Saturday, 29 February 2020

Leap Years

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are only leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.
Leap years are needed to align our modern day Gregorian calendar with the solar year, which is the approximately 365¼ days that it takes the Earth to complete its orbit around the sun.
The Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII in order to bring the date of Easter in line with the spring equinox. Previously the Julian calendar, introduced in 45BC and named after Julius Caesar, had been used, but this had fallen behind because a miscalculation in the length of a year resulting in approximately an extra three days being gained every four centuries.
However, because of the conflict between the emerging Protestant religion and Roman Catholicism, not all European countries adopted the new calendar immediately. Scotland did so in 1600 but it was not until 1752 that it was accepted in Wales and England.
The old Julian calendar is still remembered in some areas, such as the Gwaun Valley in Pembrokeshire, where on the 13th January Hen Galan, or old New Year is still celebrated.
Welsh Courting and Marriage Customs;
There is a tradition of women proposing marriage on February 29th, which may go back to the time when the leap year day was not recognised by law and had no legal status. It was, therefore, acceptable to break with the usual tradition of men proposing.
* Rhamanta, was a way of trying to foretell the future. In Glamorgan for example, a young couple would place two grains of wheat on a shovel, which was placed over a fire. If, when the shovel was hot enough and the grains jumped off together, it signified that the couple would marry, however if they jumped off separately, it was likely that the couple would separate.
* In Pembrokeshire, a girl was said to dream about a future lover if a shoulder of mutton, pierced by nine holes was placed under her pillow, her shoes arranged in a T pattern and a rhyme spoken above her.
* The custom of jumping the broomstick originated with newly married Romany couples as a fertility rite.
* The throwing of confetti at married couples as they left the church developed from the ritual of throwing grain to ensure a fruitful union.
* Traditionally a Welsh bride carried a bouquet containing myrtle leaves, which she gave a cutting of to her bridesmaids. If it blossomed, then the girl would also soon marry.
* Welsh brides believed that it was lucky to be woken by birdsong on the morning of their wedding.
*Welsh brides also believed that if their wedding dress was torn on the wedding day that it denoted a happy marriage.

Cherry chocolate mousse - Jamie Oliver

Cherry chocolate mousse


  • 200 g quality dark chocolate , (70%)
  • 1 x 400 g tin of black pitted cherries in syrup
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 4 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tablespoons golden caster sugar


  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, then remove to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, simmer the cherries and their syrup in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat until thick, then remove.
  3. Whip the cream to very soft peaks.
  4. Separate the eggs, add the yolks to the cream with the sugar, and whisk to combine.
  5. Add a pinch of sea salt to the whites and, with a clean whisk, beat until super-stiff.
  6. Fold the cooled chocolate into the cream, then very gently fold that through the egg whites with a spatula.
  7. Divvy up the mousse between six glasses or bowls, interspersing the cherries and syrup throughout, and finishing with a few nice cherries on top.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

An ode

An ode arises from my heart,
In order to sing your praises,
From now on soul-mate,
Which makes me feel so strange.
Are you real or a dream?
To the dear elected of my heart,
Let me tell the flame,
Who lights up my whole soul,
And absorb all the darkness.
Where were you finishing up?
You have that part of my heart,
Who makes me not me,
If I can't smell your smell,
Feeling sordid without you.
Are you my half or my Eve?
Are you aware my heart,
That mine is all yours,
Carrying away all the flowers,
Who are composed of you ?
Would you like to feel them in me?
I see this thing my heart,
Who is deep inside of you,
The one that capsizes in me,
Who makes me never be scared.
Would you be a healer ?
Your image engraved my heart,
Brighten up everyday life,
Project this joker well-being,
Who was most of my old one.
So this is happiness?
Now I have the most beautiful,
Happiness makers,
Neither lie nor promise lures,
That I feel in the marrow.
I couldn't be happier.
For you my love...Ingrid Benoist

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

The House, Where Alice Lived

In the house, where Alice lived, everyone learned, to forgive.
For, Fairy Alice knew, 't'was true, forgiving others frees you, too!
So, whispering, she'd always go, to sleeping ears, to message, sow.
And, into dreams, the truth was borne, that led, to more forgiving morns.
Perfection is a myth, you see, for no-one's perfect, as can be.
And asking pardon, for transgressions, leads, to the sweetest, of soul's lessons.
Soon, hearts were light, mistakes, forgiven; souls, no more, with cold anger, riven.
And Alice smiled, as peace descended, upon that home, with each fence, mended.
Wee Alice beamed, (peace-maker, she, as blessed, as a sweet Fae could be), to see her work come, to fruition, as she succeeded, in her mission.

Lovely art, by Charlotte Bird

Free Hugs

It's the touch that gives you comfort.
It's the touch that makes you feel.
It's something that no one else can ever steal.
It's the sweetest human contact for the body and the mind.
It's the connection where two bodies link and bind.
It's what we search for when we feel all alone,
It can be so meaningful; the emotion is deep to the bone.
It's what makes us realize that someone else is there.
It's the touch that says, "Just know I'll always care."
It can say hello; it can say goodbye.
It can leap out when you're happy or make you want to cry.
It can say "I love you" or "I'm really glad we're friends."
It can be the last spark in a story that ends.
All you need is another soul to make you feel this snug.
It's the connection in our life.
Everyone needs a hug.
By Brittni Thomas
Photographer unknown


“A person who reads lives a thousand lives. A person who never reads lives only once."

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Shrove Tuesday

Dydd Mawrth Ynyd, which is also known as Pancake Day - Dydd Crempog, usually falls in February but sometimes early March.
It is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent and therefore, traditionally the last day of feasting before the fasting of Lent, when the last supplies of flour, eggs, butter and milk were used up to make pancakes.
Crempog is the traditional Welsh pancake and was made on a flat bake stone griddle. It is thicker than the British/French crepe and can be made with or without yeast, with buttermilk, oats or speckled with raisins or currants.
Some Welsh traditions at Shrove Tuesday.
* It was a custom in country districts to "thrash the hen" . The hen would be buried in a hole in the ground with only its head sticking out. Blindfolded youths would then try to hit the hen with a stick and if they succeeded, they would keep it for a family meal the following day.
* In Kidwelly on the eve of Shrove Tuesday, tin cans were kicked up and down the streets to commemorate the putting away of all the working utensils and pots and pans that would not be used during Lent.
* In a few areas, the Christmas decorations were not taken down until Shrove Tuesday, when they were removed and burned during the pancake feast.
* There is a suggestion that the English crumpet may have developed from the Welsh word, crempog.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

The 7 coolest tree tunnels around the world

TREES PROVIDE THE oxygen we need to breathe, absorb dangerous substances that seep into the soil, reduce noise, store carbon, and are the home of many wonderful creatures. Besides keeping us all alive, trees are also a treat for the eyes. Tree tunnels are especially beautiful, as they seem conjured out of fairy tales or romantic poetry. Whether they are naturally formed, planted, or built to look like a magical passageway, the natural pergolas are sights to see. Here are the seven coolest tree tunnels from around the world to check out.

1. Jozenji Avenue — Sendai, Japan

Photo: rujin/Shutterstock
About an hour and a half to two hours from Tokyo by bullet train, Sendai is the capital of Japan’s Miyagi prefecture and is known as the “City of Trees.” The name is apt as the northern city has an abundance of parks and tree-lined streets. But nothing is more emblematic of the City of Trees than Jozenji Avenue, a street running east to west through the middle of the city that’s filled with zelkova trees. On the eastern end are the Kotodai and Nishikicho parks, and on the west side is West Park, which is also a great spot to see cherry blossoms come springtime. It’s a great spot for a walk among nature without having to leave the urban core, and there are benches along the way in case you need to sit to fully appreciate the beauty of the place.

2. The Dark Hedges — Northern Ireland

Dark Hedges in Ireland
Photo: Michael Rocktaeschel/Shutterstock
Perhaps one of the most well-known sights in Northern Ireland — thanks in part to HBO’s Game of Thrones — the Dark Hedges are a series of beech trees about an hour away from Belfast. The intertwining trees lead up to Gracehill House, a Georgian estate built in 1775. The original purpose of the trees was to impress visitors as they made their way up to Gracehill House, though now the trees are a must-see spot in themselves. In GoT, they stand in as the Kingsroad, a road with Castle Black in the North at one end and King’s Landing in the South at the other. The estate is now privately owned, and some of it is part of a golf course and hotel. To get to the Dark Hedges, you can take a bus, drive, or head out with one of the many tour operators from Belfast.

3. Canal du Midi — Toulouse, France

Photo: Yuryev Pavel/Shutterstock
The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was built between 1667 and 1694 to connect the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and provide a shorter alternative to passage through the Gibraltar Strait for the delivery of goods. Covering a distance of 223.6 miles, it begins around Toulouse and ends in S├Ęte, passing through small towns and villages along the way.
You can’t go wrong no matter which part of it you decide to visit, as the entire length of it seems taken right out of an idyllic painting. It’s lined with thousands of lush trees, many of which are a variety known as plane trees, but a persistent fungus required that a number of them be cut down and burned; France’s waterways authority has promised to replant the trees to replace the diseased ones. In addition to walking along the canal, cycling is another popular option for travelers. From Toulouse, you can also cruise down the canal for a short amount of time or spend days going from town to town by boat; boats can either be self-driven or used with a guide.

4. Cypress tree tunnel — California, United States

Photo: Radoslaw Lecyk/Shutterstock
Monterey cypress trees that were planted around 1930 lead the way up to the historic KPH radio receiving station in Point Reyes, California. The trees were planted as a grandiose demonstration of the honor that RCA, an electronics company, bestowed on the radio project. In its prime, the station provided ship-to-shore communication via telegrams with Morse code and radioteletype. It was one of the first radio stations in the world and was the only commercial Morse code station still in use in the US until the early 2000s; every year on July 12, volunteers commemorate the last commercial Morse code transmission by putting KPH on the air. While it is no longer operational for commercial purposes, guided tours of the station are offered from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

5. Jacaranda-tree-lined suburban streets — Pretoria, South Africa

Photo: Vanessa Bentley/Shutterstock
Jacarandas are native to South America, but since their initial importation from Brazil, they’ve come to be synonymous with South African flora. Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capitals, is nicknamed “Jacaranda City” due to the sheer number of jacarandas that bloom every year, draping the city in a purple hue. The first two jacaranda trees were planted in 1888 by J.D. Celliers on his home’s land, and a plaque honoring that is on the same property, now Sunnyside Primary School. While you can see jacarandas lining almost every suburban street in Pretoria, one great spot is Celliers Street, named after the man behind it all. Blooming takes place between late September and November in South Africa.

6. Tunnel of Love — Klevan, Ukraine

Photo: GoodMan_Ekim/Shutterstock
The Tunnel of Love in Ukraine surrounds railways tracks that are still in use, but it’s also a popular destination among newlyweds and couples. Legend has it that if two lovers walk through the tunnel while holding hands and their love is sincere, their wishes will come true. Visiting here will take a bit of patience if you want to go by public transportation as it’s located in the small town of Klevan. The closest town to Klevan with a variety of transportation options is Rivne, which you can get to by bus or train from Kiev; from Rivne to Klevan, you can again choose between a bus or train — be aware, however, that trains are less frequent than buses, but the train from Rivne to Klevan will get you closer to the tunnel.

7. Viale Ceccarini — Riccione, Italy

Photo: GoneWithTheWind/Shutterstock
Viale Ceccarini is one of the main streets in Riccione, a seaside Italian town on the Adriatic Coast. It was built toward the end of the 1800s and was renamed in 1912 after its benefactor, Maria Boorman Ceccarini. Bound by tall pine trees, the lively street is known as a social hub for locals and tourists, with many shops, cafes, bars, cafes, and restaurants. 

BEWARE: Don’t Walk Through Mushroom Fairy Rings

PHOTO: Fairy Rings, courtesy of Sarah Kirby, Wythe Co., Virginia

Walking outside of one’s house in the morning to be greeted by the unexpected sight of a symmetrical circle of mushrooms that appeared overnight can be a hair-raising experience that leaves many questions.

Surprisingly, this phenomena is actually far more common than one might think and is the subject of mountain lore dating back ages.
Known as “Fairy Rings” and “Elf Circles”, these circular groupings of mushrooms have grown to reach a diameter of roughly half a mile and one in Belfort, France, is believed to be over 700 years old.
Though they are formed mainly in forested areas, they sometimes appear in grassy places and are made when mycelium of a fungus growing in the ground absorbs nutrients. This breaks down larger molecules in the soil into smaller molecules that are then absorbed through the walls of the hyphae near their growing tips. The mycelium will move outward from the center, and when the nutrients in the center are exhausted, the center dies, thereby forming a living ring, from which the fairy ring arises.

PHOTO: Fairy ring in mountain forest, courtesy of Josimda

Appalachian, as well as ancient folklore is riddled with mentions of fairy rings, which are also known as “sorcerers’ rings” in France and “witches’ rings” in German tradition, both of which believe appear on the sites of where witches danced the previous night.

Guy Photoshops Tiny Dog to Reflect How Big She Thinks She Is

Together with his canine companion, artist Mitch Boyer is working on Vivian the Dog Moves to Brooklyn, a children’s book about a big dachshund’s relocation to the “big city.” New York may be large, but when it comes to the title’s four-footed character, “big” might actually be an understatement—with photo-illustration techniques and visual effects similar to those used in films like The Hobbit, Boyer has transformed his tiny pup into an adorable giant, towering head-to-head with her owner at six feet tall.

Boyer has been raising money for the publication via Kickstarter, where he explains that he and Vivian have moved between four states, five cities, and ten different homes during their five years as pet and owner. After two years in Brooklyn, they’re planning to stay, but the stress of moving to a brand new place remains a clear memory, hence the inspiration for the project. Every year in the U.S., more than 5.5 million children between the ages of 1 and 9 have to move with their families, and Mitch wants to give comfort to those kids as they say goodbye to their old stomping grounds and settle into unfamiliar environments.

In the 32-page book with full-color photo-illustrations by Boyer and lettering and illustration by Valerie Navarro, the pup and her human (aka Boyer) move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Brooklyn, where Vivian is said to be “the only giant wiener dog around,” barely able to squeeze into her new living room. She decides to try to venture back to Albuquerque alone—but we’ll have to get the book to see whether she’s successful. Though he doesn’t divulge how the tall tale ends, Boyer does share the behind-the-scenes scoop on his artistic process: each page begins with a paper sketch or storyboard, followed by compiling props and planning the setting and composition. After the photo shoot, several images are compiled in a composite, and each final result—though it takes more time and effort than a standard photograph—is a fun and surreal twist on a truly sweet relationship between man and man’s best friend.

With 15 days left in the Kickstarter campaign, Vivian the Dog Moves to Brooklyn has already surpassed its original $10,080 target by more than $4,000. Now, Boyer is aiming for a stretch goal of $20,000. The funding will go towards printing, traveling to Albuquerque, and finding and paying an animal actor to play Vivian’s costar character named Lulu. You can show your support here.

Here’s what Vivian and Boyer really look like, side by side:

And here’s a taste of the behind-the-scenes Photoshop magic involved:

Mitch Boyer: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
Valerie Navarro: Website | Instagram | Twitter
via [designboom, DesignTAXI]