Saturday 25 June 2016


“A boat at midnight sent alone to drift upon the moonless sea, a lute, whose leading chord is gone, a wounded bird, that hath but one imperfect wing to soar upon, are like what I am, without thee…” - Thomas Moore

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (12 October 1687 - 16 October 1750) was a German composer and lutenist. Born in Grottkau near Breslau, the son of Johann Jacob Weiss, also a lutenist, he served at courts in Breslau, Rome, and Dresden, where he died. Until recently, he was thought to have been born in 1686, but recent evidence suggests that he was in fact born the following year.

Weiss was one of the most important and most prolific composers of lute music in history and one of the best-known and most technically accomplished lutenists of his day. He was a teacher to Philip Hyacinth, 4th Prince Lobkowicz, and the prince's second wife Anna Wilhelmina Althan. In later life, Weiss became a friend of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and met J.S. Bach through him.

Bach and Weiss were said to have competed in improvisation, as the following account by Johann Friedrich Reichardt describes: “Anyone who knows how difficult it is to play harmonic modulations and good counterpoint on the lute will be surprised and full of disbelief to hear from eyewitnesses that Weiss, the great lutenist, challenged J. S. Bach, the great harpsichordist and organist, at playing fantasies and fugues.”

Sylvius Weiss' son Johann Adolph Faustinus Weiss succeeded him as a Saxon court lutenist.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, after almost 200 years of neglect, the work of Weiss began to be rediscovered. Now, most of his solo sonatas (there are nearly a hundred of them) are available on CD. His ensemble works, which for the most part have survived only in the lute part, have now been reconstructed. As recently as 2004, a sensational finding was made in the archives of the Harrasch family, with the discovery of a complete Weiss lute duo and lute trio in manuscript.

Here is Michel Cardin playing on the Baroque lute three suites for solo lute by Weiss:
Suite No 1 in F major; Suite No 2 in D major and Suite No 3 in G Minor. These are from the so-called “London Manuscript”.

Friday 24 June 2016


“Let us love Winter, for it is the Spring of genius.” - Pietro Aretino

Yes, it is Winter in Southern Australia and we have had snow falls here in Victoria with a good covering of snow in the ski resorts. In Lake Mountain, which is a 1,433-metre-high mountain and cross-country ski resort approximately 120 kilometres from Melbourne, there is a 15 cm deep layer of snow. It is the most popular ski resort in Australia in visitor numbers due to its proximity to the populous city of Melbourne, mainly from casual visitors. Interestingly, most visitors are surprised to learn that there is no lake at Lake Mountain, and the area was named after George Lake, who was the Surveyor-General of the area including the mountain.

It is such weather that cries out for a luscious, spicy warm cake to enjoy by a roaring fire after one has been out and about in the snow, rain and cold!

Gingerbread Cake
1 and 1/2 level cups plain flour,
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup Golden Syrup
2/3 cup boiling water
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease a 25 cm square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add a few tablespoons of flour to the pan; shake and turn pan until bottom and sides are evenly coated with a light dusting of flour and shake off excess flour over the sink.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine, butter, dark brown sugar, Golden Syrup and boiling water. Whisk until butter is melted.
When mixture is lukewarm, whisk in the egg. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined and there are no more lumps. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the edges look dark and the middle feels firm to the touch.
Set pan on a rack to cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve. This cake is best served warm out of the oven or reheated.

If desired, serve with Mascarpone Cream:
200 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until almost smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is thick and holds firm peaks, another 30 to 60 seconds. Don’t overbeat or the frosting will look grainy.

Thursday 23 June 2016


“Ah me! Love cannot be cured by herbs.” - Ovid

Parsley or garden parsley (Petroselinum crispum) in the family Apiaceae, is native to the central Mediterranean region (southern Italy, Greece, Algeria, and Tunisia), naturalised elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as a herb, a spice, and a vegetable. Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm long with numerous 1–3 cm leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter.

Parsley is widely used in European, Middle Eastern, and American cooking. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. In central Europe, eastern Europe and southern Europe, as well as and in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Root parsley is very common in central, eastern and southern European cuisines, where it is used as a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles.

Parsley is a merger of the Old English petersilie (which is identical to the contemporary German word for parsley, Petersilie) and the Old French peresil, both derived from Medieval Latin petrosilium, from Latin petroselinum, which is the latinisation of the Greek πετροσέλινον (petroselinon), “rock-parsley”, from πέτρα (petra), “rock, stone”, + σέλινον (selinon), “parsley”. Mycenaean Greek se-ri-no, in Linear B, is the earliest attested form of the word selinon. Interestingly, in Modern Greek, the word selino means “celery”.

