Saturday 27 August 2016


“The flute is the true magical rod that changes all it touches in the inward world; an enchanter’s wand at which the secret depths of the soul open. The inward world is the true world, the moonlight that shines into our hearts.” ― Jean-Paul FriedrichRichter

Johann Christoph Pepusch (1667 – 20 July 1752), also known as John Christopher Pepusch and Dr Pepusch, was a German-born composer who spent most of his working life in England. Pepusch was born in Berlin. At the age of 14, he was appointed to the Prussian court. About 1700, he settled in England where he was one of the founders, in 1726, of The Academy of Vocal Music, which around 1730/1 was renamed The Academy of Ancient Music. In Joseph Doane’s Musical directory for the year 1794, the founding of the Academy is discussed; on page 76, Doane states that:

“In the year 1710 (memorable for Handel’s first appearance among us) a number of the most eminent composers and performers in London [agreed] to concert a plan of an Academy for the study and practice of Vocal and Instrumental Music, which was no sooner announced than it met the countenance and support of the principal persons of rank. Among the foremost in this undertaking were Mr. John Christopher Pepusch, Mr. John Earnest Galleard, an excellent composer and performer on the Oboe, Mr. Bernard Gates of the Queen’s Chapel, Henry Niedler, etc.”

Pepusch remained Director of the Academy until his death in 1752, whereupon he was succeeded by Benjamin Cooke. Pepusch died in London. During a period of twenty years, Pepusch directed the musical establishment at Cannons, a large house northwest of London. For a couple of years he worked alongside George Frideric Handel - in 1717/18 both men were employed there by James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. Although Pepusch is now best known for his arrangement of the music for “The Beggar’s Opera” (1728) to the libretto of John Gay, he composed many other works including stage and church music as well as concertos and continuo sonatas.

Here are Six Concertos, Op.8 (1717) and Six Flute Sonatas, (1709) performed by Barocco Veneziano and Claudio Ferrarini (flute).

Friday 26 August 2016


“Walnuts have a shell, and they have a kernel. Religions are the same. They have an essence, but then they have a protective coating. This is not the only way to put it. But it’s my way. So the kernels are the same. However, the shells are different.” - Huston Smith

Our cool and wet Winter weather is continuing so for the weekend, what better than a little baking with this delicious loaf?

Date and Walnut Loaf
1 cup water
3 tbs butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup dates, diced
1/2 tsp ground mace
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (extra, if desired, for decoration)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 165˚C fan-forced.
Place water, dates, butter and spices (except cinnamon) in large saucepan and heat to boiling point, stir until butter is melted.
Remove from heat and add bicarbonate of soda.
Allow to cool to room temperature and then add bananas, eggs, nuts, flour and cinnamon. Stir well and pour into a greased and lined loaf pan. (Decorate the top with halved walnuts if desired).
Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Allow to rest in tin for 30 minutes before turning out.

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Thursday 25 August 2016


“Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them when I was a boy. Lord, there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go.” - Ray Bradbury

The nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, is an evergreen tree indigenous to the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia. It is important as the main source of the spices nutmeg and mace. It is widely grown across the tropics including Guangdong and Yunnan in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Grenada in the Caribbean, Kerala in India, Sri Lanka and South America. Myristica fragrans was given a binomial name by the Dutch botanist Maartyn Houttuyn in 1774. It had earlier been described by Georg Eberhard Rumphius, among others. The generic name “Myristica” in Greek means “of pleasant smell” and the specific epithet “fragrans” in Latin, means "fragrant".

It is a small evergreen tree, usually 5–13 m tall, but occasionally reaching 20 m. The alternately arranged leaves are dark green, 5–15 cm long by 2–7 cm wide with petioles about 1 cm long. The species is dioecious, i.e. “male” or staminate flowers and “female” or carpellate flowers are borne on different plants, although occasional individuals produce both kinds of flower. The flowers are bell-shaped, pale yellow and somewhat waxy and fleshy. Staminate flowers are arranged in groups of one to ten, each 5–7 mm long; carpellate flowers are in smaller groups, one to three, and somewhat longer, up to 10 mm long. Carpellate trees produce smooth yellow ovoid or pear-shaped fruits, 6–9 cm long with a diameter of 3.5–5 cm. The fruit has a fleshy husk. When ripe the husk splits into two halves along a ridge running the length of the fruit. Inside is a purple-brown shiny seed, 2–3 cm long by about 2 cm across, with a red or crimson covering (an aril). The seed is the source of nutmeg, the aril the source of mace.

Nutmeg and mace have similar sensory qualities, with nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is used for flavouring many dishes, usually in ground or grated form, and is best grated fresh in a nutmeg grater.

