Saturday 4 March 2017


“Sound, jocund strains; on pipe and viol sound, Young voices sing; Wreathe every door with snow-white voices round, For lo! ‘t is Spring! Winter has passed with its sad funeral train, And Love revives again.” - Lewis Morris

William Lawes (April 1602 – 24 September 1645) was an English composer and musician. He was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire and was baptised on 1 May 1602. He was the son of Thomas Lawes, a vicar choral at Salisbury Cathedral, and brother to Henry Lawes, a very successful composer in his own right. His patron, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, apprenticed him to the composer John Coprario, which probably brought Lawes into contact with Charles, Prince of Wales at an early age.

Both William and his elder brother Henry received court appointments after Charles succeeded to the British throne as Charles I. William was appointed as “musician in ordinary for lutes and voices” in 1635 but had been writing music for the court prior to this. Lawes spent all his adult life in Charles’s employ. He composed secular music and songs for court masques (and doubtless played in them), as well as sacred anthems and motets for Charles’s private worship.

He is most remembered today for his sublime viol consort suites for between three and six players and his lyra viol music. His use of counterpoint and fugue and his tendency to juxtapose bizarre, spine-tingling themes next to pastoral ones in these works made them disfavoured in the centuries after his death; they have only become widely available in recent years.

When Charles’s dispute with Parliament led to the outbreak of the Civil War, Lawes joined the Royalist army and was given a post in the King's Life Guards, which was intended to keep him out of danger. Despite this, he was “casually shot” by a Parliamentarian in the rout of the Royalists at Rowton Heath, near Chester, on 24 September 1645. Although the King was in mourning for his kinsman Bernard Stuart (killed in the same defeat), he instituted a special mourning for Lawes, apparently honouring him with the title of “Father of Musick.”

The author of his epitaph, Thomas Jordan, closed it with a lachrymose pun on the fact that Lawes had died at the hands of those who denied the divine right of kings:
“Will. Lawes was slain by such whose wills were laws.”
Lawes’s body was lost or destroyed and his burial site is unknown.

Here are his Consort Setts in 5 & 6 parts for viols and organ, played by Fretwork and Paul Nicholson.

Friday 3 March 2017


“One mustn’t ask apple trees for oranges, France for sun, women for love, life for happiness.” - Gustave Flaubert 

Time for tea! And of course a slice of tea cake. This lovely, fragrant, moist tangy and sweet orange cake foots the bill. Enjoy it with a cup of fragrant, light and partly oxidised, greenish Oolong tea. 

Orange Cake
Ingredients - Cake

125 g butter softened
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cup self-raising flour sifted
1 tbs orange zest
1 tsp vanilla essence
Ingredients - Icing
1/3 cup butter softened
1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar sifted
2 tbs orange juice
1/2 tsp orange zest 

Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the zest, vanilla essence and continue beating, adding the yolks one by one.
Lightly beat the egg whites and add alternately with the milk, little by little, while beating the cake mixture lightly.
Add the flour little by little alternating with the orange juice. Do not overbeat at this stage.
Pour mixture into a buttered 20 cm x 10 cm loaf or 20 cm round (or ring) tin. Bake in centre of 180˚C fan-forced oven for 30-40 minutes. Turn onto wire rack and allow to cool.
Ice with orange icing and garnish with orange zest if desired.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday 2 March 2017


“Once your belly is full, you can achieve anything.” – Vietnamese proverb 

Persicaria odorata, the Vietnamese coriander, is an herb whose leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. Other English names for the herb include Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, hot mint, laksa leaf, and praew leaf. Its Vietnamese name is rau răm, while in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore it is called daun kesum, daun kesom, or daun laksa. In Thailand, it is called phak phai. In North-East India, Manipur state uses this as garnishing herb over various cuisines such as Eromba and Singju. It is neither related to the mints, nor is it in the mint family Lamiaceae but the general appearance and odour are reminiscent of them. Persicaria is in the family Polygonaceae, collectively known as smartweeds or pinkweeds.

Vietnamese coriander is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions. In advantageous conditions, it can grow up to 15–30 cm. The top of its leaf is dark green, with chestnut-coloured spots, while the leaf’s bottom is burgundy red. The stem is jointed at each leaf. In Vietnam, it can be cultivated or found in the wild. It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical Europe. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It should be brought inside for winter and treated as a houseplant. It rarely flowers outside the tropics.

Above all, the leaf is identified with Vietnamese cuisine, where it is commonly eaten fresh in salads (including chicken salad) and in raw gỏi cuốn, as well as in some soups such as canh chua and bún thang, and stews, such as fish kho tộ. It is also popularly eaten with hột vịt lộn (fertilized duck egg). In the cuisine of Cambodia, the leaf is known as chi krasang tomhom and is used in soups, stews, salads, and the Cambodian summer rolls, naem. In Singapore and Malaysia, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient of laksa, a spicy noodle soup, so much so that the Malay name daun laksa means “laksa leaf”. In Laos and certain parts of Thailand, the leaf is eaten with raw beef larb.

In Australia, the plant is being investigated as a source of essential oil (kesom oil). This oil contains aldehydes such as decanal (28%) and dodecanal (44%), as well as the alcohol decanol (11%). Sesquiterpenes such as α-humulene and β-caryophyllene comprise about 15% of its oil. C-Methylated homoisoflavanones can be found in the rhizomes of P. odorata.

Traditionally, in Vietnam, the herb is believed to repress sexual urges. A saying in Vietnamese states, “rau răm, giá sống” (Vietnamese coriander, raw bean sprouts), which refers to the common belief that Vietnamese coriander reduces sexual desire, while bean sprouts have the opposite effect. Many Buddhist monks grow coriander in their private gardens and eat it frequently, believing it helps them remain celibate. No scientific studies have measured P. odorata’s effects on libido.

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

Wednesday 1 March 2017


“Courage is knowing what not to fear.” - Plato

This Wednesday Poets United has as its theme “Fear”. The Greek word for fear is φόβος (phobos), hence “phobia”. People have all sorts of fears, many of which are irrational and these latter kind are the dreaded phobias. There is a site with dozens of these and it may amuse you to look at it. My “Fear” poem below:


“Why be afraid of the dark,” she said,
“Close your eyes and you will see
A great light and rainbow colours,
For within you burns a sun
Brighter than the one up high.”

“Why be afraid of evil,” she said,
“Open your heart and you will find
Goodness beyond measure,
This kindness inside it is enough
To annul all wickedness.”

“Why be afraid of hate,” she said,
“You have the strength to fight it,
Your courage is beyond measure,
Bravery within you lies untapped,
Enough to let you win.”

“Why be afraid of love?” She said,
And she paused, thinking hard.
“Ah, indeed, love's a force to be feared
And no matter how hard you try
There's no way to counter its invincible power.
Seek it out; cultivate it; humour it;
Respect it; harness its potential; enjoy its pleasures;
Be grateful for its presence in your life -
But be afraid of love; be very afraid of it…” She said.

Tuesday 28 February 2017


“Egypt was - as it is now - a confluence of cultures, as a result of being a crossroads geographically between Africa, the Middle East and Europe.” - Ridley Scott

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.
Aswan, formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate. Aswan is a busy market and tourist centre located just north of the Aswan Dams on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract. The modern city has expanded and includes the formerly separate community on the island of Elephantine.

Aswan is the ancient city of Swenett, which in antiquity was the frontier town of Ancient Egypt facing the south. Swenett is supposed to have derived its name from an Egyptian goddess with the same name. This goddess later was identified as Eileithyia by the Greeks and Lucina by the Romans during their occupation of Ancient Egypt because of the similar association of their goddesses with childbirth, and of which the import is "the opener". The ancient name of the city also is said to be derived from the Egyptian symbol for trade, or market.

Because the Ancient Egyptians oriented toward the origin of the life-giving waters of the Nile in the south, Swenett was the first town in the country, and Egypt always was conceived to "open" or begin at Swenett. The city stood upon a peninsula on the right (east) bank of the Nile, immediately below (and north of) the first cataract of the flowing waters, which extend to it from Philae. Navigation to the delta was possible from this location without encountering a barrier.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme, 
and also part of the Ruby 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 27 February 2017


“The kingdom of heaven is within you; and whosoever shall know himself shall find it” - Ancient Egyptian Proverb 

In Egyptian mythology, Ptah (Egyptian: ptḥ, probably vocalized as Pitaḥ in ancient Egyptian) is the demiurge of Memphis, god of craftsmen and architects. In the triad of Memphis, he is the spouse of Sekhmet and the father of Nefertum. He was also regarded as the father of the sage Imhotep.

