Saturday 2 July 2016


“Everyone who plays the flute should learn singing.” - James Galway

Johann Joachim Quantz (30 January 1697 – 12 July 1773) was a German flautist, flute maker and composer. He composed hundreds of flute sonatas and concertos, and wrote “On Playing the Flute”, a treatise on flute performance.

Quantz was born as Hanß Jochim Quantz in Oberscheden, near Göttingen, in the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg. His father was a blacksmith who died when Hans was not yet 11; on his deathbed, he begged his son to follow in his footsteps. Nevertheless, from 1708 to 1713 he began his musical studies as a child with his uncle Justus Quantz, a town musician in Merseburg. From 1714 on, he studied composition extensively and pored over scores of the masters to adopt their style.

In 1716 he joined the town band in Dresden, where in 1717 he studied counterpoint with Jan Dismas Zelenka. In March 1718 he was appointed oboist in the newly formed Dresden Polish Chapel of August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. As it became clear that he couldn’t advance as an oboist in the Polish Chapel, Quantz decided to pursue the flute, studying briefly in 1719 with Pierre-Gabriel Buffardin, principal flute in the Royal Orchestra. He became good friends with Johann Georg Pisendel, concertmaster of the Royal Orchestra, who greatly influenced his style.

Between 1724 and 1727 Quantz completed his education by doing a “Grand Tour” of Europe as a flautist. He studied counterpoint with Francesco Gasparini in Rome, met Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples, befriended the flautist Michel Blavet in Paris, and met Handel in London. In 1728 Quantz accompanied August II on a state visit to Berlin. The Queen of Prussia was impressed and wanted to hire him. Though August II refused, he allowed Quantz to travel to Berlin as often as he was asked to. That year the Crown Prince, Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great), decided to study the flute and Quantz became his teacher for several visits a year.

Until 1741 Quantz remained at the Saxon Court in Dresden. He married Anna Rosina Carolina Schindler in 1737 and from 1739 he started making flutes. When Frederick II became King of Prussia in 1740, Quantz finally accepted a position as flute teacher, flute maker and composer at the court in Berlin. He joined that court in December 1741 and stayed there for the rest of his career.

He was an innovator in flute design, adding a second key (D#, in addition to the standard Eb) to help with intonation, for example. He often criticised Vivaldi for being too wild when he played. Although Quantz wrote many pieces of music, mainly for the flute (including around 300 flute concertos and over 200 sonatas), he is best known today as the author of “Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen” (1752) (titled “On Playing the Flute” in English), a treatise on traverso flute playing. It is a valuable source of reference regarding performance practice and flute technique in the 18th century. Quantz died in 1773 in Potsdam.

The illustration is “Frederick the Great playing a flute concerto in Sanssouci”, C. P. E. Bach is at the piano, while Quantz is leaning on the wall to the right; the painting is by Adolph Menzel, 1852.

Here are four of his Concertos played by the group Les Bouffardins with the solo flute played by Frank Theuns.

Concerto in G minor QV 5:196 - 0:00.
Concerto in D minor QV 5:86  - 16:50.
Concerto in A minor OV 5:236 - 28:07.
Concerto in G major OV 5:173 - 46:33.

Friday 1 July 2016


“Here is bread, which strengthens man’s heart, and therefore is called the staff of Life.” - Matthew Henry

We made these bagels today instead of bread. They are rather fun to eat and reminded us of those times in Greece when we bought these bagels from sellers in the street. They are eaten in the morning with coffee or tea for breakfast or as a snack on the go at other times during the day. Many sellers sell individual portions of cheese together with the bagel. The black sesame seeds give them a delicious flavour, but make sure the seeds are fresh. You may use poppy seeds if you like or white sesame.

