Saturday 29 September 2012


“Rest: the sweet sauce of labour” - Plutarch

A restful day today, spent indoors as the weather was not for outings. A beautiful baroque song for Song Saturday today. Whether it is by Bach (as it has been attributed for many years) or whether it is by Stölzel (as recent research shows), it is a lovely aria. Here it is sung by Plácido Domingo and Sissel Kyrkjebø.

Bist du bei mir, geh ich mit Freuden
Zum Sterben und zu meiner Ruh.
Ach, wie vergnügt wär so mein Ende,
Es drückten deine schönen Hände
Mir die getreuen Augen zu.

When thou art near, I go with joy
To death and to my rest.
O how pleasant would my end be,
If your fair hands
Would close my faithful eyes.

“Bist du bei mir” (BWV 508) is an aria in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. It was therefore attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, but the melody is part of the Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel opera “Diomedes, oder die triumphierende Unschuld” that was performed in Bayreuth on November 16, 1718. The opera score is lost. The aria had been part of the Berlin Singakademie music library and was considered lost in the Second World War, until it was rediscovered in 2000 in the Kiev Conservatory. The continuo part of BWV 508 is more agitated and continuous in its voice leading than the Stölzel aria; it is uncertain who provided it, as the entry in the Notebook is by Anna Magdalena Bach herself. In an essay in the Bach-Jahrbuch 2002, Andreas Glöckner speculates that either she obtained the song from the inventory of the Leipzig Opera that had gone bankrupt in 1720, or that it simply was a favourite known to nearly everybody in Leipzig that was particularly suitable for Hausmusik.

Thursday 27 September 2012


“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” - Mark Twain

Spring has definitely sprung in Melbourne, with the temperature climbing to 27˚C yesterday, which was a bit of a shock to everyone’s system as the weather has been long and cold. This is the first really warm day we have had for months and the sun was quite hot in the open. However, true to the changeable nature of the weather in Melbourne, the clouds billowed in and there's a bit of a stormy start to the day today with the weather going back to its usual 15˚C-16˚C maxima over the next few days.

For Food Friday today, here is a definite favourite of ours, which while being an everyday simple cake it can also look quite good at a formal afternoon tea party or even as a dessert at a dinner party.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

440g can pineapple slices in juice

2 tsp orange essence
1 tbsp orange liqueur
Glacé cherries
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
100g butter, softened

1/2 cup caster sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 and 1/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Double cream to serve (optional)

Mix the orange essence and orange liqueur with the juice of the pineapple while it is still in the can and let is stand for about an hour.
Preheat fan-forced oven to 180°C. Grease a 6cm-deep, 20cm (base) round ring pan. Line base with baking paper.
Drain pineapple, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Cut each pineapple piece in quarters.
Sprinkle brown sugar over base of baking upside-down prepared pan. Arrange the pineapple pieces, just touching, over sugar and place glacé cherries at strategic points.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and caster sugar for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla essence.
Add flour and reserved pineapple juice. Stir to combine. Spread mixture over pineapple.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in cake comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve with double cream on the side if desired.

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


“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist. “ - Russell Baker
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27 since 1980. This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism. The UNWTO believes that the date for World Tourism Day is appropriate because it comes at the end of the high tourist season in the northern hemisphere and the start of the tourist season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is of topical interest to many people worldwide, particularly travellers and those working in the tourism sector.
The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. At its Twelfth Session in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 1997, the UNWTO General Assembly decided to designate a host country each year to act as the Organisation’s partner in the celebration of World Tourism Day.

At its Fifteenth Session in Beijing, China, in October 2003, the Assembly decided the following geographic order to be followed for World Tourism Day celebrations: 2006 in Europe; 2007 in South Asia; 2008 in the Americas; 2009 in Africa and 2011 in the Middle East.
This year’s theme aims to highlight tourism’s role in a brighter energy future; a future in which the world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy services. Tourism, one of the world’s largest economic sectors, has already taken important steps towards this future – improving energy efficiency and increasingly using renewable energy technologies in its operations. These steps are creating jobs, lifting people out of poverty and helping to protect the planet.
Various activities are promoted around the world by various tourist organisations. Different types of competitions, such as photo competitions promoting tourism, as well as tourism award presentations in areas such as ecotourism, are held on World Tourism Day. Other activities include free entries, discounts or special offers for the general public to any site of tourism interest. Government and community leaders, as tourism business representatives, may make public announcements or offer special tours or fares to promote both their region and World Tourism Day on or around September 27.

Wednesday 26 September 2012


“Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.” - Albert Einstein

The creative meme of Magpie Tales this week has chosen “Flying Down”, 2006, by David Salle to stimulate the imagination of participants. Here is my contribution:
The Fall
The shot rang out
Crashing into the silence
Like a falling crystal chandelier
On marble floor.

Icarus fell precipitously
With a comet trail of feathers
And a gush of blood
Swallowed up by a hungry sea.

My fear of flying
Proved justified as I fell,
After I fell for you,
And then fell out of your favour.
A vortex swallows up all my debris
The hungry maws of Charybdis
Consume all of my hopes
My dreams fuel the gnashing Scylla’s jaws.
A flight of fancy,
An ill-fated pleasure trip,
A fall, a rough landing, a crash,
And a death foretold by myth, or was it the tarot?

Monday 24 September 2012


“Never work with animals or children.” – WC Fields

We watched a movie on the hotel cable TV while we were away. It was not really our choice, it corresponded with the time we had available and what was on at the time, and seeing how it seemed light and fluffy and not requiring much concentration we sat through it. Nothing special, gave us a few smiles rather than belly laughs and it helped to pass the time. The film was targeted towards children, a little in the mould of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”, but whereas “Matilda” was innovative and funny and wickedly amusing, this movie we watched was more like the Hollywood cookie cutter movies. There were some mischievous children involved and an adorable (?) animal involved, but the movie was very much Adam Sandler’s own.

