March 13, 2008

KCWC Grosvenor House Tea

We enjoyed a beautiful tea with piano music in the background at the newly refurbished Grosvenor House. We started with champagne followed by tea, sandwiches, scones, pastries, and marzipan. I finished the scones quickly and they brought more. The service was friendly and comfortable (opposite of stiff and snooty).

The highlight for me was winning lunch for four in the raffle (one won a dinner for two and another won a weekend with all meals). I am looking forward to a wonderful lunch with three great friends.

March 12, 2008

KCWC Norouz - Persian New Year

Sousan hosted a Norouz ("New Day") celebration in her home. Norouz officially starts 20th March 2008 at 5.48am GMT. This Persian New Year holiday celebrates the Spring Equinox with many customs. Sousan sent us a wealth of information including the cultural significance of each of the items required for a Haft-Seen Setting - starting with 7 natural and edible food items all beginning with letter S:
1) Sabzeh (sprouts, usually lentil or wheat): Rebirth of nature
2) Seeb (apple): Natural beauty & health
3) Samanu (a sweet wheat sprouts pudding): Affluence
4) Somaq (somaq berry used as spice): Sunrise & vitality
5) Senjed (the sweet, dry fruit of oleaster tree): Love
6) Seer (garlic): Health
7) Serkeh (vinegar): Patience

Other items displayed as part of the Haft-Seen ensemble are:* Mirror which represents clarity* Sofreh (table cloth) on which Haft Seen is displayed* Sonbol (Hyacinth): Spring flowers with the scent of heaven* Sekkeh (coins): Represent prosperity and wealth* Painted eggs represents fertility* A Seville orange floating in a bowl of water represents the earth floating in space* Goldfish in a bowl representing flow of life and the end of year which takes place in the month of Pisces* Rose water, for its magical cleansing power* Sepand (incense) which ward off evil spirits*Home made sweets and pastries.

Sister Maureen Goodman, one of the directors of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, was a guest at this event. At our request, she spoke for a few minutes - a beautiful, hopeful prayer.

This was a wonderful cultural event with over 50 guests from many countries. I am glad KCWC President Sandra and Sousan stopped long enough to get their photo taken.

March 11, 2008

KCWC Cambridge

It was only a 45 minute train ride from Kings Cross to Cambridge. Our guide, Caroline MacDonald-Haig, grew up in Cambridge (her father taught there) and was VERY enthusiastic. She provided fascinating insights into the educational methodology employed and college system.

We visited Kings College Chapel which was started by Henry VI in 1441 and finished by Henry VIII in 1547. The ceilings and carvings were magnificent. Unfortunately, the "no flash" rule meant no good interior photos for me.

On our way to Kettles Yard, we admired the River Cam and gardens. Jim Eade recognised and valued avant garde art earlier than most. He bought a group of cottages in Kettle Yard to display his growing art collection - sometimes acquired when artists he admired had "clearance sales". Jim opened his home to those who appreciated or wanted to learn more about this art. As a student, Caroline was one of his guests and remembers him fondly. Jim Eade left his collection and Kettles Yard a nephew on condition that the nephew would in turn bequeath the estate to Cambridge.

I was most fascinated with Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) and his diary. He wrote in code about EVERYTHING from 1660-1669 thinking his diary would be completely private. We saw pages of his diary in code and the translations - it is amazing that anyone figured it out but they did! Pepus attended Magdalene College in Cambridge and left his 3000 volume library to his alma mater.

We admired one of the five Round Churches in the UK which was built 1130. We also heard the story of Oliver Cromwell's head and its recent (1960) burial, the exact spot known only to two people at a time.

March 06, 2008

Jersey Boys at Prince Edward Theatre

What nostalgia! From references to New Jersey landmarks (e.g., Rahway Correctional Facilities) to all the fabulous songs written and performed by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like A Man, My Eyes Adored You, Working My Way Back To You are only a few of the songs incorporated into this musical. I sang along with many others in the audience and remembered my NJ childhood fondly. I even discovered that one of my KCWC associates had also been born in Muhlenburg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. What a small world!

The photo from "The Stage" website shows the West End production actors (this award winning show has been shown across the US). Ryan Molloy asFrankie Valli; Stephen Ashfield as Bob Gaudio; Glann Carter as Tommy DeVito; Philip Bulcock as Nick Massi