Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Ferroequinology … a new trading route …

Trains … ferroequinology the study of those rolling stock wagons or in old parlance ‘iron horses’ … raised its head in two ways … the incredible new silk route across China, Russia, Europe which now has a terminus in east London, at the Barking depot, Essex.

Stephenson's Rocket

The Trans-Siberian railway forms a key component of the Silk Road Economic Belt with its incredible coverage:

  • 70% of the world’s population
  • 75% of its energy resources
  • 70% of the Gross Domestic Product in the world

Then there are these inland harbours … but methinks this post will be about the ferroequinology aspect and one inland port that of Duisburg, Germany.

An example of an earlier 'old' silk route

I was staggered to read that a Chinese cargo train which had set out from Yiwu, famous as a commodities centre, south-west of Shanghai, arrived in London 16 - 18 days later, in about half the usual ship consignment time, and at half the estimated airfreight cost.

The average container ship can hold up to 19,224 twenty-foot containers on a large cargo vessel … but this train with 200 containers cannot match up, yet saves time, tends not to have delays, and costs less.   34 of the wagons, with 68 containers, were destined for London.

Spanish Tapas - ham, chorizo, wine, cheeses,
olive oil dip ... 

The wagons from different countries will not go back empty … from Madrid will go hams, chorizo, olive oil, cheeses, wine and from Germany and Belgium beer … Poland has speciality foods too …

Container Ship sparkling in the sun in a
shipping lane in the English Channel

Ships will still be used for larger and heavier goods – so the high seas will still be traversed.  ‘Our’ train brought in socks, garments, bags and suitcases, or similar items – return products will be of local origin … 

There seem to be various routes being tested … this train travelled 7,500 miles, through seven countries, had to unload and re-load where the varying rail gauges on Russian lines didn’t match. 

Some basic facts provided by This Is Money

Different rail gauges used across the world:
the blue is the standard gauge

The UK’s containers were unloaded in Duisburg, before being transferred for the last leg under the Channel and into Barking, East London.  Duisburg has reinvented itself as an inland container port … the world’s largest inland harbour … see link to Railway Gazette

This is an American train - but they are
experimenting with trains 3.5 miles long?!

… and provides the specially approved cargo container wagons,  for the last part of the rail trip via the Channel Tunnel … so we can get our consignment of household products into the UK.

Sculpture of a ferro equine:
c/o Thoro Edge Equine

A silk, or sock, route reinvented … I certainly hadn’t thought we would be importing goods via a rail network – we are an island after all – or so I believed! …

Extraordinary world we live in … there are 39 routes linking 16 Chinese cities to 12 European ones, including Hamburg and Madrid, as well as London.

J M W Turner's 1844 painting:
"Rain, Steam and Speed"
Ferroequinology is a winner … just the thought of this journey bemuses me … what would JMW Turner, the artist with his “Rain, Steam and Speed – the Great Western Railway”(1844), have thought of it … and it was only 8 years ago that container ships were being moth-balled in deep water ports due to the global economic crisis …

This print shows the Rainhill Trials of 1829

Here’s to the new silk route … and these silk routes will be spun and spun … which could lead to a number of global shortages … if most of our commodities are off to China … as we recently had with chocolate … it is an interesting world at the moment.

A ferroequinologist's delight ... trains from here to China!

Please see my earlier post on the Get Up and Push Railroad - where the term ferroequinology came to light ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher 
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Herbs, Spices and Herbalists - Paprika: Part 6 ...

Patrick Leigh Fermor’s second book of his trilogy: 

“A Time of Gifts”, 
“Between the Woods and Water”, and 
“The Broken Road” 

Between the Woods and
Water - by Patrick
Leigh Fermor
... reminded me about Paprika … bringing back those memories of Hungarian goulashes often served or created in the 1960s …

… but the descriptive passages Fermor uses, as he traverses and stays in the Great Plain of Hungary, brought the rich haze of summer to mind:

Hungarian Peppers air drying

The summer solstice was past, peonies and lilac had both vanished, cuckoos had changed their tune and were making ready to fly.  Roast corn-cobs came and trout from the mountains; cherries, then strawberries, apricots and peaches, and, finally, wonderful melons and raspberries.  

