Saturday, 22 April 2017


“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle 

Carlo Farina (ca. 1600 – July 1639) was an Italian composer, conductor and violinist of the Early Baroque era. Farina was born at Mantua. He presumably received his first lessons from his father, who was sonatore di viola at the court of the Gonzaga in that city. Later he was given further education probably by Salomone Rossi and Giovanni Battista Buonamente.

From 1626 to 1629, he worked as concertmaster in Dresden. In Dresden he worked with Heinrich Schütz, who interested him in composing. From 1629 to 1631, he was a prominent member of the electoral court orchestra in Bonn, until he returned to Italy, where he worked in Parma and later in Lucca until 1635. In 1635 he held position at the court of Carlo I Cybo-Malaspina, Prince of Massa, and between 1636 and 1637 in Gdańsk. From 1638 he lived in Vienna, where he died of the plague probably a year later.

He is considered to be one of the earliest violin virtuosos and he made many contributions to violin technique. For example, in his work Capriccio Stravagante (1627) he used the violin to imitate animal sounds like dogs barking or cats fighting. According to Cecil Forsyth’s Orchestration, he “is generally credited” with “the invention of the double-stop” (although nearly a century earlier Ganassi’s Regola rubertina (1542–3) describes the technique, suggesting it was common among contemporary viol players). Musical lineage aside, Carlo Farina was granted the title of Count of Reggio di Calabria by Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy. He was head of music for the Royal Court of the Prince of Messa from 1626-1630.

During his stay in Dresden he published five volumes, among them sonatas for 2, 3, 4 instruments and basso continuo. The pieces have often the same program as the title. Thus he uses Polish dance rhythms in the sonata La Polacca or Hungarian motifs in La Cingara.

Here are some of his violin sonatas played by Lukas Friedrich and Christine Busch (violins); Barbara Noeldecke (cello); Hubert Hoffmann (archlute); Jörg Hannes Hahn (harpsichord and organ):
Sonata detta ‘La Polacca’ – 9:11
Sonata detta ‘La Capriola’ – 8:19
Sonata detta ‘La Moretta’ – 11:56
Sonata detta ‘ La Franzosina’ – 9:26
Sonata detta ‘La Farina’ – 6:12
Sonata detta ‘La Greca’ – 7:46
Sonata detta ‘La Cingara’ – 5:40
Sonata detta ‘La Fiama’ – 2:20
Sonata detta ‘La Semplisa’ – 3:47
Sonata detta ‘La Desperata’ – 8:33

Friday, 21 April 2017


“Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin.” - Simone Schwarz-Bart 

We harvested some butternut pumpkins from our garden today, so pumpkin soup is on the menu. 

Pumpkin Soup
2 + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, white part only, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 kg pumpkin
1 large potato, peeled, grated
1L vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream

Cut pumpkin in half and microwave the two halves for three minutes to soften slightly. This makes peeling and cutting easy. Scoop out seeds and cut into thick slices. Rub 2 tbsp oil and salt on the pumpkin slices and bake on baking tray in a hot oven until pumpkin is cooked and browned on both sides. Remove from oven, mash and reserve.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add potato and stir thoroughly until softened. Add pumpkin and stock and bring to the boil. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend in batches.
Return soup to pan, stir through cream and reheat gently. Season and add a little more nutmeg if desired.
Serve with toasted slices of crusty bread and some grated parmesan for those that want to sprinkle on top of the soup.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


“Beauty Way: Today my heart will have harmony; My spirit singing the songs of happiness. My mind will seek balance, one with Mother Earth and the Creator. My eyes will look for good and there I will find it. My mouth will whisper the words of gratitude. Today I will walk the beauty way.” ― Howard T. Rainer 

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. 

Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It lies about 1.6 km north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. This has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taos Pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos, whose people speak two variants of the Tanoan language. The Taos community is known for being one of the most private, secretive, and conservative pueblos. A reservation of 38,000 hectare is attached to the pueblo, and about 4,500 people live in this area.

