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

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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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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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].

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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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Indonesia Kontemporer 2018

Inspired by Indonesian arts and cultural traditions ” Indonesia Kontemporer” is an annual all-day event of exhibitions, performances, workshops, crafts, film screenings, as well as food and handicrafts stalls.  It’s organised  by ARTi UK,  an organisation of volunteers for the promotion  of Indonesian arts and culture in the UK [see who’s who here] .  It’s hosted by the SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies.  It’s like being in Jakarta !    See  Facebook here. 

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London Angklung Ensemble

 

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    Javanese Gamelan by Jagat Gamelan           Balinese Gamelan by Jagat Gamelan

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Folk Dance Spirit

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Traditional Dance

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Horse Dance

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Childen’s song.   To teach colours.   Sing along to music  below.

 

 

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“Ghost Gamelar”  – Group with fusion of Gamelan and Western styles.

 

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Yasashi I Evelyn and   Stephanie Onggowinoto     Indonesian classical music. Western style, as introduced over time  by the “visiting” Portuguese and Dutch.

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“Sasando” .[tubed zither].  Aga Ujma .

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Dancing to Dangdut music by “Bandana Group”   Very popular style of music in Indonesia. Strong Indian influence.

 

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Battle of Surabaya.  1945.  Against the British, after the surrender of Japan. Wiki here.             Indonesia National Day, called “Heroes Day” on 10 November marks the battle.

 

 

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Salacca.  Reddish skin,while fruit with large stone. Slightly sour taste.

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Location of 2018 earthquake

 

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From Botswana to Bond Street : Diamonds are forever.

Those sparkling diamonds in the shops of Bond Street and Hatton Garden  look wonderful.  But where do they come from?

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Hatton Garden.      Info here. 

 

The diamond industry pipeline starts with mining, then rough trading, manufacturing/cutting,  jewellery setting and finally retailing.   Producer countries are rich in natural resources. Other countries  have special creative skills, financing and high tech developments that make them manufacturing centres. Yet other regions are consuming markets.

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Producing countries are countries where diamonds are found and mined. There are two major bands around planet Earth, the northern band and the southern band. A third centre band also has diamonds but of lower quantity and value.

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Cutting – much  done in India.  Producer countries now  try to do more.

 

The Northern band includes Russia and Canada, two of the leading diamond-producing countries. The Southern band includes Southern African states such as Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, as well as Australia. The centre band includes the Ivory Coast , Sierra Leone  and DRC in Africa,  together with Venezuela and Brazil in South America.  Some diamonds are not without conflict,  but the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme has improved matters.

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The top five producing countries by volume of production are RussiaBotswana,the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Australia and CanadaRussia holds what is believed to be the world’s largest and richest diamond resources.

Botswana is the world’s leading diamond-producing country in terms of value, and the second largest in terms of volume. This is the home base of De Beers, and the source of most of its production today.  In 2013, Botswana produced 23.2 million carats with a stated value of $3.63 billion. Botswana  has seven mines. The two important ones are Orapa and Jwaneng, two of the most prolific diamond mines in the world. Both are operated by De Beers, which also operates Letlhakane and Damtshaa.     Lucara operates the Karowe mine, Kimberly Diamonds operates Lerala, and Gem Diamonds runs Ghaghoo.  Thanks to great report here. 

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Jwaneng mine, Botswana.  See on Google satellite view here.   Huge!

Many of the top quality diamonds you see in London’s shops are from Botswana.  Production in Botswana is a great success story and has transformed the country and its 2.5 million people.  Here is the story of Botwana’s success –

At the time of its independence from UK in 1966, the country had few paved roads and few secondary school graduates. Its economy was that of subsistence farming and cattle.  The country and the lives of its just 2.5m people were transformed when, some say by luck,  just four years after  independence, diamonds were  discovered at Jwaneng.  In 50 years the country has gone from being one of the poorest in Africa to one of the wealthiest and most stable, thanks to the discovery of diamonds, its long-standing partnership with mining house De Beers, and its wise Government.  Thanks to great Telegraph report here. 

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De Beers is now within Anglo American plc,  a multinational mining company based in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, United Kingdom.  You’ll find the UK offices at Carlton House Terrace, street view here. 

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Sculptures at Anglo American / De Beers, Carlton Terrace.  On Google streetview here. 

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And Botswana is blessed with another jewel – its spectacular wild life.

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And Botswana is blessed with another jewel – its spectacular wild life.

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Flag of  Botswana.     Adopted at 1966 Independence. 

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