Melted butter, for greasing and brushing
500g plain white flour
2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
175ml lukewarm water
100 ml lukewarm milk
½ cup olive oil
Extra water, for brushing
2 tbsp black sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Brush three 30x20 cm baking trays with the melted butter to lightly grease. Measure all your ingredients.
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water and stir to mix. Add the milk and stir well.
Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the water/milk/yeast mixture and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the butter. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm, draught-free place to allow the dough to rise.
Leave the dough to prove until it is double its size, between 45-75 minutes at 30˚C. When the dough is ready, it will retain a finger imprint when lightly pressed.
Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down in the centre with your fist and knead on a lightly floured surface again for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and returned to its original size.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions and shape each into long cylinders about 3 cm in diameter. Take each cylinder and cut pieces of dough off to make bagels about 12-15 cm in diameter, with thickness about 2 cm. Place bagels on the baking trays.
Stand the trays in a warm, draught-free place, as before, for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1cm about the top of the pan.Gently brush the loaf with a little water and then sprinkle with the black sesame seeds. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Turn the bagels immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool.
Once cool, store in a well-ventilated place at room temperature.

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Thursday 30 June 2016


“All those spices and herbs in your spice rack can do more than provide calorie-free, natural flavorings to enhance and make food delicious. They're also an incredible source of antioxidants and help rev up your metabolism and improve your health at the same time.” - Suzanne Somers

Illicium verum is a medium-sized native evergreen tree in the family Schisandraceae, native of northeast Vietnam and southwest China. A spice commonly called star anise, star anise seed, Chinese star anise or badiam that closely resembles anise in flavour is obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit of Illicium verum, which are harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams. About 90% of the world’s star anise crop is used for extraction of shikimic acid, a chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of oseltamivir, which is an antiviral medication used to treat influenza A and influenza B (flu), and to prevent flu after exposure. The medication is taken orally.

Illicium comes from the Latin illicio meaning “entice”. In Persian, star anise is called بادیان bādiyān, hence its French name badiane. In India, it is called badian or phoolchakri and in Pakistan, it is called badian. Illicium species are evergreen shrubs and small trees. The leaves are alternately arranged and borne on petioles. The blades are glandular and fragrant. The flowers are solitary. They have few to many tepals in two or three rows, the inner ones like petals and the outer ones often smaller and more like bracts. A few to many stamens and pistils are at the centre. The fruit is an aggregate of follicles arranged in a star-shaped whorl. One seed is in each follicle, released when the follicle dehisces. The seed has a thick, oily endosperm.

These are plants of moist understory, adapted to shady habitat, and some species are so sensitive to light that too much sunlight causes them significant stress, manifesting in chlorosis and necrosis of the leaves. Several species are cultivated as ornamental plants for their flowers, foliage, and fragrance, leading to the development of several cultivars. Because of their ecological requirements, many taxa can only be grown in low-light situations. The essential oils of several species are used as flavourings and carminatives; however, the oils of I. anisatum and I. floridanum are toxic. I. verum, the common star anise, is used to flavour food and wine. Its fruit is a traditional Chinese medicine called pa-chio-hui-hsiang, which is used to treat abdominal pain and vomiting.

Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking, as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor Galliano. It is also used in the production of sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisines.

The tree is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. The tree is also grown in Southern New South Wales in Australia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is also used in the French recipe of mulled wine, called vin chaud (hot wine).

Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is highly toxic and inedible; in Japan, it has instead been burned as incense. Cases of illness, including “serious neurological effects, such as seizures”, reported after using star anise tea, may be a result of deliberate economically motivated adulteration with this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract, and digestive organs. The toxicity of I. anisatum, also known as shikimi, is caused by its potent neurotoxins anisatin, neoanisatin, and pseudoanisatin, which are noncompetitive antagonists of GABA receptors.

In the language of flowers, a blossoming branch of star anise means: “You are very enticing”. The star-shaped cartwheels of the spice mean: “Your youth is alluring”.

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

Wednesday 29 June 2016


“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.” - Andy Warhol

This morning Australians woke up to see Eddie Mabo's face on a “Google Doodle” on the home page. Google marks what would have been Mabo's 80th birthday. Eddie Koiki Mabo (c. 29 June 1936 - 21 January 1992) was an Australian man from the Torres Strait Islands known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius (“land belonging to nobody”) which characterised Australian law with regard to land and title.

Mabo was born Eddie Koiki Sambo but he changed his surname to Mabo when he was adopted by his uncle, Benny Mabo. He was born on the island of Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait between mainland Australia and Papua New Guinea. Mabo married Bonita Neehow, an Australian South Sea Islander, in 1959. The couple had seven children and adopted three more. One daughter, Gail, is an Aboriginal artist and dancer who works with schools in New South Wales as a cultural advisor and serves as the family's designated spokesperson.

Mabo worked on pearling boats, as a cane cutter, and as a railway fettler before becoming a gardener at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland at the age of 31. The time he spent on the campus had a massive impact on his life. In 1974, this culminated in a discussion he had with JCU historians Noel Loos and Henry Reynolds, who recalled Mabo's reaction:
“We were having lunch one day in Reynolds' office when Koiki was just speaking about his land back on Mer, or Murray Island. Henry and I realised that in his mind he thought he owned that land, so we sort of glanced at each other, and then had the difficult responsibility of telling him that he didn't own that land, and that it was Crown land. Koiki was surprised, shocked and even ... he said and I remember him saying 'No way, it's not theirs, it's ours.' ”

In 1981 a land rights conference was held at James Cook University and Mabo made a speech to the audience where he explained the land inheritance system on Murray Island. The significance of this in terms of Australian common law doctrine was taken note of by one of the attendees, a lawyer, who suggested there should be a test case to claim land rights through the court system. Perth-based solicitor Greg McIntyre was at the conference and agreed to take the case; he then recruited barristers Ron Castan and Bryan Keon-Cohen. McIntyre represented Mabo during the hearings. Of the eventual outcome of that decision a decade later, Henry Reynolds said: “It was a ten year battle and it was a remarkable saga really.”

Mabo relaxed by working on his boat or painting watercolours of his island home; however, after 10 years the strain began to affect his health. On 21 January 1992, he died of cancer at the age of 55. Five months later, on 3 June 1992, the High Court announced its historic decision, namely overturning the legal doctrine of terra nullius - which is a term applied to the attitude of the British towards land ownership on the continent of Australia. Henry Reynolds remarked: “So Justice Moynihan's decision that Mabo wasn't the rightful heir was irrelevant because the decision that came out was that native title existed and it was up to the Aboriginal or Islander people to determine who owned what land.”

That decision is now commonly called “Mabo” in Australia and is recognised for its landmark status. Three years after Mabo died, that being the traditional mourning period for the people of Murray Island, a gathering was held in Townsville for a memorial service. Overnight, Mabo's gravesite was attacked by vandals who spray-painted swastikas and the word “Abo” (a derogatory slang term for an Aboriginal person) on his tombstone and removed a bronze bas-relief portrait of him. His family decided to have his body reburied on Murray Island. On the night of his re-interment, the Islanders performed their traditional ceremony for the burial of a king, a ritual not seen on the island for 80 years.

In 1992, Mabo was posthumously awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Awards, together with the Reverend Dave Passi, Sam Passi (deceased), James Rice (deceased), Celuia Mapo Salee (deceased) and Barbara Hocking. The award was in recognition “of their long and determined battle to gain justice for their people” and the “work over many years to gain legal recognition for indigenous people's rights”.

Tuesday 28 June 2016


“All we need, really, is a change from a near frigid to a tropical attitude of mind.” - Marjory Stoneman Douglas

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.
Noosa in Queensland, Australia encompasses main three zones: Noosa Heads (around Laguna Bay and Hastings St), Noosaville (along the Noosa River) and Noosa Junction (the administrative centre). Noosa Heads is a town and suburb of the Shire of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. It is located approximately 136 kilometres north of Brisbane, the state’s capital. The Noosa River forms one boundary of the town, the headlands of the Noosa National Park another. Nearby are the suburbs of Tewantin and Noosa Junction, which create a continuous urban area at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast.

The beach at Noosa Heads has remained a popular tourist attraction since the 1890s. The Shire’s tourism exponentially grew shortly after the Second World War. In the 1800s, Noosa's early wealth came from the timber and milling industries with tourism developing in the late 1920s. In this decade cafes and tourist accommodation was built along the beachfront. The town has been the site of many tussles between developers and those seeking to preserve the town. Since the seventies, people have continued to migrate from southern states. In 1988, Noosa was renamed Noosa Heads.

Noosa Heads hosts a population of koalas, which are often seen in and around Noosa National Park. The koala population in Noosa is in decline. Noosa Lions Park is an open, grassed area which used as a staging area for several large community events including the Noosa Triathlon, Noosa Food and Wine Festival, Noosa Winter Festival and Noosa Classic Car Show.

To overcome severe beach erosion at Noosa’s main beach a sand pumping system has been built. It operates when necessary during off peak hours, supplying sand via a pipeline built underneath the boardwalk. Noosa Heads’ main attraction is its beaches. Its main beach and its small bays around the headland are common surfing locations, which are known on world surfing circuits. One of its major surfing contests involves the Noosa Festival of Surfing. This festival attracts large numbers of longboarders. A fatal shark attack of a 22-year-old surfer was recorded at Noosa in 1961.

Overall, Noosa is a trendy resort town with a wonderful natural landscape of sparkling waters and sandy beaches onto which abut tropical rainforests. Designer boutiques and expensive restaurants draw the jet set, but the beach and bush are free for all. On long weekends public holidays and school holidays, bustling Hastings St becomes one big parking lot due to heavy traffic; the rest of the time, it’s more relaxed!

This post is part of the Our World 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 27 June 2016


“A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.” - Robert Frost

Maggie Smith is an accomplished veteran actress and her work is quite exceptional in her long and very successful career. I enjoy most the movies and series she has played in and I have watched. When for my birthday I was given a copy of Nicholas Hytner’s 2015 movie “The Lady in the Van” I was very pleased and saved it to watch on a special day as a treat. Well that day came last weekend and yes, it was a good movie and we enjoyed seeing it, but somehow it was a little disappointing too. I guess I da raised my expectations quite a great deal and when the film failed to deliver fully, it was a little bit of a flat feeling.

First let me say this was Maggie Smith’s movie and she played her role with relish and great gusto. It was as if the role was written for her and she performed with her usual aplomb and panache, greatly enjoying playing the down-and-out Miss Shepherd. Beside her, her co-star Alex Jennings faded into the background, even if there were two of him on the screen most of the time (a cheap, gimmicky device where one of his selves was the “doing” part of him and the other the “writing” part of him). The other actors were competent and did a good enough job of supporting Maggie Smith’s performance.

The plot is based on the “mostly true” story of Alan Bennett’s curious relationship/friendship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric homeless woman whom Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her temporarily to park her Bedford van in the driveway of his Camden home. She stayed there for 15 years. As the story develops Bennett learns that Miss Shepherd is really Margaret Fairchild (died 1989), a former gifted pupil of the pianist Alfred Cortot. She became a concert pianist, had played Chopin in a promenade concert, but things went wrong, she tried to become a nun, was committed to a mental institution by her brother, escaped, and then things went downhill and full of guilt for a “terrible sin” she had committed became the vagrant that Bennett unwittingly becomes associated with.

The plot is thin and depends very much on what the characters say rather than what they do. The “mystery” of Miss Shepherd’s identity is thinly veiled and the “surprise” ending where we learn the truth about her “terrible sin” is rather predictable. However, the viewer does get involved, does sympathise with Miss Shepherd in one scene and in the other becomes as infuriated with her as Alan Bennett does. There is poignancy, gentle humour, pathos, bathos and bombast. It is a very “English” movie which reeks a little of the stage, one thinking on many an occasion whether this would have made a better play perhaps?

