Saturday, 23 April 2016

Blog Sandwich Update 7 … Shakespeare being glomped … Q for Queen, P for Prince, D for David, M for Mercury …




As you will by now have realised this is going to be one of those posts covering even more subjects than normal … but if I note things here – they remain forever blogged about for me and by me.
Spring Border




I’m going to add in in S for Stroke, C for Cuisine, B for Birds … ah ha – what a mix even worse than Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie …






Tilly's (aged 9) winning design for
Waitrose's supermarket - the cake they 
will be selling - raising funds for charity


Where shall we start – you can’t have not realised Her Majesty turned 90 on 21st April … an incredible record ... and seeing her on Friday  (22nd) organising the Obamas into the car and then walking resoundingly around the back of the Range Rover and getting in beside Michelle – you’d think she was Sixty … not Ninety …



Part of the stamp section for the
Queen's birthday - here she is with
her great grandson Prince George


… as you might guess – I will at some stage do one of my usual ABCs of celebration of her birthdays – yes … she has two – one private and one official … that comes the weekend the Duke of Edinburgh turns 95 (as sprightly as ever too) … 10th – 12th June.




S for Strokes next … when my mother had her strokes back in February 2007 … I had no idea about them, or how people could heal and continue living:  I absorbed knowledge as time went on …


I read two books which came to prominence – Jill Bolte Taylor, the brain specialist, “My Stroke ofInsight” on her own stroke … then Robert McCrum “Discovering Life after a Stroke” and his wife’s play about thesubject … they were recently married – his wife is American, while he was a senior editor with Faber and Faber.  Both very well worth reading, as too listening to the play.


The Shakespeare Festival at Southmoreland Park
in Kansas City, Missouri
My mention of McCrum brings me to Shakespeare … as he recently travelled America looking at Shakespeare and the American Dream … 


... and how Shakespeare has always been in the American psyche – since the Colonists came to settle in the 1600s.



The talk is on BBC radio 4 – but there’s an article in The Guardian detailing his talk “WilliamShakespeare: a quintessentially American author” … which I found fascinating and led to me wanting to listen again, or read up on …


A descendant of that starling
… that law of unintended consequences and Shakespeare’s birds – which have overrun the States … Eugene Schieffelin is the culprit here … ‘twas he who introduced the invasive starlings … and wanted to introduce all of Shakespeare’s birds to the States …



Shakespeare's Birds
Schieffelin belonged to the American Acclimatization Society – a group that aimed to help exchange plants and animals from one part of the world to another … a fashionable idea in the 19th century: as we know today – not a good idea.

 I have a book here on Shakespeare’s Birds describing all the British birds referred to in Shakespeare’s poems and plays … providing a fascinating and unusual insight into the world of the Elizabethans.


Shakespeare Unravelled
by Pauline and Michael Black




But with Shakespeare’s Unravelling (per my book as briefly noted in my previous post) … was he a writer, did he live in the Shakespearean era, did he even exist … ?  All questions we’ll never get fully answered …







Shakespeare glomped ...
c/o the Art of the Ez.com
… from all angles they came to glomp him … even vicariously … on this the 400th year since he died … he is all over the place – everywhere … we can’t get away from Shakespeare quotes and references …




Alan Rickman


This week someone on the BBC was reminiscing about how many famous/celebrity figures have died (early) recently – it was after Victoria Wood, one of our most iconic comedic actresses lost her fight with cancer.   The comment was ‘our generation’ had reached that age – the late 50s to 90s … when a human being is moving inexorably towards a higher plane.


Bowie and Mercury

Bowie, Rickman, now Prince … all too early – and how many others … we never know whether we will go young, or having had a good life, or the lucky few who can continue on for an extra decade or two …



Then there’s I for the Internet or YouTube … with a link tothe Big Think Blog … which had an eye catching title – The Science Behind Why Freddie Mercury’s Voice Was So Damned Compelling … fascinating and I’m sure you’ll find it so …

Bowie is smoking as he sings ... but the bit to listen to is at two minutes - when the post remarks that 'man, the dude had some pipes ... '



Add caption


Now to C for Cuisine … I have a Shakespeare Cookbook – which brings to light the early days of how our meals developed … Chaldron of Swan – a sauce or soup that has the edible chopped parts of the bird in it … where our Chowder of today comes from …





