Category: Time

Month: July Heat

month-of-july-2

Month: July Heat

July is the 7th month of the year.  It has 31 days.

July was named after Julius Caesar.

July’s birthstone is Ruby.

The flower associated to July is the larkspur or Water Lily.

Notable Events in July:

1 July 2009, Britain has become a No Smoking in Public Day.

2 July 1964, Lyndon B Johnson signed the Civil Rights bill creating equal rights in voting, education, public accommodations, union membership and in federally assisted programmes – regardless of race, colour, religion or national origin.

3 July 1954, food rationing in Britain had finally ended after 9 long years.

5 July 1948, The great National Health Service (NHS) was initiated in Britain. Long may it continue!!!!

6 July 1952, The last tram in London finally ceased service!

7 July 2005, Terrorists attacked London transport system during rush hour.  3 suicide bombers  detonated bombs in 3 busy locations, killing 56 people and injuring at least 700.

11 July 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published.  This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature a year later.  By the way, it is my most favourite book of all time.

13 July 1985, Live Aid pop concert raised over £50 Million.  I remember this!

17 July 1955, Disneyland opened in America.

19 July 1545, the Mary Rose sank in The Solent, near Portsmouth.

20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.

21 July 1884, England beat Australia in the first ever test match (cricket).

28 July 1858, fingerprinting was first used as a means of identification.

Cotton Candy Memories

Candy Floss at Hampstead Heath fare, photo by PH Morton

Candy Floss at Hampstead Heath fair, photo by PH Morton

Did you know?

Spun sugar used to be made through a labour-intensive process and therefore, the end product was very expensive and only a few can have it.

It  was in 1897  that a supposed guardian angel of teeth, a dentist, by the name of William Morrison, together with John C Warthon, a confectioner, invented a spun sugar machine to make candy floss readily available to the masses.  Their invention known then as a fairy floss was introduced at the 1907 World Fair, making it an instant best-seller.

In 1921, another dentist invented a similar machine, which he patented as a cotton candy machine.  The name stuck whilst fairy floss gradually morphed to cotton candy.

It is rather ironic that dentists would invent a machine, which produces almost 100 per cent sugar as treat for the young and the young at heart. 🙂

Cotton Candy Memories

When we were young, we always go to church on Sundays.  Sometimes we vary the church where we go to attend mass but there were always the same merchandise and treats that await churchgoers after the mass.

Right outside the church were cotton candy vendors, I love the cotton candy, it was so soft; it melts in the mouth in pure sandy sweetness.  I love its pinkish white turning into darker hue of pink as your teeth bite into a cloud of floss.  I thought then that it made going to church and sitting on an over long mass worthwhile. 🙂

Aside from cotton candy, there were also popcorn.  There was a choice of salty or sweetened and again in pink coloured popcorn.  My sister Marilou would get a sweet one and my brother William would get the salty kind.

Outside the church were also sellers of birds in cages.  I remember begging my parents to get me a bird but they never did.  They said it was cruel to keep the maya bird inside the house.

My youngest brother got to have a helium balloon.  And as the tradition in a Filipino family, it was a share and share alike so we had to share with him our cotton candy and popcorns whilst he won’t allow anyone to touch his balloon but himself alone! He can do whatever he liked as he was bunso (youngest) There was no justice! LOL

A Trip to Museum of Childhood

It was my birthday last 31st of January.  Peter wanted to take me out for the day and I asked him if we could see some dolls.  I know! I was feeling rather nostalgic for my fast disappearing childhood.

Peter researched about a doll museum and he came up with the Victoria & Albert museum of Childhood, in Bethnal Green, East London.

It was a very good choice too.  We were able to indulge in pure nostalgia; a pleasant trip to memory lane.

We saw toys, games and other forms of childhood wonderment at the museum.

Peter can’t believe that he can get up close and personal with Robby the Robot.  His long time hero/friend from one of his all time favourite sci-fi classic movies, Forbidden Planet.  I had to practically prise him away from Robby.  Suddenly I saw a glimpse of Peter the child! 😉  He was obviously remembering some childhood fantasy; Peter even muttered “why are children allowed in the museum!!!”, when a little girl tried to get to know Robby the Robot as well. LOL

The museum also houses a vast, large, gigantic, huge collection of doll house 😉 😉 ;).  I love doll houses but the museum had a wing that is solely for doll houses.  There were really old ones and there were very modern ones.  There were even doll houses in apartment/flat styles.  It made me think that these miniature dolls have better clothes, better furnitures, better food and yes, better houses, ergo better life than real people. 🙁

There are also toys from around the world.

