Saturday 3 February 2018


“Old things are always in good repute, modern things in disfavour.” - Tacitus

Let us travel back in time… Let us transport ourselves to Italy of the early Baroque and let us take a few steps in courtly dances that delighted nobles and amused princes. Here is a selection of Pavanes, Gagliardes, Ciaccones and Passacaglias played on instruments old and wondrous with sounds that fall easily on our jaded ears and manage to captivate our attention and gladden our soul.

0:00 Innocenzio Alberti: Pavana & Gagliarda Jordi Savall Hespèrion XXI
5:14 Biagio Marini: Passacaglio Jordi Savall Hespèrion XXI
8:39 Antonio Valente: Gagliarda Napoletana Jordi Savall Hespèrion XXI
11:40 Benedetto Marcello: Ciaccona from Sonata F Major Op 2
15:57 Antonio Bertali: Ciaccona L'Arpeggiata
21:49 Maurizio Cazzati: Ciaccona & Passacaglia Christina Pluhar L'Arpeggiata
31:42 Tarquinio Merula: Ciaccona
34:47 Andrea Falconieri: Passacaglia & Ciaccona D'EL'SA Consort
40:24 Tomaso Antonio Vitali: Ciaccona Virtuosi Italiani
48:56 Niccoló Jommelli: Ciaccona per Orchestra Gioacchino Longobardi

Friday 2 February 2018


“In Italy, they add work and life on to food and wine.” - Robin Leach 

We visited an Italian pastryshop the other day and I asked for a particular type of sweet that I used to really like, but unfortunately they did not make it. I vaguely remembered seeing a recipe for it in our trusty recipe notebook and yes, when we got back home I did find the recipe. Here is the recipe, which we made that afternoon. 

Pesche (Peaches)

1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
apricot jam
maraschino liqueur
red and yellow food colouring
caster sugar
Whole cloves, crystallised angelica (or fresh mint leaves) for decoration 

Heat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease baking trays.
Mix together sugar, eggs and oil. Add flour and baking powder, stirring to form a light dough (you may need to add a little more flour to shape balls).
Form 2.5 cm balls and place on flat baking tray, pressing slightly on top to form hemispheres and bake about 10-15 minutes (until lightly browned on the bottom and pale on top).
While still warm, take a small pointed knife and scoop out a pocket on the flat side of each cookie. Fill with jam and spread a small amount on the flat sides as you join 2 cookies together to form the peach.
Colour the maraschino liqueur with a little food colouring to make a light peach colour and brush on the peaches to give them a “blush”. Then roll the peach in granulated sugar, placing a clove on top of each peach for a “stalk”. You may garnish with crystallised angelica “leaves” (or fresh mint leaves) for presentation.

In Italy, pesche are often served at wedding feasts as they are a symbol of Hymenæus, the Graeco-Roman god of marriage and they signify a long and happy marriage.

Thursday 1 February 2018


“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.” ― Carl Sandburg 

The poetic inspiration seems to hover like a will-o’-the-wisp, bright and distant, uncatchable if pursued. And yet if one stays put and tries not to catch it at all, it will approach and alight on one’s heart and the words will gush forth. In the past few weeks I’ve been busy with work, family, have had to overcome a swathe of problems. Writing was confined to things of science and things that were matter of fact.

Creativity it seems, thrives on misfortune, but it also thrives on the availability of time and inclination to follow a certain creative path. My creative path took me away to music, so the poet’s voice remained silent. Music sustained me, but poetry beckoned like that ignis fatuus, and I wisely chose to ignore it.  Last night the moon was blue and it was a great moon, which was eclipsed. A once in a century or two phenomenon. The poetic inspiration coincided with this week’s Poets’ United theme, which was: “Make a new poem  for the moon, using a perspective new to you.” Here is my poem: 

The Moon’s Answer 

I ask the silvery moon, as she shines white
High in the sky, making my garden bright: 
“Moon, why should I speak with you
And not with my Love? Pray, tell me, do…” 

She smiles and stays far, so wan and silent,
Her light now steely blue, and cutting – violent; 
“Oh, Moon, you see all, up on your argent throne
But you choose to stay hushed, wise, like a crone.” 

A cloud passes before her lovely face
To hide a tear perhaps, or frown efface? 
“Moon, you too are sad and make good company,
Come with me, and my lonely song accompany.” 

She winks, and off the cloud she shrugs, she smiles,
(Her ways are strange and her manner full of wiles)… 
“Speak, Moon, please answer me my earnest query:
Is my Love true to me, or is she with betrayal leery?” 

A shadow passes and moon’s countenance bloodies,
Her voice rings out and she, in now darkened night,
Replies: “Your Love’s untruth the waters muddies, 
She lies and mocks, and sows doubt and blight.”

“Oh, cruel Moon, why speak such spite incarnadine?
Your golden, uncertain silence, I preferred, ‘twas more benign…” 

The Moon eclipsed speaks hurtful truths, no dulcet lies;
But when she brightly shines, fills she with hope the velvet skies.

Tuesday 30 January 2018


“La rue est une musée pour tous!” (The street is a museum for everyone) ― Hergé

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. 
Ghent (Dutch: Gent; French: Gand; German: Gent) is a city and a municipality in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province and after Antwerp the largest municipality of Belgium. The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, with some 50,000 people in 1300. It is a port and university city.

The municipality comprises the city of Ghent proper and the surrounding towns of Afsnee, Desteldonk, Drongen, Gentbrugge, Ledeberg, Mariakerke, Mendonk, Oostakker, Sint-Amandsberg, Sint-Denijs-Westrem, Sint-Kruis-Winkel, Wondelgem and Zwijnaarde. With 240,191 inhabitants in the beginning of 2009, Ghent is Belgium’s second largest municipality by number of inhabitants. The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, covers an area of 1,205 km2 and has a total population of 594,582 as of 1 January 2008, which ranks it as the fourth most populous in Belgium. The ten-day-long Ghent Festival (Gentse Feesten in Dutch) is held every year and attended by about 1–1.5 million visitors.

Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest carfree area in Belgium. Highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the famous Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour. Ghent has established a blend between comfort of living and history; it is not a city-museum.

The city of Ghent also houses three béguinages and numerous churches including Saint-Jacob’s church, Saint-Nicolas’ church, Saint Michael’s church and St. Stefanus. In the 19th century Ghent’s most famous architect, Louis Roelandt, built the university hall Aula, the opera house and the main courthouse. Highlights of modern architecture are the university buildings (the Boekentoren or Book Tower) by Henry Van de Velde. There are also a few theatres from diverse periods.

The beguinages, as well as the belfry and adjacent cloth hall, were recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 1998 and 1999. The Zebrastraat, a social experiment in which an entirely renovated site unites living, economy and culture, can also be found in Ghent. Campo Santo is a famous Catholic burial site of the nobility and artists.

Important museums in Ghent are the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts), with paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, and many Flemish masters; the SMAK or Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (City Museum for Contemporary Art), with works of the 20th century, including Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol; and the Design Museum Gent with masterpieces of Victor Horta and Le Corbusier. The Huis van Alijn (House of the Alijn family) was originally a beguinage and is now a museum for folk art where theatre and puppet shows for children are presented.

The Museum voor Industriële Archeologie en Textiel or MIAT displays the industrial strength of Ghent with recreations of workshops and stores from the 1800s and original spinning and weaving machines that remain from the time when the building was a weaving mill. The Ghent City Museum (Stadsmuseum, abbreviated STAM), is committed to recording and explaining the city’s past and its inhabitants, and to preserving the present for future generations.

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.