Day in Literature: Burns Night

Today is the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns, celebrated in Scotland and around the world as Burns Night.

Having lived very close to the Scottish border and Burns’ home in Dumfries, I have actually witnessed Burns Night celebrations and attended Burns Supper before and I love the tradition.

Formal celebrations start with guests being greeted by a piper. There’s a welcome speech and the Scots language Selkirk Grace is said before dinner.

Dinner starts with soup, which is usually either Scotch Broth, potato soup, or Cock-A-Leekie. And then the main course: haggis!

This is such an important part, a bagpiper actually welcomes the haggis and accompanies it to the host’s table! The host then recites Burns’ Address to the Haggis:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my airm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.

Is there that ower his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

After a whisky toast, the haggis is served with tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips). Afterwards, there are various other courses, including desserts like cranachan or tipsy laird, cheeses and coffee. And of course, more whisky.

Further toasts include the Immortal Memory commemorating the life and work of Robert Burns, the Address to the Lassies and the Reply to the Laddies.

Several of Robert Burns’ works are recited throughout the night, before the company is asked to stand, join hands, and join in a rendition of what is probably Burns’ best-known song: Auld Lang Syne.

I guess I’ll be cracking open a bottle of Scotch tonight. How about you?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Favourite Plays

Top Ten Tuesday is the brainchild of The Broke & the Bookish. Every Tuesday, we compile a list of our literary Top 10, and then add it to the blog hop.

This week is all about our Top 10 FREEBIE – So I chose Top 10 Favourite Plays.

I am pretty sure I could fill this entire list with Shakespeare’s works, but here are some plays I saw live on stage or via National Theatre Live, and which blew me away!

Special mention to the below version of Richard III as directed by Jamie Lloyd for Trafalgar Transformed – this is the play and the adaptation (set in 1979 Britain after a military coup, with Martin Freeman as Richard III see my review HERE) that finally unlocked Shakespeare for me!

If We Were Having Coffee… On Jan 22

Hello my lovely booklovers,

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

Actually, it’s been two weeks since I saw you last. I am sorry for my absence last week but I was so busy that I did not get to sit down and write.

If we were having coffee today, we’d probably be very cold. It is -5°C here, but windchill makes it seem much colder. I’ll be happy to supply all the coffee, tea or cocoa you’d like to warm back up.

If we were having coffee today, I’d start to talk about the yesterday’s Women’s Marches all over the world. I loved seeing that outpouring of solidarity, and the crowds that took to the streets. I would have loved to join, but we’re prepping dad’s house move and we had to use the whole weekend to sort out the flat. But not being there in person does not mean I’m not there in spirit. I am with you, sisters! Always! There’s a German song by Die Ärzte called Deine Schuld (Your fault) and it has this line in it: “Go fill the streets again, go demonstrate, because those who don’t try to fight anymore can only lose. Those who are trying to screw you received votes, so let them hear your voice because every vote counts!” In light of the Women’s Marches, it should come as no surprise that my Bookstagram Book Recommendation for this weekend was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists.

If we were having coffee today, we’d inevitably talk about Trump’s inauguration. I still can’t believe that a dimwit narcissist like him now has nuclear launch codes. That’s a frightening thought. I watched parts of the inauguration, mainly because it was a trainwreck. You know the feeling. It’s bad, but you can’t look away. His inaugural address alone was of such poor linguistic and grammatical quality, it could have been written by a primary student. And don’t get me started on the all the hate he spreads. I am so glad to see people pushing back.

I somehow doubt Trump will meet his challenges with the class, respect and dignity the Obamas have shown throughout the last 8 years. Speaking of which… I don’t think I’ve ever shown you the photo I’m proudest of, have I? The picture I took in May 2007 in Reno, NV when I met Barack Obama – obviously before he became president – while doing a Visual communication & Photojournalism summer session at UNR Reno.

