Category: Legend

Achilles Heel, Greek Legend

Nymph Thetis holding Achilles by the heel , Walker Art Gallery – Liverpool, photo by JMorton


Achilles Heel, Greek Legend

I love the look of the statue.  It was one of many beautiful statues on display at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

The statue gives credence to the legend why the Greek hero, Achilles, has a vulnerability, although becoming the greatest warrior of Homer’s Illiad.

Achilles was the son of an immortal nymph, Thetis and a mortal (person) Peleus, the King of Myrmidons.

Apparently it was foretold by the oracle that their son will die very young.

Thetis and Peleus went to great lengths to protect Achilles.

Thetis took the baby Achilles and completely submerged him to the river Styx  except for his heel, which he was being held.  Apparently this ritual would make him invulnerable.

Achilles was valiant as a warrior until he was shot on his heel by Paris during the bloody Trojan War.

Achilles heel had come to mean ‘Point of vulnerability“.




Commonplace Book

Commonplace Book

As our dear visitors can see in the title heading of our blog, we describe it as being a Commonplace Book.

What is a commonplace book?!!!

It has a very long history; the first commonplace books are believed to have been compiled from the 14th century and continued to be popular onto the19th century.

They can be regarded as a kind of scrap book where the compiler noted and collected scraps of information, etc. Entries are made only in handwriting and if needed illustrated by hand too. These were what differed a commonplace book from a scrap book –  no cutting and pasting bits of paper!.


commonplace book

The  subjects of interest can be diverse; such as poems, prose, short essays, tracts, critique, prayers, observations,academic, thoughts/ideas on subjects, drawings/illustrations, myths, folklore, quotes, news, lists, recipes, facts on various subjects, etc.

Collecting items like this to record in a book was called  commonplacing.

Commonplace books were first known in fourteenth century Italy. They were known as zibaldone.   The books were referred by Italians as “salads of many herbs.”

They often included sketches and cursive written scripts. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio kept such books.

17th-century-commonplace book

17th century commonplace book

Later among others, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Francis Bacon,Mark Twain  and John Milton all kept commonplace books.

A Commonplace book is not a diary or a journal,

Commonplace books contained notes and sometimes drawings on subjects, which were of particular interest to the collector and compiler. The collector may have copied/sketched or made notes of articles, tracts etc., from rare and not generally available books. Public access to libraries were rare too in those days.

These compilers may even had contributed to the social media of their age when showing or lending out their books to others.

We think  today’s 21st Century internet blogs serve as a type of commonplace book.

The blogger collects items of interest to themselves from various sources the internet, newspapers, reference books (as we do) etc., and which they think might interesting to others by sharing on line.

Humans have an insatiable thirst for the varied and diverse topics that make up our modern lives.

Welcome to our commonplace book, welcome to


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.

Legend of Tabaco City


Tabac, photo by JMorton for

Tabac, photo by JMorton for

Tabac, photo by JMorton for

Tabac, photo by JMorton for

Whilst in the Philippines in February 2016, we travelled a great deal; during our search for the Mayon Volcano, which proved rather elusive at first, took us to various parts of the Bicol region.

Our driver/tour guide kindly gave us a running commentary of the places of interest we passed. One of which was the city of Tabaco. We took a photo of a monument with a sculpture of steel knives and bolos. I briefly imagined that was rather pugnacious but thought nothing more of it. We just assumed that they like their bolos!  We also thought that the city was called Tabaco because tobacco must be the area’s prime product.

Anyway as we climbed to the summit of the viewing centre for the Mayon Volcano, our guide reminded us of the Tabaco City as he pointed to an arsenal of knives and bolos in varying shapes and sizes arranged neatly on the ground, for sale.

Imagine what fun we would have had at Legaspi Airport, had we purchased a few of the bolos and carried them as hand luggage. LOL hahaha 🙂

Our guide said that Tabaco City was named after the bolos, which are called tabak in Bicolano.

