Gardening and Royal Visits

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Well on this long weekend of the Official Birthday of the Queen, the weather has taken a turn for the warm to really warm. Which is very nice because it gives nature a chance to push out the leaves on trees and flowers everywhere.

I was shopping for spices and herbs at the grocery store and noticed how the package stuff is very expensive now. Per example 100 gr of black pepper is $10. any other spices start at $9.99 for 80 gr which is nothing, and goes up from there some of it as much as $17. this makes no sense at all. So I got an idea, there are certain herbs we use all the time so why not buy them in little pots and plant them in planters on our terrace. This is what I did, I got 4 different herbs for $10, Italian parsley, thyme, mint, chives. They will grow all Summer long and no need to buy them again and it smells very nice. I will look at flowers later but will buy something simple.

This past week we had a visit to Canada of the Heir to the Throne HRH Prince Charles and his wife HRH the Duchess of Cornwall.

There was a lot of news articles in the papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post who got the visit all wrong, which showed that their reporters are not well informed or prefer the same of platitudes instead of facts. It is also tiresome to hear about the dead Diana, she is dead and she is not coming back, that was 25 years ago and frankly who cares. The constant harping on how nice she was etc is nonsense. She was no saint so let’s not get all teary eyed about it. Prince Charles is now married happily with Camilla and that is it, she is also very much appreciated for all the good work she does and is a sensible person, which is a hell of a lot more than can be said about the late Diana.

The other line used by the media and the media in Canada is also guilty of that, is the line that Charles in not popular and will not be king. Really? how do you arrive at that conclusion. The line of succession and the British Constitution does not care what the popular press may think or what Mrs Boopsy in Buttfuck Kansas may like or not like. The reality is that popularity has nothing to do with it. This was the fatal and silly mistake Meghan M. made, thinking that her popularity at the beginning would make her Queen one day. The fact that some people in Canada may not like Charles because of Diana, does not change a thing. When HM Queen Elizabeth dies, he automatically becomes King on that very moment, Camilla will be Queen Consort and that is all there is to it. The new Heir presumptive will be HRH Prince William and then his son HRH Prince George. Harry Meghan who?

In this photo taken in Newfoundland, we see HRH Prince Charles receiving the Royal Salute, behind him is his ADC an Royal Canadian Air Force Officer, and the fellow in Red is a Ranger. The Flag is Prince Charles Royal Standard while he is in Canada.

Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy and this is enshrined in our Constitution, it is impossible to change our Canadian Constitution, because in 1982, the father of our current Prime Minister, Pierre E. Trudeau and the Premiers agreed to an article on amendments and then the Supreme Court made a ruling on the amending formula. So if Canadians wanted to become a Republic with an elected President, we would need unanimous consent from the House of Commons and from the Senate and the consent of 10 Provinces. So as you can see, it ain’t going to happen. Some Provinces who would oppose such changes, Quebec, PEI, Ontario, the Native people of Canada, all have a stake in keeping things the way they are. Since 1982 some Prime Ministers tried to amend the Constitution on various points, they were unable to get unanimous consent and in the end their own government fell. So no an intelligent Prime Minister stays away from such talk.

Yes, Prince Charles one day will be King of Canada. The only way this would not happen would be for him to die or decide like his Uncle to Abdicate, we all know what happen to Edward VIII and Miss Simpson. Why the press continues to weave this silly story, I do not know, I put it on their lack of intelligence, education, knowledge about our Constitution or care in general. It’s cheap and it’s easy to write drivel when the public knows little.

YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories, CANADA – MAY 19: Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales waves goodbye from the Canadian Government Plane before departing for the UK at the end of their Platinum Jubilee Royal Tour of Canada on May 19, 2022.