The pueblo was constructed in a setting backed by the Taos Mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The settlement was built on either side of Rio Pueblo de Taos, also called Rio Pueblo and Red Willow Creek, a small stream that flows through the middle of the pueblo compound. Its headwaters come from the nearby mountains. Taos Pueblo’s most prominent architectural feature is a multi-storied residential complex of reddish-brown adobe, built on either side of the Rio Pueblo. The Pueblo’s website states it was probably built between 1000 and 1450. The pueblo was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960. In 1992 it was designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. As of 2006, about 150 people live in the historic complex full-time.

The north-side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in North America. It is the largest multistoried Pueblo structure still existing. It is made of adobe walls that are often several feet thick. Its primary purpose was for defence. Up to as late as 1900, access to the rooms on lower floors was by ladders on the outside to the roof, and then down an inside ladder. In case of an attack, outside ladders could easily be pulled up.

The homes in this structure usually consist of two rooms, one of which is for general living and sleeping, and the second of which is for cooking, eating, and storage. Each home is self-contained; there are no passageways between the houses. Taos Indians made little use of furniture in the past, but today they have tables, chairs, and beds. In the pueblo, electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing are prohibited.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday 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, 17 April 2017


“A falcon is the perfect hunter.” - Jean Craighead George

Horus is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different perceptions of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasised, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality.

He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or peregrine falcon, or as a man with a falcon head. The earliest recorded form of Horus is the tutelary deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt, who is the first known national god, specifically related to the king who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death. The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris, and he plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris’s heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting.

Horus was born to the goddess Isis after she retrieved all the dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris, except his penis, which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish (or sometimes by a crab), and according to Plutarch’s account used her magic powers to resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus to conceive her son (older Egyptian accounts have the penis of Osiris surviving). Once Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she fled to the Nile Delta marshlands to hide from her brother Set, who jealously killed Osiris and who she knew would want to kill their son. There Isis bore a divine son, Horus.

Horus was told by his mother, Isis, to protect the people of Egypt from Set, the evil god of the desert, who had killed Horus’ father, Osiris. Horus had many battles with Set, not only to avenge his father, but to choose the rightful ruler of Egypt. In these battles, Horus came to be associated with Lower Egypt, and became its patron. Egyptologists have often tried to connect the conflict between the two gods with political events early in Egypt’s history or prehistory. The cases in which the combatants divide the kingdom, and the frequent association of the paired Horus and Set with the union of Upper and Lower Egypt, suggest that the two deities represent some kind of division within the country.

Egyptian tradition and archaeological evidence indicate that Egypt was united at the beginning of its history when an Upper Egyptian kingdom, in the south, conquered Lower Egypt in the north. The Upper Egyptian rulers called themselves “followers of Horus’, and Horus became the tutelary deity of the unified nation and its kings. Yet Horus and Set cannot be easily equated with the two halves of the country. Both deities had several cult centers in each region, and Horus is often associated with Lower Egypt and Set with Upper Egypt.

Horus the Younger, Harpocrates to the Ptolemaic Greeks, is represented in the form of a youth wearing a lock of hair (a sign of youth) on the right of his head while sucking his finger. In addition, he usually wears the united crowns of Egypt, the crown of Upper Egypt and the crown of Lower Egypt. He is a form of the rising sun, representing its earliest light.

Harpocrates (Ancient Greek: Ἁρποκράτης) was the god of silence, secrets and confidentiality in the Hellenistic religion developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria (and also an embodiment of hope, according to Plutarch). Harpocrates was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child god Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, Horus represented the newborn sun, rising each day at dawn. When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, they transformed the Egyptian Horus into the Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates, a rendering from Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered “Horus the Child”.

Sunday, 16 April 2017


“All the real things in Russia are done in the villages.” - Ernest Poole 

VictorElpidiforovich Borisov-Musatov (Russian: Ви́ктор Эльпидифо́рович Бори́сов-Муса́тов; April 14 [O.S. April 2] 1870 - November 8 [O.S. October 26] 1905) was a Russian painter, prominent for his unique Post-Impressionistic style that mixed Symbolism, pure decorative style and realism. Together with Mikhail Vrubel he is often referred as the creator of Russian Symbolism style.

Victor Musatov was born in Saratov, Russia (he added the last name Borisov later). His father was a minor railway official who had been born as a serf. In his childhood he suffered a spinal injury, which made him humpbacked for the rest of his life. In 1884 he entered Saratov real school, where his talents as an artist were discovered by his teachers Fedor Vasiliev and Konovalov. He was enrolled in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1890, transferring the next year to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint-Petersburg, where he was a pupil of Pavel Chistyakov. The damp climate of Saint-Petersburg was not good for Victor’s health and in 1893 he was forced to return to Moscow and re-enrol in the Moscow School of painting, sculpturing and architecture.

His earlier works like “May Flowers” of 1894, were labelled decadent by the school administration, who sharply criticised him for making no distinction between the girls and the apple trees in his quest for a decorative effect. The same works however were praised by his peers, who considered him to be the leader of the new art movement. In 1895 Victor once again left Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture and enrolled in Fernand Cormon’s school in Paris. He studied there for three years, returning in summer months to Saratov. He was fascinated by the art of his French contemporaries, and especially by the paintings of ‘the father of French Symbolism’ Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and by the work of Berthe Morisot.

In 1898 Borisov-Musatov returned to Russia and almost immediately fell into what it is called ‘fin de siècle nostalgia’. He complained about ‘the cruel, the truly iron age’, ‘dirt and boredom’, ‘devil’s bog’, and he had acute money problems that were somewhat alleviated only in the last years of his life when collectors started to buy his paintings. Musatov’s response was creating a half-illusory world of the 19th century nobility, their parks and country-seats. This world was partially based on the estate of princes Prozorvky-Galitzines Zubrilovka and partially just on Musatov’s imagination. Borisov-Musatov also abandoned oil paintings for the mixed tempera and watercolour and pastel techniques that he found more suitable for the subtle visual effects he was trying to create.

Borisov-Musatov was a member of the Union of Russian Artists and one of the founders and the leader of the Moscow Association of Artists, a progressive artistic organization that brought together Pavel Kuznetsov, Peter Utkin, Alexander Matveyev, Martiros Saryan, Nikolai Sapunov, and Sergei Sudeikin. The most famous painting of that time is “The Pool” of 1902 (see above). The painting depicts two most important women in his life: his sister, Yelena Musatova and his bride (later wife), artist Yelena Alexandrova. The people are woven into the landscape of an old park with a pond. Another famous painting is “ThePhantoms” of 1903, depicting ghosts on the steps of an old country manor. The painting was praised by the contemporary Symbolist poets Valery Bryusov and Andrey Bely.

In 1904 Borisov-Musatov had a very successful solo exhibition in a number of cities in Germany, and in the spring of 1905 he exhibited with Salon de la Société des Artistes Français and became a member of this society. The last finished painting of Borisov-Musatov was “Requiem”, which was devoted to the memory of Nadezhda Staniukovich, a close friend of the artist. The painting may indicate Borisov-Musatov’s evolution towards the Neo-classical style. Borisov-Musatov died on October 26, O.S. 1905 of a heart attack and is buried on a bank of Oka River near Tarusa. On his tomb there is a sculpture of a sleeping boy by Musatov’s follower Alexander Matveyev.

Saturday, 15 April 2017


“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining - they just shine.” - Dwight L. Moody 

The St. Petersburg Chamber Choir and their director, Nikolai Korniev, show off subbasement basses, soaring sopranos and a rich, well-blended sound in “Russian Easter”, a group of eleven settings for Easter worship by Alexander Grechaninov, Dmitri Bortnyansky and other masters of Russian church music. The compositions were written variously from the 18th century through the present, but all stay true to the spirit and aesthetic of the Orthodox tradition. Those who find plainchant a little on the monotonous side but are still looking for a spiritual element in music will find much to admire and enjoy in these beautifully sung presentations.