The scarlet blaze of paprika …”

Szeged is just below the "Y" of Hungary;
Kalocsa (not shown) is about where the
"A" of Hungary appears.

Szeged and Kalocsa are two of the main towns in the southern part of the Great Plain ... while the Paprika Museum in Kalocsa records Capsicum’s history …

… I have to say I thought Paprika originally came from Hungary … but no – originating in south - middle America, it is thought the Spanish Conquistadores brought the plant over… capsicum acclimatised very quickly and was first used as a decorative plant.

The Carpathian Mountains surround
the Great Plain of Slovakia, Hungary, Romania
and Ukraine: the Danube and its main
tributaries run through it ... 

Similarly to my post on Marzipan – the trading routes played their part in its dispersal across Europe, along the Mediterranean, through Africa, Persia and north into the Great Plains of Hungary via the Danube River with the Turkish expansionists … which led us to those Great Plains which Fermor describes so evocatively. 

Capsicum a member of the Nightshade family … has many varieties in hues of gold, vivid greens, amber, vermillion or chili red … the early herbalists realised the medicinal values … a fine natural body purifier and internal disinfectant … while a variety of other remedies are being researched.

Peppers are hugely nutritious … they have more Vitamin C than an orange, and have relatively high amounts of Vitamins B6 and A.  These contain 94% water, but once dried they have different nutritional values.

Dried Paprika

Pungency varies – the Mexican - American types tend to be spicier: the chili cayenne types - while the Hungarian/Spanish Paprika is made from the milder, pointed-shape paprika fruit.

Hungarian sausages and hams

Hungarian and Spanish peppers are dried and ground, or used as vegetables or in salads … added to stews, sauces and now ubiquitously added to all manner of produce – particularly sausages (Spanish Chorizo … pork, sweet paprika and garlic, then cured).

Hungarian Veal Paprika with Nokedli
from Crumbs and Tales

Hungarian paprika veal … I’m sure I made this back then!  Delicious … fillets of veal, dipped in seasoned flour, lightly fried – remove meat and keep hot.  Mix paprika to taste with some soured cream and add to pan, stir in gently … and replace the meat.  Simmer gently and serve with new potatoes, nokedli (dumplings) or rice, green vegetables etc …

Hungarian Goulash
Szegedin Goulash

Hungarian goulash – where paprika is an essential ingredient – uses cubed beef, onions, tomatoes and small potatoes … brown meat and onion, add seasoning of paprika and garlic, salt, tomatoes … add in small potatoes and gently simmer … making a meal for friends and family, or a smaller pot … serve with sour cream ... 

Remember when using paprika that it has a high sugar content and burns easily …  so do not cook over a high heat for too long, and make sure there’s some liquid in your dish.

Bell Peppers with almonds, add in
some garlic, seasoning and whizz
with oil ... Romesco sauce

There are so many varieties of the capsicum plant that are necessary for particular sauces … eg Romesco Sauce - while for now I’ll leave the cayenne/chili cultivars for another post, together with the fabled Scoville scale.

Paprica Museum in Kalocsa: see here
for more information on the museum

The black pepper, some of us use so liberally, is not related to the capsicum … pepper nigrum is native to south India … and has a different botanical relationship to that of capsicum or to Sichuan pepper.  The generic name “pepper” probably comes from the Greek word kapto ‘to gulp’ … that makes sense?

To tempt you further ... a delicious range of wines,
fruits and dishes from Hungary
Hungarian Cuisine from Globe Centre Travel

This wonderfully useful ancestral spice has been used for generations … so encourage your family and friends to include some in their diet … though be aware, that some people may be allergic to them … but certainly for me I can see the benefits …

… and will continue to enjoy my peppers as a vegetable or in my salads … so many ways to use them …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Bran Tub # 8: Trade Marks, Bass Pale Ale, Art and UK Law …

The Law of Unintended Consequences runs to blog posts … I’d added in my Marmite v Bovril post a painting by Manet “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère” which features a bottle of Bass Beer with the Red Triangle logo in ‘full view’ …

… the Bass company was a pioneer in international brand marketing, which thanks to Bazza, from the blog “To Discover Ice”, we found out about via his comment.

