This lovely morning photo of the domes in Berlin, int the background the bigger vert de gris dome of the Lutheran Cathedral of Berlin on Museum Island, in the foreground the dome of the City Palace getting its new copper covering in baroque style.
I was living in Cairo back in 1989, it was a very nice posting. Here I am on my terrace of my apartment in Zamalek on the Nile facing the vast metropolis. The view was wonderful. My little Dachshund Bundnie (Arabic for Brown Coffee) she was quite young then. She was born in Cairo and it was love at first sight, I got her when she was 4 weeks old, too early really but she needed a home and she would proceed to live 17 years and travel the world with us.
On November 9, 1989, I was at the Embassy in Garden City which at the time was near the British Embassy in Cairo. We heard reports of what was going on in Berlin. It was quite a surprise and at first no one really believe it, it was an aberration, how could that be after all those years of Cold War and stand off between the USSR and the USA. Surely we would soon hear that it was just a joke. But no the next day more astonishing news, I remember I wanted to fly to Berlin to see it, but I could not abandon my post. So we all followed (my colleagues and I) the news. Not really knowing what all this would bring, obviously the end was near for the rest of Eastern Europe, communism was on the way out. In December revolution exploded in Romania, on Christmas day Nicola and wife Elena Ceausescu were executed on television after years of terror and ruinous rule. What a year 1989. My Egyptians friends told me that when in 1952 the army officers with Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the Monarchy in Egypt, it was far more civilized. King Farouk and his family were given 3 days to pack their bags and sail away on the Royal Yacht from Alexandria. The King and his family were not really Egyptian but from Albanian-Macedonian stock. He died at 45 in Capri of a heart attack.
I would not visit Berlin until 1998 while living in Warsaw. Berlin today is vastly different and a great place to visit or to live.
While on our cruise to Norway I read 2 books both very different from one another. The first book was a shorter version of a 4000 page book on Kaiser Wilhelm II. The author John C.G. Rohl did what can only be described as an academic and scholarly study of the life of the last German Emperor, examining in detail his family, his relationship and his numerous health problems and the handicap of his lame left arm which caused him enormous pain all his life and very serious mental problems. Reading the book I did not have any sympathy for the man but certainly understood how Royal Families mixing dynastic ambitions, politics, family rivalries between the British Royal Family and the German Royal Family can be a recipe for disaster. His mother was the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and in turn the families are first cousins. Her marriage to Prince Frederick who will be Kaiser for 99 days in 1888 was arranged by Queen Victoria and British politicians to cement the alliance between Britain and Germany.
The author examines European politics of the time and the political actors who all have a responsibility to bear in what would happen. Personal political ambitions coming before the good of one’s country or people, failure to understand a changing world, rejection of a Constitutional Monarchy like Britain’s, the decline of colonial empires, trade wars, military competition between Britain and Germany and visions of world domination in both Britain and Germany lead us straight into the First World War. The author does not blame, he explain the toxic soup in which the world found itself between 1870 and 1919. On the margins we also see the weaker States like Russia, Austria and the Ottoman Empire and their role. Kaiser Wilhelm II saw himself as the personification of his famous ancestors and much of his political ideas would be championed later in the 1930’s by the Nazi Party. Germany did try during the Weimar Republic to become a democratic and constitutional State but events intervened.
Wilhelm II is a very interesting subject and a sad one, as a child he had a horrific upbringing, his mother wanting to have the perfect child for dynastic reasons and to please her difficult mother Victoria will submit Wilhelm to sadistic military and civilian tutors, weird medical experiment to try to heal is lame left arm, exposing the medical ignorance of the time. The mistakes of incompetent doctors, a breech birth, the authors gives a complete medical explanation of what happened causing irreparable neurological damage to Wilhelm’s left arm and other infirmities to his spine and neck. It is a fascinating read if only to get us to understand that part of world history we still speak about today and remember on November 11 each year. Wilhem II died in exiled in 1941 at his little castle in Doorn, The Netherlands.