In Indonesian cuisine, nutmeg is used in various dishes, mainly in many spicy soups, such as some variant of soto, konro, oxtail soup, sup iga (ribs soup), bakso and sup kambing. It is also used in gravy for meat dishes, such as semur beef stew, ribs with tomato, to European derived dishes such as bistik (beef steak), rolade (minced meat roll) and bistik lidah (beef tongue steak). Sliced nutmeg fruit flesh could be made as manisan (sweets), either wet, which is seasoned in sugary syrup liquid, or dry coated with sugar. In Penang cuisine, dried, shredded nutmeg rind with sugar coating is used as toppings on the uniquely Penang ais kacang. Nutmeg rind is also blended (creating a fresh, green, tangy taste and white colour juice) or boiled (resulting in a much sweeter and brown juice) to make iced nutmeg juice.

In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used in many sweet, as well as savoury, dishes (predominantly in Mughlai cuisine). In Kerala Malabar region, it is considered medicinal and the flesh made into juice, pickles and chutney, while the grated nutmeg is used in meat preparations and also sparingly added to desserts for the flavour. It is also added in small quantities as a medicine for infants. It may also be used in small quantities in garam masala. Ground nutmeg is also smoked in India.

In Middle Eastern cuisine, ground nutmeg is often used as a spice for savoury dishes. In traditional European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used especially in potato dishes and in processed meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces, and baked goods. It is also commonly used in rice pudding. In Dutch cuisine, nutmeg is added to vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and string beans. Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog. In Scotland, mace and nutmeg are usually both ingredients in haggis. In Italian cuisine, nutmeg is almost uniquely used as part of the stuffing for many regional meat-filled dumplings like tortellini, as well as for the traditional meatloaf.

Japanese varieties of curry powder include nutmeg as an ingredient. In the Caribbean, nutmeg is often used in drinks such as the Bushwacker, Painkiller, and Barbados rum punch. Typically, it is just a sprinkle on the top of the drink. The pericarp (fruit/pod) is used in Grenada and also in Indonesia to make jam, or is finely sliced, cooked with sugar, and crystallised to make a fragrant candy. In the US, nutmeg is known as the main pumpkin pie spice and often shows up in simple recipes for other winter squashes such as baked acorn squash.

The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used widely in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. This volatile fraction typically contains 60-80% d-camphene by weight, as well as quantities of d-pinene, limonene, d-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, safrol, and myristicin. In its pure form, myristicin is a toxin, and consumption of excessive amounts of nutmeg can result in myristicin poisoning.

The oil is colourless or light yellow, and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets. It is used to replace ground nutmeg, as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, for instance, in toothpaste, and as a major ingredient in some cough syrups.

In traditional medicine, nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for disorders related to the nervous and digestive systems. After extraction of the essential oil, the remaining seed, containing much less flavour, is called “spent”. Spent is often mixed in industrial mills with pure nutmeg to facilitate the milling process, as nutmeg is not easy to mill due to the high percentage of oil in the pure seed. Ground nutmeg with a variable percentage of spent (around 10% w/w) is also less likely to clot. To obtain a better running powder, a small percentage of rice flour also can be added.

In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response, but in large doses, raw nutmeg has psychoactive effects. In its freshly ground form (from whole nutmegs), nutmeg contains myristicin, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor and psychoactive substance. Myristicin poisoning can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalised body pain. It is also reputed to be a strong deliriant. For these reasons, whole or ground nutmeg cannot be imported into Saudi Arabia except in spice mixtures where it comprises less than 20%.

Nutmeg was once considered an abortifacient, but may be safe for culinary use during pregnancy. However, it inhibits prostaglandin production and contains hallucinogens that may affect the fetus if consumed in large quantities. Nutmeg is highly neurotoxic to dogs and causes seizures, tremors, and nervous system disorders which can be fatal. Nutmeg’s rich, spicy scent is attractive to dogs which can result in a dog ingesting a lethal amount of this spice. Eggnog and other food preparations which contain nutmeg should not be given to dogs.

In the language of flowers, nutmegs accompanying suitable flowers indicate: “Join me in my chamber.”

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,
and also part of the Orange you Glad It's Friday meme.

Wednesday 24 August 2016


“Every blessing ignored becomes a curse.” - Paulo Coelho

For the Mid-week Motif this week, the folks at the Poets United site look at “Blessings”: Blessing is a gift of bliss, affirmation, hope and inspiration bestowed upon a person. Let’s find out who showers Blessings even in these days of guilt, abuse, greed, misery, crimes and cares. Sometimes we are at the receiving end and sometimes giving. Capture your Blessings in your lines today.
Here is my contribution:

Blessed Are They…

Who in adversity find hope,
And who in hardship cope
With endless woe and ill –
Who out of blackness light distill.

Who even in injury forgive,
Finding courage to live and let live.
In meekness is strength hidden untold
They stand tall, resolute and bold.

