Category Archives: lifestyle

Hungover? Head to the Sauna!

Sauna may be the best way to sweat out the late night booze. Here is the Finnish solution

According to This is Finland, the correct way to enjoy the steam is “to take off all your clothes and… sit, naked, with others for a while and sweat. Then you will go outside and jump (still naked) through a small hole in the ice on a lake, the sea or whatever and refresh yourselves in the freezing water—or roll in the snow instead.” This hot and cold back-and-forth might seem crazy, but not to Finns. A few rounds of plunging into near-freezing waters than retreating into near-boiling air is believed to be the perfect remedy to a night of heavy boozing.

Toi be honest, I don’t do the hole inthe ice or the snow thing. But a cool shower is pretty refreshing when your body temp has gone up. The rise is body temp is largely on the skin (not your innards).

Any cause to worry? I have heard that folks with heart problems might want to keep the temperature changes minor, but aside from that, I think you are good to go!

BTW,  I would moderate the boozing in the sauna. Replacing water with booze can be a bit shocking!


Who Introduced pineapples to Britain and What Happened then?

The answer is John Tradescant and his son introduced pineapples to Britain.  Here is an image of the son whose name was also John

Image result for John Tradescant

Who were these dudes? They lived in the 16th and 17th centuries and were gardeners. Well, not just gardeners.

Adventurous travellers, diplomats, horticultural pioneers, and polymaths, they were also collectors, acquiring (and asking their friends to acquire) specimens of the wonders of the world. Their growing collection was made accessible to the public in a large house — “The Ark” — in South Lambeth, London.

And what a collection they assembled! Here is a description from a German visitor

In the museum of Mr. John Tradescant are the following things: first in the courtyard there lie two ribs of a whale, also a very ingenious little boat of bark; then in the garden all kinds of foreign plants, which are to be found in a special little book which Mr. Tradescant has had printed about them. In the museum itself we saw a salamander, a chameleon, a pelican, a remora, a lanhado from Africa, a white partridge, a goose which has grown in Scotland on a tree, a flying squirrel, another squirrel like a fish, all kinds of bright colored birds from India, a number of things changed into stone, amongst others a piece of human flesh on a bone, gourds, olives, a piece of wood, an ape’s head, a cheese, etc; all kinds of shells, the hand of a mermaid, the hand of a mummy, a very natural wax hand under glass, all kinds of precious stones, coins, a picture wrought in feathers, a small piece of wood from the cross of Christ, pictures in perspective of Henry IV and Louis XIII of France, who are shown, as in nature, on a polished steel mirror when this is held against the middle of the picture, a little box in which a landscape is seen in perspective, pictures from the church of S. Sophia in Constantinople copied by a Jew into a book, two cups of rinocerode, a cup of an E. Indian alcedo which is a kind of unicorn, many Turkish and other foreign shoes and boots, a sea parrot, a toad-fish, an elk’s hoof with three claws, a bat as large as a pigeon, a human bone weighing 42 lbs., Indian arrows such as are used by the executioners in the West Indies- when a man is condemned to death, they lay open his back with them and he dies of it, an instrument used by the Jews in circumcision, some very light wood from Africa, the robe of the King of Virginia, a few goblets of agate, a girdle such as the Turks wear in Jerusalem, the passion of Christ carved very daintily on a plumstone, a large magnet stone, a S. Francis in wax under glass, as also a S. Jerome, the Pater Noster of Pope Gregory XV, pipes from the East and West Indies, a stone found in the West Indies in the water, whereon are graven Jesus, Mary and Joseph, a beautiful present from the Duke of Buckingham, which was of gold and diamonds affixed to a feather by which the four elements were signified, Isidor’s MS of de natura hominis, a scourge with which Charles V is said to have scourged himself, a hat band of snake bones’.

In other words, this was eccentric in the extreme. Or at least it seems so to us, who admire classifications of things rather than the connectedness of things. Hmmm … something to think about!  The Guardian has this comment about their guiding principles

– they brought together the natural, the artificial and the supernatural: carvings on cherry stones, seashells, the cradle of Henry VI, a stuffed crocodile, religious objects, talismans. This was more than whimsical mixology: it was a view of the world based on the connectedness of things.

We might not know about this except for the adventures of a married couple, who lived in the 20th century, Rosemary and John Nicholson. I have no idea how this came about, but they were devoted Tradescant fans. Then one day back in 1976

Rosemary Nicholson’s (discovered) in the overgrown churchyard of St Mary-at-Lambeth … the Tradescants’ tomb.