Berlin view from the top of the Brandenburg Gate behind the quadriga of Peace looking down (Eastward) Unter den Linden towards the now reconstructed Imperial City Palace which will open as the Humboldt Forum in 2020.
The second book I read, though I found it interesting and certainly brought back many memories of my time in the Middle East was Beirut Hellfire Society by Canadian author Rawi Hage who was born in Beirut and lived the early years of the civil war in that city. It should be remembered that this vicious war with countless atrocities that defy the imagination started in 1973 and ended in 1990, without resolving the issues that still haunt Lebanon today. If you have not lived in the Levant or Middle East as the USA calls it. It is very difficult to understand / believe the story of this book and the actors. You may wonder why or is it possible for people to be so cruel and malicious, I would say yes it is possible human being have shown what they are capable of when organized society, Law and Order disappears. Chaos and brute force become the only rule of the game and anything goes.
Reading this book, thinking back to what I witnessed and the testimony of those who lived through it, I always think of our own society with its pre-conceived notions and petty prejudice, always quick to judge and offer simplistic solutions. I wonder what Canadians would do in such a situation, no better probably. Currently we are having a Federal Election Campaign, in a situation like that of Lebanon between 1973-1990 being a politician, one would have to be very brave, death stalks you and your family.
The author Rawi Hage also attacks in his book the various religions who stoked the hatred of others, be they muslims, (shia or sunny) Druze, Christians etc. Everyone belongs to a tribe and you pay the militia to protect your tribe against the other tribe. Unless someone in your family wants you dead. The events described in the book did happen, there are no embellishments. A powerful book on a country and a region so little understood.
It feels like we left years ago to travel to Europe on this latest vacation of ours. It has to be said that when you live on a small Island like PEI with its tiny population of 150K, you need to leave at least every 6 months simply to see something different.
This trip saw us travel to The Netherlands, Norway and the UK, plane, boat, train. I also want to acknowledge that in our 41 years together, our personal private travel is always arranged by Will who covers all details and always makes our travel interesting and fun.
We are well travelled and have been for 40 years, many places we visit are known to us because we either lived there at some point or been there numerous times in the past. So when we return to visit what we had not seen previously or re-visit places we want to rediscover. On this trip like others we stumbled upon wonderful restaurants and wine bars.
We left Charlottetown two days prior to our flight from Toronto to Amsterdam. We do this to avoid delays and cancelled flights out of Island, the weather in the Maritimes can be unpredictable and high winds or a storm can see cancelled flights. So we flew to Toronto and stayed at 1 King West which is a great hotel at reasonable rates and the staff is so nice.
I King West is at the cross roads of the 5 big banks in Canada, BMO, CIBC, TD, Nova Scotia and RBC all rivalling to have the highest tower or in the case of RBC infusing gold dust into its glass walls. It’s a nice area to be in and close to lots of bars and restaurants.
Amsterdam was our destination some 3 days prior to the cruise departure. It has become an expensive city like London, it remains a wonderful city to visit and is a pleasure to wander through the canal neighbourhood.
Our hotel was on Prinsengracht or Prince Canal. Of course like many cities in Europe, Amsterdam has thousands of people riding bicycles and lanes reserved to them along all streets. Not to forget that gasoline is $3.50 per litre + 23% VAT which is very expensive if you are filing up. We complain in PEI because our gas is $ 1.20 per litre and our VAT is 15%.
Of course in Amsterdam there are lots of coffee shops, good restaurants and wine bars but also lots to see and visit. We wanted to visit the RIJKS Museum, the last time we were in Amsterdam it was partially closed due to a multi year renovation. It is pronounced RIKES and the name means Imperial, until fairly recently the Netherlands had a huge colonial empire spanning the globe.
Here I am in front of the Rijks Museum around 09:00am, a little chilly that morning. We spent 2 days visiting the magnificent collections, you have to take your time to appreciate all that there is to see.
Another view of the Museum as we walked around it.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the most visited Museum in the Netherlands. It houses over 1,000,000 pieces of artwork, documents and other important items associated with Dutch history. Although the museum as an institute has existed since 1800, it was originally founded in The Hague. The Rijksmuseum is currently able to present and display around 8000 objects at a given time and regularly changes its exhibitions throughout the year.
I took a few photos of the exhibits inside the museum, it is very varied, from paintings to sculptures, fine porcelain dishes, silver objects, wooden model ships, The Netherlands has a rich naval history, etc…
Charity the Educator by Italian artist Lorenzo Bartolini, sculpted in Florence 1842. Here we see a woman in the role of the Virtue Charity as Educator with two children pointing to a book encouraging the older child to read. This sculpture was part of a theme in Tuscany at the time on fostering education.
The view from the Batavian Embassy in Paris, C.1801 by Josephus Augustus Knip. We see Place de la Concorde in Paris with the two famous building Hôtel de la Marine and Hôtel de Crillon before Napoleon had the Obelisk of Luxor placed in the square. The Ambassador of Batavia, Rutger Jan Schimmelpennick commissioned this painting. Batavia was to become a few years later the Kingdom of Holland created by Napoleon for his brother and a few years after that the united Kingdom of The Netherlands under the Prince of Orange Nassau, William I. However the union did not last in 1830 the southern part separated and became the Kingdom of Belgium.
This room exquisite room of lacquer panels and fine Chinese porcelain was created by Elias and Tobias Nijmegen in 1695, the walls mounted with Chinese screens of coromandel lacquer. It originally stood in the Court Stadtholder Palace of Leeuwarden. It formed part of the apartment of Princess Albertine Agnes of Orange Nassau and she used this room to sit and drink tea imported from China, which at the time was a luxury.
The Rijks Museum also has special exhibits and one was by Erwin Olaf who matched his own modern photos with old master paintings and gave a narrative of what it meant to him. It was fascinating because you were drawn into the dialogue with the artist and invited to reflect on what he was saying.
Berlin Portrait 1, by Erwin Olaf. I took this picture in the museum and unfortunately it is not of good quality. What drew me to this photo was the boy who strangely looks like me, our parents when we travelled abroad made us dress formally, jacket and tie and this photo brought back memories of those times when I was around 12 yrs old.
Here Olaf tells the story of being in an airport lounge and looking around at all the parents and their children. Olaf says he realized that the children had all the power, they moaned and complained, they controlled the holiday, virtually determining what was going to happen. Olaf says that he had an inspiration: he would work with those children and let them rule and banish the adults from their world.
Portrait of a girl in Blue, Johannes Verspronck, c. 1641 Oil on canvas. Here Erwin Olaf selected this portrait of a little girl from a very wealthy family and says; I think that this is one of the most extraordinary portraits at the Rijks Museum. I learned that sometimes you need only minimal means to achieve great power of expression. When you photograph you use a mechanical aid to register someone’s gaze but here Verspronck brings the subject to life by simply adding a dot of white paint in her eyes. She really is looking at you.
What I liked about this oil portrait is its delicacy and detail of the dress and how exquisite the paint brush is, it is so real you believe it is fabric you can touch. I agree that her gaze is full of life.
My visit to the Rijks Museum made me truly happy, the place is uplifting and confirmed why I so enjoy working in art galleries and visit museums. There is so much to learn and appreciate.
In 1976 I moved to Ottawa from Montreal to attend University. The building complex where I lived had an intercom system which broadcasted one local radio station, CFMO and they only played big band dance music 1930-1960. This radio station no longer exist today. The listeners were all from the generation born between 1920 and 1930, they were now approaching that certain age. The music was of their younger days when the world was their oyster.
Marcus T. Cicero, 106 BC to Dec 43 BC
Hearing this from Guy Lombardo today reminded me that I am entering this age now when life is behind you and not in front of you. I will have to re-read Marcus Tullius Cicero’s book entitled ” How to grow old”. Ancient wisdom for the second half of life.
