Posted on April 20, 2018
One of MB’s favourite cities is Istanbul. With a population of over 15M people, the locals need to be prolific food producers. And they certainly are. The street markets and city food shops are jaw-droppingly spectacular and are not just for shopping. They are for ambling around, gazing, sampling, and enjoying. And for taking zillions of photos of course!
MB could show you zillions of Istanbul food photos, but a gives you just one, of a simple basket of cheeses:
Posted on April 20, 2018
The UN has designated Sunday next, 22 April 2018, as Mother Earth Day and the following is an extract from the related UN site:
International Mother Earth Day is celebrated to remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance.
This Day also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.
International Mother Earth Day provides an opportunity to raise public awareness around the world to the challenges regarding the well-being of the planet and all the life it supports.
MB shot this early morning photo on a Geneva Street (believe it or not!) in March 2017; showing nature against a beautifully intricate and eye-catching background of aircraft pollution.
A truly great shot MB. Thanks, ladies!
Posted on April 15, 2018
If you go down to the woods today,
you’re sure of a big surprise.
Yes indeed ladies, if you go down to the Irish woods around this time, be prepared for some strange goings-on and some big surprises. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, at this time of the year, that you will encounter some real live Irish fairies. Following an unusually nasty winter when the weather was wacky as hell, and fairy activity was subdued and minimal, the fairies are now rarin’ to go and full of mischief and trickery.
Are the fairies like the Leprechauns MB? What a stupid questions ladies. The fairies are nothing like Leprechauns. Leprechauns are good-hearted, generally go about their business in as humble a fashion as possible, and are even willing to hand over their pots of gold to anyone (like MB) who is fast enough and clever enough to catch them while a rainbow momentarily blinds their vision. And there will be absolutely no hard feelings from Mr Leprechaun if you do manage to snatch the gold. You can just waltz off into the distance with the pot of gold in your grasp, considering how much bitcoin you might invest in, and Mr Leprechaun will just wave you off and wish you well.
The fairies, on the other hand, can be nasty, it must be said. They like to play tricks on the natural people, who are expected to grin and bear it. The only protection from fairy nastiness is to scatter some primrose flowers around the perimeter of your farm and they will never cross the primrose line. Don’t ask MB why ladies. That’s just the way things is.
May eve is fast approaching when fairy activity will be at its peak. Be warned. You may find that your cow has run dry and can not produce any more milk. Or you pet goat isn’t feeling very well. Or your sheep gets a sore throat and ‘baa’ suddenly sounds like ‘baaaggghhhh’. Yes, dear followers, should any of the aforementioned happen to you and yours, then for sure its the fairies at work and you need to tread very carefully indeed.
And for the good of your health, just play along with them. Don’t screw around with the fairies. Pretend you’re impressed with their fairy powers, and only a tad annoyed at their trickery. Otherwise much nastier things can happen. Such as your goat disappears completely some night without an earthly (or non-earthly) trace. Or worse. The very last thing you want to do, MB means the absolutely very very last thing you want to do, is to awaken the wrath of a bunch of fairies. No siree. No way. It’s the last thing you want to do.
Anyway, now that MB has given you all some advice on how to deal with the Irish fairies, he is happy to share an image with you all of a fairy house he managed to capture in recent times back in the HX heartland. For sure MB is not a liberty to divulge the exact location of the shot, as he is mindful of the health and welfare of his sheep and goat herd. He will only say, that he wore a crown of primrose flowers, granting him invisibility from the HX fairy hoards, and beat a hasty retreat from the fairy village back to the natural world in the immediate aftermath of the shot. And lived to tell the tale.
Herewith (and be warned – sharing any shots of a fairy house is not advised):
Posted on April 1, 2018
Beautiful piece of writing from blogger John Wreyford of his street experiences in Amman, the capital city of Jordan. MB was lucky enough to once visit Amman, a few years back. He must do so again.
A seedy Downtown Cinema
Maher bent forward and poured a stream of Tamer Hindi juice into a cup for me from the antique Ottoman flask on his back. It’s very sweet and very welcome, its natural Red Bull and will give me energy Maher tells me, sounding not unlike a Red Bull commercial. Dressed in traditional garb and wearing wraparound sunglasses, he aptly represents the curious contradiction of the Middle East, ‘Don’t forget to tag me on Facebook’, he shouts as I wander off.
A tour bus pulls up and a group of septuagenarian’s shuffle towards the amphitheater, not stopping as they take snap shots of the Roman colonnade with their tablets. They don’t stop to try Mahers juice either, too much of risk perhaps; a jippy tummy or worse, getting left behind to fend for themselves. Amman is only a side show, it’s Petra they have come to Jordan…
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Posted on March 28, 2018
The Grange Stone Circle lies in MB’s HX homeland and dates from the Neolithic era, estimated to be approximately 5,500 years old. The circle is 150 feet in diameter and contains 113 stones, the largest weighing some 40 tonnes. Because of an embankment around the entire outside of the circle, it is thought that the circle had ritual purposes. But who really knows?!
On summer solstice (21 June) and on winter solstice (21 December), local (& not so local) people gather at the circle before sunrise to watch the first rays of the sun appear for the day that’s in it. Assuming cloud cover does not spoil the occasion, which it often does!
MB took this photo on early morning, 21 December 2017. A candle glows in the centre of the circle as people await the sunrise.
Posted on March 8, 2018
MB has picked a photo from September 2012 for the day that’s in it. MB’s daughter MB2 and friends celebrate a schools football victory. Sadly, in some parts of the world, such a photo is not possible. For no good reason.
Here’s hoping for a better future for all.
Posted on March 7, 2018
Posted on March 1, 2018
No, it’s not Wakanda! The night skyline of the Westbay area on the Doha Corniche is impressive and otherworldly. Most of the architecturally spectacular buildings are office blocks owned by big local companies or government organisations. The building on the extreme right on the below shot is the Sheraton Hotel.
Posted on February 22, 2018
The Appearance of Christ Before the People or The Apparition of the Messiah is a famous painting by Russian artist Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov. (1806 – 1858). The painting hangs in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and MB had to good fortune to visit the gallery and view the painting during his May 2017 trip to Russia’s capital city (where he grabbed a few shots!).
There are many faces in the crowd by the banks of the River Jordan in the famous painting, which depicts many stories from the Bible; John the Baptist, Apostles John, Peter and Andrew, and others. The artist has also included a self-portrait in red headgear sitting not far from John the Baptist who has his hand and staff raised in the direction of Christ. For further info on the painting, take a read of the Wikipedia link.
Herewith: two shots of the painting from MBs trip, both giving a sense of scale and size of the painting which took the artist 20 years to paint.
Posted on February 14, 2018
Sweet home HX
Where the skies are so blue
Posted on February 2, 2018
Posted on January 26, 2018
MB attended a Farmer’s Market in Doha today and had the pleasure of coming across a market trader selling 100% genuine Aleppo Soap. As far as MB was aware, the soap industry of Aleppo ceased completely because of the war and it’s no longer possible to buy the real thing. Maybe some Syrian reader can confirm, or otherwise, MB’s statement.
Soap from Aleppo is generally considered the oldest soap in the world, dating back at least 2,000 years. But nobody really knows when production started. It was considered a favourite of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt and other royalty of that time.
The recipe remains the same for the most part as it was a few thousand years ago. The main ingredients are olive oil and laurel oil. When the soap is cut into blocks in the factory, it is stored for approximately 9 months before sale. This allows a number of chemical changes to take place and a reduction in the moisture content, resulting in a very lightweight but durable soap that is browned on the outside while remaining green on the inside. The blocks in the below photo is, in the opinion of MB, only some 25% of the weight of more normal everyday soaps.
On asking the French lady market trader (Mrs Noor) today how she managed to procure fresh Aleppo Soap, she informed MB that she and husband bought a full steel container load of it back in 2012, before the war stopped exports, and eventually, production. She expects that her remaining stock will run out in the coming months.
Syria and its soap have much in common it would seem.
For those who might be interested in contacting Mrs Noor and/or purchasing some products online, she can be contacted on any of the following: email@example.com (email), http://www.noonnabalsy.com (website), NOON Nabalsy Paris (facebook), noon.ethic.organic.skincare (Instagram).
Mrs Noor also sells a variety of other cosmetics, all produced by small-scale artesian producers from a wide variety of countries. Her stories of each producer are as fascinating as the products themselves.
Posted on January 24, 2018
The endless variety that one thing can contain – is one of Ben’s suggestions for a take on this week’s Variation theme. Ben chose a shot from the Gouda Cheese store in Amsterdam.
MB has also decided to use Amsterdam for his theme shot, selecting another product synonymous with Amsterdam, and Holland generally – Tulips.
Just across the street (and canal) from the Anne Frank house lies Amsterdam’s Tulip Museum. MB and daughter MB2 happened to spot the Museum only on account of the fact that they could not get into the AF House due to the huge numbers of people already in the never-ending queue. But the Tulip Museum turned out to be the silver lining on the AF dark cloud. It’s a real pleasure to visit and to learn the history of the tulip, brought by invading Ottoman Sultans back to Turkey from Kazakhstan and elsewhere, then brought to Europe by diplomats based in the Ottoman region. The Dutch then made it their own, so to speak.
The fact that Amsterdam had a large wealthy middle class at that time (for reasons MB will not get into here) permitted much trading and investing in tulip bulbs, the iPhone of their day. The years 1634 to 1637 saw a frenzy of such investment which was referred to at that time, and since, as ‘tulip mania’. People were investing approximately 50% of the price of a premium townhouse in Amsterdam on a single tulip bulb, whose particular colour might have been considered rare at that time. Three years passed before everybody work up and smelt the
coffee tulips. By then, large personal fortunes had been lost in the world’s first recorded financial bubble, as bulb prices collapsed to a fraction of their previous worth.
For the information of HX followers – anyone considering a trip to Holland to view (or photograph) Holland’s famous tulip fields, April or May are the recommended months to do so.
Shot from the museum:
Posted on January 23, 2018
Thanks to DH for this post on the untimely passing of Dolores O’Riordan from the Cranberries. As a young child, Dolores sang in the church choir in Ballybricken parish church, 5 minutes drive from MBs HX locality. Both DH & MB hail from the same area as Dolores back in Ireland. Coincidentally, both are now based in Doha, Qatar.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Stars die all the time, you remember where you were when you hear the news, the feelings that generally register are nostalgia, shock, end of an era that kind of thing. It passes. But this doesn’t, this lingers. Psychologists say after splitting up with a partner, that it takes half the whole time you spent in a relationship to get over it. If that is the case, it’s going to a while for us to get over Dolores O’Riordan.
Take every female stereotype you ever knew in the music world, cast them aside and what you’d be left with was Dolores O’Riordan. Apart from her unique voice and obvious song writing talent, she nailed the delivery. She owned what she did, created it, stood behind it and won the world in the most beautifully honest way that she wore fame as a coat she put on when she felt like…
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Posted on January 17, 2018
A derelict 400-year-old HX church and a bunch of graves in early-morning mist. It doesn’t get more silent than that!