Tuesday, 15 August 2017


“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” - Helen Keller 

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.
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven, often shortened to the Assumption and also known as the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Dormition), according to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and parts of Anglicanism, was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. The Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”.

 In the churches that observe it, the Assumption is a major feast day, commonly celebrated on 15 August. In many countries, the feast is also marked as a Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church and as a festival (under various names) in the Anglican Communion.

Lourdes (Lorda in Occitan) is a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is part of the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Occitanie region in south-western France. Prior to the mid-19th century, the town was best known for the Château fort de Lourdes, a fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment at its centre.

In 1858 Lourdes rose to prominence in France and abroad due to the Marian apparitions seen by the peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous, who was later canonised. Shortly thereafter the city with the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes became one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism. Today Lourdes hosts around six million visitors every year from all corners of the world. This constant stream of pilgrims and tourists transformed quiet Lourdes into the second most important center of tourism in France, second only to Paris, and the third most important site of international Catholic pilgrimage after Rome and the Holy Land. As of 2011, of French cities only Paris had more hotel capacity.

Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of mass pilgrimage from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties. An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognised 69 healings considered miraculous. Cures are examined using Church criteria for authenticity and authentic miracle healing with no physical or psychological basis other than the healing power of the water.

Tours from all over the world are organised to visit the Sanctuary. Connected with this pilgrimage is often the consumption of or bathing in the Lourdes water which wells out of the Grotto. At the time of the apparitions the grotto was on common land which was used by the villagers variously for pasturing animals, collecting firewood and as a garbage dump, and it possessed a reputation for being an unpleasant place.

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:

Monday, 14 August 2017


“There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.” - George Santayana 

Heqet (Ḥeḳet; also Ḥeqtit, Ḥeḳtit) is an Egyptian goddess of fertility, identified with Hathor, represented in the form of a frog. To the Egyptians, the frog was an ancient symbol of fertility, related to the annual flooding of the Nile. Heqet was originally the female counterpart of Khnemu, or the wife of Khnemu by whom she became the mother of Heru-ur. The name is written as ḥqt with the determinative “frog”, or alternatively as ḥqtyt with the “egg” (goddess) determinative. Its Middle Egyptian proununciation may have been close to /ħaˈqaːtat/, whence possibly the name of Greek Hecate (Ἑκάτη).

The beginning of Heqet’s cult dates to the early dynastic period at least. Her name was part of the names of some high-born Second Dynasty individuals buried at Helwan and was mentioned on a stela of Wepemnofret and in the Pyramid Texts. Early frog statuettes are often thought to be depictions of her.

Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she was associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title “She who hastens the birth”. Some say that (even though no ancient Egyptian term for “midwife” is known for certain) midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery.

Women often wore amulets of Heqet during childbirth, which depicted the goddess as a frog, sitting in a lotus. Heqet was considered the wife of Khnum, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter’s wheel. In the Osiris myth, it was Heqet who breathed life into the new body of Horus at birth, as she was a goddess of the last moments of birth.

As the birth of Horus became more intimately associated with the resurrection of Osiris, so Heqet’s role became one more closely associated with resurrection. Eventually, this association led to her amulets gaining the phrase “I am the resurrection” in the Christian era along with cross and lamb symbolism. A temple dedicated to Horus and Heqet dating to the Ptolemaic Period was found at Qus.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


“The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.” - Desmond Morris 

Charles Constantin Joseph Hoffbauer (June 28, 1875 - July 26, 1957) was a French-born artist who became a United States citizen. He painted a wide variety of subjects, including many that depicted scenes of historical interest.

Charles Hoffbauer was born in Paris. His parents, Féodor Hubert Hoffbauer and Marie Clemence Belloc Hoffbauer, were of Alsatian origin. Féodor Hoffbauer was a well-known archeologist, architect, and artist, and likely influenced his son's interest in history. As a child, Charles sometimes assisted his father in conducting research. The elder Hoffbauer’s 1882 book on Paris architecture, Paris à Travers les Ages, has been updated over the years and remains in print with the latest edition published in 2007.

After receiving a traditional elementary and secondary education in French schools, Hoffbauer attended the École des Beaux-Arts for three years. He studied under Fernand Cormon, François Flemeng, and symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. Classmates of Hoffbauer included Paul Baignères, Charles Camoin, Henri Evenepoel, Raoul du Gardier, Henri Manguin, Albert Marquet, Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. Shortly before his 21st birthday, Hoffbauer reported for his mandatory French military service. He trained at Falaise, Normandy for 18 months. Completing his military service in September 1897, he returned to Paris and began his career as an artist.

