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Today is Easter, and the first day of the new lockdown in France.

Actually, it is a corruption of the Pagan equinox festival commonly known as Ostara (Old Germanic), which itself came from Ēostre (Old English) who is a Germanic Spring Goddess, which is variously depicted as either a woman or a bunny.
Older, even, than all of that, the name has been traced back to the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn who was called "Hewsos" (which is properly written as "H2éwsō;s", you're on your own pronouncing it). Interestingly, there are strong parallels between her and the Japanese dawn goddess Uzume (Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto to be correct, though often shortened to just the first three words).

Somewhere along the way, this became corrupted with some twaddle about a supposed King of the Jews upsetting the Roman order, a man who was horrifically tortured to death (the Bible's terse verse based narrative doesn't really do the event much justice), who was then resurrected. The holiday itself is moveable, being based upon a lunisolar calendar (ironically similar to the Hebrew calendar), which is defined as the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that happens on or after the 21st of March.
The 21st of March, the day around when Ostara commonly happens, immortalised in popular culture as "the first day of Spring". Plus the obvious full moon. Throw into that all of the imagery of chicks, eggs, and bunnies, and it seems to me to be pretty obvious what Easter was before all of the Abrahamic influences got in the way.


This year, I celebrated with... chocolate! There's a surprise.

Three chocolate rocks
Three chocolate rocks


Giant Ferrero Rocher

If you've ever wondered what's inside one of these things, and the diagram on the label wasn't enough of a clue... let's do a teardown!
(look ma, it isn't Yet Another Breadmaker ☺)

First, we have the big ol' rock. It is wrapped in gold foil and sitting in a big sort of cupcake tray, just like its normal smaller version. As the giant one is likely intended as a gift, there's a bow on top. A nice touch, actually.

Giant Ferrero Rocher
Giant Ferrero Rocher

It is fairly easy to unstick the tray. However getting the foil off is a more challenging matter, given that it seems to be glued on with the sort of overzealous aplomb that the likes of Apple and Samsung reserve for keeping their smartphones together without lots of screws.

Well glued foil
Well glued foil.

It's actually just dabs of glue to pin the foil into place at certain points, but... my god, I've owned shoes with weaker glue than whatever it is they use here.

Eventually, you'll get in. Once you realise that tidy removal of the foil is simply not possible, so the only option is to grab a bit and yank it hard.
Once you are in, you will see the protective plastic shell. Guess what, it's taped shut. Thankfully, they have included a useful tab to make unwrapping the tape the easiest part of gaining access.

Almost there
Almost there!

Finally, you can pull off the tape and press gently to separate the two halves of the shell and.....chocolatey goodness!

Chocolatey goodness
Chocolatey goodness!

Mind you, I think my older tablet was easier to get into!

I put the shell back together and smacked it on the table a couple of times, spilling some precious tea in the process.

The viscera
The viscera

Now we can see all the inside bits. It's a shell of nutty chocolate, with two regular rocks inside in a little plastic case. Just, you know, because people expect something inside. I remember when I was young, there used to be a handful of smarties inside my egg. Somehow there being nothing inside seems a bit of an anti-climax.
Though, on the other hand, the biggest climax of all was when I was given an egg that was not hollow. Solid chocolate all the way though. It was rather challenging to eat, actually, having bent a fork and made it tacitly clear that continued use of a knife would likely result in more damage to me than the egg. In the end I resorted to a sterilised flat head screwdriver and a hammer.

Taking a closer look, it appears as if the chocolate is of greatly varying widths.

Close up on the chocolate
Close up on the chocolate
Given the regular outside and the very uneven inside, this suggests to me that there is some sort of half-dome mould and the chocolate mixture is sprayed inside.
Though there is an interesting aspect, as can be seen in this photo:
Inside marks
Marks on the inside
The big piece on the right shows an obvious squiggle of chocolate from where the two halves are joined. This isn't much of a surprise. Ferrero is "just better" than those eggs that are literally two halves wrapped in foil.
But what is interesting are the marks on the smaller piece of chocolate on the left. Those marks are from the plastic wrapper of the two little Rochers, implying that the entire thing is assembled while still fairly hot.

So it looks like we have a production process that makes up two halves independently, tosses in a packet of little rocks, and then joins the two halves together. I would imagine, given the volume, that the packaging is also likely to be automated.
I just think it would be a pretty interesting process to observe.


And, well, that and three mugs of tea was breakfast.

All gone
All gone!

For my main meal, if I can be bothered doing actual cooking, I have fresh basil-infused taglietelle which I plan to cook up with a chicken stock cube, and then add some rather nice (locally produced, in a place near Clisson!) chicken nuggets. As today is supposed to be the last warm day for a while (reaching 16°C, not like the recent mid-20s, but way better than the negatives and single digit highs, I have saved my last Dr. Pepper.



Today, on Easter Sunday, I can call it. Sakura.

The semi-wild cherry opposite the house.

Semi-wild cherry
Semi-wild cherry

The Japanese ornamental cherry, is almost going to be in flower at the same time.

Ornamental cherry
Ornamental cherry

And the mixture of proper cherries and wild bird cherries along the boundary.

Boundary cherries
Boundary cherries

I shall wait for the ornamental cherry before celebrating Hanami. After all, I'm celebrating bunnies and chocolate today!

Also, today is the first day that the Oak trees have a green sheen. Their leaves are starting to unfurl.

Oaks starting to greenify
Oaks starting to greenify



The lower end of the bramble mess was left last year. Last weekend, during my little holiday, I cut down some of the trees and mess there. On Friday after work I took the cutters and little mower and got to work.



And after:


The job isn't done. There's the wall to tidy (still covered in brambles) and to rake up all the pieces of wild rose and bramble (all the sharp pointy-pokey bits). But it is a massive improvement.

So when I had an easy afternoon yesterday...following putting the grinder back in place, and tidying up part of the cat room and washing down the bathroom so it looks nice, then having a bath, then hand washing some clothes... seemed like a nice place to relax out of the wind.

A relaxing spot?
A relaxing spot?

And, indeed, it was.

Takin' it easy...
Takin' it easy...

Guess what I plan to do today. Because of incoming cold, I'm going to appreciate the last of the warmth. With my e-book and a can of Limonata, and a gentle breeze.

Oh, and the swallows that I saw? Not passing through. They've set up home in the co shed again. ☺

Actually, with the lockdown, there are no cars. No tractors. Very few airplanes (no domestic flights). No sounds other than rambunctous sparrows, agitated tits, and chirpy Chaffinch. It's lovely.

I'm going to stop writing this, sit back, and just enjoy being here...


Added at half past two

Because video is better than mere words.



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Gavin Wraith, 5th April 2021, 13:07
Thank you Rick! I too celebrated Easter with a chocolate egg. Despite the diabetes type 2, they say it is good for the lining of the arteries. Your demesne looks wonderful in the sunshine. The goddess of the dawn appears in a wonderful couplet of Sappho in praise of the Evening Star: Hesperus, you bring back all that the bright dawn (Auwōs) has scattered; you bring back the lamb, you bring back the kid, you bring back the child to its mother. It conjures up the image of a Greek island, safe, no traffic, where the young can roam free.
Rick, 5th April 2021, 14:55
Probably no surprise that Hesperus is one of the names given to Venus. 
Possibly more of a surprise, though, is that Hesperis (the flower) was one of mom's favourites. I can't help but think that there is some sort of relation between the two words, an 'i' in place of a 'u'... 
Gavin Wraith, 5th April 2021, 19:26
The scientific naming of flowers is a relatively recent innovation, but it was mostly done by people with an education in Latin and Greek. I have only been to Greece once, two and a half years ago, a cut-price holiday in Corfu. I tried out those lines of Sappho on a waiter in the restaurant - a complete blank. It turned out that in modern Greek you should put the stress on the second syllable of Hesperus, and I had put it on the first, rendering it totally unintelligible.
David Pilling, 6th April 2021, 16:16
Hesperis comes from the Greek word 'hespera', meaning evening, due to its evening fragrance, Matronalis comes from the Latin 'matrona', as this plant will begin blooming in early spring, around March 1st, the time of the Roman Festival of the Matrons. 
I'd forgotten about the above, to me it chimed with Hesperanthus 
Hesperantha is a genus of cormous flowering plants in the family Iridaceae. The genus name is derived from the Greek words hesperos, meaning "evening", and anthos, meaning "flower". 
David Pilling, 6th April 2021, 16:20
Plant names seem to kick off with Carl Linnaeus, who to get things off as they were going to go on, changed the spelling of his name. By now it is a racket, people are paid to name plants, and no surprise they spend their time naming plants - two teams splitters and clumpers. One lot split plants in to new families and the others stick them together. 
DNA has given them a new excuse - instead of arranging by appearance, they arrange by DNA. 
It is fun to go way way back, see what the plants in the bible are known as today, also seem to recall Pliny the Elder writing about plants. 
The Ferrero was interesting. I was expecting it to be like the Lindt Lindor Maxi Ball, large plastic replica full of standard size Lindor toffees. 
David Pilling, 6th April 2021, 16:21
Venus is aka the Evening Star 
David Pilling, 6th April 2021, 16:28
Doh, read the comments... I'd delete the 1 and 3 of the last 3 if I could.
Bernard, 14th April 2021, 11:04
The practical joker can wrap round Charlotte potatoes in standard Ferrero Rocher gold foil to make a surprise offering to, say, an April Fool’s Day victim. A dear friend of our did just that once upon a time. (I was not the recipient).

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