Progress

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This morning as in all mornings since I started on this new nutrition program I weigh myself, 5 week ago I was at the initial weight of 87 kg, today I am at 81 Kg. In pounds this is 191 lbs to 178 lbs. a lost of 13 lbs. I want to go down to 74 Kg, so 7 Kg to go. I am very happy with the results and the encouragement of my nutritionist Austin. This means I have 15 more pounds to loose, does not seem so daunting now. My next step is to get to 79 Kg. which was my weight 3 years ago and then the final leg to 74 Kg. or 163 lbs. Once a nutritionist in Rome told me that 70 Kg would be my ideal weight, that seemed to me as too low making me look ill.

Summer has arrived and so far it is has been a quiet time. We are going away in a few days to Iles de la Madeleine, (Magdalene Islands) which are 5 hours by Ferry from PEI in the middle of the Gulf of St-Lawrence. These Islands are a speck of sand and part of the underwater ridge from the last ice age. They are known for their scenic beauty, great seafood, they are part of the Province of Quebec, the population speaks French mostly and I think that if a visitor does not speak French they might have some difficulties.

It is a very seasonal place, it has a small permanent population of 12,000 but the tourist season is very short basically 1 June to 4 September. I have no idea what winters are like on the Magdalenes but I would think it is epic. You can fly to them from Montreal.

Will was there once, I have never been. Will check the weather to see what it is like at this time of the year, I think it would be cool.

Halifax and back

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I heard a little story tonight taken from the 1723 City Council Meeting of Leipzig in Saxony where J.S.Bach made his career and where he lived with his family. The City Council was looking to hire a new Cantor (music director) and they had their sight on Georg Philip Telemann who was at the time the most famous musician in Europe. The other candidate was J.S.Bach, the job was offered to Telemann but he turned it down, he had better offers elsewhere. So in the minutes of the meeting you can read that the job was then offered to J.S. Bach though the City Councillor thought he was a mediocre choice.

Last Saturday was the Platinum Jubilee Dinner to celebrate 70 years in the Reign of HM Queen Elizabeth, I was on the committee to organize this dinner at the Club. It was a great evening and the PEI Regimental Band played during dinner. The food was exceptional and everyone had a great evening, even the weather was gorgeous. Because I lost weight I was able to fit into my wool/silk Italian suit very comfortably. The Lieutenant Governor attended as our Vice-regal Patron and she came with her ADC who is Commanding Officer of the HMCS Queen Charlotte, he is quite young, can’t be more than 35. I told him he had a good resemblance like a young Tsar Nicholas II, the Lieutenant Governor laughed, she said, Oh Laurent only you would think of saying such a thing.

Here I am with the two members who worked on this evening for 4 months, I was happy to be able to assist.

On Monday I drove 3 hours in fog and rain to Halifax and because it was Monday lots of big trucks on the road. I was tired when I got to my destination. I picked up the 6 Oriental carpets from the shop Tabrizi who had cleaned them following the traditional method.

Stayed in downtown Halifax one block away from the Provincial Legislature just below the Citadel. Halifax is a big city and it has loads of history and great heritage buildings. It was the first City the British created in 1745 in their war of conquest against France. So the City has this garrison appearance with its great citadel at the top of the hill, forts in the islands defending the approaches to the City. Many old cemeteries to British Officers and soldiers, many in the Royal Navy. The street names are reminders of the old alliances between Prussia, German Principalities and the UK, like Dresden Row, Coburg. Many of the early settlers were also German and Dutch mercenaries brought over from Europe by Britain to fight the French.

The abundance of stone gives the city a great appearance with its Georgian architecture. One place worth visiting in Halifax is the Public Gardens first designed in 1837 and then enlarge and opened to the public in 1875, the designer was Richard Power and this is one of the rare surviving Victoria era garden in Canada. Bedding patterns, exotic foliage, the serpentine, favourite Victorian era flowers, trees, and bushes, there is also the old bandstand, benches, statuary all original of the period. It is a delight to walk in this garden situated along Spring Garden Road.

The Diamond Jubilee Fountain erected in 1897 in the Public Gardens for Queen Victoria.

