Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rebirth of a cup

As Easter is approaching, I wish everyone a happy Easter.

To celebrate Easter, Spain series will be postponed.

When I think of Easter, the color blue comes up and I think it's best time to share with you this cup by Royal Albert.

When this cup first arrived at my home, the handle and the pedestal were covered by some yellowish stains which I think they were left-over cleaning detergent.

I guess the previous owner loved this cup so much that she/he did not want to ruin the color so she/he was careful not to give this set too much a bath hence the stains.

Seeing that this cup has a beautiful vibrant color, I would like it to reveal its beauty and so I cleaned the handle and pedestal careful so as to get rid of the stains.

After giving it a proper bath, the beauty of the cup was restored. I think it's the rebirth of the cup. And this is how I relate this cup to Easter.

I love the gradual fading from blue to white of the exterior of the cup.

The high handle is very special and elegant.

The flowers poppies and white daisy are just what I like.

To add the Easter holiday mood, here I show you the cup with "rabbit' that a child made for my mother, isnt it lovely? The body of the rabbit is a chocolate ball.

I also bought some Kinder Joy eggs. That's what I liked to have as a child. I have heard that because of the small parts contained in the Kinder eggs, it's not allowed to be sold in the US. Dear readers from the US, can you please tell me why and if it's true that there are no Kinder eggs sold in the US?

Anyway, I just love the small toy you can get after eating the Kinder egg, the toy designers are very creative to think of something which is interesting and can be fitted into the small egg.

Spring also comes with Easter, I hope that you have a new beginning in things that you want to start over.

I am joining tea cup Tuesday with Terri & Martha 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spain series (2)--- Fallas and flower offering and senorita from Royal Albert

It's that time of the year. The time of saying farewell to Spring and welcoming Summer. It's time of celebration and time for me to feel the vibe of the festival even though I am not physically there in Spain. Yes, it's the time of Fallas.

If you have been to Valencia, Spain. You would have heard of the Fallas festival for it's one of the most celebrated festivals in Valancia, Spain.

It's said that Fallas was originally just a common practise by carpenters. During winter time, carpenters made the candle holder in the shape of a doll. As winter passed, they no longer needed it so they burnt it. To pay respect to the saint of carpenters, San Jose. They have this tradition of making wooden figurines and burn them. Nowadays, the artists need one year to complete the figurines as they are very large, some are as high as a 3 or 4 storey building. On 19 March at midnight, all figurines are burnt.

Starting from 12 March leading up to 19 March, a fire crackers show is displayed at the plaza in front of the city hall at 2:00PM every afternoon. The show aims at using different fire crackers to make the different tones and sounds and by placing the fire crackers at different distance, it creates a beat. So it's like the fire cracker musical show. Hearing the beats and feeling the explosion of the fire crackers, it seems that every bit of your low emotion/bad luck was taken away. I remembered making a wish while watching the show, I really felt lifted and light hearted and all the bad energy was taken away and so my life begins again.

On 17, 18 March, those who have donated money to the church are allowed to participate at the flower offering parade. The statue of Saint Mary is placed outside the plaza of virgin mary. Trained men climb up the statue and put the flowers on the statue and make the 'dress' for Saint Mary.

They took 2 days to complete the 'dress'. Every year, the pattern of the dress is different. The year I was there, the back of the dress shows the face of a girl.

Look at the black veils the girls wearing, I suspect that Royal Albert china maker got their inspiration from the Fallas parade

We call those flower offering girls and boys Falleros. People of all ages can participate in this parade as long as you have donate money and are catholics. From infants to adults, we can see people of all ages.

Look at this grandfather, he is holding flowers and waiting for his family members walk pass.

Two men in traditional custumes leading a group of children.

The dress of Virgin Mary takes 2 days to complete. On 19 March, the Saint Jose day, she is on full display.

In one of the areas near city centre, there is the street light display. The whole street is decorated in light and it's like the light building. At the two sides of the street, you can find a lot of booths selling traditional snacks and drinks.

Almost every corner of the city has a figurines. The picture shown above is the figurine on the street from where I lived. Actually there are many statues/figurines, this one is my favourite.

At midnight on 19March, all the statues are burnt. Before lighting the fire, the fire fighters must arrive and if it's necessary, they will wrap up some buildings to prevent the fire from damaging the wall of the buildings.When everything is ready, first, there is a firework show at the area where the statue will be burnt, and then the most voted 'Falleros'-- the selected girl in custume will light the fire crackers that lead to the figurines, and then seconds later, the whole figurine is on fire.

Actually all people can stand close at a safe distance, you can really feel that it's a purifying method to wake up your soul as if all the bad/evil things are taken out/burnt down by the fire. The whole city is lifted and cleansed.

The main structure of the figurine is shown.

The 'La crema' ---cremation is completed and everyone leaves with a light soul and a pure spirit.

After being purified, it's really time for a cup of tea.

The bracelet above is often worn by 'Falleros' during the parade. Walking pass a shop that offers hand-made bracelet for Fallas one day, I could not  help but buy one for myself. I admired the neatness of the pearls. Not to mention that I enjoyed a chat with the sales lady there who hand-tied the bracelet.

The lovely white hair comb was given by my friend.

Writing this blog, I feel like I am back to Valencia again witnessing the Fallas and all the events that are surrounding the festival. And that there is always a Spanish heart in me!

Happy San Jose Day!

(All photos about Fallas were taken by me in 2011)

I am joining Terri and Martha for tea.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spain series (1)--- Flamenco and polka dot cup

I always think that if Lady Fate does not give you what you want now, be prepared to receive something even better in future.

So with the slight regret of not having learnt ballet, I went to university. There I tried to rekindle my passion for dancing. After taking the jazz dance and folk dance courses, I found that I must take dancing seriously because I could not forget the joy dancing gave me so I searched online for dancing courses offered by local schools. Initially I was looking for Chinese dancing classes but I came across Flamenco dancing classes instead. Out of curiosity I tried to take Flamenco classes. Little did I know that my little journey of self-discovery in Spain was set in motion already.

With Flamenco in mind, I choose this polka dot cup by Royal Albert. It's got the spirit of Flamenco as polka dot is one of the signatures of Flamenco dancing. It is said that Flamenco was the dance of gypsies and Romanians. In the old days, the gypsy women sewed the small pieces of mirrors all over their dresses because it's believed that those small round mirrors can ward off evil spirits. Later people use polka dot pattern to signify this tradition/supersition and now you can always see Flamenco dancers in polka dot dress.

I was so happy that I tried Flamenco dancing because it's unique in its own way. It's the combination of foot tapping, hand clapping and the graceful movement of body in fast and slow pace with great contrast of weakness and strength. What is most important is that Flamenco allows dancers to shine even when they are in their middle age because it's the dance of emotions and self-experience.

Later in my learning of Flamenco, I tried Bata de Cola, it's another genre of Flamenco dancing with dancers wearing a ruffle dress/skirt with train. The dancers need to keep the train of dress unfold while dancing. I just admire the elegance this dance allows dancers to have.

Though I no longer practise Flamenco, I still enjoy watching Flamenco shows. Why do I stop dancing? Well, it's because I am very stubborn and focus so much on perfections.(once i hurt myself while forcing myself to do the split because of harsh practising) I cannot bear to see myself making mistakes while dancing and there are only one or two teachers here teaching Flamenco. I have to work so I am not able to take dancing as a full time job/hobby. I guess it's too late to take it as a profession. Plus the teachers are more interested in making money than training with a heart. I did make friends with one good teacher but she's in Spain perfecting her skills and she's not interested in teaching Bata de Cola(Flamenco with long trained skirt). I am so happy to have met her and was her student for some time. During my dancing days, I had met nice people and we remain friends still.

The folds are like the secrets of the heart, it's up to you to reveal it or not.

Now I look back, I think that Lady Fate has tied my life to Spain in some way. In my university year, first I came to know Flamenco dancing and then I met a Spaniard a year later (when staying in a host family in Australia), who became one of the most important people in my life. Being friends with him made me understand myself better and open up myself to another world that I had not known and my journey of Spain began with him. We were mirrors to each other. Lessons were hidden in most of our interactions and so I have to thank him and Lady Fate for bringing the opportunity. Well, for some myteries and non-sense, he decided that our friendship should die with the death of his father. And so after the funeral of his father, we never see each other again. I do hope that he finds peace finally because he deserves happiness and peace as much as I do.

It's a pity. Yes, but what I had learnt in Spain made me the person I am today. And so, to salute my favourite country--Spain, I give you the Spain series.

I am joining Tea cup Tuesday with Terri and Martha

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Aynsley and ballerina dream

Have you ever had dreams that you would like to fulfill but you missed the opportunity to do that?

I always think that dreams or aspirations are like those soap bubbles that children blow in the playground. When they are fresh, they go with the wind and after a certain period of time, they are meant to be broken or vanish suddenly and they become part of the wind.  Yes, some dreams are like soap bubbles. The wind is everlasting time.

The tea trio I am choosing for Tea cup Tuesday is by Aynsley. The pink ground of the set reminds me of ballet shoes (yes, it's in ballerina pink) and the small checks in cream color remind me of the organza from tutu.

Only the cake plate was numbered 19, I think the set dates to around 1943.

Since I was a child, I always knew that I liked dancing but the desire to learn ballet rose only when I was in secondary school. The school I attended offers many activities but ballet classes. With the desire to dance, I chose the second choice--Chinese dancing. I was good at it though it's not my first choice. For a few years I was in the school dancing team participating in competitions. I did enjoy my time with the team members but still it seemed there was something lacking. Now I looked back and wondered why I did not take ballet lessons. Probably it's because the fee was a bit expensive and I was not willing to give extra burden to my family or I had no idea as to where to take the lessons. Now I come to think of it, probably this is just a slight regret I have to live with.

To make up the feeling of loss, every year I go to watch at least one ballet show. This year, I am happy to be able to watch 'Romeo and Juliet' performed by American Ballet Theatre. Yes, they came all the way to Hong Kong. It's always a delight to watch a ballet show. Ballerinas are light as feather and they made ballet look so easy.

Though I have never learnt ballet, I did take up another dancing and it leads me to somewhere more wonderful, somewhere that I feel like it's my destiny. I will save it for the next post.

Right now, enjoy a cup of tea, everyone!