Monday, April 29, 2013

Lodges and Gatehouses One...

Above: A lodge near the gate of a home we stayed at in Bath

Every country estate had its own ancillary buildings- tithed cottages and the like. There would be the old lodge where the head gardener might live, then a gamekeeper's cottage, and sometimes a dower house, where the dowager countess etc would retired to upon the accession of the next in line inheriting the manor house (no young wife ought suffer sharing a house with her mother in law!).

Above: A beautiful old lodge, pity the satellite dish is conspicuous.

Below: More quaint English lodges...

Gatehouses offered more than just protection of the estate from outsiders. It was another chance to awe and inspire passersby who may never get a chance to see the main dwelling up close.

Below: The pleasant English countryside just a short walk from the lodge at the beginning of the post.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Dubbo Chronicles 7. Covering your Bases...

The other day I went out to visit my friend Fran at Cumboogle View. We had decided we were going to make pizzas for lunch. They were delicious. We found a recipe for the bases which did not require any time for the dough to prove, and Fran had got a whole lot of scrummy toppings such as prosciutto, basil  baby spinach leaves, olives, mushrooms, anchovies, capers etc.

The whole process from pantry to table took only 40 minutes.

Recipe for Base:

375g (13oz) of plain flour
1 Tsp of salt
1 Tblspn of sugar
7g (1/4 oz) dried active yeast
Dried herbs to taste
2-4 Tblspns of olive oil
225-250mls of warm water

Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix, including a sprinkling of dried herbs. 
Add in water and oil and mix to a dough. 
If dry crumbled bits of flour remain add a little more water.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead.
Divide dough in 2 and roll out into 2 pizza bases.
Cover bases in sauce of your choice and toppings.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Famine to Feast...

The drought has finally broken in spectacular fashion, with over 3 inches of rain falling in one day. The weather is wreaking havoc across the Waikato region with cyclones lifting the roofs of houses in a nearby town, and large hail stones and wind gusts destroying trees again.

These photos were taken in town near the hospital, showing the extent of the flooding, whilst out at Willowbrook it was also bucketing down...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Penang Photos...

Peter and I are both back after our holiday away in Penang. Although we had been there before it had changed a little. 
The dichotomy between the tourist driven lifestyle and the poverty of some of the local residents was more pronounced than last we went, and we noticed many once beautiful Georgian and Victorian houses fallen into complete disrepair. I can understand why people who have known it for a long time, such as Columnist, must be saddened by what it has become.

Still, we made the most of our trip. I was sad not to see as many monkeys as before. According to a local we talked to the industrialization and construction work is fast whittling away at their natural habitat. Little fellows, such as this one up a tree, are becoming a rarer sight.

A Chinese Temple...

A Hindu Temple..

Examples of the crumbling edifices of yesteryear, this one just across the road from the E&O....
Another old house abandoned...
Above photo copyright of Donkey and The Mule

Not all the old houses have gone to rack and ruin...
Above photo copyright Noogy Cruz

There were many local tailors who were able to make suits there very reasonably, with a 3 day turnaround. We had several jackets, suits, shirts and ties made while we were there, so one night we decided to try them on and dress for cocktails just for fun..

The hotel had cocktail hour between 5 and 7 every day and a small canape buffet, up on the 6th floor. There was an indoor lounge and bar, and an outdoor terrace complete with an infinity pool overlooking the Strait of Malacca in which the island sits...

So, now back to the reality of work again in Dubbo for me, and Hamilton for Peter. He arrived home to find that the rain has finally started to fall, which should break the back of the drought at Willowbrook; and it looks as if the manor house foundations will start next month (I'll believe it once the first sod has been turned!)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Penang and the East India Trading Co.

Georgetown (named after George III) was founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, a trader for The East India Company.

The East India Trading Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, sale, saltpeter (potassium nitrite use in gunpowder and in preserving meats - salt beef), tea and opium. It had been trading for the best part of a decade before it was granted a Royal Charter in 1600 by QEI. It was in competition with the Dutch East Indian Trading Company et al.

Above: Sir James Lancaster, commander of the first EIC expedition to the East in 1601.

Light obtained the island of Penang from the Sultan of Kedah, and built Fort Cornwallis at Georgetown.

It became a thriving trading post, full of merchant buildings and banks such as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). The old sector of Georgetown where these buildings can still be found is now listed as a world heritage site. 

Penang was the first British trading post in the east, and became a luxurious eastern travel destination once the Suez canal was opened in 1869. 

Malaysia was made up of 13 different kingdoms (the Malay states), each with their own sultan. 9 retain their own royal families to this day. Above is a photo of all the sultans taken in the late 19th century. 

Below: The current Sultan of Kedah (Penang region)

The EIC was dissolved in 1874, as its functions had been fully absorbed into the governmental machinery of British Imperial India.

Captain Light's tomb in the Protestant Graveyard, just down the road from the E&O...
The Graveyard...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mad Dogs and Englishmen...

Today Peter and I are flying to Penang for an island holiday. Penang holds a special place in our hearts, as when Peter lived in London and I live in Hamilton we would meet there (halfway) once a year with a group of friends for a winter vacation. 
We usually stayed at the Parkroyal in Batu Ferrenghi, but would travel in to Georgetown once or twice during the holiday to have lunch at the luxurious Eastern and Oriental Hotel. This time, however, we are treating ourselves and spending the whole week at the E&O in their newly refurbished suites.

The E&O is full of old world charm, and it is easy to see how ex-patriates lived a Mad Dogs and Englishmen lifestyle. Indeed, Noel Coward was a frequent guest at the hotel.

Above: The foyer
Below: The bar

It was the first hotel built by the Sarkies, four Armenian brothers who were also to build The Raffles in Singapore, and The Strand in Rangoon. Finished in 1885, the E&O was billed as the greatest hotel east of the Suez, and boasted the longest sea frontage of any hotel in the world. 

Other prominent guests included Rudyard Kipling, Hermann Hesse, Somerset Maugham

Above: The restaurant
Below: The terrace and pool directly on the ocean front

Below: One of the newly refurbished suites

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