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Richard Walker

Shopska

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 4 Apr 2021, 00:30

Here you see my Shopska Salad, tonight’s supper.


One of my top favourite starters. (Really there should be some grated cheese on top, but I didn’t have any suitable, and it was fine without.)

I was taught how to make it in Northern Greece, by friends whose parents or grandparents were ethnic Greeks who moved to Greece from Bulgaria in the mass exchange of populations after WW1. I also met the dish in Bulgaria.

From this I assumed it was a) Bulgarian and b) traditional.

Turns out the answer to a) is Yes but as for b) not really; according to Wikipedia it was invented in 1955 by the Bulgarian state tourism association. It’s been a runaway success though. Give it a try. I always put a bit of chilli pepper in mine as well as the other vegetables, but that is probably unusual.






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Richard Walker

On Tiptoes

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Because I have ankle arthritis “I have of late, forgone all custom of exercises”, as Hamlet says. But this is a bad habit and I realised my circulation was suffering.

So I searched online for exercises that could be done sitting or with the support of a chair back. There are a lot of good videos and for about three weeks now I’ve been doing some of the exercises.

And it’s had an effect! I can now stand on tiptoe, without the support of a chair back. Not very high or for very long, but I can do it. I couldn’t before. One tall step.

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Richard Walker

Mondegreen

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Here’s a Mondegreen I heard last night.

A. My daughter thinks I’m a taxidermist.

B. What like stuffed animals?

A. No, a taxi service.

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Work in progress

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My friend Michèle (photographer of the bee-flies) is helping me with my garden. Here is the result of today's work on one small area.


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Richard Walker

Coffee Break Solution #1

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Squeamish

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Please don’t show me

Anything nasty

It might make me squeam.

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Dark-edged Bee-flies

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 1 Apr 2021, 01:38
My friend Michèle photographed these rather elegant insects sunning themselves.



They're Dark-edged Bee-flies; useful pollinators and harmless to humans, but brood parisites to true bees. They lay eggs in bees' nests and the hatched larvae consume the bee larvae. 'The universe is an ethically troubling place', as someone once said.
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Coffee Break Puzzle #2

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Richard Walker

A Quote about the Robin

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 30 Mar 2021, 23:43

The sweet miraculous power of a Robin

Turning birdseed into song.

Anon 

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Coffee Break Puzzle #1

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Miracle iPhone

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You’ve heard of the silver cigarette case that stopped a bullet.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-50302592

In a modern twist on this, a local tradesman fell off a ladder, but luckily his iPhone fell out of his shirt pocket and reached the ground first. He landed with his head on the phone rather than the concrete, and was spared from head injury.

Rather a nice story I think. I haven’t made it up.


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Richard Walker

Percy

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 24 Mar 2021, 23:44

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Epitaph for a Snob

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I turned up my nose.

Now I’ve turned up my toes.

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Richard Walker

Mastermind

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Presenter: Your chosen subject?

Contestant: Physical geography.

Presenter: Time starts now. What name is given to a route over or through a mountainous region?

Contestant: Pass.

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Richard Walker

Broom and Besom Word Origins

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A besom is what we think of as a witch’s broom, a bundle of twigs lashed to a handle. The word is from the Old English besema which was once the common word for a broom.

However the twigs often came from the shrub called broom and over time the name of the plant was transferred to the long-handled brush, which is now usually called a broom rather than a besom.

Broom is cognate with bramble and comes from a root that originally seems to have meant any kind of thorny bush.

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Richard Walker

Wildflower Garden

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This plot in the national Botanical Gardens of Wales is set aside for flowers that will encourage pollinating insects. Photographed in September 2018.


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Richard Walker

One liner

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Burglars who distract their victims by playing stringed instruments. That’s robbery with violins.

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Ouzo and Soda

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 18 Mar 2021, 01:31

Unusual. Ouzo is traditionally mixed with water. But the soda was amazing, it made the drink longer but more ouzo-y, it really brought out the aniseed flavour and didn’t drown the drink at all.

I believe that once Greek country folk used to make Ouzo at home and as well as aniseed would add Wormwood, the plant Artemisia, named for the goddess Artemis. From her name came also Absinthe, a famous green coloured drink, very popular into the early 20th century, but then illegalised in France and subsequently elsewhere, on the premise that it was mad, bad, and dangerous to drink, addictive and psychoactive, because of the wormwood. However absinthe had a lot of adherents in the creative world, see 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absinthe


Following more recent recent research Absinthe is legal again. I bought some but I wasn’t sure it was my favourite. I’m good with Ouzo and Soda.

Στην υγειά σας!

PS the name Wormwood is from the same origin as Vermouth.

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One liner

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 17 Mar 2021, 22:01

I tried some fermented apples, now I’m worried about cider effects.

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Bird of the day

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 17 Mar 2021, 00:02

My cousin took this picture of a young male Great Bustard.


These birds are amongst the heaviest flying birds, possibly the heaviest. An adult male may be a metre tall, have a wing span of 2+ metres, and weigh in at up to about 20 kg.

The bird is classified as vulnerable; although it is widespread only about 40,000 survive. It lives on open grasslands and once had a British population, but was hunted to extinction in this country by the middle of the 19th century.

However the bird has been successfully reintroduced, from 2007 I believe, and there is now a breeding population of about 40. My cousin has been watching one of them and was able to get this shot, I presume of its offspring.

You can read more about the reintroduction programme here and here is an image from the same site.



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Quick puzzle

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Messages from the stars

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In ground-breaking research announced earlier today, scientists think they have detected video signals from an alien star system.

The signals, though faint, appear to be a drama set in some sort of domestic situation. A member of the team told our reporter, “This proves that where there’s life there’s soap”.

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Richard Walker

The Spoken Word

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What English word is the most difficult to pronounce? It’s hard to say.

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No more a roving

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So we’ll go no more a roving,

So late into the night.

Though the heart be still as loving

And the moon be just as bright.


For the sword outwears its sheathe,

And the soul wears out the breast.

And the heart must pause to breathe,

And love itself have rest.


I’m learning this poem by Lord Byron and this is as far as I got. I thought posting it here (from memory!) might help to bed it down. Is it right?

Tomorrow I will learn Stanza 3 hopefully.


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Richard Walker

Word of the day

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Wheatear

A small perching bird with a white rump. I don’t think you’d typically see one in your garden but I have been to places, such as heaths in Norfolk, where they were everywhere. When they fly away the white backside is very conspicuous and it’s generally thought that the bird was originally called a “white arse” for that reason. A mixture of “folk etymology” - an intuitively appealing idea about a word origin but not based on recorded evidence - and dislike of coarse words (mealy-mouthedness in fact!) morphed this into wheatears and then people felt this was a plural, so we got wheatear.

Compare with pea; there were originally no peas but there was pease pudding (“Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding in the pot, nine days old”); this sounds like a plural, so back-formation led to pea.

 

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