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On June 2, 1946 Italy became a Republic after a referendum to abolish the Monarchy, King Umberto II of the House of Savoy left for exile in Switzerland where he died in 1983. So today is la Festa della Repubblica Italiana.  An event we witnessed while living in Rome. Highly ceremonial and done well with a great military parade on Via del Foro Romano. The Italians love uniforms and parades and we discovered that the Italian Navy has a cavalry regiment probably the only one in the world. This video is about the ceremony at the Altar to the Nation on Piazza Venezia, the centre of Rome and before the military parade which takes place moments later behind this giant white marble monument amongst the ruins of the Roman Empire. The Ceremony is presided by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella accompanied by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.




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It is said that the tulip flower comes from Turkey and its shape inspired the turbans worn by Ottoman Officials and the Sultan.


Whatever the story here is a photo taken this week at Vanco Farms in Dromore PEI. A giant field of tulips about 25 varieties grown here on the Island for markets in Canada and elsewhere. Quite the sight to see, impressive, no need to fly to Holland to see this sight. It will be all over in a few more days when the tulips will be cut and will be available here and elsewhere. In fact I have bough tulips as early as a month ago at the local market, the price is anywhere from $5 to $8 dollars a bunch. Makes such a beautiful bouquet.

Spring is blooming in all directions at the Vanco Farms in the 50-acre tulip field in Dromore. Between 20 and 25 varieties – millions of bulbs – are planted, creating row after row of colour. The process of topping, which is cutting off the flowers, will take place in the next seven to 10 days.

new Coat of Arms for Meghan


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“The design of the Arms was agreed and approved by The Queen and Mr. Thomas Woodcock (Garter King of Arms and Senior Herald in England), who is based at the College of Arms in London,” royal reporter Omid Scobie wrote on Twitter. The press release for the announcement also gave the first glimpse of Markle’s official letterhead as a royal.


Symbolism-wise, the Palace explained the meaning of everything in its press release: “The blue background of the shield represents the Pacific Ocean off the California coast, while the two golden rays across the shield are symbolic of the sunshine of The Duchess’s home state. The three quills represent communication and the power of words.” Markle did run a lifestyle blog, after all.

“Beneath the shield on the grass sits a collection of golden poppies, California’s state flower, and wintersweet, which grows at Kensington Palace,” the press release continued. “It is customary for Supporters of the shield to be assigned to Members of the Royal Family and for wives of Members of the Royal Family to have one of their husband’s Supporters and one relating to themselves. The Supporter relating to The Duchess of Sussex is a songbird with wings elevated as if flying and an open beak, which with the quill represents the power of communication.”

“A Coronet has been assigned to The Duchess of Sussex. It is the Coronet laid down by a Royal Warrant of 1917 for the sons of daughters of the Heir Apparent. It is composed to two crosses patée , four fleurs-de-lys and two strawberry leaves.”

Markle worked closely with the College of Arms during the design process so it’d be “both personal and representative.”



She is known as Her Royal Highness Duchess Meghan and is styled as Duchess of Sussex. She is not a princess and is not referred as such, that dignity is reserved to those born in the Royal Family. She also has to curtsy to her sister in law the Duchess of Cambridge because by rank she is more senior than Duchess Meghan. Her husband HRH Prince Harry is now 6th in line to the Throne and is unlikely to ever become King. Order of precedence is very important at Court and rank decides the life you will have, where you will live and the functions assigned to you by the Sovereign.

What a beautiful day


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This morning I got up to watch at 8am PEI time the wedding of HRH Prince Henry and Ms Rachel Meghan Markle in St-George Chapel in Windsor. Her dress by Givenchy simple chic and elegant, the Queen Mary Bandeau tiara created by Cartier in 1932 and worn again by HRH Princess Margaret in 1965, rarely seen but quite beautiful. HM the Queen loaned the tiara to Ms Markle.


