Saturday 15 April 2017


“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining - they just shine.” - Dwight L. Moody 

The St. Petersburg Chamber Choir and their director, Nikolai Korniev, show off subbasement basses, soaring sopranos and a rich, well-blended sound in “Russian Easter”, a group of eleven settings for Easter worship by Alexander Grechaninov, Dmitri Bortnyansky and other masters of Russian church music. The compositions were written variously from the 18th century through the present, but all stay true to the spirit and aesthetic of the Orthodox tradition. Those who find plainchant a little on the monotonous side but are still looking for a spiritual element in music will find much to admire and enjoy in these beautifully sung presentations.

1. 00:00 Alleluia. Behold The Bridegroom (Anon. XVIII cent.)
2. 05:08 Gentle Light (Viktor Kallinikov)
3. 08:14 Of Thy Mystical Supper, Op. 58 (Alexander Grechaninov)
4. 14:34 The Wise Thief, Op. 40 No. 3 (Pavel Chesnokov)
5. 17:04 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent, Op. 27 No. 1 (Pavel Chesnokov)
6. 21:24 In the Flesh Thou Didst Fall Asleep (Hieromonk Jonathan)
7. 24:34 The Paschal Hours (Pavel Chesnokov)
8. 39:04 Paschal Hymns To The Virgin (Pavel Chesnokov)
9. 43:04 Today All Creation (Stephan Dekhteryov)
10. 48:46 Concerto No. 5: Come, O People (Concerto No. 5) (Dmitri Bortnyansky)
11. 55:24 Give Ear To My Prayer, Op. 26 (Alexander Grechaninov)


Friday 14 April 2017


“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.” - Janine di Giovanni

It’s Easter and as is traditional in Greek households we have done our traditional baking of Easter cookies, sweet Easter loaf, the dyeing of eggs red and the preparations for the “mageiritsa” soup and the roast lamb for Easter Sunday. Here is the recipe for the sweet Easter loaf, which is considered a “difficult” baking project as while the loaf should be well baked, it should also be light, yielding, sweet, aromatic and full of textured “trails” of baked dough.

Tsoureki (Greek Sweet Easter Loaf)
180 mL water
100 mL milk
650 g plain flour (high gluten, “strong” flour”
1 tsp baking powder
15 g dry active yeast
2 large eggs
50 g unsalted butter (melted)
200 g caster sugar
40 mL invert syrup
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground mahlepi
1/2 tsp ground gum mastic
1/2 tsp cardamom
Extra egg for glazing
Blanched flaked almonds

In the large mixer bowl, mix the lukewarm milk and water and dissolve in it about a third of the sugar and the salt. Add the yeast and mix well so that it dissolves. Leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes to ensure that the yeast is activated (bubbles will appear).
Add the rest of the sugar and invert syrup to the yeast mixture, the lightly beaten eggs, the spices, the butter and begin mixing with the dough hook.
Once the ingredients are well mixed, add the flour (into which you have mixed the baking powder) little by little and continue mixing with the dough hook with large speed until the (soft) dough adheres to the hook. Do not add extra flour.
Stop mixing and cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise.
Once the dough has doubled in size, place some melted butter on your hands and punch it down. Cut the dough into three equal lots and form three long slender rolls. Form the dough rolls into a plait and place on a buttered baking tray. Glaze with beaten egg and sprinkle with the blanched flaked almonds. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise.
Warm the oven to 160˚C and before placing the loaf to bake, place a fire-proof bowl filled with boiling water in the lowermost shelf. Bake the loaf for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday 12 April 2017


“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” - Abraham Lincoln

This week, the midweek motif of Poets United is “books”. I thought that for a bibliophile like me, this poem would be an easy one to write, but perhaps when we are faced with stating the obvious, therein we flounder and find difficulty…


When times were tough,
I delved into your pages and found strength;
When I was sad,
I looked inside and found mirth;
When feeling haughty, proud –
I read and became humble.

In days of desperation,
I searched for hope therein;
In times of mindless frivolity,
I was sobered by your wise words;
In hours of need,
I found within what I sought.

When friendless, lonely,
I found in books the most loyal companion;
When bored and flat,
In books I found the spark of the divine;
When feeling small and insignificant,
I discovered in books my self-respect.

In all my turns of fortune,
I found stability and calm inside;
In every step I took, in every journey started,
I found a true and steady compass there;
In all my life’s every situation,
Each question answered, each problem solved
In books all truth, all hope and all enjoyment…

Tuesday 11 April 2017


“The Dutch are a very practical people.” - Famke Janssen 

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. 

Haarlem (predecessor of Harlem in the English language) is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Haarlem had a population of 155,758 in 2014. It is a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and many residents commute to the country’s capital for work. 

Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270. The modern city encompasses the former municipality of Schoten as well as parts that previously belonged to Bloemendaal and Heemstede. Apart from the city, the municipality of Haarlem also includes the western part of the village of Spaarndam. Newer sections of Spaarndam lie within the neighbouring municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude.

