Saturday 15 July 2017


“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 Friedrich Richter 

Johann Philipp Kirnberger (also Kernberg; 24 April 1721, Saalfeld – 27 July 1783, Berlin) was a musician, composer (primarily of fugues), and music theorist. He was a student of Johann Sebastian Bach. According to Ingeborg Allihn, Kirnberger played a significant role in the intellectual and cultural exchange between Germany and Poland in the mid-18th century.

Between 1741 and 1751 Kirnberger lived and worked in Poland for powerful magnates including Lubomirski, Poninski, and Rzewuski before ending up at the Benedictine Cloister in Lvov (then part of Poland). He spent much time collecting Polish national dances and compiled them in his treatise “Die Charaktere der Taenze” (Allihn 1995, 211). He became a violinist at the court of Frederick II of Prussia in 1751. He was the music director to the Prussian Princess Anna Amalia from 1758 until his death.

Kirnberger greatly admired J.S. Bach, and sought to secure the publication of all of Bach’s chorale settings, which finally appeared after Kirnberger’s death; see Kirnberger chorale preludes (BWV 690–713). Many of Bach’s manuscripts have been preserved in Kirnberger's library (the “Kirnberger collection”).He is known today primarily for his theoretical work “Die Kunst des reinen Satzes in der Musik” (The Art of Strict Composition in Music, 1774, 1779).

The well-tempered tuning systems known as “Kirnberger II” and “Kirnberger III” are associated with his name, as is a rational version of equal temperament.

Here are some of his flute sonatas played by Frank Theuns (flute), Richte van der Meer and Ewald Demeyere (continuo).

Friday 14 July 2017


“There is luck in the last helping.” – Japanese Proverb

The other day I tried some thick, light and fluffy pancakes, which were delicious. These are said to be Japanese in origin, but an acquaintance of ours calls them “Scottish Griddle Cakes”. They are full of calories, but who is going to have them every day? They are a nice indulgence once every blue moon… 

Thick Fluffy Pancakes
2 large eggs
200 mL full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
220 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
30 g caster sugar 

Place eggs, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with a whisk until light and fluffy. Add in remaining ingredients. Whisk until batter is smooth.
Let batter rest for about 15 minutes, by which time it should have thickened considerably. Preheat your pan (if electric, heat to 150˚C) – don’t overheat as the pancakes will burn on the outside and not cook on the inside.
Use moulds 10 cm diameter and 3 cm tall and grease them well with cooking oil spray. Lightly grease the surface of your pan also. Place moulds onto pan.
Fill moulds halfway with batter, as they will rise to twice as high when finished. Let batter cook until bubbles form and break on the surface and the edges look cooked. Slowly place a large spatula underneath the pancake, until all of the pancake is on the spatula. Quickly flip the mould and pancake pushing the mould back down on the pan. You want to prevent the uncooked batter from spilling away from the mould.
Cook for a few more minutes until pancake is done when the pancake should easily pop out of the mould when you lift it.
Repeat with remaining batter and serve pancakes with toppings of your choice.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday 13 July 2017


“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” - Jacques Yves Cousteau 

Crithmum is a genus of flowering plant with the sole species Crithmum maritimum, in the Apiaceae family, known as samphire, rock samphire, or sea fennel. Rock samphire is an edible wild plant. It is found on southern and western coasts of Britain and Ireland, on Mediterranean and western coasts of Europe including the Canary Islands, North Africa and the Black Sea. “Samphire” is a name also used for several other unrelated species of coastal plant.

The name of the genus Crithmum comes from the Greek κριθη (krithe), “barley”, due to the shape of the seeds similar to those of the barley whilst the name of the species maritimum = maritime in Latin refers to its habitat. κρηθμος and κρηθμον (krethmos and krethmon) are the Greek names with which the plant was called. The common name samphire comes from “sampere”, that is “St. Pierre”, St Peter’s herb as this saint is the patron of fishermen.

In the 17th century, Shakespeare referred to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs. “Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!”  In the 19th century, samphire was being shipped in casks of seawater from the Isle of Wight to market in London at the end of May each year. Rock samphire used to be cried in London streets as “Crest Marine”. In England, rock samphire was cultivated in gardens, where it grows readily in a light, rich soil. Obtaining seed commercially is now difficult, and in the United Kingdom the removal of wild plants is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The reclaimed piece of land adjoining Dover, called Samphire Hoe, is named after rock samphire. The land was created from spoil from the Channel Tunnel, and rock samphire used to be harvested from the neighbouring cliffs.