In 1898, Hoffbauer’s first submission to the Paris Salon was awarded Honorable Mention, and the following year he became the youngest artist to earn a Gold Medal and be deemed Hors Concours—a status he held for seven years. Hoffbauer’s artistic skill was rewarded again in 1902 when Revolt de Flamands won the Bourse de Voyage award, and the artist used the five thousand-franc prize to fund a summer sketching trip to Italy in 1903. The drawings Hoffbauer produced during this visit inspired Triomphe d’un Condottiere¸ a work that was awarded the highest honour (the Prix du Salon) by the Paris Salon in 1906. The artist continued to travel over the next several years, producing work while visiting Milan, Rome, Cairo, Aswan, Athens, and Venice.

However, the place that truly captured Hoffbauer’s attention he had only seen in photographs: New York City. Images of Manhattan’s skyline captivated Hoffbauer and served as artistic inspiration throughout 1904; he produced a significant amount of studies and paintings featuring New York’s skyscrapers and metropolitan life, all without ever stepping foot on American soil. American and European audiences alike were impressed with Hoffbauer’s vibrant cityscapes that successfully reproduced the iconic scenery of the great city. Hoffbauer made his first trans-Atlantic journey to the United States in 1909, arriving in New York on December 21. One year after his arrival Hoffbauer met and befriended Roland Knoedler of Knoedler Galleries, who became the artist’s primary dealer in the United States.

Two one-man exhibitions held at Knoedler Galleries in 1911 and 1912 garnered Hoffbauer significant acclaim with American audiences. In an excerpt from Knoedler’s 1912 exhibition catalogue, fellow artist Arthur Hoeber describes his admiration for Hoffbauer: “One feels he has caught the spirit of American progress; caught much of its practicalness[sic], with not a little of its vitality, for these pictures of our city are sui generis and they fairly exude American bigness and bustle, the sense of accomplishment despite great obstacles.”

Hoffbauer’s artistic career had several significant highlights in 1912: In addition to the success of his solo show at Knoedler Galleries, the artist chose to repaint Triomphe d’un Condottiere, a work that had earned him Prix du Salon six years earlier. The repainted piece was met with great success when it was exhibited that year at the Architectural League, and Hoffbauer’s audacious decision was rewarded with a commission for the Battle Abbey murals at the Confederate Memorial Institute at Richmond, Virginia.

In 1914, Hoffbauer’s progress on the Battle Abbey murals was halted by World War I; the artist volunteered as a private and spent the next four years serving on the front and working as an official war artist. He returned to the United States in 1919 and was able to complete the Battle Abbey murals one year later; the success of Hoffbauer’s depictions of Confederate leadership was so great that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for the City of Richmond in 1925.

Hoffbauer continued to produce work and exhibit throughout the 1920s: He accepted a mural commission for the State Capitol at Jefferson City in 1921 and also showed pieces at the Paris Salon and the Art Institute of Chicago. Hoffbauer’s career took an interesting turn in 1935 after he watched Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs, which inspired him to pursue film animation. He considered the United States to offer the greatest potential for success in this field and in 1936, Hoffbauer made the decision to move to New York. The artist believed that there was an existing void in the realm of film animation that he could fill by dramatising historical events. While this idea was turned down during a 1938 meeting with Walt Disney, the legendary film animator encouraged Hoffbauer to move to California and work for him.

Hoffbauer accepted Disney’s offer and relocated to Hollywood in 1939, and two years later, on December 26, the artist became a naturalised American citizen. The success Hoffbauer achieved as a muralist and painter during the 1940s and early 1950s was monumental: He was offered mural commissions from McCornack Hospital in Pasadena, the Citizen’s Committee for the Army and Navy, and the N.E. Mutual Life Insurance Company, and also participated in exhibitions at the Los Angeles Museum, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and Stanford University. Hoffbauer left California in 1953 and settled in Rockport, Massachusetts, where he resided until his death in 1957.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


“The violin — that most human of all instruments…” – Louisa May Alcott 

Jean-Féry Rebel (18 April 1666 – 2 January 1747) was an innovative French Baroque composer and violinist. Rebel (pronounced re-BEL), a son of the singer Jean Rebel, a tenor in Louis XIV’s private chapel, was a child violin prodigy. He became, at the age of eight, one of his father’s most famous musical offspring. Later, he was a student of the great composer Jean-Baptiste Lully.

Rebel was a violinist, harpsichordist, conductor and composer. By 1699, at age 33, Rebel had become first violinist of the Académie Royale de Musique (also known as the Opéra). He travelled to Spain in 1700. Upon his return to France in 1705, he was given a place in the prestigious ensemble known as the Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy. He was chosen Maître de Musique in 1716. His most important position at court was Chamber Composer, receiving the title in 1726. Rebel served as court composer to Louis XIV and Maître de Musique at the Académie, and directed the Concert Spirituel (during the 1734-1735 season).

Rebel was one of the first French musicians to compose sonatas in the Italian style. Many of his compositions are marked by striking originality that include complex counter-rhythms and audacious harmonies that were not fully appreciated by listeners of his time. His opus “Les Caractères de la Danse” combined music with dance, a French tradition, and presented innovative metrical inventions. The work was popular and was performed in London in 1725 under the baton of George Frideric Handel.

