Saturday, 1 September 2012


“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” - Martin Luther
A very special Saturday today with brilliant sunshine, Spring fragrances, unfurling buds and a perfect setting for a very special celebration. The first day of Spring, a blue moon and the coming together with friends and family to mark together a major landmark in two lives is always guaranteed to generate a mixture of feelings. Smiles and laughter, a few tears, good fellowship and the sharing of a meal…
Here is a special song, one of my favourites from the pen of Sting: “The Secret Marriage”. Sting explains in the insert of the album that the song is based on a melody from Hans Eisler - a colleague of Bertold Brecht. Eisler fled to America from the Nazis who apparently hounded him for rest of his life in various disguises.
Sting says of this song: “The song is about the inner joining of two people without the official sanction of the church or state. The Secret Marriage is my way of trying to justify or rationalize why I wasn’t married to the woman I had lived with for 10 years. My justification was that we were already married in a way that we expressed our vows to each other every day, but not in a big public ceremony. It was until our kids got to around the age of 9 or 10 that they needed to have some sort of public demonstration that we were married, and it was their idea that we got married in a public way. Our marriage is a secret no longer.”

Friday, 31 August 2012


“In the spring time, the only pretty ring time, When birds do sing, hey ding a ding; Sweet lovers love the spring.” - William Shakespeare

Spring is arriving and the garden is beginning to be filled with the flowers and bright greens of the season. As the air is warming and the days are lengthening, our food is beginning to reflect the new season as well. Here is a perfect recipe for Spring.
Spring Risotto
500g baby spinach, chard hearts and spring greens roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 large onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
400g Arborio rice for risotto
150ml white wine
600ml chicken stock, heated
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
150g parmesan cheese shaved
25 g pine nuts toasted

Boil 600ml water with half a teaspoon of salt and cook the greens for 2 minute. Drain, reserving the liquid.
Heat a large pan and add the oil and the butter. Heat until the butter is foaming then add the onion and gently cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Stir in the rice and heat through for a few minutes until the grains are shiny and coated.
Pour in the wine and cook over a high heat for 1 minute to allow the alcohol to evaporate, stirring constantly.
Turn down the heat to medium and begin to add the liquid from the spring greens, a ladleful at a time, allowing it to be absorbed into the rice before adding more. When the liquid is used up, continue the process with the stock. This should take about 20 minutes.
When the texture is creamy, but each grain is still firm to the bite in the centre, the risotto is ready.
Take it off the heat and stir in the greens, parsley, pine nuts. Season. Leave to rest with the lid on for a few minutes then sprinkle with the parmesan, stir through and  serve immediately.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme,
and also part of the Food Trip Friday meme.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


“A civilisation is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries, elements difficult at times to justify by logic, but justifying themselves as paths when they lead somewhere, since they open up for man his inner distance.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

My last day in Fremantle today began with an early morning stroll in the historic centre. Fremantle is renowned for its well-preserved architectural heritage, including convict-built colonial-era buildings, an old jetty and port, and prisons; all these buildings presenting a variety and unity of historic architecture and streetscapes. These edifices were often built in limestone with ornate façades in a succession of architectural styles. Rapid development following the harbour works gave rise to an Edwardian precinct as merchant and shipping companies built in the west end and on reclaimed land.

The Round House (shown above) is the oldest remaining intact building in Western Australia, and was built as a gaol between 1830 - 1831. The Round House had eight cells and a gaoler’s residence, which all opened up into a central courtyard. In the 1800s, bay whaling was carried out from Bathers Beach below the Round House. As part of the whaling operations, a tunnel was constructed under the Round House to provide whalers with access to the town from the jetty and beach. The Round House is located in what is now known as Fremantle’s West End: A collection of streets characterised by late Georgian and Victorian-style architecture at the southern end of the port. A process of gentrification in the early 1990s was accelerated by the establishment of the University of Notre Dame Australia, which occupies, and has restored, many of the buildings in the West End.

When the first 75 convicts arrived from Britain in 1850 to support the colony’s dwindling population, it became apparent that the Round House was inadequate to house them. The convicts built a new gaol, Fremantle Prison, which was completed in the 1850s and continued to be used as Fremantle’s prison until 1991. Fremantle Prison was once one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. It housed British convicts, local prisoners, military prisoners, enemy aliens and prisoners of war. On 1 August 2010, a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Brazil placed Fremantle Prison and 10 other “Australian Convict Sites” on the World Heritage List - making it the first built environment in Western Australia to be bestowed this honour. It continues to be accessible to the public for guided tours and as a venue for artistic and cultural activities.


“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G. K. Chesterton

I am in Perth and Fremantle for work for a few days for work and it has been a very, very busy time for me. However, it was most enjoyable as the work has been going very well, but also the weather has been marvellous! I’ve spent most of my time in Fremantle, which is a very beautiful part of Western Australia.

Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829. It was declared a city in 1929, and has a population of approximately 25,000. The city is named after Captain Charles Howe Fremantle, the English naval officer who had pronounced possession of Western Australia and who established a camp at the site. The city contains well-preserved 19th-century buildings and other heritage features. The Western Australian vernacular diminutive for Fremantle is Freo.

The native Australian Noongar people inhabited the area that is now Fremantle, which was known as Walyalup. The area was considered as a site for possible British settlement in 1827, when Captain James Stirling, in HMS Success, explored the coastal areas near the Swan River. As a result of Stirling's report, Captain Charles Howe Fremantle of HMS Challenger, a 603 ton, 28-gun frigate, was instructed to sail to the west coast of Australia to establish a settlement there. On 2 May 1829, Fremantle hoisted the Union Flag in a bay near what is now known as Arthur Head, and in accordance with his instructions, took formal possession “of the whole of the West Coast of New Holland” in the name of George IV of the United Kingdom.

Monday, 27 August 2012


“Good sense about trivialities is better than nonsense about things that matter.” - Max Beerbohm

Last weekend we watched an absolute lemon of a movie. I must admit that I tend to like historical dramas, ancient epics, mythological fantasies and adventure thrillers, so when I saw a movie on special at our video store, which seemed to combine some of these genres I picked it up. Unfortunately, it was a wrong move. The film was a disaster zone and fit for consumption only by kids who know no better. No wonder it was on special…

It was Tarsem Singh’s 2011 “Immortals” starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto and John Hurt. The plot was supposedly based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur of the labyrinth fame. However, it had as much resemblance to this myth as does chalk to cheese. There was someone called Theseus and it was set in mythical Greece (I think, although the soldiers’ uniforms looked like they were Romans) and there was a sort of labyrinth and a sort of a bull-headed thing, but largely it was all bull.

The plot in fact was a strange amalgam of many things that would not amalgamate. It was supposedly a recreation of an ancient Greek myth, with lots of blood and gore and special effects and scenes designed to show the 3D effect and more blood and more gore, and more CGIs… The film was a mixture of grade B epic movie, a shoot-‘em-up video game, adventure dick flick, mythofantasy hodge-podge. Charlie and Vlas Parlapanides the screenwriters deserve an anti-medal for this dog’s breakfast of a script.

If you are familiar with and like Greek mythology, this movie is not for you. It is full of inconsistencies, misrepresentations, inaccuracies and inept renderings of the classics. Theseus was not a “bastard” and a peasant, the Olympian gods were 12 not six (and they constantly interfered with humans, unlike the “rule” of free will as in this movie). The titans were not as represented and Phaedra was a princess not a priestess. Did I mention Hyperion was a titan and not an evil king as shown in the movie? And Stavros (one of the heroes) is a Christian name, which has no place in myths set in pre-Christian times. And the Monks shown in quasi-Byzantine monasteries are definitely out of place too.

The acting was predictably mediocre, but given the bathos of the script, perhaps the actors are not to blame too much. And there was so much fighting and blood and gore. I think you can tell we did not enjoy this film. I did not expect Tarsem Singh to be part of such bilge, especially after directing “The Fall”, which was quite an amazing film (see my review here).

Sunday, 26 August 2012


“Hell isn’t merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.” - Aldous Huxley

A well-meaning retiree in Spain, Cecilia Jimenez, 81, has achieved worldwide notoriety after attempting to restore a 19th century fresco by herself. Without appropriate authorization, the woman initiated her own restoration project by painting a crude rendition of Christ’s face over a crumbling fresco on the wall of the church. She maintains that the church priest knew about it, and because the parishioners repaired everything in the church themselves, this project was not to be an exception…

Thus, with the best of intentions, Señora Jimenez took out her oil paints and palette and began to overpaint the fresco. She managed to turn the 120-year-old fresco, “Ecce Homo” (Behold the Man) by Elijah Garcia Martinez, into a rather grotesque figure that resembles more a zombie than a saint. To add to the embarrassment, a local Catholic cultural foundation, the Centre for Borjanos, had received a donation from the granddaughter of the artist which it was about to spend on returning the fresco to its former glory.

As result, the publicity surrounding the “restoration” has brought hundreds of visitors to the Sanctuary of Mercy Church. Internet wits have also turned their hand at transposing the mangled Spanish Jesus face onto some of the world’s most revered masterpieces - from Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” to Edvard Munch’s “Scream”.

Here is an NBC video report of the amateur’s botched restoration attempt.