Rock samphire has fleshy, divided aromatic leaves that Culpeper described as having a “pleasant, hot and spicy taste”. The stems, leaves and seedpods may be pickled in hot, salted, spiced vinegar, or the leaves used fresh in salads. Richard Mabey gives several recipes for samphire, although it is possible that at least one of these may refer to marsh samphire or glasswort (Salicornia europaea), a very common confusion.

Samphire is quite a salt-resistant plant, but also very resistant to the drought and is one of the few Mediterranean plants blooming in full summer. Its deep roots that seek out nutrients and moisture deep in the soil, as well as its waxy, thick leaves and stems contribute to these characteristics.

It is a robust plant with irregular, ramified stems, grooved, often woody at the base, forming bushy aggregates of more than 50 cm diameter. The leaves are basal, waxy, compound, bi-tripinnatosect formed by 1-2 cm lanceolate pointed leaflets, fleshy, similar to those of a succulent plant, of glaucous-green colour with a long petiole having at the base a sheath wrapping the stem. The flowers, present from July to September, are small, of 2-4 mm, with white or yellowish, more rarely pinkish, rounded petals, carried in umbels with 10-30 rays, in their turn subdivided in umbellets surrounded by bracts. The rhizomatous root is fleshy but with tough cover, creeping for a distance of up to five metres. The oval fruits are formed by two achenes and are crossed by 10 longitudinal ribs. When ripe, in late summer, they have purple tinge.

Samphire has a rich spicy, slightly salty taste, its flavour a little akin to fennel with a touch of mint.  The fleshy young leaves can be enjoyed raw in salads, as well as chopped finely and added to aromatic sauces. The herb can also be sauteéd in butter as an accompaniment to meat courses, and it can be fried or pickled. Its high vitamin C content makes it a potent antiscorbutic.

In the language of flowers samphire foliage means “I shall sail away”, and if accompanied by flowers, expands its meaning to “will you be my bride on my return?”.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 12 July 2017


“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” - Oprah Winfrey 

"Elsa & Fred" (2014) Romantic Comedy/Drama – Director: Michael Radford; starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Harden – 6.5/10 

“Elsa & Fred” is the story of two people who at the end of the road, discover that it’s never too late to love and make dreams come true. Elsa has lived for the past 60 years dreaming of a moment that Fellini had already envisaged: The scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ at the Fontana di Trevi. The same scene without Anita Ekberg in it, but with Elsa instead. Without Marcello Mastroianni but with that love that took so long to arrive. Fred has always been a good man who did everything he was supposed to do. After losing his wife, he feels disturbed and confused and his daughter decides that it would be best if he moves into a smaller apartment where he ends meeting Elsa.

From that moment on, everything changes. Elsa bursts into his life like a whirlwind, determined to teach him that the time he has left to live (be it more or less) is precious and that he should enjoy it as he pleases. Fred surrenders to Elsa’s frenzy, to her youth, to her boldness, to her beautiful madness.

We watched this film last weekend and it kept us amused and interested, although it was a little predictable and just a tad saccharine sweet. Both Shirley McLaine and Christopher Plummer act according to type, and the romance they play out in the twilight years of the characters they portray adds a twinge of a bitter taste to the sweetness. OK to watch on a wintry afternoon, as we did.

Tuesday 11 July 2017


“The attainment of the present status of Thailand has to depend on the ability or the actions of all the inhabitants of the country.” - Bhumibol Adulyadej 

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.
Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over 8 million, or 12.6 percent of the country’s population. Over 14 million people live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, significantly dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centres in terms of importance.

 Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of the modernisation of Siam, later renamed Thailand, during the late 19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was at the centre of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and several uprisings.

The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact on Thailand’s politics, economy, education, media and modern society. The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a major regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and health care, and has emerged as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment. The city is well known for its vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts.

The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is among the world’s top tourist destinations. It is named the most visited city in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, and was named “World’s Best City” for four consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Bangkok’s rapid growth amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have led to chronic and crippling traffic congestion, which caused severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Five rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

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 10 July 2017


“Archaeologists are underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty.” - John Agar 

The Uraeus (plural Uraei; from the Greek οὐραῖος, ouraîos, “on its tail”; from Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), “rearing cobra”) is the stylised, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

 The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet. She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The centre of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt. The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: Either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet’s protection and reinforced the pharaoh’s claim over the land. In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh’s head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh’s crown.