In honour of his teacher, Rebel composed “Le Tombeau de M. Lully” (literally, “The Tomb of Monsieur Lully”; figuratively, “A Tribute to Lully”). Some of Rebel’s compositions are described as choreographed “Symphonies”. Among his boldest original compositions is “Les Élémens” (The Elements) which describes the creation of the world, with the beginning, “Le Chaos”, being surprisingly modern. His son François Rebel (1701-1775) was also a composer, noted violinist, and member of the Vingt-quatre Violons du Roy. He co-wrote and co-directed operas with François Francœur. The Rebel Baroque Orchestra, formed in 1991, was named in the honour of this notable French composer.

Here are some of his Violin Sonatas performed by “L’ Assemblée des Honnêtes Curieux”.

Friday, 11 August 2017


“ ‘The time has come,’ the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings.’ ” - Lewis Carroll 

In Winter, one of the traditional Greek dishes we enjoy having is stuffed cabbage rolls (λαχανοντολμάδες – lahanodolmádes). These are made with as tender a large cabbage as you can find; what you need are large leaves without too many hard veins. In practice we have found that young, tender savoy cabbage is the best, but it really depends on what you can lay your hands on.

The other secret is using a yoghurt-based sauce rather than the traditional egg and lemon sauce, making them rather more savoury. We have tried making the vegetarian version, but this dish really hankers for meat - a good, lean beef mince being the best. We have tried it with pork mince, but it wasn’t as much to our taste.

Some people do not use tomatoes in the stuffing, but we have found that using a can of peeled tomatoes increases the tastiness of the dish and gives it a little more depth. Purists would like this dish “white”, but we opt for taste over looks. 

Lahanodolmádes (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls) 
Ingredients - Rolls 
1 large, tender cabbage
500 g of minced lean beef steak
3/4 cup calrose rice
1 large white onion, grated
2 Spring onions, cleaned and chopped up finely
1 cup chopped mint
1 cup chopped parsley
400 g can of peeled whole tomatoes (blended to form a purée)
3/4 cup of olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt, pepper
1 Litre beef stock 
400 g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp French mustard
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
A couple of squeezes of lemon juice and the zest of half a lemon. 

With a large, sharp knife remove the stalk from the cabbage, going quite deeply and cutting out an inverted cone into the heart of the cabbage about 10 cm diameter and the tip 10 cm deep. Discard this stalk. Take a very large kettle enough to contain the cabbage, place the whole cabbage, stalk-side up into the kettle and put in enough water to cover the cabbage.

Boil the cabbage until it is fairly tender. Remove from heat, carefully drain the water and using heatproof gloves remove the cabbage and let it drain. Meanwhile prepare the stuffing.

Put the oil in a skillet and once heated up, stir the rice through, until it is coated with oil and heated right through. Do not overcook or burn. Let it cool. In a large bowl, put the mince, breaking it up thoroughly and mix in the rice and all the oil from the skillet. Mix well, and add the herbs and spices, the onions and the tomato purée. Mix thoroughly. You may need to add a little more oil if the mixture looks a little too watery.

Prepare a large cooking pot by greasing it with a little butter, both bottom and sides. Make ready the cabbage leaves, by stripping each leaf off the cabbage, and on a cutting board, carefully cut away in a wedge, the central vein and tough area around its bottom, leaving two fairly large, even pieces of tender leaf oneither side. Reserve the central vein wedges.

Repeat for all leaves, until you reach the heart of the cabbage (which is to be discarded). Take enough of the central vein wedges you have reserved and line the bottom of the pot with one layer of cabbage, pieces (this is to prevent burning the cabbage rolls on the bottom of the pot when you cook them).

Stuff each cabbage leaf piece by putting about a tablespoonful of the filling in the bottom part of the leaf and then folding the sides into the centre over the stuffing, rolling towards the top edge of the leaf to form a roll. Lay carefully on the lined bottom of the pan, arranging the rolls neatly so they form a tightly packed layer on the bottom of the pan.

Repeat with as many new layers of rolls until you have used up all of the stuffing. Lay some more reserved cabbage wedges over the top of the cabbage rolls and carefully pour in the beef stock. The carefully place a shallow, heatproof dish in the pot over the cabbage rolls to weigh them down during cooking. The dish should be approximately as large as the opening of the pot. Partly cover the pot with its lid, allowing the steam to escape. Cook over medium heat for about 60-90 minutes or until the rolls are cooked. Add a little water if needed during cooking.

Prepare the dressing in a saucepan, by mixing thoroughly the mustard and yoghurt, adding the salt and spices, the lemon juice and lemon zest. Heat gently whilst constantly stirring. Do not overheat as the yoghurt may curdle. Serve the rolls and put the dressing in a bowl so each diner can add as much of it as they like on the rolls. 

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday, 10 August 2017


“To win the people, always cook them some savoury that pleases them..” – Aristophanes 

Winter savoury (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is a perennial plant growing to 40 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, oval-lanceolate, 1–2 cm long and 5 mm broad. The herb has spike-like clusters of tubular 2-lipped, white flowers in summer. Superficially, this herb resembles a blooming rosemary bush with very pale flowers.

Winter savoury  is easy to grow, and it makes an attractive border plant for any culinary herb garden. It requires six hours of sun a day in soil that drains well. S. montana ‘Nana’ is a dwarf cultivar, which can be grown in well-drained pots. In temperate climates it goes dormant in winter, putting out leaves on the bare stems again in the spring. It is important to not cut the plant back, as all those stems which appear dead will leaf out again. It is hardy and has a low bunching habit. It is used as a companion plant for beans, keeping bean weevils away, and also roses, reducing mildew and aphids.

 Winter savoury has been used in the garden, kitchen and apothecary’s shop for hundreds of years. Both this herb and summer savoury (Satureja hortensis) have been grown and used, virtually side by side. Both have strong, spicy flavours. It goes particularly well with any type of mushroom, or in white sauces, and is very good in potato salads. Small amounts spice a regular salad well. We add the herb to beans and meats, especially lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffings. It has a rich herbaceous aroma when crushed, however, it should be noted that the intense flavour is lost when the herb is cooked.

Winter savoury has been purported to have antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, and digestive properties. It has also been used as an expectorant and in the treatment of stings. The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savoury. Taken internally, it is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, whilst it is also used to treat gastroenteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhoea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women.

A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, is said to bring instant relief. Therapeutic-grade oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans. The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried. The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints. In traditional herbal medicine, summer savoury was believed to be an aphrodisiac, while winter savoury was believed to inhibit sexual desire.

The herb in the language of flowers has meanings that relate to curbing of carnal desire. A sprig of the non-flowering herb means: “My intentions are honourable”. A sprig of the flowering herb says: “My interest in you is purely platonic.” 

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” - George A. Moore 

We watched a very good film recently, and found it involving, heart-warming and quite poignant. Although the story was simple (and some would say, clichéd), the whole package of the film worked well: Screenplay, direction, casting, acting, cinematography, soundtrack, etc, etc. The theme of the movie is home and identity.

As individuals we all need to know who we are, where we come from, what “home” means. Adopted children searching for their biological parents is a story often told, and can be powerful enough on its own. However, add to that a lost child, who finds himself thousands of kilometres away from home to grow up in a completely different geographical, religious, cultural and societal environment and suddenly begin to be confronted by memories of a former life. Questions arise that need to answered and the quest for answers becomes a gnawing yearning and an emotional journey that can only be satisfied by the real, physical journey in search of the past. 

Lion (2016) Drama - Directed by Garth Davis; starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara. – 8.5/10

This is a movie based on the autobiographical book “A Long Way Home” by Saroo Brierley, an Indian who was adopted as a young child by a Tasmanian couple. In 1986, Saroo was a five-year-old child in India of a poor but happy rural family. The mother struggles to feed her children, and Saroo and his older brother help by stealing coal. On a coal hunting expedition with his brother, Saroo finds himself alone and trapped in a moving decommissioned passenger train that takes him to Calcutta, 1500 miles away from home.

Totally lost and disoriented in an alien urban environment and too young to identify either himself or his home to the authorities, Saroo struggles to survive as a street child until he is sent to an orphanage. Soon, Saroo is selected to be adopted by the Brierley family in Tasmania, where he grows up in a loving, prosperous home. However, for all his material good fortune, Saroo finds himself plagued by his memories of his lost family in his adulthood and tries to search for them even as his guilt drives him to hide this quest from his adoptive parents and his girlfriend. Only when he has an epiphany does he discover not only the answers he needs, but also the steadfast love that he has always had with all his loved ones in both worlds.

We thoroughly enjoyed this movie and recommend it most highly!

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


“A nation without language is a nation without heart.” – Welsh Proverb 

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.
Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is the capital and largest city in Wales and the eleventh-largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the country’s chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The unitary authority area’s mid-2011 population was estimated to be 346,100, while the population of the Larger Urban Zone was estimated at 861,400 in 2009. The Cardiff metropolitan area makes up over a third of the total population of Wales, with a mid-2011 population estimate of about 1,100,000 people.

 Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic’s alternative tourist destinations. The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (and later South Glamorgan). Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. The Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area outside the county boundary, and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth.