I saw a couple of toys which are now popular worldwide but originated from my home country, the Philippines.  The toys of course are the yoyo and the mancala, which we call sunka in Ilocano.

There were some exquisite dolls from China, Japan and Persia.

Of course a British toy museum would not be complete without everybody’s  seaside entertainment puppetry icon, Punch and Judy.

A Trip to Museum of Childhood

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Fish Ball, Bola Bola

bola bola

 

Fish Ball, Bola Bola

Fish ball or bola-bola is a coming of age staple in the life of every high school student in Tondo, Manila.

A fish ball dipped in spiced garlic vinegar or a sticky sweet and sour sauce is so heavenly that memories were made from it.

To tell the truth, I don’t remember much what I did in high school but I certainly remember the fish ball, how it tasted, how it was so succulent, how one was never enough but had to make do with just the one as budget was constraint by highschooler’s allowance.

Eating a fishball was an absolute feast.  You do not eat it hurriedly, instead one has to taste the sour vinegar as you daintily chew on the small fishball on a skewer.  With closed eyes, you just let yourself go and feel and savour the many flavours that burst a challenge to your taste buds.

It has been so many years, so long ago, and yet I can almost taste fishball now; if I close my eyes I can vividly remember all those recesses and vacant periods  lazing around in front of our school where a stall near a stair opposite the old Osmena High School.  This stall sold the most delicious fish balls I have ever tasted.

I am still trying to find a recipe for fishball bola-bola.  I will post it here as soon as I find one.  Better yet, if anyone knows of the recipe, please add to the comment box below!

………………………
I found this recipe in one of my Filipino recipe books.

Fish Ball Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups flaked fish
4 tbsp flour
2 tbsp milk (to start with)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp parsley, chopped finely

Preparation:

Combine the flaked fish and flour.

Gradually add the milk. Just add enough for the fish and flour to turn into a soft dough.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chopped parsley.

Give the dough a good stir to incorporate the seasoning and the parsley.

Leave in the fridge for at least an hour for the mixture to harden that it could be made into small balls.

Drop the fish balls into a pan of boiling water. Cook for at least 5 minutes.

Drain and then quickly fry in some vegetable oil until brown all over.

Serve with spiced vinegar or sweet and sour sauce.

Autumn Leaves

As autumn grips us further into its depths, the leaves on trees are changing colours into vibrant pink, red, orange, purple, yellow and brown.

And then they start to fall.

Probably that is why autumn is also called the fall because leaves fall down into the ground. Doh!

There were plenty of fallen leaves that had been blown into our front garden that came from the avenue of trees in our street.

I was going to try to sweep them up today but the weather turned really nasty. It was so blowy and windy; it was not very pleasant to go out so I thought I should postpone my rather industrious idea of leaves clearing for another day,  to a more subdued day – weatherwise.

When we went to take our little Diesel for a walk, Peter and I noticed immediately that the front garden was amazingly clear of the leaves and any other debris.

It was the wind. It blew the leaves away from our garden, yey. And I was  moaning and griping too about the strong wind! huh!

Thank you wind!!!

Speaking of leaves, I remember that we used to play a game when I was still quite young in the Philippines. It was some sort of leaves snap, a matching game.

We would all go gather as many different leaves that we can get in secret and then we would sit around in circle and then try to match each other’s stock of leaves. The one that has the most unmatched leaves wins!

I know!!! It is so exciting!!! 😉 😉 😉 Beats any computer game! LOL

You should see the neighbour’s garden, it was like a swarm of ravenous caterpillars had a proper good feast!

Man-made or rather children-made fall/autumn does happen in the Philippines! LOL

We love the leaves of the gumamela (hibiscus) because you can pulp it and add a bit of water to it and you can have an organic blow bubbles syrup, no need to nick the washing liquid from the kitchen, but then again we do not have washing liquids then, at that time a long, long time ago in the Philippines,  we had bars of soap like Perla, Mr Clean, and Ajax for household cleaning while we used bars of Palmolive, Camay and Safeguard for bathing!  Having said that, it became a common knowledge that the laundry soap, Perla, was the best treatment for acne!  I did try Perla once or twice but thank goodness, I was really never prone to acne!  I can’t tell whether Perla worked but then again, probably it did because I did not get many blemishes! Hmmm

Sorry for this meandering nostalgia, I was supposed to talk about leaves, anyway I tried to youtube search a song about leaves and I was pleasantly surprise with this song by  the brilliant Eric Clapton.  He sings to us a very autumnly song called surprise, surprise ‘Autumn Leaves’

Have a lovely autumn everyone,wherever you may be!

Autumn Leaves

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Hymns Sung At The End of School Term

 Hymns Sung At The End of School Term

Hymn Book

                                            Hymn Book

When I was a Secondary (High) School student in the late 1960s and early 70s, my school was a CoE (Church of England).  Hymns sung at the end of school term during  assembly held each morning before classes, where students and teachers would sing a selection of hymns especially the below as a favourite regular.
We sung it quite a few times during my school period, the tune and some of the words became fixed in my memory. Indeed I seem to recall the hymn number in the then version of the hymn book, it was number 736, (near the end of the hymn book).  Today when Jean was researching to blog about best-loved hymns in the UK, we searched and found the hymn now numbered 333 in a hymn book and I guess still sung at terms end.
Reading the words and hearing the hymn .
It brings back memories of school…
Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing,
Thanks for mercies past receive;
Pardon all, their faults confessing;
Time that’s lost may all retrieve;
May Thy children, may thy children
Ne’er again Thy Spirit grieve.
 
Bless Thou all our days of leisure;
Help us selfish lures to flee;
Sanctify our every pleasure;
Pure and blameless may it be;
May our gladness,may our gladness
Draw us evermore to thee.
 
By Thy kindly influence cherish
All the good we here have gained;
May all taint of evil perish
By Thy mightier power restrained;
Seek we ever, seek we ever
Knowledge pure and love unfeigned.
 
Let Thy father-hand be shielding
All who here shall meet no more;
May their seed-time past be yielding
Year by year a richer store;
Those returning, those returning
Make more faithful than before.

Ode To Autumn – John Keats

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
– Albert Camus

Today is the official first day of autumn or what the Americans from across the pond would call fall.

The verdant and vibrant leaves will soon to turn into various shades from green into  red, pinkish, yellow, golden, brown, etc and then they start to fall and create a sea of beautiful red and golden carpet.

Autumn Leaves by PH Morton

ODE TO AUTUMN
John Keats

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Month: June Many Facets

June Junio Juin Giugno Juni Hunyo

Month: June Many Facets

Did you know?

There is a folklore in Iceland concerning how to delay the ageing process.  Apparently it is believed that one must bathe  in the morning due on the 24th of June.  This presumably have to be done in the nude, very early in the morning. 🙁  brrr cold.

Notable Events on the month of June:

1 June 1946 – Television licence was first issued in Britain for the princely sum £2.00 per annum.
Currently, a colour TV Licence costs £145.50 and a black and white TV Licence costs £49.00.

2 June 1989 – About 100,000 joined the demonstration at Tiananmen Square in China.

6 June 1936 – Gatwick Airport opened for business.

12 June 1667 – first blood transfusion was performed.

12 June 1942 – Anne Frank began her diary.

15 June 1215 – the Magna Carta was signed by King John

18 June 1935, the iconic motor vehicle for the seriously rich, registered their Roll-Royce trademark on this day.

22 June 1847, good to know that our beloved doughnut was first created on this day. 😉

22 June 1907, Northern Line (underground) opened.

27 June 1871, Yen was established as Japan’s currency

Being Children pre-internet

I love the mini-video below. It showed the games that I remember playing as a child in the Philippines.

I especially love piko (hopscotch)

In a way I pity children of today.

Being Children pre-internet

The advent of computer and internet brought in untold usefulness to everyone of us but as they said, nothing is ever perfect. Though I can’t live without access to the internet/computer now, it does have negative impacts on some lives. Especially in the west, the computer has somehow put paid to children playing outside. Children nowadays would rather be in their pc or ipad playing games rather than in the garden or at the park playing hide and seek with their friends.

I supposed we have become too security conscious. We want our children under our radar almost 24/7 and the easiest way to ensure this is to allow them access to the computer; sitting in front of it where we know where they are.

