Category: Blogs

Public Toilets Near Cutty Sark

Toilet break at Cutty Sark, photo by PH Morton

Toilets at Major Tourist Attraction

 

Public Toilets Near Cutty Sark

I was looking through our photos taken when we recently visited Greenwich, South East London, around the tourists-famous Catty Sark Tea Clipper museum and noticed this black edifice, which reminiscent of a Doctor Who’s TARDIS.  It seemed bigger on the inside.

Anyway, it cost £0.50p to use it.

A tip:  if you are going with a nearest and dearest, you could go in together.  If a small family, it could comfortably hold about six altogether.

The only thing is that you should all be so close as the toilet does not flush each time you use it.  It is only after you exit that it flushes and self-clean.  And you can only stay for a maximum of 20 minutes, which is more than enough time before it automatically open.

🙂 That does not mean you are trapped inside the toilet for 20 minutes, you can press the open button anytime, but the usage time is for 20 minutes only.

The toilet above is directly across the road from the Cutty Sark.

If you do not have a fifty pence or a chance, the nearest free toilets are inside the Royal Naval College which is about 300 yards across the road.  Or you could always stop for a beer at the Gipsy Moth and use their beautifully maintained loos.

 

Manga & Anime

I may not be Japanese but I grew up religiously following manga and anime on tv.

My sister, brothers and I would congregate in front of the television at 6. At every day of the week, there was an animated program about valiant young people on their respective space ship that turned into fighting robots.

We love Mazinger Z, Daimos, Mekanda Robot, Grendizer and Dunguard Ace  But everybody’s favourite was Voltes 5.  I was absolutely fascinated with his chain knuckles..  My sister and I also would follow a more girly animations called, Candy, Candy and Ron Ron, the flower angel.  And we spent a fortune on buying the last Hello Kitty pink plastic treasures!

Anyway, manga and anime are not losing their charm, in fact it is busy conquering the world.

There is a manga and anime for everyone.

There are apparently five basic classifications.

There is the shonen aimed for young boys who are below the age of 15.  Shows like Dragon Ball and Pokemon anime.

Seinen is for older boys of 15-24.  Just like that Scarlett Johansson’s live action version of Ghost in the Shell.

Shoujo (Shojo) are aimed for young and teenage girls.

Josei are for a more mature females.  These mangas are focused on more melodramtic stories.

And finally the Kodomumoke.  These are the manga and anime that busy mums tend to let very young children sit in front of for educational purposes, of course.  🙂 Under this category is something called  yoji for babies

 

 

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Following Shrove Tuesday yesterday, today is Ash Wednesday, the official first day of Lent during the Christian year and the prelude to Easter.  Lent represents the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, fasting and contemplating his mission on earth. Known as the ‘Day of Ashes’ because of the practice of having ash rubbed &  drawn on the forehead in the shape of a cross (representing Christ’s crucifixion), by a priest at the  dedicated Ash Wednesday church service. The priest and participants from the church congregation intone the phrase either the words:-

“Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or  the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”       

Anglican,Catholic and most Protestant and Christians hold Ash Wednesday services around the world. Following the service, participants observe some sort of fasting,abstinence and spiritual contemplation for 40 Days, ending on Maundy Thursday in 2018.

The practice of using  ash comes from the 11th Century and is taken from the Biblical Book of Daniel, where ashes are regarded as a sign of Penance & fasting. The ashes are normally made by the burning of palm crosses. These palm crosses were  handed out to  church congregations during the previous year’s Palm Sunday service (commemorating Christ’s entry into Jerusalem to crowds waving palm leaves in celebration) and given back to the priest shortly before Ash Wednesday. The priest will then burn the crosses and mix the ash normally with Holy Oil to sanctify and make a ‘paste’ with which to rub on the participant’s forehead.

Shrove Tuesday

shrove-tuesday1Today is shrove Tuesday, which has now become better known as Pancake Day.

What is Shrove Tuesday about?  Has it become just a day of cooking and tossing pancakes?

Shrove Tuesday is the last day of merriment and feasting before Lent begins in earnest.

But in truth and in its history, today is about penitence.  Shrove Tuesday got its name from the ritual of shriving, which early Christians used to do.

The act of shriving meant that Christians would confess their sins and their shortcomings and in so doing will receive absolutions.

Absolution means the person will be forgiven of his sins and released from his guilt and pain that he had caused.

This tradition is very old.

Shrove Tuesday

It was a custom and tradition of the early Christians to confess their sins a week before the start of Lent to their priest/confessor, who shall so shrive them.

Today is not only about pancake but a time to think about the wrong deeds that we have done or have continued  doing.  We must be penitent of them.

On the happier side, Shrove Tuesday is also about partying and feasting.  Time to cook and serve all the foods that may have to be given up for the sober Lent to come. Barbecue the meat and fish and make pastas so no food are wasted for the coming Lent.  Today is like a Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday.

Pancake became the ideal food for Tuesday because it uses up all the fats, milk and eggs with the addition of flour.

Source:  BBC.co.uk

 

 

 

Sungka – Filipino Mancala Game

Sungka Board, photo by JMorton

Sungka – Filipino Mancala Game

I used to be obsessed with this board game when I was a little girl.

For whatever reason my mother used to discourage us playing sungka.  She was really adamant that we should not play it.  I think I heard her say that it was a game of the dead or something.  She made it sound like there was something sinister about it.

But I’ve  always  had a mind of my own, and the more I was told ‘NO’ the more I had to do it; it was like a red rag to a bull to me, a fascination of the forbidden. 🙂  I was a tad naughty!  LOL

Probably that was the reason I loved playing sungka.   I used to ask a neighbour, Lagring, who was a year or two younger than me to play sungka.   We did not bother with the wooden board; at my instigation we would just dig little holes similar to those in the wooden board on the ground under our mango tree.  We would then gather little stones and away we play for what seems like hours.  🙂

My mother always knew what I was up to as I would come home with dirty hands and even dirtier finger nails.  And of course those little holes which suddenly appeared all over our backyard!  🙂

In the end, knowing that I would not really listen, she just gave up on her embargo against sungka.  Funnily enough as soon as the ban was lifted I moved on to another obsession, Jack’s Stone!  🙂

By the way the photo above was taken at late president Ferdinand Marcos childhood residence in Batac, Ilocos Norte.  It seemed President Marcos used to play sungka as well.  🙂

Click here to see a quick tutorial.

I actually want one for Christmas, thank goodness they are easily available here.

Happy Halloween 2017

Happy Halloween 2017

Tis the night — the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they — it is they.

~Arthur Cleveland Coxe

Happy Halloween 2017 to our visitors. Here  in London we enjoy Halloween. On 31 October, millions around the world celebrate a festival that has evolved from nature rituals of ancient times.
Halloween, or it’s proper name Hallowe’en (Hallows evening)contracted from the Christian ‘All Hallows Evening’ or ‘Eve’,  is thought to have pagan roots and from a festival name of ‘Samhain’.
Halloween is supposed to be the time when the earthly and spirit worlds meet allowing spirits of those departed and fairies to dwell for one night on earth and commune with us mere mortals. It is an important date for pagans, witches etc. The festival predates Christianity by thousands of years.

Wiccans  hold one of their seasonal Sabbats (festivals) every 31 October. Witchcraft & witches are derived from the old English words,  wiccecræft & wicce.

To try and suppress such pagan non-Christian beliefs, the Church hierarchy then later added All Saints Day (to commemorate all Christian Saints) on the 1st November, followed by All Souls Day on 2nd November, when the deceased family, relatives, friends etc., are remembered and commemorated with Church services.

Halloween is thought to mainly originate from ancient Celtic festivals in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and northern Europe. These Celtic festivals and rituals marked the end of summer and the coming of winter after autumn and the unwelcome arrival of longer darker & colder nights. Bonfires were lit to keep the dark at bay and rituals performed to banish ghosts, evil spirits, fairies from coming with the winter darkness. Candle lit turnip lanterns carved with scary faces were made which later evolved into the pumpkin lanterns we see now.