A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a major port for the transport of coal following the arrival of industry in the region contributed to its rise as a major city. Cardiff was made a city in 1905, and proclaimed the capital of Wales in 1955. Since the 1980s, Cardiff has seen significant development. A new waterfront area at Cardiff Bay contains the Senedd building, home to the Welsh Assembly and the Wales Millennium Centre arts complex. Current developments include the continuation of the redevelopment of the Cardiff Bay and city centre areas with projects such as the Cardiff International Sports Village, a BBC drama village, and a new business district in the city centre.

Sporting venues in the city include the Millennium Stadium (the national stadium for the Wales national rugby union team), SWALEC Stadium (the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club), Cardiff City Stadium (the home of Cardiff City football team), Cardiff International Sports Stadium (the home of Cardiff Amateur Athletic Club) and Cardiff Arms Park (the home of Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC rugby union teams). The city was awarded the title of European City of Sport twice, due to its role in hosting major international sporting events: first in 2009 and again in 2014. The Millennium Stadium hosted 11 football matches as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics, including the games’ opening event and the men’s bronze medal match.

Cardiff Castle (Welsh: Castell Caerdydd) is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff, Wales. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort. The castle was commissioned either by William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff and the Marcher Lord territory of Glamorgan.

In the 12th century the castle began to be rebuilt in stone, probably by Robert of Gloucester, with a shell keep and substantial defensive walls being erected. Further work was conducted by Richard de Clare, 6th Earl of Gloucester, in the second half of the 13th century. Cardiff Castle was repeatedly involved in the conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh, being attacked several times in the 12th century, and stormed in 1404 during the revolt of Owain Glyndŵr.

This post is part of the Our World 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:

Monday, 7 August 2017


“Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.” - Anton Chekhov 

Thoth or Djehuti (from Greek Θώθ thṓth, from Egyptian ḏḥwty) was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma’at. Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering, and was partially destroyed in 1826 CE. In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities.

He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens. Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

Thoth has been depicted in many ways depending on the era and on the aspect the artist wished to convey. Usually, he is depicted in his human form with the head of an ibis. In this form, he can be represented as the reckoner of times and seasons by a headdress of the lunar disk sitting on top of a crescent moon resting on his head.

When depicted as a form of Shu or Ankher, he was depicted to be wearing the respective god’s headdress. He also appears as a dog-faced baboon or a man with the head of a baboon when he is A’an, the god of equilibrium. In the form of A’ah-Djehuty he took a more human-looking form. These forms are all symbolic and are metaphors for Thoth’s attributes. The Egyptians did not believe these gods actually looked like humans with animal heads.

Thoth has played a prominent role in many of the Egyptian myths. Displaying his role as arbitrator, he had overseen the three epic battles between good and evil. All three battles are fundamentally the same and belong to different periods. The first battle took place between Ra and Apep, the second between Heru-Bekhutet and Set, and the third between Horus and Set . In each instance, the former god represented order while the latter represented chaos. If one god was seriously injured, Thoth would heal them to prevent either from overtaking the other.

Thoth was also prominent in the Osirian myth, being of great aid to Isis. After Isis gathered together the pieces of Osiris’ dismembered body, he gave her the words to resurrect him so she could be impregnated and bring forth Horus. After a battle between Horus and Set in which the latter plucked out Horus’ eye, Thoth’s counsel provided him the wisdom he needed to recover it.

Thoth was the god who always speaks the words that fulfil the wishes of Ra. This mythology also credits him with the creation of the 365-day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with the Moon for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, Nut and Geb gave birth to Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.

Thoth was originally a moon god. The moon not only provides light at night, allowing time to still be measured without the sun, but its phases and prominence gave it a significant importance in early astrology/astronomy. The cycles of the moon also organised much of Egyptian society’s rituals and events, both civil and religious. Consequently, Thoth gradually became seen as a god of wisdom, magic, and the measurement and regulation of events and of time. He was thus said to be the secretary and counselor of the sun god Ra, and with Ma'at (truth/order) stood next to Ra on the nightly voyage across the sky.

Thoth became credited by the ancient Egyptians as the inventor of writing, and was also considered to have been the scribe of the underworld; and the Moon became occasionally considered a separate entity, now that Thoth had less association with it and more with wisdom. For this reason Thoth was universally worshipped by ancient Egyptian scribes. Many scribes had a painting or a picture of Thoth in their “office”. Likewise, one of the symbols for scribes was that of the ibis.

Thoth was inserted in many tales as the wise counselor and persuader, and his association with learning and measurement led him to be connected with Seshat, the earlier deification of wisdom, who was said to be his daughter, or variably his wife. Thoth’s qualities also led to him being identified by the Greeks with their closest matching god Hermes, with whom Thoth was eventually combined as Hermes Trismegistus, also leading to the Greeks naming Thoth’s cult centre as Hermopolis, meaning city of Hermes.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


“There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.” - Gilbert K. Chesterton 

Giovanni Battista (also Giambattista) Piranesi (4 October 1720 – 9 November 1778) was an Italian artist famous for his etchings of Rome and of fictitious and atmospheric “prisons” (Le Carceri d’Invenzione). His large prints depicting the buildings of classical and postclassical Rome and its vicinity contributed considerably to Rome’s fame and to the growth of classical archaeology and to the Neoclassical movement in art.