The film was the Adam Shankman 2008 “Bedtime Stories”, starring Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney Cox, Teresa Palmer, Jonathan Morgan Heit and Laura Ann Kesling. Even though we re not Adam Sandler fans, he handled the role well and interacted well with the children and the animals, managing to hold onto his own, despite WC Fields’ injunction!

The plot centres on Skeeter Bronson (Sandler), the son of a small hotel owner who is promised as a child by his father Marty to be the manager of the family hotel. Economic difficulties force Marty to sell the hotel to Mr Nottingham (Griffiths) who has the hotel chain Nottingham Hotels. 25 years later, Mr. Nottingham plans to build a new hotel and wishes to appoint another man, the fawning Kendall to become the manager, because he is dating his daughter (Palmer). Skeeter’s sister (Cox) asks him to watch her kids, because the school at which she is the principal is being closed and she is looking for a job in Arizona.

The first night, Skeeter tells a bedtime story taking place in medieval times, with some additions from his nephew and niece. It comes true. Mr. Nottingham gives Skeeter a shot at the manager position because Skeeter gives him some insightful comments that Kendall did not have the nous to see. The next night, at the hotel, he tells another story set in the Old West, and he expectantly waits for it to come true, however, things don’t go according to plan... The night after that, out on a campfire, he tells the kids another story set in ancient Greece, and he ends up falling for his sister’s friend and colleague Jill (Russell). The last night, he tells them a story set in deep space, and unfortunately makes the discovery, and his nephew and niece change the ending to him being hit by a gigantic ball of fire. Nevertheless, not all is lost – this is a feel-good movie after all.

The film should be enjoyable for families with young kids and perfect for a rainy weekend as the family gathers around the TV for some entertainment together.

Sunday 23 September 2012


“Rest not. Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Whenever I visit another city I try and make some time to also visit the gallery there. We are very lucky in Australia, as each state capital has a magnificent state gallery, which is well run, has some wonderful art works in its permanent collection and periodically hosts visiting exhibitions. The Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth is no exception and for Art Sunday today I am highlighting a painting from its collection. It is Eugene von Guérard’s, “Fern Tree Gully, Cape Otway Ranges”, painted around 1870.
Eugene von Guérard was born in Vienna in 1811. He was the son of the court painter to Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Bernard von Guérard, and became a painter himself, studying under Johann Schirmer at the Academy in Düsseldorf. He also travelled extensively on the continent and spent some years in Italy before coming to Australia in 1852, lured by the discovery of gold on the Victorian goldfields around Ballarat, and hoping to make his fortune by prospecting for the precious metal.
After a year of unsuccessful prospecting, he resumed his painting career in Melbourne in 1854, and by 1870 was appointed First Master of Painting at the National Gallery School, Melbourne and Curator of the National Gallery of Victoria. He received commissions for landscapes and studies of pastoral properties. He quickly became respected for the meticulous accuracy and fine scientific detail of his landscapes. He returned to Europe in 1882.
This work of Eugene von Guérard encapsulates the application of European artistic traditions (especially German Romanticism), and the “sublime movement” to the Australian landscape. It is also an example of the series of works that show this the artist as a recorder of the approach of European settlement. Eugene von Guérard’s training was imbued with the philosophy of the German Romantics epitomized by the work and teachings of Caspar David Friedrich. Landscape painting, for Friedrich, was an intermediary between man and God, a way of expressing the spirituality of the land as well as humanity’s place in it. In line with this, Von Guérard’s training at the Düsseldorf Academy focussed on the intensive study of the elements of nature in order to know nature as a physical reality and spiritual truth. Nature was a living organism with cycles of life and death that were part of God’s grand design.
The sublime movement found expression through the work of European artists like Salvator Rosa and de Loutherbourg who wished to portray the magnitude and awe-inspiring strength of nature as God’s ultimate creation. Artists interested in representing the sublime through the Australian environment often decried the lack of dramatic landforms such as tall mountains, deep gorges, waterfalls and rushing torrents, as exist in the USA, for example. However, the English philosopher Edmund Burke advocated that silence and stillness could also encapsulate the sublime. von Guérard tried to capture the sublime moment though expressions of stillness, silence and transcendence.
God in nature could also be expressed in the symmetry of natural forms like rock faces and the arches formed by trees that often frame von Guérard’s compositions. To further reinforce the cyclical nature of the world, his compositions are frequently circular, moving from a central focus of interest, through other elements towards the infinity of the view back to the focal point. “Fern Tree Gully, Cape Otway Ranges” typifies this approach, the eye moves from the human element framed by a canopy of ferns and trees towards the peak in the middle of the picture and the unfolding Otway Ranges in the distance.
In the mid nineteenth century Victorian Britain had a craze for ferns. Houses were decorated with fern plants and motifs, special botanical gardens were established and artists incorporated fern elements in paintings, china, furniture and fabrics. This craze was transferred to Australia and as the hinterland was explored, new ferns found their way into domestic gardens and houses. The well-to-do had special “ferneries” built in their gardens where a variety of native ferns were cultivated.
Eugene von Guérard reflected this fashion in 1857 when he exhibited a painting of a fern tree gully in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges. That work is now in the National Gallery of Australia collection. The painting above “Fern Tree Gully, Cape Otway Ranges” is a companion piece and was completed after visits to Victoria’s Otway Ranges in October 1859 and April 1862 when von Guérard went on an expedition with the scientist Professor von Neumayer and fellow artist, Nicholas Chevalier. Von Guérard made numerous sketches of the wild and impenetrable forest area, these drawings are now in the Dixson Galleries in Sydney.