… the witches’ brew from Macbeth – bears a striking resemblance to Chaldron … I give no recipe!  There are a lot of roasts, of spit-roasted animals … spinach was coming in, sorrel sauce was used for fish … gooseberries were newly introduced and quince was the fruit for marmalades …


It’s interesting how foods were cooked together and it’s only in the centuries following that separate dishes were created … meat with fruits as Chewets … combined whatever food was around.  Baked meats means pies and fancied baked goods …


The ghost of Banquo by Theodore
Chasseraiau (1854)
… and lastly F for Feasts and Fun … many will be celebrating a medieval feast as per Shakespeare’s day today … the journalists, authors, actors have been looking forward and preparing for this day for over a year …




The Globe Theatre Players have toured the world with his 37 plays  … it is still apparent that Shakespeare rules the world … as the monologue from “As You Like It” quotes ….  


All the World’s a Stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.  At first the infant …


Knife and Fork form the
1600s - Waddesdon Bequest
by the Rothschilds
 … then how about running the London marathon seven miles above earth … tomorrow the astronaut, Tim Peake, will do just that in the European Space Station … to read more about the extra challenges … see the Guardian article here


So to celebrate the last week of the A-Z … a quote from Macbeth Act 3, scene 4:  

‘Now, good digestion wait on appetite,
and health on both!’ …


No change this end of the world … my next post will be after the A-Z … and the next two will be easier reads!

PS - I'm sure there's a quote by Shakespeare about being a ForgetMeKnot ... I've mislaid two Shakespearean cuisine items I was going to put in ... they are amusing - so coming up another day!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Blog Sandwich Update 6 ...




Gosh I’d forgotten about my Blog Sandwich series … or spasmodic bread filling blog posts!  So briefly ... and again no need to comment …


Paparedelle with spring vegetables - asparagus,
broad beans, onions and peas topped with
Parmesan shavings


 … life continues … so here goes with a few references … and photos …






Japanese film caption for
King Lear - released in 1985


Shakespeare unstoppable … the anniversary of his death occurs next week … and we are having / being encouraged in all things Shakespeare … visit Stratford, the Globe … attend a play … listen to one … and so it goes on – and …






… our Film Society will show “Ran” – (Chinese and Japanese for chaos) at the end of the year … it is the 1985 film based on the legends of the daimyo Mori Motonari, as well as on the tragedy of King Lear.


"Shakespeare Unravelled" - Court
Plays: the 1623 Deception
Some friends at the European Movement dinner told me about their new book “Shakespeare Unravelled” Court Plays: the 1623 Deception – they very kindly gave me a copy …



… it looks an intense read  (as I was warned) … but I’ll enjoy it and learn more about the history of the period … it’s only just been published …





Princess Elizabeth
aged 7 - painted by
Philip de Laszlo (1933)
We move from Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) and Queen Elizabeth I’s time to the 90th anniversary of our present Queen’s birth - next week (21 April) … incredibly spry she looks too … there will be loads of information coming out about this period of the 20th and moving into the 21st century …



The friends I'll celebrate the Queen's official
birthday with .. had friends for a roast lunch
... looks wonderful doesn't it - my sunglass
(now iphone case) doesn't quite tie in?!

We will have our official celebrations in June:


Friday June 10th  (Prince Philip’s 95th birthday) – there will be a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral






Flint stone wall topped with lichen -
over 100 years old ... 





Saturday 11th June the annual Queen’s Birthday Parade at Horse Guards …










These are (I believe) creeping Phlox ... they looked
lovely on the slope ... pink, white and this blue



Sunday 12th June the Patron’s Lunch will take place in The Mall running down to Buckingham Palace






Many will join in the fun of the day … I shall be going to a ‘street’ party – small local event with these friends … where these lunch photos were taken ... 



Raspberry and Redcurrant tart


They are having a charity fund raising event for the local hospice, which helped our relatives through their trying times ... 





The Masked Shrike

The birds are really singing now and Spring is nearly here ... it is getting warmer, but the leaves are definitely budding their numerous shades of green.  This little chap comes from the Mediterranean ... but I love his muted and gentle colours ... 


A quick drop in ... no need to comment ... it's good to keep the blog partly active - even if its owner has gone to attend to other more necessary matters ... 

Enjoy that A-Z ... nearly half-way ... 

Shakespeare Unravelled ... the Amazon link ... 


Then an A-Z blogger - Bish Denham is posting Shakespearean Insults and Surrealist Compliments ... they are so clever ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 31 March 2016

A - Z Withdrawal ... Number 27 on the sign up list ..




Not something I thought I'd be writing ... but unfortunately I need to opt out of the 2016 Challenge ... I was looking forward to meeting new friends, finding old ones ... and just enjoying the fun of the fair!
The A - Z budding Magnolias



Nothing serious and I'm healthy ... I just need to do something else that can't be put off ... so take care - enjoy yourselves ... and I'll see you in May once frenetic April is over ... 



mid A - Z ... Magnolias in full flow


One advantage - I'm ready for 2017 - anyone else ready?!





Magnolias leafing ... ready for the full greening
of Spring and then Summertime ... 
No need to comment ... I'm around ... and I'll be back early May and post a post A-Z post ... if you get my meaning ... 



Take care, have fun ... and congratulations to all taking part ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Sunday, 27 March 2016

Jacob’s Ladder … “Descent” ...




This is an art work by my cousin’s daughter – Anna Freeman Bentley – who is extremely talented and recognised as one of Britain’s brightest emerging painters of her generation.


 
The lower third of
Anna's "Descent"
I had heard Anna’s work Descent was on show in Chichester Cathedral … which I can get to relatively easily … and I had some friends in central Chichester to visit…


I need to return to the Cathedral at some stage … time was limited … but I’ll show you Anna’s exhibit here … she’s always been interested in architecture and structure … but studied art, literature and drama at school.


Moreau's staircase which
inspired Anna 
She’s won various awards and took up a studio residency with the Florence Trust, London – housed in a deconsecrated Victorian Church in Highbury.


It was for the final exhibition at the Trust, she decided to make a work that related specifically to the architecture there … refining that thought process after a visit to the Musee Gustave Moreau in Paris where .. she saw Moreau’s Staircase …


The work was set up in the North Transept
of Chichester Cathedral


Jacob’s Ladder ‘Descent’ being set in a Victorian Church then  exhibited at the Cathedral … was very appropriate as it referenced the image of a staircase reaching down to earth from heaven, a vision that came to Jacob in a dream.


Descent (2011) is an oil on 8 panels with tulipwood subframes, 110o x 182 (base) tapering to 91.5cm (top).  [36 feet x 6 feet tapering to 3 feet].




The book that highlights Anna's career



Anna, no doubt, will continue to experiment with colour, design … while engaging with the environment, architecture and interiors, exploring and showing us the world as she sees it …







Gustave Moreau Museum ... with the
staircase at the end.

… the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris, where Anna was inspired, is an amazing looking museum … and the link below gives you an idea of why … and why we should add it to our list of museums to visit at some stage.




Anna is following Moreau’s idea of process to make her own views and process known to the wider world …


Pasque Flower

Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed Easter … and this thought goes to the wider world in general … let’s be gentler, kinder, more understanding and more thoughtful in the years ahead …




An article on Gustave Moreau's Museum, Paris ... it will tempt you to visit ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 21 March 2016

Theme Reveal … Aspects of British County Rare Breeds …



Well a slight change of direction this year … for someone with not a lot of knowledge re animals of any description – be they critters as per Lenny, or real life animools as per me!

Theme Reveals from 21 March 2016
The Challenge starts April Fool's Day! - it really does?!


The story line will cover … as you’d expect … whatever I feel like posting – but I’ll stick to the theme (vaguely!) ...



An English Long Horn - the horns grow round
the face, while the Texas Long Horn's horns grow
up and straight out ... like raised arms
 … having finally got round to actually writing this introductory post – I find I have a lot of information, which is a little disturbing, as I’ll have to be arbitrary in my decisions … 




A Herdwick Lamb - they are born black


So we’ll go with history, art, poetry, literature, stories, genetics etc … and whatever else I come across …






Rare Breeds at Pheasants Hill Farm, Ireland
see at site here

… the advantage is – that IF these posts are short, and I intend them to be, then I can elaborate on them later on, when I get to publish them …






So lean in (isn’t that what we’re meant to be doing?) – and enjoy my take on Rare Breeds … they could well be rarer by the time I’ve finished … but I know I’ll be much wiser on their hold in what we know as Britain and their loss over the ice age epoch …



Dartmoor horse riding - perhaps
changing into a Centaur?
… inevitably – there will be links across to Europe … but I will try and stick to Britain … though Ice Age Art shows early animals walking the planet …


That’s it folk for now … I’d better get to letter A … and I will see you all around …


I am certain these genes have been
bred out?!


Here’s to a very successful and happy 2016 A-Z Challenge … and to meeting lots of new friends …








Oh yes – one thing that’s been happening to me recently on blogger blogs … suddenly the captcha thingy is ‘working’ (not the word I’d use!!) and it’s a right pain – so be warned .. check your comment has posted …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Flora Abunda ... remembering, to survive, we depend on these ...



Plants play such an important role in our lives … those early roamers worked out which plants were edible … probably by watching the animals and birds forage them. 



Flora Plant Diversity
Over geological epochs plant life has evolved into this amazing array of choice we have today, plants surviving in the various zones on earth – plants co-evolved with organisms to assist with the transfer of pollen for fertilisation …



… from 290 million years ago when plants first produced seed, having customised themselves to the titanic forces that had created earth in the 4.25 billennia of years before.




World Map with Temperate zones highlighted in green
By 140 million years ago the first flowering plants were evolving and in a relatively short geological time after this (60 – 70 million years) they had evolved so much that flowering plants became dominant.




As the continental plates gloopily moved, jerked, or exploded into the positions we find our continents in today - about 65 million years ago … we know some of this through the plant species left on various lands, which are unique today.



Flora Fern in Devonian geologic period  (420 to
360 million years ago) found in disturbed volcanic land
We have been around perhaps 3 million years, after the recent discovery in South Africa; but as we continued to evolve into the homo-sapiens we know today … we wandered the continents as we could or were able to …



Plants and animals set us on our way … gave us some route maps to follow … and if we couldn’t follow the wind, we eventually went by sea – homo sapiens copying the flora and fauna …


Plant Evolution Timeline


About 12,000 years ago after the last ice age retreated homo-sapiens started to settle for periods … and over the millennia became more domesticated tending to crops, as well as taming animals … leading to the farming we know today. 



Aristotle divided all living things between plants (which generally do not move) and animals (which are often mobile to catch their food). 



In Linnaeus’ system, these became the Kingdoms Vegetabilia and Animalia … since then we have become more knowledgeable …






Bee covered in pollen

Ralph Waldo Emerson understood that     “ … a weed is a plant whose virtues have not been discovered” … or as we became modern farmers/ gardeners a plant that simply wants to grow where people want something else:  such is life! 





Flora Abunda Blue Egyptian Lily -
from the Temple of Flora 1807

In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit?!  Weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s.  Bees love weeds … they provide a variety of nectars … similar to our need to have a balanced diet – bees cannot live productively on one plant source – nor could we.



We need plants more and we need to appreciate them more … they are our lungs, they feed us, we do not stress so much if they are in abundance – we have food, and we can find solace in their world – they let us have some peaceful co-existence with them. 


Flora Abunda Tulips -
from The Temple of Flora 1807

Those long walks … wherever we go – plants, the kingdom Plantae, are with us … they can survive living happily in deserts, jungles, sea-shores, disaster areas – plants return first – before humans in due time settle or re-settle.



Their colours inspire us, their scent entices us, their form give us ideas for design … while each part gives something … perhaps a herb or a medicine, a seed for a bird, a mulch for a new seedling … a new concept …



The book: Remarkable Plants That
Shape Our World
We have come to appreciate plants, yet seem not to understand that their destruction, each unique organism, is a “Passing-Bell” to others and ultimately the "Death Knell" to our way of life.  They will survive … we may well not.



The post was inspired by an article in The Lady I found in a waiting room … which advertised a new book: Remarkable Plants That Shape OurWorld, by Helen and William Bynum.



I also found an article from September 2014 in the Guardian – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – review … the article is worth a read or scan … 


Happy St Patrick's Day ... and may we all live a carefree life of ease, comfort and prosperity ... as denoted by living in clover.



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories