Saturday 14 October 2017


“What really counts isn’t whether your instrument is Baroque or modern: It’s your mindset.” Simon Rattle 

Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello (also Bressonelli; ca. 1690, Bologna – 4 October 1758, Stuttgart) was an Italian Baroque composer and violinist. His name is mentioned for the first time in a document from 1715 in which the Maximilian II Emanuel appointed him violinist in his court orchestra in Munich. Soon after, in 1716, after the death of Johann Christoph Pez, he got the job of music director and as a maître des concerts de la chambre at the Württemberg court in Stuttgart.

In 1717, he was appointed Hofkapellmeister. Around 1718, he composed the pastorale opera “La Tisbe”, which he dedicated to the Archduke Eberhard Ludwig. Brescianello did this in vain hope that his opera would be listed at the Stuttgart theatre. In the years from 1719 to 1721, a fierce conflict emerged, in which Reinhard Keiser repeatedly attempted to get Brescianello’s post.

In 1731, Brescianello became Oberkapellmeister. In 1737, the court had financial problems which led to the dissolution of the opera staff and Brescianello lost his position. For this reason, he dedicated himself increasingly to composition and this resulted in his 12 concerti e sinfonie op. 1 and some time later the 18 Pieces for gallichone (gallichone here means mandora, a type of lute).

In 1744, the financial problems at the court diminished and he was reappointed as Oberkapellmeister by Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, mostly “because of his special knowledge of music and excellent skills”. He led the court and opera music until he was pensioned off in the period between 1751 and 1755. His successors were Ignaz Holzbauer and then Niccolò Jommelli. 

Here is some of his lute music played by Massimo Lonardi.
Partita in D Minor
Partita for Guitar No I
Partita V in C-major: Aria Allegro Minuetto e trio Giga
Partita XVI
Partita per Colascione: Entree - Menuet - Siciliana - Gigue

Friday 13 October 2017


“Teatime is a chance to slow down, pull back and appreciate our surroundings.” - Letitia Baldrige 

We love our tea in the afternoon and there is always something in the pantry to accompany the beverage. These coconut biscuits are old-fashioned favourites and the recipe was given to us by an elderly expat British woman we used to know. 

Coconut Biscuits

125g butter
125g sugar
Vanilla essence
3 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
Raspberry jam 

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy, add the egg and beat well. Add the coconut, flour and baking powder. Pour in the milk little by little while mixing well.
Place teaspoon dollops on a cold greased tray. Flatten a little by gently pressing with your hand or use a flour dusted fork. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden. As soon as the biscuits are out of the oven press the centre of each with a small spoon to form a depression, in which you can place a dollop of jam. Alternatively you may use glacé cherry halves instead of jam.
Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.

Thursday 12 October 2017


“It is the destiny of mint to be crushed.” - Waverley Lewis Root 

Spearmint, or spear mint (Mentha spicata, synonym Mentha viridis in the Lamiaceae family), also known as garden mint, common mint, lamb mint and mackerel mint, is a species of mint native to much of Europe and Asia (Middle East, Himalayas, China etc.), and naturalised in parts of northern and western Africa, North America, and South America, as well as various oceanic islands. The name ‘spearmint’ derives from the pointed leaf tips resembling the point of a spear.

It is a herbaceous, rhizomatous, perennial plant growing 30–100 cm tall, with variably hairless to hairy stems and foliage, and a wide-spreading fleshy underground rhizome. The leaves are 5–9 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The stem is square-shaped, a trademark of the mint family of herbs. Spearmint produces flowers in slender spikes, each flower pink or white, 2.5–3 mm long, and broad. Hybrids involving spearmint include Mentha × piperita (peppermint; hybrid with Mentha aquatica), Mentha × gracilis (ginger mint, syn. M. cardiaca; hybrid with Mentha arvensis), and Mentha × villosa (large apple mint, hybrid with Mentha suaveolens).

Spearmint grows well in nearly all temperate climates. Gardeners often grow it in pots or planters due to its invasive, spreading rhizomes. The plant prefers partial shade, but can flourish in full sun to mostly shade. Spearmint is best suited to loamy soils with abundant organic material.