Parsley grows best in moist, well-drained soil, with full sun. It grows best between 22–30 °C, and usually is grown from seed. Germination is slow, taking four to six weeks, and it often is difficult because of furanocoumarins in its seed coat. Typically, plants grown for the leaf crop are spaced 10 cm apart, while those grown as a root crop are spaced 20 cm apart to allow for the root development. Parsley attracts several species of wildlife. Some swallowtail butterflies use parsley as a host plant for their larvae; their caterpillars are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feed on parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies. Bees and other nectar-feeding insects also visit the flowers. Birds such as the goldfinch feed on the seeds.

Parsley is a source of flavonoid, and antioxidants (especially luteolin), apigenin, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Half a of tablespoon (a gram) of dried parsley contains about 6.0 µg of lycopene and 10.7 µg of alpha carotene as well as 82.9 µg of lutein+zeaxanthin and 80.7 µg of beta carotene. Excessive consumption of parsley should be avoided by pregnant women. It is safe in normal food quantities, but large amounts may have uterotonic effects.

Green parsley is used frequently as a garnish on potato dishes (boiled or mashed potatoes), on rice dishes (risotto or pilaf), on fish, fried chicken, lamb, goose, and steaks, as well in meat or vegetable stews (including shrimp creole, beef bourguignon, goulash, or chicken paprikash). In central Europe, eastern Europe and southern Europe, as well as in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green, chopped parsley sprinkled on top.

In southern and central Europe, parsley is part of bouquet garni, a bundle of fresh herbs used as an ingredient in stocks, soups, and sauces. Freshly chopped green parsley is used as a topping for soups such as chicken soup, green salads, or salads such as salade Olivier, and on open sandwiches with cold cuts or pâtés. Persillade is a mixture of chopped garlic and chopped parsley in French cuisine.

Parsley is the main ingredient in Italian salsa verde, which is a mixed condiment of parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, and bread soaked in vinegar. It is an Italian custom to serve it with bollito misto or fish. Gremolata, a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, is a traditional accompaniment to the Italian veal stew, ossobuco alla milanese. In England, parsley sauce is a roux-based sauce, commonly served over fish or gammon.

Root parsley is very common in Central, Eastern and Southern European cuisines, where it is used as a snack or a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles, and as ingredient for broth. In Brazil, freshly chopped parsley (salsa) and freshly chopped scallion (cebolinha) are the main ingredients in the herb seasoning called cheiro-verde (literally “green aroma"), which is used as key seasoning for major Brazilian dishes, including meat, chicken, fish, rice, beans, stews, soups, vegetables, salads, condiments, sauces and stocks. Cheiro-verde is sold in food markets as a bundle of both types of fresh herbs. In some Brazilian regions, chopped parsley may be replaced by chopped coriander (coentro) in the mixture. Parsley is a key ingredient in several Middle Eastern salads such as Lebanese tabbouleh.

Garden parsley is a bright green, biennial, plant in temperate climates, or an annual herb in subtropical and tropical areas. Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm long with numerous 1–3 cm leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter. In the second year, it grows a flowering stem to 75 cm tall with sparser leaves and flat-topped 3–10 cm diameter umbels with numerous 2 mm diameter yellow to yellowish-green flowers. The seeds are ovoid, 2–3 mm long, with prominent style remnants at the apex. One of the compounds of the essential oil is apiol. The plant normally dies after seed maturation

In the language of flowers, a sprig of leafy parsley stands for “Entertainment; Festivity; Banquet; Lasting Pleasures”. A sprig of flowering parsley means “Useful Knowledge”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme,

and also part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday 22 June 2016


“I believe in process. I believe in four seasons. I believe that winter's tough, but spring's coming. I believe that there's a growing season. And I think that you realize that in life, you grow. You get better.” - Steve Southerland

We have just had the Winter solstice in Australia on June 21, and it was also made special by a full moon during its occurrence. This last happened 70 years ago. The word solstice came into Middle English from Old French, from the Latin solstitium. This is a compound of sol- (sun) and -stitium (a stoppage), so the word means “the sun stands still”, reflecting the time when the Sun apparently stops moving north or south and then begins moving in the opposite direction.

In every year, there are two solstices. In the northern hemisphere, the June solstice happens when the Earth’s north pole is tilted its maximum amount towards the Sun. The December solstice happens when the north pole is most tilted away from the Sun. Thus, the June solstice is the day with the most sunshine, and the December solstice has the longest night. The opposite is true in southern hemisphere, with the Winter and Summer solstices in June and December respectively.

In each year, there is also an equinox in March and another in September. These days are the times when the night is as long as the day. This is reflected in the word's Latin root, aequinoctium, from aequi- (equal) and nox (night). In the northern hemisphere, the vernal (Spring) equinox is in March and the Autumnal (fall) equinox is in September, with seasons reversed once again in the southern hemisphere.

