Saturday 11 March 2017


“Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine 

Andrea Teodoro Zani (11 November 1696 – 28 September 1757) was an Italian violinist and composer. Zani was born at Casalmaggiore in the Province of Cremona. He received his first instruction in playing the violin from his father, an amateur violinist. Subsequently, he received instruction in composition from Giacomo Civeri, a local musician, and studied violin in Guastalla with the court violinist Carlo Ricci.

Antonio Caldara, who was working as Capellmeister at the court of Archduke Ferdinand Charles in Mantua, not far from Casalmaggiore, heard Zani play and invited him to accompany him to Vienna. Between 1727 and 1729 Zani arrived in Vienna and was active there as a violinist in the service of the Habsburgs.

Following the death of his sponsor Caldara in 1736, he returned to Casalmaggiore where he remained for the rest of his life, except for occasional concert appearances. He died in his hometown as the result of an accident, when the carriage in which he was travelling to Mantua overturned.

Zani's works show the influence of Antonio Vivaldi, but are somewhat less sweeping. His op. 2, published in 1729, is of great historical importance because it is the earliest dated source of symphonies that present no ambiguities of genre. His late works clearly exhibit a casting off of baroque elements in favour of early classical ones.

There are numerous manuscripts of Zani’s works found in libraries scattered throughout Europe, including three concertos and one sonata for flute, at least twelve concertos for cello, six trio sonatas for two violins and continuo, as well as several violin concertos and symphonies.

Here are 12 concertos of his Opus 4, played by Capella Palatina and Giovanni Battista Columbro. These are engaging works with sonorous violin soli, playful flute soli and some wonderful passages for the ensemble, a colourful palette and some lovely melodies to enjoy. This is a premiere recording and I much enjoyed listening to it. Hope you enjoy it too.


“The ripest peach is highest on the tree.” – James Whitcomb Riley

Peaches are in season at the moment and we chanced upon some in a farmers’ market today. Unlike the supermarket variety, these were ripe, juicy and fragrant. We had some for lunch and then took the opportunity to make this summery dessert for after dinner:

Baked Peaches 
6 ripe fresh peaches
200 g ground blanched almonds
4 tbsp maraschino liqueur
80 g unsalted butter, melted
12 tbsp icing sugar
Softened mascarpone cheese to serve

Carefully cut the peaches in half lengthwise and remove the pit with a sharp knife leaving a hollow in each half. Place the peach halves on a buttered baking tray, hollow side up.
In a blender, mix the almond meal with the liqueur and blend well until well-moistened and homogenised.
Fill each peach hollow with a spoonful of the almond paste and brush them with melted butter. Sprinkle a tablespoon of icing sugar over each peach half.
Bake at 180˚C until they are soft and golden brown. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday 9 March 2017


“Dear Perenna, prithee come and with smallage dress my tomb: And a cypress sprig thereto, With a tear, and so Adieu.” – Robert Herrick 

Smallage (Apium graveolens var. graveolens) is the wild variety of celery, belonging to the carrot family (Apiaceae). Smallage is very leafy, with thin hollow stalks and can grow up to 1 metre tall. The stalks are very slender and pliable, although quite stringy and not used in cooking. The plant does look quite similar to parsley although the leaves are of different shape, their colour are a little lighter, and their stalks are somewhat thicker. It is a biennial plant, growing luxuriantly the first year, flowering and seeding the following year, then dying. It can be treated as a “cut-and-come-again” plant, with multiple harvests of leaves. One French name, “celeri à couper”, gives the sense that its leaves are cut and the plant then regenerates.

Smallage flowers are flat, umbrella-like masses of tiny white blooms, similar to parsley. Its seeds are what is sold as “celery seed” (i.e. not the seeds from the domesticated, familiar, celery plants), and are used in culinary applications. The seeds have a powerful celery flavour with a tinge of bitterness, so they used sparingly, quite often in a lot of pickling mixes. The flavour of the celery seed enhances salt and ground seeds are mixed with salt and sold as “celery salt”. Celery salt is used as a seasoning, in cocktails (notably to enhance the flavour of Bloody Mary cocktails). Note that seeds intended for cultivation are not suitable for eating as they are often treated with fungicides. Buy the culinary packaged seeds for cooking uses.

