Tuesday 28 September 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 28 September 2021 - T for sweets, holidays and Iberian ham

 Hello lovely ladies,

I'm actually on holiday at the moment and all I have is my iPad. So I hope that I will be able to write this and post it.

My postcard for today comes from Russia. It has some really yummy vegetables on it. It really looks like it could have come from our market. Our tomatoes look like that.


The person that sent the card is Anya and she writes that "everyone here is collecting harvest on their 'dachas'. A dacha is a small country house usually with a vegetable garden".

The stamp is impressive:

It is a painting by R.S.Khabirov (2013) called 'Chak-chak'.
This stamp is from a series Contemporary Art of Russia. 

The Contemporary Art series of postage stamps presents the artwork of modern authors who convey the atmosphere of new Russia, its identity and dynamism, demonstrates the techniques and approaches to creating paintings and sculptural compositions that are peculiar to our times.

Rashit Sultanovich Khabirov is a painter, Honored Artist of the Republic of Bashkortostan, a member of the Union of Artists of Russia. In 1977, he graduated. In his work, he follows the realistic traditions of academic painting, is considered an unsurpassed master of subject portraits, still lifes, landscapes. Participant of republican, all-Russian, international and foreign exhibitions, as well as the Paris World Autumn Art salons.

Here is a better image:

The painting features a samovar to keep the water hot, and a tea pot (or is it a coffee pot?) with some cup and saucers. The chakchak refers to a cone shaped sweet that is also on the table.
Chak-chak (Чак-чак) (chak-chak) is a dessert food made from deep-fried dough drenched in a hot honey syrup and formed into a certain shape, most commonly a mound or pyramid. It is popular all over the former Soviet Union. In Russia, chak-chak is especially associated with the Tatar and Bashkortostan republics, where it is considered a national dish. However, Central Asian nationalities such as Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz also lay claim to the dish… and it may have been originally taken from the Chinese. While the basic recipe is always very similar, how it is made differs from region to region.

Chak-chak is a symbol of celebration and hospitality. A whole made of many pieces, it symbolizes unity. Covered in honey, a natural preservative, it also lasts for a fairly long time – up to three weeks so long as it isn’t devoured quickly.
This is also my T-Party qualifier. Elizabeth and Bluebeard host this T-Party and all I need is a beverage. I'm not only sharing a beverage but also a sweet treat (chakchak).

My week has been good. The weather is still warm and sunny and hubby is having a break from his chemo. So we have decided to go on a little holiday. We are fortunate to live in a beautiful country and not from from us is the Cabo de Gata natural Park.
We have visited before and really like it. It is unspoilt nature. No hotels or nightclubs. In fact we are staying on a campsite and will be sleeping in our tent.

Here are a few places we have already visited (as I am writing this in advance):
Below is a restaurant where we had a lovely dinner right by the sea (a few years ago).

Our village has several ham producers. Or should I say ham dryers. Our ham is dry-cured and as the air is so dry here, apparently the climate is perfect for dry-curing ham. 
This is El Veleta on the roundabout to enter the village.

We mostly eat jamon serrano, but they also dry Iberian ham . Iberian ham is very expensive as it comes from a special black pig.

One of the ham dryers of our village holds a yearly ham-cutting competition. Cutting the ham is quite an art.

 It is cut in small slices and arranged on a plate:
I didn't actually attend but here are some photos from the local paper:

I don't know who won in the end, but I think they all did a fantastic job. Every plate is a work of art. 

That is it from me today. As I said before, I will schedule this and hope for the best.

Happy T-Day all,
Greetings from Andalucia (Cabo de Gata),

Friday 24 September 2021

A Postcard A Day - Friday 24 September 2021 - Friday Smiles

 Hello lovely ladies,

How are you all? I have lots of smiles for you today. The sun is shining and life is good.

