Tuesday, 23 August 2016

SPINALONGA, GREECE

The island of Spinalonga (Greek: Σπιναλόγκα), officially known as Kalydon (Καλυδών), is located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The island is further assigned to the area of Kalydon. It is near the Spinalonga peninsula ("large Spinalonga") – which often causes confusion as the same name is used for both. The official Greek name of the island today is Kalydon.

Originally, Spinalonga was not an island, but rather a peninsula of Crete. During Venetian occupation the island was carved out of the coast for defence purposes and a fort was built there. The Venetians harvested salt from salt pans around the island. Later in the mid-20th century, the island was used as a leper colony.

Spinalonga featured in the British television series "Who Pays the Ferryman?" and Werner Herzog's experimental short film "Last Words". It is the (unnamed) setting of Ali Smith's short story "The Touching of Wood" (in "Free Love and Other Stories", 1995). It is also the setting for the 2005 novel "The Island" by Victoria Hislop, the story of a family's ties to the leper colony; the book was adapted for television in the television series "To Nisi" by Mega Channel Greece. The short story "Spinalonga" by John Ware, about a tourist group that visits the island, was included in the 13th Pan Book of Horror.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.

Monday, 22 August 2016

THE EVIL EYE

The evil eye is a curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called "evil eyes".

The idea expressed by the term causes many different cultures to pursue protective measures against it. The concept and its significance vary widely among different cultures, primarily in West Asia. The idea appears several times in translations of the Old Testament. It was a widely extended belief among many Mediterranean and Asian tribes and cultures. The colour blue is thought to have a strong protective function against evil.

Charms and decorations with eye-like symbols known as "nazar" or "máti", which are used to repel the evil eye are a common sight in the Levant, and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists. A typical nazar is made of glass featuring concentric circles or teardrop shapes in dark blue, white, light blue and black, occasionally with a yellow/gold edge. As a legacy of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, it is a common sight in Turkey, Romania, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Southern Italy (Naples), Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Armenia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Azerbaijan, where the nazar is often hung in homes, offices, cars, children's clothing, or incorporated in jewellery and ornaments.

This post is part of the Blue Monday meme,
and also part of the Macro Monday meme,
and also part of the Through my Lens meme,
and also part of the Seasons meme.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

SATURDAY SILHOUETTES #61

Welcome to the Saturday Silhouettes meme! This is a weekly meme that looks at SILHOUETTES in photography.

SILHOUETTE |ˌsɪlʊˈɛt| noun: The dark shape and outline of someone or something visible in restricted light against a brighter background.
ORIGIN - late 18th century: Named (although the reason remains uncertain) after Étienne de Silhouette (1709–67), French author and politician.
This post is also part of the Skywatch Friday meme.

Please add your contribution below, using the Linky tool. As this is a small but select meme, please visit other contributors and add a comment - they like comments about their work as much as you do!

Friday, 19 August 2016

PANDANUS FRUIT

Pandanus tectorius is a species of Pandanus (screwpine) in the family Pandanaceae that is native to Malesia, eastern Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Common names include Tahitian screwpine, thatch screwpine, hala and fala.

P. tectorius is a tree that grows to 4–14 m tall. The single trunk is spiny and forks at a height of 4–8 metres. It is supported by prop roots that firmly anchor the tree to the ground. The fruit of P. tectorius is either ovoid, ellipsoid, subglobose or globose with a diameter of 4–20 cm and a length of 8–30 cm. The fruit is made up of 38–200 wedge-like phalanges, which have an outer fibrous husk. Phalanges contain two seeds on average, with a maximum of eight reported. The phalanges are buoyant, and the seeds within them can remain viable for many months while being transported by ocean currents.

The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and is a major source of food in Micronesia, especially in the atolls. It is also one of the traditional foods of Maldivian cuisine. The fibrous nature of the fruit also serves as a natural dental floss. It is also used in Samoan culture as a Ula Fala, a necklace made out of the dried fruit painted in red and is worn by the Matai during special occasions and functions.

The tree's leaves are often used as flavouring for sweet dishes such as kaya jam, and are also said to have medicinal properties. It is also used in Sri Lankan cookery, where the leaves are used to flavour a variety of curries. Leaves were used by the Polynesians to make baskets, mats, outrigger canoe sails, thatch roofs, and grass skirts.

Here the fruit is seen on top of some oranges for scale.

This post is part of the Friday Greens meme,
and also part of the Food Friday meme.

Here is a method for preparing pandanus purée:

Thursday, 18 August 2016

DAPHNE ODORA

Daphne odora (winter daphne) is a species of flowering plant in the family Thymelaeaceae, native to China, Japan and Korea. It is an evergreen shrub, grown for its very fragrant, fleshy, pale-pink, tubular flowers, each with 4 spreading lobes, and for its glossy foliage. It rarely fruits, producing red berries after flowering. The Latin specific epithet odora means "fragrant".

It grows best in fertile, slightly acid, peaty, well-drained soils. It grows in full sun or partial shade, and is hardy to −10 °C, possibly lower. In Korea, the plant is also poetically called "churihyang" - a thousand mile scent - referring to the fragrance being apparent from a great distance. In Japan, the plant is more commonly known as "jinchoge".

Plants are not long lived, senescing within 8 to 10 years. Daphne generally do not react well to root disturbance, and may transplant badly. D. odora is also susceptible to virus infection, which causes leaf mottling. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and a range of domestic animals and some people experience dermatitis from contact with the sap. Daphne odora is propagated by semi-ripe cuttings in summer.

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

FOLIES BERGÈRE, PARIS

The Folies Bergère is a cabaret music hall, located in Paris, France. Established in 1869, the house was at the height of its fame and popularity from the 1890s' Belle Époque through the 1920s' Années Folles. The institution is still in business, and is always a strong symbol of French and Parisian life.

Located at 32 rue Richer in the 9th Arrondissement, the Folies Bergère was built as an opera house by the architect Plumeret. The closest métro stations are Cadet and Grands Boulevards. It opened on 2 May 1869 as the Folies Trévise, with light entertainment including operettas, opéra comique (comic opera), popular songs, and gymnastics. It became the Folies Bergère on 13 September 1872, named after a nearby street, the rue Bergère ("bergère" means "shepherdess"). The American impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., named his light-hearted, extravagant Broadway revues the Ziegfeld Follies (1907-1931), after the Parisian venue.

In 1882, Édouard Manet painted his well-known painting "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère" which depicts a bar-girl, one of the demimondaines, standing before a mirror. In 1886, Édouard Marchand conceived a new genre of entertainment for the Folies Bergère: the music-hall revue. Women would be the heart of Marchand's concept for the Folies. In the early 1890s, the American dancer Loie Fuller starred at the Folies Bergère. In 1902, illness forced Marchand to leave after 16 years.

1918, Paul Derval (1880–1966) made his mark on the revue. His revues were to feature extravagant costumes, sets and effects, and his "small nude women". Derval's small nude women would become the hallmark of the Folies. During his 48 years at the Folies, he launched the careers of many French stars including Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett, Josephine Baker, Fernandel and many others.

In 1926, Josephine Baker, an African-American expatriate singer, dancer, and entertainer, caused a sensation at the Folies Bergère in a new revue, La Folie du Jour, in which she danced a number Fatou wearing a costume consisting of a skirt made of a string of artificial bananas and little else. Her erotic dancing and near nude performances were renowned. The Folies Bergère catered to popular taste. Shows featured elaborate costumes; the women's were frequently revealing, practically leaving them naked, and shows often contained a good deal of nudity. Shows also played up the "exoticness" of persons and objects from other cultures, obliging the Parisian fascination with the négritude of the 1920s.

The funeral of Paul Derval was held on 20 May 1966. He was 86 and had reigned supreme over the most celebrated music hall in the world. His wife Antonia, supported by Michel Gyarmathy, succeeded him. In August 1974, Antonia Derval passed on the direction of the business to Hélène Martini, the empress of the night (25 years earlier she had been a showgirl in the revues). This new mistress of the house reverted to the original concept to maintain the continued existence of the last music hall which remained faithful to the tradition. Since 2006, the Folies Bergère has presented some musical productions with Stage Entertainment like Cabaret (2006–2008), Zorro the Musical (2009–2010) and Scheherazade (2011-2012).

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme.






Tuesday, 16 August 2016

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre, sometimes described as the primate city of Hungary. According to the census, in 2011 Budapest had 1.74 million inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2.1 million due to suburbanisation. The Budapest Metropolitan Area is home to 3.3 million people. The city covers an area of 525 square kilometres.

Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank on 17 November 1873. The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia.

Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th century. Their first settlement was pillaged by the Mongols in 1241–42. The re-established town became one of the centres of Renaissance humanist culture by the 15th century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Budapest became a global city after its unification in 1873. It also became the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I.

Budapest was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Hungarian Republic of Councils in 1919, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Revolution of 1956. Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest's extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway, the second-oldest metro line in the world. It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world's largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building.

The city attracts about 4.4 million tourists a year, making it the 25th most popular city in the world, and the 6th in Europe, according to Euromonitor. Considered a financial hub in Central Europe, the city ranked third on Mastercard's Emerging Markets Index, and ranked as the most liveable Central or Eastern European city on EIU's quality of life index. It is also ranked as "the world's second best city" by Condé Nast Traveler, and "Europe's 7th most idyllic place to live" by Forbes.

Eighteen universities are situated in Budapest, including the Central European University, Eötvös Loránd University and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Ruby Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Trees & Bushes meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.