Piranesi was born at Mojano di Mestre near Venice, the son of a stonemason. His early training in Venice under his uncle, Matteo Lucchesi, an architectural engineer, gave Piranesi a grasp of the means of masonry construction (scaffolding, winches, hawsers, pulleys, and chains) knowledge that stayed with him the rest of his life. His understanding of the vocabulary of classicism came largely from Andrea Palladio’s book on architecture; his knowledge of architectural renderings he drew in part from Ferdinando Bibiena’s book on civil architecture (1711); and his manner of placing buildings on a diagonal, sharply foreshortened, probably came from contemporary Venetian stage design.

At the age of 20 Piranesi went to Rome as a draughtsman for the Venetian ambassador. He studied with leading printmakers of the day and settled permanently in Rome in 1745. It was during this period that he developed his highly original etching technique, producing rich textures and bold contrasts of light and shadow by means of intricate, repeated bitings of the copperplate. He created about 2,000 plates in his lifetime. The “Prisons” (Carceri) of about 1745 are his finest early prints; they depict ancient Roman or Baroque ruins converted into fantastic, visionary dungeons filled with mysterious scaffolding and instruments of torture.

Among his best mature prints are the series Le antichità romane (1756; “Roman Antiquities”), the Vedute di Roma (“Views of Rome”; appearing as single prints between 1748 and 1778), and the views of the Greek temples at Paestum (1777–78). His unparalleled accuracy of depiction, his personal expression of the structures’ dramatic and romantic grandeur, and his technical mastery made these prints some of the most original and impressive representations of architecture to be found in Western art.

On Nov. 9, 1778, while making drawings of the newly discovered temples at Paestum, Piranesi died. Long before then his prints of Rome had caught the imagination of much of Europe. In 1771 Horace Walpole urged his fellow Englishmen to “study the sublime dreams of Piranesi, who seems to have conceived visions of Rome beyond what it boasted even in the meridian of its splendour. Savage as Salvator Rosa, fierce as Michelangelo, and exuberant as Rubens, he has imagined scenes that would startle geometry, and exhaust the Indies to realize.”

Above is his view of the interior of the Pantheon.

Saturday, 5 August 2017


“Music is the greatest communication in the world. Even if people don’t understand the language that you’re singing in, they still know good music when they hear it.” - LouRawls 

Domenico Zipoli (17 October 1688 – 2 January 1726) was an Italian Baroque composer who worked and died in Córdoba (Argentina). He became a Jesuit in order to work in the Reductions of Paraguay where he taught music among the Guaraní people. He is remembered as the most accomplished musician among Jesuit missionaries.

Zipoli was born in Prato, Italy, where he received his elementary musical training. However, there are no records of him having entered the cathedral choir. In 1707, and with the patronage of Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, he was a pupil of the organist Giovani Maria Casini in Florence. In 1708 he briefly studied under Alessandro Scarlatti in Naples, then Bologna and finally in Rome under Bernardo Pasquini. Two of his oratorios date to this early period: “San Antonio di Padova” (1712) and “Santa Caterina, Virgine e Martire”(1714). Around 1715 he was made the organist of the Church of the Gesù (a Jesuit parish, the mother church for The Society of Jesus), in Rome, a prestigious post. At the very beginning of the following year, he finished his best known work, a collection of keyboard pieces titled “Sonate d’intavolatura per organo e cimbalo”. 

For reasons that are not clear, Zipoli travelled to Seville, Spain, in 1716, where, on 1 July, he joined the Society of Jesus with the desire to be sent to the Reductions of Paraguay in Spanish Colonial America. Still a novice, he left Spain with a group of 53 missionaries who reached Buenos Aires on 13 July 1717. He completed his formation and sacerdotal studies in Córdoba (in contemporary Argentina, during 1717–1724) though, for the lack of an available bishop, he could not be ordained priest.

All through these few years he served as music director for the local Jesuit church. Soon his works came to be known in Lima, Peru. Struck by an unknown infectious disease, Zipoli died in the Jesuit house of Córdoba, on 2 January 1726. A previous theory placing his death in the ancient Jesuit church of Santa Catalina, in the hills of the Province of Córdoba, has now been discredited. His burial place has never been found.