There are several museums in Haarlem. The Teylers Museum lies on the Spaarne River and is the oldest museum of the Netherlands. Its main subjects are art, science and natural history, and it owns a number of works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Another museum is the Frans Hals Museum of fine arts, with its main location housing Dutch master paintings, and its exhibition halls on the Grote Markt housing a gallery for modern art called De Hallen. Also on the Grote Markt, in the cellar of the Vleeshal is the Archeologisch Museum Haarlem, while across the square on Saturdays, the Hoofdwacht building is open with exhibitions on Haarlem history. Other museums are Het Dolhuys (a museum of psychiatry), the Ten Boom Museum (a hiding place for Jews in World War II) and the Historisch Museum Haarlem, across from the Frans Hals Museum.

Every year in April the bloemencorso (flower parade) takes place. Floats decorated with flowers drive from Noordwijk to Haarlem, where they are exhibited for one day. In the same month there is also a funfair organised on the Grote Markt and the Zaanenlaan in Haarlem-Noord. Other festivals are held on the Grote Markt as well, in particular the annual Haarlem Jazz & More (formerly known as Haarlem Jazzstad), a music festival, and Haarlem Culinair, a culinary event, as well as the biannual Haarlemse Stripdagen (Haarlem comic days). Bevrijdingspop is a music festival to celebrate the Dutch liberation from the Nazis after World War II. It is held every year on 5 May, the day that the Netherlands were liberated in 1945, at the Haarlemmerhout. At the same location, the Haarlemmerhoutfestival is also held every year, which is a music and theatre festival.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday 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:

Sunday 9 April 2017


“I go to Prague every year if I can, value my relationships there like gold, and feel myself in a sense Czech, with all their hopes and needs. They are a people I not only love, but admire.” - Ellis Peters 

František Ženíšek (25 May 1849, Prague – 15 November 1916, Prague) was a Czech painter. He was part of the “Generace českého Národního divadla” (Generation of the Czech National Theatre), a large group of artists with nationalistic sympathies.

He was born into a family of merchants and displayed an affinity for art at an early age. Reluctantly his father agreed to let him pursue his interests and allowed him to take lessons from Karel Javůrek while he was still in school. From 1863 to 1865, he was at the Academy of Fine Arts, studying with Eduard von Engerth. After a brief stay in Vienna, assisting Engerth with work at the State Opera, he was back at the Academy in Prague, working with Jan Swerts and the history painter Josef Matyáš Trenkwald.

In 1875, he received his first major commission; painting murals at the city hall in Courtrai, Belgium. Then, in 1878, while making a study trip to Paris, he gained an important friend and supporter in Josef Šebestián Daubek, a well-known patron of the arts, who engaged him to decorate his home in Liteň. He later accompanied Daubek on his honeymoon to Holland, and painted a portrait of the new couple.

Soon after returning from Paris, he and Mikoláš Aleš won a competition to decorate the foyer of the National Theatre with historical and allegorical designs. Ženíšek went on to decorate the auditorium ceiling and design a curtain, although the curtain was destroyed by a fire in 1881. He also designed windows at the church in Karlín and lunettes at the National Museum as well as over 80 portraits.

From 1885 to 1896, he was a Professor at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, where his assistant was Jakub Schikaneder. Then, from 1896 to 1915, he was a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, where his students included Jaroslav Špillar and Jan Preisler. In 1898, he was one of the founders of “Jednota umělců výtvarných” (Creative Artists), in an effort to strengthen the Czech nationalist viewpoint in the arts. His son, František (1877–1935) was also a painter of some note.

Above is his painting, “Oldřich and Božena” of 1884. Božena (Křesinová - died after 1052) was the second wife (and probably earlier the mistress) of Duke Oldřich of Bohemia and mother of Bretislaus I of Bohemia. The historian Cosmas of Prague recorded the legend of Oldřich and Božena, in his Chronica Boëmorum (“Chronicle of the Bohemians”). According to the legend, the young (and married) Oldřich set out on a hunt and travelled to Peruc. There, he spied a beautiful peasant girl, Božena, by a well known today as Božena's Spring and was immediately entranced by her. Oldřich abandoned his hunt and took Božena back to Prague, where she eventually gave birth to his illegitimate son Bretislaus. In the legend, Oldřich's first meeting with Božena took place in sight of the Oldřich Oak.

Božena was indeed the saviour of the Czech House of Přemysl. Oldřich had two brothers, but one of them, Jaromír, was castrated by the eldest sibling, Boleslaus III. Boleslaus himself was imprisoned in Poland, possibly having only a daughter. Thus Oldřich was the one Přemyslid able to have a son and heir. His first wife is thought to have borne no children. Božena’s low birth is alluded to in the chronicle of Cosmas, which states that Oldřich first met her “riding through the village”. The illegitimate birth of her son Bretislaus to a low-born mother is believed to have made it necessary for him to resort to abduction when he later sought to marry a noble bride (Judith of Schweinfurt). At any rate, she was held to be a peasant woman already by the author of the early 14th-century Chronicle of Dalimil.