The legend goes that  during the time the Spaniards came-a-conquering, a local man from the yet unnamed Tabaco city had a beautiful daughter, which was the muse of the area.  She was revered by the people for her stunning good looks.  Her father became rather neurotic about it, very over-protective. She can be seen from afar but definitely no touching or speaking to her!

One day, he went fishing, but before he sailed farther to the sea, he spied another vessel coming to land.  He immediately thought they might be slave traders and after his beautiful daughter for sure, so without further ado he turned his boat back and started waving, shouting and screaming to his wife, who was watching him sail to sea.

The man shouted excitedly “Tabak ko, tabak ko” (my bolo, my bolo) as he looked from his wife to the coming ‘invaders’, who happened to be Spanish missionaries.

The Spanish named the new conquered land Tabaco as inspired by the raving man from the sea.

Rather a charming piece of hokum that it was adopted officially by Tabaco City council  through Municipal Council Resolution No. 29 on February 23, 1966 as a true legend.

But apparently in truth the Spanish did indeed name the place after the tobacco plant which was a primary product.  We were right after all. 🙂

What happened to the beautiful daughter?  We don’t know!

Legend of Mimosa (Alamat ng Makahiya)

Legend of Mimosa (Alamat ng Makahiya)

mimosa-pudica, makahiya

mimosa-pudica, makahiya

When we were young, my sister and brothers would touch the mimosa plants, which grew profusely in our farm, gently to see if they would not close off.  Of course, they always did.  By the way, makahiya is called Bain-Bain in Ilocano. Bain bain may be shy plants but they can protect themselves with their thorns. 🙂

Legend of Mimosa (Alamat ng Makahiya)

The legend of the mimosa or makahiya would touch many a heart.  It is actually a parent’s concern for their children.

Anyway, legend has that once upon a time, there lived a gregarious husband and wife.   They were Andres and Lucia.  This couple was so friendly, they were very social.  They liked nothing better than throw a party or be in a social gathering.

As the years passed, they were blessed with a child.  The child was a real beauty, who they called Marikit.

Marikit grew up a very sweet-natured girl, but very introverted, very timid.   She was the opposite of her parents.  She wanted to be alone all the time. She was wary of people.  She refused to go out or play with other children.  She did not have any friends. She shied away from parties, from going out, from mingling with people.  She would not say boo to a goose.

Her bedroom was her haven. Her own company was enough, more than enough.

She had not outgrown her shyness as she grew up. It only became worse, it was pathological.

Her parents started to worry about her.  They were concerned that their beloved daughter would be all alone in life when they were gone.

One day their village was wracked with fear; there were news of escaped prisoners heading towards their village.

As luck would have it, it was Andres and Lucia’s house that the prisoners chose to hide in.

The criminals bundled the couple in a corner and tied and gag them.  Andres and Lucia were not so much in fear of their lives but more of their daughter’s safety.  They prayed as they have never prayed before.

Not long after, the deafening sirens from police cars can be heard which startled the convicts so much that they panic.  The couple was rescued and all the prisoners were caught.

Andres and Lucia were so relieved knowing that their daughter came to no harm from the very recent upheaval.

They knocked on her bedroom door but she did not answer, not a peep.  They went into her room and found her gone.  They searched for her but she couldn’t be found.

After a week, while the couple were outside their house, they noticed a plant that they have not seen before.  As they touch it, the leaves closed in as if shy of a human touch.

The couple realised that this might be their daughter, Marikit.

In their grief and wonder, they named the plant Makahiya which means shy after their  daughter, Mariki.

The Blind Beggar Pub

The Blind Beggar Pub


he Blind Beggar Pub Whitechapel London E1

The Blind Beggar Pub Whitechapel London E1

The Blind Beggar Pub is a famous East End Pub in Whitechapel, East London. Sadly many pubs are closing in London and England because of taxes and the fact that most people now prefer tp buy cheaper

Sadly many pubs are closing in London and England because of taxes and the fact that most people now prefer to buy cheaper alcoholic drinks in supermarkets and cut-price shops to drink at home. These closed pubs end up being demolished or converted by property developers into apartments and flats. Such is the building boom in London that  houses & former commercial property are now being turned into apartments to make a quick profit on sale or rental. We have lost three local pubs each over 100 years old to such in the last few years.