The pharaoh was recognised only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well. At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, the goddess who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt. The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as the nebty or The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt.

Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei. Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. Wadjets are also the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, and the Eye of Ra (depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols).

As the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, the deities Horus and Set were also depicted wearing the symbol on their crowns. In early ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus would have been the name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being identified as the son of the goddess Isis. According to the later mythology of Re, the first Uraeus was said to have been created by the goddess Isis, who formed it from the dust of the earth and the spittle of the then-current sun deity. In this version of the mythology, the Uraeus was the instrument with which Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris. Isis is associated with and may be considered an aspect of Wadjet.

Sunday 9 July 2017


“A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace   

Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi (or Kuinji; Russian: Архи́п Ива́нович Куи́нджи; Ukrainian: Архи́п Іва́нович Куї́нджі; January 27, 1842(?) – July 24, 1910) was a Russian landscape painter of Greek descent. 

Arkhip Kuindzhi was born in January 1842 (1841?) in Mariupol (nowadays Ukraine). His Christian name is a Russian and Ukrainian rendering of the Greek, Ἄρχιππος, (Archippos, from ἄρχων (archon) “master” and ἱππος (hippos) “horse”, i.e. “master of horses”; cf. Colossians 4:17;) and his surname came from his grandfather’s vocational nickname meaning “goldsmith” in Tatar (cf. Turkish, kuyumcu).

He grew up in a poor family; his father was a Greek shoemaker, Ivan Khristoforovich Kuindzhi (sometimes spelt Emendzhi). Arkhip was six years old when he lost his parents, so he was forced to make a living working at a church building site, grazing domestic animals, and working at the corn merchant’s shop. He received the rudiments of an education from a Greek friend of the family who was a teacher and then went to the local school. In 1855, at age 13–14, Kuindzhi visited Feodosia to study art under Ivan Aivazovsky, however, he was engaged merely with mixing paints and instead studied with Adolf Fessler, Aivazovsky’s student.

A 1903 encyclopaedic article stated: “Although Kuindzhi cannot be called a student of Aivazovsky, the latter had without doubt some influence on him in the first period of his activity; from whom he borrowed much in the manner of painting.” English art historian John E. Bowlt wrote that “…the elemental sense of light and form associated with Aivazovsky’s sunsets, storms, and surging oceans permanently influenced the young Kuindzhi.” 

During the five years from 1860 to 1865, Kuindzhi worked as a retoucher in the photography studio of Simeon Isakovich in Taganrog. He tried to open his own photography studio, but without success. After that Kuindzhi left Taganrog for Saint Petersburg. He studied painting mainly independently and at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (from 1868; a full member since 1893). He was co-partner of travelling art exhibitions (Peredvizhniki), a group of Russian realist artists who in protest to academic restrictions formed an artists’ cooperative which evolved into the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions (Peredvizhniki) in 1870.

In 1872 the artist left the academy and worked as a freelancer. The painting “On the Valaam Island” was the first artwork which Pavel Tretyakov acquired for his art gallery. In 1873 Kuindzhi exhibited his painting “The Snow”, which received the bronze medal at the International Art Exhibition in London in 1874. In the middle of the 1870s he created a number of paintings in which the landscape motif was designed for concrete social associations in the spirit of Peredvizhniki (“Forgotten Village”, 1874; “Chumatski Path”, 1875; both – in the Tretyakov Gallery).

In his mature period Kuindzhy aspired to capture the most expressive illuminative aspect of the natural condition. He applied composite receptions (high horizon, etc.), creating panoramic views. Using light effects and intense colours shown in main tones, he depicted the illusion of naturalistic lighting effects (“Evening in Ukraine”, 1876; “Birch Grove”, 1879; “After a Thunderstorm”, 1879; all three are in the Tretyakov Gallery; “Night on the Dniepr”, 1880 in the Russian Museum, St.Petersburg).

His later works are remarkable for their decorative effects of colour building. Kuindzhi lectured at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (Professor since 1892; professor-head of landscape workshop since 1894; but was fired in 1897 for support of students’ protests). Among his students were artists such as Arkady Rylov, Nicholas Roerich, Konstantin Bogaevsky, and others. Kuindzhi initiated creation of the Society of Artists (1909; later – the Society was named after A.I. Kuindzhi).

The painting above is his “Morning on the Dniepr” and shows his mastery of light and space, with a deceptively simple composition and a reduction of detail in the background that makes it seem quite modern, although most his landscapes would be described as “realistic”.