Saturday, 26 July 2014

The 10 best windows

From medieval stained glass to the sliding sash, our architecture critic selects his favourite windows
Place your suggestion of the best window in the comments below, and your suggestion could feature in the alternative list next week
Notre Dame, North side of Rose Window, Paris
Photograph: JTB MEDIA CREATION, Inc./Alamy
1 | North Rose Window
Notre Dame, Paris, 1250
It would of course be easy to compile a list of 10 best windows drawn only from medieval cathedrals. This one stands for many, in Chartres, York and elsewhere, and is chosen for the combination of its stone and glass. There are rich colours and story-telling images that delight the inner child, but also the way that heavy minerals are assembled into a membrane that fuses matter and light. Added to which the patterns of tracery are, quite simply, elegant.
Spain Europe Andalusia Granada Alhambra UNESCO world cultural heritage Lindaraja window architecture
Photograph: Prisma Bildagentur AG/Alamy
2 | The Alhambra
Granada, Spain, 14th century
It would also not be hard to make a list drawn exclusively from the Alhambra, with its many variations of stone lattices and delicate arches. That the decorative work is filigree, exquisite and astonishingly skilful hardly needs saying. What is really special is the way that raw sunshine is transformed by multiple gradations of shade and reflection into something almost musical. Light hums and vibrates. The views framed are not bad, either, whether of gardens or landscape, making for a nice combination of container and thing contained. 
Living room, villa Tugendhat, Brno,Czech Republic
Living room, villa Tugendhat, Brno,Czech Republic Photograph: V. Dorosz/Alamy
3 | Tugendhat House 
Brno, Czech Republic, 1930
To build a wall entirely of glass was, in 1930, rare enough. In the Tugendhat House, Mies van der Rohe went further – planes of glass disappeared into the floor with the help of elaborate contraptions underneath. An uninterrupted flow of space was created between the lavishly exquisite interior, the garden and a fine view of the city beyond. The device might belong to the modern movement, in its use of industrial technology, but it is also distinctly theatrical. 
Hotel de la Gloria
Photograph: PR
4 | Hotel de la Gloria
Osuna, Spain
In a celebrated seven-minute take in Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975), the camera starts in the room of a still-living Jack Nicholson, and looks as if with his eyes through the iron grate of a traditional Spanish window into a dusty square where characters and passers-by perform a sort of dumb show. The camera passes through the grate and eventually returns to the room, by which time Nicholson has been murdered. If a window is defined by whatever it frames, as well as by the frame itself, this is one of the greats. 
St Peter's Church, Klippan, 1963 - 1966. Architect: Sigurd Leverentz
Photograph: Arcaid Images/Alamy
5 | Church of St Peter by Sigurd Lewerentz
Klippan, Sweden, 1963-66
Glass meets brick without a frame. The bricks are rough, set with thick, mushy mortar joints and are never cut to achieve a smooth plane, but project where necessary. The glass, as the material usually is, is sharp and precise. What exactly is good about all this? This is hard to explain to non-architecture nerds, but it is something like the way that Samuel Beckett might, when he wanted, use elemental words. It is about taking the basics of an art and pursuing their logic until they become something unexpected. 
The interior of the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut
Photograph: Ray Roberts/Alamy
6 | Notre Dame du Haut
Ronchamp, France, 1955
A south-facing wall, rather than a single window, whose many perforations catch and transform multiple aspects of sunlight. Several are set deep with angled reveals, which emphasises the massiveness of the wall and gives the interior the qualities of a cave. Others are dematerialised points of light. Some are coloured, some plain and a narrow horizontal slot at the top makes the huge roof seem to float. What might be a random splatter of rectangles is made convincing by Le Corbusier’s experienced eye and use of proportion. It has been diminished, but not defeated, by the recent breaking of one of the windows.
Young Woman standing at a virginal
Photograph: National Gallery/Corbis
7 | A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal
Jan Vermeer, about 1670-72
Tribute must be paid to the Dutch domestic windows of the 17th century. They could be called Protestant, in that their even, lucid light allows little to be hidden. They also don’t bother much with such decadent concepts as comfort, as expanses of glass don’t offer much protection against a cold climate. But they also create mystery, and different levels of privacy and openness, through variations in opacity and the scale of the panes. Vermeer represented these qualities better than anyone else. That this painting offers only a glimpse of a window is part of the point – it’s more about the light that is cast than the window itself.
Outdoor corridors designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi at SESC Pompeia cultural and recreational complex in Sao Paulo
Photograph: LALO DE ALMEIDA/New York Times/Eyevine
8 | SESC Pompéia by Lina Bo Bardi
São Paulo, 1982
For no apparent reason, a tower of sports courts is fenestrated with randomly shaped holes seemingly punched in its concrete walls. They are unglazed and closed only with sliding red latticed shutters on their inner face. They are primitive and physical, and call to mind Themroc, the 1973 film about someone who lives like a caveman in modern Paris. Like that movie, they constitute a shout of protest against an overly processed urban culture. Inside, they beautifully frame views of the city, and cast great shadows. 
Light refracted by irregular thickness of 200 year old Georgian window glass reveal the patterns hidden in the old panes
Light refracted by irregular thickness of 200 year old Georgian window glass reveal the patterns hidden in the old panes Photograph: David Kilpatrick/Alamy
9 | The sliding sash
Circa 17th century
A generic type, born of practical considerations and some notion of classical proportions, that lasted centuries, because it did its job well. Invented in the 17th century, it became the standard window of Georgian and much Victorian domestic architecture. A good sash, especially if accompanied by deep reveals, modulates light beautifully, is easy to clean from inside and allows simple but effective ventilation. When they are open, the space at the top lets warm air out and the one at the bottom lets cooler air in. Their downside is that they can rot and when the ropes on their counterweights break, they become frustratingly unfunctional.
West London, UK detail of suntrap windows on 1930s semi detached suburban house
West London, UK detail of suntrap windows on 1930s semi detached suburban house Photograph: EDIFICE/Alamy
10 | Crittall windows
Early 20th century
The spare, elegant, steel-framed windows were developed by the British manufacturer Crittall in the early 20th century and are still made today. Without them, much of 1930s architecture would have looked completely different, as indeed would large numbers of Hercule Poirot TV dramas. At one level, they are updates of sash windows, practical responses to the construction techniques available at the time. They are also democratic: Crittalls were used on Coventry Cathedral and other notable modern buildings, but could also give suburban semis an exotic moderne touch.

Greek Ravani / Revani recipe (Coconut cake with syrup)

Greek Ravani / Revani recipe (Coconut cake with syrup)

Fluffy, moist, cooling and extra syrupy! A mouthwatering traditional Greek dessert with the flavours and aromas of flaked coconut and oranges (revani or ravani cake). One can find many variations of this traditional Greek ravani recipe, with the most well known being the coconut-based ravani recipe and the semolina based ravani recipe from the region of Veroia. Both are delicious, but my absolute favorite is this extra syrupy Greek coconut cake, a very unique traditional Greek dessert, which stands up with its delicate cooling flavour, texture and amazing smell!

Extra syrupy Greek coconut cake (Ravani cake) – The secret is in the syrup!

Revani or ravani cake (Greek coconut cake) is a traditional Greek dessert which falls under the category of ‘Siropiasta’, which means syrupy Greek desserts. Syrupy Greek desserts are very popular among Greek cuisine and with good reason! From extra syrupy cakes like portokalopitakaridopita or ravani to traditional Greek Christmas desserts, like melomakarona or diples and of course the famous traditional Greek baklava dessert. One thing all these Greek desserts have in common is of course the moist of scented syrup, which makes each one just irresistible!
Prepare the syrup for the Greek coconut cake (ravani) recipe:  To achieve the perfect texture for the syrup of the ravani cake, you should never blend or stir the syrup, while it is boiling. Just bring to the boil, let the sugar dissolve in the hot water and boil for 5-10 minutes, until the syrup thickens a little bit. When adding syrup to the ravani cake, always make sure that the cake is cold and the syrup is really hot. Ladle really slowly the hot syrup over the cold ravani, enabling each ladle to be absorbed, so that the syrup is absorbed evenly. Even though it will be really hard.. you should wait for the ravani to cool before cutting into pieces, or else it will crumble. Ideally serve this Greek coconut cake cold from the fridge the following day.

For the ravani

  • 4 eggs (separated into whites and yolks)
  • 2 cups of butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • zest of 2 oranges

For the syrup

  • 1 and 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. In most recipes for Greek coconut cake, the eggs are added whole in the mixture,  but with this recipe the egg whites are beaten into meringues. This is the secret to a more fluffy ravani cake and to avoid the egg-y smell, which can ruin the flavour of your cake.
  3. To prepare the Greek coconut cake, start by mixing the butter and sugar (at high speed), until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, allowing each one to be absorbed, whilst mixing. Set the mixture aside.
  4. Place the egg whites and a pinch of sugar in a clean mixing bowl. Make sure your egg whites, bowl and whisk attachment/s are free of any water. Use an electric mixer or electric hand beaters to whisk the egg whites until the mixture is very thick and glossy, and a long trailing peak forms when the whisk is lifted (meringues).
  5. In another bowl, blend the flaked coconut, the flour and baking powder.
  6. With a spatula add the meringues and half of the flour mixture into the whisked butter and blend lightly, until the ingredients are combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and the orange zest; blend lightly with circular movements.
  7. To bake the ravani cake, use a round cake tin, approx 30cm in diameter. Use a cooking brush to butter the bottom and sides of the cake tin. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of flour and shake the cake tin, so that the flour covers the butter; get rid of any excess flour. This technique will prevent the ravani from sticking on the pan.
  8. Bake the ravani in preheated oven at 180C for 40-45 minutes, until golden and cooked through. After baking the cake, let it cool down for a while.
  9. After the ravani has cooled down, start preparing the syrup. Add in a saucepan the sugar, the water and lemon juice; boil for about 5-10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has slightly thickened. Remove the pan from the stove and ladle slowly the syrup over the ravani cake, allowing each ladle of syrup to be absorbed, before ladling again. Allow time for the syrup to be absorbed and place in the fridge.
  10. Serve this extra syrupy Greek coconut cake cold with a full spoon of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

The Barking Blondes – Be Dog Friendly

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
Dog Friendly9 1024x718 The Barking Blondes   Be Dog FriendlyHow frustrating was it this week, when, while on a shopping spree with our British bulldog, we were asked to “take the dog outside”.
No, this wasn’t a restaurant or a supermarket but a camping shop selling merchandise suited to outdoor activities. Obviously this chain of stores hasn’t realised the value of the hound pound and the saying, ‘Cutting off your nose’ springs to mind.
So we welcome The Kennel Club’s new campaign “Be Dog Friendly” encouraging all businesses to welcome dogs.
We like to take our bull breeds with us wherever we go, whether on holiday or just for a quick blast of retail therapy so we definitely give this the thumbs up. And savvy enterprises should sign up!
Look at the  research behind this initiative . The staggering fact is that 71 per cent of dog owners actually don’t go on holiday, opting for a ‘staycation’ because often its just too complicated to take fido with us. Those of us that do venture away, leaving our beloved pooch in kennels, suffer such guilt and worry that 32 per cent claim never want to leave them behind again. The study also revealed that 80 per cent of dog owners won’t go abroad at all, preferring to holiday in a motor home or camping – just to be with their dog for a well earned summer break.
There are over eight million dogs in Britain, and these statistics suggest that hoteliers are missing a trick. The value of the hound pound has boomed despite the recent economic downturn. So why then is it that many establishments are so dog hostile? With about five million dog owners in Britain, this equates to a significant potential revenue for businesses.
Dog ownership is now at its highest proving we are choosing dog companionship and looking for opportunities to keep them by their side. It’s also important for dogs too to be with people and live their lives to the full.
In France or Germany dogs are welcomed almost everywhere. When we took our two girls for a long weekend to Paris, oh what a joy it was to amble into a ‘café au coin’ together and not be subjected to the usual doggy interrogations. Even the motorway service stations allow dogs into the main restaurants areas – we were gobsmacked and relieved as the soaring temperatures meant leaving them unattended in the car was out of the question. Their forward thinking approach is something we Brits could learn from.
We take on board concerns from people who may  be allergic or fearful of dogs, or even worries that a dog might deface a place in seconds. We wax lyrical about the times a Sunday lunch in a choice gastro pub has been disturbed by a screaming toddler. It’s something that we dread.
What we find is that dogs actually enhance the vibe anywhere you go. Its proven that simply having a dog in a room lowers peoples’ blood pressure, makes you smile, and gets people talking. What bad about that?
If your pooch is well behaved and isn’t a nuisance, what’s the problem? Just remember: “Be Dog Friendly”! And tell us of some of the establishments you and your mutt frequent.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £

Rescue Jack Russell Ginny becomes an internet star after owner sets her up with an Instagram account 

  • Ginny the Jack Russell was rescued by her owner Chelsea Hope-England
  • The small dog was in a home and suffering from bad eczema and fur loss
  • Ms Hope-England nursed the adorable little dog back to full health 
  • She then opened an Instagram account for Ginny which has 30,000 followers
  • Ms Hope-England said that Ginny's life is far more interesting than her own 

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

A rescued dog has swapped the shelter for the spotlight after becoming an internet sensation on social media site, Instagram.
Whether she’s snoozing happily in a hoodie or smiling playfully for the camera, the loveable Jack Russell cross has managed to capture the hearts of doting dog fans the world over.
With over 300,000 followers, seven-year-old Ginny is one of the most popular dogs on the internet and now receives bundles of fan mail every month.
The small dog suffered from a terrible skin condition which caused her to lose most of her fur
Ginny the Jack Russell has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram seeking the latest updates on her life
Ginny the Jack Russell has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram seeking the latest updates on her life
Seven-year-old Ginny was rescued by her owner Chelsea Hope-England from a dog's home in Oxfordshire
Seven-year-old Ginny was rescued by her owner Chelsea Hope-England from a dog's home in Oxfordshire
The small dog suffered from a terrible skin condition which caused her to lose most of her fur
But life wasn’t always this good for the cute canine, who after being adopted from a local dogs home, suddenly developed a a severe skin allergy that caused her to lose most of her fur.
Luckily, Oxfordshire based owner Chelsea Hope-England recognised Ginny’s potential managed to nurse the dog back to health.
After coming across an Instagram account dedicated entirely to a small Malteste dog, Ms Hope was inspired to set up a page for her own beloved pet, but had no idea it would become so popular.
    She said: 'Ginny likes sleeping and not wasting precious energy unless it’s to walk to her food bowl, so getting a photo is no problem at all.
    'She also really loves the attention she gets after a photo has been taken so it’s easy for me to capture her shenanigans.
    'Clothes don’t seem to bother her one bit, she’s always had clothes, because not long after I adopted Ginny she had a severe skin allergy and eczema, so she lost a lot of her fur and while we waited for it to grow back and for the medication to help her, she wore coats and jumpers so she didn’t get cold.
    'She’s a bundle of lazy, although she can at times be energetic, always willing to eat and very happy 99 per cent of the time.'
    Ms Hope-England said she opened up the Instagram account for Ginny after seeing another dog-based account 
    Ms Hope-England said she opened up the Instagram account for Ginny after seeing another dog-based account 
    Ginny, pictured, poses with a range of cuddly toys, clothes and dog toys for her legion of internet-based fans
    Ginny, pictured, poses with a range of cuddly toys, clothes and dog toys for her legion of internet-based fans
    On the odd occasion, Ginny is photographed involved in some normal dog-like activities such as walking
    On the odd occasion, Ginny is photographed involved in some normal dog-like activities such as walking
    Ms Hope-England said: 'She’s happiest when she’s being hugged and for the other 1 per cent of the time she’s grumpy because I won’t let her have any more treats.
     I am obsessed with her and to be honest she has a far more interesting life than I do
    Owner Chelsea Hope-England 
    'I love to bath her, which is definitely not something Ginny likes, her fur gets so incredibly fluffy afterwards.
    'About three years ago I found an account where she mostly posted photos of her adorable maltese dog, which inspired me to make an entire page for Ginny because I am obsessed with her and to be honest she has a far more interesting life than I do.
    'The community on Instagram is amazing, Ginny regularly receives lovely letters, drawings, accessories, treats and was once even given a skateboard.
    'I’ve kept it all and Ginny now has her own little shrine of herself close to her bed with drawings people have done for her.' 
    Ginny the jack russell enjoys dressing up in clothes
    Ginny the jack russell is happy 99 per cent of the time according to owner Chelsea Hope-England
    Ms Hope-England said: 'I am obsessed with her and to be honest she has a far more interesting life than I do'

    Thursday, 24 July 2014

    Are you a book hoarder? There's a word for that.

    Sacramento man donates 13,000 books to local library
    Do you have a tsundoku problem? If you own more than 1,000 books, you probably do
    Do you have too many books? It's called tsundoku. The question is whether to donate or dump
    How many books is too many books? What makes you a book hoarder? What do you do when you have too many?
    In Japanese, there’s a word for it: tsundoku. It’s a noun that describes a person who buys books and doesn’t read them, and then lets them pile up on the floor, on shelves, and assorted pieces of furniture.
    Frank Rose had a tsundoku problem. After he retired several years ago from his job as a state employee -- he lives in Sacramento -- he accelerated his purchases. Two years ago, he told the Friends of the Arden-Dimick Library in Sacramento that he’d donate his books when he died, the Sacramento Bee reports. By this summer, his collection had grown to 13,000 volumes.
    Finally, this month, Rose, 85, decided he didn’t want to wait any longer. Library volunteers this week began packing the books -- 500 boxes' worth. It was the biggest donation in the library’s history.
    A library official told the Bee that “we’re glad he didn’t have to die to give it to us.”
    “I bought all of them, so that I could read them when I retired,” Rose says in a video posted by the newspaper on YouTube. 
    The writer and critic Rachel Kramer Bussel approached her tsundoku problem differently.
    “I wish I could honestly answer ‘there’s no such thing as too many books,’ but as I learned from experience, that’s not true,” she wrote for the Toast. She hired a trash removal service to “cart away hundreds of books — read and unread, purchased lovingly or attained at book parties or conferences” from the two-bedroom apartment where she’d lived for 13 years.
    “The most heartbreaking part was seeing anthologies I’d edited, with my name right there on the cover, being swept away into giant garbage cans.” That’s a fairly hard-core way to deal with your tsundoku problem. I’ll never throw a book with my name on the cover into a trash can -- among other things, it seems like bad writer karma.
    “Lest you think I’m too awful a person to have let so many books find their way into a New York City dump, I will tell you that I tried to let my books go gently in the months preceding my move,” Bussel wrote. “I donated hundreds to bookstores the Strand and Housing Works.”
    Bussel says she still owns more than 2,000 books. She points out that Shelfari'sCompulsive Book Hoarders group will grant you membership if you own a mere 1,000. It's a figure that this book lover thinks is way too low. 

    Tuesday, 22 July 2014

    The words "I love you" are just
    not enough to express what I feel...
    what I feel is more than love...
    I feel fire, I feel ice, I feel softness,
    I feel strength, I feel power, I feel weak,
    I feel joy, I feel pain, I feel young,
    I feel wise, I feel humor,
    I feel composed, I feel crazy,
    I feel sane, I feel loved....
    "To my love"
    By E.K.