Saturday, 30 April 2016


“Most people think that Heaven is a choir, and all you will do is sing.” - Bruce Wilkinson

Samuel Scheidt (baptised 3 November 1587 – 24 March 1654) was a German composer, organist and teacher of the early Baroque era. Scheidt was born in Halle, and after early studies there, he went to Amsterdam to study with Sweelinck, the distinguished Dutch composer, whose work had a clear influence on Scheidt’s style. On his return to Halle, Scheidt became court organist, and later Kapellmeister, to the Margrave of Brandenburg. Unlike many German musicians, for example Heinrich Schütz, he remained in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War, managing to survive by teaching and by taking a succession of smaller jobs until the restoration of stability allowed him to resume his post as Kapellmeister.

When Samuel Scheidt lost his job because of Wallenstein’s actiities, he was appointed in 1628 as musical director of three churches in Halle, including the Market Church. Scheidt was the first internationally significant German composer for the organ, and represents the flowering of the new north German style, which occurred largely as a result of the Protestant Reformation. In south Germany and some other countries of Europe, the spiritual and artistic influence of Rome remained strong, so most music continued to be derivative of Italian models. Cut off from Rome, musicians in the newly Protestant areas readily developed styles that were much different from those of their neighbours.

Scheidt’s music is in two principal categories: Instrumental music, including a large amount of keyboard music, mostly for organ; and sacred vocal music, some of which is a cappella and some of which uses a basso continuo or other instrumental accompaniment. In his numerous chorale preludes, Scheidt often used a “patterned variation” technique, in which each phrase of the chorale uses a different rhythmic motif, and each variation is more elaborate than the previous one, until the climax of the composition is reached. In addition to his chorale preludes, he wrote numerous fugues, suites of dances (which were often in a cyclic form, sharing a common ground bass) and fantasias.

It is Eastern Orthodox Easter this weekend, so rather appropriately, some religious choral music by Scheidt. It is his “Cantiones Sacrae” performed by Vox Luminis under the direction of Lionel Meunier.

Friday, 29 April 2016


“Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.” - Miguel de Cervantes

Sambucus nigra is a species complex of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae native to most of Europe. Common names include elder, elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry and European black elderberry. It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry fertile soils, primarily in sunny locations.

It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m tall and wide. The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10–30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven (rarely nine) leaflets, the leaflets 5–12 cm long and 3–5 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The hermaphrodite flowers are borne in large, flat corymbs 10–25 cm diameter in late spring to mid summer, the individual flowers ivory white, 5–6 mm diameter, with five petals; they are pollinated by flies. The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn; they are an important food for many fruit-eating birds, notably blackcaps.

The dark blue/purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripe state. All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides. The berries are edible after cooking and can be used to make jam, jelly, chutney and Pontack sauce. The flowerheads are commonly used in infusions, giving a very common refreshing drink in Northern Europe and the Balkans. Commercially these are sold as Elderflower cordial. In Europe, the flowers are made into a syrup or cordial (in Romanian: Socată, in Swedish: fläder(blom)saft), which is diluted with water before drinking. The popularity of this traditional drink has recently encouraged some commercial soft drink producers to introduce elderflower-flavoured drinks (Fanta Shokata, Freaky Fläder).

The flowers can also be dipped into a light batter and then fried to make elderflower fritters. In Scandinavia and Germany, soup made from the elder berry (e.g. the German Fliederbeersuppe) is a traditional meal. Both flowers and berries can be made into elderberry wine, and in Hungary an elderberry brandy is made that requires 50 kg of fruit to produce 1 litre of brandy. In south-western Sweden, it is traditional to make a schnapps liqueur flavoured with elderflower. Elderflowers are also used in liqueurs such as St. Germain, and in a mildly alcoholic sparkling elderflower ‘champagne’. In Beerse, Belgium, a variety of Jenever called Beers Vlierke is made from the berries.

Here is a recipe for homemade elderflower cordial:

Elderflower Cordial
2.5 kg white sugar
2 unwaxed lemons (preferably cut off the tree)
20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
85g citric acid

Put the sugar and 1.5 litres water into a large saucepan. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again.
Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well.
Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven).
The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016


“Just because a door appears closed it does not mean that it is locked - nor that it will not open with the right heart, call or touch” - Rasheed Ogunlaru

The Midweek Motif for Poets United this week is “Openness”. My contribution below:

You Read me Like an Open Book

“You read me like an open book,” she said,
“And always know what to do and what to say to me.
Why cannot you be the same,
Why must I always guess (and always wrongly!)
Of what you hide deep in your heart?”

I smile (and I do enigmatic well), and reply:
“My dear, were I too like an open book,
How boring we two would be,
Going around reading each other
And bumping into trees and poles and such?”

She looks puzzled and frowns –
“But it’s so frustrating, all this guessing,
This suspense, this uncertainty!
You are shut up like a clam
And I never know what pleases you…”

I open up my hand and on my outstretched palm
There is a verdant oasis of palm trees
And sweet, inviting water;
I open my arms and there is a peaceful place,
Disarmed, serene, eirenic.

“Come,” I say, “I am accessible,
Just don’t read me, simply feel,
Listen to my constant heartbeat
And let your fingers perceive the braille of my skin
That spells out my love more eloquently than printed words.”

She touches me and divines my meaning,
Wordlessly and so divinely quiet;
And she rightly guesses this time
My hidden meanings and understands
That for so long I have been staring at her open book
With the unseeing eyes of an illiterate.

This post is part of the ABC Wednesday meme.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


“Mexico is a safe, as well as a beautiful and warmly gracious, place to visit.” - Margaret Chan

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 Tijuana Cultural Centre (CECUT) is a cultural centre in the Zona Río district of Tijuana, Mexico. The centre opened 20 October 1982, and accommodates more than a million visitors per year. A major feature of the complex is an OMNIMAX cinema designed by architects Pedro Ramirez Vazques and Manuel Rossen Morrison. It is the only IMAX cinema in Tijuana, and has come to be popularly known as La Bola (“The Ball”). The cinema, which uses a 360-degree projector to surround viewers with a panoramic image, has 308 seats. The OMNIMAX cinema has been part of the cultural centre since the complex first opened in 1982. In October of that year, it premiered the film “El pueblo del sol”, which was made especially for the cinema’s opening. The film presents images from the most representative regions of Mexico, and got very good reviews. It was the cinema's only film for 13 years. Today, the centre offers a daily selection of films; it premieres about four films per year.

The centre encompasses a large esplanade that accommodates up to 6,000 people. The esplanade is a venue for performances, festivals, and expos. There is also permanent exhibition, called “Museo de las Californias”, which stores over 200 pieces and is a walk through the history of the Baja Peninsula and the state of California from the prehistoric period until the first half of the 20th century. Also a pre-Hispanic garden, called “Jardin Caracol” (Snail Garden), that contains sculptures from the different regions of the mesoamerican cultures that inhabited south Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish Army. Visitors can have the experience of going through the exhibition while enjoying a coffee since there is a little coffee shop in the garden.

There is also a scenic theatre, which has a room for around a thousand visitors and it is mostly used for private concerts and plays. There are also lecture rooms, video room, café, and a bookshop. There are several spaces for temporary small exhibits. In September 2008, on the eve of its 26th anniversary, CECUT opened its doors to a brand new building called “El Cubo” (The Cube), so named because of the contrast between the nickname of the OMNIMAX cinema “The Ball”. This represented the very important opportunity for CECUT to start receiving International Exhibitions, and since then it has been the home for exhibitions that have traveled from other countries including Buda Guanyin, Gabriel Figueroa, Alice Rahon, Venus en Tijuana, Proyecto Civico, and Animated Painting among others.

Nowadays this important institution has different programs for all ages, since classes for early stimulation for kids around 2 months and 2 years, plastic arts and artisan workshops for children from 5 to 15 years and concerts, conferences, movies, documentaries, exhibitions, and all kind of services for the whole family to enjoy the day and spend a nice time learning. CECUT is a short distance from the Mexico–United States border at San Ysidro, San Diego.

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 and link back to this post from your own post!

Monday, 25 April 2016


“Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

In Australia and New Zealand we observe Anzac Day on April 25th as a day of commemoration for those who died in the service of their country, and is a day for honouring returned servicemen and women, whichever battle or war they served in The 25th day of April is the anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) at Gallipoli in 1915. On the first anniversary of that landing services were held throughout both countries in remembrance of the thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who died during the eight-month Gallipoli Campaign.

