Saturday 18 November 2017


“France cannot be France without greatness.” - Charles de Gaulle 

Pierre Danican Philidor is a French composer and musician who was born on August 22, 1681 and died on September 1, 1731. Pierre was the son of Jacques Danican Philidor “the Cadet” (also a musician), and nephew of André Danican Philidor (also a composer). Pierre was in 1697, oboe and violin of the Great Stable of the King, instrumentalist in the Chapel in 1704, and was included in the violins of the Cabinet of the King four years later.

He lived in Paris, Rue Betisy, and in 1716 he became a viola player in the Chamber of the King. He is said to have composed a ‘Pastorale’ (1702 –‘L’Églogue de Marly’, pastorale performed before Monseigneur, and then before Louis XIV) in his early years, but this has not survived. He is best known for his six suites with two transverse flutes and six others for flute and bass.

The trios of 1717, dedicated to the Bishop of Rennes, Grand Master of the Chapel of the King, are among of Philidor’s finest achievements. Since those trios of Mademoiselle de la Guerre, that had had the privilege of pleasing Louis XIV, this trio form had been appreciated by the monarch as the perfect representation of his purest taste for the musical arts. Marin Marais had, moreover, delivered his own suites in the same form in 1692 followed closely by the three books of La Barre (respectively in 1694, 1700 and 1707) and by that of Hotteterre “the Roman” in 1712.

Titon du Tillet in his ‘French Parnassus’ has this to say about Philidor:
“I will say about Pierre Danican Philidor, of whom I have just spoken, that he is the first, with one of the Desjardins (both Oboes of the first Company of the Musketeers of the King), whom Lully had included into the Orchestra of the Opera, and that he was so satisfied with them, that he used them in some of his Motets, especially in his ‘Te Deum’, where he also introduced trumpets and drums.” 

Here are Philidor's Suites for Oboe, published in 1717 and performed by Antoine Torunczyk and Alfredo Bernardini (oboes) and the chamber group “L’Assemblee des Honnestes Curieux”.

Friday 17 November 2017


"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." - Henry David Thoreau 

Fish is popular in our household, especially as we shop from an excellent fishmonger who always has fresh fish and will recommend the tastiest and freshest seafood to us, depending on our menu needs. 

Grilled Moroccan Fish Fillets 
4 firm white fish fillets, such as ling or snapper 
Chermoula marinade 
Olive oil, lemon juice
Steamed spinach, roast pumpkin and mushrooms
Lemon wedges, to serve 

Place the fish fillets into a large resealable plastic bag and pour enough chermoula marinade to coat the fillets. Seal the bag after removing the air and turn the fish to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the bag over once.
Preheat the grill to very hot. Brush grill tray with some olive oil. Place fillets on prepared tray and cook for 5 minutes under grill, about 10 cm from heat, basting with lemon juice, without turning, until fish flakes easily.
Meanwhile, put the spinach, roast pumpkin and mushrooms on the serving plates and keep warm (in a warm oven covered with foil).
Place cooked fish on top of the warm spinach, and drizzle with extra chermoula, garnishing with lemon wedges.

Thursday 16 November 2017


“A little imagination goes a long way in Fes.” – Tahir Shah 

Chermoula (Arabic: شرمولة‎‎) or charmoula is a marinade and dressing used in Algerian, Libyan, Moroccan and Tunisian Cuisine. It is traditionally used to flavour fish or seafood, but it can be used on various meats or vegetables. While there many versions of this, with more or less local embellishments, a basic recipe contains garlic, cumin, coriander, oil, lemon juice, and salt. Variations may also include pickled lemons, onion, ground chili peppers, black pepper, saffron, and other herbs.

Chermoula recipes vary widely by region. In Sfax, Tunisia, chermoula with cured salted fish is often prepared during Eid al-Fitr. This regional variety is composed of dried dark grape purée mixed with onions cooked in olive oil and spices such as cloves, cumin, chili, black pepper, and cinnamon. A Moroccan version comprises dried parsley, cumin, paprika and salt and pepper.

