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Showing posts from December, 2015

CULTURE: Christmas in Mexico

Post 115. Written by guest author MikeH

Bio: MikeH, born in Mexico now living in Barcelona, has an avid interest in ancient history, mythology and a longing to understand early civilisations. When he is not working, you will find him on the tennis paddle court or exploring the historic city of Barcelona while enjoying delicious Spanish tapas. 

Christmas in Mexico is celebrated in the period from December 12th, a day dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Saint Patroness of Mexico, to January 6th dedicated to the arrival of “Los Reyes Magos” (Three Wise Men). 
These traditions are a mixture from several periods: Pre-Hispanic period; Spanish traditions brought by the conquerors and the friars; Traditions created during Mexico’s colonial period; Adaptations from German and United States Christmas traditions.
This is a special and colourful period, when houses, businesses and public buildings are nicely decorated with the streets richly illuminated and full of “Nochebuena” flowers (poin…

LITERATURE: 2015 Year in Review

Post 114. Written by Ben Kesp

2015 has certainly had it moments and it saw me say good bye to Malta in July after three years of living on the sunny island. I wrote a post following my departure detailing my personal experiences and the importance of Malta in my life during that period (My Maltese Journey). Prior to leaving the sunny rock, I also had another memorable trip to the land of the ancient Greek Gods stopping off at Delphi, Olympia and the Acropolis
After spending two and half months in Ireland, during which time I travelled and explored many attractions like the breath taking Cliffs of Moher, Cragganowen’s Prehistoric Park, Bunratty Folk Park, Queen Maeve’s Tomb and the majestic Ben Bulben rock formation that sets the beautiful back drop to Glengar Lake
Leaving the Emerald Isle at the end of September I travelled to Barcelona, the city of parks, spaces, beaches, magnificent buildings and colourful history. Barcelona is a city rich in history but also home to many co…

LITERATURE: The World of the Night

Post 113. Written by Ben Kesp

Copyright © 2015 Ben Kesp

The fox’s bark echoes across the farm yard amplified by the silence of the night.  He wraps his blanket higher over his head fearing it might enter his bedroom.  His home is nestled between mature oak and ash trees towering like giants protecting it against the harshest of winter storms.  But their shapes silhouette in the full moon casting long shadows over his bedroom window.  Even through closed curtains, the movement of their long wooden arms is visible as if trying to claw their way into his bedroom.  The night is a scary time for seven-year-old Tommy and a different world from the brightness of the day where safety is all around.  The absence of light brings new sounds that conjure the most frightening of scenes. The old sideboard in the hall creaks, the sound reaching the slightly ajar bedroom door, followed shortly by a sound from the kitchen.  Settling noises, his mother told him; the furniture cooling after the day.  Jum…

HIST & MYTH: Barcelona's Power Struggles

Post 112. Written by Ben Kesp

What truly is the value or the meaning of a city? 
Periods of time can alter the perception of what it means. Is it a powerbase, a strategic location, an industrial hub or an urban landscape? Battles, strife, death and victory have all played part in the history of Barcelona or Barkeno, its original name when it was but a village on the Iberian Peninsula. 
The origins of the city are unclear however it has ancient sites and tombs dating back to 5,500 B.C within the Neolithic period. First known settlements are recorded from the 3rd and 2nd century B.C by people from the Iberian Peninsula. 
As always to fill in the gaps we can rely on mythology and legends. Barcelona is not without its myths that record the origins of how the city began in two ways. Before the foundation of Rome, Hercules joins Jason (ancient Greek hero) and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece (gold hair winged ram). They travelled across the Mediterranean in nine ships however …

LITERATURE: The White Lady

Post 111.  Written by Ben Kesp

Copyright © 2015 Ben Kesp

Through the window pane, blurred it may be for my eyes, I watch her.  Tall, dressed elegantly in white from head to foot.  Her hood is pulled slightly back revealing blond hair.  Her fight was short, and her opponent left lying limp on the bars of steel supporting the bridge.   The White Lady enters the room where I am.  I remain motionless, silent, observing everything.  She sits at a table, a man to her left and another one opposite, though I cannot see his face.  No speech between them.  She lowers her head, removing her white hood.  Powerful she is, but submissive to him.  Standing behind her, he places his hands on either side of her head, squeezing a red object with a yellow tip from her right eye.  The eye pops out, landing onto the table in front of her. The man continues by placing a small object into where her eye once was.   Following this act, I observe him retrieving a fork from his comrade, placing it into his mouth an…

LITERATURE: Mondays Book Talk

Post 110.  Written by Ben Kesp 

The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nestby Stieg Larsson
There is no better way to finish off the Mondays Book Talk for 2015 than with the third instalment of the Millennium trilogy. Follow the heroine Lisbeth Salander as she lies in a critical condition in hospital with a bullet in the brain. She remains in the intensive care unit until she is well enough to be taken to Stockholm to stand trial. Salander is cut off from the outside world, however with the help of her friend Mikael Blomkvist and her doctor Anders Jonasson, with whom she has come to trust, they provide her with a Palm Tungsten T3. This gives Salander access to do what she does best. Hack into anyone’s hard drive she wants to. But this time she is doing it to prove her innocence and to gather information on the people and the Swedish Government that she has suffered injustice, abuse and violence from all her life. 

Larsson has provided a huge in depth knowledge of the workings of Sapo, the S…

LITERATURE: The Witch of Ballyvale Part II

Post 109.  Written by Ben Kesp

Part II 

Written December 2015
I first called my visions a gift as Heather used to call it when I was four years old. It was something I learned to live with, even if at times its instant arrival without warning overwhelms me. My dear mother feared me, but I believe she feared being treated an outcast even more or having her friends of high society ridicule her. She was happy to hide me, wrapped behind the walls of her grand house, but on hearing a rumour my father, a man of standing could not bear to have such a story leak into the public. I should take a step back and explain that I was not always living at Ballyvale but in the grand stately house of a rich merchant. I still have memories of my home, big it was, with many rooms. There were many servants and I had my own nanny to care for my every need. I had no sisters or brothers, well none until I left, perhaps some followed and exist today, totally unaware of who I am. 

My memory of the night is blurred…