Saturday 30 September 2017


“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.” - Edward Elgar 

Carolus Hacquart (the latinised form of his original name: Carel Hacquart) (c. 1640 - after 1686) was a Flemish composer and musician. He became one of the most important 17th-century composers in the Dutch Republic and possibly also worked in England.

Hacquart was born in Bruges around 1640. He received his education, comprising Latin and composition as well as viola da gamba, lute and organ, most probably in his native town. Records referring to a “Charges Akkert” who was accepted in September 1650 as a choirboy in the St. Salvator’s Church in Bruges suggest he may have been born later than 1640. His brother Philips is accepted the same year as a choirboy in another church in Bruges. At the end of the 1650s both brothers are recorded in Ghent where they are choirboys in different churches.

Attracted by the growth of musical life of the rich citizens of the Dutch Republic, his brother Philips moved to Amsterdam around 1670 where he was joined by Carolus a few years later. It seems the brothers never held official positions and both gained a living as free-lance musicians. In Calvinist Holland there was little interest in church music and the aristocracy generally was not supportive of the arts. The brothers therefore became musicians and music teachers to the well-off Dutch burghers.

Carolus moved in 1679 to The Hague, where he taught and organised concerts with the support of the elderly Constantijn Huygens, who was the chief counsellor of William III, the stadtholder and future king of England. Thanks to Huygens’ recommendation of Hacquart to the stadtholder Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, Hacquart could organise weekly concerts in the famous Mauritshuis. Hacquart was also an organist at the Old-Catholic church of The Hague.

To earn a living, Hacquart gave music classes to many wealthy patricians such as lawyers and other notables who made music in their spare time. One of his students was Willem Hoogendorp, the future mayor of Rotterdam to whom he dedicated his sonatas Harmonia Parnassia Sonatarum. In 1686 Hacquart composed 12 suites under the title Chelys which he dedicated to two of his students, the lawyers Pittenius and Kuysten. The words Chelys is Greek for ‘lyre’. In the 17th century it became the Latin term for any stringed instrument but in particular the viola da gamba.

Little is known about his life after 1686 and there is no trace of his life in the Dutch Republic after that date. Based on the possible identification with a person with a similar name (Charles Hakert) who was identified as a native of Holland in a document dated 16 July 1697, it is believed that he had then moved to England. The fact that the composer Gottfried Finger who worked at the English court owned a copy of Hacquart’s Chelys suggests that the two composers may have worked together in England. Hacquart died possibly in 1701.

Hacquart is the composer of the first opera in the Dutch language with the title De Triomfeerende Min (Triumphant Love). The opera was based on a text by Dirk Buysero (nl) which he wrote on the occasion of the Treaty of Nijmegen of 1678. The opera was not performed during Hacquart’s lifetime. The first known performance dates to 1920 when the piece was performed in Arnhem. Unfortunately most of the music of this opera has to be considered lost.

Three other publications of his music have survived. His first published work is the Cantiones Sacrae, which consists of religious pieces for vocal soloists, choir and instrumentalists, which could be sung by both Catholics and Protestants (1674). His second published work is the Harmonia Parnassia Sonatarum, which is a collection of 10 sonatas for two or three violins and basso continuo (1686).

His third published work Chelys (1686) consists of 12 suites that can be performed by one viol, two viols or one viol with a basso continuo accompaniment. Only one copy of the gamba part of Chelys survives. The bass part is lost. The work of Hacquart belongs to the best music composed in the 17th century Netherlands. In particular, the instrumental sonatas from his opus 2, Harmonia Parnassia Sonatarum stand out. Copies of Hacquart’s works are kept in the library of Durham Cathedral, England.

Here are some sonatas of Chelys, performed by Guido Balestracci (Viola da Gamba), Nicola Dal Maso (Violone), Rafael Bonavita (Archlute), Massimilano Raschietti (Continuo).
Suite no 6 in D major
Suite no 10 in A minor
Suite no 8 in E minor
Suite no 12 in C major
Suite no 11 in G minor
Suite no 9 in F major

Friday 29 September 2017


“I’m not a vegetarian! I’m a dessertarian!” ― Bill Watterson 

Occasionally, we like to spoil ourselves and any ideas of healthful food and diets goes out of the window – not all that often, but once every blue moon one must gourmandise… These individual peach trifle parfaits hit the spot and the recipe is easily adaptable to utilise seasonal fruits or even suited to raiding the pantry for rustling up an impressive looking and tasting dessert in a few minutes. Such was the case recently when I did not have much on hand except a can of peaches in nectar, some berries, cream, jelly powder, mascarpone and pavesini biscuits.

Peach Trifle Cups

1 can (400 g) of sliced peaches in nectar
2 tbsp maraschino liqueur
About 25-30 pavesini biscuits (or ≈15 savoiardi biscuits)
85 g pack of passionfruit flavoured jelly (may use other flavours)
250 g mascarpone cheese
5-6 dessert spoonfuls of caster sugar
Vanilla essence
600 mL of whipping cream
Berries as available 

Make the jelly first according to the packet instructions. Pour into a flat baking tray and allow to set (making it flat and thin cuts down on setting time if you are rushing).
Prepare the cream by softening the mascarpone and adding an equal quantity of cream, the sugar and vanilla essence and whisking into a velvety consistency.
Break each of the biscuits into 3-4 pieces and lay on the bottom of a parfait glass, champagne bowl glass or dessert glass (recipe makes 6-7 portions).

Drain the peach slices and reserve the nectar. Cut the slices of peach into 3-4 portions and spoon some of these into each of the receptacles, over the biscuits, adding a few berries here and there. Mix the liqueur into the nectar and spoon equal volumes of this over the biscuits and peach pieces.
Take the cooled, set jelly and cut into 1 cm square pieces. Put some jelly pieces over the mascarpone cream.
Whip the remaining cream and pipe over each dessert. Decorate with berries or as you like. Chill before serving (preferably for at least 2-3 hours to allow the biscuits to soften and the flavours to meld).

Thursday 28 September 2017


“Gardening with herbs, which is becoming increasingly popular, is indulged in by those who like subtlety in their plants in preference to brilliance.” – Helen Morgenthau Fox 

Apium nodiflorum (synonym Helosciadium nodiflorum), commonly called “fool’s-watercress”, is a flowering plant found in ditches or streams and native to western Europe. It is a low-growing or prostrate perennial with pinnate leaves which have a vague resemblance to those of watercress. It is classified in the Apiaceae family. 

Apium nodiflorum has short-stalked umbels of very small white 5-petalled flowers which are opposite the leaves and grow from the side of the stem at the leaf axils. It blooms in Summer (July and August). It is not a poisonous plant, but it could be easily confused with the allegedly poisonous lesser water parsnip – Berula erecta. It is common throughout England, Wales and Ireland but is much less so in Scotland. 

Apium nodiflorum is also sometimes known by the name of “Lebanese cress”, although many nurseries that sell it give it the incorrect botanical name of Aethionema cordifolium, which is an unrelated plant in the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family and which looks like nothing the real thing! 

Apium nodiflorum is an easy herb to grow and once it is established it can be difficult to eradicate! It grows well in shady, moist spots and will do well as a pond plant growing in a clay pot filled with soil and submerged in your pond. It happily grows all year and the tender young leafy shoots are the ones that harvested. It is a good source of aromatic greens for salads and soups. The leaves are a good source of vitamins A, B, C, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

The flavour of the herb is earthy and fresh, somewhat like a cross between celery and carrot. Fresh, it is a welcome addition to green, leafy seasonal salads, coleslaws, potato salad, sandwiches and soups. It can be used to add flavour when cooking spinach, and various other stewing herbs or wild greens (see here).

The leafy parts of the herb added to a bouquet carry the message: “I am not what I seem”. If flowers are included, it changes its meaning to: “I have revealed my true nature to you”.

Tuesday 26 September 2017


“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” - Grace Hopper 

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.  
Galaxidi or Galaxeidi (Greek: Γαλαξίδι/Γαλαξείδι), is a town and a former municipality in the southern part of Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is a municipal unit. The municipal unit has an area of 126.088 km2. Galaxidi has a small harbour on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth. It is 7 km southwest of Itea, 15 km southwest of Delphi, 17 km south of Amfissa and 48 km east of Naupactus. The Greek National Road 48 connects Galaxidi with Naupactus, Itea and Delphi. Galaxidi is a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from the capital Athens and a relatively popular weekend retreat.

Modern Galaxidi is built on the site of ancient Haleion, a city of western Locris. Traces of habitation are discernible since prehistoric times with a peak in the Early Helladic Period (Anemokambi, Pelekaris, Kefalari, islet of Apsifia). A significant Mycenaean settlement has been located at Villa; the hill of St. Athanasios also revealed a fortified Geometric settlement (ca. 700 BC). In the Archaic and Classical periods (7th-4th centuries BC) was developed the administrative and religious centre at the modern site of Agios Vlasis. It seems that in ca. 300 BC the present site was settled and surrounded by a fortification wall; it is the period of the expansion of power of the Aetolian League. Haleion flourished throughout the Hellenistic and Roman periods until the 2nd century AD.

Galaxidi is a small port situated on a natural double harbour surrounded by mountains. The deeper main harbour provides docking facilities for yachts and small fishing boats and is lined with restaurants, bars, and stores. The smaller harbour is Chirolaka. On the rocky shoreline by the side of the larger harbour, is a pine forest planted by school children in the early twentieth century. There is a road behind the town that leads up the mountain to the Monastery of the Metamorphosis (actually a convent that was inhabited by one nun as of 2010). This provides a splendid view of the town and its surroundings. No traces remain of the town's medieval castle. The Church of Saint John of Jerusalem, built by the Hospitallers in 1404, survived until after World War I, when it was replaced by a modern church dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

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. 

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Monday 25 September 2017


“I think that any time of great pain is a time of transformation, a fertile time to plant new seeds.” - Debbie Ford 

Wadj-wer is an Egyptian god of fertility whose name means the “Great Green”. It was commonly believed that Wadj-wer was a personification of the Mediterranean Sea; however, it is apparently more likely that he rather represented the lagoons and lakes in the northernmost Nile Delta, as suggested by some texts describing the “great green” as dry lands which could be crossed by foot, possibly a mention of the edge between two or more lakes.

The earliest known attestation of Wadj-wer is dated back to the 5th Dynasty, in the mortuary temple of the pyramid of Sahure, at Abusir; here, he appears similar to the god Hapi, but with his body filled by water ripples. He also appears on the walls of the much later (20th Dynasty) tomb QV55 of prince Amunherkhepeshef, son of pharaoh Ramesses III.

Just as Hapi embodies the fertility made possible by the Nile’s annual inundation, Wadj-wer embodies the productivity of the ‘Great Green’, especially fishing. In PT utterance 366, the king is compared to Wadj-wer: “You are hale and great in your name of ‘Sea’; behold, you are great and round [i.e. encircling] in your name of ‘Ocean’.” 

Most references to Wadj-wer, however, denote a place rather than a divinity, albeit sometimes it is a mythic locale: In the Conflict of Horus and Seth, the three-month combat between Horus and Seth in the form of hippopotami is said to take place in the wadj-wer.

The only myth we know in which Wadj-wer features, and which is known in very fragmentary fashion, told of how Seth subdued the sea on behalf of the other Gods. The myth is possibly to be regarded as originally involving the Canaanite Gods Ba’al and Yamm. Indeed, in one of the attestations of the myth, reference is made indifferently first to Seth, then to Ba’al. In a spell against “the Asiatic disease,” it is said that the disease is to be conjured by Seth “just as Seth conjured Wadj-wer”.

Sunday 24 September 2017


“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.” ― FyodorDostoyevsky 

Alexei Kondratyevich Savrasov (Russian: Алексе́й Кондра́тьевич Савра́сов - May 24, 1830 – October 8, 1897) was a Russian landscape painter and creator of the lyrical landscape style. Savrasov was born into the family of a merchant. He began to draw early and in 1838 he enrolled as a student of professor Karl Rabus (1800-1857) at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (MSPSA). He graduated in 1850 and immediately began to specialise in landscape painting. In 1852, he travelled to Ukraine. Then, in 1854 by the invitation of the Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna, President of the Imperial Academy of Arts, he moved to St. Petersburg.

In 1857, Savrasov became a teacher at the MSPSA. His best students, Isaac Levitan and Konstantin Korovin, remembered their teacher with admiration and gratitude. In 1857, he married Sophia Karlovna Hertz, sister of the art historian Karl Hertz (1820-1883). In their home they entertained artistic people and collectors including Pavel Tretyakov. Savrasov became especially close with Vasily Perov. Perov helped him paint the figures of the boat trackers in Savrasov’s “Volga near Yuryevets”, while Savrasov painted the landscapes for Perov’s “Bird Catcher” and “Hunters on Bivouac”.

In the 1860s, he travelled to England to see the International Exhibition, and then onto Switzerland. In one of his letters he wrote that no academies in the world could so advance an artist as the present world exhibition. The painters who influenced him most were British painter John Constable and Swiss painter Alexandre Calame. 

“The Rooks Have Come Back” (1871) is considered by many critics to be the high point in Savrasov’s artistic career. Using a common, even trivial, episode of birds returning home, and an extremely simple landscape, Savrasov showed the transition of nature from winter to spring in an emotional and involving manner. It was a new type of lyrical landscape painting, called later by critics the “mood landscape”. The painting brought him fame.

In 1870, he became a member of the Peredvizhniki group, breaking with government-sponsored academic art. In the late 1870s, he gradually became an alcoholic. The process may have begun with the death of his daughter in 1871, which led to a crisis in his art and, possibly, dissatisfaction with his artistic career. In 1882, he was dismissed from his position at the MSPSA. All attempts of his relatives and friends to help him were in vain. His work suffered dramatically and the last years of his life were spent in poverty. He was usually drunk and often dressed in rags. Finally, he found himself wandering from shelter to shelter. Only the doorkeeper of the MSPSA and Pavel Tretyakov, founder of the Tretyakov Gallery, were present at his funeral in 1897.

The painting above is his “Rasputitsa – Sea of Mud”, painted in 1894. The winter landscape is bleak and despite the thawing of the snow, mud is revealed and no hopeful sign of green. Painted after Savrasov became an alcoholic and after being dismissed from his position at the School, the painting encapsulates the desperate situation the artist found himself in. Three years later he would be dead.