Saturday 4 June 2016


“The oboe’s a horn made of wood. I’d play you a tune if I could, But the reeds are a pain, And the fingering’s insane. It’s the ill wind that no one blows good.” - Ogden Nash

Alessandro Ignazio Marcello (1 February 1673 in Venice – 19 June 1747) was an Italian nobleman and musician. A contemporary of Tomaso Albinoni, Marcello was the son of a senator in Venice. As such, he enjoyed a comfortable life that gave him the scope to pursue his interest in music. He held concerts in his hometown and also composed and published several sets of concertos, including six concertos under the title of “La Cetra” (The Lyre), as well as cantatas, arias, canzonets, and violin sonatas.

Marcello, being a slightly older contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi, often composed under the pseudonym Eterio Stinfalico, his name as a member of the celebrated Arcadian Academy (Pontificia Accademia degli Arcadi). He died in Padua in 1747. Alessandro’s brother was Benedetto Marcello, also a composer, who illegally married his singing student Rosanna Scalfi in 1728. After his death she was unable to inherit his estate, and in 1742 she filed suit against Alessandro Marcello, seeking financial support.

Although his works are infrequently performed today, Marcello is regarded as a very competent composer. His “La Cetra” concertos are “unusual for their wind solo parts, concision and use of counterpoint within a broadly Vivaldian style”, according to Grove, placing them as a last outpost of the classic Venetian Baroque concerto. The Concerto for Oboe and Strings in D minor op. 1 is perhaps his best-known work. Its worth was affirmed by Johann Sebastian Bach who transcribed it for harpsichord (BWV 974). A number of editions have been published, including an edition in C minor credited to Benedetto Marcello, Alessandro’s brother.

Here are several of his concertos (including the famous Concerto Oboe and Strings in D minor op. 1, first off), as well as some cantatas. They are performed by Sylvia Pozzer, Roberto Balconi, Paolo Grazzi, with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Andrea Marcon.

1.    Concerto Per Oboe, Archi E Continuo In Re Minore: I. Andante Spiccato
2.    Concerto Per Oboe, Archi E Continuo In Re Minore: II. Adagio
3.    Concerto Per Oboe, Archi E Continuo In Re Minore: III. Presto
4.    Concerto Decimo Con L'Eco, B Dur: I Andante
5.    Concerto Decimo Con L'Eco, B Dur: II. Larghetto
6.    Concerto Decimo Con L'Eco, B Dur: III. Spiritoso
7.    Concerto XVI In Fa Maggiore, Per Due Oboi, Archi E Continuo: I. Allegro
8.    Concerto XVI In Fa Maggiore, Per Due Oboi, Archi E Continuo: II. Larghetto
9.    Concerto XVI In Fa Maggiore, Per Due Oboi, Archi E Continuo: III. Andante Ma Non Presto
10.  La Lontananza: Aria: Lontananza Crudel
11.  La Lontananza: Recitativo: Poiche Chi Troppo Tempo
12.  La Lontananza: Aria: Chi Troppo Tempo
13.  Concerto XIV In La Maggiore, Per Due Oboi, Archi E Continuo: I. Andante Spiritoso-Adagio
14.  Concerto XIV In La Maggiore, Per Due Oboi, Archi E Continuo: II. Allegro
15.  Concerto XIV In La Maggiore, Per Due Oboi, Archi E Continuo: III. Presto
16.  Irene Sdegnata: Ouverture: Allegro
17.  Irene Sdegnata: Lento Spiritoso
18.  Irene Sdegnata: Adagio
19.  Irene Sdegnata: Recitativo: Contra L'Empio Fileno - Andante
20.  Irene Sdegnata: Aria: Ingrato. Spietato - Moderato
21.  Irene Sdegnata: Recitativo: Va Tiranno - Andante
22.  Irene Sdegnata: Aria: Si, Va Pur - Allegro

Friday 3 June 2016


“The process and organisation leading up to cooking the egg can tell you a lot about the cook.” - David Chang

Sometimes we find ourselves hungry at dinner time and there is nothing prepared. Rather than go and get fast take-away food, we go to the fridge, the freezer and pantry and cook something easy and tasty. This is one of our favourite “fast food” solutions. We buy artichokes in bulk, when in season, clean and parboil them, freeze them and they keep for a few months. Or you can use the jars of marinated ones, like I indicate below.

