Saturday, 12 August 2017

Write - Edit - Publish Bloghop: Reunion ...

When you read this entry ... please look at the sculpture "The Reunion" pictured at the end of the post ... that is where my idea for this article started ...

Lost … blasted away … the love of her life denoted ‘as missing’ – how can someone be ‘missing’, yet that is the way of things in war.

Abysmal loss – desolation to the mind – the suddenness – the heart that is 
... broken … broken ……

Theirs had been a wonderful love – the brother of a school friend … a loving family to become a part of … happiness at last for her …

Her parents-in-law losing their son – her father-in-law’s practicality to know – though they knew the risks all servicemen take, they understood those times.

The wife too … the woman who had had only a few years and most of those days separated by deployment overseas.

She kept away – mostly … could not write – too overcome with grief, yet so many others in a similar situation … in times of War one continues on.

The necessary information was gleaned … but suppressed until there was a need to know and understand … though it appears he had been taken with a direct hit.

A search was made … very little found – desperately a pair of black ammunition boots … badly charred … no identity discs … blown to smithereens – literally.

Words on paper, details in the records, a note of where the attack happened, with map co-ordinates.

A life - gone in a trice … a courageous man, a man who commanded respect and love of his men – this recorded by his subordinate … the whole unit genuinely grieved.

She could do nothing … a few visits to her in-laws to be able to find out more information – if she wanted it … but for now she didn’t – she needed to continue to serve and to be there for other service men, as well as her own unit.

The Reunion - as it was originally called by the sculptress -
Josefina de Vasconcellos (Coventry Cathedral)

They had all agreed that his remains would be buried on site – this they felt was the only place for him to be – later she could go to find the place …

… and kneel in the dirt as she remembered him, had always remembered him … she could feel him kneeling with her, his arms half out welcoming her own, the lie of his head taking her now still grieving bones … she remembered back when they were together in life …

Her time is near … now she will be reunited with her love … kneel on, kneel on in grasping grief as her life ticks away … not long now before the dust and soil of our earth has her too.

Kneel on … kneel on … in the Reunion that surely follows our earthly existence.

Thank you for considering the  "The Reunion" sculpture as you read this post.

Write, Edit, Publish Challenge - here is the link

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Bran Tub # 13 : In a Pickle …

Should you have gone down to Soho in the 1800s you would be in for a big surprise … I’m not sure if the Teddy Bears frequented here for their picnic … but the right ingredients – pickles and fields - were very close at hand …

Crosse + Blackwell's Piccalilli
… most of what we know today as central London back in the 1500s  was wooded common agricultural land, on the edge of the city … until it was purloined by a King or a Queen for hunting and royal park usage …

… then the Georgians came along (1714 – 1830) … including the emergence of the Industrial Revolution ... factories were built, new products manufactured … spices brought in from British territories and colonies …

British Condiments in 21st century

… thereafter for about 100 years you’d be in a pickle!  Crosse and Blackwell set up their factory – creating condiments and recipes establishing the brand as a firm family favourite.

In 1923 a journalist noted that following closure of the Crosse and Blackwell factory …

‘driving blind-fold through London there are some places that I could always recognise by their distinctive smell …

… one is the Oxford Street end of Charing-cross-road, where for generations Crosse and Blackwell’s pickle factory has given a very distinctive pungency to the surrounding atmosphere.’

A small selection of the finds from the archaeological
dig at Tottenham Court Road tube station - when excavations
needed to be made for the new Crossrail 'Elizabeth' line
Who can resist not writing about pickles being found under Oxford Street in the middle of the London we know today …

I visited the Museum of London Archaeology Corporation’s exhibition in Docklands … to see the various finds – both archaeological (auroch bones – if you remember my A for Auroch, in the A-Z this year) and finds from the pickling factory in the heart of Soho …

London Astoria - just before demolition

Originally demolished to make way for the new entertainment venue of the day – a cinema in the 1920s – then in the late 1960s it was redeveloped to become the London Astoria: that iconic music establishment …

an early advertising plaque -
c/o  Printed British Pottery and
Porcelain company
… now times have changed once again – with London Crossrail rising from the ashes in the form of a new tube station at Tottenham Court Road/ Oxford Street, together with retail, residential and office space …