HRH Prince Henry was wearing military uniform of the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the cavalry formed in 1969. The Queen is the colonel-in-chief of this regiment – and granted Prince Harry permission to wear this particular uniform for his big day. His brother HRH Prince William is wearing a similar uniform.

Both uniforms were crafted at Savile Row tailor, Dege & Skinner. Prince Henry wears the breast star decoration of the Royal Victorian Order and his brother wears the breast star of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.



For the evening party at Frogmore hosted by the Prince of Wales, the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex left the castle in a Jaguar E-Type Zero the world’s most beautiful electric car.


It all went very well and it was a beautiful day. She fits in very well and we can wish them all the happiness in the world.




 The wedding cake beautifully presented 

An air for Spring


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Today is such a wonderful day, full of sunshine and flowers everywhere, despite the cold breeze. Nothing better than to listen to this operette by Jean-Jacques Rousseau of 1752 to put you in the mood, so let’s all go into the garden  dansez sous les ormeaux!


Allons danser sous les ormeaux,
Animezvous jeunes fillettes :
Allons danser sous les ormeaux,
Galans prenez vos chalumeaux.
Les Villageoises répetent ces quatre vers.


Répétons mille chansonnettes,
Et pour avoir le cœur joyeux,
Dansons avec nos amoureux,
Mais n’y restons jamais seulettes.
Allons danser sous les ormeaux, &c.

Les Villageoises.

Allons danser sous les ormeaux, &c.


À la Ville on fait bien plus de fracas ;
Mais sontils aussi gais dans leurs ébats ?
Toujours contens,
Toujours chantans ;
Beauté sans fard,
Plaisir sans art ;
Tous leurs Concerts valentils nos musettes ?
Allons danser sous les ormeaux, &c.

Books I am reading


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Periodically I write about what I am reading. I just finished a biography of Cato by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni, the title is Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato.

Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, commonly known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather, was a statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy. Born in Rome in 95 BC and died by suicide in 46 BC in Utica, Tunisia.

He was the last of the Republicans, defending the old Roman Republic against the attempts by people like Pompey the Great and Julius Cesar to impose a dictatorship. To note that Pompey became the enemy of Julius Cesar and was assassinated by the men of the Pharaoh of Egypt, brother of Cleopatra and Julius Cesar himself would be assassinated in 44 BC while attending a sitting of the Senate of Rome. His death will open up the flood gates of a long Civil War amongst the Senate class which will engulf the 1% in massive killings largely amongst themselves only to see the end of the Republic with the death of Cicero in 43 BC and the rise to power of Octavian Augustus the nephew and adopted son of Julius Cesar become the first Emperor of Rome or Princeps as his office was known.

The book is about Cato’s life and what a dangerous life he led from childhood in what was a very brutish Rome. We have to remember that the nice filters of Judeo-Christian morality did not exist, Romans had very different values and culture and their own morality was based on myths and superstition on the survival of Rome as ruler of the known world.  The constitution of the republic embodied term limits; separation of powers; checks and balances; due process; habeas corpus; the rule of law; individual rights; and elected, representative legislative bodies, including the famous Senate. All of this was hanging by a thread in the first century BC.

Before the age of 30, Cato had become a supremely disciplined individual, a devotee of Stoicism in every respect. He commanded a legion in Macedon and won immense loyalty and respect from the soldiers for the example he set, living and laboring no differently from day to day than he required of his men. He first won election to public office (to the post of quaestor, supervising financial and budgetary matters for the state) in 65 BC and quickly earned a reputation as scrupulously meticulous and uncompromisingly honest. He went out of his way to hold previous quaestors accountable for their dishonesty and misappropriation of funds, which he himself uncovered.

Later he served in the Roman Senate, where he never missed a session and criticized other senators who did. Through his superb oratory in public and deft maneuverings in private, he worked tirelessly to restore fealty to the ideals of the fading Republic.

It was Cato’s fierce and relentless opposition to Julius Caesar that made him most remarkable. He saw in the ambitious, power-hungry general a mortal threat to the republic and tried to block his every move. He filibustered for hours on end to prevent a vote on Caesar’s bid to attain Rome’s highest office, the consulship. Caesar eventually got the job, but while in office, Cato vexed him more than any other senator. Caesar even ordered Cato dragged from the Senate in the middle of one of his orations, whereupon another senator declared, according to historian Cassius Dio, that he “would rather be in jail with Cato than in the Senate with Caesar.”

Cato stood in the way of Caesar’s ambitious agenda but couldn’t prevent his postconsulship appointment as a provincial governor. In that post, Caesar mustered his forces for an assault on the very republic he had governed as a consul. In 49 BC, he famously crossed the Rubicon River and headed for Rome to seize power.

As a sign of strength and magnanimity, Caesar might have pardoned his old foe. Some contemporaries and present-day historians believe that was, in fact, Caesar’s intent and would have been a politically smart thing to do. Quoting again from Goodman and Soni:

But Cato would not give Caesar the gift of his silence; he had scripted his own scene. He would not recognize a tyrant’s legitimacy by accepting his power to save. As Cato saw it, Caesar broke the law even in offering pardons, because he offered them on no authority but his own. To accept forgiveness would be conceding Caesar’s right to forgive, and Cato would not concede that.


So in April 46 BC in Utica, using his own sword to do the deed, Cato committed suicide rather than live under the thumb of the man whose power lust was about to extinguish the old republic. While Cato lived, “every Roman who feared that the traditional virtues were guttering out, who saw the state’s crisis as a moral crisis — as the product of terrifyingly modern avarice or ambition — looked, in time, to Cato.”

Putting ambition in the service of principle instead of one’s own glory or power or wealth: now that’s a virtue to which every man and woman in public office — in any walk of life, for that matter — should aspire today.

A very good book on Cato, ambition in the service of principle.




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Lobster Spring Season opened 2 weeks ago and the boats went out to sea. Lobster fishermen live on the North Coast of the Island about 25 minutes from our house. At the moment lobster bought from Fishers at the dock on arrival go for about $5 a pound, in stores like at Mr Seafood  you will pay $7 dollars per pound uncooked or $8 dollars cooked.  In the restaurant you will pay about $40 dollars per pound.

So today being Mother’s Day which is apparently a Feast invented in the 20th Century, grocery stores and Mr Seafood were offering a special on Lobster and we bought 2 one pounder for $16 dollars, a good price really.

For dinner we are having Lobster Newburg which originally was called Lobster Wenburg. The story goes that Mr Wenburg was a client of DelMonico on Beaver street in New York and he asked the Chef to prepare the lobster according to a recipe he provided. Later a dispute arose between Wenburg and the management of the restaurant so they changed the name of the recipe to Newburg. This was the age when restaurants did not have a formula or a Corporate set menu and were courting clients and trying to cater to their taste. A good restaurant will cater to their clients taste, though by today’s standard it is a rare thing.


So to start you need 2 one pound lobster cooked. 


break them up and take the meat out carefully, the shells seen above can be use to make a very good stock, which can be used for chowder or bisque.  


One pound lobster will give you this much meat, remember the recipe calls for heavy cream, sherry, eggs, nutmeg, cayenne. So it is rich.


Voilà, Lobster Newburg served on hot puff pastry. Just a simple little Sunday dinner and your guests will think you fussed. To be enjoyed with a Chardonnay, Pouilly -Fuissé.


Because we must have them, here are 2 tourists across the street waiting for a table inside this seafood restaurant to have their $$$$$ lobster. Note their accoutrement the Anne of Green Gables hat with pig tails. Ah, Summer!



Because it’s Spring


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The weather is most Spring like now, mild winds and sunny days.


A photo by Paul g. our official provincial animal the Red Fox with her little cub. The big black crow which is also plentiful in Charlottetown is nesting in the tree beside our house and we can also hear the little ones.


Beautiful white magnolias just around the corner from us. Flowers everywhere.