Friday, 31 January 2020

How Fair The Maiden!

How fair the maiden! what can be
So fair, so beautiful, as she?
Ask the mariner who sails
Over the joyous sea,
If wave, or star, or friendly gales,
Are half so fair as she.
Ask the knight on his prancing steed
Returning from victory,
If weapon, or war, or arrow's speed,
Is half so fair as she.
Ask the shepherd who leads his flocks
Along he flowery lea,
If the valley's lap, or the sun-crowned rock,
Are half so fair as she.
Gil Vicente.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

The Perfect Spot!

 The Perfect Spot!
On edifice, where gargoyles leer, a little Fairy feels no fear!
Such statues, frozen, in their poses, with hanging tongues, and bulbous
noses, amusement, give, to such, as she; (her wings work, well, not frozen, be)!
This perfect spot, to view the stars, and landscape, moon-lit, near and
far is pleasant, for sweet contemplation; and Fairy's heart lifts, in
As Zephyr teases locks, to flying, the lovely little Fairy's sighing,
at beauty, of vast firmament, (her soul, at peace, her mind, content)!
Donna L. Ferguson Dudley, copyright 2019 8/02/19
Art, by Pascal Moguérou

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

For A New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
John O’Donohue
Artist Tammara Markegard

Monday, 27 January 2020

The Magic Of Books

With her little hands, she scans each page
and as she looks.
She finds that she is mesmerized by the
magic from these books.
By candlelight she reads each night and as
the candle burns.
She finds delight from the the magic of books
with each page she turns.
For a moment, she's a princess dancing, in
a castle she'd be prancing.
Other times a ballerina, loved by all that came
And seen her.
Yes, she loves these books to me she said.
She keeps them neatly stored next to her bed.
Each night she goes to sleep it seems she
always dreams the same sweet dreams.
All the while she has a smile and as these thoughts
dance through her head. ''She believes'' that
there is really magic. In every page she’s read..
By Thad Wilkes.
Artist Tammara Markegard

The Sun Rising BY JOHN DONNE

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.

               She's all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world's contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Rhubarb and custard bread and butter pudding

Rhubarb and custard bread and butter pudding

1 Hour 25 Minutes + Soaking
Serves 8

Check out this indulgent, creamy and super moreish rhubarb and custard bread and butter pudding. This recipe is a glorious mash up of two classic British puds – buy the pinkest rhubarb you can for maximum colour pop


golden caster sugar 150g
lemon 1, zest pared with a peeler, plus a squeeze of juice
orange 1, zest pared with a peeler, plus a squeeze of juice
rhubarb 375g, weighed after trimming and cutting into 4cm chunks
whole milk 400ml
double cream 300ml
vanilla pod 1, halved lengthways
custard powder 4 tbsp
eggs 3 large, plus 1 yolk
butter 50g, soft, plus extra for the dish
soft brioche loaf 250g
icing sugar 2 tbsp



Put 50g of the caster sugar in a frying pan that will roughly fit the rhubarb in a single layer. Add 100ml of water plus a tbsp each of the orange and lemon juice. Melt together, then, as the syrup comes to the boil, quickly add the rhubarb, and simmer for a minute. Turn the rhubarb chunks and simmer for a minute more. Drain off and save the liquid, and leave the rhubarb to cool (keep the syrupy liquid to serve).


Put the milk, cream, vanilla pod and pared lemon and orange zests into a pan. Bring gently to the boil, while you whisk the remaining 100g sugar with the custard powder in a big bowl. Whisk one of the whole eggs into the sugar, to a smooth paste, then whisk in the remaining eggs and yolk. Keep whisking while you pour it over the hot milky mixture.


Butter a deep 30 x 20cm baking dish, and thickly slice and butter the brioche loaf. Layer the bread slices with the rhubarb chunks until the dish is evenly filled, then sieve the custard mixture and pour over. Leave the pudding to soak for 30 minutes, then heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and boil the kettle.


When ready to bake, sit the baking dish in a deep roasting tin. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Sift the icing sugar over the top, then bake for 35-40 minutes until the pudding is puffed and golden, and the custard just set. Eat with clotted or runny cream, if you like.

This Majestic Cathedral Is Made Of Living, Breathing Trees

Italian artist, Giuliano Mauri, is known for his design in natural architecture and participated in numerous architecture collaborations such as the Venice Biennale, Milan Triennale, and Biennale of Penne.
His Cattedrale Vegetale, or Tree Cathedral, is perhaps the most beautiful of all. To realize his vision, Mauri planted two groves of trees that will grow into breath taking basilicas. The Cathedral has 42 columns forming a basilica for five isles.
He started the structure of his Tree Cathedral by creating cages with tree stumps, working with branches and tree trunks, once complete, he planted he planted the two groves of trees which included 80 horn-bean saplings inside the cages. These will eventually grow into large trees, filling the gaps as the wood disintegrates over time.
The project was immense, using 1,800 spruce trunks, along with 600 chestnut tree branches which are then secured together using 6,000 meters of hazelnut twigs. This was achieved by using traditional methods of intertwining and weaving.As they grow, it will create a natural roof over the cathedral.
The cathedral is huge, taking up 650 sq. meters in total and took months to create. More than 90 feet long, 80 feet wide and with a variable height between 16 feet up to 70 feet tall, it is a sight to behold.
Mauri started his creation in 2001 but sadly passed away in 2009, before completion. Completed just a year later, it now stands as a memorial to Mauri, his art and architecture.
The Tree Cathedral stands at the foot of Mount Arera, in Northern Italy.

Stunning Lifestyle Photos of the Remote Mongolians who Hunt with Eagles

Mongolian eagle hunter. Photo by Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Mongolian eagle hunter. Photo by Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Mongolians have a special relationship with golden eagles. Ancient cultures often have traditions that are visually stunning to outsiders, and none may be more so than the Khazakh hunters in the Altai Mountains in Mongolia. Combining glorious traditional dress with the regal splendor of an eagle mid-flight, these owners and their birds make incredible photography subjects.
But more than that is the relationship that develops between hunter and eagle, one that is almost like that between a child and his parent. But like so many traditional ways of living, this one is rapidly fading, and some suggest there are fewer than 100 true eagle hunters left.
Eagle hunter
Dalai Han an Kazakh eagle hunter with his Golden Eagle, Bayan-Ulgii, in Altai Mountains western Mongolia. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
 Mongolian eagle hunter
In 2015 and 2016, videographer and photographer Joel Santos traveled for several days across Mongolia to reach their remote homes of the Kazakh nomads and witness the stringent training they endure to bond with their eagles. (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
These Mongolians capture the eagles when they are about four years old, so that they are able to adapt to humans and become willing to take instruction for hunting. Once trained, they hunt for a range of mammals, including foxes and other small prey. They soar over their range, find their target and bring it home to their human masters.
Mongolian eagle hunter
Kazakh Eagle hunter Dalaikhan and his Golden eagle near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mongolian eagle hunter girl
Kazakh teenage girl eagle hunter (winner of 2014 competition) at the Golden Eagle Festival in western Mongolia. (Photo by: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
It is a tradition that dates back many centuries. The golden eagle may live as long as 30 years, but hunters keep them for only about 10; they then return the birds to the wild, to live out their remaining years in freedom.
Mongolian eagle hunters
A group of Kazakh Eagle hunters and their Golden eagles on horseback on the way to the Golden Eagle Festival near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mongolian eagle hunter
Mongolian eagle hunter in the Altai mountains. (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Outsiders have been fascinating by the hunters’ way of life for decades, and many have written about them, documenting their lives and taking photos. But being fascinated by the burkitshi, as the hunters are properly called, is not enough to help preserve their ancient way of hunting.
Mongolian eagle hunter
Kazakh eagle hunter at the Golden Eagle Festival near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Eagle hunter
Remote nomadic families are supporting themselves using one unconventional method – hunting with golden eagles. (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Several whom Mohan interviewed while chronicling their lives lamented that the younger generation isn’t up to the challenges of living as true burkitshi. One said that younger people “want only to be inside, in the warm, and they keep their eagles just for festivals and treat them as pets.”
Kazakh eagle hunters
Two teenage girls of Kazakh Eagle hunters and their Golden eagles on horseback on the way to the Golden Eagle Festival near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Mongolian eagle hunters
Eagle hunters only use female eagles as they are the largest, most agile and the most focused hunters in Mongolia (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
That is unacceptable, at least to some of the older eagle hunters, who believe using the birds strictly for show and festivals is unnatural to the raptors (as their eagles are called). “The people are lazy and that makes the eagles lazy. Eagles are wild fighting birds. They are not something to hang on the wall like a carpet,” one traditionalist lamented.
Kazakh eagle hunters
Mongolians in the Altai mountains with their golden eagles. (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Mongolian eagle hunters
Eagle hunters will release their eagles back into the wild when they reach ten-years-old in the Altai mountains. (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
If the circumstances were not so extraordinary, and happening in a mountain region in Mongolia, it would sound like any other complaint older people often express about the younger generation.
Kazakh eagle hunters
With only around 400 traditional eagle hunters left in the world, the custom is precious and unless your father was an eagle hunter, you cannot become one. (Joel Santos / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Kazakh eagle hunters
The opening ceremony of the Golden Eagle Festival with a parade of Mongolians with their eagles on the festival grounds near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
The eagle hunters have traditionally — but not exclusively — been male. However in 2014, a then-13 year old girl, Aisholpan Nurgaiv decided to buck tradition and enter in the nation’s Golden Eagle Festival.  Her story and commitment to eagle hunting was so inspiring to those who saw viral videos about her that she soon became the focus of a Disney documentary, “The Eagle Huntress,” released in 2016. Here she is below:
Mongolian eagle hunter girl
Aisholpan Nurgaiv, the Kazakh teenage girl eagle hunter who won the 2014 competition at the Golden Eagle Festival on the festival. (Photo by: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Mongolian eagle hunter
An eagle hunter is waiting on a hill to release the eagle during the competition at the Golden Eagle Festival near the city of Ulgii in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia. (Photo by: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Mongolian eagle hunter
Kazakh eagle hunter in western Mongolia. (Photo by: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
But in spite of Nurgaiv’s enthusiasm for her country’s traditional hunting, Mohan cautions in his book, “Hunting With Eagles: In The Realm of the Mongolian Kazakhs,” that they are a “dying breed,” and that there many be as few as 50 left in the region. Those who do continue are getting old, and many have released their eagles back into the wild.
That’s a very wrenching and emotional moment, one man told Mohan. He took his eagle far from his home, so it would not follow him back, but it almost broke his heart to do it. “It was as if a member of my family left,” the old man remarked about this final eagle he released. “I think about what that eagle is doing; if she’s safe and whether she can find food and make a nest…sometimes I dream about those things.”
It’s impossible to predict whether the way of life for the kazakh Mongolians and their eagles will continue throughout the 21st century. It seems unlikely, in some respects, but conversely one hopes that these people, who have hunted with golden eagles for many centuries, will find a way to persevere and pass on their legacy.

Campaign launched to save Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage and garden

The filmmaker and artist's cottage in Dungeness, Kent is the subject of a campaign to secure its future

Strange tales: Brymbo, Wrexham apparitions, hauntings and traditions

In honour of the date, here’s something a bit less serious – if no less central to the history of the district.
Most communities have their own stories of strange or frightening apparitions and events. When examined more closely they have all kinds of roots: perhaps a distorted echo of some real (if not supernatural) event, or a tale told in order to get people to avoid a dangerous spot (and to discourage trespassing), or simply a fireside story handed down within a community. Although some are comparatively modern, others are very old indeed and might be repeated in different areas with slightly varying local details.
All Hallow’s Eve was, of course, a time specially reserved for stories like this. In Wales, the night of the 31st October was particularly associated with the ladi wen (“white lady”), an apparition usually connected with a particular spot: there are still, in some places, fields and lanes named after a ladi wen once said to be seen there. By the 19th century she had become part of the long and honourable tradition of stories told to frighten children into behaving properly. More frightening still was the hwch ddu gwta, the “dock-tailed black sow” supposed to spring from the embers of the bonfire that people would, well into the 19th century, light on All Hallows’ Eve, and carry off the last person to reach the safety of home. In North Wales there was a rhyme that spoke of the black sow lurking in the darkness on every stile (“ar ben pob camfa“) on that night. In Welsh as in other folklore, stiles, gates and crossroads were places where you might expect to run into a spirit, and more superstitious people would hurry past them as darkness fell.
Another old Welsh tradition was the premonitory vision: Brymbo has a good example of its own (bo or bw is, after all, a word translated in some old dictionaries as a “terror” or demon, perhaps – just – giving another possible source for the placename). In September 1602, the chronicler Robert Parry wrote (in the Plas Nantgwyn MS. 1, folio 28) of a strange “apparition” seen in the vicinity of Nant y Ffrith:
About this tyme was seene about Nant y ffrith between Trethyn and Wrexham in the edge of the eveninge to the nomber of 2 or 3 thousande men armed men a hors backe with banners displayed marchinge in warlike manner where as indeed there was no such thinge but some apparition or forewarninge of liklyhoode. And yet that was verified by 8 or ix.en persons some of them of credyte that all ioyntly saw the same.
At the time, this was interpreted as perhaps a “forewarninge”, a premonition of conflict rather than a rerun of the past. But despite this, our later knowledge of  the area’s history has caused the presentation of the story to change. It is now asserted in some books that the ghosts of a “Roman army” were seen marching through the valley where a Roman trackway used to run, although Parry said nothing about the men being Romans, or even on foot for that matter.
In a way, it’s rather surprising that there aren’t more of these tales relating to the Civil War, given how active its armies were in east Denbighshire. Colonel John Robinson was reputed to haunt his old residence at Gwersyllt Ucha – a tale perhaps reflecting the last, handed-down memories of a man once locally celebrated – but that’s not, strictly speaking, a Brymbo story. More locally, Alfred Palmer noted that the Powells of the Gyfynys were still remembered almost two hundred years after the family had been of any importance, but there was nothing supernatural about this.
Brymbo’s few ghostly tales are more a matter of old dwellings rather than old personalities. Glascoed Hall, once the house of the philanthropic Maurice Jones, was reputed to have a ghost of some kind. Brymbo Hall had several different stories attached to it, or rather a single story which mutated over the years. The one recorded by Palmer relates to Jane Wynn, the grand-daughter of Robert Griffith, the last of the old family of landowners, who in Palmer’s time was still spoken of as roaming the premises, a century and more later. It was a suicide story, though Palmer does not mention this directly; however as he does point out, Jane not only lived to an advanced age but did not even end her days at Brymbo, as she sold the house to John Wilkinson, who on balance would seem a lot more like the sort of character you’d imagine haunting it. The story may, just, overlay an earlier incident, but perhaps Mrs Wynn was particularly eccentric, or sufficiently generous (or, alternatively, unpleasant) to the locals to be remembered, or perhaps her surname caused her to get confused with old tales of the ladi wen. .
By the middle of the 20th century, when the house was abandoned and empty, the tale seemed to have changed. The ghost of Brymbo was now, depending on who you asked, stated as either being that of a maidservant who committed suicide there, or of a daughter of a former owner who took her own life on her wedding night rather than marry. Neither was mentioned by Palmer and the latter in particular has the ring of adapted folk balladry about it: none of the previous occupants seem to have had such an incident in their family. This version of the story was recorded in an article by D. Owen in a 1967 issue of the magazine Country Quest; well worth seeking out as it has a photograph of the building I have not seen in other collections. Owen writes that dogs would refuse to enter a particular attic room and doors and windows were said to open of their own accord (the latter is not very surprising in such a windy spot). Owen also records that the driveway leading to the house (which, in later years, ended more or less on the road where the Brymbo substation is today) was known as the ‘Ghost Road’, and that two men standing by its gate one night felt “invisible hands pulling at their coats”.
Another of the stories that Palmer recorded in passing was his description of the Lodge, or “Hill’s Land” as it was once known, as a place where fairies (the tylwyth teg, literally the “fair tribe”, in Wales) were once reputed to dance. The fairies of Welsh tradition were a malicious lot, and people generally gave the areas they were supposed to inhabit a wide berth. Unfortunately Palmer does not say where he learned of this local tradition, or give any other details of it. It may just be a coincidence that the hill above Lodge was known as Bryn Teg (“fair hill”).
It may be that there are a large number of other, more modern, folk-tales about; though they form an intimate part of an area’s social history they are rarely recorded by ‘conventional’ sources. It’s always worth recording them, if you hear one.

The Art of the Post: The Artist Who Painted Paradise

Ralph Pallen Coleman’s lush tropical paintings inspired readers to imagine far-away lands.
An officer and a woman sit under a palm tree
During the Golden Age of Illustration, magazine readers loved stories about romance and adventure beneath a tropical moon.
Nude man in a pond, while a woman stands near a palm tree, watching.
Illustration by Ralph Pallen Coleman (courtesy of RAPACO Corp.)
The urge to flee civilization for a South Sea paradise actually dates back to the 19th century when the famous French painter Paul Gauguin rebelled against what he viewed as the corruption and pollution of industrialized Europe. Gauguin abandoned everything — including his country, his wife and children — to move to Tahiti. His colorful paintings of half nude native women in bright sarongs on pink sand fueled the imaginations of the office workers and city dwellers back home.
Two nude women in a forest
Painting by Paul Gauguin from the National Gallery of Art
Years later during the Great Depression, Americans — including readers of the Post — shared similar fantasies about a trouble-free paradise where you could pick fruit from a nearby tree and frolic in the surf.
Ralph Pallen Coleman (1892-1968), an illustrator for the Post and other magazines during the Golden age of illustration, was acclaimed for his illustrations of such fantasies.
Far from being a world traveler, Coleman was born and grew up around Philadelphia and lived there all his life. The closest he ever got to a Pacific island was National Geographic magazine, whose photos he used for reference.
A precocious artist, Coleman left art school early at age 21 and set up a studio on Walnut Street, just across from the offices of the Post. Like other artists he had a slow time getting started in the highly competitive field of illustration. His first sale, to the American Sunday School Union, netted him a grand total of $7.50. But he worked hard and within two years, he had sold his first illustration to the Post: an illustration for the story, “The Fairview Girl Crop.”
Woman shakes an older man's hand in a study.
Coleman’s illustration for “The Fairview Girl Crop,” which appeared in the December 30, 1916, issue of the Post. (©SEPS)
However, by 1917 he was receiving steady assignments and felt secure enough to marry Florence L Haeberle, also of Philadelphia.
Coleman continued to work for the Post and other magazines well into the depression years. He illustrated stories by some of the world’s most famous authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, W. Somerset Maugham and Booth Tarkington. He painted a wide range of subjects, but he became best known for his illustrations of exotic locales. His palette captured the sultry climates, bright colors, and rich vegetation of tropical islands.
Two men and a woman talk on chairs and a tiger's skin rug
Illustration by Ralph Pallen Coleman (courtesy of RAPACO Corp.)

Woman speaks with an explorer and an officer.
1932 illustration by Ralph Pallen Coleman (©SEPS)

A pilot and a woman speak to an office near their plane.
1932 illustration by Ralph Pallen Coleman (©SEPS)
Most readers in that era would never end up traveling overseas — they would stay close to home, raise their children, mow the lawn, and wash the dishes. Perhaps in another lifetime they might go skinny dipping in a jasmine scented pond surrounded by brilliantly plumed songbirds. But in this life, the evocative stories in the Post and other magazines was as close as they would ever come.
Despite the fact that Coleman himself never visited any of these locations, in many ways his illustrations were more realistic than the paintings of Gauguin, who lived on a Pacific island for years. Despite the fact that Coleman was a highly devoted Presbyterian and a trustee of his church, his illustrations managed to capture the spirit of pagan rituals. It just goes to show that even when an artist never strays far from home, the artistic imagination can take viewers on long, vivid trips.
In 1942 Coleman left the field of illustration to devote the second half of his life to religious paintings. Between 1942 and 1968 he painted 400 pictures about the life of Jesus and the Bible. These paintings became extremely popular within the Christian community. His series on the life of Christ was converted to stained-glass windows for Grace Presbyterian Church.
This might seem like a dramatic break from Coleman’s earlier paintings of South Sea islands. On the other hand, perhaps Coleman was just painting a different kind of paradise.
Painting of Jesus Christ emerging from his tomb, and greeting the heavenly host.
1950s painting for a mural of the Resurrection (courtesy of RAPACO Corp.)