Let us think about this, “As a child, would you rather be playing computer games or playing tugs with friends outside in the sunshine?!!!”

by lorosa Traditional Art / Paintings / People©2010-2014 lorosa

by lorosa
Traditional Art / Paintings / People©2010-2014 lorosa

Agdapil: Making Treacle & Molasses

Living the good life!

 

Back when I was a child in our barrio, Marag, Luna, Kalinga-Apayao, Mountain Province, my family used to practise self-sufficiency. We grew, made and/or found our own daily food . In the 1970s, there were no real vegetable or meat markets in Marag. If you don’t plant rice and vegetables, then you’ve got to forage for edible ferns called paku or pick clams and go fishing, otherwise you won’t eat!

We had a large farm in Marag. It was/is in Alit-tagan. We planted everything,  but funnily enough,  I can’t remember if we ever planted potatoes. Instead we planted sweet potatoes. This was much better for self-sufficiency because the leaves, especially the new growth of the sweet potatoes make a very  good salad dish. Just blanch them in hot water and then add lots of tomatoes and spring onions with a dash of fish sauce or even better, with fish bagoong like padas.

In our farm we also planted sugar cane, my favourite. To plant cane, you have to cut a long pole of sugar cane in several segments ensuring that the joints in the pole are left intact. It is in these joints that the new shoots will spring from as well as the new roots. We also used the strong side shoots of the sugar canes to replant and even the bushy heads of the sugar canes which were trimmed before replanting.

My father used to plough the earth and we children would drop cane joints at 12 inch/foot long intervals into the prepared soil. We would use our feet to then brush the soil over the cane to lightly cover them.

After about 4-6 months of regular  watering & weeding,  the canes were ready to harvest. These canes are delicious when chewed.  I like the cane that are not fully mature. They were softer and easier to chew. The sweet juice you get is so worth the chore of biting and chewing a fibrous pole;  we then spat out the chewed out fibres. 🙂

Those canes that we have not managed to chew, lol, were harvested with a sharp cut near the roots using a jungle bolo, a long robust knife.

After they had been topped and tailed, they are run in between two cylindrical wooden mangles to drain every bit of the juices. This is a long process, cumbersome and hard work. We needed the help of our  friendly, patient  giant  carabao named  Siccubing, to pull the long wooden handle of the mangle. We used to have fun following the carabao as it went round and round the mangle. It was always a bit of a giggle as we would all end up queasy and much to my parents indulgent annoyance would get in the way of the industrious, Siccubing. By the way, I love Siccubing so much, carabao is my favourite animal in the world, a true beast of burden.

During break time for Siccubing he will be allowed to have a drink of water and would be led into our rice field ditch. He always got his revenge on us kids because when  were riding this gentle beast, he  would never give a sign of he will do next; he would just plop into any body of water, whether muddy or deep. We on his back would be soaked or muddied and had to make our own way to safety and later face our mother’s wrath. 🙂

Anyway the juices extracted from the sugar cane crop can be several gallons, which were then transferred  into a huge vat.

My father, dug a huge hole near our Nipa Hut farm-house. The hole would be  used as a furnace to hold the huge vat with woods from twigs, chopped tree trunks, dried bamboos & dried coconut leaves as fuel. The juice would simmer for up to 4 hours until the juice start to thicken.  Any social services personnel would have had apoplexy seeing four children sitting around a boiling lava of sugar juice  in a huge vat unattended. Thinking about it now, it was certainly an OMG moment 🙂  I supposed it was a different world then; we were brought up to have responsibilities at an early age and knew what was right from what was wrong.

During the last hour of the boiling process, my father would give the cooking juice which had now turned into treacle, a molten golden syrup of absolute sweetness, a stir using a huge wooden paddle. He would then drop several chunks of cassavas’ outer skin which will caramelised in the sugar. This was our treat for being good children. The cassava skins were delicious, crunchy and coated with sublime sweetness 🙂

The finished product will be liquid which is called in Ilocano as tagapulot. It is often stored in huge earthenware jars. Overtime the top bit of the tagapulot in jars will crystallise into sugar granules. I must admit I would sneak up and get the liquidy tagapulot and wind it over and over a spoon. This was taste of heaven. I would eat boiled rice with the tagapulot with breakfast and that was the most delicious marvellous memory of childhood for me 🙂