Tuesday, 27 October 2015


“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Gautama Buddha

The Catholic faith celebrates the feast day of St Frumentius today, while the Greek Orthodox church commemorates St Nestor the Martyr’s Feast Day. St Vincent and The Grenadines celebrate their Independence (National) Day (since 1979); while in Turkmenistan it is Independence Day and in Zaïre - Naming Day.

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
 Niccoló Paganini, composer/violinist (1782);
 Isaac Merrit Singer, inventor of home sewing machine (1811);
 Klas Arnoldson, Nobel laureate (1908) pacifist (1844);
 Theodore Roosevelt, Nobel laureate (1906), 26th president (1901-09) of the USA, (1858);
 Emily Post, etiquette expert (1872);
 Dylan Thomas, writer (1914);
 Oliver Tambo, ANC leader (1917);
 Nanette Fabray, actress (1920);
 Sylvia Plath, writer (1932);
 John Cleese, English comedian (1939);
 Carrie Snodgrass, actress (1945);
 Fran Lebowitz, writer (1950);
 Jayne Kennedy, entertainer (1951).

The lemon scented gum, Eucalyptus citriodora, is the birthday plant for this day.  It is a tall graceful tree whose many elongated leaves exude a wonderful lemon scent when bruised.  The plant symbolises nostalgic memories. In the language of flowers it says: “I remember your charms”.

Sloes (Prunus spinosa) should be gathered at around this time in the Northern Hemisphere, as they are ripening.  If you intend to keep sloes, pick them not quite ripe and store them on the bough.  Sloes for wine, sloe gin or jelly should be gathered quite ripe after they have gone through a frost or two. Sloes can be used as a cure against lax bowels:
  “By th’ end of October, go gather up sloes
  Have thou in readiness plenty of those
  And keep them in bedstraw, or still on the bough
  To stay both the flux of thyself and thy cow.”
       Five Hundred Good Points of Husbandry  (1573); Thomas Tusser (ca 1520-1580)

1 and 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 pound (≈ 454 g) sloes
3 cups of gin

Remove the stalks from the sloes, wash and dry them thoroughly.  Prick the fruit with a large needle and put them into a large screw top jar, in alternating layers with the sugar.  Leave for three days, shaking the jar from time to time.  Add the gin on the fourth day and leave in a dark, cool place for three months, shaking occasionally.  Strain, bottle and cork and leave to mature for one year.  Filter and rebottle, drink in moderation and enjoy.

Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840) was an Italian violin virtuoso and composer. He extended the violin’s compass by employing harmonics, perfected the use of double and triple stops, and revived scordatura, diverse tuning of strings. He wrote for the violin predominantly, for example Concerto for Violin No 1 in D. His 24 caprices for violin solo were adapted for piano by Schumann and Liszt. Rachmaninov also was inspired by this composer and worth listening to is the Rhapsody on aTheme by Paganini, by Rachmaninov. 

1 comment:

  1. I love sloe gin! I wonder if I can find any sloes around?