Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Prayer Station

August 12, 2017

A strange art exhibition in Farnham Parish Church entitled Prayer Station.

The idea is, if I understood it correctly, to pause and reflect, meditate, at each prayer station. Each prayer station being a collection of objects.

One was ribbons, one  an assortment of objects, another a labyrinth (only it wasn’t).

The first prayer station shoes scattered on the floor. Somewhat dumb, walking into a gloomy church from bright sunlight, not seen. Ideal trip hazard. A nasty accident waiting to happen.

There was also a couple of paintings, that lacked titles or attributed to any artist. Whether part of Prayer Station was not clear though appeared to be part of the exhibition by association.

Labyrinths were quite common with Medieval churches not to be confused with a maze.

A labyrinth was an aid to meditation

Glassumimass

April 9, 2017

An exhibition of stained glass at St John’s Church, Washingborough.

I was surprised at the length of durataion of the exhibition.

I queried this, and was told it was due to the fragility of the pieces and the reluctance to move them.

Good to find St John’s open.

11am until 1pm Thursday 17 April 2017, there will be a free stained glass workshop in the church.

Glassumimass a project of artsNK that has resulted in three glass lanterns inspired by local churches along Spires and Steeples Arts and Heritage Trail.

Exhibition until 23rd April 2017. It will then tour other churches on the trail.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 2pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 12.30pm to 4.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Washingborough is a small village three miles east of the city of Lincoln on the lower slopes of the limestone escarpment known as the Lincoln Edge where the River Witham breaks through the Lincoln Edge at the Lincoln Gap.

Exposición de Belenes en Casa Ventoso

December 26, 2016

The typical nativity scene is a stable, a manger, a few forlorn figures looking on.

Not in Puerto de la Cruz.

In the centre of Puerto de la Cruz, on the south side of la Plaza Concejil is dominated by la Casa-Palacio y Torreón de Ventoso (18th century). Formerly (c 1750) the house of a merchant engaged in the import export trade. The lower half of the house also served as a warehouse, hence its substantial construction. In the 19th century the house served as the Bremen Consulate. La Palacio Ventoso is now the San Agustín religious college.

At the back of this house can be seen a tower – Torreón Ventosa. It is an outstanding example of its type, the only other comparable tower is at Garachico. The tower has recently been reconstructed, though not open to the public. The original purpose of the tower is reputed to have been to enable the merchant to see approaching ships before anyone else, nip down to the harbour and strike the best deal – probably a tall tale.

Casa-Palacio y Torreón de Ventoso is not not usually open, but currently open, entrance free.

Within, in different rooms, streets, workshops, markets, workers, streams flowing through.

Open until early January.

Admission is free, but please give a donation.

Christmas dinner

December 25, 2016

Christmas dinner, fresh chicken, roast potatoes, sprouting broccoli and peas.

Fresh chicken from local butcher in Heighington, collected Christmas Eve.

Cooked guidance of Jamie Oliver.

Christmas dinner 2015, carrots, celery, laid in the base of baking tin. This lifts the chicken up off the base, allows air to circulate and aids cooking.

This year a variant. Two carrots, two sticks of celery and a red onion. The celery and carrots chopped into large chunks. The red onion cut into quarters, then halved again.

Chicken smeared with butter (to stop drying out), or would have been had the butter been taken out of the fridge, used olive oil spread instead, add a little salt and black pepper (for flavour). Half a mandarin stuffed inside the chicken. No stuffing.  Chicken wrapped in cooking foil to keep in the flavour. Cook for 20 minutes per pound, plus a extra 20 minutes. Weight 5.5 lbs. Cook for two hours at 180 C.

After an hour, remove cooking foil, around the chicken, add roast potatoes and pigs in their blankets.

Last year, par boiled potatoes, then added to roast. This year, roast potatoes from the chiller cabinet in M&S.

Pigs in their blankets, small sausages wrapped in bacon. From Curtis in Sincil Street, a small independent butcher in Lincoln.

Should have stuffed the chicken with a small orange. Er, forgot. Was added, but a mistake as blocked air flow to cook the chicken from the inside.

Sprouting broccoli and frozen peas for vegetables. Bring water to boil, cook for around ten minutes. Add sprouting broccoli, bring to boil, then add peas.

No white wine, white grape juice. Only a con, fizzy water flavoured with concentrated grape juice, sugar added.

Christmas pudding, courtesy of Aldi. Not recommended. Poor quality.

No cream or white sauce, used ice cream.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2016

счастливого Рождества

καλά Χριστούγεννα

Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas

Painting courtesy of my friend Ken Crane.

Saint Vitus Cathedral

May 11, 2016
figures on main doors

figures on main doors

one clock shows the hour another the minutes

one clock shows the hour another the minutes

Prague Castle, seen from across the river, dominates the skyline,  especially  Saint Vitus Cathedral  and Lobkowicz Palace.

Saint Vitus Cathedral is situated  within the Prague Castle complex.

To pay to walk around inside, but can enter the main doors and enjoy the stunning view looking down the nave.

Had I paid, I would have learnt contains the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.

Two key features are the figures on the main doors and above the doors, and the clocks.

The figures on the doors, cast in metal, are amazing.

I was puzzled by the clocks, why one above the other? Why two clocks?  The time was such, they both appeared to be showing the same time.

It was only after observing over a period of several minutes, I realised one was showing the hour, the other the minutes.

Church of the Infant Jesus

April 14, 2016
font

font in the Church of the Infant Jesus

cloak worn by the Infant Jesus

cloak worn by the Infant Jesus

Strictly speaking  Carmelite Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana but commonly known as Church of the Infant Jesus for the little infant Jesus wearing a cloak.

The infant Jesus is 16th century. Legend has it that the statue once belonged to Saint Teresa of Avila.

Up a spiral stone staircase, a museum of various cloaks.

When I visited, I was struck by a girl in her twenties, her face was lit up with joy as she looked at the statue.

I caught up with her as she left. She told me she was a student in Prague.

When Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho was unknown, he had yet to write, he travelled Europe. He asked the Infant Jesus to help make his dream come true to become a writer. He noticed the Infant Jesus was wearing a shabby cloak. He promised, that if he became a writer, he would return with a cloak.

Paulo Coelho marks St Joseph’s day with his friends. This year it was at Lobkowicz Palace in Prague  Castle. During the morning he visited the church and presented the Infant Jesus with a  new cloak.

The Infant Jesus is credited with miracles. Hence the pilgrims.

I was appalled at the disrespect shown by the hordes of visitors to the church.  Two women having a very noisy conversation on the stairs leading up to the museum, the noise echoing up and down the staircase. Two women walking down the aisle having a loud conversation. Then bang, crash, a tourist group erupted through the doors, their tour guide, Italian, laughing and shouting. I wish I gone after her and took a picture of her as she left, as she was unfit to be a tour guide. Then it got worse and worse.

I walked out in disgust.

Why do they not bar tour groups?

A shop near the church entrance, but closed when I left.

Across the road, shops selling tourist tat, images, replicas of the Infant Jesus.

St Joseph’s Day Party in Lobkowicz Palace

April 2, 2016

PPrague Castle and Charles Bridge

Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. — Paulo Coelho

Two weeks ago, St Joseph’s Day, a chauffeur driven limousine to Prague Castle to a party in Lobkowicz Palace. A guest of my dear friend Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho has a knack of hosting parties in wonderful iconic locations.

It is strange, how you have an entirely different perspective of the world, if driven around in a limousine. An argument maybe for forcing politicians and their wealthy masters to use public transport at least once a year.

A police checkpoint, car checked, though odd not the passenger, then dropped off outside the German Embassy.

I did not query this. I had instructed my driver to drop me off at which ever entrance to Prague Castle was best for him, and I would find my way on foot to Lobkowicz Palace.

Thus when he said he would drop me off at the Germany Embassy, I did not query it. I assumed it to be located somewhere inside or nearby the castle entrance.

I got out, asked my driver where I was to go.

Luckily I did.

Not where we should be.

He asked me to get back in, ten minutes he assured me.

Off we went, with him tapping into his Sat Nav.

We are lost he told me. I will have use Google Maps.

By now I am perplexed. How can anyone live in Prague and not know how to get to the castle? Am I lost within a Kafka novel? Did not K have problems getting to the castle?

A journey that should have been no more than 15 minutes, took 50 minutes.

He dropped me off at the entrance to Prague Castle.

More security checks. Police and army armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Prague from Prague Castle

Stunning views over Prague.

I walked in, luckily it was not far for the palace.

More security.

Was I on the guest list?

Yes, said a voice who confirmed who I was.

waiters bearing drinks

waiters bearing drinks

jazz quartet in the corner

jazz quartet in the corner

frescos on the ceiling

frescos on the ceiling

Inside warmly greeted by Christina, guests who I know, waiters with drinks and little titbits to eat, a jazz band playing in a corner.

Trying to take it all in, paintings, frescos on the ceilings, not possible to put anything down anywhere, trying somehow to balance  wine, eats, books, camera, phone and take pictures.

Leave books at cloakroom, yes, a good idea.

Paulo chatting with guest

Paulo chatting with guest

I walked out onto a balcony overlooking the town. A warm greeting from Paulo who was chatting with friends.

Annie a prayer in Greek

Annie a prayer in Greek

Eventually we are called to order for prayers in multiple languages and faiths, people called forward.

To my surprise and shock, my lovely Greek friend Annie is there. I had not seen her and did not know she was there. I have not seen her since we met in Athens three years ago.

Paulo Coelho, whose party it was and whose guests we were, explains why Prague.

Many years ago, when he wanted to be a writer, he had toured Europe.

He had found himself in Prague, in the Church of the Infant Jesus, a church I was to visit a few days later.  He asked to become a writer. If he did, he would one day return and give the infant Jesus a new shawl, which he had done that morning.

Whilst in Prague he had walked along the Golden Lane, a street of the alchemists. There was no one there apart from a  young man painting, his hands covered with cut off gloves against the cold. Paulo buys a painting, gives the equivalent of a dollar, very little. The young man is overjoyed. He points at Christina. Thinking he wants more money, but no, he offers to paint Christina.  Offered money, he refuses to accept it.

Paulo was very moved by this experience, to him it was an epiphany. Here was a man, painting for his art, for love of what he did, not for money.

Thirty years on, Paulo was determined to track this man down. He called upon his friends in Prague, and a miracle, the man was found. But could he prove who he was, did he remember the two gifts Paulo gave him?

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Christina and Paulo with street artist

Paulo had pointed him out earlier. He now invited him to join him on the stage.

A very emotional scene, the man was in tears.

Paulo explained he was his guest of honour, would he please stay and eat with us.

Whether he did, I do not know, as I did not see him again.

Paulo told the story the day before at his press conference and has recounted  the story on his blog.

Paulo told us this was the 30th St Joseph’s Day Party, a celebration when friends get together and there was nothing more important to him than friendship and his friends. Those who were no longer with us, were with us in spirit.

There was though to be a change. From now on, the party would only be held every other year, not once a year.

Following prayers, we were asked to go in for dinner.

I hugged Annie, and walked into dinner together.

Sadly we could not find a table seated together.

Not to worry said Annie, we have all night after dinner to talk.

I found myself sat at a table with friends, including Paulo and Christina.

Part way through dinner I found myself chatting with William Lobkowicz. We discussed music. He was very interested in what I was suggesting as he wanted something different.

I recommended Pieles, a musical production which I had seen in Puerto de la Cruz at Teatro Timanfaya. He thought stage where we were dining. I said no, it would have to be a small theatre.

Others I thought off Socos DuoA Ritmo de TangoImágenes de la Compañía MuvenDanz.

Why not make a Canarian season, rope in Spanish Ambassador for support.

I also added Jewelia, Zoe Keating, Imogen Heap, or at least made a mental note to add.

The Sixteen added to my mental list. I did not now know at the time, that in Lobkowicz Collection, were held original manuscripts of Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.

The Sixteen could play from the manuscripts, either where we dined or St Nicholas Church, a Baroque church in Prague Old Town, depending upon the music. The cathedral in Prague Castle would be too big, they would be lost.

The problem with Prague, as I learnt wandering around, everyone is putting on the same nigh identical tourist trap concerts.

He gave me his card to follow up our discussion, as he had to leave early.

It was only later, I discovered my dining companion was Prince William Lobkowicz, to give him his correct title.

string quartet played whilst we dined

string quartet played whilst we dined

Whilst we ate, a string quartet played.

Dinner over, wine having freely flowed, and more was yet to flow, Paulo called us to order.

He thanked the string quartet.

He then told of Paul McCartney being asked to summarise his music. He said he cannot, it has to be listened to.

Paulo gets asked the same question: Can you summarise your books? He says no, read the books.

At his side, I recognised a girl, though I could not recall why. Paulo introduced her  and a guitarist who had appeared, as who had played at his party in Athens.

He then broke into All You Need is Love, with everyone joining in.

He then told everyone to party, the band was playing.

Usually at the end of a party, Paulo and a few of us sit around chatting.

Not to be, Paulo and Christina left early.

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

Paulo Coelho books signed in Prague

I caught Paulo as he was leaving and he kindly signed my books, presents for friends.

Then the night was over.

We could not order our own transport, due to the tight security, transport had been arranged.

Annie and several of us left around 2-30am. Annie wanted to walk. I said no, we did not know the way and she would get lost. I also knew it would be very cold, and she only had a thin dress and a light jacket.

As we left the palace, army on guard outside armed with semi-automatic weapons.

We piled onto the coach and off we went, with one girl in high spirits demanding music and then inviting me out the next day.