A little book filled with ancient wisdom, Cicero suggest gardening and reading gives more pleasure than sex. The book addresses fears about old age, and Cicero persuasively argues they are greatly exaggerated. Cicero was my age when he wrote that book the year before he was assassinated.
Well Summer arrived on the 4th July, yesterday and last night was still cold around 16C and cloudy, wet. We had a cold, very wet April, May and June.
In 24 hours, so Canadian, we are now into hot and muggy, we have, in Island speak, the muggies, 25C hot and humid with a small breeze. We have a hear warning for the coming days, with the humidity factor temperatures could soar to 31C. I am not complaining, I will take it.
I am not complaining, it is now warm enough to go to the Beach and just enjoy the sunshine, a nice lobster and some fresh oysters.
Here are some shots of today, it is also Lupin time, they are everywhere you look, on the road in rural area and in gardens, they grow wild here.
Lavender in the garden of the Confederation Centre.
Wild Lupins in my neighbours yard.
Price Flag on the marquis of the Holman Grand Hotel, downtown Charlottetown. Despite the 100 year old facade this is a modern hotel with a very good restaurant.
Road kill by Gerald Beaulieu, on the terrace of the Art gallery of the Confederation Centre. Was created 2 years ago make entirely of recycled tires.
Lupins in the wild at French River in PEI with potato field of course in the background.
The old song says “The best things in life are free”, I wonder if many today still think this way in our hyper consumer society. This song was very popular back in the XXth century written by the songwriting team of Buddy DeSylva and Lew Brown (lyrics) and Ray Henderson (music) and published in 1927 but it continued to be popular up to the 1960’s and you can still hear it today on some radio stations, a classic you could say.
This week was the opening of the Summer show at the Art Gallery of the Confederation Centre and since I am a guide there, as always I make a point of attending all the lectures with the curators and artists.
This year the theme is about life and its transitions from birth to death. The artists are all emerging young artists funded by the Royal Bank Of Canada (RBC) for the last 10 years. This program in cooperation with the Curator of the Art Gallery gives an opportunity to young artists to work with a gallery and curators in a professional setting, organize an exhibit and get exposure. In PEI the Art Gallery is the only venue offering such an opportunity. All the art is Canadian as per the mandate of the Gallery.
The funny thing is that people are not always comfortable with the idea that we all die one day, it is the human condition can’t escape it. We have two solo shows one by Philippa Jones (Perpetual) of St-John’s, NFLD. Perpetual brings together a selection of recent work by Philippa Jones that explores ways of dealing with loss and mortality through the neutralizing effects of preservation, aesthetic arrangement, immersive ritual, and ultimately recognition of a natural continuum, the temporal cycle that encompasses all being. Catalyzed by the untimely death of close friend and collaborator, Newfoundland curator Mary MacDonald, the artist’s explorations of the processes of extraction from the everyday world, common to art and science, take on a heightened resonance.
The other solo show by Inuit artist Shuvinai Ashoona (Mapping Worlds) from Kinngait (Cape Dorset) Nunavut which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year as an Inuit territory in Canada. This gigantic area of Arctic Canada is 1500 miles North of PEI with a population of 33,000 mostly young people.
The other shows are group exhibits and explore the transitory aspect of life, Split Images: Truth and Fiction, something that also disturbs a lot of people.
In the concourse of the Centre is the exhibit of Ian Funke-Mackay: Serpentine Signs, an artist from Halifax, produces images and signs for a new visual field in which past energies resonate within the present. His colourful and faceted arrays and forms echo the worlds of computer-generated imaging and video-game animations, aspiring to fuse the future-oriented legacies of abstract painting.
I do like Philippa Jones work because it is challenging and offers a chance to listen to what our visitors have to say and see their reaction. So this is the show for this wet and cold Summer so far in Charlottetown. Let’s hope it warms up!
In closing I have added this video of a favourite singer of mine Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman sextet and the famous song On the Sunny Side of the Street. Right now we have no Sun in PEI.