These closed pubs end up being demolished or converted by property developers into apartments and flats. Such is the building boom in London that  houses & former commercial property are now being turned into apartments to make a quick profit on sale or rental. We have lost three local pubs, each over 100 years old, to such in the last few years.

Numerous history and convivial social meeting places are now disappearing from the London landscape and culture.

The Blind Beggar was built in 1894 on the site of an Inn dating from 1654.

Notable events in its history include where William Booth preached his first open air  sermon then forming a Mission that led to the founding of The Salvation Army.

The first modern Brown Ale ( my first beer when a teenager) was brewed and sold in the pub which was then part of Manns brewery.

The pub’s name is linked to a popular legend concerning a local connection with a knight, who was the son of the famous Simon de Montfort , an Earl, who rebelled against King Henry III in the 13th century.

His son Henry de Montfort,  lived in a grand manor house in the area. One story  of the legend  is that de Montfort was wounded and blinded at the Battle of Evesham and was left wandering and with no memory.  He became  a beggar. He was found by a nobleman’s daughter, who married him. Their child, Besse, could not find a husband as her father had no status, as he was the blind beggar of Bethnal Green. At that time, a woman needed a sizeable dowry to be able to marry a suitable husband.  Marriage was a way of bringing wealth and prestige to a union of families.high-classNoblemen,

Noblemen, merchants, and  knights courted her but when they found out that there was no dowry they all left, except for a lone Knight, who was not concerned about a dowry and loved Besse as she was; as herself.

This union was blessed when Besse’s father revealed that far from being the poor beggar, he was a rich nobleman and so rewarded the Knight.  As Shakespeare would have said: “All’s well that ends well” 🙂

Now, what captured my imagination to the Blind Beggar many years ago, is my interest in major historical crime cases of London.

In March 1966, a murder took place in the Blind Beggar, which later became part of London crime legend.

Ronnie Kray, the twin brother of Reggie, the notorious, infamous and any other ..’ous’!  Kray Twins  walked into the pub and calmly took out a pistol and shot and killed another criminal, George Cornell, in front of a few witnesses.

The Kray Twins

The Kray Twins (Reggie & Ronnie (front)

Ronnie Kray had a long-standing score to settle with Cornell, who was apparently as ruthless as the Krays, but who was nowhere in their league.

Such was Krays power & influence in the 1960s London’s criminal underworld, many involved  kept quiet about the Twins activities for years before they were arrested and sentenced to 25-30 years in prison.

There have been many books about the Krays & by the Krays too, which are interesting to read, if one is interested in major crimes.

Two movies have been made about the Krays too.

They are truly legends in the criminal history of London.

It appears from current on-line reviews  that the Blind Beggar today is a shadow of its former standing as a popular east end pub.

I hope the pub remains as a pub for many years to come as London cannot keep affording to lose such culturally important pubs.

Champagne, the Quotes

Champagne is such a glorious, hedonistic drink that many have been driven to wax lyrical about it. Below are just a few of the many:

Champagne, the Quotes

Champagne is the one thing that gives me zest when I feel tired.
– Brigitte Bardot

Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.
– Madame de Pompadour

ChampersChampagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully.
– Graham Greene

In a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening.
– Willie Gluckstern

I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.
– Lily Bollinger

My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne.
– Dying words, John Maynard Keenes

Three be the things I shall never attain: envy, content and sufficient Champagne.
– Dorothy Parker

There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.
– Bette Davis

Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.
– Mark Twain

Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?
– Noel Coward

The Golden Apple – A Greek Legend

Kitchen 2014 012
The Golden Apple – A Greek Legend

The story of the golden apple is my favourite in the Greek mythology.