We had this at a friend’s home, where she served the chermoula with marinated eggplant that had had been subsequently grilled. It was delicious. We tried her recipe at home, but modified it slightly according to our taste. There are specially prepared chermoula spice mixtures available and you may use those, however, we always like preparing our own herb/spice mixes. 

1 cup packed fresh, tender coriander leaves
1/2 cup packed, fresh, continental parsley leaves
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp sumac powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp crushed saffron
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste 

Place coriander, parsley, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
Add lemon juice, paprika, sumac, cumin, cayenne, and saffron and pulse to combine.
With motor running, drizzle olive through feed tube. Process until sauce is uniform. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Wednesday 15 November 2017


“Look at the sky; remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity in order to see the smallness of yourself.” - Matt Haig 

In the Midweek Motif of Poets United this week, the theme is “Meteor Showers”. My contribution below: 

Meteor Showers 

Billions upon billions of suns
Strewn through the endless emptiness
Of cosmic infinitudes –
I look at them and yet remain indifferent
To the immensity that stares at me,
Being able to contain it all
Within the low walls and ceiling
Holding my brain.

I love.
I love you, and that is:
More important than the speed of light
Within a vacuum;
More rare than comets that careen past
And are glimpsed once in a lifetime;
More precious than the meteor showers,
Which fall around us like golden rain…

What should it matter if now a million suns
Should suddenly decide to supernova?
What if I am but a mite on a speck of dust?
It is enough that I have loved,
Nothing can take that from me.

I love, I feel, I understand:
I am small, insignificant, an atom only
In the endlessness of eternity,
And yet I love and I can pinpoint my existence
In unfaltering co-ordinates.

What if the earth should suddenly expire?
What if the universe decides to crunch?
What if Death around each corner lies in wait?
My only fear now is that we two are on a parallel course
And that the threads of our two lives will never cross...

That which I feel
Is infinitely more important
Than all the vastness looming above, below,
Around all sides of me.
Without you by my side,
The boundless space within me
Annuls the space without.

Tuesday 14 November 2017


“In Reykjavik, Iceland, where I was born, you are in the middle of nature surrounded by mountains and ocean. But you are still in a capital in Europe. So I have never understood why I have to choose between nature or urban.” - Björk 

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.
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland. Its latitude is 64°08' N, making it the world’s northernmost capital of a sovereign state, and is a popular tourist destination. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxa Bay. With a population of around 123,300 (and over 216,940 in the Capital Region), it is the heart of Iceland’s cultural, economic and governmental activity.

Reykjavík is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which, according to Ingólfur Arnarson, was established in AD 874. Until the 19th century, there was no urban development in the city location. The city was founded in 1786 as an official trading town and grew steadily over the next decades, as it transformed into a regional and later national centre of commerce, population, and governmental activities. It is among the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world.

Present-day Reykjavík is a city with people from at least 100 countries. The most common ethnic minorities are Poles, Lithuanians, and Danes. In 2009, foreign-born individuals made up 8% of the total population. Children of foreign origin, many of whom are adopted, form a more considerable minority in the city’s schools, as many as a third in places. The city is also visited by thousands of tourists, students, and other temporary residents, at times outnumbering natives in the city centre.

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

Monday 13 November 2017


“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.” - Ogden Nash 

Hesat is an ancient Egyptian goddess in the form of a cow. She was said to provide humanity with milk (called “the beer of Hesat”) and in particular to suckle the pharaoh and several ancient Egyptian bull gods. In the Pyramid Texts she is said to be the mother of Anubis and of the deceased king. She was especially connected with Mnevis, the living bull god worshipped at Heliopolis, and the mothers of Mnevis bulls were buried in a cemetery dedicated to Hesat. In Ptolemaic times (304–30 BC) she was closely linked with the goddess Isis.

