Tuesday 20 December 2011

Lighting the Way

lights on Andrássy ut looking towards Heroes' Square, Budapest

We wish all of you, wherever you may be, a joyous and peaceful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. We shall much look forward to being with you in January, but in the meantime thank you for the friendship, kindness and generosity which you have shown to us throughout 2011.

'És monda néki az angyal: Ne félj Mária, mert kegyelmet találtál az Istennél. És ímé fogansz a te méhedben, és szúlsz fiat, és nevezed az ó nevét Jézusnak'

'And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus'

Thursday 15 December 2011

Fare Trade

Shopping habits change. Once upon a time there were proper shops: grocers, greengrocers, butchers, bakers and fishmongers.  Even a dairy where each week the milk bill, for those delivered pints, would be paid. And on at least one weekday there would be the excitement of the outside or covered market piled high with fruit and vegetables, fresh free range eggs, home cured hams, honey, cakes and jams, all brought into the town from the surrounding countryside. Now, sadly, with the growth of the out of town superstore and, most recently, on line shopping, so much of this has disappeared.

the exterior of the market house in Hunyadi tér, Budapest [click to enlarge]

Here in Budapest old customs do, indeed, die hard, if they die at all. For since the close of the nineteenth century, when five large markets were opened, all coincidentally on the same day, very little has changed. Today they operate much as they have for the past hundred years, spilling over now, as then, into and onto the surrounding streets and pavements and catering for a population which continues to shop daily.

view of the interior, recently refurbished, of the Hunyadi tér market

Our local market, one of the original five, is in Hunyadi tér. Unrestored outside, it is a cavern of a place, icy in winter and overwhelmingly hot in summer, but hugely popular, and busy, at all times. In addition to several greengrocers, and like everyone we have our favourite, there is a bread stall, a fish counter, complete with murky watered fish tanks, crowded and heaving, a kind of marine Death Row, as well as two or more butchers.

the stall from which our meat is bought with, as always, a queue

For meat we favour a particular stall, manned by one Gyula and his merry men. The quality is excellent, and others think so too, for it is seldom possible to get away without queuing for at least twenty minutes, considerably longer at weekends. For fruit and vegetables we turn to Blondy where the stall holder, a Manchester United supporter, is endlessly cheerful and never without his somewhat cheeky grin.

the cheeky grin of the stall holder glimpsed over the fruit and vegetables 

Tucked away in a rather dark corner is the cabbage woman, essential if you are to make, which most Hungarians do much of the time, stuffed cabbage. With an outsize smile, she will serve you with near translucent leaves torn from a giant pickled cabbage. To this must be added the shredded strips, also pickled and sold separately by weight, which are cooked alongside the cabbage-wrapped meat and rice balls together with a generously sized piece of smoked ham. Apart from a few jars of pickled red cabbage, and the odd egg lurking in liquid, she has little in the way of other stock. Amazingly she appears to make a living.

the cabbage stall showing the shredded cabbage to the extreme right

North of Nyugati pályaudvar, the western railway terminus, is the most modern of all the markets, Lehel. In atmosphere it is very different from its older counterparts, slicker, more streamlined. But in essence it remains the same. Country people, with garden produce, man their stalls here as elsewhere, the honey man comes regularly, fish swim a little more freely, bread is baked and Brussels, with all its European Union regulations, is a long way off.

Thursday 8 December 2011

In the See and by the Sea

the spire of Chichester Cathedral dating from 1075 [click to enlarge all images]

If Salisbury Cathedral is famed, as indeed it is, for having the tallest spire of any English Cathedral, then the spire of Chichester holds the distinction of being the only one visible from the sea. But that is not all which sets Chichester apart. For in these present, enlightened times Chichester remains one of only two dioceses not in favour of, and to have voted against, the ordination of women bishops and, furthermore, whose bishop, The Right Reverend John W. Hind, BA DD, is vehemently opposed to, or so it is reported, the ordination of women generally as members of the clergy. A sad state of affairs, but more of that anon.

the Nave of Chichester Cathedral 

But with what joy on the First Sunday in Advent to be collected by friends Nigel and Peter, Peter a Canon within the diocese of Chichester, and whisked off in 'Miss Pearl', their pearlescent motor car, to attend not only Choral Evensong in the Cathedral but also the Rededication of the Shrine of St. Richard.

title page of the order of service 
the prayer of St. Richard

And what a splendid occasion. Sung Evensong, so quintessentially English, a procession of Bishop, Dean and Chapter, Canons and Clergy in full regalia, a triumph of organ music, incense, bells, and the vox humana rising up within those ancient walls. Perfectly placed in the front row of the Nave, we could not but wonder as The Reverend Alice Kemp, ordained daughter of the previous Bishop of Chichester, Bishop Eric Kemp, read from the Old Testament what thoughts might be coursing through the mind of Bishop John Hind. One of life's rich little ironies.

the cloisters of Chichester Cathedral on the evening of 27th. November 2011

Damp from a liberal sprinkling of holy water, on both Shrine and ourselves, we jointly decided against the ensuing 'bun fight' taking place in a side aisle and chose instead to accompany Peter on a tour of cloisters and precinct, scenes reminiscent of Trollope's 'Barchester Chronicles'.

Marrocco's Italian restaurant at Hove on the night of 27th. November 2011

Later, with the November night darkening the sea to an inky blackness, we found ourselves on the Hove seafront in Marrocco's Italian restaurant where, in the splendour of original 1960s décor and furnishings, we enjoyed the most wonderful Burrata mozzarella and the freshest and best sea bass ever tasted, and talked the night away.

P.S. We are so very appreciative of the concern and good wishes of so many of you during our recent, somewhat prolonged absence from, and neglect of, the Blogosphere whilst we wrestled with hospital appointments, doctors and consultants. Thank you so much.