Saturday 8 July 2017


“There are two great days in a person’s life - the day we are born and the day we discover why.” - William Barclay 

Nicola (Nicolò) Fiorenza (born after 1700 in Naples; died 13 April 1764) was an Italian violinist and composer of the Neapolitan Baroque period.

Reliable biographical information concerning Fiorenza is extremely scarce, thus little is known about his schooling. Fiorenza was educated at the Conservatory of S. Maria di Loreto, presumably also by Francesco Barbella. In 1726 Fiorenza was a cellist in the Neapolitan Royal Chapel (Court) orchestra, replacing Francesco Alborea who had moved to Vienna. He later got a steady job as a violinist.

In 1743 Fiorenza and four other equally qualified candidates were vying to become the head of the strings class at the Conservatory. The decision was to be made by drawing lots. Fiorenza drew the winning lot and became teacher of the class of the Institute that was led by Francesco Durante. However, from around 1760, claims were made against Fiorenza that he beat and mistreated his students resulting in some of them abandoning their studies. For this reason, the management of the Conservatory was forced to dismiss Fiorenza in 1762. From 1758 he held the post of concert master or head violinist of the Royal Chapel Orchestra, as successor to Domenico de Matteis.

At the end of 1762 Fiorenza was fired from the Conservatory owing to longstanding complaints about his rough treatment of musicians. Fiorenza died less than two years later, and little else is known about his life.

Fiorenza’s musical legacy consists of about thirty traditional hand-written compositions that date from the period between 1726 and 1736. However, it is assumed that during the period he taught at the Conservatory he wrote more works. His surviving works, mostly instrumental, are collected in a manuscript at the Naples Conservatory S. Pietro a Majella: Fifteen concertos for different combinations of instruments and nine symphonies, some of which are enlivened by virtuoso solos or wind instruments, which make them comparable to the concerto form. The currently available works include violin sonatas, trio sonatas, string symphonies with three and four violins and solo concerts for various instruments. Stylistically, his works range from the strict pattern of Corelli’s church sonatas to the ‘galant’ work of Durante.

Here are some of his concertos and chamber works performed by Dolce & Tempesta:
Concerto for flute, violin, viola, cello & continuo in F minor
Concerto for 2 violins, cello obbligato & continuo in D major
Concerto for 3 violins & continuo in A minor
Trio Sonata for violin & continuo in G major
Concerto for 2 violins, viola, cello obbligato & continuo in D major
Sinfonia for flute, 2 violins & continuo in A minor

The painting above is Salvatore Fergola’s (Napoli, 24 aprile 1796 – Napoli, 7 marzo 1874). “Il Vesuvio fumante con un tratto della ferrovia Torre Annunziata-Nocera”.

Friday 7 July 2017


“Wilful waste makes woeful want.” – English proverb

Do you have some cream that has been in your fridge a few days past its use-by date? You know it’s still good, smells OK, but maybe it’s just turning? Well, use it all up by baking some scones that need some of this “turning” cream and no butter, nor eggs. They will taste wonderful and fluffy and there will be no hint of sourness! 

450g self-raising flour, plus extra to dust
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons icing sugar
200mL thickened cream (“turning”)
125 mL cold water
Pinch of salt
Vanilla essence
Some sultanas (optional)
Milk, to brush 

Place an oven rack in the top third of oven. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 200˚C. Lightly dust baking paper with self-raising flour and place on a metal baking sheet.
Sift flour, baking powder and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the sultanas (if you are using them) and stir to cover with flour. Add the cream, vanilla essence and the cold water. Cut and fold mixture using a spatula until it starts to come together.
Form mixture into a ball with floured hands. Place ball on baking paper, dust fingertips with flour and knead lightly until just smooth and slightly springy. Do not overwork. Mould the dough to roughly form a square, about 2cm deep.
Dust the spatula with flour and use the edge to cut the dough into scone shapes. Gently separate each scone.
Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk. Bake the scones for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Split the warm scones and serve with thick cream or butter, and jam or marmalade if desired.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Tuesday 4 July 2017


“Nationalism: The curious notion that barbarism becomes a virtue when it reaches tribal proportions.”― Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewsky

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.
Los Angeles (Spanish for “The Angels”), officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the cultural, financial, and commercial centre of Southern California. With a U.S. Census-estimated 2016 population of 3,976,322, it is the second-most populous city in the United States (after New York City) and the most populous city in the state of California. Located in a large coastal basin surrounded on three sides by mountains reaching up to and over 3,000 m, Los Angeles covers an area of about 1,210 km2. The city is also the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the country. Los Angeles is the centre of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, with 13,131,431 residents, and is part of the larger designated Los Angeles-Long Beach combined statistical area (CSA), the second most populous in the nation with a 2015 estimated population of 18.7 million.

