Friday, 26 December 2008

Peace to the World

It's been a Christmas of rings.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Fare

It's Christmas Eve and I'm a long way from home. So I made some Ponchecrema, a Trinidadian rum-laced eggnog that is very much part of our Chirstmas tradition.
This was my improvised recipe made with ingredients from the nearest grocery in the Berkshires. Ponchecrema Recipe
6 eggs
2 cans of condensed milk
2 cans of evaporated milk
Approx 18oz good rum
Good dash of nutmeg

Place first three ingredients in blender. Blend vigourously. Pour into jug. Add rum and stir. Chill. Serve in short highball glasses with lots of ice. Add dash of nutmeg before drinking.

To further get into the Chrismtas spirit - I roasted chestnuts for the first time. In the oven.

Blackberries are another novelty that we do not get in the Caribbean. So when we come across them, we buy them by the bucket. I couldn't resist hauling them out onto the counter and shooting them tonight. They are so pretty, it's hard to eat them. I always feel as if I am living out an Enid Blyton fanatasy when I eat blackberries!

Apples are apples all over the world. But I can now say that apples do taste better when eaten closer to the tree.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

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Niche 2009

I spent last weekend in Nevis for the annual NICHE food festival. It's no secret that Nevis is one of my favourite places on Earth and it was great to get back and see everyone again. We visited Mansa, the organic farmer on Friday morning and had a wonderful tour of his farm. The flower of the guava reminds me a bit of the coffee flower. It is not as fragrant but is absolutely beautiful. I find it amazing that these pure, almost virginal flowers go on to produce big, sturdy fruit. They would be beautiful on a table.

Mansa's fruit juices and wines. Ross kept saying to Mansa, what's that extra flavour in the sorrel? Bois Bande, replied Mansa proudly, Bois Bande!!!! It seems that Bois Bande does not carry the same potent response in Nevis as it does here in Trinidad. Anyway we advised to use sparingly, just in case.

Our Niche pan man.

These tomatoes are straight off the land. They look it, don't they?

Mansa uses this fruit to make jewellery. Each pod is a slighly different shade. I'm did not get the name of the tree.

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Friday, 21 November 2008

New Camera -Canon 50D

I am just making my way around my new camera.

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Monday, 10 November 2008

Of Paphs and Vanilla

To nonchanantly throw around the name "paph" is a risky thing. You run into the possibility that serious gardeners will mistake you for one of their own and then you will be tragically, out of your depth. I am making tentative steps towards growing "paphs" or PAPHIOPEDILUM (say it: paf-ee-oh-ped-i-lum...the Slipper Orchid), I am now the proud owner of Paph. Maudiae; who like a true slippered-lady, is most kind and tolerant of learners. She has come home with a striking flower just to cut a little style.

The pictures really do not do justice to the beauty of this flower. I suspect that I may be a true slipper-lover but it remains to be seen whether the feeling will be reciprocated. Growing conditions are quite similar to phaleonopsis.

Unfortunately I have never been successful because I still do not have a proper orchid house.

So it was with a certain amount of vicarious-ness that I brought Miss Slipper home. At the moment she is ensconced on my windowsill, keeping company with my fussy ferns. I hope they make her feel welcome and reassure her that it is not my intention to kill her! As the rainy season is coming to an end, I will try with tomatoes again. I find growing them in the rain a useless and frustrating exercise. But I had fairly good results last year so I shall try again.

Do not be fooled by the casual nonchalance of this leaf. It is the shy VANILLA plant. Apparently it is likely that I shall have to hand-pollinate to get a pod, but I am willing to dress up as a large insect if the prize is a vanilla pod.

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Interior of Memory

Trinidad's vernacular architecture is a reflection of its patchwork history. The only true indigenous architecture is probably the Ajoupa which was well established by the Amerindians by the time Columbus did his discovery dance on the shores of southern Trinidad. The Ajoupa was made of forest wood and covered in palm or carat leaves. But the most beloved of all the local architectural styles would still have to be The Gingerbread House design with its extensive fretwork and high ceilings.
The world of the fretwork and jalousied house provides the shadows and interesting crannies that make for the magical feel of these old homes.