The internet is a strange thing and you will find just about anything and everything on it. Living on a small Island, you can drive across, East to West in 6 hours top and go from South to North in 30 minutes, with the total population of one neighbourhood at 150K. PEI is mostly very rural with 2 big towns, Charlottetown 36K and Summerside at 15K, so you can imagine that we do not have the sort of development seen in larger cities in Canada.
So on the internet when I read news items at the bottom of the page there will be advertisement disguised as more news or general interests stories. The picture will show you an exciting urban development for seniors or top rated lawyers for affordable rates or a dating site for singles in PEI, alluring pictures with promises of varied sexual encounters literally next door. The pictures, for anyone living in PEI, are dead give away, you know this is a scam, none of what is featured would exist so blatantly.
Take the accommodations for seniors said to be very affordable. First the housing situation on the Island at the moment is at 0 (zero) vacancy. Rents on average for a 2 bedroom is $1650 CDN. which is not much in a large city like Halifax or Moncton in the Maritimes or even Montreal or Toronto, but in PEI for many this is near unaffordable. We have the lowest wages in all of Canada coupled with a high cost of living.
Houses for sale average about $450K and this is a huge increase from 3 years ago when houses were half that price. Laundered money from Asia changed that picture all across Canada including here in PEI and has created a real crisis in housing which our governments are struggling to address.
So photos like these appear in ads and will say that this is Montague a small town of 2000 persons 25 minutes from Charlottetown, such buildings simply do not exist anywhere on the Island. Wonder to who this is appealing and what is the message here.
Here we have advertisement for high powered lawyers in Charlottetown at reasonable rates. No one appearing in these photos practice law in PEI. Just generic ads and in fact these actors are Americans. Again who is the target population? The legal profession in PEI is very close knit and like the rest of this little island most lawyers are related to each other in some fashion.
The dating site for singles in Stratford PEI a suburb of Charlottetown, 9000 population is hilarious. Stratford is a mix of suburban and rural setting only 5 minutes across the river from Charlottetown. None of the people appearing in such ads are from the Island, not difficult to figure out. In fact having an affairs in PEI is quite possible and frequent if one goes by the high divorce rate, but keeping it a secret is the real hard part. The joke is that PEI is a lot like the American soap opera Peyton Place.
ACTUAL PICTURE OF MONTAGUE PEI
ACTUAL PICTURE OF STRATFORD PEI under the wing
What do these strange and misleading advertisements say about the people publishing them. They are obviously misinformed about this Island and its place in the Maritime, but do they care? They are promoting a globalist view of PEI, it is not different it is just like any large metropolitan area. We are not rural as a Province but appear in photo as just like any other place in North America, PEI could be Southern Ontario. Whoever creates those is interested only in selling a concept which is unrecognizable from its reality.
Today May 3, 2019 is Setting Day in all ports in PEI, everyone really is talking about it and it is annually a very big affair. This year due to poor weather and very high winds the captains of the Lobster boats and the Canadian Dept of Fisheries delayed Setting Day by several days. But finally the weather has improved and the wind died down and off they go to start setting their lobster traps, this means that by Saturday people in PEI will eat PEI Lobster. The job of setting traps and catching lobster is dangerous and difficult, anyone who has ever work on a lobster boat will tell you so, but it is also exciting. No where else in Canada do we have such a tradition which is so typical of the life on PEI.
To work on a lobster boat you need good sea legs and a good amount of physical strenght. You go to sea early in the morning just at dawn and return during the afternoon. The traps must be numbered and set according to an exact pattern, no haphazard work here, it is very important that each captain know which traps are his and in what designated area he is setting them. Each trap comes also with a buoy, in the photo you can see the buoy in blue with red tips.
Everyone wishes them luck and happy Setting Day, friends, families and onlookers line the dock and the wharfs to see them off. Now let’s see what the price per pound will be this year. Of course the best prices are set at the dock, so if you go down to the dock chances are you will pay a lot less than what you would pay in a grocery store or at the Fish store or worse what the tourists pay in restaurants, but the tourists are all rich so hey they can pay.