1. 00:00 Alleluia. Behold The Bridegroom (Anon. XVIII cent.)
2. 05:08 Gentle Light (Viktor Kallinikov)
3. 08:14 Of Thy Mystical Supper, Op. 58 (Alexander Grechaninov)
4. 14:34 The Wise Thief, Op. 40 No. 3 (Pavel Chesnokov)
5. 17:04 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent, Op. 27 No. 1 (Pavel Chesnokov)
6. 21:24 In the Flesh Thou Didst Fall Asleep (Hieromonk Jonathan)
7. 24:34 The Paschal Hours (Pavel Chesnokov)
8. 39:04 Paschal Hymns To The Virgin (Pavel Chesnokov)
9. 43:04 Today All Creation (Stephan Dekhteryov)
10. 48:46 Concerto No. 5: Come, O People (Concerto No. 5) (Dmitri Bortnyansky)
11. 55:24 Give Ear To My Prayer, Op. 26 (Alexander Grechaninov)


Friday, 14 April 2017


“Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life.” - Janine di Giovanni

It’s Easter and as is traditional in Greek households we have done our traditional baking of Easter cookies, sweet Easter loaf, the dyeing of eggs red and the preparations for the “mageiritsa” soup and the roast lamb for Easter Sunday. Here is the recipe for the sweet Easter loaf, which is considered a “difficult” baking project as while the loaf should be well baked, it should also be light, yielding, sweet, aromatic and full of textured “trails” of baked dough.

Tsoureki (Greek Sweet Easter Loaf)
180 mL water
100 mL milk
650 g plain flour (high gluten, “strong” flour”
1 tsp baking powder
15 g dry active yeast
2 large eggs
50 g unsalted butter (melted)
200 g caster sugar
40 mL invert syrup
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground mahlepi
1/2 tsp ground gum mastic
1/2 tsp cardamom
Extra egg for glazing
Blanched flaked almonds

In the large mixer bowl, mix the lukewarm milk and water and dissolve in it about a third of the sugar and the salt. Add the yeast and mix well so that it dissolves. Leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes to ensure that the yeast is activated (bubbles will appear).
Add the rest of the sugar and invert syrup to the yeast mixture, the lightly beaten eggs, the spices, the butter and begin mixing with the dough hook.
Once the ingredients are well mixed, add the flour (into which you have mixed the baking powder) little by little and continue mixing with the dough hook with large speed until the (soft) dough adheres to the hook. Do not add extra flour.
Stop mixing and cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise.
Once the dough has doubled in size, place some melted butter on your hands and punch it down. Cut the dough into three equal lots and form three long slender rolls. Form the dough rolls into a plait and place on a buttered baking tray. Glaze with beaten egg and sprinkle with the blanched flaked almonds. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise.
Warm the oven to 160˚C and before placing the loaf to bake, place a fire-proof bowl filled with boiling water in the lowermost shelf. Bake the loaf for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

This post is part of the Food Friday meme.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017


“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” - Abraham Lincoln

This week, the midweek motif of Poets United is “books”. I thought that for a bibliophile like me, this poem would be an easy one to write, but perhaps when we are faced with stating the obvious, therein we flounder and find difficulty…


When times were tough,
I delved into your pages and found strength;
When I was sad,
I looked inside and found mirth;
When feeling haughty, proud –
I read and became humble.

In days of desperation,
I searched for hope therein;
In times of mindless frivolity,
I was sobered by your wise words;
In hours of need,
I found within what I sought.

When friendless, lonely,
I found in books the most loyal companion;
When bored and flat,
In books I found the spark of the divine;
When feeling small and insignificant,
I discovered in books my self-respect.

In all my turns of fortune,
I found stability and calm inside;
In every step I took, in every journey started,
I found a true and steady compass there;
In all my life’s every situation,
Each question answered, each problem solved
In books all truth, all hope and all enjoyment…

Tuesday, 11 April 2017


“The Dutch are a very practical people.” - Famke Janssen 

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. 

Haarlem (predecessor of Harlem in the English language) is a city and municipality in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland and is situated at the northern edge of the Randstad, one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe. Haarlem had a population of 155,758 in 2014. It is a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam, and many residents commute to the country’s capital for work. 

Haarlem was granted city status or stadsrechten in 1245, although the first city walls were not built until 1270. The modern city encompasses the former municipality of Schoten as well as parts that previously belonged to Bloemendaal and Heemstede. Apart from the city, the municipality of Haarlem also includes the western part of the village of Spaarndam. Newer sections of Spaarndam lie within the neighbouring municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude.