Nicholas Hytner, the director, who also made “The Madness of King George” and “The History Boys” amongst others, is better known as a regular director for National Theatre productions in London. This may explain the “staginess” of the film. I often felt uncomfortable during the parts where Alan Bennett spoke to his alter ego in a greatly contrived manner.

Overall this was a gentle, slightly humorous, slightly melancholy film, a great showcase for Maggie Smith and a little bit of a bragging piece for Alan Bennett – there was a certain smugness about him whenever he was on screen. The subplot with his mother was a little perplexing, especially given the way he interacted with Miss Shepherd, but still overall the film was entertaining and well worth watching.

Sunday 26 June 2016


“Sensuality without love is a sin; love without sensuality is worse than a sin.” - José Bergamín

Hieronymus Bosch (ca 1450–1516) was a European painter of the late Middle Ages. His two most famous works are “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (illustrated above) and “The Temptation of St. Anthony.” His work utilises striking and sometimes seemingly surreal iconography. Bosch painted several large-scale triptychs, as well as smaller panel paintings. Throughout his career, he used his art to portray the sins and follies of humankind and to show the consequences of these actions. He died in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 1516.

Born in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Brabant (now in the Netherlands), around 1450, Hieronymus Bosch remains one of the art world’s great enigmas. Little is known about his life, and the only clues have the few traces of him found in local records. Even his name is a bit misleading. He was born Jeroen van Aeken and took his professional name, in part, from the truncated form of his hometown’s name.

Bosch came from an artistic family (his father, uncles and his brother were all painters by trade). It is believed that while he was growing up he was trained by a relative. Around 1480 or 1481, he married Alety Goyaerts den Meervenne. His wife came from a wealthy family, and he enjoyed a comfortable life and improved social status through this union. A Catholic, Bosch joined the Brotherhood of Our Lady, a local religious organisation devoted to the Virgin Mary, around 1486. Some of his first commissions came through the Brotherhood, but, unfortunately, none of those works survived.

Known for his dark and disturbing visions, Bosch took a critical look at the world around in several of his works. With “The Cure of Folly” (ca 1475-1480), he poked fun of the misguided medical practices of the day. Bosch rebuked those who spent their lives seeking earthly pleasures in “The Ship of Fools” (ca 1490-1500).

Throughout his career, Bosch focussed much of his attention to exploring religious themes. “The Haywain” (ca 1500-02), a triptych, first shows Adam and Eve in its interior left panel. The centre panel features both clergy and peasants engaged in sinful behaviour. The right panel provides a gruesome illustration of where that type of behaviour leads: Hell! In 1504, Bosch painted “The Last Judgment”, which illustrated the fall of humanity. He starts the triptych with the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The remaining two interior panels show the world's descent into sin, violence and chaos.

Bosch painted another triptych, “The Temptation of Saint Anthony” (ca 1505-06), a short time later. He shows the saint resisting the efforts of the devil to make him surrender to evil. There is an attempt to seduce Saint Anthony and then means of force are tried on him, but he shown in the final panel being led away by a group of believers. “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (ca 1510-15) is one of Bosch’s later works. Again depicting the decline of the world through sin, primarily lust, a beautiful garden becomes a dark, fiery nightmare in the last panel of this triptych. This work, like so many of his pieces, serves as a visual lecture on morality.

Bosch died in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in August 1516 (the exact date of his death is unknown, but a funeral mass was held for him on August 9). While he enjoyed some success during his lifetime, he attracted an even grander fan soon after his death. King Philip II of Spain became a serious collector of Bosch’s work, and “The Garden of Earthly Delights” is said to have been hung in his bedroom to remind the Spanish monarch to stay on a righteous path. Today, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid holds many of Bosch’s works.