Listening to University Challenge recently, the question arose ‘what was the first Trade Mark to be registered in the UK’ … well I knew that answer!

"A bar at the Folies-Bergere" -
by Edouard Manet (1882)

The Trade Mark Registration Act of 1875, came into force on 1 January 1876 with Bass being the first to register two of their images as trade marks: the Bass Red Triangle for their pale ale and the Bass Red Diamond for their strong ale.

In UK law, the term as defined under the Trade Marks Act 1994 is “trade mark”, not “trademark” as in the laws of other countries, including the US.

A trade mark can be a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, sound, shape, signature or any combination of these elements: it’s a complicated legal guarantee that needs to be correctly registered with, in our case, the UK Intellectual Property Office.

In 1862 the Merchandise Marks Act made it a criminal offence to imitate another’s trade mark “with intent to defraud or to enable another to defraud”.

An early advertisement for
Bass' No.1 Barley Wine
In 1875 the Trade Marks Registration Act was passed which allowed formal registration of trade marks at the UK Patent Office for the first time.  Registration was considered to comprise prima facie evidence of ownership of a trade mark, with the Bass images as trade marks being the first registered on New Year’s Day 1876.

We now have the Trade Marks Act 1994, which implements the European Trade Marks Directive into national law.  This adds another complicated law into our legal way of life … and will perhaps need to be unravelled in the course of Brexit.

At this point I close the conversation – as my main object has been achieved: highlighting the start of obvious brand advertising in paintings in this country – to which Edouard Manet and Picasso (in his Cubist period around 1914) subscribed; while in an episode of James Joyce’s Ulysses, Bloom, the fictional protagonist, observes the Bass logo.

A road sign in the City of London

I would think in the scheme of life – brand advertising has been around for millennia … with perhaps the images associated with particular trades, which appeared on carts, wagons, building walls, doorways, via town criers etc as the most obvious to apply …

The Worshipful Company of
Bakers' Crest

… while in trade mark treatises it is thought that blacksmiths who made swords in the Roman Empire are thought of as being the first users of trade marks.  Henry III in 1266, required by law, that all bakers use a distinctive mark for the bread they sold …

Now brand names are appearing everywhere … and we cannot get away from them … that red triangle and red diamond being the first two … when formalisation of trade marks became regulated in the 1800s …

I will be posting this on Thursday … as some of us will be completely switching off on Friday, or become totally embroiled in what the land beyond the pond is serving up … I shall, I hope, be lost in some creative space – yes: I have a busy day!

Bazza's blog:  To Discover Ice 

Trade Mark Law - 10 Things You Should Know

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 13 January 2017

History, Herstory with Hilary …

Eight years down and now into the 9th … Blogversary, my Saint’s Day and Birthday collide forever onwards … I am still staggered (and honoured) at how much you appreciate the blog and its contents … so this post is for nostalgia sake …

… and gives a little more detail on my past and about how I got to this ninth year of writing – 825 posts written, but 26 (left-overs from the 2016 non participation) in the A-Z to come … let alone the lingering cobweb of posts behind the scenes.

I’m also doing a Memoir, or Epistolary type course under the auspices of the University of the Third Age … really just how we want to record our lives – mine is pretty varied, as with no children, I can go back and/or sideways – and the families are interesting … so that’s my way.

Looks like a library to me - but is actually a bookshop:
Daunt Books - various shops in London

There is another bloghop somewhere! asking why and how we got blogging etc … at the end I post a link to Karen Lange’s blog – she interviews bloggers … I appear once!  But there are many others with plenty of advice on blogging and its benefits.