Smallage is used as a herb with its leaves providing a strong and slightly bitter flavour that enhances other strong flavours (e.g. beef stew, mutton dishes, pork dishes, mixed vegetable and meat soups). The young, tender, raw leaves can be used in salads, while older more mature leaves can be used when boiling, stewing and roasting. In France, smallage is used in soups and stews, as cooks there prefer its stronger, more concentrated flavour than the milder, domesticated celery. If smallage is asked for in a recipe and its not available, one may use the leaves of the domesticated celery variety (the heart leaves in salads and the external leaves for cooking).

The English word “smallage” comes from “small ache” (pronounced “small ash”). “Ache” was an old French word for celery. Smallage is sometimes thought to be what the Greeks called σέλινον - selinon, but they used the same word for this and for parsley, so one cannot be sure which herb was meant by the author. The Romans also used the same word (apium) for both smallage and parsley. Later both Latin and Greek came to have separate names for parsley, to distinguish it from celery. In Greek, πετροσέλινον (petroselinon, petra meaning “rock” and selinon meaning “celery”, so parsley was “rock celery’). From the Greek word, the Romans derived their more precise word for parsley, petroselinum.

Traditionally, smallage was used medicinally and in Greek and Roman funeral rites, not being used in cooking until the Middle Ages. A chthonian (i.e.underworld) symbol among the ancient Greeks, smallage, parsley and celery were said to have sprouted from the blood of Kadmilos, father of the Cabeiri (chthonian divinities celebrated in Samothrace, Lemnos, and Thebes). The spicy odour and dark leaf colour encouraged this association with the cult of death. In classical Greece, celery leaves were used as garlands for the dead, and the wreaths of the winners at the Isthmian Games were first made of celery before being replaced by crowns made of pine. According to Pliny the Elder in Achaea, the garland worn by the winners of the sacred Nemean Games was also made of celery. The Ancient Greek colony of Selinous (Greek: Σελινοῦς, Selinous), on Sicily, was named after wild parsley that grew abundantly there; Selinountian coins depicted a parsley leaf as the symbol of the city.

Smallage root was used in preparations for its carminative effect and the use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus around AD 30. Celery seeds contain a compound, 3-n-butylphthalide, that has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in rats. Celery juice significantly reduced hypertension in some patients and the same effect on hypertension associated with pregnancy has also been documented. Bergapten in the seeds can increase photosensitivity, so the use of essential oil externally in bright sunshine should be avoided. The oil and large doses of seeds should be avoided during pregnancy, as they can act as a uterine stimulant and cause miscarriages.

Celery and smallage are among a small group of foods (headed by peanuts) that appear to provoke the most severe allergic reactions; for people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. The allergen does not appear to be destroyed at cooking temperatures. Celery root (commonly eaten as celeriac, or put into drinks) is known to contain more allergen than the stalk. Seeds contain the highest levels of allergen content. Celery allergy is most prevalent in Central Europe. In the European Union, foods that contain or may contain celery, even in trace amounts, must be clearly marked as such.

A sprig of smallage in the language of flowers means “I shall love you until I die”, while flowering stalks should only be used in funeral wreaths, having the meaning of “Rest in Peace”.

Wednesday 8 March 2017


“No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.” - Muhammad Ali Jinnah 

Today is International Women’s Day and Poets United has as its Midweek Motif “A Woman’s Day: Be Bold For Change”. Here is my poem: 

I Don’t Want a Women’s Day 

I don’t want a token Women’s Day,
I want a world where humanity reigns supreme.
Sex and gender are immaterial
In this struggle for survival,
Where so much can be achieved
When brother and sister work together
Side by side as equals.

I don’t want a single, yearly Women’s Day,
I want a whole year, every year, where humanity reigns supreme.
XX or XY hardly matters
When the right life-or-death decision is made;
Where one depends on the other,
When husband and wife work together
Side by side as equals.