Shopping in Halifax is also fun, they have quite a variety of luxury products and other items simply hard to find or not available in Charlottetown, we are a very small town. I did stop at IKEA, they have 3 of them, I did not realize that until I looked at the map. I had some items to get for the Club and at the same time I bought dishes for the house. They also have a wonderful chocolate shop on Morris street by the new Library. They had Ginger covered in dark chocolate by Roger’s, a Canadian Company. I also found this coffee cup for Will.

Will loved it!

The drive back was fairly easy, the weather was sunny and warm. I hope to return to Halifax in the Fall with more carpets to clean. Though I was speeding on the Hwy and at the first traffic circle entering Charlottetown, the RCMP caught me. The Officer Parsons was nice enough to let me go with only a $130. ticket, it could have been much worse, I was 20 miles over the speed limit.

This past week

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This week one of the great Opera singer died, Teresa Berganza
March 16, 1933 – May 13, 2022. She truly was a star of the Opera stage and lucky those who heard her perform. Will did many times. He wrote a blog entry on her passing. willyorwonthe.wordpress.com/2022/05/13/another-great-has-left-the-stage

Tomorrow morning I am going away to Halifax, 3 hours down the road off Island. I am collecting my 6 Oriental carpets from the cleaners of such rugs in Bedford a suburb of Halifax. I will return to PEI on Tuesday.

Last night at the Club, we had a mix-in Military Dinner with members of the PEI Regiment and the regimental bands, Members of the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force. Everyone was wearing their Mess Kit. The food was wonderful the main course was a filet of Beef Wellington, one of my favourite dishes. The best part was because I have lost 11 lbs I was able to wear comfortably my Italian silk and wool dark blue suit. I bought that suit in Rome in 2010. I could not wear it because I had gained so much weight.

Here I am in the Great room of Farringford House with my fellow members in their mess kit of the PEI Regiment, the fellow next to me is a Colonel and the other fellow a Captain, both now retired from the Armed Forces.

I still need to loose 20 lbs. I was asked to make the Loyal Toast to Her Majesty at the dinner this being the Platinum Jubilee Year. I followed the formula of Windsor Castle, not the one President Obama got caught it by speaking the name of the Queen to soon which is always the cue for the band leader to give the signal to start playing the Royal Anthem. Once they start they cannot stop. So I was careful to word it properly and we had the Royal Anthem on cue.

Because the Lieutenant Governor was also present, the band played the Royal Salute upon her arrival with her ADC a Canadian Royal Navy Commodore. There is a lot of protocol in such dinners, the food was fantastic, the wines and the port was also very good. Throughout the evening the Band played including Canadian Regimental marches.

H.H. Antoinette Perry, Lieutenant Governor of PEI with members of the PEI Regimental Band and her ADC, Cdr John Macdonald, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Charlottetown on the right.

Still Life paintings

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Dutch painting of the Baroque age, by

Willem Claesz Heda in 1635, our friend Reg Porter who is an award winning historian living in PEI loves books and paintings and I am borrowing this image from his page. regporter.com

This painting is in the RIJKS Museum in Amsterdam, a place that is splendid and newly renovated. The Dutch a protestant merchant nation, truly revolutionized painting with the Protestant Reformation, abandoning the strict school of painting dictated by the Vatican. They had no reasons to follow such narrow confines and invented their own style based on the life in the Netherlands. I always loved those paintings, the detail alone is magnificent, look at the artistry of painting a tablecloth so real you believe you can touch it. The same can be said of the food, the glassware, pewter. The light also in such paintings is always very natural you can almost if you look carefully tell what time of the day it is. In this painting I would guess it is around 1pm.

You can also see a lot of Dutch painters in London, the political alliance between House Of Orange, King William III and Queen Mary, the trade links between the Low countries and England saw lots of exchanges at many levels.

The Fishmonger Hall in London a Georgian Style building next to London Bridge has many paintings by Arnold Von Hacken, here are some of his still life of fish and seafood. He like other painters of the 17th century worked for bankers, merchants, corporations like the Fishmongers who would hire painters to decorate their Halls or Mansions.

The paintings are entitled Wonders of the deep, depicting fish from the rivers of England, the North Sea or Channel. Each painting is a large canvas and is rich in detail, the fish look freshly caught

There are many more better known painters of this era, Vermeer, Van Ruisdael, Rembrandt, Steen, Hals, but they all were in the business of teaching or painting for patrons who gave them commissions. Maybe by looking at such paintings you may think of a fish dish to enjoy. It was Samuel Pepys in his famous diaries describes the barrel of oysters he would eat at lunch in a pub in London near Whitehall where he worked. All was very fresh since the boats came up the river each day and deliver their catch, somewhat like they do here in PEI.

Watching

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Today I was watching the State Opening of Parliament at Westminster. The ceremonial is interesting and it is about a multitude of details and how it is very different from the way we, in Canada, open Parliament in Ottawa with the Governor General or even with the Queen.

The parade from Buckingham Palace which is undergoing major renovations at this time, saw a first maroon coloured Rolls Royce with the Imperial State Crown with its 3000 precious stones and large diamonds on a cushion on display with a senior military officer being driven down to Parliament. The second maroon coloured Rolls Royce had 2 senior Officers one carrying the Cap of Maintenance and the other the Great Sword of State of 1685 which represent the authority of the Sovereign. The Cap of Maintenance is a strange hat a gift of the Pope , it was first gifted to both Henry VII and Henry VIII during their respective reigns.

The Kings were so pleased to have received this special privilege from The Vatican, they paraded the Cap on a stick around the City of London to solidify the monarch’s authority.

The third Rolls Royce carries 2 Royal Mace which are so large that the windows are open and they stick out. The Procession continues with a fourth Rolls Royce, today carrying HRH Prince William and finally the last car carried HRH The Prince of Wales and his wise the Duchess of Cornwall. As they past down Great George Street the honour guard will give the Royal Salute to each passing car.

This year the HRH Prince Charles entered the House of Peers (Lords) by the door on the Left of the Throne and exited the same way, though he is the Heir, he still represented the Sovereign, usually the Queen enters by the right door to the Throne and exits by the left door this for practical reasons as she explained once, wearing the long Ermine cape it is so heavy that it is not possible to walk backwards.

HRH Prince William accompanied by Lord Chomondoley (pronouced Chumley) who is Lord Great Chamberlain of England who walks in front of the Sovereign with the white staff.

The order in which members of the Royal Family arrive anywhere is prescribed order by rank of seniority, the junior first and the senior last. In this case Prince William arrived before his father Prince Charles.

Today the seating in the House of Peers (Lords) was re-arranged to show rank on the dais.

Prince William is below the Throne on the left of the photo next to Baroness Evans of Bowes. Prince Charles sits on the Throne reserved for the Heir on the right, the Imperial State Crown is next to him in the post where usually the Throne of the Queen would be. Next Camilla Duchess of Cornwall.

Unlike Canada, the Prime Minister and other MPs are at the back of the room by the door. In Canada the Prime Minister sits next to the Throne, while MPs are gathered at the back of the Senate Chamber. In Canada if the Queen opens Parliament, there is no Crown, but she will wear a tiara, usually the Queen Alexandra Kokoshnik Tiara of 1888.

The pomp today in Parliament was somewhat restrained given the Queen was not present and honours for the Heir to the Throne cannot be similar. Also I found that Prince Charles and Prince William were subdued in their demeanor. No doubt they know more about the Queen’s state of health than we do. The opening parliament is one of the Queen’s most important constitutional duties, and she can’t just ask someone else to do it for her. She had to issue Letters Patent that enabled two of her Counsellors of State—the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge—to perform the duty in her place. The Prince of Wales was deputized to read the speech on his mother’s behalf.

Prince Charles wore the uniform of Admiral of the Fleet, the same one that was worn by his father for years for the same event. You’ll note that the orders worn with the uniform include the collar and star of the Order of the Garter, the dark green sash and star of the Order of the Thistle, and the neck badge of the Order of the Bath.

It was in a way a look at how it will be when Prince Charles becomes King and Camilla is Queen Consort. Prince William will then be the Heir.

Past history

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Many years ago, in 1991 when I left my post in Cairo and moved on to the Consulate General in Chicago, the staff at the Embassy gave me a book on Muslim Dynasties and the lavish Courts surrounding them in period 1869-1952. Most of the ruling houses were brushed aside by British, French and other colonial powers. If you visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, there are countless treasures from that world on display, from precious carpets, jewels, embroidered precious cloth with precious stones, gold thrones and many other priceless artifacts all of which ended up in Museums as spoils of Imperialism. Such museums exist in England, France, Austria, Germany, Russia, etc…

What was lost was not only the Kingdoms and Princely States and their rulers, but language and culture, old ways of living and countless traditional and ancient ways societies functioned and also political stability in many regions of the world, which explains the problems of today. The book in French is titled; Splendeur des sultans, Les Dynasties musulmanes by author Philip Mansel. Beautifully illustrated with photos of rulers, their families and their troubled and complicated relationship with the colonial powers.

Presented in this book are royal dynasties of Turkey (Ottoman Empire), Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Persia (Iran), Afghanistan. All these Royal Courts had an Oriental flavour and with the 20th century became more and more influenced by their colonial rulers which led to their downfall.

Philip Mansel has written many well researched books on Royal Courts and their habits, history and intricacies, much of which is often misunderstood.

Philip Mansel, author of 14 books, lecturer and restorer of heritage buildings, lives in London, UK.

Another Author whose books I have read with delight is Naguib Mahfouz, who won the Nobel Prize of Literature for his work on Egyptian life. He is the first to win the Nobel for his writing in his native language Arabic. In his lifetime he published many celebrated novels on Old Cairo, where he was born, a world that has unfortunately vanished, though the buildings and the streets are still there to see if you care to walk and look.

I read quite a few of Mahfouz’s books while living in Cairo between 1989-1991, he was still alive then, an old man almost blind and he could be seen having coffee at the Marriott Hotel in Zamalek. His book Children of the Alley, was banned by the authorities, Midaq Alley and the trilogy Palace Walk, where fascinating to read, among others. Mahfouz was a brilliant story teller, today it would be difficult to imagine his world in Cairo.

Mahfouz, produced a rich and complex body of work, including more than 30 novels and 350 short stories, many of which were adapted for film. For many years, he also wrote a weekly column for Egypt’s leading newspaper, Al-Ahram.

The Nobel citation said that, “through works rich in nuance — now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous” — Mahfouz had created “an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.” You can still find his books on Amazon, truly timeless.

Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006)

Another author I read whose books is Gertrude Margaret Lowthian BellCBE (14 July 1868 – 12 July 1926) was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, and archeologist. She was closely connected with Churchill to the creation by the British Government of several Arab Kingdom, Iraq was the one Kingdom she was the most associated with, Syria and Jordan with Saudi Arabia were more closely associated with Colonel T.E. Lawrence. She was a spy and an agent of British Imperialism in the Middle East a very active player in setting policy. Her books describe her journeys in and around what would becomeSyria, Iraq and Iran. Others are letters giving a glimpse in her thinking. They are very interesting and again it is a world which 100 years later has disappeared, though it is helpful in understanding the evolution of that part of the world and the divisions between the Kurds, the Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims in Iraq and how those divisions would be exploited by the likes of Saddam Hussein.

Gertrude L. Bell (1868-1926) advisor to Kings and the British Government.

There are other authors more connected with the time of the old dynasties, Abbasid, Fatimid and Umayyad. Absolutely beautiful to read, Abu Nuwas (756-814) and also modern Arab women writers and they are prolific, their writings are a breath of fresh air and show a very different picture of what many imagine Muslim societies to be like.

I always believed that reading about a region and its people helps give you a better understanding and knowledge in dealing with people.

Stumbling upon

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As it often happens today I stumbled upon a video on YouTube from a fellow who travels on his motorcycle around the world. He lives in Germany and is a German Citizen but originally he is from Pakistan. His videos are in Urdu with English subtitles. I watched several of his videos, they are fascinating. He travelled from Germany down to Turkey and then on to Iran and to Iraq then to Kuwait and presently he is in Saudi Arabia for the EID. His name is Abrar which in Pakistan is a masculine name but in Arab countries it is feminine. Abrar is also a verse in the Quran.

He meets quite a few people and he is recognized by some people because his videos have gone viral. What I find interesting is the world he shows us in his travel and a lot of it I remember from my own experience and life in the Middle-East. The people, the culture, the food, also the kindness and courtesy of people, always helpful and friendly, this is what I remember. Seeing those videos I miss that part of the world. So I went across the street to DAL who sells Kumpir or stuffed potatoes and makes an excellent Turkish coffee with cardamon seed, such good coffee served in demi-tasse bought in Istanbul, so you get the whole experience. I have started to put cardamon seeds in my morning espresso, love the flavour.

City of Mecca, the Royal Clock Tower at 680 meters. Dominates the old city and the Holy Al-Haram Mosque.

The Abraj Al-Bait Towers also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, is seen from Jabal al-Noor or ‘Mountain of Light’ overlooking the holy city of Mecca. Over three million Muslims from around the world are expected to perform the upcoming Hajj or pilgrimage. (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NUR ELDINE/AFP)

Weight wise it is going very well, I started one month ago and was at 191 lbs, now I am at 180 lbs and the ultimate goal is 163 lbs. so if all goes according to plan I should be able to reach this goal by end June early July. I would love to simply maintain that weight, I will ask my nutritionist how to maintain it.

I have to say that so far I have not had any issue with feeling hungry, I also noticed that when suddenly I think I am hungry it is usually not hunger but tiredness or anxiety, a glass of water and a few raw almonds will solve the problem. Drinking more water minimum 1 Litre a day is not difficult, I can drink up to 2 litres, this also helps a lot with eliminating salt and washing away fat. I feel so much better now.

So far the cruise ship business has been very quiet. Some 3 ships came and went but I did not see many people, in fact I am told that most ships are about 25% full. Two cruise ships have cancelled stops in PEI. We may get more flights and car traffic this year. Several airlines have added flights to PEI and air traffic appears to be back to normal prior to 2020.

We also have a few new restaurants in town catering to a more up-scale crowd, which is a good thing, there is certainly a demand for it. One opened on Great George Street called Abbiocco which in Italian means relaxation. The restaurant has only been open for 5 days and has been a big success so far. The other one I am told will be called Rocket Fish at the corner of Queen street and Richmond street. It will be a up market fish and seafood restaurant. I know that the people setting it up will spend at least 2 million dollars to refit the space which was a tourist shop for many years and the building itself is 1880, all brick and built by William C. Harris, a famous architect who was also a musician. However this restaurant will not open until August given the state of construction and renovations.

There is definitely a change over in terms of restaurants in town, we appear to be catering more to the local crowd and less so to the tourist crowd, there is always the tourist restaurants with the typical fare geared to the budget of families or older tourists. Cruise ship tourists do not necessarily go to a restaurant since food is provided on board.

Lastly we are told to wait for Monday 9 May which is Victory Day for Russia marking the end of WWII. Apparently Putin will declare either victory on Ukraine or make a formal declaration of war and enact conscription to raise more troops. His side kick former Russian President Medvedev made a speech declaring that Russia will extend its territory from the Pacific to Portugal, sort of pie in the sky speech. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also made statements accusing Israel of supporting the Nazis in Kyiv. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett jumped at this statement. All in all this will not end well. Finally let us not forget that the Soviet Union under Stalin and Nazi Germany in 1939 had a secret treaty to divide the world, only in 1942 after being attacked by Hitler’s troops did Stalin change sides and asked for the help of the allies. Unfortunately I find that what I see and hear now is far too similar to events 80 years ago.