I’ve been wondering where my learning comes from … most is from blogging – as I was not ‘learnéd’ at school … but I did enjoy geography and sport …

Our pink empire is now rusty brown!
… thus I learnt about those pink countries in the world (aka British Empire) … but they’ve become more ghostly as time goes by … Brexiting away as we speak …

John Lennon's stamp album

… from stamp collecting which I did for a few years in my teens, when I was at home … so I enjoy seeing Bob Scotney’s stamps over at his blog …and thus learn more.

Colour coded continents

Geography gave the outline of the continents, and via the stamp collecting and, of course, geography I could put countries into the continents, South America being the easy one.

Waterstones - one of our high street book
chains ... "The Noise of Time" - Julian Barnes;
"When Breath Becomes Air" - Paul Kalanithi;
"The Goldfish Boy" - Lisa Thompson;
"The Ashes of London" - Andrew Taylor

The one thing I do have is a fair amount of is common sense and practicality … so I guess would learn the obvious … but those extras – reading, maths, literature, grammar or languages, Latin and French, art, physics and chemistry, biology, even needlework and cooking – there was not much sticking into the brain box when I was a kid. Something stuck obviously!

Interesting - this is from the Council for the Protection
of Rural England website - and was my first job!

Practical aspects – meant I found it easy to drive and navigate my way round the English lanes, I was lucky I’ve done a little travelling – but not a lot … I enjoyed different foods and cooking … so again another learning curve …

… then work – I had some interesting jobs, not career ones … but I worked for the Farnborough Air Show … taking on board how to address VIPs (as that was my section) …

Munich posters ... I still have a set

I was lucky to work for the British Olympic team and the 1972 Munich Olympics – again an opportunity not to be missed and a 3 day trip to the Games … then spent some years working for East European organisations ... another learning curve ... 

Green: independent; Yellow: British; Blue: French;
Dark Blue: Italian; Red-Orange: Portuguese;
Orange: Spanish; and Brown: Belgian

Then I toddled off to southern Africa … so started to pick up aspects of that part of the world … and over time we glean new things that add in to the tapestry of one’s learning.

I had enjoyed learning to cook and had the fortune of growing up with parents who would do what they could to help educate and entertain us … always with gardens at our disposal …

Back here and into blogging – why because I needed to learn what was going on in the internet world and thus needed to be involved – then my mother became bedridden and needed me to be available, and my father’s brother-in-law grew frailer after his wife died …

… so, though, I didn’t need to nurse them I took on the caring role for both … and needed to have intelligent things to chat about … I quickly took on board … my mother’s ‘well go home and google it’!!!  Thus appearing the next time with interesting articles … and something to intellectually challenge her and for us to chat about …

Mediterranean foods - my mother and uncle would have
loved these sorts of meals

… when I visited my uncle – all he wanted to do was to see what I’d written on my blog … he opened the envelope and got stuck in – I made coffee/tea or lunch … and waited til he was free!  A huge compliment …

But I couldn’t and wouldn’t have started blogging if the main source of information wasn’t in English … we are lucky if we are English speakers … being a poor linguist (lazy too) … I admire everyone who learns to speak another language, especially English …

Spanokopita - spinach and cheese layer
in filo pastry ... 

The University of the Third Age, other organisations, museum and historic places that interest me … have added to the layers of knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years … my uncle and mother would have loved these …

It’s interesting how the layers stack up quietly … and each episode of life adds to its glory … I never thought I’d be that interested in politics, but I do find the Brexit scenario very interesting – complicated, historically interwoven …

Art work in St Hilary's Church, St Hilary in Cornwall
it is by Joan Manning Sanders (early 20th C) - she was a
ten year old child.  (postcard copy)
"Flight into Egypt" from a series of Nativity scenes.
I wonder where we’re going … the thing that frustrates me as another year passes – yes Friday 13th … it was also the day of the week I became 13 … and I’ve lived in a number of # 13s …

… is that I will still be around for a while – but I doubt I’ll see it out … or where we get to … I hope those heavenly clouds up there will allow me to glimpse out and see how life pans out …

Here’s to a glorious life ahead for us all … and let 2017 be kind and generous to one and all …

Karen Lange’s blog – this is to my guest post … but the tabs at the top will lead you to others …

Bob Scotney and his stamps … his post on a Royal Mail stamp set of stamps - which Sir Edmund Hillary described as the 'Greatest Survival Story of All Time'

I have been evaluating how best to tell my stories … yes the A-Z, and the different sections (herbs and spices), bran tub eclectics, blog sandwich updates … and then my own history Herstory … the Her of She Who wouldbe Mary Wollstonecraft … and so it goes on –

-        but I’d better stop as you’ll all be thinking – Golly Gosh does the woman ever stop.  My mother loved my ‘Golly Gosh’ exclamations … one day I missed out Golly … she didn’t miss it – where is he, she asked!  He was by the seaside ... I replied!

to me and my blog ... 
So forgive the excess … it does happen only once a year and that ageing comes around far too quickly … 2017 hasn’t started too well, nor did half of 2016 .. but by 2018 – life will be renewed!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 6 January 2017

Bran Tub # 7: … Marzipan and Museums of Toledo, Lübeck, Tallinn …

We are still in the season of joyfulness … are we not?! … and I love marzipan – how it filtered into my mind for a blog post I have no idea … Christmas provided me with none!

Battenburg Cake ... sandwiched with apricot jam,
surrounded by a layer of marzipan

… now its German name is the popular version … our English Marchpane “March Bread” is no longer in use … though Shakespeare used it in Romeo and Juliet …

… those of us who love marzipan … enjoy one of the oldest sweet pleasures to have spread around the Mediterranean … almonds, honey or sugar, bound with an egg, or just a whisked white, flavoured with a favourite spice …

 … sometimes vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg or the zest of orange or lemon, or waters of orange and particularly rose … then do not leave out chocolate – marzipan is especially happy covered with decadent chocolate.

Where did it originate … certainly the Persian and Mediterranean districts, even possibly from as far afield as China … then in the last 1200 years or so it spread overland through Turkey and Eastern Europe … via the Crusades, before using the Hanseatic League merchant guilds in their market towns to establish northern roots … the Guilds dominated Baltic maritime trade from circa 1400 – 1800 AD.

Green = Hanseatic League serving norther Europe
Red = Venetian routes   (they vied with the Genoese)
Yellow = Genoese routes
Blue = overland connections

The Marzipan museums of Lübeck, northern Germany and Tallinn, Estonia remind us of this link through their proud tradition of marzipan manufacture ...

Maiasmokk Cafe, Tallinn

… the market square in Lübeck boasts the always-crowded Café Niederegger –the marzipan known as “harem confectionery”, while attached to the café and shop is the museum …

Tallinn marzipan started in the Middle Ages … and here it is mentioned as a medicine in the price lists of the Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy … the Maiasmokk Café remembers the tradition of supplying marzipan figurines to the Russian Imperial family, as well as being a café …

Al-Andalus and Christian Kingdoms
c 1000 AD
(Toledo is under the "H")
Or via Moorish Spain and the Iberian Peninsula … where the Arabs expanded the almond and orange orchards, introduced sugar cane cultivation (which is almost non-existent now – there is sugar beet) … and began producing this exquisite paste.  After Arab power waned … the secrets of marzipan-making were secured by the nuns in Catholic convents.

Orange and Almond orchards

To my surprise there are many European centres of marzipan manufacture … with several having supporting marzipan museums … in Europe – each has its own style and flavourings used … baked or unbaked and modelled into a variety of shapes.

Marzipan is ideal for many uses … chocolates filled with the sweet paste, wrapped around nuts, candied fruits, poached in fresh fruits as a dessert …

Is this the new 21st C cappuccino?

There are marzipans made from pistachios, or less expensive ones where almonds are replaced by apricot or peach kernels … but the best is the best … so buy from a controlled source … where you can be sure of your purchase.

My Bran Tub could easily be full to the brim with marzipan chocolate nuts, truffles, batons … but I think my brain would be marzipanified for the year ahead … and that would not be a good idea – an idea for a story though … Death by Marzipan?

Happy New Year … with good health ... perhaps fewer chocolates would be a good idea?

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories