… .. 53bc. Somewhere near Antioch.

A merchant, mercenary and currently, a spy for the Parthian army sat at a table, in one of the darker porticos of the tavern, opposite a noisy group of men who had obviously disembarked, quite recently, after the long sea journey from their homeland. They were in search of food, drink and whatever else was for sale in the establishment.

Kallias was a tall, sallow man with short brown hair. He was the only son of the chief elder of his home village. He spoke several languages, picked up from the many merchants that passed along the trade route between Parthian Merv and distant Kashgar, the westernmost city of the mysterious Han Empire.

Throughout the day, he had been taking note of the numbers of roman soldiers as they took up designated positions in the army compound. He had estimated the latest landing of almost one thousand enemy cavalry, had brought a total of some ten thousand men were preparing to join the main roman army, commanded by Marcus Licinius Crassus that even now, acting on false information, was marching, across the Mesopotamian desert towards the city of Carrhae.

His sources in the Kasbah told him that the Romans were not about to compromise and so it appeared that war would be inevitable. He had decided that this was to be his men’s final battle and that any tribute his father had owed the Parthians would be fully paid at its end, whatever the result. He had already lost a quarter of his men and like the remainder yearned to return to his homeland.

.. excerpt from  – A PAWN OF DESTINY – to be published soon 



An extract from the book introducing: The Han Dynasty,General Chen Tang. A stocky man of average height, sat dressed in a dark blue silk robe, decorated on the wide cuffs with a gold abstract motive. His dark hair was tied informally while the two sides of his moustache trailed below his chin. He had not eaten his meal, which was minced mutton with a variety of vegetables. He wondered absent-mindedly when the supply wagons would arrive and he could have a portion of rice to eat. Outside he heard the night guard coming on duty. They were his own handpicked men at least he would be safe from his perceived enemies that night. He is planning to lay seige on the stronghold of the rebel barbarian, Zhizhi Chanyu. Following a victory he takes Darquin and his group prisoner …once more their  lives hang by a silken thread ….

Read the novel soon…

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An extract from the book introducing: The Han Dynasty,General Chen Tang. A stocky man of average height, sat dressed in a dark blue silk robe, decorated on the wide cuffs with a gold abstract motive. His dark hair was tied informally while the two sides of his moustache trailed below his chin. He had not eaten his meal, which was minced mutton with a variety of vegetables. He wondered absent-mindedly when the supply wagons would arrive and he could have a portion of rice to eat. Outside he heard the night guard coming on duty. They were his own handpicked men at least he would be safe from his perceived enemies that night. He is planning to lay seige on the stronghold of the rebel barbarian, Zhizhi Chanyu. Following a victory he takes Darquin and his group prisoner …once more their  lives hang by a silken thread ….

Read the novel soon to be published.


Theresa May says “Enough is enough” Let us not forget that whilst in government she has cut 20 000 police and civilian intelligence analysts. She sacked 1500 HCHQ employees! She left border security in absolute chaos and then sacked thousands more border staff! Sacked Armed response units, explosive sniffer dogs and their handlers units! Those were May’s decisions as much as any other politicians. Time to own up – but they never will. May is right when she says “enough is enough” because “enough is enough” of her calamitous decision making and her Tory party’s never ending cuts and austerity! Which are now harming our security and costing the lives of innocent men, women and children .

According to Harold Pinter,Nobel Laureate, John Pilger, an Australian journalist living in England, “is fearless. He unearths, with steely attention to facts, the filthy truth, and tells it as it is… I salute him.”

In an article dated 31.05.2017 he writes:

“The unsayable in Britain’s general election campaign is this. The causes of the Manchester atrocity, in which 22 mostly young people were murdered by a jihadist, are being suppressed to protect the secrets of British foreign policy.
Critical questions – such as why the security service MI5 maintained terrorist “assets” in Manchester and why the government did not warn the public of the threat in their midst – remain unanswered, deflected by the promise of an internal “review”.

The alleged suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was part of an extremist group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, that thrived in Manchester and was cultivated and used by MI5 for more than 20 years.
The LIFG is proscribed by Britain as a terrorist organisation which seeks a “hardline Islamic state” in Libya and “is part of the wider global Islamist extremist movement, as inspired by al-Qaida”.

The “smoking gun” is that when Theresa May was Home Secretary, LIFG jihadists were allowed to travel unhindered across Europe and encouraged to engage in “battle”: first to remove Mu’ammar Gadaffi in Libya, then to join al-Qaida affiliated groups in Syria.

Last year, the FBI reportedly placed Abedi on a “terrorist watch list” and warned MI5 that his group was looking for a “political target” in Britain. Why wasn’t he apprehended and the network around him prevented from planning and executing the atrocity on 22 May?

These questions arise because of an FBI leak that demolished the “lone wolf” spin in the wake of the 22 May attack – thus, the panicky, uncharacteristic outrage directed at Washington from London and Donald Trump’s apology.

The Manchester atrocity lifts the rock of British foreign policy to reveal its Faustian alliance with extreme Islam, especially the sect known as Wahhabism or Salafism, whose principal custodian and banker is the oil kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Britain’s biggest weapons customer.

This imperial marriage reaches back to the Second World War and the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The aim of British policy was to stop pan-Arabism: Arab states developing a modern secularism, asserting their independence from the imperial west and controlling their resources. The creation of a rapacious Israel was meant to expedite this. Pan-Arabism has since been crushed; the goal now is division and conquest. 

In 2011, according to Middle East Eye, the LIFG in Manchester were known as the “Manchester boys”. Implacably opposed to Mu’ammar Gadaffi, they were considered high risk and a number were under Home Office control orders – house arrest – when anti-Gadaffi demonstrations broke out in Libya, a country forged from myriad tribal enmities.
Suddenly the control orders were lifted. “I was allowed to go, no questions asked,” said one LIFG member. MI5 returned their passports and counter-terrorism police at Heathrow airport were told to let them board their flights.
The overthrow of Gaddafi, who controlled Africa’s largest oil reserves, had been long been planned in Washington and London. According to French intelligence, the LIFG made several assassination attempts on Gadaffi in the 1990s – bank-rolled by British intelligence. In March 2011, France, Britain and the US seized the opportunity of a “humanitarian intervention” and attacked Libya. They were joined by Nato under cover of a UN resolution to “protect civilians”.

Last September, a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee inquiry concluded that then Prime Minister David Cameron had taken the country to war against Gaddafi on a series of “erroneous assumptions” and that the attack “had led to the rise of Islamic State in North Africa”. The Commons committee quoted what it called Barack Obama’s “pithy” description of Cameron’s role in Libya as a “shit show”.

In fact, Obama was a leading actor in the “shit show”, urged on by his warmongering Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and a media accusing Gaddafi of planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day,” said Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
The massacre story was fabricated by Salafist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. The Commons committee reported, “The proposition that Mu’ammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence”.

Britain, France and the United States effectively destroyed Libya as a modern state. According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties”, of which more than a third hit civilian targets. They included fragmentation bombs and missiles with uranium warheads. The cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. Unicef, the UN children’s organisation, reported a high proportion of the children killed “were under the age of ten”.

More than “giving rise” to Islamic State – ISIS had already taken root in the ruins of Iraq following the Blair and Bush invasion in 2003 – these ultimate medievalists now had all of north Africa as a base. The attack also triggered a stampede of refugees fleeing to Europe.
Cameron was celebrated in Tripoli as a “liberator”, or imagined he was. The crowds cheering him included those  secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS and inspired by Islamic State, such as the “Manchester boys”.

To the Americans and British, Gadaffi’s true crime was his iconoclastic independence and his plan to abandon the petrodollar, a pillar of American imperial power. He had audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would have happened, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.
The fallen dictator fled for his life. A Royal Air Force plane spotted his convoy, and in the rubble of Sirte, he was sodomised with a knife by a fanatic described in the news as “a rebel”.
Having plundered Libya’s $30 billion arsenal, the “rebels” advanced south, terrorising towns and villages. Crossing into sub-Saharan Mali, they destroyed that country’s fragile stability. The ever-eager French sent planes and troops to their former colony “to fight al-Qaida”, or the menace they had helped create.

On 14 October, 2011, President Obama announced he was sending special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops were sent to South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent was under way, largely unreported.

In London, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs was staged by the British government.  The buzz in the stands was the “demonstration effect in Libya”. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a preview entitled “Middle East: A vast market for UK defence and security companies”. The host was the Royal Bank of Scotland, a major investor in cluster bombs, which were used extensively against civilian targets in Libya. The blurb for the bank’s arms party lauded the “unprecedented opportunities for UK defence and security companies.”
Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May was in Saudi Arabia, selling more of the £3 billion worth of British arms which the Saudis have used against Yemen. Based in control rooms in Riyadh, British military advisers assist the Saudi bombing raids, which have killed more than 10,000 civilians. There are now clear signs of famine. A Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from preventable disease, says Unicef.
The Manchester atrocity on 22 May was the product of such unrelenting state violence in faraway places, much of it British sponsored. The lives and names of the victims are almost never known to us.

This truth struggles to be heard, just as it struggled to be heard when the London Underground was bombed on July 7, 2005. Occasionally, a member of the public would break the silence, such as the east Londoner who walked in front of a CNN camera crew and reporter in mid-platitude. “Iraq!” he said. “We invaded Iraq. What did we expect? Go on, say it.”
At a large media gathering I attended, many of the important guests uttered “Iraq” and “Blair” as a kind of catharsis for that which they dared not say professionally and publicly.
Yet, before he invaded Iraq, Blair was warned by the Joint Intelligence Committee that “the threat from al-Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq… The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly”.
Just as Blair brought home to Britain the violence of his and George W Bush’s blood-soaked “shit show”, so David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, compounded his crime in Libya and its horrific aftermath, including those killed and maimed in Manchester Arena on 22 May.
The spin is back, not surprisingly. Salman Abedi acted alone. He was a petty criminal, no more. The extensive network revealed last week by the American leak has vanished. But the questions have not.
Why was Abedi able to travel freely through Europe to Libya and back to Manchester only days before he committed his terrible crime? Was Theresa May told by MI5 that the FBI had tracked him as part of an Islamic cell planning to attack a “political target” in Britain?
In the current election campaign, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has made a guarded reference to a “war on terror that has failed”. As he knows, it was never a war on terror but a war of conquest and subjugation. Palestine. Afghanistan. Iraq. Libya. Syria. Iran is said to be next. Before there is another Manchester, who will have the courage to say that?”

John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger

I do not usually copy whole articles but this is well worth reading. Jeremy Corbyn was ridiculed recently when he suggested that the last two decades or more of international terrorism can be traced back to ill conceived American foreign policy [from Afghanistan to Syria?]  supported by successive British governments. It confirms what I have long suspected.


A new friend recently asked if I lived in a castle. This made me realise how many people have disappeared from my list of contacts over the last 12 month’s and how many new friends have entered this domain, knowing little of the writer. This is a rambling explanation I wrote some 3 years ago when I first began this space.

I imagine there is a name for it: defending your own personal space. We walk through the busy shopping precincts, crowded with Christmas shoppers, we queue at the checkouts, each one of us defending that infinite gap of privacy from the people around us, trying to invisibly input our pin numbers! As a single diner, you would smile at the efforts that folk take in not occupying one of the three vacant seats at your table. The village pub, posh restaurant, theatre, soccer match, a moorland walk and most obvious of all, the beach – we huddle alone or in groups ‘defending’ our [dubious] ownership of a table, chair, area of sand and guarded on three sides by a multi coloured, ‘windbreak.’

Then an Englishman, invented the WWW. [Yes folks, another British invention that we have failed to capitalise on!]. The internet was soon available to us all. We could speak to people all over the planet – from our isolated dens/bedrooms. The screen and the electrical impulses, are as near as we allowed anyone to get close to us. I am amazed on reflection that I have been part of this revolution for some ten years now. Sadly, this complete freedom is being sadly eroded, the “system” now provides names to contact! The first rule in the distant past was that you created and sustained your anonymity. My first effort reflected the strange world I was entering – ‘Alien Dream’. In French you are aware they have masculine and feminine words, even in English ‘A D’ was deemed to be ‘feminine’. The problems are obvious!

My hobby is Genealogy, the history of my family. It will be plain to all that history is my favourite subject. History, is usually written by the main players, I find it more interesting to learn about how our ancestors coped with the social and economic problems of their days. The Hymn, ‘All things bright an beautiful’, says: “The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate.” Well my lot were both. All civilisations have protected family, in Barrows, Motte and Baileys and castles.

The Anjovian Empire, extended from the borders of Scotland to the Mediterranean Sea. Strategically placed hills, rivers and on estuaries loomed the power of the invader – Castles. Some large and significant while others were small and now, largely forgotton. Testimony to the rich accomplishments of England and France. They are foreboding structures. Haunted by the spirits of the past. My fascination with castles began when I heard the methods employed during sieges. Two of which were the hurling of rancid meat into the castle for the starving defenders to eat. The catapult like structure, bears the name of one line of ancestors – did they make them? Did they fire them? Another was the idea of the besiegers digging under the castle foundations and shoring the castle up with tarred wood. This was ignited, [later gunpowder was used], and the wall of the castle collapsed.  On school holidays my family would visit places like Conwy and Scarborough. They hung  huge carpets up on the walls to stop the draughts and called them tapestries. Castle stairs apparently spiral to the right almost universally. The reason for this is most people are right handed and hold their sword in this hand. An attacker running up the stairs is therefore hampered by the central supporting column of the staircase. The defenders however did not suffer such problems. They drank and caroused the days away between battles. The castle owner paid for all these festivities and this became a recognised method for the monarch of the day to stop his followers from becoming too rich, and powerful!

Sir William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, in 1766 made an impassioned defence of private homeowners against discretionary government searches. He enunciated on the right of an Englishman to be secure in his home: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail — its roof may shake — the wind may blow through it — the storm may enter — the rain may enter — but the King of England cannot enter; all his forces dare not cross the threshold of that ruined tenement.” In England, law is created by precedent – not a written constitution, so it is that this right, dates back to 1604, the year that Shakespeare presented Othello.            An individual named Semayne complained that his home had been broken into and his assets seized by the sheriff. The judgment that followed declared: ‘The house of everyone is his castle.It went on to say, ‘That if a door is open, a sheriff may enter but that it is not lawful for the sheriff, on request made and denied, at the suit of a common person to break the defendant’s house.’ One 18th-century commentator wrote: ‘The law of England has so particular and tender a regard to the immunity of a man’s house, that it styles it his castle, and will never suffer it to be violated with impunity. For this reason, no doors can in general be broken open to execute any civil process; though, in criminal cases, the public safety supersedes the private.

This right, “Of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” is enshrined in the constitution of the Commonwealth of United States. [Fourth Amendment]. Written incidentally from the works of French and English philosophers.

The above is a rather convoluted explanation of why my space is named as it is. So yes, I do live in a castle, my home IS my castle. As with most strategic edifices, it is built on a hill, overlooking the Trent Valley in Middle England. Unlike nearby Ashby Castle it has double glazing and the larder is always well stocked. [This latter fact comes from my genes who learnt to hoard during War time rationing!].

Whilst having had the title by document – it seemed that Glencairn was an appropriate name to use on the internet. I do not display a picture of the real Castle Glencairn for obvious reasons. As children we would play, King of the Castle and today I work on my computer and access the internet from my castle. It is the refuge from whence I travel around the world from this book lined room, isolated from, but close to you my friends the world over.

Laird. 2010

pay our anonymous protectors more ….

Behind one dead policeman are thousands of other public servants – all prepared to put their lives on the line to keep you, me and our families safe.

Perhaps those in power should remember, we vote to send our representatives to Westminster. Yet once in the corridors of power they forget. They continue to cut spending on essential services. They walk past the men and women who,as we have seen, are prepared to die to uphold peace and security in our streets.


Armed police officers walk in Tottenham Court Road in central London


Prayers and vigils will not return someone’s husband, wife son or daughter. Recognition of their value should NOT mean government cuts in staff numbers. It should NOT mean a wage freeze or paltry payrises of less than the cost of living .

The prayers should turn into meaningful demands for higher salaries for those who live on the front line every day of their lives.




       March 26th is the fourth Sunday of Lent and traditionally is the day when children give presents, flowers, and homemade cards to their mothers. It has no connection with the Hallmarkian Americanized jamboree of that name where Mother’s Day is now the second Sunday in May and Internationally recognised May Day,has been moved to September.

In common with most of my readers I do not need a special day to remember mine, because later in the month on March 25th is her birthday. It only takes a word overheard or someone’s gesture, as I go about my daily duties, to remind me of both my departed parents.

       Most Sundays in the year churchgoers in England worshipped at their nearest parish or “daughter church”. Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or “mother” church once a year. So in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their “mother” church, or the main church or Cathedral of the area. It was the return to the “Mother” church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family.

       It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.

       With such a richness of strong and vital images of motherhood, we have much to celebrate on Mother’s Day. However it isn’t especially our birth mothers we are celebrating but more spiritually we thank Mother Nature, who sustains us in life and to whom we all eventually return.

       Thanksgiving to Mother has ties to ancient pagan rituals. Prehistoric artefact’s, bare proof of this. The earliest recorded festival in history honoured the Egyptian goddess Nut. She was goddess of the sky and wife of Re, the god of the sun and creator of all, and was known for her incredible beauty and kindness. Her generous and loving nature was apparently extensive, leading her into affairs with Geb, the god of the earth, and Thoth, the god of divine words. Re found out and, understandably, was furious with her, issuing a curse that his pregnant wife would not give birth to the child within her in any month of any year! Filled with sorrow that she would never be a mother, Nut turned to Thoth for comfort. Like most males, he couldn’t stand to see a woman cry and promised to find a solution. Using his divine powers of persuasion, Thoth persuaded the Moon into gambling with him. If he won he would get just a little bit of the Moon’s light. The games went on for months, and at the end Thoth had won enough light to create five complete days. Nut didn’t waste a precious moment of those five days. She gave birth to a different child on each day. From that day forward she was called “Mother of the Gods”. Her firstborn, Osiris, was the son of Re and went on to become the god of all the earth. The Great Goddess Isis, daughter of Thoth, was born on the third day. Later as husband and wife they ruled together, creating the first great nation of Western civilization during the “Golden Age of Egypt”

       Another Mother figure, Eostre a Saxon deity, marked not only the passage of time but also symbolised new life and fertility. We remember her at the timing of the vernal equinox, also known as Ostara. Legend has it that the goddess was saved by a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter. This process turned the bird into a hare that could also lay eggs. As usual the church borrowed these pagan symbols for Easter, so the egg and bunny became additional symbols for fertility and the resurrection of life.


On a less serious note I leave these memories which most children have of their Mother.

  1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

‘If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.’

  1. My mother taught me RELIGION.

‘You better pray that this will come out of the carpet.’

  1. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL

‘If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of

next week!’

  1. My mother taught me LOGIC.

’Because I said so, that’s why.’

  1. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.

‘If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going

to the store with me.’

  1. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.

‘Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.’

  1. My mother taught me IRONY.

‘Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.’

  1. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

‘Shut your mouth and eat your dinner.’

  1. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

‘Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck?’

  1. My mother taught me about STAMINA

‘You’ll sit there until all those vegetables are eaten up.’

  1. My mother taught me about WEATHER…

‘This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.’

  1. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY

‘If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!’

  1. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.

’I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.’

  1. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION.

‘Stop acting like your father!’

  1. My mother taught me about ENVY.

‘There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t

have wonderful parents like you do….’

  1. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.

‘Just wait until we get home.

  1. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.

’You are going to get it when you get home!’

  1. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.

’If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck

that way.’

  1. My mother taught me E.S.P.

‘put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?’

  1. My mother taught me HUMOUR.

‘When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me….’

  1. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.

‘If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.’

  1. My mother taught me GENETICS.

‘You’re just like your father.’

  1. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.

‘Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?’

  1. My mother taught me WISDOM.

‘When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.’

  1. And my favourite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE

‘One day you’ll have children, and I hope they turn out just like you’


       In the church calendar this coming Sunday, commemorates the banquet given by Joseph to his brethren and forms the first lesson of the day. The story of the feeding of the five thousand, forms the gospel for the day. For this reason, Simnel Cakes, rich fruit cakes often covered with marzipan, were eaten on Mothering Sunday, a tradition that persists today.

I’ll to thee a Simnell bring

‘Gainst thou go’st a mothering,

So that, when she blesseth thee,

Half that blessing thou’lt give to me.

[Robert Herrick 1648]

This posting, one week in advance will give my reader’s time to prepare this Receipe for baking a Simnel Cake:



Softened Butter – 225g (8oz);

Castor sugar – 225g (8oz);

Eggs 4;

Self- Raising flour – 225g (8oz);

Sultanas. – 225g (8oz);

Currants. – 110g (4oz);

Glacé Cherries – 110g (4oz), quartered;

Chopped candied peel – 50g (2oz);

Zest of 2 lemons;

Mixed spice – 2 teaspoon


Almond paste – 450g (1lb);

Apricot jam – 2 Tablespoons;

1 beaten egg (for glaze).


  1. Pre-heat oven to 150 °C / 300 °F
  2. Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 inch) deep round cake tin with buttered greaseproof paper. Place all the cake ingredients bowl and beat well. Place half the mixture in the prepared tin.
  3. Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.
  4. Bake for about 2½ hours until well risen and firm. (If the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, cover it with greaseproof paper.) Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When the cake has cooled, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.
  6. Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 balls.
  7. Brush the almond paste with beaten egg and arrange the balls around the outside. Brush the tops of the balls with egg as well. Place the cake under a hot grill to turn the almond paste golden.
  8. Decorate with crystallised flowers if liked.

       Finally,as a genealogist, I dedicate this quotation to all Mothers.

“Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.” ~Aristotle

2016 – That was the year that was.

They were alive once and dwelt among us. Now they are gone. It’s an old story, maybe the oldest there is, and it’s been told many millions of times. The year now ending has been no exception. The departed in 2016 include writers, actors, musicians and other ‘celebrities’.  We know who they were. Their departures, amply covered by the news media and have been marked, applauded or mourned, at length by the public.

The huge obituaries and the blanket media coverage belong primarily to those who became famous, or infamous, in life, or to those whose deaths were sufficiently lurid or shocking that they generated instant fame at the last minute. Some luminaries manage to achieve notoriety on both counts.

 Other lives also ended in 2016. Just as precious, just as loved by those who loved them deeply, and who love them still. Unnoticed unknown. That’s death, of course, and everyone knows it. Most people lead more circumscribed lives, ending in private deaths that are felt directly by only a few. Yet these factors do not diminish the worth of those lives or the pain engendered by their end.

 This time of year brings back thoughts of those who crossed my path and too soon passed on. Whose smile, wise words and affection live on in my memory. These few, and the many others may well be unsung, but that doesn’t mean they lived without song.