Who have the energy to love
Even all those unworthy of
A sentiment so noble, tender;
Their heart so ready to surrender.

Who trust and still believe
All those who seek reprieve;
Who credit all of base humanity
With virtues that preserve their sanity.

Who strive for peace and calm
And who on strife shed balm;
Giving repose to those who tired,
The sweetest respite they’ve desired.

Who make the crooked run straight
And the trivial things be great;
Who have humility, patience, charity
Giving their all with grace and verity.

Tuesday 23 August 2016


"Scotland should be nothing less than equal with all the other nations of the world." - Sean Connery

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.
Edinburgh (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Èideann) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 local government council areas. Located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore, it is Scotland's second most populous city and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom. The 2014 official population estimates are 464,990 for the city of Edinburgh, 492,680 for the local authority area, and 1,339,380 for the City region as of 2014 (Edinburgh lies at the heart of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland).

Recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Parliament and the seat of the monarchy in Scotland. The city is also the annual venue of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and home to national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. It is the largest financial centre in the UK after London.

Historically part of Midlothian, the city has long been a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, literature, the sciences and engineering. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582 and now one of four in the city, was placed 17th in the QS World University Rankings in 2013 and 2014. The city is also famous for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the latter being the world's largest annual international arts festival.

The city's historical and cultural attractions have made it the United Kingdom's second most popular tourist destination after London, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. Historic sites in Edinburgh include Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the churches of St. Giles, Greyfriars and the Canongate, and the extensive Georgian New Town, built in the 18th century. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town together are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been managed by Edinburgh World Heritage since 1999.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday 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 22 August 2016


“The way to write a thriller is to ask a question at the beginning, and answer it at the end.” - Lee Child

I like to watch movies, and usually nowadays I tend to be quite selective of what I watch and when I watch it. It generally means that I watch movies at home on DVDs or blu-ray discs, in my own time and with the subtitles on (this has become increasingly necessary nowadays as I often find that there is a lot of poor sound design in movies with dialogue often masked by sound effects, music, background noise and horrible accents or diction by actors).

Although I find that I can like films in all genres, there are some that I will avoid, as for example absurdist or surreal films that are a self-serving indulgence of the film-makers (let them make it and watch it themselves!); zombie or zombie comedy films (there’s only so much zombie nonsense you can take – in my case, one film was enough); gangster films (violence for the sake of violence?); slasher horror movies (more violence for the sake of violence…); political movies (usually, they bore me); soppy romance movies (they too tend to bore me); slice-of-life movies (especially the unscripted type, they too can be frightfully boring!).

One genre that I generally enjoy is a good thriller. A thriller is a story that is usually a mix of fear and excitement. It has traits from the suspense genre and often from the action, adventure or mystery genres, but the level of terror makes it borderline horror fiction at times as well. It generally has a dark or serious theme, which also makes it similar to drama. These movies can keep you on the edge of your seat, can scare you or make you squirm with discomfort, can make you scream and cry. I enjoy the psychological thriller sub-genre the most, I think, but there are others.

Disaster-thriller: This has a plot revolving around mass peril, where the protagonist’s job is to not only survive, but also to save many other people from a grim fate, often a natural disaster such as a storm or volcanic eruption, but which may also be a terrorist attack or epidemic of some sort. Tony Scott’s 2010 “Unstoppable” starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson is an example of this genre.

Psychological thriller: Such movies emphasise the psychological condition of the hero that presents obstacles to his objective, rather than the action. Some psychological thrillers are also about complicated stories that try to deliberately confuse the audience, often by showing them only the same confusing or seemingly nonsensical information that the hero gains. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 “Rebecca” starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, is a classic psych thriller.

Crime thriller: A story that revolves around the life of lawmen, detectives, law-breakers, criminals, or other groups associated with criminal events in the story. Quentin Tarantino’s 2015 “The Hateful Eight” starring  Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, is an example of this genre.

Techno-thriller: A story whose theme is usually technology, or the danger behind the technology people use, including the threat of cyber terrorism such as Pamela Yates’ 2005 “State of Fear” starring Peter Kinoy and Pamela Yates.

Adventure Thriller: A sub-genre that seems to straddle several plot devices and themes, but generally one where there is a lot of action, tension, terror and unpredictable situations all designed to thrill and chill. Henry Joost’s and Ariel Schulman’s 2016 “Nerve” starring  Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade is a good example.

What are your favourite genres of movies to watch?

Sunday 21 August 2016


“A line is a dot that went for a walk.” - Paul Klee

Paul Klee, (born Dec. 18, 1879, Münchenbuchsee, near Bern, Switz.—died June 29, 1940, Muralto, near Locarno) Swiss painter who was one of the foremost artists of the 20th century. Klee participated in and was influenced by a range of artistic movements, including surrealism, cubism and expressionism. He taught art in Germany until 1933, when the National Socialists declared his work indecent. The Klee family fled to Switzerland, where Paul Klee died.

Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, on December 18, 1879. The son of a music teacher, Klee was a talented violinist, receiving an invitation to play with the Bern Music Association at age 11. As a teenager, Klee’s attention turned from music to the visual arts. In 1898, he began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. By 1905, he had developed signature techniques, including drawing with a needle on a blackened pane of glass. Between 1903 and 1905, he completed a set of etchings called Inventions that would be his first exhibited works.

In 1906, Klee married Bavarian pianist Lily Stumpf. The couple had a son, Felix Paul. Klee’s artwork progressed slowly for the next five years. In 1910, he had his first solo exhibition in Bern, which subsequently travelled to three Swiss cities. In January 1911, Klee met art critic Alfred Kubin, who introduced him to artists and critics. That winter, Klee joined the editorial team of the journal Der Blaue Reiter, co-founded by Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky. He began working on colour experiments in watercolours and landscapes, including the painting “In the Quarry”. Klee’s artistic breakthrough came in 1914, after a trip to Tunisia. Inspired by the light in Tunis, Klee began to delve into abstract art. Returning to Munich, Klee painted his first pure abstract, “In the Style of Kairouan”, composed of coloured rectangles and circles.

Klee’s work evolved during World War I, particularly following the deaths of his friends Auguste Macke and Franz Marc. Klee created several pen-and-ink lithographs, including “Death for the Idea”, in reaction to this loss. In 1916, he joined the German army, painting camouflage on airplanes and working as a clerk. By 1917, art critics began to classify Klee as one of the best young German artists. A three-year contract with dealer Hans Goltz brought exposure as well as commercial success.

Klee taught at the Bauhaus from 1921 to 1931, alongside his friend Kandinsky. In 1923, Kandinsky and Klee formed the Blue Four with two other artists, Alexej von Jawlensky and Lyonel Feininger, and toured the United States to lecture and exhibit work. Klee had his first exhibits in Paris around this time, finding favour with the French surrealists. Klee began teaching at Dusseldorf Academy in 1931. Two years later, he was fired under Nazi rule. The Klee family moved to Switzerland in late 1933. Klee was at the peak of his creative output during this tumultuous period. He produced nearly 500 works in a single year and created “Ad Parnassum”, widely considered to be his masterpiece.

Two years after returning to Switzerland, Klee fell ill with a disease that would later be diagnosed as progressive scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that hardens the skin and other organs. The artist created only 25 works the year after he fell ill, but his creativity resurged in 1937 and increased to a record 1,253 works in 1939. His late works dealt with the grief, pain, resilience, and acceptance of approaching death. Several of Klee’s works were included in the “Degenerate Art” exhibition staged by the National Socialists in Munich in 1937. The accusations against Klee's character and politics that had been waged against him in Germany complicated his application for Swiss citizenship in 1939. While he had been born in Switzerland, his father was German, which according to Swiss law meant that Klee was a German citizen. Klee died on June 29, 1940 in Locarno, Switzerland, before his final application could be approved.

Klee’s artistic legacy has been immense, even if many of his successors have not referenced his work openly as an apparent source or influence. During his lifetime, the Surrealists found Klee’s seemingly random juxtaposition of text, abstract signs, and reductive symbols suggestive of the way the mind in dream state recombines disparate objects of everyday and thus brings forth new insights into how the unconscious wields power even over waking reality.

In European art after the 1940s, artists such as Jean Dubuffet continued to reference the art of children as a kind of untutored, expressive ideal. Klee’s reputation grew considerably in the 1950s, by which time, for instance, the Abstract Expressionists could view his work in New York exhibitions. Klee's use of signs and symbols particularly interested the artists of the New York School, especially those interested in mythology, the unconscious, and primitivism (as well as the art of the self-trained and that of children). Klee’s use of colour as an expressive medium of human emotion in its own right also appealed to the Colour Field painters, such as Jules Olitski and Helen Frankenthaler. Finally, American artists maturing in the 1960s and 1970s, such as Ellsworth Kelly owed a debt to Klee for his pioneering colour theory during the Bauhaus period.

The painting above is “City and Sun” of 1928, which is a work characteristic of the artist. Geometric and strongly delineated, with carefully applied colour and almost reduced to an abstract image, the painting still manages to be representational with the title of the work being quote agreeable to the viewer.  On the one hand, Klee conceives an image that is an expression of his inner landscape, while on the other also showing a rather free form and playfulness typical of Klee’s style. Warm and cool colours, square shapes and solar rondel, resolve in a balanced and harmonious composition that is reminiscent of dream and fantasy.