There are several museums in Haarlem. The Teylers Museum lies on the Spaarne River and is the oldest museum of the Netherlands. Its main subjects are art, science and natural history, and it owns a number of works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Another museum is the Frans Hals Museum of fine arts, with its main location housing Dutch master paintings, and its exhibition halls on the Grote Markt housing a gallery for modern art called De Hallen. Also on the Grote Markt, in the cellar of the Vleeshal is the Archeologisch Museum Haarlem, while across the square on Saturdays, the Hoofdwacht building is open with exhibitions on Haarlem history. Other museums are Het Dolhuys (a museum of psychiatry), the Ten Boom Museum (a hiding place for Jews in World War II) and the Historisch Museum Haarlem, across from the Frans Hals Museum.

Every year in April the bloemencorso (flower parade) takes place. Floats decorated with flowers drive from Noordwijk to Haarlem, where they are exhibited for one day. In the same month there is also a funfair organised on the Grote Markt and the Zaanenlaan in Haarlem-Noord. Other festivals are held on the Grote Markt as well, in particular the annual Haarlem Jazz & More (formerly known as Haarlem Jazzstad), a music festival, and Haarlem Culinair, a culinary event, as well as the biannual Haarlemse Stripdagen (Haarlem comic days). Bevrijdingspop is a music festival to celebrate the Dutch liberation from the Nazis after World War II. It is held every year on 5 May, the day that the Netherlands were liberated in 1945, at the Haarlemmerhout. At the same location, the Haarlemmerhoutfestival is also held every year, which is a music and theatre festival.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme. 

Add your own travel posts using the Linky tool below, and don't forget to be nice and leave a comment here, and link back to this page from your own post:

Sunday, 9 April 2017


“I go to Prague every year if I can, value my relationships there like gold, and feel myself in a sense Czech, with all their hopes and needs. They are a people I not only love, but admire.” - Ellis Peters 

František Ženíšek (25 May 1849, Prague – 15 November 1916, Prague) was a Czech painter. He was part of the “Generace českého Národního divadla” (Generation of the Czech National Theatre), a large group of artists with nationalistic sympathies.

He was born into a family of merchants and displayed an affinity for art at an early age. Reluctantly his father agreed to let him pursue his interests and allowed him to take lessons from Karel Javůrek while he was still in school. From 1863 to 1865, he was at the Academy of Fine Arts, studying with Eduard von Engerth. After a brief stay in Vienna, assisting Engerth with work at the State Opera, he was back at the Academy in Prague, working with Jan Swerts and the history painter Josef Matyáš Trenkwald.

In 1875, he received his first major commission; painting murals at the city hall in Courtrai, Belgium. Then, in 1878, while making a study trip to Paris, he gained an important friend and supporter in Josef Šebestián Daubek, a well-known patron of the arts, who engaged him to decorate his home in Liteň. He later accompanied Daubek on his honeymoon to Holland, and painted a portrait of the new couple.

Soon after returning from Paris, he and Mikoláš Aleš won a competition to decorate the foyer of the National Theatre with historical and allegorical designs. Ženíšek went on to decorate the auditorium ceiling and design a curtain, although the curtain was destroyed by a fire in 1881. He also designed windows at the church in Karlín and lunettes at the National Museum as well as over 80 portraits.

From 1885 to 1896, he was a Professor at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, where his assistant was Jakub Schikaneder. Then, from 1896 to 1915, he was a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, where his students included Jaroslav Špillar and Jan Preisler. In 1898, he was one of the founders of “Jednota umělců výtvarných” (Creative Artists), in an effort to strengthen the Czech nationalist viewpoint in the arts. His son, František (1877–1935) was also a painter of some note.

Above is his painting, “Oldřich and Božena” of 1884. Božena (Křesinová - died after 1052) was the second wife (and probably earlier the mistress) of Duke Oldřich of Bohemia and mother of Bretislaus I of Bohemia. The historian Cosmas of Prague recorded the legend of Oldřich and Božena, in his Chronica Boëmorum (“Chronicle of the Bohemians”). According to the legend, the young (and married) Oldřich set out on a hunt and travelled to Peruc. There, he spied a beautiful peasant girl, Božena, by a well known today as Božena's Spring and was immediately entranced by her. Oldřich abandoned his hunt and took Božena back to Prague, where she eventually gave birth to his illegitimate son Bretislaus. In the legend, Oldřich's first meeting with Božena took place in sight of the Oldřich Oak.