Ptah is the Creator god par excellence: He is considered the demiurge who existed before all other things, and by his willfulness, thought the world. It was first conceived by Thought, and realised by the Word: Ptah conceives the world by the thought of his heart and gives life through the magic of his Word. That which Ptah commanded was created, with which the constituents of nature, fauna, and flora, are contained. He also plays a role in the preservation of the world and the permanence of the royal function.

In the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, the Nubian pharaoh Shabaka would transcribe on a stela known as the Shabaka Stone, an old theological document found in the archives of the library of the temple of the god at Memphis. This document has been known as the Memphite Theology, and shows the god Ptah, the god responsible for the creation of the universe by thought and by the word.

Ptah is the patron of craftsmanship, metalworking, carpenters, shipbuilders, and sculpture. From the Middle Kingdom onwards, he was one of five major Egyptian gods with Ra, Isis, Osiris and Amun. He wears many epithets that describe his role in ancient Egyptian religion and its importance in society at the time:
Ptah of the beautiful face
Ptah lord of truth
Ptah master of justice
Ptah who listens to prayers
Ptah master of ceremonies
Ptah lord of eternity.

Ptah is generally represented in the guise of a man with green or dark skin, wrapped in a shroud sticking to the skin, wearing the divine beard, and holding a sceptre combining three powerful symbols of ancient Egyptian religion: The Was sceptre The sign of life, Ankh and The Djed pillar. These three combined symbols indicate the three creative powers of the god: Power (was), life (ankh) and stability (djed).

Sunday 26 February 2017


“Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them.” - David Bowie

Romà Ribera i Cirera (13 December 1848, Barcelona - 29 May 1935, Barcelona) was a Catalonian genre painter. He specialised in contemporary scenes from upper-class social events, rendered in meticulous detail, but also did numerous scenes from life in the 17th and 18th centuries.

He studied at the Escola de la Llotja and at the private school operated by Pere Borrell del Caso. In 1873, he went to Rome to complete his studies. While there, he met Marià Fortuny, who works would influence his style. After leaving Italy, he visited London to exhibit. Once he had established himself, he settled in Paris. At a time when most artists were attracted to impressionism, he found inspiration in the works of James Tissot and Alfred Stevens.

In 1878, he enjoyed great success at the Exposition Universelle. This enabled to him retain Adolphe Goupil as his agent. To maximise his income, he chose to solicit clients from the upper classes; portraying their activities and possessions. He had a major showing at the exhibition at the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition, where he presented a series of watercolours. He returned to Barcelona in 1889, exhibiting at the Sala Parés. He pursued the same upper class client strategy there that he had in Paris. Occasionally, he travelled to exhibit in Madrid.

In 1902, he became a member of the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi and was chosen to sit on the Catalonian Museum Board. In Catalonia his works can be found exhibited in various public institutions, including the National Museum (MNAC), the Museum of Montserrat, the Girona Art Museum and the Library Museum Víctor Balaguer of Vilanova.

Ribera was skilled and well-trained, which was true of most of the artists of his generation. He was able to paint interesting scenes in a visually pleasing way, making for highly decorative paintings suitable for middle class tastes. His highly representational and studiously “painterly” style was helpful early in his career, but seems to have hindered his claim to international success and fame. The rapidly changing modern painting revolutions made his work increasingly passé, even in comparatively artistically conservative Spain.

The painting above is representative of his work and is titled: “De Soirée” (In the Evening) - 1894. The painting is faultless in its execution, the colours harmonious, the composition pleasing, the subject matter agreeable and yet if one compares it to the similarly themed Degas work “Woman Combing her Hair” of 1894, one immediately sees why Romà Ribera is relatively obscure while Degas retains his place as a trendsetter in late 19th century painting.