My Blog List

Friday, December 31, 2010

100 My New Year Greeting

   To everyone who landed on my pages,thank you for your support 
  To Shari  at Little Blue Deer for putting together my  photographs in her fabulous design and being so encouraging
  To Greet  at Belgian Pearls for being so generous since I started only on the 13th December
   Looking forward to meeting all of you again in 2011 and reading your fabulous blogs . FAY 

   Be strong and gentle
   Be focused and open minded
  Be passionate
 Be colourful and calm
 Be kind to everyone
 and with your wings soar to the heights of your dreams in 2011.

99 La femme Quotidien...always save the best till last !

98 The chocolatier de VALBONNE

   Last summer  I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week with my friend Carolyn in her house in the south of France.
Naturally ,I enjoyed every moment of life in her village and meeting her  French friends and eating at all the lovely places!

.We regularly went to  Valbonne for the MOST delicious cakes and bread outside of Paris eased down by Marriage Freres tea of every flavour.  The cafe   JJ LENOIR is situated on the high street and the window is a feast for the eyes .

Jean Jacques( otherwise known as James Bond ) produces this amazing array of patisserie AND ice cream! 

but not only is it wonderful personal service (hes also multi lingual ) but his sense of humour is equal to his cakes.

I confess I ate MANY of them , so light and delicious ,warm and comforting ,altogether  a most delightful and amusing experience  TO BE REPEATED I HOPE !

If you are travelling in the area I strongly recommend that you call in to see  James Bond and indulge in his patisserie  ,you wont be disappointed.

  Please  say hello  if you arrive before me !

AND THEN  just as I was savouring the flavours of these cakes  Carolyn sent photographs of her meeting with James Bond this very morning.............. I AM GREEN !

via Carolyn Quartermaine
  here is Jean Jacques  in his Couronne des Roi  a lovely French tradition I wish that I was sharing ......


                                                          HAPPY NEW YEAR

Thursday, December 30, 2010

97 A holiday for the mind......

  Earlier this year I watched a programme on English television about the  "Best Restaurant in the world " awards

 and what a vision of equisite  food and presentation.
NOMU a Danish restaurant now glories in this title  and its chef 

Rene Redzepi is currently  the most influential chef in Haute cuisine.

He employs 3 full time foragers ! to bring to the table a wide selection of local lichens ,mosses,fish eggs ,spruces and local native berries and fruits 

In addition he also foragers in Lapland which is overflowing with natural gems of berries and fruits.

These ancient  and  mostly forgotten foods are full to bursting with flavour and nutrients .They are then transformed with all the loving care due to a baby  to produce intricate patterns and visions of fantasy on the unique plates bowls and pieces of wood.
I was mesmerised.

In truth a work of art and gastronomic delight. 
I wanted to be there!
WHEN you are able to secure a reservation you will  have a choice of a 12 course meal  taking around 4 hours to enjoy or a 7 course meal   for those with a less time to spend. I know which one I'm going to have !

 The famous snowman has 30 different ingredients  for your enjoyment.

When Rene is in London he goes to forage on Hampstead Heath ,where Service berries ( eaten instead of sweets  in ancient times)have a taste similar to Quince, cooked Apple  and Tamarind !Leaves tasting of Cloves have been there for 1000s of years , why did they ever have to travel to the Far East ,when they were all here, ready to be eaten ?.

On the beach can be found the Sea Pea which has a taste similar to Mushrooms and in bygone years when the crops failed  people would eat Sea peas  which have an intense flavour and are full of nutrients.

This  is all too tantalizing ..............

96 Penulitimate pair for 2010 la femme Quotidien.....

 On New Years day I will reveal the names of all these amazing women

so  that  you can check to see how many you remembered......

95 Stone masons in action...

  Wandering around the narrow streets in Florence  with a friend yesterday, I came upon a building which I pass regularly en route to GROM the best gelateria in MY opinion to be found in the centre.

To my surprise the blinds were not pulled down and for the first time I was able to see some of the work being carried out for the 

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

Since acid rain appeared on our planet many wonderful statues and carvings has been demolished by its cruel attack.

.Here replicas of the statues and columns are being made by master craftsmen and the originals are kept for all to see at ground level in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

What a sight for sore eyes . A visit to this beautiful museum will reward you  with  works by Michelangelo and Donatello   etc.

94 Routemasters are back in London

   hurrah.....  thankyou to Mayor Boris Johnson

93 Urgent letter to Merlin.....

   Dear  Merlin,  Please tell me, how can someone be put in prison for speaking his mind in 2010?

 Mohammad Rasoulof, director of White Meadows, and Jafar Panahi, his cinematographer, just arrested and sentenced to six years in prison (re news received via Democracy Now) 

A mesmerizing and poetic film
21 September 2010 | by Howard Schumann (Vancouver, B.C.) 
Last year at the San Sebastian Film Festival, Mohammad Rasoulof, Iranian director of the allegorical fable The White Meadows, spoke out against the Tehran regime saying "I come from a country full of contradictions and suffering, where there is a dictatorship," and "censorship does not allow me to talk openly about what happens in my country." The following March, both Rasoulof and world-acclaimed director Jafir Panahi were arrested as part of the government's reaction to those claiming that the election of President Ahmadinejad in June 2009 election was a fraud. These arrests prompted Iranian directors, actors and artists to sign a letter urging their release.

The petition ends with the sentence "Like artists everywhere, Iran's filmmakers should be celebrated, not censored, repressed, and imprisoned." Rasoulof was released shortly after his arrest in March but Panahi remained in prison until the following May, released only after he threatened to go on a hunger strike, complaining about mistreatment in prison and threats made to his family. The White Meadows, Rasoulof's mesmerizing and poetic film about an old man who travels to places of sorrow to collect tears, appears to be a disguised attack on oppression and the perils of religious dogmatism in Iran, though it also can be taken simply as a surreal Kafkaesque nightmare. Set in Lake Urmia close to Azerbaijan, Rahmat (Hasan Pourshirazi), an aging boatman, visits the region's white salt islands to collect people's tears in a glass vial. "I've come to listen to people's heartaches and take away tears," he says as he rows among the gray waters in the third-largest saltwater lake in the world. It is an otherworldly landscape.

Rahmat encounters many tales of grief and sees many injustices but he is powerless to intervene. He has been doing this for thirty years and the people cooperate because they believe that their tears will turn into pearls. What he does with the tears is not fully explained. We see him first at a funeral for a young woman whose body was preserved in salt until Rahmat can take her off the island and dispose of her body. It is not clear how the woman died but the implication is clear that she was killed, possibly by stoning, by having too provocative a figure. One of the villagers tells Rahmat that it was good that she had died because she was "too beautiful to live among us". She could not be buried on the island because lustful men would dig up her body and violate the corpse.

When Rahmat takes her in his boat, he uncovers her far from shore only to find a very much alive teenage boy, Nassim (Younes Ghazali), who snuck off the island so that he can look for his father. Rahmat first throws young Nissim into the cruel waters then relents and says that the boy can go with him if he pretends to be his deaf and mute son. Recalling that tears can turn into pearls, the naïve youngster steals a jar full of tears and is severely reprimanded by Rahmat when discovered. At the next island, a beautiful young virgin, dressed for a wedding, is offered as a bride to the sea to appease the sea gods. No one does anything to stop this barbaric action and Rahmat is content to fill up more vials of tears.

At the last minute Nissim swims out to sea to try and rescue her but he is intercepted and brought back to the island to be stoned by the elders. Rahmat saves his life but the boy is severely injured and once again the powerful succeed at the expense of the compassionate. On the next island, a crippled dwarf (Omid Zare) is chosen to deliver the secrets of the villagers (whispered into a glass jar) to the fairies at the bottom of a well before daylight. Fearing that he will not make it in time, the rope is cut and he perishes. An even more bizarre occurrence takes place at the next island.

A painter is harassed and blinded because he has painted the sea red instead of blue, a reminder of the harsh repercussions felt by independent artists in Iran. The White Meadows is an upsetting film filled with many tears but it is a film of stark visual beauty and the powerful imagery of Ebrahim Ghafouri's camera-work makes it clear how ignorance and doctrinaire rigidity can never be a substitute for morality and justice.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

92 La femme Quotidien.........



91 I seek it here I seek it there.........

   the aroma pervades the room ,the hall way and outside the door , its a heavenly scent.

It is of course Penhaligans Violet bath oil ! launched in 1975 , this wonderful pure Violet oil has regularly been an indulgance of mine. .Just once or twice each week( as too much oil and perfume is not beneficial to female flora and fauna ) a few drops of the divine essence in my daily bath is beyond words. 
 I sip a small George , listen to heavenly music and then for just five minutes enjoy another realm of existance.
 But then as I enquired about another bottle to keep my stock at a resonable level   they dropped the bombshell. 
NO MORE VIOLET BATH OIL !  I am sad beyond words.
I wrote to them, I visited them to no avail  !
.New scents are being brought onto the market and only the body cream will remain in Violet. as you can see I  am down to the last inch in the bottle .

If anyones sees any of this sitting on a shelf  PLEASE let me know where ,so that I can contact them .
Laduree have produced a Violet bathoil  which has the aroma of macaroons and the Ladureeshop. It is very pleasant and very sweet but not QUITE the depth of  Violet !So I may have to adapt  my olfactory sensation.

90 Welsh castles in abundance...

I understand that there are more castles  per square mile  in Wales than any other country in the world!
Often the major ones were  approximately one days ride away  from each other  ,as a means of controling the  borders.


Wales' oldest lived in castle is Penhow Castle. Built by
Sir William St Maur in the early 13th century  

Possibly Whittington castle (actually now in Shropshire, England) is amongst the oldest castles (approx 2 miles east of Oswestry).
it pre-dates 1221, which a number of castles seem to refer to this same year for stone build. though a 'castle' as been at this site since the early 9th century.
Please Note: Penhow Castle is privately owned and is no longer open to the public.

A perfect example of the smaller type of fortified manor house, Penhow was developed from a heavily-built keep necessary to protect the knightly retainers of the local earl, who lived in almost impregnable majesty at nearby Chepstow Castle.
This great Norman stronghold and bridgehead into Wales was the first castle with a stone keep to be built in Britain by the conquering Normans in 1070.
"Knight's Fee" manors and castles like Penhow were established to protect the outlying farmlands and give advance warning of any Welsh uprising. The area that is now known as Gwent was settled by families that had come over from France with or in the wake of William the Conqueror, and we know that Sir Roger de St Maur was at Penhow by 1129, for he witnessed the charter that founded the priory of Monmouth in that year.
In return for the task of keeping down the Welsh, providing a quota of men for guard duty at Chepstow every month, and for supplying one man mounted on a horse in times of War, Sir Roger was permitted to usurp the Manor of Penhow from its native Welsh prince, and gain a toehold on the feudal ladder. 
Sir Roger's home was a cold stone Pele tower that stood alone on its rocky knoll, and directly overlooked the conquered natives in their 'Welshry' at Talgarth. It was the first home in Britain of a family destined to become one of the greatest in the land.

  The most beautiful castle in Wales  is thought to be ........

Beaumaris Castle

in the town of Beaumaris, Anglesey, north Wales.
SH 607 763

Photographs copyright 2006 © by Jeffrey L. Thomas

Above & below: the outer curtain wall and moat at Beaumaris.

Beaumaris, begun in 1295, was the last and largest of the castles to be built by King Edward I in Wales. Raised on an entirely new site, without earlier buildings to fetter its designer's creative genius, it is possibly the most sophisticated example of medieval military architecture in Britain. This is undoubtedly the ultimate "concentric" castle, built with an almost geometric symmetry. Conceived as an integral whole, a high inner ring of defenses is surrounded by a lower outer circuit of walls, combining an almost unprecedented level of strength and firepower. Before the age of cannon, the attacker would surely have been faced with an impregnable fortress. Yet, ironically, the work of construction was never fully completed, and the castle saw little action apart from the Civil War in the 17th century.
A castle was almost certainly planned when King Edward visited Anglesey in 1283 and designated the Welsh town of Llanfaes to be its seat of government. At the time, resources were already stretched and any such scheme was postponed. Then, in 1294-95, the Welsh rose in revolt under Madog ap Llywelyn. The rebels were crushed after an arduous winter campaign, and the decision was taken to proceed with a new castle in April 1295. The extent of English power is demonstrated by the fact that the entire native population of Llanfaes was forced to move to a newly established settlement, named Newborough. The castle itself was begun on the "fair marsh," and was given the Norman-French name Beau Mareys. Building progressed at an astonishing speed, with some 2,600 men engaged in the work during the first year.

Below (2): views of the Gate next to Sea, the modern entrance to the castle.

In sole charge of the operation was
Master James of St. George, already with many years of experience in castle-building, both in Wales and on the Continent. Even after 700 years it is not difficult to appreciate the tremendous sophistication in his elaborate design at Beaumaris. The first line of defense was provided by a water-filled moat, some 18ft wide. At the southern end was a tidal dock for shipping, where vessels of 40 tons laden weight could sail right up to the main gate. The dock was protected by the shooting deck on Gunner's Walk. Across the moat is the low curtain wall of the outer ward, its circuit punctuated by 16 towers and two gates. On the northern side, the Llanfaes gate was probably never completed. The gate next to the sea, on the other hand, preserves evidence of its stout wooden doors and gruesome "murder holes" above. Once through, an attacker would still have to face 11 further obstacles before entering the heart of the castle. These included the barbican, further "murder holes," three portcullises and several sets of doors. If the daunting prospect of the gate-passage proved too much, the would-be attacker caught hesitating between the inner and outer walls could not have survived for long. A rain of heavy crossfire would have poured down from all directions.

Below (2): view of the rear of the North Gatehouse from the Inner Ward &view of the Chapel Tower from the castle wall walk.

The striking thing about the inner ward is its great size. Covering about 3/4 of an acre, it was surrounded by a further six towers and the two great gatehouses. Within, it is clear that there was an intention to provide lavish suites of accommodation. Both gatehouses were planned to have grand arrangements of state rooms at their rear, much as those completed at Harlech. 
The north gate, on the far side, was only raised as far as its hall level and the projected second storey was never built. Even as it now stands, with its five great window openings, it dominates the courtyard. Another block, of equal size, was planned for the south gate, but this was never to rise further than its footings. Around the edges of the ward further buildings were planned and must have included a hall, kitchens, stables and perhaps a granary. Although there is some evidence of their existence in the face of the curtain wall, it is not certain they were ever completed.
Visitors should not miss the little chapel situated in the tower of that name. It's vaulted ceiling and pointed windows make it one of the highlights of the castle. Also in this tower there is a fascinating exhibition on the "Castles of Edward I in Wales, and this provides much background to the building of Beaumaris itself.
The visitor may well be left wondering why all the lavish accommodation was contemplated. In short, it was to provide the necessary apartments for the king and, if he should marry again, his queen. Moreover, his son, the Prince of Wales was fast approaching marriageable age. Considering the size of both households, plus the need to accommodate royal officers, the constable, and even the sheriff of Anglesey, the scale of these domestic arrangements is put into perspective.
Despite being planned on such a grand scale, by 1298 the funds for building Beaumaris had dried up. The king was increasingly involved with works in Gascony and Scotland. Although there were minor building works in later times, the castle is in many ways a blueprint which was never fully realized.