The time when the Sun is brightest and the days are longest is the Summer solstice, near June 21st in the northern hemisphere. Yet the hottest days of Summer usually come in July or August, when the days are shorter and the Sun is lower in the sky.  Winter’s coldest days also lag the solstice by about two months.  Why? When the sunshine maximum comes in June, the landscape and atmosphere are still warming from the winter's chill.  Although the Sun begins to lose strength after the solstice, there is still enough heat to continue warming the landscape until the balance shifts about two months later.

In the days after the Winter solstice, although the Sun’s heat is returning, it is still not warm enough to keep the landscape from cooling further, especially during the night.  It is not until early March that the balance of solar heat and night-time cooling shifts into a warming trend.

The Winter solstice is also known as Yule, and this is a major Wiccan holiday. Many religions have placed the birth of their solar hero gods and saviours on this day: Jesus, Horus, Helios, Dionysus, and Mithras all claim Yule as their birthday. Since this day also represents the point at which the sun begins to wax, it represents rebirth and regeneration in the Wiccan tradition. It is interesting to see Wiccans in Australia celebrating Yule in June.

Tuesday 21 June 2016


“I like reading, free diving and hiking. But my favorite thing to do is travel anywhere in Greece. I love everything about that place.” - Max Irons

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.
Poros (Greek: Πόρος) is a small Greek island-pair in the southern part of the Saronic Gulf, about 58 km (31 nautical miles) south from Piraeus and separated from the Peloponnese by a 200 m wide sea channel, with the town of Galatas on the mainland across the strait. Its surface area is about 31 square kilometres and it has 3,780 inhabitants. The ancient name of Poros was Pogon.

Like other ports in the Saronic, it is a popular weekend destination for Athenian travellers. Poros consists of two islands: Sphairia (Greek: Σφαιρία), the southern part, which is of volcanic origin, where today's city is located, and Kalaureia (Greek: Καλαυρία), also Kalavria or Calauria (meaning 'gentle breeze'), the northern and largest part. A bridge connects the two islands over a narrow strait.

Poros is an island with rich vegetation. Much of the northern and far eastern/western sides of the island are bushy, whereas large areas of old pine forest are found in the south and center of the island. It has a good road network and adequate tourist infrastructure, which makes it a popular resort for short holidays.

The town of Poros, with its neoclassical edifices, is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill. Its most famous landmark is a clock tower, built in 1927. The Archaeological Museum of Poros, at Korizis Square, houses findings from the Sanctuary of Poseidon, from ancient Troizen, and from other archaeological sites nearby. In the northern part of the island are the remains of the Sanctuary of Poseidon, the centre of the Kalaureian amphictyony. The exact date it was built is not known, although researchers estimate it to have been around 520 BC. The dimensions of the temple, which is of the Doric order, are 27.4×14.4 m. There are six columns on each short side and twelve on each long side. It was here that Demosthenes, the famous orator, poisoned himself with hemlock in 322 BC fleeing from the Macedonian Governor Antipatros.

Poros was the site of the first naval base in modern Greece, established in 1827 during the Greek War of Independence. Most of the activities of Poros naval base were moved to Salamis Naval Base in 1881. The site is still used today by the Hellenic Navy as a training centre for naval personnel. 

Though possessing no airport, Poros is easily accessible from Athens via ferry or hydrofoil. One can reach the island by car or bus from the adjacent mainland at Galatas. There is local bus service on the island from Poros harbour to the nearby towns of Neorio and Monastiri.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Trees & Bushes meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday 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 20 June 2016


“Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.” - H. Jackson Brown, Jr

For Movie Monday, a beautiful period movie that seemed to have to ticked all the boxes in terms of writing, acting, direction, music, cinematography and sets/costumes. It is Christopher Menaul’s 1995 movie, “Feast of July”, starring Embeth Davidtz, Tom Bell, Gemma Jones, Ben Chaplin, James Purefoy and Greg Wise. The film is based on a novel by H.E. Bates and the screenplay was written by Christopher Neame. The excellent music score was by Zbigniew Preisner, with exceptional cinematography by Peter Sova.

Right away, let me warn you that the pace is slow and there are no action scenes, no chases nor exciting nail-biting cliff-hangers. The film progresses slowly, but relentlessly, as the action builds up to quite a terrifying and tragic climax. The actors are all extremely good in bringing out the deeper parts of their characters and the direction is subtle and impeccable. The film is set in rural Victorian England and the sets, costumes and overall atmosphere and feel is authentic and believable.

Bella (Davidtz) is a poor girl who has been seduced by a handsome, rakish man (Wise) who leads her to believe he loves her and will marry her. After a month or two, he vanishes and she is left alone and pregnant. She decides to walk 30 miles to the town where he said was his home. In terrible winter weather and rough terrain, she miscarries along the way and the baby is stillborn in a lonely mountain hut. Bella eventually makes it to the town where he said he lives, but no one knows him there. In the town she finds a kind man (Bell) who takes her into his family’s home. The man and his wife (Jones) have three handsome, unmarried sons who are living at home with them. When the poor girl has had a few days of rest and recovery, it turns out that Bella is quite pretty and charming. Slowly, tensions begin to mount as one by one, each of the three sons make it known to her that they want to court her…

Davidtz is excellent as the deceived Bella and she manages to bring out many folds of the character with restraint and with an utterly convincing manner. While all other performances are fantastic, Gemma Jones as the mother of the three sons stands out, while Ben Chaplin playing the youngest son, Con, is fantastic. This was dark and tragic story, but it is set in a wonderful place (even though there are visible signs of early industrialisation), which somehow makes the story even more poignant.

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and recommend it to all who enjoy a good, melancholy story, period settings, excellent acting and high-end production values. If you primarily like action thrillers this is not for you, I don’t think.

Sunday 19 June 2016


“I don’t believe in making pencil sketches and then painting landscape in your studio. You must be right under the sky.” - William Merritt Chase

Frederick McCubbin is one of Australia’s most famous and significant painters. He was born in Melbourne, 25 February 1855 and died in Melbourne, 20 December 1917. McCubbin was a baker’s son, who soon joined the family business and drove a baker’s cart before being apprenticed to a coach-painter. He started his training in art and design from 1869 at the local Artisans’ School of Design in Carlton, and by 1872 entered the School of Design, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

It was not until the Munich-trained George Folingsby (1828–91) was appointed master of the Gallery Art School in 1882 that McCubbin received a thorough academic training in figure painting. Folingsby evoked McCubbin’s interest in large-scale history pieces with a pronounced national flavour. From the colonial artist and Swiss émigré Abram-Louis Buvelot, McCubbin absorbed a more intimate, Barbizon-style vision of the Australian landscape. Julian Ashton directed his attention to subjects from contemporary life and introduced him to plein-air painting.

In the mid-1880s McCubbin’s growing adherence to plein-air Realism was strengthened by the influence of Portuguese-born Arthur Loureiro (1853–1912) and, more dramatically, by the impact of Tom Roberts, recently returned from Europe in 1885. With Roberts and Arthur Streeton he founded the painting camp at Box Hill, in the suburbs of Melbourne, that became known as the Heidelberg School. The Realists’ concern with the integrity and significance of the subject shaped McCubbin’s fundamental attitudes to art. Unlike Roberts and Charles Conder (a fellow Heidelberg painter), McCubbin was only marginally influenced by the Aesthetic Movement, and he exhibited a token five works at the famous “9 by 5 Impression” Exhibition in Melbourne in 1889.

As one of the founders of the Heidelberg school, McCubbin was a significant figure in the development of the Australian school of landscape and subject painting that emerged at the close of the nineteenth century. His work was directly influenced by the earlier traditions of Australian colonial art, late-Victorian subject pictures of a high moral tone. In later years McCubbin turned increasingly to landscape painting, portraying the lyrical and intimate beauty of the bush. The early influence of Corot gave way to that of J. M. W. Turner, as he turned from the quiet poetry of the shaded bush to the brilliant impressionistic effects of light and colour of his final manner.

McCubbin was a warm and gregarious personality and a gentle and intuitive teacher, who contributed greatly to the art world in Melbourne by his activities in various societies, through the conviviality of the McCubbin house which was always a focus for artists and students, and as a teacher of several generations of artists. He was a member of the Melbourne Savage Club.

The painting above is “Down on His Luck”, painted in 1889. It depicts a seemingly disheartened swagman, sitting by a campfire sadly brooding over his misfortune. “Swagman” an old Australian and New Zealand term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers, who travelled by foot from farm to farm carrying their traditional swag (bedroll).

According to an 1889 review, “The [man’s] face tells of hardships, keen and blighting in their influence, but there is a nonchalant and slightly cynical expression, which proclaims the absence of all self-pity… McCubbin’s picture is thoroughly Australian in spirit.” The surrounding bush is painted in subdued tones, reflecting his sombre and contemplative mood. Down on his luck the man may be, but this is only a temporary setback and the very next morning the swagman will move on, to better luck.

The artist’s model was Louis Abrahams, a friend and successful tobacconist in Melbourne who earlier supplied the cigar box lids for the famous 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition. The scene was staged near the Box Hill artists’ camp outside Melbourne, but it is thought that McCubbin would have made additional studies of Abrahams under studio conditions. The painting was owned by William Fergusson until 1896, when it was purchased by the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth.