Thursday, 14 December 2017

A – Z: seasonal take for Lee’s A – Z Challenge ...



... see how easy it can be ... an ABC of the Aspects of the British Countryside to an A – Z about our Christmastide ... come join the fun – April First 2018 is our starting day – but you’re not a fool to take part ...

I'm now over in Canada ... with a family adjusting to changes - so life will be slightly different this year ... but here's to the traditional family Christmas I've been used to in England ... when not in South Africa ... 


Advent – from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” – Advent Sunday is the start of the Advent season – fourth Sunday before Christmas Day.

Brandy Butter – an essential addition for Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies

Christmas – Christ’s Mass is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes maesse, a phrase first recorded in 1038.

Decorations – from pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter.  In the 15th Century in London it was the custom for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm (Holm Oak), ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season the year afforded to be green".  “Deck the Halls” ... a traditional Yuletide/Christmas carol and New Year carol.

Extras: Bread sauce, chestnut stuffing, bacon rolls, turkey gravy from the juices, cranberry sauce, bowls of nuts, custard, creams and chocolates ...  

Flowers to decorate the table – Christmas roses, hollywreaths ...

Grandparents or remembering them, and all family - the essentials to Christmastide ...

Holly – was seen as a protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the Crucifixion and the blood he shed.

Ivy – the heart shaped leaves are said to symbolize the coming to earth of Jesus

Jingle Bells – an American secular Christmas song

Karpfen in Bier: a traditional Christmas Eve dish in Germany – “Carp in Beer” ... poached, served with a sauce made from the liquor, with brown ale and gingerbread

Leftovers ... sliced ham or turkey, chipolatas, devils on horseback (bacon wrapped around prunes), fresh bread, baked potatoes, pickles and salads ...  then bowls of rich turkey soup, turkey or ham ‘muck up’ ... fried Christmas pudding with brandy butter .... yummmeeee ....

Mince Pies with brandy butter or cream – may be eaten before a snatched kiss under the mistletoe

N for Nativity – Commemoration of Jesus’ birth – popularised by Saint Francis of Assissi from 1223

O Little Town of Bethlehem – one of many traditional Christmas Carols sung in Church or at Carol Services

Plum Pudding .... on which a sprig of holly is set, brandy poured over and set alight, before being served with brandy butter, cream or custard ...

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain: they were enamoured seeing a tree hung with lights, ornaments and presents placed around.

Remember our loved ones – with a Christmas card, personal telephone call or special handwritten letter --- especially those thank you letters and cards.

Santa Claus – leave out gifts for Santa to thank him for his visit  ... Stilton, Mince Pies with a glass of sherry

Tradition – Christmas is a strong Christian tradition, from which over time a variety of Christmas celebrations have developed, that incorporate regional and local cultures.

Units of weight – you’ll be dieting in January 2018 – sorreeeeee!

Vegetables – roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, roast onions, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, carrots, red cabbage ...

Wassail cup – historically mulled cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger spices, roasted cider apples to decorate and topped with slices of toast, acting as sops.

X - the great unknown .... xxx or perhaps that KISS under the Mistletoe

Yule Log: Buche de Noel – a traditional dessert served at Christmas time particularly in francophone countries and former French colonies.  A sponge cake in the form of a log – filled with chocolate buttercream, covered in a chocolate ganache or frosting, decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow.

Z       Zizz it all off – just don’t hibernate ‘til April ....

The first year I participated
in the A - Z ... 2nd year I
participated
Lee’s great suggestion of the A – Z posts can be filled with so many ideas ...  good for our creativity, while greeting old friends and meeting new bloggers – come join the fun.

I so enjoyed the Challenge last year - thanks so much Lee for the Christmas opportunity – Happy Christmastide to one and all .. with a very successful 2018 ahead ...

The sign-up will come early in the New Year.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 8 December 2017

Cookies - Doughnuts, Koeksisters, Shortbread and some other oddities from the English import ...



I joined a cookie blog hop site - now have no idea who set it up - hopeless me.  I'm in a state of flux ... for various reasons to be told at some distance time ... but one step forward and some just staying still ...

Jammy ones ... sooooo good!
Linda from her Roses to Rainbows blog has a wonderful post on doughnuts and how important 'looking at the right part of the doughnut' - ie being the optimist and not the pessimist - please check out the poems - good for us to read, to your kids/grandkids over the Christmas season ... 



Koeksisters

There are regional variations on the origin of doughnuts - most were developed from the Dutch explorers and immigrants ... 

I remember the English jam doughnuts ... as being very decadent and a very big treat ... then came across them a decade or two later down in South Africa - as Koeksisters ... 
American Holiday
Cookie tray


...the Dutch word "koek" for a wheat flour confectionery mix, combined with the American word "cookie", and "sister" to a tale of two sisters plaiting their doughnuts and then dunking them in syrup - I might say I read this first and second in fact as dunkin' their plaited hair ... ?? - so creating this iconic pastry.




Someone recommended I
read this book, which would
give me an insight into the
Vancouver of today
Enough of this natter ... I've driven to Victoria to hear a talk on the plight of the First Nations - informative information on a subject I know very little about.


We've been out to lunches, suppers etc ... Royal Legion ones ... where it's interesting to find some in 'takkies' and jeans ... others dressed up - yet with socks and shoes on ... so a mix of dress is allowable.


Immaculate course - the scrub
around somewhat contradicts it ... 
Just been to a Christmas lunch for the British Canadian social club at a local golf club - and I think earlier there was a social club lunch - I'm losing track ... I've been called - oh yes I know you - you're the English nipper ... and seem to be recognised by the English accent!




Santa visits here too - not
me - this was his elf!
I can't quite get used to getting up at much the same time 7 - 7.30 ... lunching at 12 and then supper at 5 or 6 pm ... BBC World News, Canadian News and Public Broadcast News ... not quite like the British Beeb, or Channel 4 tv (- that I preferred) ... is on at 5 and at 6 .... 


... we have snow on the mountain and thick frosts - so the cold weather is a-coming ... I know in England storm Caroline is doing its 'thing'!



A brochure for 'Visit Eastbourne'
popped up in my Reader ... this is a
gingerbread bandstand cake ... not
something I'd try! - but it looks pretty
and reminds me of home ... I forgot
to take photos of my shortbread
efforts ... 
We've been to the family for supper ... the in-laws are at the farm at the moment for a few days ... and we were down yesterday, when I made some shortbread - I know one of the easier things to make - but I didn't think I'd be making 'cookies' - even if it was shortbread - to my surprise it was quite good.  I won't cook much up here - facilities aren't the easiest or the best ... let me leave it at that.


We are doing what we can ... when the snow comes we'll see ... 

The Cowichan Valley Citizen newspaper puts
out this 'Holiday Party Time' bulletin every
year with recipes and various Christmas songs

So not desperately exciting ... but we did drive round one of the local bays today ... and that looked beautiful - might do one or two more of those trips and next time stop to take photos ... 


The 'dos' have entertainment attached ... so lots of singing (especially the 12 days of Christmas), prizes, skits - all good hearted fun ... 



We've had a bit of this too ...
Enjoy all your build ups to Christmas ... I have two more posts coming up before I switch off til the New Year - one I wrote earlier in the year a very Christmas A-Z and then the Write Edit Publish one ... as Denise Covey said ... should be easy for you:  The End is the Beginning ... see my side bar for the image invite ... 


Enjoy all the build ups with family and friends, remember all who have less than us ... and just be happy and enjoy - til next week ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 1 December 2017

This is a 'When We' post, or a 'Why Can't they do things like I'm used to doing them' ...



Such is life - 11 days living here ... I'm in one of those why on earth do things happen this way and not like I'm used to ...?!  Poor grammar allowed ! - Why 'cos I'm in a different country ... even though it has some Britishness attached to it ...

Looking out from my bedroom area - over pool ...
storm brewing



So some general news ... driving for 9 days now - somewhat troubling to find the mirror is above my right in the car - looking to my old normal (left) lets me see not much! 



Lights in the car that come on automatically ... and the switches that switch on by moving down ... thankfully in England I already had been driving an automatic ... that helps.


It's the city of totem poles
 - more anon on them - and the sign
here is as you approach from the north
not from the south where I'm coming from!
Lights in the house turn on - going up ... and I expect there are other oddities - oh yes the electrical sockets = only plug the item in and it's on or off  - these I have yet to get used to ... being 8 hours behind certainly doesn't help.  My mind says well I'll do it for tea time ... but tea time was 8 hours ago ... I'm sure I'll adjust anon ... 


... now I'm writing this in November - yet Wiki tells me it's the first of December ... stress making!  By the time I post ... it'll probably be Saturday the 2nd (or nearly so!) ... but such is life ... 

Hemlocks


Trees, trees, trees, everywhere ... and not a jot of difference in the rain, fog and mist, shall separate them - how am I to find my way round?!?!   Firs, Hemlocks, Balsams et al ... 


It's interesting too - one gets to a junction, but there's no sign post saying where one is ... even to the local city - Duncan - which really doesn't classify as a city in my book with a population of only 4,944 - is so it tells me: the smallest city in the nation: that I can believe.

One day of sun!  similar view as above

I daren't drive out on my own just yet ... those trees mesmerise me ... but next week - I'll brave my new world and give it a try.  All the side roads, dirt tracks also confuse me - we live on one side of the highway - the farm is on the other ... 

Vancouver Island has an area of 32,000sq k/19884sq mi and is the largest island off the west coast of North America - in fact the largest island in the Pacific east of New Zealand.

I'm near Duncan, which is marked ... just visible! -
to the east of Lake Cowichan


Its size is approximately 460km/ 286mi in length and 100km/ 62mi in breadth ... 286 miles from London lets us reach Plymouth, Lowestoft, Carlisle ... 62 miles takes me from London to Eastbourne on the south coast, where I used to live.


... and is comparable in size to the Netherlands and Taiwan.


Taiwan (55th most populous country) has a population of 23,500 million ... 

Hemlock (130 feet); Cedar (200 feet);
Spruce (230 feet); Douglas Fir (280 feet).
... while the Netherlands (the 66th) has a population of 17 million

... we here on Vancouver Island are only 750,000 odd (and one of course) ... 


Travelling across eastern edge of Rockies
on my way from Calgary to Vancouver Island
I think I'd say this is a pleasure to find out!  Half live down south in the Victoria greater metropolis area (where we are) ... granted Vancouver Island is only an island and not a country ... still comparisons can give some idea ... 


Weather wise - looks I'm better off over here ... it's not snowing (yet) - while they have wintry weather in the UK and on the continent ... 

That's my take on life so far ... things are happening - but there've also been things to sort out that take time ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories










Friday, 24 November 2017

We are the World Blogfest ... # 9 - Sound rather than Sight ...



The University of Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia has a new course: The Anthropology of Sound - reading the article I noted that most of us do not use all our senses to their maximum ... 
Latin jazz clave percussion
sticks


... here in the article below Professor Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier asks students to write down what they've seen since waking up ...= lots of things their eyes have absorbed ... 


... then what they've heard ... = few - traffic noise, chatter, bird song (perhaps) ...



Breughel (1618): Taste, Hearing and Touch

The article should be thought provoking for us, who are all enabled in most ways ... I know I don't utilise my faculties (perceptive and cognitive), as much as I, a human, am enabled to do ... please read:


Listen up: There's nothing like a sound education. 



Imagine feeling: The Dying Galation -
a 3rd century BC work of art


Damyanti in her WATWB post this month has highlighted Siddhant Shah, a Heritage Architect and Access Consultant, and his work with the visually impaired experiencing art ... another way of looking at how under-utilised we use our abilities ... 




Take some time out and smell the roses (not the right season in this hemisphere - I know!), stop and step aside to listen to the bird song, experience our food ... taste what's in each mouthful, look at our natural world and realise each part makes the whole of this bountiful earth, then that feel ... how often we reach out for a hug, a friendly touch ... unplug, relax and experience all the things we were born with ... 





Remember in our wonderful mind: all our senses ... and help all those not so enabled to experience them too ...





We Are The World - In Darkness, Be Light ... 
in our day to day life let us help others experience senses we take so much for granted ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories






Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Different Life ... moved "a little" ...



I woz 'ere ....

... living in Eastbourne .... now

I hopped the Atlantic and some continent ...

usually known as North America ...

landed on the far west Prairie lands in Calgary ...

stayed overnight ... and then hopped on again to:



Vancouver Island .... I am now living here (for a while) ...





I am in clarification mode re settling in ... and will be back blogging as and when I can ... lots to sort out - I'm staying with Emily Hobhouse's great niece ... so will learn lots from Jenny in more ways than one ... and will pick up things about my own mother and her family ...





Saw this: 
Greenland ... all in the pink ...












then this ....

Calgary Airport - chilly, but could have been worse

















Happy Anniversary to our Queen and Prince Philip on 70 years ... just longer than I've been around!

Camera in hand in the early days
of their marriage


Right I'm off ... tea needed ... but I'll be back and around as and when ... life is interesting!!

Looks like I didn't make that clear ... I'm here for at least 6 months ... ?!?!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters ... Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembrance Day ...



It is now ninety-nine years since the end of World War One - but the echoes of lives lost, bodies injured, families torn apart still impact our lives today - as so they should ... 




I am going to quote from words written by Emily Hobhouse in 1923 pointing out the futility of war ... which I think are more pertinent today ... as we do not seem to have progressed very far ... 




It is astonishing that though so long a list of the world’s greatest thinkers in all periods have pronounced against war, yet (to this time) no statesmen has appeared capable of abolishing it as a means of settling disputes … 

Great therefore will be the statesman who takes his stand on Permanent Peace … He will teach the world that Peace is not a mere absence of war; that it is not a passive ‘do nothing’ existence … but rather an agreement to join together in work of mutual interests … 

In a word he will substitute Co-operation in place of Competition …’

‘Histories should be re-written showing how mistaken statesmen have invariably been in leading their countrymen into war, and how little is gained and at what enormous cost.  

The attention of youth should be fixed on the really great men of history – thinkers, poets, discoverers, scientists etc, who have laboured to advance civilization, not destroy …’

‘Only in South Africa is there a monument to the civilian dead, often the main sufferers in war.’

Emily Hobhouse 1923

(Permission granted to reproduce these words by Jennifer Hobhouse Balme – May 2016)

 

In our difficult present times … we need to

… remember others

… encourage our leaders to co-operate

… bring peace


… let us all live together in an harmonious world – global, region, country, area, town and parish – everyone supporting and encouraging each other … sharing and giving joy to the world.


May we be and remain at peace this Remembrance Day weekend … with all our fellow humans …



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Bran Tub # 16: A seaside scene: a lollygagged, vibrissae pinniped …



These three words inspired me to write a short story … as our Autumn grabs hold … I have to say I prefer Spring time – but enjoy each season for its variety … but my tale:


Pinnipeds - various


The Pinniped was chill-axed flapping the occasional fin as the waves rocked him gently …








… he was resting his brain – one half shuts down, the other ‘works his bobbing in the waters’ … 




Not his father! but good vibrissae

... and lets him think about his father’s vibrissae and how he needed to become more skilled interpreting the vibrations he’d been told were in the water …




A lollygagging pinniped

… but for now he was a typical youngster lollygagging around enjoying the midday sun in the lustrous sea …





That is my tale of the whacked, whiskered marine mammal ...



Godrevy Beach in St Ives Bay


This was the beach we came to when the wind direction necessitated us to find a more sheltered spot for the family day out ... we played amongst the waters and off the rocks - glorious fun times.



I meant to mention Karen and her blog - where I'd come across Lollygagging ...
Write Now: the Value of "Pockets" of Time ... so belatedly added in - sorry Karen!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories