rosemaling fabric
History & Traditions, Photography

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Red and Green

Origins of the Traditional Christmas Colours of Red and Green

In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn’t read. The ‘Paradise Tree’ in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.

whychristmas.com/customs/colors-of-christmas.shtml

Final Photo Prompt for 2020

For the final Friendly Friday Photo Challenge of 2020, show us your version of photos of Red and Green.

Join the Friendly Friday Challenge

Write a post of your own celebrating ‘Red and Green,’ and ‘ping’ or link back to this post, leaving a comment below, so we can find your own Friendly Friday Post.

There are more detailed instructions on how to join in with the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge here.

These photos are taken in Japan in 2019, during the Crimson leaves season. The final two photographs are taken with #No filter.

The Friendly Friday Challenge team will be enjoying a well earned break, from weekly Friendly Friday posts, over the festive period. The challenge will resume in the New Year on Friday 29th January, 2021.

Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Challenge in 2021

Your Friendly Friday Hosts Sandy and myself, (Amanda) will post a new format for Friendly Friday, going forward in 2021. One that we hope will encourage and support those wonderful bloggers who have been posting Friendly Friday posts throughout this, a most difficult year for the world. Of course, we also welcome new participants to the challenge.

All are welcome to join in.

God Jul til Alle Sammen and Merry Christmas

Christmas tree
computer
blogging, History & Traditions

Google will Help You

In the almost forgotten days B.C. meaning, “Before Covid,” we might search for holiday accommodation, or sightseeing spots using Google. Sometimes Google suggests places we didn’t even know we wanted to go, based on our search history and we don’t have to ask.

hotel entrance stained glass

Whilst away on vacations, we might need to know a good place to eat nearby. No need to ask the concierge or at the Reception desk, as Google can tell you. Do you want to know what people thought of the atmosphere, the food, the service of that restaurant? Google knows better than any food critic. Directions to get there? Google will be delighted to share various routes and time frames. Not sure of the constituents of a fancy French dish on the menu: Google will be happy to elaborate.

You might have consulted the medical form – Dr Google – who compiles a list of potential medical conditions from your given symptoms.

Can’t find that recipe for Turmeric flavoured Brownies? Chef Google to the rescue.

So much of our news and information stems from social media pop-ups, short headlines or excerpts on Google. News services and some newspapers have been made redundant by Google. We are now so good at finding out information for ourselves, via Google, I wonder if journalism will become redundant too?

Syndicated news doesn’t seem to reflect differing viewpoints any longer. Instead, reporters grow more like the mouthpieces of social media behemoths, reporting on what they personally think of a topic, rather than any balanced, objective or original perspective.

There is little need for a media launch or PR campaign for a new product. With a small amount of money, social media marketing will use targeted advertising will reach your chosen audience and Google spiders automatically do the rest.

Google is omnipresent and listening. If you don’t believe me, try saying, “Hey Google” to your cell phone.

Flowers
Time – less flowers

Google has made the world better by improving access to information, but it has also eliminated a multitude of jobs. How did we ever manage without it?

In referring to time, our future years may be B.G. and A.G. – Before Google and After Google.

1980’s was a year B.G. – being that time when we used Telephone books, Street Directories, read broadsheet Newspapers and Hard copy Dictionaries and more people had full time employment.

I remember those days.

polish folk art mouse pad
craft, History & Traditions, Painting, Photography, Traditional Art

Kashubian Embroidery

Traditional Tuesday – [A look at traditional Art Forms]

Poland is a country of deeply rooted culture and pursuits, not the least of which, is iconic Polish Folk Art forms, such as a specialist kind of stitching, called Kashuby embroidery. Initially used as a decoration for clothing, particularly folk costumes and women’s caps, these distinctive motifs have been transformed and used to decorate items as diverse as pottery, furniture, tableware and a range of merchandise from lanyards to mouse pads.

Kashubians are a proud people with a separate language, craft and folklore to other Polish areas. Their motto is “There is no Kashubia without Poles and Poland without Kaszubians.”

Product available in Zazzle and Redbubble

Previously considered an activity for Grandmothers, girls of all ages and even men, in Kashubia, enjoy decorating clothing with Kashuby Embroidery.

Colours

Kashubia, [a province in coastal Pomerania], is famous for its distinctive embroidery that consistently features seven main colours.

http://www.wilno.org/culture/embroidery.html

The palette used in Kashuby embroidery utilises seven main thread colours and believe or not, this tends to be strictly observed, i.e. 3 shades of blue, yellow, red, green and brown/black, for it to be called Kashuby Style.

Each of the colors used symbolized something from nature and the people.

BLUE: –

  • Dark Blue – represents the profound depth of the Baltic Sea
  • Medium or Royal Blue – the colour of the Kashubian Lakes
  • Light Blue – for the sky of Kashubia

YELLOW :-

  • Light Yellow – representing the sand on the beaches and the sun.
  • Medium Yellow for the grains ripening in the fields
  • Dark Yellow symbolizing amber, commonly found washed up on the beaches, in these coastal areas.

GREEN :-

  • Symbolizes the meadows and plant life
  • Indicates the forests teeming with animal life

RED :-

  • The use of the colour red indicated the heart and love
  • also indicative of the blood of every Kashubian. They are a fiercely patriotic people, and would die to defend their homeland.
  • Red also represents poppies in girl’s hairs

BLACK or BROWN :-

  • representing sorrow and adversity
  • symbolizing the earth in the fields awaiting to be sown seeds.

Motifs

hafty

Because of the poverty of the surrounding soil, the Kashubian landscape produces flowers that are stringy, but still colourful. Nature is an important inspiration for floral motifs, especially bell-flowers, lilies, daisies, roses, cornflowers, pomegranates and clovers. Tulips and Acanthus motifs, derived from Christian religious traditions were incorporated as oak or thistle leaves and restricted to embroidery executed by Nuns in the convents.

Adding Beetles and bee motifs to the embroidery stemmed from connections to the ancient pagan traditions of honouring nature.

A lovely element used in Kashuby embroidery is the ‘tree of life.’ Ideally, the branches mustn’t cross or intertwine because it symbolises that life ought to be simple and clear.

In the nineteenth century, fashions changed and traditional folk art patterned outfits began to slowly disappear but some crafts hung on and were printed on to modern merchandise to appeal to tourists.

Formerly, the different style of embroidered costume was related to the particular job the person was doing. Farmers had different motifs and outfits to that seen on fisherman.

In modern times, these outfits are rarely seen outside of special occasions, events or musical performances yet the popularity of the embroidery style, lives on.

More posts on Polish Folk Art

cake on platter
Food, History & Traditions

Friendly Friday Challenge Guest Post – Nostalgia

The Guest post for this week’s Friendly Friday theme of Nostalgia, comes from Lorelle, an Australian Mum of two, passionate traveller and foodie enthusiast, who blogs at A Mindful Traveller.

I had the immense pleasure of meeting the lovely Lorelle a couple of years ago and she has been so kind to write a beautiful narrative about a very different kind of cake, one that is not only full of tradition but also has a special meaning for her and her family.

Two bloggers meet in Melbourne

Lorelle writes:

Nostalgia

“Interestingly, there are two forms of nostalgia, restorative and reflective.

For me, Nostalgia is purely reflective. Stepping down memory lane with no need to recreate the past, is gratifying. The memories and more importantly, the feelings associated with those memories, are forever embedded with us.

Food is a remarkable trigger for Nostalgia, as it is a powerful sensory recollection. We all associate certain foods with memories and feelings.

Sri Lankan Connection

Coming from a Sri Lankan family, food is an important cultural way of life. And when I reflect on the vast variety of delicious and tasty Sri Lankan foods, there is one particular dish that is not only my favourite but one that holds special memories as it is only prepared and eaten at that all-important sacred feast of Christmas.

These customs and traditions allow us to preserve our important ancestral history. Unique, individual stories, wisdom and in this case recipes, passed from generation to generation. As Sri Lankan migrants, my parents continue to pass on their significant heritage to their children, and at important celebrations of the year where family gather, recipes like Sri Lankan Love Cake remind us of where it all began.

Sri Lankan Love Cake

History of Sri Lankan Love Cake

This traditional Sri Lankan cake was inspired by the Portuguese from the 1500’s. As the name suggests, Love Cake was originally made to win the heart of an admirer. It is made from cashew nuts, semolina and candied winter melon/squash called puhul dosi (pumpkin preserve).  Exotic spices and floral essences create a fragrant, sweet, spiced cake with a soft chewy inside and a crunchy crust.

There are many different variations to Love Cake, with each “Aunty” insisting her recipe is better than the other! Practice is also another requirement. Don’t be alarmed if you do not succeed the first time. Adjusting ingredients or oven temperatures may be necessary.

Sri Lankan Love Cake Recipe

In the recipe below, I have used a bain-marie of water to create that soft chewy centre. By placing a tray of water at the bottom of the oven, the moisture stays within the cake and doesn’t dry it out.

So, it is here that Christmas and its celebratory traditional cakes, bring great Nostalgia of our original family home, my grandparents and the sense of togetherness and family love.

Sri Lankan Love Cake

Makes: 2 rectangular baking trays

Prep Time: 30 mins (Eggs need to be at room temperature)

Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 450g butter, softened
  • 450g semolina
  • 650g cashew nuts (pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped, keeping some larger pieces. Do not blend to a powder consistency)
  • 12 egg yolks (at room temperature)
  • 7 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 700g caster sugar
  • 500 g preserved pumpkin (puhul dosi), finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
  • 50ml rosewater
  • 2 tbsp almond essence
  • 50ml honey
  • juice of 1 orange
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 2 tsp cardamon, ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp clove, ground

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced)
  2. Grease two rectangular cake tins and line with foil and then baking paper.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
  4. Combine the softened butter and semolina together in a separate bowl using your fingers. Add this to the egg and sugar mixture in thirds, beating to combine.
  5. Transfer mixture into a very large mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon incorporate the nuts, pumpkin preserve. Then add rosewater, almond essence, honey, juice and rind, stirring well. Add remaining dry spices and mix.
  6. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks and gently fold through the egg whites into the cake batter in two batches, do not over beat mixture. The egg whites will loosen up the mixture.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cake tins.
  8. Place a large tray of water on bottom oven shelf.
  9. Bake the cakes at 160°C for 20 mins on middle oven shelf.
  10. Reduce heat to 150°C and bake for a further 2 hours and 15 minutes.
  11. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
  12. Once cooked and brown on top, remove cakes and allow to cool in trays before transferring. Cut into rectangles or squares when cool.

If you are wondering about preserved pumpkin, Lorelle writes to tell me that:

Preserved pumpkin or Puhul dosi, can be purchased from the Indian/Sri Lankan grocers or you could try to make your own. You can alternatively use preserved or candied squash/winter melon or pineapple. A health food store might stock these items.

About Lorelle and A Mindful Traveller:

Three years ago, I decided to document and share my personal travel and favourite recipes from the many wonderful places I visited locally and globally.

My passion for travel grew immensely and was educated as I discovered new and exciting corners of the globe that I had not been to before.

Living in Australia and being quite distant from the rest of the world has its advantages and disadvantages.

Now, as we fight our way through a worldwide pandemic, the ambivalent questions of when we will be able to travel overseas again are daunting.

This presents another opportunity to further explore my own country and improve my knowledge for the country I was born in. The open outback, rugged coasts and stretched roads are calling….

Photo by David Jia on Pexels.com

Many thanks to Lorelle for sharing this delicious recipe and giving us an insight into the background and traditions around this a small piece of ‘nostalgia.’

History & Traditions, Motivational, Philosophy

Weekly Quote and Proverb

Proverbs and Quotes provide us with wisdom from days past.

These words, generally anonymous and uttered so succinctly, can teach us so much, in just a few words.

Here are this week offerings:

The greater love is a mother’s;

then comes a dog’s;

then a sweetheart’s – Polish Proverb

Schnauzer dog

In these times of pandemic and social distancing, we would do well to remember the Danish proverb:

No one is rich enough

to do

without a neighbour.

Danish Proverb
Dragør

As a second wave of Corona looks to be commencing in a southern state, the final word goes to Thomas Edison –

Stay safe.

blogging, History & Traditions, Photography

Friendly Friday: The Colour Pink – Guest Post

Vero writes:

When Amanda asked me to write a post with the prompt, “Pink,” my mind went in many directions first.

Then I paused: what’s really my relationship with this girly colour?

Let’s be honest, no matter how modern you are on the gender stereotyping theme, it will still take yonks before pink is something else than a female shade!

I grew up in the 70s, though, which was supposed to be a decade of change and evolution in the matter. But my mother was rather traditional. My bedroom had a pink wall paper – until very very late.

I wore pink dresses.

But looking at this other photo from my dance class, (ironically, it’s black and white!!); it seems I was suddenly totally opposed to pink and decided to make it very clear!

Being a teenager is very tricky, isn’t it.

You want to fit in but also you want to show the world how different you are from the crowd!

That’s when I started wearing very different items of clothing.

I particularly loved a velvet jacket and suede tie which belonged to my grandfather – 4 sizes too big for me. The results of my combo choices were often extremely peculiar but I guess that’s how I decided to be creative at that time.

And took ballet classes wearing pale pink leotards and tights. In a way, pink was the colour of my childhood.Then the teenage years followed. And they were black. Didn’t we all wear black then? It was the way to merge.


Pink never really came back in my wardrobe in my adult years. Except for fuchsia. Vibrant colours are what define me now. In French, we have a way to qualify vivid shades: we call them “shouting” or “yelling tints.”

As if it was so bright, it could actually make an unpleasant sound.

In my never-ending craving for strong saturation, I even painted my house’s front wall, one Saturday afternoon, in bright pink. My courtyard had already been indoctrinated with a mixture of bleu majorelle (link to jardinmajorelle.com/ang/ ) and anis green !


Click on over to Vero’s blog to read the second instalment of this post.

About the Guest Blogger

Vero was born in a green and quiet Parisian suburb. She left this idyllic scenery in her early twenties to live in England, later settling in the South of France and started a family of three (+dogs!). Now in her forties, she lives in a rural coastal village in Brittany.

Thanks to Vero for this interesting glimpse into her relationship with the colour pink prepared for this week’s Friendly Friday theme.

If you would like to be featured as a guest blogger for a Friendly Friday Challenge post, please contact Amanda or Sandy – hosts of Friendly Friday, via our contact pages.

Friendly Friday
History & Traditions, Philosophy

Living History 100 years ago

Margaret uses a Box iron – that is heated on the fire to iron her clothes. She cooks all her meals and bakes her own bread in a pot oven, over the open fire. She lives in a house without electricity and modern conveniences. This is not a reality show where we are taken back in time for a short period. This is the life of someone living in modern times, but just as people did 100 years ago in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

The fire, Margaret says, is essential not just for life, but for the house itself to survive, as the timbers, need the fire to preserve them. Without the fire, you could not live this way.

In addition, this county has interesting natural and social history features. As well as rare plants, there is the pagan stone – where the firstborn of stock and family were sacrificed in pagan times! A Holy Spring is located there – the waters of which are supposed to cure nervous and paralytic disorders.

It is thought some of my family may have come from this county, around 130 years ago, so this is a snapshot into the way of life they may have led. Margaret doesn’t see this house as a time capsule, the way we might.


She sees it as home just as her father and Grandfather did.

Could you live a life without modern conveniences. the way Margaret does?

If you had to give them up, which one would you miss the most?

Which one would you choose to keep?

veterans
Australia, Cakes, Food, History & Traditions

ANZAC Biscuit Traditions

Home made bikkies

When is a Cookie a biscuit? When you live in Australia, of course.

On April 25 each year, Anzac Day, the nation stops to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of a group of soldiers that have contributed to the development of our national psyche. We don’t have many traditions of our own so we have adopted this to be a signifier that we are Australian. And the Anzac tradition has even spawned a biscuit or cookie! How Australian!

Today, there won’t be any dawn Anzac services attended by the many descendants of those soldiers, so it is likely that we might all be baking these biscuits at home, remembering the soldiers.

The ANZAC Biscuit

During WWI, a certain type of biscuit/cookie was sent by mail, in sealed tins, to the troops fighting in the filthy trenches at Lone Pine and Anzac Cove in Turkey. They were sent all the way from Australia, from the mothers and sweethearts of those brave, young men who were to fight Britain’s war against Turkey.

It was thought this biscuit would keep well in transit for an extended period of time. As such they are regarded as quintessentially Australian and our tradition of making Anzac biscuits on April 25, has continued for the past 9 years. Almost as old as this blog itself!

Below you will find the recipe.

Heidi 020

 Anzac Biscuit Recipe

I have posted two versions here. The first recipe is mine and the second, the trusty Women’s Weekly magazine version. Please post what temperature worked for you, if you do try the recipe…

Preheat Oven 170 – 180 C or 350 F

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup – you can use honey or maple syrup as an alternative
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 160 g or (⅔ cup) butter, melted

Method
1. Sift flour and ginger into a mixing bowl and add coconuts, oats and sugar. Mix and make a well in the centre ready for the addition of the wet ingredients.

2. Stir in Golden syrup, boiling water and bicarb soda, in a small bowl, until combined.

3. Add the syrup mix into the dry ingredients, along with the melted butter. Mix well.

4. Take heaped teaspoons of mix and roll into small balls.

5. Place on trays and flatten gently.

6. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown

7. Cool on tray 10 minutes until they firm up slightly.


Wanting to try the ever faithful Woman’s Weekly recipes, last year I cooked up a second batch. These ones aren’t so crisp, but if you like the flavour of brown sugar, they are worth a ‘go.’

Woman’s Weekly Anzacs

Preheat oven  160 -175 C or 350 F

Ingredients

Heidi 020
  • 125 g (I cup) butter chopped coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup Rolled Oats

Method

  • Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat.
  • Add bicarb and water to butter mix.
  • Mix remaining dry ingredients and combine wet and dry.
  • Spoon teaspoons of mix on to lined baking sheet, and flatten slightly.
  • Cook 12 – 15 minutes. Cool on tray  5 – 10  minutes.

Now you can also try these biscuits, and tell me what you think. I will ponder whether they will become a tradition in your house.

History & Traditions, Traditional Art

First Trip to Nepal

Fellow blogger Pooja from Stories from Europe grew up in Nepal, so we’ve joined forces to write about a city located close to Kathmandu, called Bhaktapur. The individual accounts are about the same city, Bhaktapur, but written from a perspective of 34 years apart.

What things had changed?

What comparisons can we draw? Let’s find out.

1986

It is March in the year 1986.

It’s been two months since the doomed Space Shuttle Mission exploded and before another month is over, the reactor in Chernobyl, Russia will fail triggering a catastrophic nuclear accident that will change the world.

Meanwhile, in Australia, I am young, newly married and embarking on my first overseas trip. I am optimistic and filled with a mixture of excitement and nervous energy about my upcoming visit to Nepal. It would be my first time travelling overseas.

The First Overseas Trip

Why choose Nepal for my first overseas trip when every second Australian, at that time, was going to London or Bali?

24-year-old me was eager to experience a culture entirely different from the semi-pasteurized life I had in Australia, yet I still had many reservations about what ‘Overseas’ would be like.

My Arrival in Nepal – Kathmandu

When I arrived in Kathmandu, the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom, the wave of initial shock I felt at seeing the level of underdevelopment that existed in the Third-world, quickly gave way to a respect and appreciation for the Nepalese country, its eye-popping scenery, history and peace-loving people.

In 1986, I wrote in my travel diary, “the poverty of many Nepalese citizens contrasts sharply with a grand, ancient architecture, which is set against the backdrop of the staggering beauty of the Himalayas, mountains that could easily be mistaken for clouds.”

The contrast of our well appointed accommodation, the Yak ‘n Yeti Hotel, a former Palace in itself, with the scene a few steps away on the main street of the capital was stark.

Contrasts.

In 1986, there was very few modern conveniences, (there was great bemusement and amazement when someone brought a small vacuum cleaner into the hotel lobby). The swimming pool was cleaned with a mop that consisted of a rag wrapped around the end of a wooden broom.

Thus, it was a day or so before ‘Westernized’ me could relax and enjoy the Nepalese culture, without feeling a sense of inequity on behalf of the people, and guilt for living my life in what would Nepalis would consider to be an extravagant and materialistic Western lifestyle, in comparison. (Even though my lifestyle was merely average by Australian standards.)

One street vendor summed it up.

“Where are you from? he asked, polishing the prayer wheel we were about to buy.

“Australia? Then you are rich!” he put forward.

I shook my head.

“No, not rich, definitely not rich,” I maintained.

“No?” he said, raising his eyebrow quizzically.

“How long did it take you to save the money to come here, then?’ he asked, “Six months, a year?”

I said, “Almost two years,” but he had made his point well. I was rich in comparison.

Bhaktapur – 1986

After a day or so in Kathmandu, my new husband and I were eager to explore further by driving around 10 kilometres east, passing through largely agricultural farms and the turnoff to China before arriving at Bhaktapur.

In 1986, 80% of the population of Bhaktapur were farming and the city was not yet on the main tourist trail. That was a shame as it was the original epicentre of Nepalese government from the 12th century until Kathmandu became the capital city under the Rana Kings.

The name Bhaktapur, means, “city of devotees,” my yellowing travel notes tell me, and if you enjoy traditional art, architecture and lifestyle, Bhaktapur gives you this in bucketloads. To visit Bhaktapur in 1986, it felt like a time warp back to the 14th centuries, Nepal’s Golden Age, when the Dynasty of Malla Kings ruled the region.

As well as seeing traditional Newari homes, Bhaktapur’s main square, ‘Durbar Square’, is filled with UNESCO heritage-listed Palaces and Pagoda-styled temples, adorned with highly crafted, intricate woodcarvings and statues that I felt were a privilege to see, given that Nepal was, for many years, closed to the outside world.

It isn’t widely known that the tiered Pagoda-style architecture, typically associated with the Orient, was first developed in Nepal, by a Nepalese architect who exported the concept very successfully to Asia.

Durbar Square

Our Guide, Madhav, explained the history behind the architectural legacy left from the Malla Dynasty and their lengthy rule which preceded the more inward-looking Rana Kings, who closed off Nepal to foreigners.

Walking across Durbar Square we saw the masterpiece that is the Golden Gate, which comprises the main entrance to the old Royal Palace. Said to be, ‘the most richly moulded specimen of its kind in the world,’ the Golden Gate is intricately embellished with Garuda, the mythical griffin, Goddesses and other Hindu creatures. The gate leads to an inner courtyard containing a Royal Pool, or Water tank where a Hindu goddess, was believed to have her daily bath.

The Royal Palace itself, a structure adorned with fifty-five carved wooden windows, was built during the reign of the Malla King Bhupendra Malla, and finally completed in 1754.

Despite the Royal Palace remaining closed to the public as a result of the damage it sustained, during the 1934 earthquake, we feel now quite lucky to see it when we did, as the damage to these heritage structures from the 1934 earthquake had been repaired and the devastating 1990 earthquake was yet to happen. This is the palace as it appeared in 2013, (not my photo).

Photo Credit: Sadmadd

The Statue of King Bhupatindra Malla stands atop a pillar overlooking the square. The King is depicted in an act of worship and can be seen facing the Palace and away from the main square, as a mark of respect. Such a contrast to other statues in the West.

Bhaktapur’s Taumadhi Square

A few more steps away, Taumadhi square features a five-tiered pagoda built in the 1700s, with stepped plinths, said to have taken three generations to construct. The animal statues on the steps, guard both the temple and the resident Goddess. My photo is old and cloudy, but I am there standing on the right side at the top of the steps, talking to some young girls.

The girls in the photo gathered around me, holding my hands tightly and pleading, “one rupee.” Their fingers were so cold, and I worried that one little girl might actually be ill. One rupee is a pitiful amount of money and my heart went out to them, but our guide had warned us away from giving any of the children money. “If you give them money, it encourages begging,” he said. I did not want to offend.

From here we strolled along the quieter back alleys, where several Newari ladies dressed in traditional Sari, sat on mats on the ground, selling their crafts.

They sold silver filigree jewellery and trinkets, some inlaid with semi-precious stones as well as carved wooden boxes. There didn’t seem to be a lot of customers about that day. I purchased a small carved box and was given another small silver box in place of change, as the seller had no coins or notes to give me any change for the transaction. A kindly gesture and one that I hope did not leave her out of pocket.

traditional craft

Buddhist Art -Thangkas

We were privileged to witness the Buddhist monks painting scrolls in the traditional Buddhist art form, known as Thangkas. The monks paint versions with authentic gold leaf highlights, or a lesser alternative using gold paint, which was reflected in the price of each alternative.

I selected the following Thangka, brought it home from our trip, had it framed and it has been such a delight to me. All my family love it and I still have on the wall in my new home, 34 years later. It is a timeless piece that still fascinates me. There is always something new to see in the painting, even after 34 years.

nepalese traditional art

Some of the figures depicted in the painting might, on closer inspection, be considered pornographic to an unknowing Western eye. We are grateful that our guide explained the true purpose of this traditional depiction. The erotic positions of the figures were intended to excite men and the male spirit, in the hopes of increasing their fertility, something vital to the population, where children are seen as a way of securing your financial future.

Perhaps it worked, as I never had problems conceiving children?

My view from the coffee lounge

Our final stop in Bhaktapur, was a surprise invitation from our guide to drink coffee with him in a small Lounge, located atop one of the tiered Pagoda-like buildings, overlooking Taumadhi Square.

It was a unique experience to sit and contemplate the history of the centuries-old square where Kings had walked, where battles were fought, where ancient monuments were crafted and stone sculptures stood on guard, as a timeless testament to a creative and artistically rich culture.

Our Guide told us he met a girlfriend who lived in our home town and also how it was common for many Tour Guides to marry foreign tourists and live overseas. He insisted that he would prefer to stay in Nepal and hoped his girl would move over there. He asked us to go visit her when we went back home. I imagine he would have been disappointed to hear that she had no plans to return to Nepal.

Visiting Bhaktapur was a unique and highly satisfying experience I shall never forget and I thank Pooja from the blog: Stories from Europe for the opportunity to share these beautiful memories of my first overseas travel experience with you.

Bhaktapur – 2020

What things had changed since 1986?

To find out what has changed in Bhaktapur over the intervening years, visit Pooja’s blog post, and find out what life in present-day Bhaktapur is like.

What was your first Overseas travel experience like?

Where did you go? Was it to someone familiar or completely different?

I would be happy if you link back to #firsttripoverseas in the comments below.

New Zealand
Australia, History & Traditions, Travel

Australia Speaks – Yeh Nah!

Australians are renowned for a laconic, self-deprecating sense of humour that is, to a large extent, the sort of mockery that is not meant to offend.

new_zealand_2013_160

Australia – New Zealand Relations

We love to tease the New Zealanders about their accent and habits, like their habit of calling all and sundry, ‘bro.’ The Kiwis, in turn, mock us about our own ‘Straylan‘ accent, about who really invented pavlova, or whether Russell Crowe is an Aussie or Kiwi.

[Although after the phone-throwing incident, there was a debate as to whether anyone would claim Russell, at all].

Mocking each other can be a sign of feeling secure enough with the friendship that each may ‘have a go,’ or tease someone, in a gentle way, hopefully without it being taken personally, or causing offence. And so it is between New Zealanders and Australians.

Teasing aside, our countries do have a fairly similar culture, at least historically in the Anglo-Saxon sense. Many of us have relatives in both countries.

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We understand each other and visit all the time, prior to Corona, of course. It is quicker to travel to New Zealand than to travel to the other side of Australia, for goodness sake. When every second or third New Zealand Teenager moved to Australia in search of work, in the 1980s, the popular joke here, was:

“So you moved here from New Zealand? Did you leave the light on?”

New Zealanders are very welcome in Australia and are treated as one of us. Well, except when it comes to welfare payments, perhaps. ‘Nuff’ said.

Aussie Vernacular Idioms

My Kiwi cousins enjoy teasing me about the way Aussies say, “Yeh, nah,” or ‘yes,’ then ‘no’ in the one breath or sentence. And we do say it. No doubt.

All the time!

So why was this T-shirt found in a souvenir shop, in New Zealand, with a kiwi as part of the logo? “Hey, bro?

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Are New Zealanders saying it, as well?

In defence of my fellow Aussies, this confusing phrase is used when we want to make two points, relative to one another, presumably to save time. As you may know, Aussies like to shorten everything to save time, especially when it comes to conversation and slang. As this video confirms:

In saying Yeh. Nah, we are agreeing with our conversational partner before further disagreeing on a smaller, less significant related point. Hence:

“Yeh, meaning you are right, (it looks like it might rain, but) “nah” meaning in reality, it probably won’t rain this afternoon – hence “Yeh, Nah, I don’t think it’s going to rain!”  Clear as mud?

It seems this confusing idiom that makes no literal sense has traversed the Tasman Sea, into New Zealand to the point that it’s now New Zealand speak, if only because it has the word, ‘bro’, after it!!

Aussies will NOT disagree with this, will they? Yeh…. nah!

And if you are ready for some more Aussie humour, Carl might give you a laugh.

Something for linguists to ponder about.

Early morning sunrise photography
Food, History & Traditions

Cook Eat Repeat Challenge – Healthy Breakfast Eggnog

I have been following Moons’ blog, Bits and Pieces for some time now and read her post on a traditional form of Chai style tea that originated from Calcutta, as well as the beautiful traditions that surround this drink and its preparation. She’s challenged the blogging community to write about a drink that is a favourite or one that has a special meaning, for you.

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Stockholm

I do like drinking tea and now I have access to tea suppliers selling specialised leaf teas, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I enjoy a cup of ‘Stockholm blend’ tea – (goodness, even my house is called the ‘Stockholm Design’ by the Builder). But it is not tea, that I will be writing about today, but a nutritious drink that makes a great breakfast food – a powerhouse of nutrition on the go. Perfect for busy people and kids.

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Placemat upcycled to a teapot cosy

Traditional Juletime Egg Nog

For many European and Americans, Eggnog is a popular drink to have at Christmas. Harking back to a 14th century concotion called Posset – a kind of curdled milk mixed with ale, Eggnog and cold, winter days just seem to go together. Maybe that’s the added whisky or rum that warms the body and the soul, perhaps? The link below is for the traditional Christmas Egg Nog recipe from Jamie Oliver, but my drink is altogether different.

As most know, or might suspect, I live in a warm climate and as such we don’t have the need to have warming drinks to get us through a snowy morning.

My take on EggNog is completely non-alcoholic, is chocked full of nutritional goodness and makes the perfect start to your morning, especially if you don’t have to time to cook, or eat, a hearty breakfast.

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Photo Credit: best-eggnog-recipe/

My version of Egg Nog looks the same as in the above picture but is way easier to prepare, packs a punch nutritionally and is suitable for children as well as adults, as there’s no alcohol added.

Healthy Breakfast Drink

Many of the working population are rushed! There’s no time to prep a cooked breakfasts. Others might not feel like eating early in the morning and can only face black coffee! This twist on the traditional egg nog prepares your body and mind for the day, fills the tummy and takes seconds to prepare.

Kid Friendly Breakfast Egg Nog Recipe

  • 1 – 2 Eggs depending on your mug size
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar – Caster sugar dissolves faster
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Milk – can be almond/coconut/full fat/skim or soy
  • Whole Nutmeg * – freshly ground from the whole nut*
  1. Break the egg in a large mug and whisk vigorously with a fork.
  2. Add the sugar and whisk again until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and mix through.
  4. Add milk and whisk thoroughly until combined
  5. Grate nutmeg on top to cover with a small grater
  6. Enjoy!

*One of my kids used to get a little confused calling nutmeg – egg mut. Whatever works we thought – regularly calling it ‘egg mut, ‘ until they became teenagers.

Breakfast Egg Nog Variations

Fruit Egg Nog: -Add raspberries or strawberries, even mango and pulse in a Nutribullet or blender, for a fruity, vitamin filled hit!

Choc or Mocha – Add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and/or coffee diluted with a little boiled water for those with a really sweet tooth or coffee cravings.

strawberries

Nutritional Benefits of Egg Nog

As well as the milk component contributing to the dairy and calcium RDA components in your diet, ingredients such as eggs and spices round out the benefit of a daily Egg Nog drink, (without the alcohol).

One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin.

Nutmeg is low in Cholesterol and Sodium, is a good source of Fibre, and Manganese and support mood, digestion, sleep, good skin and brain health. It may also lower blood pressure. But don’t binge on it. Too much may not be so helpful.

Start the day with a Breakfast Egg Nog or Egg Nog Smoothie! This drink works equally well in filling up children’s tummies at afternoon tea time. This stops them snacking on junk before dinner!

Join in with Moon’s Cook Eat Repeat Challenge here:

Australia, Community, History & Traditions, Travel

Christmas in Australia

While large parts of the northern hemisphere revel in Christmas, soft snow underfoot and Jingle Bells, those contemplating a visit to Australia, might need to know a few facts before they arrive:

rubber thongs

It’s Hot Here

It’s hot, darn hot and especially so if you rarely experience temperatures exceeding 26 degrees C.

Be prepared for sunburn. Be sure to bring or buy sunscreen, open shoes or “thongs”, (the ones that you wear on your feet!), and a decent, broad-brimmed hat!

Oh, and drink at least 2 litres of fluid a day. This does not include your coffee allowance! [Coffee is a diuretic and will dehydrate you].

An Australian Christmas

“But it doesn’t feel like Christmas,”

That’s the tell tale sign that you’re probably not speaking with an Australian resident. Despite Australia’s best attempts at creating a traditional European atmosphere with hot Christmas lunches comprising Roast meat, vegetables and puddings, it just isn’t the same feel when the mercury passes 30 degress celsius.

Well may foreign visitors smile at our attempts at, “Xmas hygge” replete with plastic Christmas trees with fake snow. They might relish laying on the beach eating buckets of prawns, (read: shrimp, but very large ones), on Christmas Day, but to those residents from the North, a hot Christmas will, no doubt, never be a real Christmas.

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Sunshirts rashis for swimming

Let’s Go Swimming

As strange as it may seem, Australians wear clothes in the ocean or swimming pool. Yes, the fashion disaster, but highly practical, lycra rashi shirts and shorts, or all in ones for little kids, are essential clothing if you want to avoid sunburn. That is because Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. At Christmas time, you can get sunburnt in as little as 10 minutes.

Seriously!

There are jellyfish and they aren’t friendly…

With the mercury soaring well above thiry degrees celsius, you will probably try and cool off by jumping in the ocean, for a swim.

Except, if you’re in the state of Queensland.

Summer is jellyfish season, which means regardless of how hot it is, it’s far too dangerous to go plunging in the sea, especially in the tropical north.

That must seem like a cruel joke to foreigners, but it is the truth. You can of course, still swim and take your chances, or wear ladies stockings to prevent the jellyfish tentacles stinging your skin. That really is your options! You’ve been forewarned.

Are you still keen to don your Aussie cosie* *read: Swimsuit now?

If you are, you might like to:

Meet your Friendly Neighbourhood Crocodile

Crocodile

There is no swimming in the Top End, or the region called The Northern Territory either, but that’s not because of jellyfish; it’s the crocodiles that are lurking in the waterways. One of the hottest places in the world, surrounded by water, and you can’t go for a swim because you’ll be torn apart by a prehistoric reptile. If you don’t believe me, here is a quote from a Northern Territory local, in his own words:

“It’s ingrained in all of us — when you go fishing, you are taught to be alert [and] don’t hang your hands over the boat for example,” he said. Although the fear is warranted, it’s all about calculated risk and an awareness of the place we call home.

The Freshwater crocs pose less of a threat as they are more likely to attack only when they feel threatened. “It’s hot, and we always need to cool down and so most locals will take the plunge, even if it means risking it all for the sake of a cool dip.”

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-17/territory-swimmers-ready-to-take-calculated-risk-and-test-waters/11495124

Shall we talk about the Snakes?

Perhaps I should address the elephant in the room, or more accurately, the snake in the house.

Snake

Sensible tourists don’t go wandering through any long grass or bushland, particularly next to creeks or waterways, because we do have extremely venomous snakes here. And, if you stay with some Aussie friends, you may see one in the backyard, or if you are really lucky, in the house. They are on the move at Christmas. Pythons, especially like to curl up behind toilets, but don’t worry, the pythons aren’t venomous.

Have fun with that.

A Death Adder in an Australian backyard

It’s hot, then cold and rainy, and then hot again

Most visitors to our shores have the impression Australia is a land without winter, and it is all about bright, sunny days and nothing else.

That isn’t always the case.

Depending on what part of our expansive continent you stay in, you might get days so hot and humid that you can barely move your arm off the sofa. Later in the arvo – (read: afternoon), a tropical thunderstorm with terrential rain will soak you through to the skin, in a matter of seconds – even with a raincoat, which most of us don’t own. There is no need for it.

The tropical storms might cool you down temporarily, but rest assured, it will be hot again in about 30 minutes, which is when the storm will probably finish.

beach storm

Alternatively, you just might get a little rain or sleet at Christmas, if you visit the little island at the bottom of Australia, called Tasmania – you know the land mass that is closest to Antarctica – bar New Zealand, of course. Mt Wellington in Tassie, (oops Tasmania), often has a dusting of snow, even at Christmas. Mostly it’s just for a few hours, until it melts away.

Just saying…

Birds – there is lots of them

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Rainbow Lorikeet

We have a plethora of bird species, so if you are an enthusiast, you will think you’ve reached paradise. Mostly active at dawn and dusk, they can range from the extremely colourful, as in the Rainbow Lorikeet, sing beautiful songs like the common Butcherbird, or laugh hysterically at you,like a Kookaburra.

Don’t take it personally.

As a child, I could never work out why the storybooks would tell of birds flying south for the winter? Such was the domination of British literature in Australia, in the sixties and seventies. Unless their internal compass is faulty, the birds here don’t fly south, as the only land they would reach would be Antarctica.

Climate Extremes

There is always a flood or a fire, in Australia, somewhere in summer. The Northern half of Australia is prone to tropical storms, called cyclones, at Christmas and cyclones bring monsoonal rains, severe winds and floodings, in their wake. The rest of Australia is prone to Bushfires, and we have had more than enough of those this year.

Ah…Australia: beautiful, isn’t it?

It is Peak Holiday Season

For most of the world, there’s a small shutdown between Christmas and New Year, and then it’s back to work as normal. For Australians, Christmas time is the green light to leave town. You’ll find Aussies at the beach, or, ironically, snowboarding in Japan).

Well almost…. Doctors, Nurses, retail workers, hospitality staff, fireman, airport workers amazingly still have a job to do all year around. Pretty much the only ones on holidays are the Tradesman and Office staff, those who work in the education sector and fireplace installers.

That is a good thing, right?

Shop til you Drop

As for retail, the triple hit of summertime, the long school break and Christmas means it is the busiest time for retail shopping. It is manic at the large air-conditioned malls, as all those residents without air conditioners hibernate there to cool off during daylight hours. To say nothing of the mayhem at Boxing Day sales. It is hot at Christmas and people WANT A BARGAIN, and they WANT IT NOW!

Be Prepared.

highway Australia
This becomes a Car park at Xmas time

Traveller Tip: the highways to the beach are car parks! Start out early in you are driving.

Don’t light a Camp Fire

We have some spectacular national parks in Australia, places where you can hike or camp and enjoy the great outdoors. Unlike other countries, however, you just can’t have a campfire. Even though everyone is aware of the very valid reasons for that, it’s still disappointing for tourists and even more so for the locals whose homes might be threatened by a bushfire that started out as a campfire. As I said, we have had more than our fair share of bushfire this year.

People become obsessed with cricket and tennis

You’re unsure of the point of Cricket?

So am I, but anyway – Cricket is a game that is sacred to Australians, they stand for hours on an open grassy field in the sun, at the height of summertime. Crazy! The important games go for five entire days, and at the end you might not have a winner or loser. Insane? I know, I know.

No one really watches cricket anyway and mostly we ‘dis’ the commentators – it is an Aussie tradition. But the cricket and tennis will always be on in summer, and in many Aussie households, you’re absolutely not allowed to touch the remote, or complain about it, or point out that it’s really boring. Even if noone is watching it……

All the Northerners lamenting the cooler weather – are you still ready to book your holiday flight to Australia?

If you can handle all of that, I will welcome you with open arms!

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Australia, Community, History & Traditions

Christmas Traditions Around the World

Denmark

Almost every tourist to Copenhagen will visit the Tivoli Gardens, but if you want to experience an authentic Danish Christmas, you have to be around on December 24, as that is when the Danes and many Scandinavians, and indeed Europeans, celebrate Christmas. Danes might stay at home making and preparing marzipan Christmas sweets, and in the evening, celebrate Christmas with a hearty meal with family or friends, before dancing around the Christmas tree singing carols, (in danish of course), and finish the night playing Christmas games. It is all about creating Christmas Hygge!

Norway

The focus in Norway at Christmas, or Jul, is on food and lots of it. From the Rice porridge, or Rommegrot to seven types of Christmas biscuits or cookies, the Norwegian are into it. Trolls, Nisse and all.

Germany and Europe

Over in Deutscheland, and many parts of Europe, you might attend a Christmas market. It is almost compulsory and who wouldn’t want to, when there is delicous Christmas food, a festive atmosphere and Gluhwein in the offering.

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Switzerland

The Swiss have long trumpet like horns that are played in the streets at Christmas time. In Lucerne, they also have enormous cow bells which are held in front of them and are rung, in a rhythmic march, whilst parading down the city streets. A very special Swiss Christmas.

Austria

Over in Austria, you might meet fairy tale characters in the streets of the Old Towns, such as these in Innsbruck.

However, the vibe is a little different in Austria and southern European areas like Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Austria, who have the tradition of the Krampus. Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos), start celebrating Christmas on Krampusnacht,December 5. That is when Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, roams the streets with his evil accomplice, brandishing a whip and stick to threaten naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year. 

Austrian Christmas - Krampus
The Krampus

Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and walk the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. That’s Austria. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!

Australia

Australia, the ones with the kangaroos and Crocodiles, (not Austria), has its own version of fun in the sun at Christmas time, because it is anything but cool, “down under.” Christmas Day, December 25 is often celebrated at teh beach.

Every shopping centres hosts Santa, where he sits posed on his gold throne, surrounded by fake snow, with children atop his knee, listening intently to wishes for Christmas. It is highly confusing for the smarter kids, as they can’t work out how Santa is able to be at every shopping centre at the same time!

Christmas gift
Christmas

Often there is the opportunity for official Santa photos, and now it is popular for beloved pets get involved too. The Schnauzer seemed to enjoy the experience this year.

New Zealand

Down in New Zealand, you will most likely have a Christmas tree (usually an artificial one), or more than one, if you are as passionate about Christmas as this kiwi.

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New Zealand Christmas

This Lady of the above house in Wellington loves decorating, makes all her own decorations and has no less than 15 trees in her house. It is always tastefully done, albeit a tad obsessive, but in the nicest possible way! Dianne collects a gold coin donation from visitors and the money raised is donated to charity, so there is method in her madness.

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Some of her trees were really creative. She had even created seasonal trees – in tones of Spring, Summer Autumn and well, winter of course.

Sweden

At the opposite ends of the world, in the far north of Sweden, you might be building a snowman or sliding down a snowy slope on a mattress at Christmastime. Or digging out your car, if the snow is heavy!

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Skellefteå

Japan

In Eastern parts of the world such as Japan, you might not really celebrate Christmas at all and instead, focus on the bigger celebration of New Year. Mind you, the growing tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on December 25, is oddly popular, for some reason. I would most likely starve if I spent Christmas day there.

You may even be someone who dislikes the hype around Christmas and prefer not to celebrate and that is okay too. Wherever you are and how ever you choose to see Christmastime, may you find Joy in your day and peace in your heart.

God jul

Griss Godt

Fröhliche Weihnachten

Nollaig Shona

Wesołych Świąt

Manuia le Kirisimasi

メリークリスマス

Glædelig jul

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas

from Amanda at Something to Ponder About

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