Image result for Tradescant tomb

Rather nice!

Hmmm …  but St. Mary’s was not in good shape at the time.

St Mary’s had been desconsecrated and at the time of the Nicholsons’ visit, was a desolate ruin. Soon afterwards, Rosemary Nicholson attended a function at Lambeth Palace at which the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, told her that the church was scheduled for demolition to make way for a coach park for Waterloo Station, adding that it was “very, very sad”. When she expressed her horror, he suggested that if she could think of something to do with it, she should try and get the decision reversed.

What to do?

Rosemary and John Nicholson asked the Church Commissioners for a stay of execution and set about mounting a campaign to save the building and turn it and its churchyard into a museum of garden history.

And due primarily to Rosemary’s very clever networking among the rich and famous, they made it happen. But a museum of garden history?  That sounds a bit odd. It is odder when you consider that St. Mary’s is in the city, not the country. It has the only garden in the immediate area. And yet, that may be the perfect place for it.  Director Christopher Woodward has some interesting ideas about how it connects to the world around it

Woodward wants the museum to do more than preach to already converted garden enthusiasts, and to be open to children who may never have seen an earthworm. He wants it to be a place of debate about the public spaces of the city, which makes the events space in the middle of the church important. He’d like to put ideas into practice by contributing to local parks, whose budgets have been hit by local authority spending cuts. The museum’s building and gardens, nuanced, open, distinctive and responsive to its unusual setting, are a good start.

Check out the Guardian article for a review of the museum. Better yet, check out the museum itself! And you might ask yourself, does my city or town have a museum of gardening history? Perhaps it should!

BTW John Tradescant (the elder) is the subject of the novel Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory.

on the shore of Lake Atitlán

It might look something like this

Image result for Lake Atitlán

btw, I love this evening pic

Image result for Lake Atitlán

From Saveur, the story starts this way

San Juan is a quiet village of around 10,000 people in the highlands of central Guatemala, on the shore of Lake Atitlán and within walking distance of several volcanoes, including one that’s spewing puffs of ash on this particular afternoon. At the lakeshore, motorboats zoom up to the wooden dock several times an hour to drop off small groups of European backpackers or local women balancing baskets of food on their heads. A steep road leads uphill to a concrete building with a small indoor market, where Horacio Cotuc works at a chicken stand. I’ve just arrived in town, and when I mention to Cotuc that I’m here to write about the country’s ancestral Maya cuisine, much of which has been prepared the same way for about 2,000 years, he declares that puchon-ik, a chile-spiced dish of small, sun-dried fish, is San Juan’s unrivaled favorite. Later, on my own in an empty restaurant on the village’s main road, I have what seems like a stroke of luck: The waiter offers to serve me puchon-ik even though it’s not on the menu. He comes back with a plate of thumb-size river fish, their heads and tails still intact.

Hmmm … is it the real thing? Read on!

Ina Garten’s Great TV Rec

Ina is pretty organized. Here is her shopping list

ina garten grocery list

I do not go to those lengths. Then again, I am not a famous cookbook writer and TV host either. But I did get some ideas from checking out Ina’s schedule. 

And this caught my eye

After soup (on Sunday evening), we watched 60 Minutes, which is stunningly good, and followed that with some sort of TV series. Right now it’s a French show called Un village français, translated to A French Village in English. It takes place in 1939 in a fictitious town on the border of Vichy France, and German-occupied France. It’s all the people and what they do to survive: collaborationists against the wits, the resistance, and the communists. It’s just unbelievably good and we bought all the seasons on DVD on Amazon. We just finished the fourth season, so we just have five and six to go. Hopefully they’ll hurry up and do the seventh season!

I will have to check that out!

Bravo Wines of the French Alps!

A while back, I backed the “Wines of the French Alps” Project. and posted on it here.

Today I got an email from Kickstarter. The Wines of the French Alps project has been successfully funded! Hooray! Here is the text of the note

Thanks to you and 451 others, Wines of the French Alps: Savoie, Bugey and beyond has been successfully funded. Your pledge has been charged, funds will soon be transferred to the creator, and they’ll begin working on their project.

Sometimes the good guys win!

Kickstarter is so easy. One cannot help but see its influence grow and grow. In this case, it made me aware of a very cool author and wine expert and introduced me to a region that I know little about.  I like all of this.  The key was to get a heads up by Fred Wilson about the project. Thanks Fred!