Archaeologists in the 21st century working on the Crossrail site once again found the whiff of pickle in the air … all quietly forgotten for the last 90 years.  The Crosse and Blackwell factory that had been demolished was newly excavated, this time to a deeper depth …

Showing remains of Crosse + Blackwell's
Preserved Ginger Pots 

… the finds illustrating the ambitions of  one of Victorian Britain’s most prolific and enduring enterprises, as well as evidencing the development of British tastes.

-        Crosse and Blackwell Pickles
-        Mushroom Catsup
-        Mustard
-        Piccalilli
-        Preserved Ginger
-        Pure Orange Marmalade
-        Household Raspberry or Plum jam

History of tastes through the 13,000 items unearthed … from the buried rubble of our industrial past in the middle of London town …

-        Crosse and Blackwell were one of the first companies to receive a Royal Warrant from the newly crowned Queen Victoria in 1837

-       Crosse and Blackwell even sent a representative with the East India Company to the East Indies to bring home new recipes … pickles, curry powders and chutney …

Ploughman's style lunch - with Branston pickle,
Piccalilli and all the accoutrements!
Who thought 21st century Londoners would be commuting over, or perhaps through, an early 18th/19th century pickle factory – by the way: what’s under your feet?

The Crossrail exhibition can be seen at the Museum of London’s  Archaeology site in Docklands

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 30 July 2017

We Are the World Blogfest … # 5 - Beachy Head Emergency Services

… in Darkness, Be Light – a blogfest of creative posts on all manner of subjects … highlighting positivity and opening the door to letting more light into our lives --- we the lucky ones …

Today I invite you to remember the Emergency Services who look after our coasts … in my case the area of outstanding natural beauty that is Beachy Head: the white cliffs of Sussex.

Attending to an emergency

There are the accidents … be they people just too near the edge, who step back, and then are gone …

Land slip apparent here - imagine what it would be
like if it collapsed from the cliffs round the corner

… or when the cliffs collapse underneath them – as they sit ‘quietly’ admiring the views … not realising the power of the tide (twice a day) as it pounds these crumbling cliffs leaving an overhang at the top – which every so often crashes to the sea ... 

The steeper slopes with
chalk cliff slippage
… or the cliff collapse onto the  beach below … was anyone there, or injured …

… or those rescued after being cut off by the tide …

 I often hear the sirens of the police, ambulances, or air ambulances … then there’s the coast guard and the lifeboats that I see out in all weathers …

There is a chaplaincy team on hand too … as sadly it is a place to come to … to commit suicide … just desperate … and something we all need to remember … as our actions can help others.  The Samaritans are on hand too ... 

Too near

So many people involved in helping keep the Beachy Head area as safe as possible … our Emergency and Volunteer Services are invaluable and deserve our recognition …

Thank you for remembering them with me … I’m sure you have similar services wherever you live – let us give thanks for them and their work …

We are the World ... in Darkness, be Light ...

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This month’s #WATWB co-hosts are: Simon Falk, Roshan Radhakrishnan, InderpreetUppal, Sylvia Stein and Damyanti Biswas

Please stop by and read the inspiring stories  …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Croquet anyone? … before Tennis, Rosewater, Great British Menu and Equality arrived …

This year Wimbledon was celebrating 140 years since the Championships were founded … the inaugural Wimbledon Championships began on 9 July 1877 – the Gentlemen’s Singles being the only event held.

Wimbledon complex with the
Centre Court at the centre

The Club had started out in 1868 as the “All England Lawn Croquet Club” … lawn tennis was added in 1876 … tennis was added into the name the same year – it originally had the incredible name of Sphairistiké – translated from ancient Greek as ‘the art of playing ball’!  It became known as Stické or Stické tennis – hence, thankfully, tennis is its name … I was never any good at languages – ancient or modern!

Timeline - found here
c/o BBC

Over the years life changed … the Championships became simply known as Wimbledon – the oldest tennis tournament in the world - and is widely regarded as the most prestigious.  It also promotes gender equality …

Media coverage of the Championships has been broadcast on radio by the BBC since 1927, black and white tv coverage began in 1937, full colour tv was launched in 1967 …

Sir David Attenborough
… guess who was instrumental in bringing us Wimbledon in colour – none other than Sir David Attenborough – broadcaster and naturalist.  His career within the Beeb is interesting – see link.

So Wimbledon is celebrating 90 years of radio broadcast, 70 years of tv coverage and 50 years of colour tv … and what better way to note these events – than to have a Great British Menu Banquet for tennis dignitaries.

This has become an annual series … which I mostly enjoy … seeing top British chefs compete within regions to cook one course for the banquet – themed around the particular event being promoted each year … so lots of balls around in 2017!

Each week the chefs battle for their dish to be selected for the final banquet menu.   I’ll link to the post I wrote in 2012 (which was in recognition of the Olympics) … oddly and fittingly enough this was the evening my mother died – strange: I hadn’t realised that before.  She was an excellent cook and loved different ideas … this is perfect for those memories of my Ma and Cornwall.

Finally this year – we had two female chefs winning through … though Pip Lacey inspired my Carpaccio post, as this was her starter dish in 2015 … and if you hadn’t guessed it by now – a Turkish-Cypriot chef – who used … you guessed this too – Rosewater!

Back to 2017’s recipes, gender equality matched, – titled as below …

Starter:  Pip Lacey (from the Midlands) – “Whatever The Weather”

Her course comprised pickled heritage radish, sautéed runner beans, pickled courgettes, honey-soused tomatoes, tomato hearts, and goat’s cheese ravioli (purple and green – Wimbledon colours) served in a yellow ‘tennis ball’ bowl;  “hot tomato rain” in watering cans to be poured over.

Ceramic tennis ball filled with summer veggies c/o BBC

FishTommy Banks (North East) – “Turbot with Strawberries and Cream”

The turbot was decorated with red strawberries pickled with elderflower vinegar, fermented green strawberries and a creamy herb velouté was a surprising hit – Wimbledon strawberries featuring in the fish course.
Tommy Banks' winning dish c/o BBC

Main CourseMichael Bremner (Scotland) – “The Grass is Greener”

Ox tongue topped with jux-filled ravioli and served with pickled summer vegetables and rye-grass cooked potatoes.  (Rye grass – because that is the type of grass used for the courts).

Michael Bremner's dish c/o BBC

DessertSelin Kiazim (London + South East) – “Honouring Venus Rosewater Champions”

Vanilla muhallebi (creamy dessert base), white peach and raspberry jelly, served with peach sorbet, raspberry and rosewater sauce, almond meringue shard and a peach bellini.  Looks amazing!

Selin Kiazim's wonderful creation c/o BBC

I know – 'I can hear’ some of you thinking … good heavens above – what a palaver … but it’s a series I enjoy and watch as much as I can – my light entertainment … and this year combining it with a Wimbledon banquet was a delight to my blog posting thoughts!

Close up of Selin's dessert

I will tell you quietly that they wanted the Banquet outside at Wimbledon … well fine – but it rains here!  So rapidly it was moved indoors  … the bit that disappoints me (each year) is the final programme showing the Banquet and preparations … just not enough time to do the whole justice … I’d really enjoy it!

Right that’s me done showcasing Rosewater and Wimbledon for another year … though I do have other tennis posts I’d like to write … the pineapple, some art and posters … but next year isn’t far away … is it?!

 Believe it or not … I have more rose type posts to write up – but I’ll give them a break for a while … I have exhibitions to post … so a change-up coming next …

… also the “We are the World Blogfest … in Darkness, Be Light” is up next weekend … I hope some of you will join us … 

full details and sign up here ... Simon's We are Still Warmly Welcoming #WATWB 

Croquet equipment

Croquet has been kicked into the long grass, Wimbledon’s shaved lawns have come and gone, equality has been achieved … and Rosewater after the 2017 Great British Menu could be ready for us to rinse our hands, after the mouth-watering banquet … until next year …

Wimbledon colour flowers for you
all for sticking with me through these posts!
Thank you.

Summary came from - T-Vine ... the free English-language magazine for British Turks  detailed in the link below:

Selin Kiazim's participation detailed here T-Vine's Great British Menu contestants page and details ... including the recipe summaries I've set out in the post ... 

History of  Wimbledon and the BBC 1927 - 2017 - charting the development through the years

Recipes can be found here c/o BBC:  

Ladies Dressed in White ... was Selin's original dish - which she changed to the one I've shown in the post ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Venus Rosewater Revival ...

For some reason Creedence Clearwater Revival has been in my mind - for the title of this post … but I promise it is all about Rosewater.

Ruby Red Rosewater

As far back as  roses were treasured for their decorative beauty as well as their healing properties – rose petals, rose water and/or rose oil were used to fragrance rooms, floors, and flavour some foods.

Although fermented drinks had been known for thousands of years, the process of distillation was only discovered in the first century AD … extracting the pure liquid essence – as in rosewater.

Lady Elizabeth as a Princess
in about 1546
Elizabeth I as you would imagine loved her perfume – anything with a pretty fragrance would take away some of the ‘stench of life’ in the Middle Ages.

Recently a 400 year old perfume recipe was found tucked away in the library of the Royal Horticultural Society.

“Take eight grains of musk and put in rose-water eight spoonfuls, three spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar.  Boil for five hours and strain it.”

A choice of fragrances
The Historic Royal Palaces asked the famous French perfumerie Jean Patou to recreate an eau de toilette based on this recipe that harked back to the days when perfumes first arrived in England from the Middle East.

I wrote fairly comprehensively on plant perfumes through the ages in one of my first posts !! … 23 May 2009 … where more basic historical details can be found.  I note I didn’t include Bulgaria or the Ottoman Empire in the post … my knowledge is obviously broadening as the years go by.

The rosewater flavoured dessert is just by the
grabbing hand?!

Rosewater was common as a flavouring … in Tudor times … there were two favoured varieties … “the red rose water pure, without any other thing mingled, is most commended for wholesomeness, but the damask rose water is sweetest of smell.”

Raspberry, pistachio and rosewater
meringue bark (shards)
The Queen’s Jubilee 2012 picnic dessert was a Strawberry compote, meringue, cream, flavoured with elder-flower cordial and rosewater.

Other recipes can be flavoured with rosewater - Gooseberry Fool, Marchpane Tart, a blancmange style dish: jelly with ground almonds which was flavoured with rosewater …

… or if we go back nearly 1,300 years we could try the savoury-with-fruit dish called ‘Judhaab

This favourite dish of medieval Baghdad consisted of a sweet pudding which was set at the bottom of a tannuuroven to catch the juices of roasting meat, which would be served with the pudding. 

Here we have a recipe from the collection of Caliph al-Wathiq (842–847).

1 chicken
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons rosewater
ground saffron
1 pound dried apricots
2 fresh lavashes, Mexican flour tortillas or other flatbreads, 12" in diameter
½ cup sugar

Wash chicken and pat dry. Mix 2 tablespoons rosewater with pinch of saffron and rub on chicken, inside and out. Set chicken on high rack in 350-degree oven. Put apricots in small saucepan, add water to cover apricots by ½ inch and stew until softened. Place one lavash in baking pan. Arrange stewed apricots on top, sprinkle with sugar and ¾ cup rosewater in which pinch of saffron has been dissolved, then cover with remaining lavash. When juices begin running from chicken, set baking pan under it to catch juices. 
When chicken is done, serve on apricot pudding. Serves four.

Conquest of Baghdad by the
Mongols 1258

The deliciously fragrant rosewater can be used in so many ways – and whether the Wimbledon Ladies’ champions use a rose perfume of the purest form, or like most of us a delicate atomised spray …

… many of us will try new flavours as our tastes change and we try new foods with an eclectic range of flavours, mixing savoury and sweet …
Roses, roses, roses ....

… but oh how nice it would be to be served rosewater to wash our hands in before, and after our meal … the pure luxury … not quite a Venus Rosewater Revival … but the title fits my bill!

Daily Telegraph article on Petals of the Valley – the only British producer of pure Rosewater from Wales!

Petals of the Valley … their website … with recipes and tips for use of their rose oil rich, fragrant rosewater ... 

Cooking with the Caliphs – with the Judhaab recipe …

Previous Post:  Wimbledon Tennis Venus Rosewater Dish

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Rosewater Dish … or Venus Rosewater Trophy at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships …

Wimbledon has almost come and gone … we’re still in the Mixed Doubles (with Heather Watson, and Jamie Murray – who will compete against each other in the final on Sunday) … sadly Andy Murray is injured, and Johanna Konta just couldn’t cope with Venus’ fast playing ability … but she will learn …

Wimbledon Singles
Championship trophies

… however there have been some extraordinary matches and Johanna Konta, whose parents live in Eastbourne, definitely is touching greatness …

… she is determined, practices hard, learns quickly, positive in all things, prepared to give of her time – but passionate about winning and succeeding … sounds like us?!

Enough of that … how about more Rosewater, after the last post? … Wimbledon connections – tennis and food … sounds good to me!  

It is except I looked and found some other interesting information … so this will be the first of three short posts – where Rosewater, food and history feature.

Virginia Wade having won
in 1977

The Venus Rosewater Dish (will probably be Venus’s this year … but the Spaniard Garbine Muguruza may have something to say about that …) has been presented to the Ladies’ Singles Champion since 1886 – when the ladies were first allowed to compete.

Oh well ... predictions are meant to go wrong aren't they? - I didn't see the match and amazingly Garbine Muguruza won ... so we have a new star in the tennis firmament.

Why - Rosewater dish – it was a ceremonial platter used after eating to catch warm or cold Rosewater poured from ewers over the hands to wash them … a daily ceremony amongst royalty and the nobility until the advent of soap and water.  They were made of pewter prior to the 1500s, then increasingly of silver, or in exceptional cases gold …

Silver salvers from the 1730s

A salver (Latin salva, save from risk) was originally used by food tasters, who tested food for poison … the Rosewater dish was considered a salver by extension.

It is something of a misnomer … as none of the mythological figures on the dish is Venus; nor is the theme of decoration related to tennis, but to Classical Mythological. 

Close up showing 'relief' workmanship

The general size of these salvers made them perfect canvases upon which to emblazon coats of arms, figures from antiquity, classical scenes and so on.

Here the central boss depicts the figure of Venus (not Sophrosyne - the personification of temperance and moderation - as the concept of the dish caught on in the 1800s when various copies were made: the original is in the Louvre).

The dish shows Venus seated on a chest with lamp in her right hand and jug in her left, with various attributes such as a sickle, fork and caduceus around her.

The Seven Liberal Arts: imagefrom the
Hortus Deliciarum of Herrad of
Landsberg (12th C)
The four reserves on the boss of the dish each contain a classical god with their elements.  The reserves around the rim show Minerva presiding over the seven liberal arts: astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, music, rhetoric, dialectic and grammar, each with relevant attribute.

The rim of the salver has an ovolo moulding.  The remainder of the surface is decorated with gilt renaissance strapwork and foliate motifs in relief against a rigid silver ground.

The curious history  of the trophy known as the Venus Rosewater Dish, a dish that does not have Venus on it, nor holds rosewater, but such is the nature of replication, reproduction and appropriation in art, that the Wimbledon original remains at the Club, the champion takes home a reduced reproduction of the trophy, that is itself a copy.

Watching Wimbledon in Canary Wharf -
the new business district to the east
of the City

The trophy looks stunning doesn’t it … and I’d love to have a look at it with someone who can take me through the classical mythology story woven into this gilded, sterling silver salver.

I might have to rethink watching Wimbledon in the coming years ... and take a trip to watch this way.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories