Saturday 7 October 2017


“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”― Tom Waits 

Antoine Forqueray (September 1671 – 28 June 1745) was a French composer and virtuoso of the viola da gamba. Forqueray, born in Paris, was the first in a line of composers which included his brother Michel (1681–1757) and his sons Jean-Baptiste (1699–1782) and Nicolas Gilles (1703–1761).

Forqueray’s exceptional talents as a player led to his performing before Louis XIV at the age of ten. The king was so pleased with him that he arranged for Forqueray to have music lessons at his own expense and then, seven years later, in 1689, named him Musicien Ordinaire de La Chambre du Roy a position Forqueray held until the end of his life. To supplement his official income he gave lucrative private lessons to members of the royal family and the aristocracy.

In Louis XIV's later years the normal routine of concerts at the court of Versailles was augmented by Mme de Maintenon. She arranged almost daily performances in her apartments by such musicians as Robert de Visée (guitar), René Descoteaux (flute), Jean-Baptise Buterne (harpsichord) as well as Forqueray.

At the time of Forqueray’s appointment the most renowned viol player at court was Marin Marais, who was famous for his sweet and gentle musical style. Forqueray in contrast became renowned for his dramatic, striking and brash style. According to Hubert Le Blanc Marais played like an angel, and Forqueray like the devil. The Mercure de France of 1738 chided both Antoine and his son Jean-Baptiste-Antoine for writing pieces ‘so difficult that only he and his son can execute them with grace.’ Forqueray’s style was so distinctive that three of his near-contemporaries Jean-Philippe Rameau, François Couperin and Jacques Duphly each composed a piece named ‘La Forqueray’ as a tribute to him.

In 1697 Forqueray married Henriette-Angélique Houssou, daughter of a church organist. Forqueray was often accompanied by his wife on the harpsichord when he played. Their marriage was apparently most unhappy, and after several shorter periods apart, they separated finally in 1710. His relationship with his son Jean Baptiste was just as difficult. He had Jean Baptiste imprisoned in 1719 and exiled by lettre de cachet in 1725.

In 1730, he retired to Mantes-la-Jolie outside Paris, where he continued to draw his salary, and died in 1745. His son Jean Baptiste published his works for the viola de gamba in 1747 (two years after his father’s death) together with a version for harpsichord. Although Forqueray’s obituary notice indicated that at the time of his death around three hundred pieces written by him still existed, the thirty-two pieces contained in his son’s edition are all that survive today.

Here are some of Forqueray’s “Pieces de Viole avec la Basse Continuë” performed by Paolo Pandolfo (Viola da Gamba), Eduardo Eguez, Rolf Lislevand, Guido Morini (continuo).

Thursday 5 October 2017


“Even just a few spices or ethnic condiments that you can keep in your pantry can turn your mundane dishes into a culinary masterpiece.”- Marcus Samuelsson 

Sumac (Assyrian Neo-Aramaic: summāqāʾ [=red, red shift, turning red], Arabic: سمّاق‎‎ summāq; also spelled sumach, sumaq) is any one of about 35 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. The dried and powdered fruits are used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in East Asia, Africa and North America.

Sumacs are shrubs and small trees that can reach a height of 1–10 m. The leaves are spirally arranged; they are usually pinnately compound, though some species have trifoliate or simple leaves. The flowers are in dense panicles or spikes 5–30 cm long, each flower very small, greenish, creamy white or red, with five petals. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called sumac bobs. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy crimson spice. Sumacs propagate both by seed (spread by birds and other animals through their droppings), and by new shoots from rhizomes, forming large clonal colonies.

The fruits (drupes) of the genus Rhus (for example, R. coriaria) are ground into a reddish-purple powder used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a tart, lemony taste to salads or meat. In Arab cuisine, it is used as a garnish on meze dishes such as hummus and tashi, and is added to salads in the Levant. In Iranian, Afghan and Kurdish cuisines, sumac is added to rice or kebab. In Jordanian and Turkish cuisines, it is added to salad-servings of kebab and lahmajoun. Rhus coriaria is used in the spice mixture za’atar. 


1/4 cup sumac
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt 

Grind the sesame seeds in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle it on bread, dips, dressings, meat, vegetables, rice, potatoes, pasta, soups, and more.

In North America, the smooth sumac (R. glabra) and the staghorn sumac (R. typhina) are sometimes used to make a beverage termed “sumac-ade”, “Indian lemonade”, or “rhus juice”. This drink is made by soaking the drupes in cool water, rubbing them to extract the essence, straining the liquid through a cotton cloth, and sweetening it. Native Americans also use the leaves and drupes of the smooth and staghorn sumacs combined with tobacco in traditional smoking mixtures.

Sumac was used as a treatment for half a dozen different ailments in medieval medicine, primarily in Middle-Eastern countries (where sumac was more readily available than in Europe). An 11th-century shipwreck off the coast of Rhodes, excavated by archaeologists in the 1970s, contained commercial quantities of sumac drupes. These could have been intended for use as medicine, as a culinary spice, or as a dye. Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is a powerful antioxidant, with ORAC rating over 1500 μmol TE/g.

Some species formerly recognised in Rhus, such as poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, syn. Rhus toxicodendron), poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum, syn. Rhus diversiloba) and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix, syn. Rhus vernix), have the allergen urushiol and can cause severe allergic reactions. Poison sumac may be identified by its white drupes, which are quite different from the red drupes of true Rhus species. Cases of allergy involving pure Rhus coriaria have not been documented in medical literature.

In the language of flowers, sprigs of Rhus carry the meaning: “Touch me not”. Flowerheads or seed clusters incorporated in bouquets imply: “If you get to know me, you shall love me.”

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday 4 October 2017


“But Sasha was from Russia, where the sunsets are longer, the dawns less sudden and sentences are often left unfinished from doubt as how to best end them.” ― Virginia Woolf 

Doctor Zhivago (1965) Epic Drama, 197 minutes – Based on the novel by Boris Pasternak and directed by David Lean; starring Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Tom Courtenay. – 8.0/10

One has to revisit one’s past occasionally and observe it from the new perspective that several years passage can give it. It is the same with books one has read, films one has seen and music one has heard. In many cases it is pleasant surprise, in other cases disappointment, rarely complete mystification as to why we were besotted with that in the first place. In any case, revisiting the past can bring back a host of memories and feelings, some gratifying, some disagreeable.

It was interesting to see David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago” again, after so many years. It felt a little like opening a time capsule and discovering all sorts of things one doesn’t see today. They certainly made films differently in the 1960s, especially the grand scale epics that films such as this represents. In any case, the film still is a classic and David Lean is one of the great film directors. The acting was as grandiose as the sets and the gorgeous expansive landscapes. The music score by Maurice Jarre still held its status as an unforgettable and evergreen musical gem, while the cinematography by Freddie Young is absolutely faultless.

The plot is set around the time of the Russian Revolution, and centres on Yuri Zhivago (Sharif), who is a young doctor who has been raised by his aunt and uncle following his father’s suicide. Yuri falls in love with beautiful Lara Guishar (Christie), who has been having an affair with her mother’s lover, Victor Komarovsky (Steiger), an unscrupulous businessman. Yuri, however, ends up marrying his cousin, Tonya (Chaplin). Lara marries, Pasha (Courtenay), a revolutionary whose passion for the Communist cause cannot be compromised.

Lara's true love is Zhivago who also loves his wife. Lara is the one who inspires Zhivago’s poetry. But when Zhivago and Lara meet again years later, the spark of love reignites. The story is narrated by Yevgraf (Guinness), Zhivago’s half brother, who has made his career in the Soviet Army. At the beginning of the film he is about to meet a young woman he believes may be the long-lost daughter of Lara and Zhivago…

The plot of course is simple and almost inconsequential to the point of banality, yet the complete package of the film is fresh, visually appealing, engaging and despite its epic and grandiloquent (even a trifle bombastic), style it still manages to bewitch the viewer. The film still manages to excite emotion and exudes an innocence that we have lost in much of modern film-making. We would recommend getting your hands on this and watching it, even if you have seen it before. It does stand up well to a re-viewing!

Tuesday 3 October 2017


“France is, for me, the country of happiness.” - Max von Sydow

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.  
Toulouse (Occitan: Tolosa, Latin: Tolosa) is the capital of the French department of Haute-Garonne and of the region of Occitanie. The city is on the banks of the River Garonne, 150 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea, 230 km from the Atlantic Ocean and 680 km from Paris. It is the fourth-largest city in France, with 466,297 inhabitants as of January 2014. The Toulouse Metro area, with 1,312,304 inhabitants as of 2014, is France’s fourth-largest metropolitan area, after Paris, Lyon and Marseille, and ahead of Lille and Bordeaux.

Toulouse is the centre of the European aerospace industry, with the headquarters of Airbus (formerly EADS), the Galileo positioning system, the SPOT satellite system, ATR and the Aerospace Valley. It also hosts the European headquarters of Intel and CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre (CST), the largest space centre in Europe. Thales Alenia Space, and Astrium Satellites also have a significant presence in Toulouse.

The University of Toulouse is one of the oldest in Europe (founded in 1229) and, with more than 103,000 students, it is the fourth-largest university campus in France, after the universities of Paris, Lyon and Lille. The air route between Toulouse–Blagnac and Paris Orly is the busiest in Europe, transporting 2.4 million passengers in 2014. According to the rankings of L’Express and Challenges, Toulouse is the most dynamic French city.

The city was the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom in the 5th century and the capital of the province of Languedoc in the Late Middle Ages and early modern period (provinces were abolished during the French Revolution), making it the unofficial capital of the cultural region of Occitania (Southern France). It is now the capital of the Occitanie region, the largest region in Metropolitan France.

A city with unique architecture made of pinkish terracotta bricks, which earned it the nickname la Ville Rose (“the Pink City”), Toulouse counts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Canal du Midi (designated in 1996 and shared with other cities), and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, designated in 1998 because of its significance to the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.

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:

Sunday 1 October 2017


“The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere - in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. No one would desire not to be beautiful. When we experience the beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming.” - John O’Donohue

Bohumír Dvorský (1902–1976) was a Czech painter. Strongly influenced by Julius Mařák and Paul Cézanne, his works generally had social themes. Bohumír Dvorský was supposed to become a bookbinder, however, his talent and interest led him to painting. In 1924 he started to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, the studio of landscape painting led by Otakar Nejedlý. He travelled a lot during his studies; apart from trips to South Bohemia he travelled to paint in Italy, France and Corsica. After completing his studies he lived in the Ostrava Region and before the beginning of World War II he moved to Svatý Kopeček near Olomouc where he lived until his death.

During the period at the Academy he was influenced considerably by the landscape painter Julius Mařák and during his trips to France he was strongly inspired by the selection of colour tones and style of Cézanne. During his stay in the Ostrava Region he paid attention to industrial landscapes and social topics. Consequently, the colour schemes of his paintings also changed. After his move to Hanakia the colour tones grew warmer and the prevailing topics of his paintings were bouquets and the so-called ‘King Rides in Folk Costume’.

Bohumír Dvorský is one of the most important Moravian landscape painters who often presented his work at foreign exhibitions. In 1940 he participated in the Venice Biennale and, again in Rio de Janeiro and Helsinki in 1948 and at Stockholm a year later. In 1971 he was awarded the title of National Artist. The parental home of Bohumír Dvorský is at 238 Kirilova Street in Paskov.

His painting above is “Z Velkých Pavlovic” (From the Great Pavlovic) and shows a broad expanse of trees, fields, rolling hills and a tapestry-like appearance with bold brushstrokes and impasto that reveals a passionate love for the country the artist was depicting.