Ribbentrop-Stalin-Molotov in 1939 at the signing of the secret treaty to divide the world. Good friends and allies then.

Today is Friday?

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*** I started to write this post on Friday and now it’s Monday 2 May.

The weeks go by so quickly, May is just around the corner and the weather is getting nicer by the day though still cold given we are an island in the Gulf and it will only get warm around 1 June. Tourists are few and the first cruise ship arrived this week however it only had 320 passengers. It would appear that cruising is not back and people are still shy about getting on those boats.

Major scandal in Charlottetown at City Hall, you see the problem with PEI it is very small and the everyone on the Island is related in some fashion and outsiders (non-Islanders) are kept out of Government jobs, so yes there is a small mafia running the show in every government department.

This time it’s the CAO or Chief Administrative Officer who was hired by the former Mayor 5 years ago, there was a cloud with that person stepping into what is an important job. Many problems have surfaced since and now the current Mayor and City Council are embarrassed and looking at ways of ditching the guy. The press as a field day with this story and an election is coming in 6 months. This guy is an albatross around the neck of Council and it will be difficult to get rid of him.

Other scandal involving the Premier Dennis King and his wife who got a huge grant for her business without going through regular channels. It made quite a raucous and so she returned the money. The Premier said he had no idea, of course.

On another note I have re-discovered the music of composer Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) born near Weimar and died in Zerbst, the home town of Catherine the Great of Russia, who was born in a noble Prussian family and married into the Romanov family. He held a very important musical position in Zerbst as Kappelmeister and would have known the father of Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst, later to become Empress Catherine of Russia, as he would also have known her.

Fasch musical style is baroque and suits what is known as the age of Princes, elegant and beautiful. George Frideric Handel also a contemporary of Fasch wrote in the same style. As I am sure many other composers of that era.

On you Tube I noticed the number of site visiting so called abandoned mansions or homes. What I wonder is how many such places actually exist and why is it that in most cases it looks all very staged. One scenario is of a home that is fully furnished and it looks as if the residents just left a few moments ago. In some places you can see that the property are probably not occupied and water damage, vandalism has taken place. But I wonder what is the thrill of going through buildings which are closed to have a look inside, it is morbid in a way. It also gets you clicks on your site. Similar channels on cemeteries and mausoleums, abandoned burial places, old funeral homes etc.

On the other hand we have discovered a lot of great recipe sites and wonderful new cooking experiences. I have also started a diet with a nutritionists and have in the last 17 days lost about 9 lbs. which is encouraging, I hope to loose another 20 lbs. and mostly I do hope to keep it off. This way I can wear comfortably all those Italian clothes I have in my closet. I was at 87 kg and I am now at 82 kg. I am happy with the results – 11 lbs.

Two Birthdays

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Today is the 2775 Birthday of the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus.

The founding of Rome is an official birthday in Italy.

The legend of the founding of the Rome tells the story of Romulus and Remus, two brothers who founded a settlement on the banks of the Tiber river after being raised by a she-wolf in the nearby countryside.   

They could not agree exactly where to build, and ended up fighting in what is now the Circus Maximus . Romulus won the fight, killed his brother and named the city after himself, as well as becoming Rome’s first king. Rome then was nothing more than a village with about 100 people.

As Rome grew and grew, eventually becoming a vast, sprawling empire, the story of Romulus and Remus, the she-wolf and the fight to establish the city continued to be told.

The second Birthday is that of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada in the 70th year of Her Reign. HM is 96 years old today. Only two other Sovereigns had long reigns King George III (60 years) and Queen Victoria (64 years).

Celebrating the first ever Platinum Jubilee