I don’t want a ceremonial Women’s Day,
I want an everyday reality, where humanity reigns supreme.
Trousers or dresses are irrelevant
In building a society where justice and good prevail;
Where we build rather than destroy,
When father and mother work together
Side by side as equals.

I don’t want a conceded Women’s Day,
I want a future starting yesterday, where humanity reigns supreme.
Mars and Venus are passé,
In this brave new world;
If humanity is to survive,
Let us instead be Jovial, and as fellow humans work,
Side by side as equals.

Tuesday 7 March 2017


“The Poseidonians forgot the Greek language, after being admixed with Tyrrhenians, Latins and other foreigners. Their only legacy was a Greek festival, with beautiful ceremonies, with lyres and flutes, with games and wreaths...” – Constantine Cavafy 

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.  
Paestum was a major ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Magna Graecia (southern Italy). The ruins of Paestum are famous for their three ancient Greek temples in the Doric order, dating from about 600 to 450 BC, which are in a very good state of preservation. The city walls and amphitheatre are largely intact, and the bottom of the walls of many other structures remain, as well as paved roads.

The site is open to the public, and there is a modern national museum within it, which also contains the finds from the associated Greek site of Foce del Sele. After its foundation by Greek colonists under the name of Poseidonia (Ancient Greek: Ποσειδωνία) it was eventually conquered by the local Lucanians and later the Romans. The Lucanians renamed it to Paistos and the Romans gave the city its current name.

As Pesto or Paestum, the town became a bishopric (now only titular), but it was abandoned in the Early Middle Ages, and left undisturbed and largely forgotten until the eighteenth century. Today the remains of the city are found in the modern frazione of Paestum, which is part of the comune of Capaccio in the Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy. The modern settlement, directly to the south of the archaeological site, is a popular seaside resort, with long sandy beaches.

Much the most celebrated features of the site today are the three large temples in the Archaic version of the Greek Doric order, dating from about 550 to 450 BC. All are typical of the period, with massive colonnades having a very pronounced entasis (widening as they go down), and very wide capitals resembling upturned mushrooms. Above the columns, only the second Temple of Hera retains most of its entablature, the other two having only the architrave in place. These were dedicated to Hera, Athena, and Poseidon (Juno, Minerva, and Neptune to the Romans), although previously they often have been identified otherwise, for example, as a basilica and a temple of Ceres (Greek Demeter), after eighteenth-century arguments.

The two temples of Hera are right next to each other, while the Temple of Athena is on the other side of the town centre. There were other temples, both Greek and Roman, which are far less well-preserved. Paestum is far from any sources of good marble. The three main temples had few stone reliefs, perhaps using painting instead. Painted terracotta was for some detailed parts of the structure. The large pieces of terracotta that have survived are in the museum.

The second Temple of Hera was built around 460–450 BC, just north of the first Hera Temple (seen in the back left of the photo). It was once mistakenly thought to be dedicated to Poseidon. The columns do not have the typical 20 flutes on each column, but have 24 flutes. The Temple of Hera II also has a wider column size and smaller intervals between columns.

The temple was also used to worship Zeus and another deity, whose identity is unknown. There are visible on the east side the remains of two altars, one large and one smaller. The smaller one is a Roman addition, built when a road leading to a Roman forum was cut through the larger one. It also is possible that the temple originally was dedicated to both Hera and Poseidon; some offertory statues found around the larger altar are thought to demonstrate this identification. 

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 6 March 2017


“O Unas, you have not gone dead, you have gone alive to sit on the throne of Osiris. Your sceptre is in your hand that you may give orders to the living, the handle of your lotus-shaped sceptre in your hand. Give orders to those of the Mysterious Sites (the dead)!  Your arm is that of Atum, your shoulders are those of Atum, your belly is that of Atum, your back is that of Atum, your bottom is that of Atum, your two legs are those of Atum, your face is that of Anubis. The sites of Horus serve you, the sites of Seth serve you.” – Pyramid Texts of the Pyramid of Unas. 