Artichoke Frittata
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, halved, sliced thinly crosswise
170g jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
6 eggs
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh continental parsley leaves

Preheat grill on medium-high. Heat oil in a 20cm-diameter non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Add artichokes and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through and add the garlic, stirring through until it is done.
Place the eggs in a jug and season with salt and pepper, coriander and mustard. Whisk until combined.
Pour the egg mixture over the artichoke mixture. Reduce heat to low and cook for 6-7 minutes or until frittata is set around the edge but still runny in the centre.
Cook under preheated grill for a further 2 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Remove from grill. Turn onto a chopping board.
Cut frittata into 8 wedges. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with parsley to serve.

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Thursday 2 June 2016


“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” - Steve Jobs

For the past few weeks we have had a dear family friend fighting for his life, in and out of hospital. He was diagnosed a couple of months ago with lung cancer, which unfortunately became very aggressive very quickly and did not respond to treatment. His family and friends stood by his side and we were all devastated by his loss last week. His wake was today and tomorrow is his funeral. He was a simple, quiet and very community-minded man who loved his family and would do everything to help his relatives and friends.


“I’ve lived a good life,” said he to me,
“I’ve loved and hated, worked and played.
I’ve lived a full life,” he confessed,
“I’ve left only few things untried.
Experiences varied, broad I have collected,
All those I’ve met I’ve not regretted.”

“I look at death before me, now,” he told me,
“I like the purposefulness in his stony gaze.
I lean towards him with my hands outstretched,” he said,
“I long to live through this, my ultimate encounter;
My mind replete with images and sound
Will welcome this last meeting, sure to astound.”

“I tell you, don’t be sad,” he said to me,
“I think this is a journey that will thrill me.
I tremble with excitement, not with dread,
I taste sweet wine, not bitter gall nor poison.
My heart is restful,” softly, he sighed,
“My soul is free…” he said to me – and died.

Tuesday 31 May 2016


“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius

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.
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam. It was eclipsed by Huế during the Nguyen dynasty as the capital of Vietnam, but Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. From 1954 to 1976, it was the capital of North Vietnam. The city is located on the right bank of the Red River. Hanoi is located at 1,760 km north of Ho Chi Minh City. October 2010 officially marked 1000 years since the establishment of the city.

The Huc Bridge on Sword Lake ("Hồ Hoàn Kiếm"), one of the major scenic spots in Hanoi, serving as a focal point for its public life. The Huc Bridge (meaning Morning Sunlight Bridge) leads to Jade Island on which the Ngoc Son Temple (Jade Mountain Temple) stands. The temple was erected in the 18th century. It honours the 13-century military leader Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in the fight against the Yuan Dynasty, Van Xuong, a scholar, and Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master and famous writer in charge of repairs made to the temple in 1864.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and part of the  Ruby Tuesday 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 30 May 2016


“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” - Eugene O’Neill

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (a.k.a. ‘Alice in Wonderland’) is an 1865 novel written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Carroll wrote the book for a little girl, Alice Pleasance Liddell (born 1852) who was the daughter of The Reverend Robinson Duckworth a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. Alice and her two sisters went on a boating excursion with Carroll and their father in July 1862 and the author amused them all with a story on which the book was subsequently based on. On 26 November 1864, Carroll gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself, dedicating it as “A Christmas Gift to a Dear Child in Memory of a Summer’s Day”.

“Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There” (1871) is the second novel by Lewis Carroll, written as a sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Set some six months later than the earlier book, Alice again enters a fantastical world, this time by climbing through a mirror into the world that she can see beyond it. “Through the Looking-Glass” includes such celebrated verses as “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, and the episode involving Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The mirror that inspired Carroll remains displayed in Charlton Kings.

