Saturday, 26 February 2011
In 1481 a new castle was begun at Dartmouth, to defend the harbour there. To support it from the opposite shore, Kingswear Castle was completed in 1502. Together they represent the most advanced military design of their day. For the first time large guns, such as murderers and serpyntynes, were mounted inside on the ground floor, with rectangular ports through which to fire them.
Beds: T D
Not another castle! Yes, but only sleeps four and the position is glorious.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
We woke this morning to the news that Christchurch, New Zealand had suffered another devastating earthquake. The area around Christchurch was formed from two old volcanoes and is susceptible to tectonic movement.
Following the 7.1 quake last September which fortunately occurred at 4am. Although less severe at 6.3 it is more devestating as it ccurred at 1pm when everyone was out and about. Bear in mind that the Richter scale is not linear but logarithmic. In the intervening five months they have had 4000 aftershocks!
Ten months ago we spent five wonderful weeks touring New Zealand and Christchurch was our first landfall. The warmth and generosity of the people made our holiday - as always, the people make the place.
If you have a god, pray for them.
In the meantime here are some photographs from our visit before the earthquakes
|View from the Cathedral Tower which has now collapsed|
|View from Cathedral tower which has now collapsed|
|The buses have bike racks on the front and the drivers are keen to assist|
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Space is always at a premium on Gecko and despite building new bookshelves I have reluctantly decided to sell my Saint books on eBay.
Some rare ones; some not so rare.
Take a look - you might be tempted to relive your teens - well, some aspects.
They were kind enough to cover us up to avoid changing our livery.
All we can see from our windows now is a big blank canvass waiting for someone to adorn it. Any offers?
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Coombe is a small hamlet at the forgotten junction of two wooded valleys in North Cornwall. Mill, millhouse and anciently picturesque cottages cluster in orchards around the ford of a shallow stream, just half a mile from the sea at Duckpool, where half tide exposes a sandy beach. The hamlet once belonged in part to the Grenville family of the long-demolished Stowe Barton, and it souls were later under the care of the Reverend Stephen Hawker, celebrated Vicar of Morwenstow. Landmark’s presence at Coombe (and only our visitors populate it today) preserves the hamlet and its exceptional setting in a joint scheme with the National Trust, who own most of the surrounding land and coastline.
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Beds: S T D
Thursday, 17 February 2011
The story behind this festival -
Once upon a time in a land very far from here a beautiful heavenly bird flew down to a village and was killed by a villager. The God of Heaven was very displeased and decided to burn the village on day 15 of the first lunar month. However, a bright spark in the village persuaded all the villagers to make candle lanterns and to put them in all their windows. They also paraded in the street with lanterns and set off fireworks. The God of Heaven looked down and thought that the village was already burning and left it alone.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
You will need lanterns and dumplings to do this properly.
First the dumplings
butter 7 oz (200 g)
black sesame powder 7 oz (200 g)
sugar 8 oz (250 g)
1 tsp wine (Chateau Mouton Rothschild)
- Red: Good fortune
- Pink: Romance
- Peach-red: Decisions and opportunities
- Orange: Money
- Yellow: Success in school and/or job
- White: Health
- Pale Green: Growth
- Pale Blue: Hoping something comes true
- Violet: Idealism
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Monday, 14 February 2011
There are times when it is wiser to keep one's council.
Your Valentine may not be impressed with your knowledge of the Lunar Calendar on this day!
Perhaps a good time to contemplate some Chinese proverbs:
- Wife who put husband in doghouse soon find him in cathouse.
- War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left.
- A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
- He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
Saturday, 12 February 2011
Elton House overlooks Abbey Green, in the centre of Bath. It was given to us, with much desirable furniture, by Miss Philippa Savery, a gallant campaigner for the city’s preservation. The earliest part of it dates from just before 1700, but it was subsequently enlarged and re-fronted, becoming by 1750 a handsome robust building on several floors, with a fine staircase and excellent joinery, arranged as sets of lodgings. Thereafter the fashionable world moved up the hill, away from Abbey Green; part of the ground floor became a shop and the rest of the house stayed as it was. It is therefore something of a rarity, even for Bath.
Beds: 2S 3T D
Friday, 11 February 2011
The Jade Emporer who rules all 33 heavans celebrates his birthday today and we must join in by preparing three bundles of long noodles, three cups of green tea, five differnt kinds of fruit (so that's whre five-a-day originated!) and six diffeernt dry vegetables. For his guardian, who is not vegetarian, we must prepare five animal sacrifices and turtle cakes.
Remember not to offend the Jade Emporer by putting this food on his vegetarian table.
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Back to work day for those who did not go back on day five
Traditionally there is a quiz night held in the temple (not the pub)
Time to eat the Laba Zhou which has been stewing all night.
In Chinese, Laba means 'gold eighth' and refers to the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year - the eighth day of the last lunar month.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
She also gave humans sex education on that day so that they might procreate.
Celebrate this in your own way
Before you get too engrossed don't forget to get the Laba Zhou onto the stove ready for tomorrow.
Laba Zhou is a special hot porridge which contains glutinous rice, red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas and some other ingredients, such as dried dates, chestnuts, walnuts, almond, peanut, dried lotus seeds etc. If you get it going by midnight it will have an attractive smell by the morning. The flavour varies from place to place, in the North, it is a dessert with sugar added; in the South, salt and seasonal vegetables are put in.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Another Chinese Rabbit Folk Tale
Once upon a time, there was a farmer in the Song State, ofChina. When he was working in a field, he saw a rabbit running past him, then it broke its neck on a tree and died. The farmer grabbed the dead rabbit and made a stew. It was delicious.
Unfortunately, there were no more rabbits afterwards and the farmer's field grew nothing but weeds.
The moral of this story is that nothing can be achieved without either working or paying. Hence the expression You are waiting for a rabbit.
Monday, 7 February 2011
Lunar New Year
Day 5 - Feb 7God of Wealth Day - so back to work and expect the Lion Dancers to pay you a visit.
Setting off fire crackers will attract customers.
The Rabbit and The Back Pain - An Explanatory FolktaleThere was once a rich man who was fond of rabbits and raised them for amusement.
'Look after them carefully. Ah Ji,' he said. 'If any of them dies, it'll be deducted from your pay.' One day Ah Ji accidentally dropped a stick that landed on a rabbit right across its lower back. 'Uh-oh!' he exclaimed. Scared stiff, he quickly hid the rabbit in a bean patch. A couple of days later, the rich man noticed that a rabbit was missing and took Ah Ji roundly to task.
Ah Ji had no choice but to go to the bean patch and look for the rabbit. 'The rabbit is tearing around, ' he said. 'It must have eaten something. Huh? How does an injured rabbit have the energy to run around like that? That's really weird.' Ah Ji tried to grab the rabbit, but it hopped around so much he couldn't. He went home and told his father what had happened. His father had been severely beaten by the rich man a few months earlier. His lower back hurt him so much he couldn't get out of bed. 'I'd like to know what that rabbit ate,' his father said. 'Maybe it'd be good for my back.'
So Ah Ji struck another rabbit across the back and put it in the bean patch to see what would happen. At first, the rabbit couldn't move. It stretched its neck and nibbled the seeds of a yellow plant that clung to a bean stalk. After three or four days, the rabbit was up and about.
'Hey! If the seeds of that plant could heal the rabbit's back, they could have the same effect on people,' his father said. 'Go pick some and cook them into a medicine for me to drink.' The father drank the concoction. A few days later he could get out of bed and move around.
Two months later, he was able to work in the fields. Finally, Ah Ji left the rich man's house and devoted himself to gathering seeds and making them into medicine, which he distributed to people suffering from back pain.
As a result of his story, the herb is called tusizi, or rabbit's thread, in Chinese.
The English name is dodder.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
As heaven is a long way off the God of the Stove usually arrives in the afternoon.
The fox and the monkey both had food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh instead, jumping into a blazing fire to cook himself.
The sages were so touched by the rabbit's sacrifice that they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the "Jade Rabbit."
Saturday, 5 February 2011
After two days of eating, drinking and playing games today it is a good day to rest .
This is also the Mice's Wedding Day so you should retire to bed early .
Turning out the light early also slows down their breeding according to old Chinese farmers.
Taking out the rubbins is thought to remove some of the bad spirits which lurk around this time.
How to calcule when the Chinese New Year starts in 2011
The fact that the date of Chinese New Year varies within about a month is a clue that it's linked to the new moon. A rough, and almost infallible guide is that the date of the Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The winter solstice always falls on December 21st, the next new moon is January 4th, and the second new moon is on February 3rd 2011.
As with most things Chinese it is not quite that simple.....
For example, one problem with any lunar calendar system is that some years there are 13 new moons. The Chinese deal with this by slotting in an extra intercalary month.