In the Anti (Nemty) myth, this ancient Upper Egyptian hawk god decapitated the cow-goddess (alternatively Hathor or Hesat) and was flayed for his crime. Hesat, referred to as mother of the flayed skin fetish, anointed Anti’s skin with a cream containing her milk, restoring it. This skin, supported by a pole became the symbol for Imiut and thus Anubis. Hesat was identified with Hathor and Isis. In royal birth myths she gave birth to the baby king in the form of a golden calf and suckled him. Thus, in the myth of Hatshepsut’s birth she told the baby queen: “I guide your mouth towards my milk”.

Generally speaking Hesat stood for the provision of the loving care a child needs for growing up. In Heb-Sed scenes such as that of Osorkon II the Isis-Hesat cow is represented both on the side of the Upper as well as of the Lower Egyptian deities.

Sunday 12 November 2017


“Once people come to Australia, they join the team.” - Tony Abbott 

Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd AC OBE (24 July 1920 – 24 April 1999) was a leading Australian painter of the late 20th century. Boyd’s work ranges from impressionist renderings of Australian landscape to starkly expressionist figuration, and many canvases feature both. Several famous works set Biblical stories against the Australian landscape, such as “The Expulsion”, now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Having a strong social conscience, Boyd’s work deals with humanitarian issues and universal themes of love, loss and shame. For example his “brides” series of paintings examine the issues of race and race relations, what it means to “Australian” and the prejudices of whites directed against blacks and half-castes. Boyd was a member of the Antipodeans, a group of Melbourne painters that also included Clifton Pugh, David Boyd, John Brack, Robert Dickerson, John Perceval and Charles Blackman.

The Boyd family artistic dynasty includes painters, sculptors, architects and other arts professionals, commencing with Boyd’s grandfather Arthur Merric Boyd, Boyd’s father Merric and mother Doris, uncles Penleigh Boyd and Martin Boyd, and brothers Guy and David. Mary Boyd, his sister and also a painter, married first John Perceval, and then later Sidney Nolan, both artists. Boyd's wife, Yvonne Boyd (née Lennie) is also a painter; as are their children Jamie, Polly, and Lucy.

In 1993, Arthur and Yvonne Boyd gave family properties comprising 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River to the people of Australia. Held in trust, Boyd later donated further property, artwork, and the copyright to all of his work. The ‘Shoalhaven’ series of Boyd’s painting are iconic of the spirit of Australian landscape.

Boyd was a master at manipulating elements to express himself. He developed new techniques when he was still a teenager and later changed technique depending on his preferred style, media, location and what he was depicting. He would often use loose strokes of thickly coated brushes. He applied paint with his fingers and palm because it is quicker, while the body contact directly connected him with the painting. He believed this allowed for a greater sense of freedom and pleasure from the act of painting. His canvases often show this dynamism and testify to the involvement of the artist with his work with his body and soul.

The Bride series has rightfully earned a canonical place in Australian art history, due to its powerful pictorialisation of issues of social justice, rendered in a poetic style that blends figuration with an abstracted surrealism. It has been suggested that “The Bride series constitutes, together with Nolan’s two series on Burke and Wills and Ned Kelly, the most powerful visual images to emerge from Australian painting... in this century.” (U Hoff, The Art of Arthur BOYD, London, 1986, p.22.).

The original title of the series was “Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste”, a title that was deliberately ambiguous. Rather than presenting a simplistic symbolism of a longed for union between white and black Australia, Boyd avoided a reductive simplification of the racial issues by making both the bride and bridegroom half-caste. The complexity of the narrative relations was deepened by the doubling of the bride figure in the form of an impossible phantom bride, who is the object of a dream-like desire that is destined to remain forever unfulfilled. Through the cycle of missed gazes that is the emotional core of this painting, Boyd evoked unfulfilled longing and a sense of isolation within the compositional embrace of the figures, in the process transposing contemporary social issues into poetic and painterly allegory.

The central theme of the Bride paintings is the dream of integration through love, an ideal which is stripped of its romanticism by the culture of racism and violence that is the fundamental reason preventing the lovers from union. Boyd first became aware of the plight of the indigenous Australians when he visited the Simpson Desert in Central Australia in 1951.