Saturday, 10 September 2016


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

Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (27 November 1602 – ca. 1676-1678), was a Baroque music composer, singer and Benedictine nun. She spent her adult life cloistered in the convent of Santa Radegonda, Milan, where she became abbess and stopped composing. She was one of more than a dozen cloistered women who published sacred music in seventeenth-century Italy.

Born into a wealthy family in Milan, Italy, Margarita Cozzolani entered the convent and took her vows in 1620. She added “Chiara” as her religious name. Her writings are very prolific, with some stylistic characteristics being the usage of sequences and switching modes. Her “Concerti Sacri” had followed suit in the Lombard style. Her four musical opere were published between 1640 and 1650, which is the date of her “Vespers”, perhaps her best-known single work. There is also a “Paschal Mass”. Her first publication, “Primavera di Fiori Musicali”, is lost.

In the convent of Santa Radegonda, the nuns sang during major religious feast days. This drew a great deal of attention from the outside world. As abbess of Santa Radegonda, Cozzolani defended the nuns’ music, which came under attack from Archbishop Alfonso Litta, who wanted to reform the convent by limiting the nuns’ practice of music and other contact with the outside world. The archbishop’s qualms could not have been reassured by the ecstatic report of Filippo Picinelli, in “Ateneo dei Letterati Milanesi” (Milan, 1670) who found that:

“The nuns of Santa Radegonda of Milan are gifted with such rare and exquisite talents in music that they are acknowledged to be the best singers of Italy. They wear the Cassinese habits of St. Benedict, but they seem to any listener to be white and melodious swans, who fill hearts with wonder, and spirit away tongues in their praise. Among these sisters, Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani merits the highest praise, Chiara in name but even more so in merit, and Margarita for her unusual and excellent nobility of invention...”.

Donna Chiara Margarita Cozzolani disappears from the convent’s records after 1676. The first modern edition of her complete motets, for one to five voices and continuo, appeared in 1998.

Here is Cozzolani’s “Paschal Mass”:
[1] Kyrie eleison: Messa a 4 - 0:00
[2] Gloria in excelsis Deo: Messa a 4 - 2:24
[3] in loco Graduale & Alleruia: Ave mater dilectissima - 7:02
[4] Credo: Messa a 4 - 13:31
[5] in loco Offertorium: Bone Iesu, fons amoris - 21:00
[6] Sanctus: Messa a 4 - 25:19
[7] ad Elevationem: O quam bonum, O quam iocundum - 26:41
[8] Agnus Dei: Messa a 4 - 34:56
[9] in loco Communio: O dulcis Iesu - 37:12
[10] in loco Deo gratias: Maria Magdalene stabat - 42:54

Friday, 9 September 2016


“Absolutely eat dessert first. The thing that you want to do the most, do that.” - Joss Whedon

We had some Madeira cake left over in the pantry, and as it was getting a little stale and as our weather continues to be wet and cool, we made a traditional English pudding. This is perfect for late Winter and early Spring evenings when the lingering cold really asks for a rich, sweet and fruity dessert.

Cabinet Pudding
350g madeira cake or butter cake
100g raisins, sultanas and currants
100g mixed glace cherries
3 eggs, beaten
300ml milk
150ml thin cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Icing sugar, to dust (optional)
Cream or ice to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease a 2-litre baking dish (you may alternatively prepare in individual pudding dishes). Roughly crumble the cake into dish and scatter with dried fruit and glace cherries.
Place eggs, milk, cream and vanilla in a bowl and beat to combine. Strain over the cake mixture.
Place dish in a large roasting pan. Add boiling water to come halfway up sides of dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until firm. Remove, then dust with icing sugar if you are using. Serve with cream or ice-cream, if desired.