We were in Halifax about 3 weeks ago, an easy drive of 3 hours from Charlottetown across the Sea Bridge down to Truro and a hop and a skip to Halifax. This time around I wanted to visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to see the collection.
The Art gallery is housed in 2 buildings next to each other, one is an old government building facing the Legislature and the other is an Italianate style stone building called the Dominion building which has a statue of Britannia sitting on the roof.
The two building have an underground passageway connecting them. The collection of Canadian art is of good quality and interesting featuring many artists. The one in particular I wanted to see was the works of Maud Lewis (1903-1970) born in Yarmouth and died in Digby, Nova Scotia. She married in 1938 Everett Lewis. Prior to being married Maud had a daughter out of wedlock named Catherine Dowley. Maud never acknowledged her daughter who moved to Ontario and had a family of her own.
I had heard much about Maud Lewis and she is one of those painters discovered late in life by the art world and the public and became a celebrity, though that did not enrich her at all. Today she is an icon in the Canadian art world for her simple ”naif” or folk art style of painting. Maud (Dowley) Lewis came from a simple background, her family were tradespeople, her father John was well known in Yarmouth for making good quality leather harness and other leather goods. Maud was born suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and for the rest of her life suffered from this crippling disease. She was a very small women described as gnome like and her hands were severely deformed.
Her interest in art came from her mother Agnes who would paint Christmas cards and sell them to supplement the family’s income. After her parents death Maud lived as a recluse and her only brother grew distant and rarely saw her.
At the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia a section of the museum is dedicated to her and her tiny little house in which she lived with her husband Everett Lewis, it has been transported from its original site and reconstructed for visitors to see. It is as it was during her life, quite small, basically a one room house, with all the furniture, paint brushes and other items one finds in a house. What is so special about this little tiny house, is that Maud Lewis painted and decorated every inch of the place inside and out including the glass windows.
The house as it appears re-installed inside the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia today.
Her paintings are joyful and full of vibrant colours, showing life and scenes around her and what she saw.
Though I was not particularly interested in Maud Lewis as a painter despite having heard of her, coming to the gallery and seeing her tiny house and several of her paintings, I was enchanted by her work. It was I think the simple beauty of it all, childlike quality and the joy which radiated from her work. She has no agenda, no ideology, no philosophy or trying to pass a message. It is simply art for the beauty of it.
WIR TRAGEN DAS POTSDAM-MUSEUM
A story of Potsdam
In Defence of Westminster
Jerry and I get around. In 2011, we moved from the USA to Spain. We now live near Málaga. Jerry y yo nos movemos. En 2011, nos mudamos de EEUU a España. Ahora vivimos cerca de Málaga.
Information on Toronto's history
Heritage, it's in our nature.
Stories, Excerpts, Backroads
Alberghi, Hotels, contract e altro..
... Soyons... Joyeux !!!
A place for Beards to contemplate and grow their souls.
Tutto iniziò con Memorie di Adriano, sulle strade dell'Impero Romano tra foto, storia e racconti! It all began with Memoirs of Hadrian, on the roads of the Roman Empire among photos, history and stories!
To live is to battle with trolls in the vaults of heart and brain. To write; this is to sit in judgment over one's Self. Henrik Ibsen
Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Newly Single, Exploring Life
Consumer Information on Fish, Shellfish, Seafood Products and Restaurant Reviews
Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
The adventures of a Press Gallery journalist
A Historic England Blog
Landscapes and more by impressionist painter Terrill Welch
Remembering that life is a comedy and the world is a small town.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown
Stories in words and pictures
So Many Years of Experience But Still Making Mistakes!
two guys making out & trying to make it
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”/Let us go and make our visit.
Reflections on Canadian Culture From Below the Border
Procrastination is the sincerest form of optimism
I aim to bring delight to others by sharing my creative endeavours
A mix of corporate and private life experiences
Join me as we wind back the time in Ottawa.