Zipoli continues to be well known today for his keyboard music; many of them are well within the abilities of beginning to intermediate players, and appear in most standard anthologies. His Italian compositions have always been known but recently some of his South American church music was discovered in Chiquitos, Bolivia: Two Masses, two psalm settings, three Office hymns, a “Te Deum Laudamus” and other pieces. A Mass copied in Potosí, Bolivia in 1784, and preserved in Sucre, Bolivia, seems a local compilation based on the other two Masses. His dramatic music, including two complete oratorios and portions of a third one, is mostly gone. Three sections of the Mission opera “San Ignacio de Loyola” – compiled by Martin Schmid in Chiquitos many years after Zipoli’s death, and preserved almost complete in local sources – have been attributed to Zipoli.

It seems that the Guarani, the Chiquitos and the other people in the Jesuit areas of South America quite simply fell in love with the music that the missionaries brought with them. One priest wrote: “Give me an orchestra and I will convert all of South America”, and the fact that Zipoli and other mission composers wrote not just church music, but secular works too gives us some idea of how music was a major part of life on the reductions.

More on Baroque music in South America can be read in Jane Shuttleworth’s article: “Araujo to Zipoli: Baroque music in South America”.

You may also see the excellent film “The Mission” that looks (amongst other things…) at the love of the native South American people for European music.

Friday, 4 August 2017


“Always farm fresh eggs, never store bought.” - T. J.Miller 

In winter we love having fresh-out-of the-oven soufflé. A friend of ours has hens in her backyard and she was kind enough to give us some lovely fresh eggs. With our wintry weather and fresh eggs on hand, some spinach from our garden and freshly grated cheese, yes, soufflé was on the menu! 

Cheese and Spinach Soufflé
250 g baby spinach leaves, washed, drained
150 mL full cream milk
30 g butter
2 tbsp plain flour
60 g grated soft parmesan cheese
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch of ground mace
Grated nutmeg to taste
2 large eggs
2 extra egg whites

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Grease a one-litre soufflé dish with plenty of butter (or you may use individual soufflé ramekins). Fill a roasting tin large enough to hold the soufflé dish(es) one third of the way up with water and put it in the oven to preheat.
Steam the spinach leaves in boiling water for two minutes, and drain through a fine sieve, squeezing every last drop of water from the spinach, and then chop it up. Put the milk in a pan to warm. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. When it is smooth, gradually add the warm milk, whisking hard until you get a silky sauce.
Over a low heat mix the cheese in the sauce (reserving a little cheese to sprinkle on top just before the dish goes in the oven). Combine the cheese sauce and the chopped spinach in a mixing bowl, adding the salt and spices.
Separate the eggs. Add the two yolks to the spinach-and-cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Put the four egg whites in a large mixing bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Using a metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the spinach-and-cheese mixture one spoon at a time, taking care not to lose all the air you have whisked into them.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish(es), then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, place in the preheated roasting tin and cook for 30-35 minutes. The soufflé should be well-risen, soft and moist on the inside and just starting to crack on the surface. Serve immediately.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Thursday, 3 August 2017


“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” - Tertullian 

The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.

Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke, though the two are distantly related as members of the daisy family. The origin of the “Jerusalem” part of the name is uncertain. Italian settlers in the United States called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower, because of its resemblance to the garden sunflower (both plants are members of the genus Helianthus). Over time, the name girasole may have been changed to Jerusalem. The taste of the tuber is said to resemble artichokes. 

Helianthus tuberosus is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.5–3 m tall with opposite leaves on the upper part of the stem but alternate below. The leaves have a rough, hairy texture. Larger leaves on the lower stem are broad ovoid-acute and can be up to 30 cm long. Leaves higher on the stem are smaller and narrower. The flowers are yellow and produced in capitate flowerheads, which are 5–10 cm in diameter, with 10–20 ray florets and 60 or more small disc florets. The tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 7.5–10 cm long and 3–5 cm thick, and vaguely resembling ginger root in appearance, with a crisp texture when raw. They vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple.

Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans cultivated Helianthus tuberosus as a food source. The tubers persist for years after being planted, so that the species expanded its range from central North America to the eastern and western regions. Early European colonists learned of this, and sent tubers back to Europe, where the plant became a popular crop and naturalised there. It later gradually fell into obscurity in North America, but attempts to market it commercially have been successful in the late 1900s and early 2000s.

The tuber contains about 2% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack of starch. It is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose. Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times as sweet as sucrose. It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes.

Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem artichoke can produce. When not in tropical regions, it has been shown to make less inulin than when it is in a warmer region. Cultivate from tubers or tuber fragments in early Spring, or leave tubers and/or their fragments in the ground after harvesting, which can be done as required with a garden fork from late Autumn into Winter. The plant is persistent; if they are not required the following year, ensure that every last tuber and/or fragment is removed. We have only planted them once in our garden and they come back year after year, even after extensive and thorough harvesting.

The tubers are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes: They have a similar consistency, and in their raw form have a similar texture, but a sweeter, nuttier flavour. Raw and sliced thinly, they are fit for a salad. Their inulin form of carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mushy if boiled, but they retain their texture better when steamed. The inulin cannot be broken down by the human digestive system, but it is metabolised by bacteria in the colon. This can cause flatulence and, in some cases, gastric pain. Gerard’s Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English botanist John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes: “Which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.” 