Textures and patterns were designed to throw light and catch waning breezes. Trinidad embraced and built upon the original Victorian concept of the Gingerbread house because it paired so beautifully with our highly humid climate.
According to John Newel Lewis's Ajoupa. Architecture of the Caribbean. Trinidad's Heritage Republic of Trinidad and Tobago:
"The Victorians did not like harsh glare and they would not be pleased with today's interiors. In the Gingerbread house light and air were filtered through the eaves, the fretwork, the hanging plants, the galleries, the jalousies, windows and flowing curtains.
The sunshine was reduced to a soft glow and the rain was eliminated from the breeze. The invention of the fretsaw in 1865 has made the cut-out patterning of boards feasible and the light was then fragmented.
Nowaways some designers expect the glass louvre to do all this at once. It can't." p221

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Painting the Flowers

Trinidad has a very active art scene. Our artists are common sights around the country. There is a group that meets weekly to head out to different spots in Trinidad to paint. It's a useful exercise for artists to work together as it allows them to explore different techniques with the useful feedback of colleagues I was lucky to come across them in the Horticultural Society's Weekly Flower Sale. I was there with my camera so I had a different experience but it was interesting to watch them work. Peter Sheppard is well known for his miniatures and he was "stretching", enjoying the opportunity to work in a different style.

The vibe with this group is always lovely This week they are due to go to the Boissierre House around the savannah. The palettes were works of art in themselves

Peter Sheppar is a well respected artist in both local and regional circles. He is best known for his richly detailed miniatures.

Beverley Fitzwilliam Harries and Carolyn Lewis at work

Peter's different piece, I would challenge anyone to identify this as a Peter Sheppard.

A simple start to a ginger lily. Very interesting in black and white as it shows up the overlying bracts of the flower.A bank of anthuriums

A nationalistic bromeliad




6 OCT Y ART GALLERY Shastri Maharaj

7 OCT IN2ART Hinkson/Sundiata/DeVerteuil

14 OCT HORIZONS Tonia St Cyr

14 OCT 101 ART GALLERY Che Lovelace

21 OCT IN2ART Janice Derreck

28 OCT 101 ART GALLERY Lisa O'Connor

28 OCT HORIZONS Gabby Besson and Enrique Lobo



04 NOV IN2ART Omowale/Tessa Alexander/Karen Hale Jackson

17 NOV Y ART GALLERY Peter Sheppard

18 NOV IN2ART Keith Ward

25 NOV ASTT GALLERY Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago Annual Exhibition


01 DEC Y GALLERY Beverley Fitzwilliam Harries

02 DEC IN2ART Carol Sue Lum

02 DEC HORIZONS Robert Mackay

06 DEC 101 GALLERY Boscoe Holder

13 DEC IN2ART Debra Milne

13 DEC Y GALLERY Christmas Show-Mixed Artists-Miniatures

21 DEC IN2ART Christmas Show

*Event dates subject to change. Please verify the event you are interested in with respective Gallery.
I have sourced this information from the Facebook page of The Art Society of Trinidad.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Lapeyrouse Cemetery

Lapeyrouse Cemetery's span is apparent from the 21st floor of the new Nicholas Tower in downtown Port of Spain. It lies north east of Victoria Square; two city blocks west of the savannah.
This afternoon it is lively and busy with industrious grave painters;flower arrangement vendors; and devoted family members for even though today is November 1st, the fading light is dotted with the soft glow of candles lighted to celebrate the memory of the dead. (All Soul's Day (sometimes called the "Day of the Dead") is always November 2 (November 3rd if the 2nd falls on a Sunday). All Soul's Day is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. This comes from the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. cemetery mirrors our society with extraordinary parallels. It is rich with history and stranger-than-fiction tales told by mossy headstones. It is laid out, like Port of Spain, in an organised grid pattern. So that in death, as in life, you are given an address. It's a reassuring thought and one that brings an odd sense of comfort.
Walking through the wide avenues of this heavily populated city of the deadit is possible to trace the history of Port of Spain. Here on the right as you enter, are the Chinese graves with their Chinese writing.On the left side of the main avenue is the large de Verteuil family crypt and down each avenue the histories beg to be told, each headstone a whole life lived. The first occurence of cholera in Trinidad was in 1853. "For two frightening months the epidemic raged and there were over two thousand deaths in Port of Spain out of a population of about 20,000. Whole families were wiped out and almost one in five persons in Port of Spain caught the disease." P93 Voices in the Street -Olga Mavrogordato. The last recorded outbreak of cholera was documented in 1865. It is said that the casualties of the cholera epidemic created this cemetery city. According to Olga Mavrogordato's Voices In the Street, "all the space from Richmond Street, between Tragarete Road and Fraser Street, as enclosed by a wall and called the Old Cemetery. It can be assumed that Lapeyrouse Cemetery came into being officially sometime after 1813. However it is recorded that there exists therein a headstone of one Jean Creteau who died in 1745. This shows that it must have been used as a cemetery during the Spainish occupation." P.20
Lapeyrouse Cemetery has fallen into disrepair over the last half-a-century; a severe indictment on a society that allows its dead to languish in squalour. It is currently populated by tenacious goats and equally formidable vagrants.
But on this afternoon in November, all is well for the moment and the soft murmur of families as they stroll through the avenues is a reassuring reminder that our dead live within us and not alone in the dusty vaults and crypts of a decaying cemetery.