First off my postcard:

It is a card by the famous Finnish illustrator Inge Look. She does funny illustrations of the 'older' aunties who seem to enjoy life no end. I want to be like them!
The stamp is from a series of baby animals and this is a baby dormouse:

It's been a nice week, not too hot with even a bit of rain.
This is what I have been up to:
Friday I put my Instant Pot to good use and I made stock from the chicken carcass. 
At some stage during the day we heard a loud 'bang' and one of my kombucha bottles exploded. It was a right old mess I can tell ya.
In the evening we visited our friends to check some of the plumbing he is working on. While we were there, junior arrived with his girl friend (she is Dutch), so that was really nice and we spent the evening catching up. (and had supper together too) . We love unexpected things like that. You think you are going to be just 15 minutes and the next thing you know, it's midnight!
Our chickens are doing well. They seem to be happy. They have been giving us some small eggs a few times a week. 
In the evening we got together for Intercambio (conversation with spanish people who want to practice their English). But several people had given their apologies as it was a nice day to go to the beach. So there were just the four of us. (More catching up).

On Sunday we didn't go anywhere. We watched online church. I cooked chicken curry with chicken meat from the roast chicken. I also baked a cake with my Herman sourdough.
On Monday one of our friends visited. She had taken her dog to the vets for an operation (tumor) and needed a shoulder to cry on while she waited. We took her to see the chickens by way of distraction before she had to go back to collect her dog.
Later on we went shopping in town and on the way back checked out the wood merchant to see what he has. As you can see, he has lots. Olive wood as well as almond and encina (holm oak). He has it all in large piles according to size. Very organized.
Tuesday is market day in our village. I needed some underwear so I popped out and came back with said underwear but also a cardigan and two leisure suits. Our friends met us at 12 and we took them to our weekend cave house, and then for lunch at a local restaurant. Then we visited Gorafe in the afternoon. All in all a fab day.

On wednesday morning I went to see my friend on the other side of the village (she wasn't home) but on the way I passed two graffiti sites. The eye has been there as long as we have lived here (10 years), the green street art I had never seen. 
I made some pasta in my Instant Pot and I had a glass of wine. 

On Thursday hubby went to collect some horse manure from a friend who keeps horses. He was away all morning and when he came home he met a man near our house and got talking. It was a Dutchman and I promptly invited him to dinner with us. (We have our main meal at 3) Turns out he was thinking of buying a house not from from ours and I guess he was sussing the neighbourhood.  He obviously got a good impression as he said he would buy that house when he left us a few hours later. (But I did not think of taking a photo). So when we joined our Bible study group later that evening, I took some pictures.

Now it's midnight, so I'm going to call it a day. Of course I will leave you with some funnies at the end, so don't go away.

Have a lovely weekend, and above all: 
Keep smiling!

The funnies today are not jokes as such, but solutions people have found for certain situations. Very clever some of them.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

A Postcard A Day - Tuesday 21 September 2021 - T for Tuesday - T for temples, geisha's, a guzheng and a hike

 Hello lovely ladies, It's Tuesday again and time to meet over a nice drink (or two). While we're sipping our beverage, I would like to show you two postcards from Japan. The first one was sent by Riel (Little Flower) and it features the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple in Kyoto.
Riel mentions it's one of the most popular, famous and crowded temples in Japan and that it is included in the UNESCO WHS list.

Wikipedia writes: Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period.[2] The temple was founded in 778 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu.[3] There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.[4][5]

It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times.[6] However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the "Kitahossō" sect.[7]

The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims.[8]

The popular expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese translation of the English expression "to take the plunge".[5] This refers to an Edo-period tradition that held that if one were to survive a 13-meter (43-foot) jump from the stage, one's wish would be granted. During the Edo period, 234 jumps were recorded, and of those, 85.4% survived.[5] The practice was prohibited in 1872.[5]

Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.

The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and "good matches".[4] Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of "love stones" placed 10 meters (30 feet) apart,[9] which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love.[10] One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person's romantic interest can assist them as well.

 The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially at New Year's and during obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs and souvenirs to throngs of visitors.[11]

In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera was one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World.,[12] but was not picked as one of the seven winning sites.

The stamp on the left is (I think) a mandarin duck, and down the side are the words International Letter Writing Week.
October 9 is World Post Day, commemorating the date in 1874 that the Universal Postal Union was established. The week surrounding this date is also marked as International Letter Writing Week.
The whole series for that year looks like this:

The stamp on the right (on my postcard) is a woman playing a guzheng. This is a guzheng:

It's a Japanese zither.
Here is a Youtube video to hear the sound of this instrument
This stamp series (of musical instruments) looks like this:

My second postcard is also from Japan and it features the Miyako Odon dances  of the Gion geisha, held during April. This annual event is the first sign of the coming spring in Kyoto.

Japan’s geisha are famous the world over, but as they usually perform only at small private gatherings in the teahouses of the geisha districts, it’s not often that visitors from overseas get to see them. Even having deep enough pockets to pay for a private geisha party isn’t good enough – you need an introduction from an existing client in order to gain admittance to the private and exclusive world of the geisha. Fortunately, Kyoto’s geisha communities put on annual public shows, which provide an opportunity for less-privileged ordinary people to see the geisha perform their arts. The most famous of these performances is the Miyako Odori, at which the geisha of the Gion Kobu geisha community perform.

Geiko and Maiko

Geiko are women trained in dance and music, with an emphasis on grace, beauty and dignity. (Kyoto geisha prefer to be called ‘geiko’ meaning ‘arts child’, rather than ‘geisha’, which means ‘arts person’.) Geiko communities are very traditional, and are governed by strict rules, and the Gion Kobu community is perhaps the most conservative of all. Geiko begin their careers as apprentices called ‘maiko’, usually aged fifteen. From then on, they move into a geiko house, and dedicate their lives to the geiko world. First they are trained in conduct becoming of a geiko – bowing deeply to show respect to their seniors, and undertaking everyday tasks with grace and elegance. They then move on to training in the geiko’s arts, such as music, dance and calligraphy, and they begin to join the geiko in entertaining clients in Kyoto’s teahouses. Around the age of twenty, maiko graduate from their apprenticeship, and become fully-fledged geiko.

The stamps are very pretty. 
The man on the brown stamp is the founder of the Japanese Postal System. 
Baron Maejima Hisoka (前島 密, January 24, 1835 – April 27, 1919), born Ueno Fusagorō (上野 房五郎), was a Japanese statesman, politician, and businessman in Meiji-period Japan. Maejima founded the Japanese postal service, and is known as Yūbin Seido no Chichi (郵便制度の父), or "Father of the Postal System".

Then there is another Letter Writing Week stamp. This time from 2020.

After having 'been' to Japan, we travel back with the intention of visiting Elizabeth and Bluebeard's T-Party. 

My qualifier for this T-Party is my Kombucha. I still make it regularly. Here are some bottles I did this week. They have to stay sealed like this for at least two weeks for their second fermentation.
Sometimes there is a duff bottle, and then we hear a loud 'Bang! and then we know another bottle has exploded. It happened a few times last year. This year only once (last week).

It makes a lot of mess. And the glass shards fly everywhere.

Here is a bottle that definitely didn't explode. We have finished drinking it and I am keeping the bottle so I can buy the same one again as we both like it.

It is Port of course.

On Friday I showed pictures of our excursion to the Alhambra in Granada, and today I will show some pictures of the mountain hike I did on Sunday.

I am wearing the pink top.

Most participants were young people, and there were a few families with children.  Apart from my gym teacher and me, there was nobody over 50.
This is a very old and tall pine.
The mountain was called La Sagra.

Standing on top of the world!
I like walking with my sticks.

That wraps it up for me. 
Happy T-Day all!