It caused the bloody Trojan war.

It all started on the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. Everyone who was anyone and all the gods and goddesses were invited to the wedding except for Erin, the goddess of wrath and discord. Apparently she was deemed to be a party pooper so her invite got lost in the post.

Anyway, during the party, everyone was having a good time, lots of merriment, lots of chatting, lots of networking as one does.

It was a very vibrant, noisy affair that Erin got to hear of it. She was mighty upset that she was not invited, knowing that everyone was in the party. Quick as a flash she thought of a ploy to create discord and strife.

So she went to the party to plot her revenge. As soon as she appeared, there was a lull in the celebration.

The music stopped, the chattering ceased, it was very still you could almost hear a pin drop.

Without saying anything Erin, threw a golden apple which landed where Hera, Athena and Aphrodite were gathered together. Peleus, the groom was in their vicinity and picked up the golden apple which was inscribed ‘For the Fairest’.

Hera, the wife of Zeus, said immediately it was obviously meant for her. Athena won’t be outdone and said of course it was for her afterall it landed very near her feet. Aphrodite almost snatched the apple off Peleus, claiming that it was for her, ‘hello!”

The three goddesses started to brawl, each one claiming the apple for herself. Hera spied Zeus and called him to be the judge.

“No way, Jose” said Zeus. The man to tell who the apple belongs to is Paris, the shepherd, who lived at the foot of Mt Olympus.

Kung Hei Fat Choy 2015

“Gong Xi Fa Cai”


“Kung Hei Fat Choy”

19 February is fast approaching, which means it is the start of a new calendar year for the Chinese.

As our Chinese brothers and sisters would wish each and everyone, let us, from GlobalGranary, wish you Kung Hei Fat Choy, translated as Happy New Year but actually it means Congratulations and Wishing you Prosperity.

During the course of this week, we will be posting Chinese New Year materials such as superstitions, Feng Shui, stories, about the lamb/sheep/goat/antelope – animal representation of the year 2015.

Actually 2015 or Year of the Goat is Peter’s year.  We will be blogging things that Peter and those born in the year of the goat/sheep had to do to maximise good fortune and luck for 2015.

There are 12 zodiac animals and each animal take turns under a 12 year cycle.

Those born under the year of the goat as an example are from 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 (just add 12 to get to the next cycle)

If your birthday falls due under the year of the goat/sheep, your character traits are said to be one of gentleness, peace, kindness and calmness.

The lucky numbers are 2 & 7 or any number containing 2 & 7 like 27, 72, 270, etc.. (get that lotto!)

Lucky months are August and November.

And the lucky flowers which I must say are great favourites of mine are carnation and primrose.

If you decide to overhaul your wardrobe, the lucky colours for 2015 are red, brown and purple.

Full Moon on 8 October 2014

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Love lights the sun: love through the dark
Lights the moon’s evanescent arc:
Same love lights up the glow/worm’s spark.
– Christina Rossetti

Last night’s moon was particularly beautiful as Peter and I took our dog, Ben Diesel for a walk. Peter and I just stood for a moment in our front garden admiring the bright moon which was beautifully framed by branches of one of the trees in the avenue of elm trees in our road.

As can be expected, Peter can’t help himself but try to record that sight through his faithful camera. His photos are beautiful; some are really clear which will make me remember that moment in time.

There was a Filipino legend why there were many craters on the moon. I found the written tale in Project Gutenberg.

The Sun and the Moon


Once the Sun and the Moon quarreled with each other, and the Sun said:

“You are only the Moon and are not much good. If I did not give you light, you would be no good at all.”

But the Moon answered:

“You are only the Sun, and you are very hot. The women like me better, for when I shine at night, they go out doors and spin.”

These words of the Moon made the Sun so angry that he threw sand in her face, and you can still see the dark spots on the face of the Moon.

From Philippine Folktales
compiled by Mabel Cook Cole

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