Tuesday 29 August 2023

Eusebio Sempere (1923-1985).......

.......was a Spanish painter and sculptor whose work made him the most representative artist of the Kinetic art movement in Spain. His use of repetition of line and mastery of colour to manipulate the way light plays on the surface gives a three dimensional depth to his pictorial compositions.

A few years ago we travelled across the Spanish plains of La Mancha, the landscape of fame in the tales of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. We were journeying to the ancient city of Cuenca known for it's hanging houses. One of the many things we did on arrival was to visit the Spanish Museum of Abstract Art, housed in the wooden hanging property seen to the left of the photo. Eusebio Sempere was one of the important artists represented in their collection, and it is where I was first introduced to his work. I particularly admired one of his paintings and was delighted to discover a good replica of it in their gallery shop. It was carried home carefully, and now sits on one of our walls.

When I view it I am confused as to how he was able to create this effect using only paint. Although difficult to show here, the painting appears to have been achieved using hundreds of individual strands of cotton thread, but each strand has a variety of colours running along it - the painting totally deceives the eye. I really wanted to know what the image represented, I could see that it was a landscape. However, I have recently discovered the answer, thanks to Google, which makes it even more compelling for me to appreciate the fine details in his work. Eusebio calls it "campo de mimbre" - Wicker Fields, but this description was still not obvious to me until I came across the following photos revealing the wicker fields of La Mancha near Cuenca.

It is now clear that Eusebio has used the amazing colours seen in the wicker fields for his painting, which are apparently a tourist attraction during the Autumn months. In the painting it is now easy to spot the sky above the Plains of La Mancha, then the wicker fields, and finally the foothills of Cuenca in the foreground.

Friday 18 August 2023

A Day of Delights

What a wet day! However, luckily for us we were comfortably ensconced inside a cosy Oxfordshire countryside Inn being treated to a delicious lunch, courtesy eldest son and family.

By the time that we departed and went our separate ways the day slowly began to brightened. Arriving home I wandered around the garden and was delighted to spot a lovely patch of blue and white Borage plants flowering.  Having been given a box of mixed wildflower seeds courtesy our local Wildlife Trust I had scattered them in the garden at the end of April. Now, to our delight, we have a lovely Borage patch flourishing.

Borago officinalis
Borago officinalis var. "Alba

Borage is a lovely plant to grow in the garden, an added bonus being that it is a great magnet to both bees and butterflies.

Although native to the Mediterranean region it grows well in most parts of northern Europe, and in fact worldwide . It is one of the many plants that arrived in Britain courtesy the Romans. It's common names are starflower, bee bush, bee bread, and is non-invasive. It is a medicinal herb with edible leaves, flowers, and stems which taste similar to cucumber. The young leaves can be mixed with other salad leaves and the edible flowers look very attractive when scattered across the top of a salad when entertaining. Popping some borage flowers into your ice cube tray will give your cooling summer drinks an added appeal.

Borage has been used for centuries due to its curative properties. The Romans appreciated the plant for its ability to enhance courage and endurance. During the middle ages European herbalists used borage to treat a wide array of ailments, including fevers, respiratory issues, and digestive disorders. 

In recent years, borage has experienced a revival of interest, as researches delve into its potential health advantages. Studies have started to uncover the numerous ways that it can support wellness and alleviate various health conditions. 

Saturday 5 August 2023


The BBC have produced a ground breaking series telling the four and a half billion year story of the beautiful planet that we call home. The 5, one hour long episodes use the latest scientific evidence to take the viewer on a journey through some of the earth's most epic moments. It takes the first four hours of the series to reveal more than 4 billion years of momentous Earth events. It isn't until the last episode that Dinosaurs finally appear on Earth which they then inhabited for between 165 and 177 million years, until their demise. Their demise began 66 million years ago

Scientists have worked out that an asteroid the size of Mount Everest hit the surface of the Earth with so much force that it left a crater 90 miles wide, which resulted in 300 billion tons of sulphur being blasted into the atmosphere. 
Sulphur reflects sunlighted so this then triggered a period of total darkness and cold temperatures which lasted for 10 years.
Today the impact crater is buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula on the coast of Mexico.

56 million years ago the Earth had warmed and even in the Arctic temperatures were around 23 degrees C. This warming period is studied by climate change scientists and is known as Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.  

34 million years ago the planet cooled again, wiping out primates in the northerly continents of North America and Europe. 

The oldest cave art is dated to around 45,000 years ago and found in Sulawesi, Indonesia. 

The presenter, Chris Packham, visits the caves at Niaux in Southern France, which we too have visited, where the Paleolithic art on the walls shows bison, ibex, and horses which have been dated to around 13,000 years ago.

During the final 12 minutes of the 5 hour long programme we finally arrive at 11,000 years ago when humans first began to farm the land and their impact on the Earth began. Today 40% of the land surface that isn't frozen is agricultural. Only 4% of all the mammals alive today are wild animals, 96% are humans, their pets or domestic farm animals. The human population as risen from 1 billion to 8 billion in just 220 years. 

Earth's story is a saga spanning 4.5 billion years, but it's only in the last 11,000 years - with the rise of farming - that we have started to dramatically impact the planet and its ecosystems. The human chapter of Earth's story could end in disaster, but Chris Packham, the presenter, is keen to argue for a different ending. He says all of humanity's achievements to date have just been a dress rehearsal, because in the very near future our species will need to reach the very zenith of its achievements and all humanity will have to learn to put our beautiful Earth first. 

The programme is extremely thought provoking, but it also makes unsettling viewing. However, it is a subject that can't be shunned, it is something that affects us all - we are all in this together. 

The programme ends with Chris Packham looking out across Mexico City, one of the 30 such Mega cities built by humans across our exquisite globe.

I do not know if the programme is currently available worldwide, but watch it if you can.  

Thursday 3 August 2023

Summer Quiz

The answer is a Lemon Squeezer. 
The first almost correct answer came from Debra who said "Would it be designed to juice some very small fruit or perhaps an olive. Debra got it 75% correct.
The second correct answer came from Susan Heather who said "It definitely looks as though it presses juice out of some fruit. I would have thought citrus.
The third almost correct answer came from
Jeanneke who said "Is it some kind of juice press? So  Jeanneke was also 75% correct. 
Thank you to all those who attempted the quiz.