Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

May good health and happiness be yours 
❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ ❖ 
On my return home today it was lovely to read all of your kind and generous comments. I wish that there had been time to reply to them all but every one was read and much appreciated - thank you, and I do hope that you all enjoyed a very happy Christmas

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Happy Christmas

The cases are packed
The gifts are wrapped
The cards have all been posted and
a holly wreath decks the front door.
My sincere hope to you all is that you enjoy
a wonderful Christmas,
wherever you may be.
Thank you for your warm friendship,
 and the thoughtful exchanges we have shared over the past year
linocut Robin courtesy youngest son

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Creating Images

Several 'bloggers' have expressed an interest in my images - this tutorial may help you experiment and make your own
A couple of years ago I removed all borders/frames & edges from around my photos on this blog. You may not have realised but most of the blogspot templates automatically have photo edges so unless you remove them you will not get the seamless look that I have. If you have a white background and perfectly plain white frames to your photos (no thin black lines or shadowy edges) then yours should look seamless too. I cannot remember how I got rid of the borders but you can google how to do it - there are plenty of people on the internet who will give you a step by step guide - it must be simple as I managed to do it. I do recall that I eliminated the frame but was left with a shadowy edge which I then had to google again to find out how to remove. If you prefer to have borders and edges to your photos then leave them as they are, and if you are not confident about removing them then please don't do it
Go into PicMonkey here 
Select Design and choose whichever canvass you want to use
You have a choice of leaving it white, giving it a colour or making it transparent - when you have made your choice press apply. I normally choose to use the transparent mode. If you leave the canvass white and have a blog with a white background, and plain white frames as mentioned above then once again yours should look transparent.
On the lefthand side you will see Basic Edits - go into the butterfly image and scroll down until you find an image you want to use - I have used one leaf only for this demonstration
My chosen leaf
Now you can alter it in various ways, change the basic colour, make the veins invisible or colour them or if you don't want veins make them the same colour as the leaf. Turn the leaf around, make it bigger or smaller. Add more leaves and create a design - I like to overlap them and use the fade gadget in order to give the image depth and create a more interesting effect

When you are happy with the results go into Basic Edits and resize your image by making it 800 pixels or less
Once you become familiar with how to change the colours etc the choices and permutations are endless

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Laodicea, Turkey

Laodicea, in Asia Minor, was the seventh and final church to receive a letter from the Apostle John. At that time the Christian community in Laodicea was considered to be 'rather luke warm' and this was reflected in the message received 'Behold I stand at the door and knock'. I am reminded that when my granddaughter was at Oxford University, her college, Keble, owns a painting done by Pre-raphaelite artist, William Holman Hunt - The Light of the World. This painting is based on that message sent to Laodicea in Revelations 3:20 
William Holman Hunt - The Light of the World
Excavation work at Laodicea began about 10 years ago, and it is anticipated that when completed its importance and interest could equal that of  Ephesus. 
Being a significant Christian center there was great excitement when archaeologists discovered a church structure built during the reign of Constantine (306-337) using ground penetrating radar. The church is in the process of being unearthed and the cross shaped marble baptistery appears to be one of the oldest and best preserved ever discovered.

Stained glass window painted by C15th glazier and painter - John Thornton
The Seven Churches mentioned in the Book of  Revelations are shown in this medieval East Window at York Minster - St. John in the lefthand corner is being instructed by an angel to write to the seven about his vision. The seven churches were in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, the seventh and final one being Laodicea
We arrived in Laodicea during 'golden hour' just before sunset and had it almost to ourselves
The city was laid out on a grid system, and rather topically this is 'Syria Street'

Eventually the great temple that stood here - a Prostyle Temple of Corinthian order surrounded with porticoes, will be rebuilt 
The excavated remains lie scattered across the site, all are numbered and logged - I imagine that it will take years to both reassemble and reinstate the missing parts
These pillars are in the process of being reassembled with inserts of new marble. The new marble is a different colour which has been done purposefully in order to show an honest reconstruction
 So far over 3,000 ancient artifacts have been excavated in the city, amongst them the sculptured heads of Augustus, Dionysus, Aphrodite, and Zeus
As we left the site in fading light one of the cranes was still busily lifting pieces of stone ready for reassembly. In years to come a Museum will be built here, and filled with the many valuable sculptures and artifacts discovered todate. This raises the prospect of an exciting and fascinating archaelogical experience for visitors in the future .

Friday, 4 December 2015


"Come said the wind to
the leaves one day,
Come over the meadows 
and we will play.
Put on your dresses
scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone
and the days grow cold."
A Children's Song 1880 

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
Edith Sitwell 
"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Under a blue winter sky today I found lots of green shoots making their way through the ground in our garden
"What day is it?"
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favourite day," said Pooh.
A.A. Milne

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Ancient Kingdom of Lydia

Sardis was the capital of Lydia ruled by mighty King Croesus during the period 560-547 BC. The Lydians were cited as the first people to mint coins of gold and silver in Asia Minor, and it was Croesus who funded the construction of the great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Although some claim that he was largely a legendary figure, his signature at the base of one of the columns from the Temple of Artemis, now displayed in the British Museum, is evidence that he was an historical king who ruled from the city of Sardis.  
In the Book of Revelations, the fifth of St. John's seven Messages was sent to the church in Sardis. 
It is home to the remains of the Temple of Artemis, a Roman Synagogue, and a baths-gymnasium complex revealing the city's former glory and wealth.
The Temple of Artemis in Sardis was the fourth largest Ionic temple in the world. Originally built in 300 BC by the ancient Greeks, the temple was renovated by the Romans in the C2nd AD. 
Much of what remains today is Roman, but these two mighty columns are Hellenistic

There is a small brick and rubble church located at the corner of the temple which was probably built in the C4th AD long after the Temple cult had been abandoned, and was used as a place of Christian worship for 300 years before being buried under a massive medieval landslide
This abandoned crane was brought to Sardis in 1911 by Prof Howard Crosby Butler of Princetown University and used for lifting and moving fallen architectural blocks during excavation at the temple. It was moved around the site on a narrow-gauge Decauville railroad track with a small locomotive. The crane was made by Dorman Long at Middlesborough in the north of England.
A short journey from the temple is Roman Sardis - this is Marble Street made up of 34 Byzantine shops many of which were owned by Jews. Recovered artifacts suggest a restaurant, taverna, a shop selling dyes and paints, and others selling glassware, and metal hardware. In some cases the presence of benches, latrine seats, and basins indicates that several may have been non-commercial, and were probably living spaces for the proprietors. Personal names and religious symbols inscribed on the walls reflect the cultural diversity of the residents.
 A Roman drainpipe
A surprising discovery was made here less than 50 years ago - a Jewish Synagogue. Excavations by both Harvard and Cornell Universities have unearthed the most impressive synagogue in the western diaspora yet found from antiquity. Over 80 Greek and 7 Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors have been found. It has provided indisputable evidence of a continued presence of Jewish communities in Asia Minor, and their integration into Roman life, at a time when scholars previously assumed that Christianity had eclipsed Judaism.
Immediately adjacent to the synogogue is a large bath-gymnasium complex. Bathing was an important Roman tradition - something that they spread throughout their empire.  
A red inscription dedicates the space to the Roman Imperial family: Emperors Caracalla and Geta, and their mother Julia Domna; and even records that the hall was gilded by two ladies of consular rank: the sarcophagus of one of these ladies, Claudia Antonia Sabina, was found at Sardis and it is now in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul

On this photo the remains of marble walls can clearly be seen which once covered the whole of the interior
The complex was thought to have been completed in the late C2nd or early C3rd AD - repaired and modified in succeeding centuries. The Synagogue was made out of a conversion of one of the marble halls in the bath-gymnasium complex, but all fell into ruin during the C7th AD 
I never cease to be amazed at the Romans and continually find myself in awe of the massive footprint that they have left behind for us to admire and appreciate across three continents. 
This post is for my second born granddaughter and she will know why!