Los Angeles City Hall (above), completed 1928, is the centre of the government of the city of Los Angeles, California, and houses the mayor’s office and the meeting chambers and offices of the Los Angeles City Council. It is located in the Civic Center district of downtown Los Angeles in the city block bounded by Main, Temple, First, and Spring streets.

The building was designed by John Parkinson, John C. Austin, and Albert C. Martin, Sr., and was completed in 1928. Dedication ceremonies were held on April 26, 1928. It has 32 floors and, at 138 m high, is the tallest base-isolated structure in the world, having undergone a seismic retrofit from 1998 to 2001 so that the building will sustain minimal damage and remain functional after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake.The concrete in its tower was made with sand from each of California's 58 counties and water from its 21 historical missions.

City Hall’s distinctive tower was based on the shape of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, and shows the influence of the Los Angeles Public Library, completed shortly before the structure was begun. An image of City Hall has been on Los Angeles Police Department badges since 1940. To keep the City’s architecture harmonious, prior to the late 1950s the Charter of the City of Los Angeles did not permit any portion of any building other than a purely decorative tower to be more than 46 m. Therefore, from its completion in 1928 until 1964, the City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles, and shared the skyline with only a few structures having decorative towers, including the Richfield Tower and the Eastern Columbia Building.

City Hall has an observation deck, free to the public and open Monday through Friday during business hours. The peak of the pyramid at the top of the building is an airplane beacon named in honour of Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, cf Lindbergh Beacon. Circa 1939, there was an art gallery, in Room 351 on the third floor, that exhibited paintings by California artists. The building was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1976. 

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.

I am sorry this meme has been late in getting online this week, I have been very busy with work, which kind of gets in the way of doing more pleasant things...

Monday 3 July 2017


“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.” - Terry Pratchett 

Bastet was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion, worshiped as early as the 2nd Dynasty (2890 BCE). As Bast, she was the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt. Her name is also translated as Baast, Ubaste, and Baset. In Greek mythology, she is also known as Ailuros (Greek for “cat”, αἴλουρος). The uniting Egyptian cultures had deities that shared similar roles and usually the same imagery.

In Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was the parallel warrior lioness deity. Often similar deities merged into one with the unification, but that did not occur with these deities having such strong roots in their cultures. Instead, these goddesses began to diverge. During the 22nd Dynasty (c. 945–715 BCE), Bast had transformed from a lioness warrior deity into a major protector deity represented as a cat. Bastet, the name associated with this later identity, is the name commonly used by scholars today to refer to this deity.

What the name of the goddess means remains uncertain. One recent suggestion by Stephen Quirke (Ancient Egyptian Religion) explains it as meaning “She of the ointment jar”. This ties in with the observation that her name was written with the hieroglyph for ointment jar (bas) and that she was associated with protective ointments, among other things. The name of the material known as “alabaster” might, through Greek, come from the name of the goddess.

Bastet was originally a lioness warrior goddess of the sun throughout most of ancient Egyptian history, but later she was changed into the cat goddess, which is familiar today. Greeks occupying ancient Egypt toward the end of its civilisation changed her into a goddess of the moon. As protector of Lower Egypt, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra. Along with the other lioness goddesses, she would occasionally be depicted as the embodiment of the Eye of Ra. She has been depicted as fighting the evil snake named Apep, an enemy of Ra.

Images of Bastet were often created from alabaster. The goddess was sometimes depicted holding a ceremonial sistrum in one hand and an aegis in the other (the aegis usually resembling a collar or gorget embellished with a lioness head). Her name was associated with the lavish jars in which Egyptians stored their ointment used as perfume. Bastet thus gradually became regarded as the goddess of perfumes, earning the title of perfumed protector. In connection with this, when Anubis became the god of embalming, Bastet came to be regarded as his wife for a short period of time. Bastet was also depicted as the goddess of protection against contagious diseases and evil spirits.