Halloween spread to North America in the 1800s with the arrival of Irish & celtic immigrants. It quickly became a big festival which, evolved over the years into what takes place today. Children dressing up as ghosts, witches etc., touring around the neighbourhod with patient parents on Halloween, trick or treating. Halloween themed parties are de riguer .
Before pumpkins became the favourite of Halloween lantern makers (they are easier to carve), turnips and swedes were and still are used. Some of these carved pumpkins are minor works of art.
The Irish settlers arriving in America found no turnips so used the native grown pumpkins as lanterns as are used to this day.

When I was a child on Halloween, my mother and I would carve two lanterns out of smaller root vegetable swedes (Swedish turnip), as pumpkins were rare here then. The swedes are harder to carve, but worth the effort to an imaginative young mind. We would put a lantern in our living or bedroom window
We would keep the lantern swedes until Guy Fawkes Night on each 5th November. We would re use them if they were still fresh as lanterns then burn them on the bonfire we had in our garden as we set off fireworks, so much fun and happy memories ?

This early evening, like the last few Halloweens’, we will take our 8 -year-old grandson and baby brother around the local roads. We meet other families too and exchange laughs. A lot of neighbours get into the spirit (pardon the pun!) and have pumpkin lanterns like us by their front garden gates. Some open their doors dressed up in scary costumes, a good fun evening.

 

Woven Rattan Baskets

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

Woven Rattan Baskets

Rattan is some sort of a climbing bamboo looking plant which grows profusely in the mountains of Ilocos and other parts of the Philippines.

Thank goodness that they do grow abundantly as they provide materials for weaving so many things necessary to the farming communities of the Philippines.

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

Bilao in Tagalog is a winnowing flat basket which is called bigao in Ilocano.  This flat basket is necessary in separating the husks or hulls from the rice grains, especially when a mortar and pestle had been used to manually dehusk the palay into rice.

 

Rattan basket, photo by JMorton

 

Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya, Photo by PH Morton

Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya is so bitter so it is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.  But having said that, once you get used to its taste, you might actually love it as an ingredients to many recipes.

Ampalaya, is a Tagalog name for bitter gourd and it is called parya in the Ilocos region of the Philippines where I spent my childhood eating our own homegrown parya.

There is a Filipino legend how this vegetable got its bitter taste.

 


Alamat ng Ampalaya:

Once upon a time, there was a Green Garden, where all sorts of vegetables grew robustly and profusely.

In this verdant garden, there grew pumpkins with unique sweetness.

There were tomatoes with slight sourness but with fair, soft complexion.

The eggplants were sublime in their royal purple coats.

The lettuce carpeted the ground with their dewey leaves as they look up to the early morning sun.

The jicamas were as fresh and crisp as a new day.

Rhizomes of spicy ginger stood majestically amongst the vegetables.

The onions, shyly confident with their breathtaking thin delicate skin, that they make one cry!.

The daikon radish is the fairest of them all and knows it very well. 🙂

In the far corner stood a little gourd, waiting, watching, hoping to be noticed.

But she was different from the rest, she was wan and pale with a taste that was hard to explain . Day after day she watched the others with their boasting, their preening, their chattering, their joy.

She can’t help  but compare herself with them.  The more she does the more she thought that she cannot measure up with anyone.  As days passed, she can’t bear it anymore, she planned and plotted to carry out a most heinous scheme.

As soon as it got dark, she stealthily went from one vegetable to the next and the next until she had taken all their outstanding qualities.

Overnight the ampalaya became the belle of the Green Garden.  Everyone where asking where did she come from.  She was admired for her beauty and utter perfection.

But there is no secret that can be hidden forever.  The other vegetables start to suspect that there is something that is not quite right.

As  the sun was just setting, the vegetables covertly followed ampalaya in her corner of the Green Garden.  To their amazement, they saw her peel each of the layers of the qualities that made her so perfect.  Without much ado, the vegetables frogmarched the now wan and pale ampalaya to see the Fairy Queen of the Green Garden.

The Queen was not amused.  She looked over at the amplaya and could not believe why she was not satisfied with her beautiful pale appearance!  As a punishment, she let it be known that from the next new light, the ampalaya will wake up with dark warty lumpy skin and the bitterest of taste.  And she would always either be loved or hated for all eternity.

Moral of the story:  everyone is beautiful, you just have to cultivate your own asset!

 

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