Spearmint leaves can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. They can also be preserved in salt, sugar, sugar syrup, alcohol, or oil. The leaves lose their aromatic appeal after the plant flowers. It can be dried by cutting just before, or right (at peak) as the flowers open, about one-half to three-quarters the way down the stalk (leaving smaller shoots room to grow). Some dispute exists as to what drying method works best; some prefer different materials (such as plastic or cloth) and different lighting conditions (such as darkness or sunlight).

Spearmint is used for its aromatic oil, referred to as oil of spearmint. The most abundant compound in spearmint oil is R-(–)-carvone, which gives spearmint its distinctive smell. Spearmint oil also contains significant amounts of limonene, dihydrocarvone, and 1,8-cineol. Unlike oil of peppermint, oil of spearmint contains minimal amounts of menthol and menthone. It is used as a flavouring for toothpaste and confectionery, and is sometimes added to shampoos and soaps. Used as a fumigant, spearmint essential oil is an effective insecticide against adult moths. In preliminary research, spearmint essential oil showed potential for antifungal activity against food poisoning pathogens and had no evidence of mutagenicity in the Ames test.

The cultivar Mentha spicata ‘Nana’, the nana mint of Morocco, possesses a clear, pungent, but mild aroma, and is an essential ingredient of Moroccan tea. Spearmint is an ingredient in several mixed drinks, such as the mojito and mint julep. Sweet tea, iced and flavoured with spearmint, is a summer tradition in the Southern United States. Spearmint is also used extensively in cooking, especially so in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. Mint sauce is a traditional accompaniment to roast lamb in Britain and its former colonial countries. 

Royal Mint Sauce 
2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mustard powder
2 cups mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp boiling water
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise
Pepper to taste 

Dissolve the sugar and salt in the vinegar and reserve. Work the mustard powder and a little oil to form a paste. Add a little vinegar and keep stirring, alternating with a little oil until all is used up.
Add the boiling water to the chopped mint leaves and stir well to wilt. Add the leaves to the sauce mixture stirring well and incorporate the mayonnaise, which will stabilise the sauce. Season with pepper and extra salt if desired.

In the language of flowers, a non-flowering sprig of spearmint means: “You have pierced my heart”. A flowering sprig means: “You are virtuous”.

Wednesday 11 October 2017


“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.”
W. Somerset Maugham 

After a break from Poets United due to life and work getting in the way of poetic musings, I return with this my offering for the Midweek Motif theme of “Autumn”. 

Autumn Adieu 

An autumn afternoon,
Mellow, golden, crisp;
You and I, smiling, whispering
Our arms lightly touching.

Our glasses full of wine,
Mellow, golden, crisp;
You and I, sipping, savouring,
Our feet entangled below the table.

The garden room deserted,
Quiet, serene, intimate;
We two, the last lunch customers
Make the most of this perfect afternoon.

Our eyes meet and our looks
Quiet, serene, intimate;
The silence between us comfortable
As violet evening approaches.

An Autumn evening,
Cold, dark, drizzly;
The silence broken finally, by your words:
Friendly, logical, final, delivered with a smile.

Alone, now as night falls,
Cold, dark, drizzly;
The silence now, ominous, frightening –
And a long, frigid Winter surely follows a golden Autumn…

Tuesday 10 October 2017


“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” - Khalil Gibran 

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.
Sofia (Bulgarian: София, tr. Sofiya) is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. 1.26 million people live in the city and 1.68 million people live in its metropolitan area. The city is at the foot of Vitosha Mountain in the western part of the country. Being in the centre of the Balkan peninsula, it is midway between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea, and closest to the Aegean Sea. Sofia has been an area of human habitation since at least 7000 BC.

Being Bulgaria’s primate city, Sofia is a hometown of many of the major local universities, cultural institutions and commercial companies. Sofia is one of the top 10 best places for start-up business in the world, especially in information technologies. Sofia is Europe’s most affordable capital to visit as of 2013.

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a Bulgarian Orthodox cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Built in Neo-Byzantine style, it serves as the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and primary tourist attractions. The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia occupies an area of 3,170 square metres and can hold 10,000 people inside. It is the second biggest cathedral located on the Balkan Peninsula after the Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a cross-domed basilica featuring an emphasized central dome. The cathedral's gold-plated dome is 45 m high, with the bell tower reaching 53 metres. The temple has 12 bells with total weight of 23 tons, the heaviest weighing 12 tons and the lightest 10 kilograms. The interior is decorated with Italian marble in various colours, Brazilian onyx, alabaster, and other luxurious materials. The central dome has the Lord’s Prayer inscribed around it, with thin gold letters.

The construction of the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral started in 1882 (having been planned since 19 February, 1879), when the foundation stone was laid, but most of it was built between 1904 and 1912. Saint Alexander Nevsky was a Russian prince. The cathedral was created in honour to the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.

The cathedral was designed by Alexander Pomerantsev, aided by Alexander Smirnov and Alexander Yakovlev, as the initial 1884-1885 project of Ivan Bogomolov was radically changed by Pomerantsev. The final design was finished in 1898, and the construction and decoration were done by a team of Bulgarian, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and other European artists, architects and workers.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
 and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme. 

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Monday 9 October 2017


“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” - Ovid

In Egyptian mythology, Herishef or Heryshaf, (Egyptian Ḥry-š=f “He who is on his lake”), transcribed in Greek as Arsaphes or Harsaphes (Ἁρσαφής) was an ancient ram-god whose cult was centred in Heracleopolis Magna (now Ihnasiyyah al-Madinah).

He was identified with Ra and Osiris in Egyptian mythology, as well as Dionysus or Heracles in Greek mythology. The identification with Heracles may be related to the fact that in later times his name was sometimes re-analysed as Ḥry-šf.t “He who is over strength”. One of his titles was “Ruler of the Riverbanks”. Heryshaf was a creator and fertility god who was born from the primordial waters. He was pictured as a man with the head of a ram, or as a ram. Among his epithets are also “Mighty Phallus,” “Majesty of the Gods,” and “Lord of the Blood”.

The Palermo Stone records that his cult dated back to the first dynasty of Ancient Egypt (the Early period) but the earliest known temple dedicated to him at Hwt-nen-nesu is dated to the Middle Kingdom. However, we know that he was fairly powerful during the First intermediate Period when Hwt-nen-nesu briefly became the capital of Lower Egypt. The Temple of Herishef was expanded during the New Kingdom by Ramesses II who added a number of huge granite columns with palm leaf capitals and remained active until well into the Ptolemaic Period.

Herishef is a god who was exceptionally popular in antiquity, with numerous feast days dotting ancient calendars, and was even elevated to the status of Supreme High God of the unified Egyptian State during the 9th and 10th Dynasties under the Herakleopolitan Kings. Despite his prominence in historical Egyptian religion, Herishef fell into almost total obscurity.

Sunday 8 October 2017


“The good die young but not always. The wicked prevail but not consistently. I am confused by life, and I feel safe within the confines of the theatre.” - Helen Hayes 

Aurel Băeșu (1896-1928) was a Romanian Impressionist landscape and portrait painter. Many of his works show the influence of Nicolae Grigorescu; an influence that was common among painters of his generation.

Băeşu’s father was a government clerk employed by the prefecture of Suceava. Aurel lost his mother at an early age and was raised by his grandmother. From 1907 to 1912, he attended the “Alexandru Donici Gymnasium” in his hometown, where he displayed an aptitude for drawing. After graduating, he entered the Școala de Belle Arte in Iași, where he studied with Constantin Artachino and Gheorghe Popovici. In 1915, he received an award from the Academia Română for his portrait of the French artist Lecomte de Nöuy, who was then living in Romania.

During World War I, he was mobilised but, at the last moment, was sent to the rear, where he joined several other artists who were documenting the war. Although he escaped being wounded, the harsh conditions there led to a case of pneumonia that left him in poor health. In an effort to improve his artistic perspectives, and with the support of members of the Academia, he went to Italy to attend a free painting course being taught at the Institute of Fine Arts in Rome. He was there from 1920 to 1922.

Four years later, he travelled throughout Slovenia, Hungary and France. For many years, he was enamoured of Lia Sadoveanu, the daughter of novelist Mihail Sadoveanu, but could never propose marriage because of his precarious financial situation. In 1928, he died of tuberculosis, aged only thirty-two. A major retrospective of his work was held in 2006 at the art museum in Bacău. In 2012, his tomb was looted and destroyed. Among the items taken was a plaque by Băeşu's friend, the sculptor Mihai Onofrei.

The painting above is his “Primavara” (Spring).