that classical sonata form was created by Italian keyboard composers) the accuracy of this figure must be accepted only cautiously.

Galuppi’s 12 experimental Concerti a Quattro are particularly innovative chamber music pieces that foreshadow the development of the classical string quartet. Each of the concerti is a three-movement work for two violins, viola and cello that integrates the counterpoint of the sonata da chiesa with daring chromatic twists and harmonic detours that become more pronounced as the set progresses quartet by quartet. Innovations such as the chromatically raised 5th that Burney singled out in Galuppi’s arias of the 1740s appear, and many harmonic features of the late-classical period are foreshadowed, such as the final deceptive cadence in which an augmented sixth chord is substituted before the ultimate resolution. Among other instrumental compositions by Galuppi, Grove’s Dictionary lists sinfonias, overtures, trios and string quartets, and concerti for solo instruments and strings.

Here are his complete Harpsichord Concerti played by Roberto Loreggian (harpsichord) and the Ensemble ConSerto Musico recorded in 2011.

Friday, 22 April 2016


“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.” - Chaim Potok

Afternoon tea is a wonderful indulgence that we can sometimes have, especially so at the weekends. A fragrant, hot cup of tea with a slice of lemon and some delicious sweet tidbit on the side while enjoying compatible company and pleasant conversation is something that makes for a warm and cosy feeling – even more so if the weather is cool and rainy outside…

Coconut & Raspberry Slice
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
125g butter, chilled, cubed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup raspberry jam
2 cups desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a 3cm deep, 24cm x 30 cm lamington pan. 
Process the two flours, 1/2 cup sugar and butter to resemble breadcrumbs. Add 1 egg and vanilla. Process to form a dough.
Press dough into base of prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden. Spread the raspberry jam over the warm base cake base.
Whisk remaining eggs and remaining 1/2 cup sugar together. Stir in coconut. Spread over the jam. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely in pan. Cut into pieces and serve.

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Thursday, 21 April 2016


“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” - Confucius

Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region and belongs to the Lauraceae family. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel, sweet bay, bay tree (esp. United Kingdom), true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture. Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called “bay” or “laurel”, generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae.

The laurel can vary greatly in size and height, sometimes reaching 10–18 metres tall. The laurel is dioecious (unisexual), with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is pale yellow-green, about 1 cm diameter, and they are borne in pairs beside a leaf. The leaves are 6–12 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an entire (untoothed) margin. On some leaves the margin undulates. The fruit is a small, shiny black berry-like drupe about 1 cm long that contains one seed.

Laurus nobilis is a widespread relic of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, Canary Islands and in Madeira.

The plant is the source of several popular herbs and one spice used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines. Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are added whole to Italian pasta sauces and Greek pulse dishes. However, even when cooked, whole bay leaves can be sharp and abrasive enough to damage internal organs, so they are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish. Whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity. Whole bay leaves are used almost exclusively as flavour agents during the food preparation stage. Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody Mary. Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavouring.

Bay laurel was used to fashion the laurel wreath of ancient Greece, a symbol of highest status. A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Games because the games were in honour of Apollo, and the laurel was one of his symbols. The oracle in Delphi used to chew bay leaves while she delivered her prophecies. The symbolism attached tot he laurel carried over to Roman culture, which held the laurel as a symbol of victory. It is also the source of the words “baccalaureate” and “poet laureate”, as well as the expressions “assume the laurel” and “resting on one’s laurels”.

Ovid retells the Greek myth in his Metamorphoses that laurel tree was first formed when the nymph Daphne was changed into a laurel tree because of Apollo’s pursuit of her. Daphne is the Greek name for the tree. In the Bible, the laurel is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christian tradition, it symbolises the resurrection of Christ. In Italy, graduating college students wear crowns of laurel instead of the normal graduation hat, hence “baccalaureate”, from which the term “Bachelor” is derived.

Aqueous extracts of bay laurel can be used as astringents and even as a reasonable salve for open wounds. In massage therapy, the essential oil of bay laurel is reputed to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism, while in aromatherapy, it is used to treat earaches and high blood pressure. A traditional folk remedy for rashes caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and stinging nettle is a poultice soaked in boiled bay leaves. The chemical compound lauroside B isolated from Laurus nobilis is an inhibitor of human melanoma (skin cancer) cell proliferation at high concentrations in-vitro.

In the language of flowers, a laurel sprig stands for “glory”, while a flowering branch stands for “I change but in death”. A laurel wreath means “noble and exalted”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,
and also part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


“Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organise themselves into a professor of chemistry? What’s the motive?” - Robert M. Pirsig

The theme for this week’s Poets United midweek motif is “Organic”. I have chosen the original chemical meaning of the term:
Organic: Chemistry - Relating to or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin [compare with inorganic].


Carbon is the backbone
Onto which latches ample hydrogen,
With oxygen here and there,
Scant nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus.

Organic – the chemistry of life,
Its complex macromolecules
Aggregating with endless variety,
Forming viscid globules, chains, nets…

Organic is so weak, so vulnerable,
Compared to say, silica:
Quartz crystal tough, transparent, sharp
And so simply inorganic.

And as the atoms whirl in space
And collide and exchange energies
Forming bonds, cohering, sharing electrons,
And reach more stable states,

How does the fragile organic
Form such perilous unions
And dangerous aggregations
As the murderous human?
   More toxic than arsenic,
   More harmful than uranium,
   More caustic than hydrofluoric acid,
   More damaging than inorganic mercury?