Bastet was a local deity whose religious sect was centered in the city of Bubastis, which lay in the Nile Delta near what is known as Zagazig today. The town, known in Egyptian as pr-bastt (also transliterated as Per-Bast), carries her name, literally meaning House of Bast. It was known in Greek as Boubastis (Βούβαστις) and translated into Hebrew as Pî-beset, spelled without the initial ‘t’ sound of the last syllable. In the biblical Book of Ezekiel 30:17, the town appears in the Hebrew form Pibeseth.

More than 300,000 mummified cats were discovered when Bastet’s temple was excavated. Some mummies of people have been found to have their pet cats mummified and placed in their tombs with them. The main source of information about the Bastet cult comes from Herodotus who visited Bubastis around 450 BCE after the changes in the religious sect. He equated Bastet with the Greek Goddess Artemis. He wrote extensively about the religious sect. Turner and Bateson suggest that the status of the cat was roughly equivalent to that of the cow in modern India. The death of a cat might leave a family in great mourning and those who could would have them embalmed or buried in cat cemeteries—pointing to the great prevalence of the cult of Bastet. Extensive burials of cat remains were found not only at Bubastis, but also at Beni Hasan and Saqqara. In 1888, a farmer uncovered a plot of many hundreds of thousands of cats in Beni Hasan.

Cats in ancient Egypt were revered highly, partly due to their ability to combat vermin such as mice, rats (which threatened key food supplies), and snakes, especially cobras. Cats of royalty were, in some instances, known to be dressed in golden jewelry and were allowed to eat from their owners’ plates. Because domestic cats tend to be tender and protective of their offspring, Bastet was also regarded as a good mother, and she was sometimes depicted with numerous kittens. Consequently, a woman who wanted children sometimes wore an amulet showing the goddess with kittens, the number of which indicated her own desired number of children.

Sunday 2 July 2017


“To live without hope is to cease to live.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky 

Sergey Vasilyevich Ivanov (Russian: Сергей Васильевич Иванов; 1864-1910) was a Russian genre and history painter, known for his Social Realism. His father was a tax collector for the Customs Service. Sergey displayed an early talent for art, but his father was opposed on the grounds that it would not be a secure way to make a living so, at the age of eleven, he was enrolled at the Konstantinov Land Surveying Institute.

Surveying was not to his liking and he was an indifferent student, so a family friend who was an amateur artist encouraged his father to send him to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (MSPSA). With a recommendation from Vasily Perov, he began attending classes there in 1878; studying with Illarion Pryanishnikov and Evgraf Sorokin. He left there in 1882 to attend the Imperial Academy of Arts.

Dissatisfaction with the Academy’s administration, as well as financial difficulties forced him to return to Moscow in 1884. He went back to the MSPSA and graduated in 1885. At that time he started work on a series of paintings devoted to “Pereselenchestvo”, the process of resettling peasants to outlying, vacant areas (mostly in Siberia) in an attempt to ease overcrowding in the villages after the Emancipation reform of 1861. The move was often very arduous and many died on the way. From 1885 to 1889, he toured the provinces of Samara, Saratov, Astrakhan and Orenburg, documenting the migrants’ lives. This was followed by a series on convicts.

In the mid 1890s, he began to focus on historical works. In 1899, he became a member of the Peredvizhniki, but was soon dissatisfied with their emphasis on “lovely scenes”. In 1903, he was one of the founders of the “Union of Russian Artists”, temporarily replacing the better-known “Mir Isskutsva”. In 1905, the Imperial Academy conferred on him the title of “Academician”. Later that year, during the Moscow Uprising, he made numerous sketches while also helping the wounded. From 1903 to 1910, he taught at the MSPSA. He was also known as an illustrator, creating drawings for classics by Gogol, Lermontov and Pushkin, among others. He died of a heart attack at his dacha near the Yakhroma River.

The painting above is “Death of a Migrant” from 1889. The stark realism of this work draws attention to the plight of the countless peasants who were resettled willy-nilly to the under-populated Siberian plains. Many did not make it and Ivanov records in this painting the fate of the hapless family who have lost father and husband on the migration route.