Category: Global News

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!


Palm Sunday 2017

Just after Palm Sunday Service, iPhone photo by JMorton

Palm Sunday 2017

Today is Palm Sunday, the start of the Holy Week, where the crisis of the cross is imminent.

Let us take this Holy Week as a time to ruminate the lives we lead.

To start with, here is a wonderful food for thought:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~ Martin Luther King Jr

Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – Fire Rooster Year

Fire Rooster, Photo by PH Morton

Happy Chinese New Year 2017 – Fire Rooster Year

Rooster, photo by PH Morton

Rooster, photo by PH Morton

To everyone, let us wish you a Happy Chinese New Year.

Kung Hei Fat Choi

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster.

The fire rooster symbolises fidelity and punctuality.  I can understand the latter one as rooster will cock-o-doodle-do at the crack of dawn serving as an alarm clock to early risers especially farmers and field workers.

We used to keep roosters and chicken in our farm in Marag.  As peacocks, they are really stunning lookers compared to the hens.

Who are the roosters?

They are those born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2015, 2029 (Year of the Rooster comes every 12 years)

Have a piri-piri chicken. We hope this New Year is full of trips to KFC, Jollibee and McDo and have a lovely chickenjoy! 🙂 🙂 😉

Happy New Year!

A New Era in American Politics

A New Era in American Politics


Here in London, we stayed up to 4am watching the excellent BBC US Presidential election results coverage. We saw  the incoming results from what has been such a diverse and as many found, a divisive U.S. campaign, which has now ushered in a new era for American politics and governance.

Normally those from other nations may not bother to stay up to the wee small hours  to watch such. However the the two candidates involved and the known baggage they brought with them to the campaign, did make this election race a fascinating spectacle for many around the globe.


Hilary Clinton the favourite, an experienced  party apparatchik,  who seems to have been around since her husband Bill was President over 15 years ago was the Democrats candidate. Her role as the powerful Secretary of State under President Obama, was regarded by many as a stepping stone to the White House but in the end this counted as nought.



Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman who had  never held any political office and had  failed   badly in a Presidential bid in 2004, was the rank outsider.

He imposed his formidable personality on the election race, sweeping aside fellow Republican candidates and in effect bulldozing his way to be the only rival to Mrs Clinton and the Democratic Party.

The televised debates between Clinton & Trump were at times acrimonious with enough mud slung to make a decent sized football field!

They made compulsive viewing, more so than any other previous presidential  debates.

History was being made.

Mrs Clinton had policies planned that  she put to the people.  Mr Trump was rather vague on the same. He however  made some big bold  promises to fix the big issues, not heard of before by the people.

Mr Trump’s antics and comments during the campaign will become the stuff of  legend.

Any other candidate who acted his way, would have been bundled away, never to be seen again!

It was understandable that Mrs Clinton and the Democrats, initially thought that with the at times bellicose Mr Trump as her rival, election to the Presidency would be straightforward.

It became clear that Mr Trump in his rousing election speeches and promises during the debates, tapped into the visceral anti establishment mood felt by the majority of  US citizens.

These disaffected citizens turned out en masse to vote for someone whom they see as a ‘new broom’ to sweep away over 15 years of  distrust in the political system, the  stagnation of the economy, jobs and the continued involvement in foreign conflicts.

Mr Trump had no political baggage and to use a cowboy analogy ‘shoots from the hip’.

In computer parlance ‘WYSIWYG’ (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get). This was so refreshing to many voters, fed up with dissembling anodyne politicians.

His various peccadilloes and outrageous statements did not matter to his voters.

As  with the quote attributed to  Oliver Cromwell nearly 400 years ago,  we get Trump ‘warts and all’, nothing is hidden.

Noting the similar feeling between many British and US people,  Mr Trump mentioned the momentous UK exit vote from the EU and said he would do a ‘Brexit’ 1000 times over if elected. He did!

An Enlightened Buddha Day to All

Whoever sees me sees the teaching.
– Buddha


Snails on Buddha’s head, Photo by PH Morton

Buddhists celebrate their most important festival of Vesak, known as Buddha Day, today. Many Buddhists will be giving gifts to the needy and doing charity work. From donating blood at hospitals to visiting orphanages and care-homes, they’ll make a special effort to bring happiness to those most in need.

Buddha Day is celebrated annually on the full moon of the ancient lunar month of Vesakha, which usually falls in May or June. The day commemorates the birth of the Buddha-to-be, his enlightenment and his final “passing” into nirvana; marking the end of the reincarnation cycle. This is the point at which a person sees and understands the true nature of things and where their desires end.

An Enlightened Buddha Day to All

ivory-happy-buddha_39Some Buddhists will visit the temple to meditate, reflect on their life and make offerings to monks; many taking time out to chant and listen to sermons. The day usually involves bringing food to offer and share, as well as supplies for the temple and symbolic offerings for the shrine. The traditional Bathing the Buddha also takes place which involves pouring water over the shoulders of statues of the Buddha to purify the mind from greed and hatred.
While celebrations vary from house to house, it’s common to release caged birds as a symbolic act of freedom, construct wooden lanterns for processions, and dress in pure white. A traditional sweet porridge dish called kheer is often eaten as well.
GlobalGranary wishes you a HAPPY BUDDHA DAY!
16 August 2015
Legend of the Snails on Buddha’s head
Nathan, my 6 years old grandson said to me that those swirly bits on top of the head of the Buddha (see above photo) were snails.   He further clarified that the snails were there to keep the Buddha cool whilst meditating.  I must admit I have never heard of that before so I googled it and found that Nathan was right.
The legend has it that the Buddha was so deep in meditation that he was unaware of the bright sun.  A snail realised what would happen so he slowly climbed on the robe of the Buddha and up his head.  He was followed by another 107 other snails, which covered the Buddha’s head in rather symmetrically aesthetic way.  When the Buddha came out of his trance, he noticed what had happened and became eternally grateful for the selflessness of the snails, who gave their lives so the Buddha did not get sunburn, thus, many of Buddha’s statues show the honoured snail martyrs.

Earth Day 2016

bahay kubo, field, photo by PH Morton

bahay kubo, field, photo by PH Morton

Earth Day 2016

22 April is a date to celebrate our planet Earth.  Today is a good day to  take stock and take control of what we are doing to our environment, how can we improve it and stop it deteriorating much further.

It is not hard to participate in the commemoration of Earth Day.  Get a pot and plant a tree, flower, herb or something green with roots, the legal kinds 🙂

Did you know?

The plants take in carbon dioxide, then breathe out by humans and animals, at the same time expelling fresh oxygen for all of us.

In the morning, I shall look around in my garden and thank heavens for the privilege of having a little plot of our own.

The first Earth Day was held on 22 April 1970.

Plant a tree today!  Make today a Green Revolution Day!

Earth Hour 2016

Earth seen from Apollo 17. Note the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal at the top.

Earth seen from Apollo 17. Note the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal at the top.

We can be heroes
Just for one day.

From David Bowie’s Heroes Album (1977)

Earth Hour 2016

This 19th March 2016 is Earth Hour, which can be observed globally.

It is the day when even for an hour, the Earth is given a ‘rest’.  Let us all take action.

It is advised that from 8:30 – 9:30 pm (time is subjective from where you live), that we should turn off the lights and other appliances.

It would be hard for technophiles hooked to their smart phones, tablets Pcs and TVs, particularly teenagers who use Facebook, texting and tweeting as the reason to live!

Us oldies would miss the TV more!

Although, for us living in colder climes or still experiencing winter weather, going without electric or gas heating may be too much to endure; so as long as comfortably warmed by candlelight, I hope would be permissible, I think 😉

We need to cosset this precious planet or ours even for just one hour each year.  If everyone of us participates, it would be a real force to combat climate change.

So do your bit on 19 March 2016 and perhaps time to evaluate your carbon footprint from there on.

There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.
– Aldous Huxley

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)

NAIA, Photo by PH Morton

NAIA, Photo by PH Morton

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)


While on holiday in the Philippines, we visited quite a few places far and wide; from end to end of the country.

Several times, we found ourselves at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to catch our flight provided by either the flagship, Philippine Airline and sometimes the slightly cheaper, Cebu Pacific.

What I can say is that, it was shambolic and organised chaos each time.

We had a delay of upto a couple of hours for all our flights!

Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific were very clear that the faults were in no way in their corner but from the NAIA itself. Apparently, there were just too many flights, much, much more than NAIA’s traffic control can comfortably cope with.

When we went to Palawan via Philippine Airlines, they had to announce in their tannoy for any volunteer willing to postpone their flight for a latter one as it seemed they were overbooked. never heard of such before!

Also some of the domestic airports charge an additonal fee, which is called airport or travel tax; we had to pay at a counter before boarding a plane.

Where does this tax raised go?

Certainly not in maintaining the airport such as improving the largely inaudible tannoy systems as well the often poor condition and inadequate numbers of toilets (comfort room) especially for women.

We guess the so called taxes raised would ultimately end up ‘lining the pockets’ of corrupt officials as seems to be the practice generally.

No wonder, NAIA is in the top 10 worst airport in the world, it just can’t handle and provide good service on time, especially on its national flights.

Additionally, not a long time a go, it came out that there were numerous incidents involving what infamously became known as laglag bala.  This heinous activity involved criminals being allowed to take over some baggage checks duties, which put fears to every decent Filipino and foreign travellers to and from the Philippines.

These criminals would choose the vulnerable and some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to victimise. The modus operandi was to plant bullets to their target’s luggage. They would then give their victim a choice of being taken to the police to answer for  ‘supposed’ crime or pay the fine of up to P50,000 ($1065) and get on their plane on time.

Such was our frustrations with the airline/airports NAIA delays, we decided that it was better to use road coaches to reach destinations even if it meant 10-hour drive instead of a much shorter journey via air travels.

It is not only domestic flights that are affected. Our flight home via Doha was delayed nearly an hour due to NAIA’s inability to cope with air traffic. Thank goodness, there was a 3½ hours stopover in Doha, enough to swallow the delay from Manila.

We do have to acknowledge the friendliness of the staff and some customer service at the NAIA. The airline staff were very helpful, friendly and stoic in putting up with the moans and complaints of passengers due to  the delays, etc.

Poor travel experience is such a shame as the Philippines would get more tourists to see its many wonders if not for the poor NAIA performance, which sadly shows no signs of improvement.

A complete revamp is much needed, no doubt about it.  Perhaps it should start with going back to its old name – Manila International Airport (MIA).  It had a better reputation compared to the jinxed Ninoy Aquino’s bloody history.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) – A Shamble