Božena was indeed the saviour of the Czech House of Přemysl. Oldřich had two brothers, but one of them, Jaromír, was castrated by the eldest sibling, Boleslaus III. Boleslaus himself was imprisoned in Poland, possibly having only a daughter. Thus Oldřich was the one Přemyslid able to have a son and heir. His first wife is thought to have borne no children. Božena’s low birth is alluded to in the chronicle of Cosmas, which states that Oldřich first met her “riding through the village”. The illegitimate birth of her son Bretislaus to a low-born mother is believed to have made it necessary for him to resort to abduction when he later sought to marry a noble bride (Judith of Schweinfurt). At any rate, she was held to be a peasant woman already by the author of the early 14th-century Chronicle of Dalimil.

Saturday, 8 April 2017


“When I started learning the cello, I fell in love with the instrument because it seemed like a voice - my voice.” - Mstislav Rostropovich 

Salvatore Lanzetti (born around 1710 in Naples; died around 1780 in Turin ) was an Italian cellist and composer of late baroque and pre-classical music. Little is known of his life, surprisingly as he seemed to have been one of the earliest cello virtuosi of the 18th century.

Lanzetti was a student of the Conservatory in Naples, and he devoted himself to the cello and composition. He was in service to the court chapel in Lucca and to Vittorio Amedeo II in Turin. The post at Turin was maintained by Lanzetti even though he made extensive tours in Europe. He was in London in the 1730s and may have lived there until 1754. While in London Lanzetti was able to increase the popularity of his instrument.

By 1760 he was once again in Turin and a member of the chapel until his death. Before Boccherini, Lanzetti began to establish the cello as a solo instrument. In his compositions the cello was not merely relegated to the bass line and required the touch of a virtuoso particularly in the bowing demands. From the fruit of his labours the cello sonata took root. Lanzetti almost brought the level of cello music to that of the violin concerto. His works were arranged in three movements with an intense slow secondary movement and well-developed ideas in the first and third movements.

Lanzetti must have been one of the great cello virtuosi of his time. This conclusion is necessary, given the degree of difficulty of his works in the middle of the 18th century, with multi-finger technique, a wide range of sounds, complicated bow-movements, thumb movements, large jumps and other difficult techniques.

Lanzetti’s most well-known publications are his six sonata collections for cello and basso continuo (Opus II, transcribed for Opus I for flute) and a method published in Amsterdam in 1779: “Principles de l’application du Violoncelle par tous les Tons”. Other sonatas are preserved in manuscript.

Here are Balázs Máté (Baroque Cello), Dénes Karasszon (Baroque Cello), and Jeremy Joseph (Harpsichord, Organ) playing six cello sonatas by Lanzetti:
Sonata No. 5 in D major 0:00
Sonata No. 1 in G major 17:14
Sonata No. 2 in A minor 29:51
Sonata No. 3 in F major 41:51
Sonata No. 4 in C major 52:16
Sonata No. 6 in E minor 1:05:05

Thursday, 6 April 2017


“Love is like a beautiful flower, which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” - Helen Keller 

Cicely or sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is a herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the celery family Apiaceae. It is one of two accepted species in the genus Myrrhis. The genus name Myrrhis derives from the Greek word “myrrhis” [μυρρίς], an aromatic oil from Asia with a characteristic smell. The Latin species name odorata means scented. All parts of the plant are fragrant.

 Myrrhis odorata is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing to 2 m tall, depending on circumstances. The leaves are fern-like, 2-4-pinnate, finely divided, feathery, up to 50 cm long, with whitish patches near the rachis. The plant is softly hairy and smells strongly of aniseed when crushed. The flowers are creamy-white, about 2–4 mm across, produced in large umbels. The flowering period extends from May to June. The fruits are slender, 15–25 mm long and 3–4 mm broad.

 Sweet cicely is native to mountains of southern and central Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus. It has been introduced and naturalised elsewhere in cultivated areas, woodland margins, roadside verges, river banks and grassland. The herb loves partial shade and will happily grow under trees, and in damp, though not waterlogged, spots. Sow in autumn (the seed needs winter cold to germinate). Sweet cicely is not one to grow permanently in pots as it has a long root that likes to burrow down.

