April 26, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | TRAVEL, WW2 |

(photo by Zigomar)

P’s father, Hugo, maintained that the only good thing about being drafted by the Red Army was that being captured by any other side would be a bonus.  In 1940, he was deferring his University studies, doing national service, then a requirement in free Estonia.  Then the Ruskies moved in (it was ironic to see them celebrating recently the anniversary of the end of WWII, since they had a pretty big hand in starting it, along with Hitler) and simply annexed Estonia, and the rest of the Baltic States.  Lots of Estonian officials were liquidated (including P’s grandfather) and all private property confiscated (including…

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Perpetual Rome

April 21, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, TRAVEL |

The digs of Octavian (Caesar Augustus) on Palatine Hill (if you look carefully, is that the cave of Romulus nearby? No?)

21 April, 753 BC – The traditional date for the founding of the Eternal City.  That makes Rome 2769 years old, roughly.  And on this same day in 43 BC, Marc Antony was spooked to a draw by Octavian at the Battle of Mutina, which eventually paved the way for the Roman Empire (not so eternal).  Appian, in his The Civil Wars (Loeb edition) describes the game of chess the embryonic triumvirs played: Octavian and Antony composed their differences on a small, depressed islet in the river Lavinius, near the city of Mutina. Each had five legions of soldiers whom they stationed opposite each…

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September 30, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, TRAVEL |

Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697 – 1768) had perfect name for a master painter of Venice scenes but he adopted the diminutive Canaletto, which had been used to distinguish him from his scene-painter father. His hundreds of beautifully precise and detailed pictures of the city-state of his birth, suffused with wonderful light, have attracted veiled criticism as proto-photographic (camera obscura) and lacking imagination. Actually, his art exceeded that of photographs.  Try comparing any of his works re-produced here at random with some Venice photographs produced by the singular professionals at The Varnished Culture… “[T]he Venetian school…was still lively enough to provide the swan-song of…

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Mercato @ Daylesford

August 1, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Restaurants, TRAVEL |

Winter, 2015 We drove into Spa World (Daylesford, country Victoria) and immediately re-visited this terrific establishment for lunch, which we had last been to in 2010. We liked the place so much that we returned a few days later for dinner. It’s a non-descript wooden edifice on Raglan Street, the main drag that leads into Daylesford proper, but its big windows display the glow of fires and mood lighting.  Tables are small and close but expertly configured for privacy.  The art is inherently horrendous but suitable as part of the décor.  For example, there are two plain black and white pieces…

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Peppers Springs Retreat

July 30, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, Restaurants, TRAVEL |

Winter, 2015 For The Varnished Culture, it was a week of cancellations, most of which, surprisingly, suited us mightily. 1. We were groaning in the early cold and imagined damp, having packed late the previous evening, when the airline rang and said our morning flight to Melbourne was cancelled due to fog.  So we got to fly at a more genteel time. 2. Above the clouds, we were warned that turbulence was expected, so hot drinks were not available.  This meant free booze in economy – such a shame the flight was a shorty! 3. Our hire car’s handbrake had been…

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