Atum sometimes rendered as Atem or Tem, is an important deity in Egyptian mythology. Atum’s name is thought to be derived from the word tem, which means “to complete” or “finish”. Thus he has been interpreted as being the ‘complete one’ and also the ‘finisher of the world’, which he returns to watery chaos at the end of the creative cycle. As creator he was seen as the underlying substance of the world, the deities and all things being made of his flesh or alternatively being his ka.

Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king. He is usually depicted as a man wearing either the royal head-cloth or the dual white and red crown of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, reinforcing his connection with kingship. Sometimes he also is shown as a serpent, the form he returns to at the end of the creative cycle, and also occasionally as a mongoose, lion, bull, lizard, or ape.

Atum was a self-created deity, the first being to emerge from the darkness and endless watery abyss that existed before creation. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos, he created his children, the first deities, out of loneliness. He produced from his own sneeze (or in some accounts, semen), Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. The brother and sister, curious about the primeval waters that surrounded them, went to explore the waters and disappeared into the darkness. Unable to bear his loss, Atum sent a fiery messenger, the Eye of Ra, to find his children. The tears of joy he shed on their return were the first human beings.

In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Atum was considered to be the first god, having created himself, sitting on a mound (benben – or identified with the mound itself), from the primordial waters (Nu). Early myths state that Atum created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth. To explain how Atum did this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him.

Other interpretations state that he has made union with his shadow. In the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king’s soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens. He was also a solar deity, associated with the primary sun god Ra. Atum was linked specifically with the evening sun, while Ra or the closely linked god Khepri were connected with the sun at morning and midday.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning. Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. In the binary solar cycle, the serpentine Atum is contrasted with the ram-headed scarab Khepri, the young sun god, whose name is derived from the Egyptian hpr “to come into existence”. Khepri-Atum encompassed sunrise and sunset, thus reflecting the entire solar cycle.

Atum’s cult centred on the city of Heliopolis (Egyptian: Annu or Iunu). The only surviving remnant of Heliopolis is the Temple of Re-Atum obelisk located in Al-Masalla of Al-Matariyyah, Cairo. It was erected by Senusret I of the Twelfth dynasty, and still stands in its original position. The 20.73 m high red granite obelisk weighs 120 tons.

Sunday 5 March 2017


“To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist.” - Sarah Parcak 

Otto Johann Heinrich Heyden (born July 8, 1820 in Ducherow (Vorpommern), Germany, died September 21, 1897 in Göttingen ) was a German painter. He was the son of the preacher Johann Bernhard Heyden and his wife Dorothea, the eldest daughter of the mayor of Gützkow, Johann Balthasar Putter (1751-1818).

He attended the Gymnasium Stralsund and here he finished his high school years in 1894. After this, he began studying theology at Greifswald and Berlin at the request of his parents, but in 1843 he transferred to the Art Academy in Berlin. There he became a pupil of professors Karl Wilhelm Wach and August von Kloeber. With the recommendations of his teachers, Heyden later became a student in the studio of Léon Cogniet in Paris.

From 1850 he lived four years in Italy, mostly in Rome and near Naples . There he also made the preparations for his first major work, “Job, surrounded by his friends” (1855), bought by the Stettiner Museum. He also painted numerous portraits and landscapes. In 1854 he returned to Berlin and settled down as a freelance artist.

On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the University of Greifswald, he donated a monumental painting, which shows the founding ceremony in the Greifswald Nikolaikirche and this painting is currently exhibited in the Pommerschen Landesmuseum. During the German-Austrian War of 1866, he moved from historical painting of the remote past to the presentation of current historical events, with several battle paintings executed.

In 1869, Heyden undertook an extensive study trip to and through Egypt, which resulted in a series of pictures depicting the street life of Cairo and of the surrounding countryside. The painting above “Caravan by the Pyramids” is a typical such orientalist work. During the Franco-Prussian War , Heyden was at the headquarters of the V Armeenkorps under Crown Prince Frederick William. As a consequence, during the war, Heyden created many watercolours and portraits of army life and personnel.

Otto Heyden was awarded the Honorary Doctorate by the University of Greifswald in 1854. He was appointed court painter and honoured with the title of Royal Prussian Professor. At the age of 77, Otto Heyden died on 21 September 1897 in Göttingen.