Hello world!

Hello,

As I’ve wandered through life, I’ve met some wonderful people from around the world. Here I blog about finding their Country’s presence in London, making London all the more colourful.   For  any particular country, just click the ‘country’ categories on the right. Keep coming back – your country may be next.  All ideas welcome.

And my thanks to this site also. It shows that the UK’s citizens include people born in  possibly every country in the world. Remarkable.

“Proverbs”  provides links to my presentations at the AIP-IAP Colloquium most Novembers since 2007 and held in the historic town of Tavira in Portugal’s Algarve.

“Songs to Teach History” provides links to little songs that do just that.  Sing along and have fun.

John

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Posted in A World in London, Portugal | Leave a comment

Diwali

Diwali  is a five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival coincides with the Hindu New Year and celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana.

Diwali is  observed on the 15th day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. In 2018, Divali is on November 7.  The annual celebration in Trafalgar Square was  held on Sunday 28 October.

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Spectacular 2018 opening ceremony with hundreds of dancers filled Trafalgar Square. A must-see on YouTube here.     Thanks to  the Binal Dance Academy. 

 

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Demon King, Ravana.  Produced by puranas.co.uk

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Hanuman is generally depicted as a man with the face of a monkey and a long tail. Often described as the “son of Pawan”, the Hindu god for wind, Hanuman is known for his extraordinary daring feats, strength and loyalty.

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Puja (prayers) to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, to get the new (financial) year off to a good start. All the offerings are natural products – see the coconut, apple, rice, yogurt drink (sweetened with sugar and honey), turmeric, and more.

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Bharatanatyam is a most popular and one of the oldest dance forms from Tamil Nadu South India.

 

 

 

 

 

Some fun at Diwali

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Full House !  Community singing to Shiva

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Community singing to Lord Shiva, led by a brave youngster. Sing along with 30m here.

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Bangra beat

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Bollywood

 

 

 

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The lotus flower symbolises purity.    It rises above the mud from which it originates.

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Ganesh is depicted as an elephant’s head on a human body and in the Hindu tradition he is the son of Lord Siva and the Goddess Parvati.   He is known as the Remover of Obstacles and is prayed to particularly when people are beginning a new enterprise or starting a new business. Hence his relevance at Diwali,  the start of the new year.

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A moment for reflection

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Own Goal

Football is more than a game, it’s a way of life. These days it’s completely global in all respects – fans, players,  and Owners.   The Premier League, England’s top division, is made up of 20 teams, six of which are based in London [OK, no longer Fulham]. Those six have Owners from around the world. A remarkably helpful  list of the Owners of all English teams is on wikipedia here  (many thanks).

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Posted in America, Pakistan, Russia | Leave a comment

Trafalgar Day 21 October

21 October each year sees parades around the UK in gentle commemoration of the 1805 Battle of  Trafalgar, a sea battle  between  the Brits and the French off Cape Trafalgar, near Cadiz in Spain.   In London around 400 young Sea Cadets from across the UK, aged between 10 and 18,  march on behalf of the Royal Navy, lead by their mass bands.  From Whitehall they march to Trafalgar Square for nautical drills before Naval dignitaries.  From there they march via Admiralty Arch along the Mall to Buckingham Palace.  Recognising today’s warm relationship with our French brothers and sisters the French and UK flags fly  in harmony with each other.   This year the glorious sunshine and blue skies made the event more memorable than ever.

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Nelson keeps an eye on the event.

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A race to raise the sail

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Procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace

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Admiralty Arch : leading from Trafalgar Square to The Mall

 

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Every Lamppost along The Mall has HMS Victory atop

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Flags fly in harmony

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A brief background to the Battle of Trafalgar:

In the late 1700s much of Europe was controlled  by France under Napoleon while the seas were controlled by the British Fleet.

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Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain required that his own ships had control of the  English Channel and hence his need to eliminate the British Fleet.    The  French fleet lay in several ports around Europe, the great majority of ships being in Spanish Cadiz (France and Spain were allies).   In September 1805 the British Fleet, under the command of Horatio Nelson, assembled off Cadiz.  Late on 20 October, on the order of Napoleon,   the French fleet left Cadiz sailing for the Mediterranean en route for Italy.  Nelson followed and engaged them off Cape Trafalgar, some 20 miles south of Cadiz, in the morning of the 21 October.   Nelson was shot and died before the battle was over but aware of his victory.

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Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805 during the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Montague Dawson

Twenty-seven British ships defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships and the British lost none.  The victory confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century.  However it had limited impact on Napoleon’s control of Europe which continued for  10 more years until the decisive Battle of Waterloo on Sunday, 18 June 1815,  under the command of the Duke of Wellington (as also on this blog- here),

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HMS Victory : In dock in Portsmouth today.

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Posted in France | Leave a comment

Flag it up !

At  the South Bank (on the Thames) , at Jubilee Gardens,  near the “London “Eye”, stands a remarkably tall (say 60 feet / 20 meters?) wooden flagpole, atop of which flies the flag of the UK.

The flagpole was a gift of the forest industry of British Columbia  (a Province of Canada)  to the UK for the 1951 Festival of Britain., which was held in this area.   The  flagpole was re-erected by the Provincial Government of British Columbia in 1977 to mark the Silver Jubilee (25 years as Queen 1952- 1977)  of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It was a coincidence that the Festival was held in 1951 and that Elizabeth became Queen in 1952.  The Festival had been planned since 1947 as a way to boost the morale of the British people  after World War 2 and was timed for the centenary of “The Great  Exhibition” of 1851.   King George V1 died in 1952 at which date Elizabeth  immediately became Queen, with her  formal “Coronation” organised for the following June 1953.

Canada is an independent country.  It has chosen to be a member of  “The Commonwealth of Nations“,  a group of 53 “free and equal” countries united by language, history, culture and their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  Member states have no legal obligations to one another. Most of these countries were once part of “The British Empire”.

Elizabeth is the Queen of UK and at the same time she is Queen of 15 of the Commonwealth countries.     32 other members are Republics and 5 others have different monarchs.  Per diagram here.     It is for each country independently  to choose whether Elizabeth is to be their Queen.   Canada is one of the Countries that has so chosen.

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British Columbia

A wide territory once know as “Columbia District”  encompassed what is now “British Columbia” as well what are now the USA States of Washington and Oregon. This large “Columbia District”  was later divided  [by the Oregon Treaty on August 8, 1848]  between UK and USA .   Queen Victoria then chose  the name British Columbia to distinguish the British sector of the Columbia District from the United States (“American Columbia”).  The division was made along  the 49th parallel .  In 1866, Vancouver Island became part of the colony of British Columbia, and the city of Victoria on the Island became the united colony’s capital. In 1871 British Columbia became the sixth province of Canada.

“Columbia” is a reference to Christopher Columbus, the Italian 15th century explorer of the “New World”, under the patronage of Spain.

Atop of the flagpole flies the flag of the UK,  to celebrate the UK’s pleasure at this kind gift from Canada.      The things you learn from a flagpole – great!

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Transports of delight

October 2018 has seen some remarkably pleasant weather – brilliant afternoon sunshine and cloudless  deep blue skies  as are rarely seen.    And on such an afternoon within minutes of  each other two great countries caught our attention unexpectedly.

Into the picture of Big Ben, albeit sadly trussed up with scaffold,  comes a red London bus,  beckoning us to visit Taiwan on China Airlines.   At the same  moment  overhead arrives Singapore Airlines flying low to land at Heathrow airpport.   The passengers on both the bus and the plane will have had a great view of  the so many iconic spots crammed into this small area:  Westminster Abbey,  Parliament Square, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben ( well the scaffolding),  Whitehall and Portcullis House,  the  GLC Building (now  a hotel), the London Eye,  Westminster Bridge, St Thomas’ Hospital, and  ”Father Thames” himself!  All bathed in glorious sunshine, under a deep blue sky.  A  rare moment  – one to remember.  A delight !

 

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Posted in Singapore, Taiwan | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Japan Matsuri 2018

Each September Japan holds an all-day (10am to 8pm ! ) action-packed Matsuri (Autumn Festival) in Trafalgar Square. It’s a wonderful  display of Japanese culture.   2018 was the tenth anniversary in London.   [Matsuri 2016 is also on this blog here].

STAGE

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FASHION

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FOOD

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CULTURE:

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TRAVEL

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THE [VERY LATE] FINALE

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See the whole Matsuri on Youtube :

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Bavaria’s Oktoberfest time

It’s almost like being in Munich’s Hofbräuhaus.   Oktoberfest seems to be everywhere in London these days.  Great!  Take your pick and join in the fun.

In Munich here:

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In London here: Olympic Park, Flat Iron Square, Bavarian Beerhouse,  Brixton, Canary Wharf, Camden Town.    All thanks to  the Evening Standard here.  

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