Thursday, 8 September 2016


“Take care of all your memories – for you cannot relive them.” - Bob Dylan

Prunus mahaleb, the mahaleb cherry or St Lucie cherry, is a species of cherry tree. The tree is cultivated for a spice obtained from the seeds inside the cherry stones. The seeds have a fragrant smell and have a taste comparable to bitter almonds with cherry notes. The tree is native in the Mediterranean region, Iran and parts of central Asia. It is adjudged to be native in northwestern Europe or at least it is naturalized there. It is a deciduous tree or large shrub, growing to 2–10 m tall with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter.

The bark of the tree is grey-brown, with conspicuous lenticels on young stems, and shallowly fissured on old trunks. The leaves are 1.5-5 cm long, 1-4 cm. wide, alternate, clustered at the end of alternately arranged twigs, ovate to cordate, pointed, have serrate edges, longitudinal venation and are glabrous and green. The petiole is 5-20 mm, and may or may not have two glands. The flowers are fragrant, pure white, small, 8-20 mm diameter, with an 8-15 mm pedicel; they are arranged 3-10 together on a 3-4 cm long raceme. The flower pollination is mainly by bees. The fruit is a small thin-fleshed cherry-like drupe 8–10 mm in diameter, green at first, turning red then dark purple to black when mature, with a very bitter flavour; flowering is in mid spring with the fruit ripening in mid to late summer.

Even in places where the spice from the seeds is not used, the tree is grown as an ornamental tree for its strongly fragrant flowers, throughout temperate regions of the world. A number of cultivars have been selected for their ornamental value, including ‘Albomarginata’, with variegated foliage, ‘Bommii’, a dwarf with strongly pendulous branches, ‘Globosa’, a compact dwarf clone, ‘Pendula’, with drooping branching, and ‘Xanthocarpa’ with yellow fruit.

Mahleb or Mahlepi is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of this tree’s fruit. The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction. The seed kernel is ground to a powder before use. Its flavour is similar to a combination of bitter almond and cherry, and similar also to marzipan. Mahleb is used in small quantities to sharpen sweet foods and cakes.

It has been used for centuries in the Middle East and the surrounding areas as a flavouring for baked goods. Recipes calling for the fruit or seed of the “ḫalub” date back to ancient Sumer. In recent decades, it has been slowly entering mainstream cookbooks in English.

In Greece, it is called μαχλέπι (mahlepi), and is used in egg-rich yeast cakes such as New Year’s vasilopita and Easter tsoureki breads (known as cheoreg in Armenian and çörek in Turkish). In Turkey, it is used in pogača pastry and other baked goods. In the Arabic Middle East, it is used in ma’amoul pastries. In Egypt, powdered mahleb is made into a paste with honey, sesame seeds and nuts, eaten as a dessert or a snack with bread. In English, mahleb is sometimes spelled mahalab, mahlep, mahaleb, etc.

The aroma of mahleb is subtle yet distinctive and pervasive, especially when the baked goods are coming out of the oven. It is associated with festive occasions when these traditional breads and pasties are baked. Personally, having grown up in Greece and having vasilopita on New Year’s Day and tsoureki at Easter, the fragrant smell of the rich, soft sweet bread associated with these holidays is quite an unforgettable part of my childhood. A recipe for Greek tsoureki can be found here.

In the language of flowers, a sprig of flowering mahaleb cherry signifies “you are talented and erudite, but your charms are well hidden”. A single blossom indicates “good education”. Seeds of the mahaleb cherry mean: “Your secret has been discovered”.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016


“If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?” - Khalil Gibran

This week, Poets United is looking at “Blooms”. The challenge is: “In a new poem, add a bloom to our bouquet.”
Here is mine:

Faded Blooms

Pressed between the yellowed pages
Of an old diary,
Some faded blooms you once gave me.
Memories of a Spring long gone
And of a love, alas, forlorn.

As if the flowers weren’t enough,
I read the pages,
Reliving agonies in cursive script:
My heart to you was given whole
Gifted was I, yours, body and soul.

The years have passed, I have survived,
Hollow perhaps,
But with a heart regenerated.
Fresh blooms in icy Winter flower,
December roses now adorn my bower.

Time flows like an endless river forward,
I float and swim,
Refuse in swirling eddies to drown.
Experience makes my garden grow
Blooms in my glasshouse shall I sow.

Your faded flowers a bitter souvenir
Of lesson learnt;
A life that stopped, restarted, grew.
Young buds now have I in abundance,
And love aplenty in redundance.

Ah, how the wheel of time quickly turns,
And how our life old baggage burns…
Wisdom of heart allows old wounds to heal,
Lets us new pleasures, joys fresh to feel.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


“Travel is very subjective. What one person loves, another loathes.” - Robin Leach

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.
Liechtenstein (officially the Principality of Liechtenstein), is a doubly landlocked German-speaking microstate in Central Europe. It is a constitutional monarchy with the rank of principality, headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It has an area of just over 160 square kilometres and an estimated population of 37,000. Divided into 11 municipalities, its capital is Vaduz and its largest municipality is Schaan.

Economically, Liechtenstein has the third highest gross domestic product per person in the world when adjusted for purchasing power parity, after Qatar and Luxembourg, and the highest when not adjusted by purchasing power parity. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 1.5%. An alpine country, Liechtenstein is mainly mountainous, making it a winter sport destination. Many cultivated fields and small farms are found both in the south (Oberland, upper land) and north (Unterland, lower land).

The country has a strong financial sector centered in Vaduz. Liechtenstein is a member of the European Free Trade Association, and while not being a member of the European Union, the country participates in both the Schengen Area and European Economic Area. It also has a customs union and a monetary union with Switzerland.

Vaduz is the capital of Liechtenstein and also the seat of the national parliament. The town, which is located along the Rhine River, has about 5,100 residents as of 2009. Although Vaduz is the best known town internationally in the principality, it is not the largest: Neighbouring Schaan has a larger population.

The most prominent landmark of Vaduz is Vaduz Castle, the home of the reigning prince of Liechtenstein and the Liechtenstein princely family. The castle is visible from almost any location in Vaduz, being perched atop a steep hill in the middle of the city. The Cathedral of St. Florin, Government House and City Hall are also well-known landmarks, displaying the various styles and periods of architecture that the city is known for.

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, 5 September 2016


“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” - Peter Ustinov

We all need to laugh and doing so does us the world of good. Laughter is a powerful antidote to anxiety, stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back to normal than a good laugh. Humour lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focussed, and alert. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Laughter triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humour and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress.

However, many people nowadays find it more and more difficult to have a really good laugh, allowing their problems to get the better of them and sometimes sinking into the depths of depression. Thus, it is no surprise that the comedy genre is popular in literature, film and TV. Speaking of TV, the canned laughter in TV-SitComs is a calculated ploy. Humour is infectious: The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. When you hear other people laugh you are more likely to also find funny whatever it is that makes them laugh.

Comedy is a narrative that has a series of funny or comical events, intended to make the audience laugh. It is a very open genre, and thus crosses over with many other genres on a frequent basis. Even a very serious and dramatic movie may have moments of comedy within it to lighten the mood and give the audience some comic relief. An emotional safety valve if you will. The various sub-genres of comedy are:

Comedy of Manners: This is a film satirising the manners and affectations of a social class, often represented by stock characters. The plot of the comedy is often concerned with an illicit love affair or some other scandal, but this is generally less important than the witty dialogue and embarrassing situations some of the characters find themselves in. This form of comedy has a long ancestry, dating back at least as far as Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing”. P.G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves” series of books and the excellent 1990 TV Series adaptation Jeeves and Wooster with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie is a classic example of this genre.

Tall Tale: A humorous story with blatant exaggeration, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with nonchalance. Terry Gilliam’s 1988 “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” is a classic example. It is an adaptation of German writer Rudolf Erich Raspe’s 1785 book: “Baron Munchausen’s Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia.” I loved the film and it received positive reviews from critics, but unfortunately, it was a box office bomb!

Parody: A story that mocks or satirises other genres, people, fictional characters or works. Such works employ sarcasm, stereotyping, mockery of scenes, symbols or lines from other works, and the obviousness of meaning in a character’s actions. Such stories may be “affectionate parodies”, which merely mean to entertain those familiar with the source of the parody, or they may well be intended to undercut the respectability of the original inspiration for the parody by pointing out its flaws (the latter being closer to satire). Terry Gilliam’s and Terry Jones’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” of 1975 is an affectionate parody of the King Arthur epic movies.

Romantic Comedy aka RomCom: A sub-genre which combines the romance genre with comedy, focusing on two or more individuals as they discover and attempt to deal with their romantic love, attractions to each other. The stereotypical plot line follows the “boy-gets-girl”, “boy-loses-girl”, “boy gets girl back again” sequence. Naturally, there are innumerable variants to this plot (as well as new twists, such as reversing the gender roles in the story), and much of the generally lighthearted comedy lies in the social interactions and sexual tension between the characters, who very often either refuse to admit they are attracted to one another, or must deal with other’s meddling in their affairs. The plethora of movies in this genre attests to its great popularity with the paying public. Rob Reiner’s “When Harry Met Sally...” of 1989 is a good film of this genre.

Comic Fantasy: This is a sub-genre of fantasy that is primarily humorous in intent and tone. Usually set in imaginary worlds, comic fantasy often includes puns on and parodies of other works of fantasy. It is sometimes known as low fantasy in contrast to high fantasy, which is primarily serious in intent and tone. The term “low fantasy” is also used to represent other types of fantasy, so while comic fantasies may also correctly be classified as low fantasy, many examples of low fantasy are not comic in nature. Andrew Adamson’s and Vicky Jenson’s animated 2001 film “Shrek” is an example.

Comedy Horror: This is quite a popular genre and there are often elements of parody in this sub-genre. Mixing the spine-chilling effects and plot devices with comedy (often slapstick) greatly defuses the horrific with a belly laugh. Mel Brooks’ 1974 film “Young Frankenstein” is a good example. The 2009 Karyn Kusama film “Jennifer’s Body” is another one.

Black Comedy (or Dark Comedy): A parody or satirical story that is based on normally tragic or taboo subjects, including death, murder, suicide, illicit drugs and war. So-called “dead baby comedy” sometimes falls under this sub-genre. Peter Berg’s 1998 film “Very Bad Things” is a good example.

Zombie Comedy: Often called ZomCom or Zomedy, this is a genre that blends zombie horror motifs with slapstick comedy as well as dark comedy. Edgar Wright’s 2004 “Shaun of the Dead” falls in this sub-genre, or may even be considered a “RomZomCom” (a romantic ZomCom).

Comic Science Fiction: A comedy that uses science fiction elements or settings, often as a lighthearted (or occasionally vicious) parody  Garth Jennings’s 2005 film “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” is a film of this sub-genre.

So whatever sub-genre tickles your funny bone go forth and see films of that ilk, as laughter is good for you.
And what do you call an alligator in a vest?

An “investigator” of course!

Sunday, 4 September 2016


“Why is art beautiful? Because it's useless. Why is life ugly? Because it's all ends and purposes and intentions.” - Fernando Pessoa

John Glover (18 February 1767 – 9 December 1849) was an English-born Australian artist during the early colonial period of Australian art. In Australia he has been dubbed “the father of Australian landscape painting”.

Glover was born at Houghton-on-Hill in Leicestershire, England. His parents were farmer William Glover and Ann (née Bright). He showed a talent for drawing at an early age, and in 1794 was practicing as an artist and drawing-master at Lichfield. The Countess of Harrington helped establish his practice as an art instructor, and may have taken lessons from him herself. Removed to London in 1805, became a member of the Old Water Colour Society, and was elected its president in 1807. In the ensuing years he exhibited a large number of pictures at the exhibitions of this society, and also at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists. He had one-man shows in London in 1823 and 1824. He was a very successful artist and, although never elected a member of the Academy, his reputation stood very high with the public.