Final drop off, everyone piled off, I said goodbye to Annie and friends, a couple of us stayed on the coach.

Where to next?

I did not mind not being dropped off at my hotel, Old Town Prague would do, and I would find my own way.

The coach was going nowhere. I too got off, to find Annie standing by the roadside all alone shivering.

But for the grace of God the coach  did not take me, as otherwise Annie would have been all on her own.

We were lost, we did not have a clue where we were were. We wandered around for an hour or more. We were lost. We were going round and round in circles getting nowhere, but slowly turning to ice. Then I said look. What said Annie? I pointed to a lit up telecoms tower, what I had seen during the day. Assuming it to be the same one, it was located on a hill behind the castle. If we turned with our backs to the tower, we could head to the river. I still had no idea where we were, but at least we could head in the right direction. The only problem was, every  road we headed down, was blocked off.

Look, I said again. Annie looked. Exhausted. Cold. The name I said, the name of the hotel, The Alchemist. It was a sign. We both laughed. We knew everything was ok. We know how to read signs

We then met two people. They sort of headed us in the right direction.

Then I realised where we were. It was where I had walked earlier in the day when I crossed Charles Bridge.

From there Annie found her hotel.

Will you be ok?

Yes, cross the bridge, find the Old Town Square, then I can find my way.

I probably sounded more confident than I was, I neglected to tell Annie that although I had walked this route during the day, I had got lost, and that was in daylight, now it was dark.

I promised to send her a message when I was safely home

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

Charles Bridge early hours of the morning

I crossed the now deserted Charles Bridge with someone following me. Creepy.

I crossed the bridge and was lost. It is one thing being lost with a friend, quite another on your own in a strange city in the early hours of the morning wandering cold, dark and deserted streets.

I wandered around, absolutely no idea where I was.

Eventually a taxi driver stopped, asked was I ok. I said no I was lost.  He pointed me in the right direction. I immediately regretted I had not asked him to take me home. I passed another taxi , but he was either picking people up or dropping people off.

I found the Old Town Square. It was very different to daylight, or even night when lit up. It was in darkness. I found my way through the square, then down an alley then finally I knew where I was.

I finally reached my hotel at 4-15am in the early early hours of the morning, very cold and very tired.

Many thanks to Paulo and Christina for hosting the party and inviting me. And thanks for the friendship. And thanks Paulo for your patience and signing the books as you were leaving.

When Paulo announced the party was only going to be every two years, I felt very sad as in my heart I knew there was gong to be no more parties.  And so it proved to be.

A couple of days later, a sad e-mail from Paulo thanking his friends, saying there would be no more parties, after thirty this phase of his life was over. He has already decided before the party but at the party decided to compromise by holding every two years, but on reflection to keep to his original decision.

I am sure Paulo we will meet somewhere, but in the meantime my dear friend, take good care of yourself.

I usually write up the party on getting home, the first account published.

I am sorry I did not. I was tired and exhausted, and I had no computer.

I asked the hotel. They kindly went out and bought a computer and delivered it to my room. I returned and found a laptop sitting on my table. Only problem was, it was in Czech. I can handle a Spanish keyboard, but a Czech keyboard with four, sometimes five, characters on each key. Plus it was Windows 10 in Czech.

Now, two weeks later trying to keep everything in chronological order, my write up.

Apologies for lateness.

I have though found it very hard to write.

St Nicholas Church

March 28, 2016
St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

A fine example of a Baroque church that dominates one corner of the Old Town Square in Old Prague.

St Nicholas Church was completed in 1735, and replaced a parish church mentioned in records dating back to 1273. Its construction was by the Jesuits, designed by Giovanni Domenico Orsi.

A Gothic parish church consecrated by Prague Bishop Tobiáš in 1283 stood at the site until 1743.  Construction lasted approximately one hundred years, and three generations of Baroque architects – father, son and son-in-law – worked on the church: Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago.

The Baroque organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length and was played by Mozart in 1787. His Mass in C was first performed in the Church of Saint Nicholas shortly after his visit. Jesuit Thomas Schwarz built the small and main organs as well as many others in Bohemia. Built in 1745-47, the main organ has over 4,000 pipes up to six metres in length.

St Nicholas Church hosts many excellent concerts.  I regrettably attended not one.

This would be an excellent venue for The Sixteen, performing music of the period, especially if using the original manuscripts held in The Lobkowicz Collection in The Lobkowicz Palace.

Easter in Prague

March 27, 2016
Easter in Prague

Easter in Prague

An Easter Market, sheds selling tourist tat everywhere.

Outside St Nicholas Church, a wonderful Easter Egg.