Tuesday, 4 August 2015


“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” - Francis Bacon

Catholics celebrate the feast day of St Eleutherius today, while the Greek Orthodox faith commemorates The Feast of the Seven Ephesian Boys. These are also known as the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus (Arabic: اصحاب الکھف aṣḥāb al kahf, “companions of the cave”). It is a story of a group of youths who hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 AD, to escape a persecution. The king forced all his kingdom to worship idols and whoever didn’t would be killed. These young men escaped as their faith in God (their belief varies by regional origin) was strong and refused to worship idols. The story is one of the many examples of the legend about a man who falls asleep and years after wakes up to find the world changed.

It is also Independence (National) Day I in Burkina Faso (since 1960); and National Day in the Cook Islands; while El Salvador celebrates Summer Day II.

Burkina Faso is a land-locked country of Western Africa bordering with Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. It is 274,000 square km in area and its population is 9 million people. The capital city is Ouangadougou while other towns are Tenkodogo, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya and Banfora. The country was annexed by France in 1896 and became independent in 1960, its name changing to Burkina Faso from Upper Volta in 1984. The country has poor soils with frequent droughts in the North that threaten the savannah and seriously affect the struggling economy. There are virtually no industries most people relying on subsistence farming. Cattle and cotton are exported.

It is the anniversary of the birth of:
Urban VII (Giambattista Castagna), Pope of Rome (1521);
Nicolas Jacques Conté, inventor of the pencil (1755);
Edward Irving, founder of Catholic Apostolics (1792);
Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet (1792);
Knut Hamsun, Norwegian writer (1859);
Elizabeth, British queen mother (1900);
David Russell Lange, NZ prime minister (1942).

The morning glory, Ipomoea purpurea, is the flower for today’s birthdays.  It symbolises affectation and in the language of flowers means: “She loved you”.  In the 1960s the seeds of this flower were thought to contain a hallucinogenic drug, but investigations since then have disproved this belief.

In 1693 on this day, Dom Perignon discovered champagne and exclaimed, as the bubbly poured forth: “I see stars!”  Champagne is a lovely drink and there are so many occasions on which to enjoy it and so many ways to drink it!  The best may be to share a bottle with one’s partner on a special occasion, but I enjoyed it also one Winter’s day for brunch with some friends in a mixture known as Kir Royale.  A few drops of Crème de Cassis liqueur in a chilled champagne flute and then fill with ice-cold bubbly - very nice!

A Lament

O World! O Life! O Time!
On whose last steps I climb,
Trembling at that where I had stood before;
When will return the glory of your prime?
No more -Oh, never more!

Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight:
Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar
Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
No more -Oh, never more!

Percy Bysshe Shelley

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