Glover achieved fame as a painter of “Italianate” romantic landscapes of Britain (including The falls of Foyers on Loch Ness, the Lake District and London) and Southern Europe. He became known in both England and France as the “English Claude”. This phrase was making comparison with Glover and the French seventeenth century artist Claude Lorrain, whose works collected by eighteenth century English “grand tourists”, strongly influenced the evolution of the English style, in both painting and the layout of landscape gardens. On 21 October 1825 Glover was one of three passengers on PS Comet II who alighted at Rothesay, thus escaping the disaster which occurred to the paddle-steamer a few hours later when it was hit by SS Ayr and sank in the River Clyde with the loss of 62 lives.

Glover decided to move to Australia, arriving in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) on his 64th birthday in 1831. He brought with him a strong reputation as a landscape painter. From April 1831 until early 1832 he lived in Hobart on a property named “Stanwell Hall”, which can be seen in his work “Hobart Town, taken from the garden where I lived”. In 1832 he acquired one of the largest grants of land in Van Diemen’s Land at the time at Mills Plains, Deddington. He named his new property Patterdale after Blowick Farm, a property near Patterdale, in the Lake District. Glover’s grant was close to Kingston, the home of John Batman (later to co-found Melbourne) and his relationship to his neighbour appears to be fraught. Glover helped build the Chapel at Deddington and is buried within these grounds.

Glover is best known now for his paintings of the Tasmanian landscape. He gave a fresh treatment to the effects of the Australian sunlight on the native bushland by depicting it bright and clear, a definite departure from the darker “English country garden” model. Note this example “Patterdale Farm” (circa 1840). His treatment of the local flora was also new because it was a more accurate depiction of the Australian trees and scrubland. Glover noted the “remarkable peculiarity of the trees” in Australia and observed that “however numerous, they rarely prevent your tracing through them the whole distant country”. “Natives on the Ouse River, Van Diemen’s Land” (1838) is “informed by European notions of an Antipodean Arcadia, with Indigenous people living in a landscape unsullied by European contact.”  However, it stands in marked contrast to the actual situation of the traditional owners of Ouse River country - the Braylwunyer people of the Big River nation - which was one of dispossession and violence at the hands of the colonists. John Glover's last major work was painted on his 79th birthday.

The John Glover Society was established on Aug 22, 2001 to honour and promote Glover’s memory and his contribution to Australian art. The society commissioned a life-size statue of Glover, unveiled in February 2003 in Evandale, Tasmania. It also runs the annual Glover Prize, which is held in Evandale. John Glover’s work features in many prominent art galleries throughout Australia (and the world). His work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and a symposium in Australia. From 2004, The John Glover Society has awarded the Glover Prize for depictions of Tasmanian landscapes. It is the richest art prize in Australia for landscape painting.

The work above is “The Bath of Diana, Van Diemen’s Land”, 1837, 96.5 cm x 134.5 cm, exhibited in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. It presents an idyllic scene in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) of a stretch of calm water beside low grassy hills, rocky outcrops and sinuous eucalypts. Light radiates over the hills, emphasising their forms, and shines on the water to create reflections of the surrounding scene. Blue hills can be glimpsed in the distance. It is a fine day with clouds in the sky. The scene has been enlivened by including small figures of the local Palawa people. One swims in the pool, another is about to follow, and others watch from the bank. On the other side a figure with several dogs stands with legs apart brandishing a spear.

Glover’s works often employ conventional picturesque compositional and decorative devices. However, he was also a sensitive observer and recorder, providing the first convincing and comfortable representations of the Australian landscape, with its bright blue skies and golden light, twisting eucalypts and grey-blue-olive foliage, Aboriginal inhabitants and empty distances. In these remarkable 1830s paintings, Glover was arguably the most important landscape painter working outside Europe.