Whereas Carroll’s first book has the deck of cards as a theme, the second book is based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Most main characters in the story are represented by a chess piece or animals, with Alice herself being a pawn. Both books are magical, whimsical, a delight to read for both children and adults and have been translated into numerous languages worldwide (despite the immense difficulties in accurately translating such punning, word-playing, nonsensical and idiomatic prose!).

The making of films based on the two books has been fruitful, beginning with the 1903 British silent film directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow right up to the latest, 2016 offering “Alice Through the Looking Glass” by James Bobin, made as the sequel to the 2010 Tim Burton movie “Alice inWonderland”. Disney’s 1951 animated version of “Alice in Wonderland” is the other one that immediately springs to mind, but there have been other filmed versions, more than two dozen of them!

The films I am familiar with (about 5 of them) have been less than successful in bringing the wit, whimsy and sheer delight of the word-play to the screen. The emphasis has been on visual effects, with the Burton and Bobin versions going overboard with CGI and spectacularly splendiferous technicolour image wizardry. The latest offering especially James Bobin’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is so far removed from Carroll’s novels that to associate it with them is presumptuous.

Bobin’s “Looking Glass” movie is a very pedestrian, heavy-handed and frankly boring tale that  Linda Woolverton (responsible for the screenplay) has managed to put together for the sake of a sequel to Burton’s “Alice”, which was more or less OK (I was not ecstatic with that version either!). Take an unexciting script, add actors who are in it for the paycheck and seemingly take no pleasure in the movie, add lots of special effects and CGI (some of it of rather poor quality and into which the live actors are placed and look like fish out of water), and you have a movie that is quite laboured and tiresome. The main theme of this movie is time and unfortunately by watching it, I felt as though I had wasted lots of time – 1 hour and 53 minutes of it in fact…

Sunday 29 May 2016


“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” - Amelia Earhart

Nora Heysen AM (11 January 1911 – 30 December 2003) was an Australian artist, the first woman to win the prestigious Archibald Prize in 1938 for portraiture and the first Australian woman appointed as an official war artist. Heysen was born in Hahndorf, the fourth child of South Australian landscape painter Sir Hans Heysen. She was raised at The Cedars in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. She studied art from 1926 to 1930, at the School of Fine Arts in Adelaide, under F. Millward Grey and sold paintings to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1930.

From 1930 to 1933, she continued to study two days a week at the School, and worked in her own studio the rest of the time. In 1931 she visited Sydney with her parents, and spent two weeks studying at the Julian Ashton School. Her first solo exhibition was held in Sydney in 1933. In 1934 she travelled to London with her family, remaining in Europe, after they returned home, until 1937 studying and painting. When she returned to Australia she returned briefly to Adelaide and then moved to Sydney.

In 1938 she entered two portraits in the Archibald Prize. Her portrait of Madame Elink Schuurman was awarded the prize and she became the first woman to win the Archibald. There was a controversy involving criticism of her win by painter Max Meldrum. On 12 October 1943 she became the first women to be appointed as an Australian war artist at the rank of captain. “I was commissioned to depict the women’s war effort. There was that restriction on what I did. So I was lent around to all the services, the air force, the navy and the army, to depict the women working at everything they did during the war.” During her service Heysen completed over 170 works of art and was discharged from service in 1946 in New Guinea.

While in New Guinea Nora met Dr Robert Black, whom she would marry in 1953. Following her discharge from war service she went to London, returning to Sydney in 1948. She continued to paint, exhibit and travel with her husband. In 1993 she was awarded the Australia Council’s Award for Achievement in the Arts and on 26 January 1998 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to art. Her works are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the National Library of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and several state galleries.

While formal portraits were a large part of her output, Nora Heysen also delighted in painting flower pieces and still lifes. She was a consummate draughtswoman and many of her sketches are delightful and full of character, especially those of people. The painting above is the still life “Tomatoes on a Chinese Plate” of 1939.