 In fertile soils it grows readily from seed, and may be increased by division in spring or autumn. Its leaves are used as a herb, either raw or cooked, with a rather strong taste reminiscent of anise. The roots and seeds also are edible. Additionally, it has a history of use as a medicinal herb. Like its relatives anise, fennel, and caraway, it can also be used to flavour akvavit. Its essential oils are dominated by anethole.

If you aren’t immediately keen on the flavour of sweet cicely, give it time as it can grow on you. The herb also has two other fine qualities: It reduces the acidity of other ingredients, giving the sensation of sweetening, which means that when adding sweet cicely to rhubarb, gooseberries and cooking apples you can use less sugar than usual. It also complements other herbs when used in combination, bringing out their flavour, while remaining in the background itself. You definitely need to experiment with this herb!

Sweet cicely is a prolific self-seeder, which is either a delightful bonus or a nuisance depending on your situation and disposition – if the latter, just pick off the large seeds as they form: They are useful chopped into home-made fudge or crumble topping, or may be used in baking much like aniseed is.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of sweet cicely means: “You are humble but your presence is commanding”. A flowering sprig implies: “Your sweet nature matches your beauty.”

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017


“It is hard to contend against one’s heart’s desire; for whatever it wishes to have it buys at the cost of soul.” - Heraclitus

I am nearly done with my surfeit of work and things are beginning to return to normal – a slightly more relaxed day-to-day existence. I may think of other things again and what better than to participate in the Poets United Midweek Motif this week, which states: “Write a new poem capturing the details of an outdoor scene or day in April.”
Here is my contribution:

April in the Antipodes

My heart stirs silently like a swollen seed,
Its thirst slaked after a long Winter’s rains.
Green vibrant juices begin to flow
Under a cracking husk.
I feel within me rise Spring’s viridian sap;
Life awakens yet again,
The seed must germinate, the flower must bloom.
The clock within has struck the hour.

But all the Spring that I conceal within
Each April dies as Antipodean moon
Wanes, waxes cold, looking at me
Up in the sky fixed upended.

The burgeoning cotyledons every April will unfurl,
In cold grey Autumn skies and chilling winds
They find no shelter, no encouragement.
The first, emerald-green leaves will wither,
As yet another seedling lies shrivelled up, yellow, unfulfilled.
Sleep yet again my Northern April,
As Winter, Winter follows here in the South,
Spring merely poetic licence...

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


“Switzerland is a country where very few things begin, but many things end.” - F. ScottFitzgerald 

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.
Basel (also Basle; French: Bâle; Italian: Basilea) is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland’s third-most-populous city (after Zürich and Geneva) with about 175,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany. In 2014, the Basel agglomeration was the third largest in Switzerland with a population of 537,100 in 74 municipalities in Switzerland and an additional 53 in neighbouring countries (municipal count as of 2000).

The official language of Basel is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect. The city is known for its various internationally renowned museums, ranging from the Kunstmuseum, the first collection of art accessible to the public in Europe, to the Fondation Beyeler (located in Riehen), and its centuries long commitment to Humanism, offering a safe haven among others to Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Holbein family, and more recently also to Hermann Hesse and Karl Jaspers.

Basel has been the seat of a Prince-Bishopric since the 11th century, and joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1501. The city has been a commercial hub and important cultural centre since the Renaissance, and has emerged as a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry in the 20th century. It hosts the oldest university of the Swiss Confederation (1460).

Basel has often been the site of peace negotiations and other international meetings. The Treaty of Basel (1499) ended the Swabian War. Two years later Basel joined the Swiss Confederation. The Peace of Basel in 1795 between the French Republic and Prussia and Spain ended the First Coalition against France during the French Revolutionary Wars. In more recent times, the World Zionist Organization held its first congress in Basel on 3 September 1897. Because of the Balkan Wars, the Second International held an extraordinary congress at Basel in 1912. In 1989, the Basel Convention was opened for signature with the aim of preventing the export of hazardous waste from wealthy to developing nations for disposal.

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

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