Then-Senator Barack Obama during a rally in Reno, Nevada. May 2007 ©Cornelia Kaufmann

Then-Senator Barack Obama during a rally in Reno, Nevada. May 2007 ©Cornelia Kaufmann

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that mum, my sister and I have spent all weekend sorting out dad’s flat. We all moved out, but we had kept some stuff behind. Mind you – my stuff amounted to a small box, a shopping bag, 3 folders and 3 board games, while mum’s stuff so far filled 10 (!) clothes donation bags for the Red Cross. And we’re not even done yet. It was weird going through all the drawers and cupboards in my childhood bedroom again, especially as none of it still contained proper traces that I used to live there. During the coming week, mum, dad and I have to sort all the books in the living room – my parents had a whole wall of shelves, each two rows of books deep, and we need to decide who gets which books and what to do with the rest (our literary tastes vary greatly).

My upcoming week is already shaping up to be another busy one. There will be lots of writing for my PhD Research proposal, reviews for this blog, applications, and normal blog posts, next to sorting flats and basements, getting on with reading and having various other appointments scheduled. I’d wish I could get some time to myself to relax and do nothing and just sit somewhere nice and warm.

Anyway, if we were having coffee today, I wouldn’t want to keep you much longer. Check out the other Weekend Coffee Sharers, I’m sure they’d love to see you.

Thank you for having coffee with me. Same time, next week?

Stationery Book Tag

If you know me, then you’ll know that I love stationery – I even worked in two different stationery stores! Well, both of those stores also had book sections in them, so, in a way, this post combines stationery and books and harks back to my early university days 10 years ago!

Book Tags are always fun and the lovely Holly @ Nut Free Nerd has tagged me in the Stationery Book Tag!  Thank you so much for tagging me!

But how does it work??

  • Thank the creator: Sam @ RiverMooseReads, Thank you!
  • Answer the questions.
  • Add pictures! (If you want to)
  • Tag (about) 5 people.

Q & A

Pencil: Favourite Children’s Books

Having grown up in Germany, one of my childhood favourites has always been Das kleine Gespenst (The Little Ghost) by Otfried Preußler! It’s the story of a kind ghost who’d like nothing more than to see daylight instead of haunting his castle at midnight. But when he does manage to wake up at noon he meets humans – and nothing goes according to plan.

 


Pens: A Basic Staple for Every Reader

Definitely The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien!It’s one of those books I think everybody should read, and it’s suitable for children and adults alike. There’s just something about growing up with stories about Middle-Earth, hobbits, dwarves and dragons that does wonders for your imagination.

 


Notebooks: Books you own multiple copies of

As a bilingual, I own many books in English and German editions. Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera is one of those books. It was the first book I bought in New Zealand, on my second day of school in Auckland, because it was our required text. It has become one of my favourite books over the last 14 years.

 


Markers: Books with beautiful covers

The picture really doesn’t do the cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley any justice. What looks like dirty yellow on the picture is really more golden, the octopus and smaller details are bright green, even the page edges are tinted green and the cover also has a cutout where the fob watch is, continuing on the layer below. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

 


Glue: Two characters that work together, even if they aren’t together

Possibly the best literary friendship EVER has to be between Mr Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H. Watson in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Not only are these two the oddest roommates you’ll ever see, their individual skill sets complement each other and they’re friendship and work relationship as consulting detectives lasted more than 40 years. They even retired together. If those are not Best Friend Goals, I don’t know what are!


Scissors: What Book Would you like to Destroy

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh is probably one of the worst books I have ever read. To date, it is the only book I only gave a one star review. Incredibly boring and drawn-out, with a thoroughly unpleasant main character and a plot that only really starts on the last 20 pages, this is one book I regret reading. I wish I could have that time I wasted back to read something more worthwhile.

 


Art Kit: What completed Series do you own

I own many completed series, but the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is my favourite of the lot. I also own it in my two main languages  – English and German – and it is one of my go-to book series whenever I’m down. I was 11 when I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, so I really have grown up with them and gone to Hogwarts in their year. Returning to Hogwarts is like coming home.

 


Tagged Bloggers

Leann @ LM Creative

Melissa @ Readerly Geek

Candace & Erika @ Literary Dust

Theresa @ The Calico Books

Nat @ An Aussie Bookworm

 

So tell me: What would you answer to these questions? Let me know in the comments!

What It Is // Was Es Ist

A certain scene in last night’s episode of Sherlock, “The Lying Detective,” reminded me a lot of one of my favourite poems by Erich Fried. The line is “It is what it is.”

What it is  – by Erich Fried

It is madness says reason.
It is what it is says love.

It is unhappiness says calculation.
It is nothing but pain says fear.
It has no future says insight.
It is what it is says love.

It is ridiculous says pride.
It is foolish says caution.
It is impossible says experience.

It is what it is says love.

//  //  //

Was es ist – von Erich Fried

Es ist Unsinn sagt die Vernunft.
Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

Es ist Unglück sagt die Berechnung.
Es ist nichts als Schmerz sagt die Angst.
Es ist aussichtslos sagt die Einsicht.
Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

Es ist lächerlich sagt der Stolz.
Es ist leichtsinnig sagt die Vorsicht.
Es ist unmöglich sagt die Erfahrung.

Es ist was es ist sagt die Liebe.

 

Now, I am not saying that the scene in Sherlock is about romantic love, but at the very least it is about offering comfort and a deep appreciation of friendship.

Continue reading

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, is a gripping read full of magic and mystery.

There are four distinct worlds, some full of magic, some almost devoid of it – and the only thing these worlds have in common is London. Once upon a time, travel between the four worlds was possible and frequent. These days, only the Antari – a rare people born with magic in their blood – can travel between the worlds and serve as liaisons and messengers for the rulers of the four Londons.

The world-building in this novel is extraordinary. At first glance the idea seems simple, four versions of the city of London stacked on top of each other. But each comes with its own culture, customs, names for landmarks and language, which makes the set up really quite complex.

Black London was the most powerful of all, brimming with magic until it turned destructive and its portals were closed off. White London has barely any resources left, including magic, making its sibling rulers brutal and power-hungry in a cold world. Grey London is mundane and its magic is scarce. It is also the most recognisable London for its resemblance of the real London in our world. And then there is Red London, a warm place in which magic is still abundant and which is home to an Antari named Kell, who moves between the worlds in his official capacity as royal messenger – as well as for his side-business as a smuggler of other-worldly trinkets.

Until he unknowingly takes a token across the worlds that contains a magic not seen in centuries and which could destroy everything he has ever known. His troubles really start, however, when the street-smart Grey London thief Delilah Bard decides to pick the wrong pocket.

Lila is a delightful character. She’s savvy and fierce, stubborn, adventurous, longing for freedom, and doesn’t mind giving the men-folk hell. So tagging along with a traveller like Kell is her ticket to the world. Lila’s perspective proves ideal for the reader, as Lila is just as wide-eyed and experiencing new worlds that are just as unknown to her as they are to the audience. The characters of Kell and Lila are incredibly layered and polar opposites of each other. Combined with the amazing magical worlds they inhabit, they make for a very compelling and intriguing story.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a story that draws you in immediately and keeps you under its spell.

 

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – Delilah Bard

 

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Pages: 400
ISBN:  978-1783295401

If We Were Having Coffee… On Jan 7

Hello my lovely booklovers,

Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, a blog hop by the lovely Diana over at Part Time Monster. Every weekend we get together for virtual coffees and a little casual chat. How has this past week been for you?

Can you believe we’re already a week into the year 2017?? I rang it in last Sunday with the Season 4 premiere of Sherlock and O.M.G. my poor babies! That show is brilliant and devastating in equal measures. It continues tomorrow and I have already ordered the DVD. Did / Do you watch Sherlock? What did you think? I have so many theories after The Six Thatchers!

If we were having coffee today, we’d sit inside, wrap up warm in blankets, and sip hot beverages. I got my new Senseo coffee maker working, so I am offering coffee, hot cocoa and tea. It’s -5°C outside and the streets and pavements are covered in black ice – I actually had to hold on to the picket fence in front of the house, grab the concrete bin boxes and lastly crawl across the driveway on my hands and knees so I wouldn’t fall again, because I’ve already landed on my behind once today. We’re halfway up a hill, and the driveway is split into a level entrance and a basement parking structure, so the top of that ramp is incredibly slippery. Unfortunately, it’s also right outside my door. My fingers were burning it was so cold, and my coat stuck to the metal of the bin box doors.

Have you read any books yet? I have joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge and set myself a goal of 70 books this year. I have read Ajax Penumbra 1969, which I loved, and I am currently reading A Darker Shade of Magic and listening to How the Marquis got his Coat back. So far, I have been asked by one author to review their book (which I will do next), and I have purchased a few books from an indie bookstore in the US that not only stocks signed copies, but also organises readings and signings. Two of the books will hopefully be personalised next week when the authors hold their readings there. I’m also making an effort to support more of my Nanohana (the FB NaNoWriMo family of writers) and my first NaNo book of 2017 will be Grae Beginnings by the lovely Ronnie (R.R. Virdi). Have I mentioned that it’s not hoarding, when it concerns books?

My plan for 2017 is to review everything as soon as I’ve read it – and I am still playing catch-up with the reviews I know I should have posted in 2016. Those will be back-dated and should be going live on this blog oer the next few weeks.

Writing-wise, I have quite a few little projects in general this year:

  • book reviews and posts for this blog
  • a recipe collection (preserve gran’s recipes)
  • a novel (NaNoWriMo?)
  • a new research proposal

Yes. A new research proposal! And I will have to write this very quickly, as my deadline is Feb 1. That’s because I have decided that I want to continue my studies and hopefully start the journey towards a PhD. There’s a university about 2 hours from here that offers an international PhD programme focusing on cultural and literary studies, which sounds perfect to me. And I even had an offer that, should I get the place, my tuition fees will be paid for me (for a private source, though it’s just €300 per semester, so not that bad). We also have friends in the university’s town, so I might be able to stay with them until I find my own place or they could at least help me orientate myself there. BUT, deadline for the October 2017 start is February 1, so I don’t have much time to prepare. I’m a bit worried, because it all stresses me out. Getting my M.A. while battling mental health issues was hard, and feel a bit overwhelmed with the idea of doing it again. But at the same time, I’m good at research, and by moving away I will get a bit of distance from everything here which should help me a lot. I’ll also be starting hypnotherapy on the 17th, so I hope that this time around I will be better-equipped- Having said that, I DID graduate summa cum laude, so I didn’t do too bad, it was just hard. I have no idea where even to start with going about it all – applying for a PhD in Germany is not as straight forward as applying for other degrees is. I’ll be reaching out to current students next week to get a feel for the programme and how they applied. Fingers crossed!

Despite that, I am still looking for a new job. The problem is, I never know what job titles to look for. I need to sit down with my sister at some point – she’s a pro at getting good results from job sites.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I am starting a proper effort to lose a considerable amount of weight and get fit again. Not only do I have to fit into a (decent sized and emphasised at the waist) knee-length Rockabilly-style Maid of Honour dress by October, I also want to improve my health and flexibility. So I’m doing DDP Yoga, I’ve had a food intolerance test done and will avoid quite a few things like dairy, wheat and yeast in the future, and I have joined weight watchers. Between all of those, I hope I can get closer to my goal.

If we were having coffee today, that’d be it from me. It’s got even colder outside, so be careful on your way to the other Weekend Coffee Sharers! Take care out there!

Thank you for having coffee with me today. Same time, next week?

 

Day in Literature: Sherlock Holmes’ Birthday

According to the stories, today is the birthday of none other than the world’s most famous consulting detective: Mr Sherlock Holmes!

Thanks to his colleague and roommate, Dr John H. Watson, we know that the birthday boy is 163 years young today, as he is reported to have been born on January 6, 1854. While he himself is not big on social conventions, I am sure that between them, John Watson, Mrs Hudson and DI Greg Lestrade can convince Sherlock to have a piece of cake in celebration.

Happy birthday, my dear Sherlock!

Looking younger by the day 🙂