Since 1916 Anzac Day has evolved to the observance we commemorate today. The day of observance begins before dawn with a march by returned and service personnel to the local war memorial, where they are joined by other members of the community for the Dawn Service. This is a solemn and grave ceremony which brings to mind the lives lost and the terrible futility of warfare, whether it happened in Gallipoli, in the Middle East, in America, in Vietnam, in Afghanistan, the Gulf or in Korea…

The assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula began on the 25th April 1915, as an attempt by Allied Command to weaken the strategic position of Germany, Austro-Hungary and Turkey who were allied in the first world war. It was the Australasian Expeditionary Force’s first major engagement of the First World War after their training in Egypt. By the end of the first day of warfare on the Gallipoli peninsula, about 2,000 allied troops lay dead. The bloody fighting continued, and by the end of the first week more than 6500 ANZACs had been killed or wounded. No ANZACs ever reached the Turkish trenches, however, many thousands of Turks also died there.

In 1919, after the war was over, several ANZACs went back to Gallipoli to bury their dead properly. At the Nek, they found the bodies of more than 300 Australians in an area smaller than a tennis court. After eight long months of bitter fighting, the British High Command decided that the war at Gallipoli was too costly when they were also fighting other battles in Europe. The ANZACs alone had lost 10,000 men, and so the order came for a withdrawal.

Since the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing in 1916, Anzac Day has evolved to acknowledge the sacrifice and service of subsequent wars and to encompass new understandings of the full impact of armed conflict on those who have served their country.

The 1981 Peter Weir film “Gallipoli” captures the spirit of Anzac Day and makes for poignant viewing, especially for anyone who has been in a war zone of been affected by warfare. It is acted well by the young Mel Gibson, Mark Lee and Bill Kerr and it is a film that established Gibson as an international star.

It is an excellent anti-war film that establishes this premise subtly and often with wry humour. It is Australia’s version of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, but instead of using the soldiers’ conscience as its premise at that film does, Gallipoli hinges on the Australian cultural foundation of “mateship”. War brings together mates, then it cruelly separates them. The last twenty minutes of the film are particularly illustrative of the callous and brutal nature of war. I think that long though the film is, and a little slow at times, it still is one of the best Australian films, having substance and meaning, but also emotional strength and a pillar in Australia’s culture.

Sunday, 24 April 2016


“In essence the Renaissance was simply the green end of one of civilisation’s hardest winters.” - John Fowles

Pinturicchio, original name Bernardino di Betto di Biago (born c. 1454, Perugia, Romagna Italy – died Dec. 11, 1513, Siena, Republic of Siena) early Italian Renaissance painter known for his highly decorative frescoes. He was born in Perugia, the son of Benedetto or Betto di Blagio. He may have trained under lesser known Perugian painters such as Bonfigli and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. According to Vasari, Pinturicchio was a paid assistant of Perugino. The works of the Perugian Renaissance school are very similar; and paintings by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna and a young Raphael may often be mistaken one for the other. In the execution of large frescoes, pupils and assistants had a large share in the work, either in enlarging the master’s sketch to the full-sized cartoon, in transferring the cartoon to the wall, or in painting backgrounds or accessories.

By 1481 Pinturicchio was associated with the Umbrian artist Perugino, whose influence on him was to be permanent. It is generally agreed that he assisted Perugino on some of the frescoes (“Journey of Moses” and the “Baptism of Christ”) in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican (1481/82). In the 1480s he worked in the Bufalini Chapel in Santa Maria in Aracoeli and in Santa Maria del Popolo (both in Rome).

Pinturicchio’s most important work of this period was the decoration of the suite of six rooms in the Vatican known as the Borgia Apartments for Pope Alexander VI between 1492 and 1494. In these frescoes he retains Perugino’s figure types but lacks his clarity of conception. Instead, Pinturicchio relies on brilliant, often jarring colours, gilding, and ancient Roman ornamental motifs. Pinturicchio’s last major works were the 10 scenes from the life of Pope Pius II painted (1503–08) in fresco in the Piccolomini Library in Siena. In these, space, colour, and detail are handled with a crisp proficiency that may have influenced Raphael.

The Ashmolean Museum (University of Oxford), Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Milan), the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Courtauld Institute of Art (London), the Denver Art Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum (University of Cambridge), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Louvre, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery, London, Palazzo Ruspoli (Rome), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (Milan), Princeton University Art Museum, Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, the Vatican Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest) are among the public collections holding works by Pinturicchio.

Above is “The Anunciation” a fresco in the Baglioni Chapel, in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore commissioned in 1500 by Troilo Baglioni to the artist Pinturicchio.