Jerusalem artichokes have 650 mg potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving. They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper. Jerusalem artichokes can be used as animal feed, but they must be washed before being fed to most animals. Pigs can forage, however, and safely eat them directly from the ground. The stalks and leaves can be harvested and used for silage, though cutting the tops greatly reduces the harvest of the roots.

In Baden-Württemberg, Germany, over 90% of the Jerusalem artichoke crop is used to produce a spirit called “Topinambur”. By the end of the 19th-century, Jerusalem artichokes were being used in Baden to make a spirit called “Jerusalem Artichoke Brandy”, “Erdäpfler”, “Rossler”, or "Borbel". Jerusalem artichoke brandy smells fruity and has a slight nutty-sweet flavour. It is characterised by an intense, pleasing, earthy note. The tubers are washed and dried in an oven before being fermented and distilled. It can be further refined to make “Red Rossler” by adding common tormentil (Potentilla erecta), and other ingredients such as currants, to produce a somewhat bitter and astringent decoction. It is used as digestif, as well as a remedy for diarrhoea or abdominal pain.

In the language of flowers, Jerusalem artichoke flowers mean “a short but happy life”. Flowerless foliage carries the meaning of “deception”.

This post is part the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017


“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.” - Immanuel Kant 

We watched an interesting film at the weekend, which got us talking about “amoral” versus “immoral” people. Amoral implies ‘not concerned with or affected by morality’, so that something described as amoral cannot appropriately be criticised for failure to conform to accepted moral standards. It is lacking a moral sense and is unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something (for example, “an amoral attitude to sex”; or “the client pays for the amoral expertise of the lawyer”).

Immoral, on the other hand, means ‘not conforming to accepted standards of morality’, and implies condemnation (e.g. “they felt it was immoral to accept a loan that they could not hope to repay”). Our discussion concerned the anti-hero of this quirky movie, which was about all the shades of gray between the blacks and whites of morality. 

The Details (2011) Black Comedy - Directed by Jacob Estes; starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney. - 7/10

In King County, Washington, Dr. Jeff Lang (Maguire) has been married for ten years with Nealy Lang (Banks) and they have a little boy. Their best friends are Rebecca Mazzoni, who studied with Jeff at medical school, and her husband Peter Mazzoni. Jeff decides to lay turf in his backyard, but the lawn rolls come with worms underneath and raccoons destroy his lawn during the night. Jeff wants also build another room in the house for his planned second son, but City Hall blocks the project. Jeff decides to build the room without approval and he gives his mentally unstable next door neighbour Lila (Linney), a beautiful plant, hoping to bribe her into silence. Jeff likes to play basketball with his friend Lincoln, who has kidney failure and needs haemodialysis.

Things begin to go wrong for Jeff, as:
a) His wife refuses to have sex with him;
b) The raccoons are seemingly ineradicable;
c) Rebecca is far too amorous for a good friend;
d) Lila is unpredictably erratic in her dealings with Jeff;
e) Jeff is too irresponsible and prone to amoral and immoral behaviour…
This creates havoc in the lives of Jeff and everyone he associates with, with some bizarre and tragic consequences.

We quite enjoyed the film, but perhaps even more the discussion it generated in its aftermath, which was quite a philosophical one and got us thinking about morality and how people view it and what choices in their lives they make on the basis of their personal concepts of morality. Worth hunting out this film and watching it, not only because it is quite entertaining, but also because it is a film that makes you think.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


“Keep close to Nature’s heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” - John Muir 

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.
Milford Sound (Piopiotahi in Māori) is a fjord in the south west of New Zealand’s South Island, within Fiordland National Park, Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. It has been judged the world’s top travel destination in an international survey (the 2008 Travellers’ Choice Destinations Awards by Trip Advisor) and is acclaimed as New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination. Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World.

Milford Sound runs 15 kilometres inland from the Tasman Sea at Dale Point - the mouth of the fiord - and is surrounded by sheer rock faces that rise 1,200 metres or more on either side. Among the peaks are The Elephant at 1,517 metres, said to resemble an elephant’s head, and The Lion, 1,302 metres, in the shape of a crouching lion. Milford Sound has two permanent waterfalls all year round, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. After heavy rain however, many hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen running down the steep sided rock faces that line the fiord. They are fed by rain-water drenched moss and will last a few days at most once the rain stops.

With a mean annual rainfall of 6,813 mm on 182 days a year, a high level even for the West Coast, Milford Sound is known as the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand and one of the wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250 mm during a span of 24 hours! Lush rain forests cling precariously to the cliffs, while seals, penguins, and dolphins frequent the waters and whales can be seen sometimes. The sound has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because it is a breeding site for Fiordland Penguins.

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

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