Blog, Enogastronomia, Regno Unito

The history of afternoon tea: an undeniably British tradition

Unbeknownst to many, the ritual of afternoon tea, the most renowned British tradition par excellence,  is a rather new tradition.

Tea drinking dates back to more ancient times, indeed to the 3rd Millennium B.C.  in China but it became popular in England in the 1660s thanks to King Charles II and his Portuguese spouse, the Infanta Catherine de Breganza. However, the concept of having afternoon tea didn’t come on the scene until the mid-19th century.

Source: http://www.justfiveaclocktea.com

It was around this time, more specifically, in 1840, that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of  having a “sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. Up until that time, it was customary for people to eat only twice a day, at breakfast and at dinner time, which was at about 8 p.m. This meant that there was a long time between the two meals. The Duchess found a solution in savouring a pot a tea consisted of a tray of tea, with some bread and butter and cake, which she privately indulged in during the afternoon in her private boudoir.  Some time earlier, the Earl of Sandwich came up with the innovative idea of putting a filling between two slices of bread, thus the sandwich as we know it today came to be.  This “afternoon tea ritual”  soon became a regular occurrence at Woburn Abbey and she was known to invite friends around too.

Other social hostesses soon picked up on the idea and afternoon tea became a respectable enough practice to move it the into the drawing room and before long all, it became a fashionable social event where members of the jet set were sipping tea and munching on sandwiches between 4 and 5 p.m. However, it officially became a formal occasion when Queen Victoria started to engage in the ritual of partaking in afternoon tea delicacies.

Source: http://www.afternoontea.co.uk

You can often find hotels and sophisticated coffee houses serving ‘high tea’. Upper class citizens were known to serve a ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea at around four o’clock, prior to the customary walk through Hyde Park that was all the rage at that time. While members of the middle and lower classes indulged in a more substantial ‘high’ tea at about 5-6 p.m. instead of having a dinner later on in the evening. The names of the meals actually originate from the height of the tables on which the meals were served.

Afternoon tea menu

When one thinks of afternoon tea, the first thing that springs to mind is that it involves elements like etiquette, lace and exquisite, dainty food.

An afternoon tea menu is generally very light and consists of crust-less finger sandwiches usually on buttered bread with fine slices of cucumber, smoked salmon or chopped boiled egg and watercress. Scones are also served with clotted cream and preserves such as marmalade or lemon curd.

Popular tea blends for this afternoon break include black teas (made with loose tea leaves and using a tea strainer) such as Earl Grey and Assam or herbal teas like chamomile and mint.

Source: http://www.pinterest.de

Afternoon tea etiquette

Source: http://www.ohhowcivilized.com

Afternoon tea is traditionally served in three courses on a 3-tiered curate stand alongside a pot of tea with one’s finest porcelain crockery . The order in which afternoon tea delicacies should be eaten will be described below.

First Course

Although afternoon tea is considered to be a rather formal affair, it actually requires eating with your fingers and not cutlery.

Tea sandwiches and savoury items should be eaten first in at most 2-3 bites. You shouldn’t touch any food that you are not going to eat, and these should be eaten off your plate.

Finish all the tea sandwiches and savouries prior to passing onto the second course.

Second Course

Scones must be served with clotted cream and jam (usually strawberry) alongside a selection of other preserves including lemon curd. Scones must also be eaten with your fingers.

Select the scone you will be eating from your plate. Using the spoons provided, put a dab of jam and clotted cream onto your plate.

Knives are used to spread the jam and cream onto your scones.

Do not use the same spoon for both the jam and the clotted cream. Most importantly, do not use the serving spoon to put the jam or cream directly onto your scone.

Source: http://www.theheritagecook.com

Third Course

The desserts are the third and final course of the afternoon tea ritual and like the previous courses, this course must be eaten with your fingers.

All pastries and sweets should be dainty delicacies which can be consumed in 2-3 bites.

Although several foreign visitors to the UK still believe that afternoon tea is a customary habit where everyone stops for a cuppa, unfortunately, afternoon tea has now become a luxury for the British too; perhaps savoured during a birthday treat in a hotel out in the country, or a weekend break after going on a spending spree in the city.

Apart from being able to indulge in expensive afternoon tea served at sophisticated restaurants and coffee houses such as The Ritz, or Claridge’s in London to name but a few, there are also many other locations worthy of note throughout the UK in which you can savour this traditional ritual.

A particular way to enjoy afternoon tea in London is the Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour (see https://b-bakery.com/london/bus-tours/afternoon-tea-bus-london) or go to Betty’s Tea Rooms in Harrogate or York (see: https://www.bettys.co.uk/traditional-afternoon-tea ).

Source: http://www.b-bakery.com

Nowadays, afternoon tea is normally savoured within the comfort of your own home with a piping hot cuppa (made with a teabag) and a selection of biscuits to dunk in your tea or perhaps a quick sandwich with a filling of your choice to keep the hunger pangs at bay until your evening meal.

Source: http://www.pinterest.com
Blog, Turismo

What is “Ferragosto” and why is it so important to Italians?

source: http://www.columbusassicurazioni.it

In Italy, August is a rather unique month.

In fact, Italians often consider it the best month of the year, as it marks a period in which they can get away from the blistering heat of the city and go on a well-deserved holiday after working or studying hard all year long, spending time with their family and friends either on the beach or in the mountains. Sardinia, Sicily, Apulia and the Amalfi coast are some of the most popular destinations visited by holidaymakers at this time, while others decide to venture further afield and go abroad.

The reason for all this excitement is focused on one particular day – 15th August, also known as “Ferragosto”. In the local area, in terms of religious importance, it is second only to Christmas and is characterised by at least a day away from the office, surrounded by food, drink and the company of your loved ones.

Besides the 15th August, the week around Ferragosto is usually celebrated with outdoor concerts, festivals, plenty of food and drink too!

But why do Italians celebrate this apparently random day right in the middle of the hottest month of the year?

Ferragosto, the Italian term for this holiday, derives from the Latin “Feriae Augusti” introduced by the Emperor Augustus himself way back in 18 BC, most likely in order to celebrate a battle victory and this was celebrated alongside other ancient Roman summer festivals linked to the longer Augustan period – intended as a long-awaited period of rest after months of hard work.

On this day, the Emperor would organise horse races all across the Roman Empire and people everywhere had huge feasts and celebrated. Remarkably, these horse races are still held today, as the second phase of the famous Palio in Siena, which traditionally takes place on 16th August but which this year has been cancelled due to Covid-19.

During the era of Fascism, Mussolini organised trips with special offers for the 13th-15th August, so that people who could not usually afford to go on holiday would get the opportunity at least to have a day-trip to visit another part of the country.

In the past, bank holidays used to mean the shutdown of most local businesses even in major towns and cities, bearing “Chiuso per ferie” signs, as well as reduced public transport schedules, the same went for Ferragosto. However, nowadays things have changed radically and so, on 15th August, most shops and supermarkets will remain open, some only until about 1.30 p.m., while for others, it is business as usual! Many museums and cultural sites will remain open, some of them enable you to enter free of charge. So, why not make the most of being able some of the tourist attractions open over the Ferragosto week in Naples (https://www.napolike.com/museums-open-in-Naples-in-August-2020-opening-hours ) or one of the many other museums and sites open throughout the rest of the Bel Paese.

While some events may still take place, especially if they are going to be held outside, it is most likely that the organisers have arranged for a limited number of guests in attendance, who will be required to maintain social distancing and it will be compulsory to wear a face mask. 

Nowadays, Ferragosto plays just as much a significant part of the daily life of Italians as it did in the past. So, if you are planning on attending an event, before setting off, it would be a good idea for you to make sure it has not been cancelled and what Covid-19 restrictions need to be complied with.

In addition to its pagan roots, particular emphasis is focused on Roman Catholic observances, as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also celebrated on 15th August, the day when the Virgin Mary is said to have ascended to heaven.

Although this religious observance is celebrated all over Italy, in the town where I live, Santa Maria Capua Vetere (Caserta, Italy), there is an extremely suggestive religious event that takes place every year during this period. This year is no exception but of course, it will be much more of a small-scale event and Covid-19 measures will have to be complied with.

Source: http://www.facebook.com

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Santa Maria Capua Vetere

Every year the Simulacrum of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the main patron Saint of the town of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, is honoured with solemn festivities starting on 4th August, when it is taken out of its original casing, dressed and displayed on the High Altar of the Cathedral in preparation for the traditional “kissing of the Virgin’s foot” by the faithful.

Source. http://www.wikiwand.com

This is followed by the Novena prayers recited over several days, culminating in the solemn celebrations held on 14th and 15th August. The procession that takes place in the evening of 14th August, during which many men choose to carry the extremely heavy simulacra of both the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Symmachus (the other patron saint of the town – celebrated on 22nd October) on their shoulders as a vow for graces received usually through Via Mazzocchi and around Piazza Mazzini, before returning to Piazza Matteotti.

Source: http://www.lavocesammaritana.com

Source: http://www.youtube.com

Another part of this display is when an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary is hoisted up from the façade of the Cathedral up to the bell tower and the noise made by the fireworks simulate the cries of the Virgin Mary. The festivities usually come to an end between 18th and 22nd August terminating with a pyromusical display usually held in the grounds of the local Amphitheatre, which is the second largest in the world, after the Colosseum in Rome.

Source: http://www.youtube.com

The first historical references to the “Feast of the Assumption” date back to the 15th century, as proven by the official visits of the sovereigns of Aragon to Santa Maria Capua Vetere on the occasion of this festivity.

Blog, Regno Unito, Turismo

Covid-19 echoes lesson taught by Eyam in the 1665 battle with the Black Death

The Covid-19 crisis is a powerful reminder of how the inhabitants of the Derbyshire village that decided to self-isolate themselves in order to save others.

Between the villages of Eyam and Stoney Middleton, lies a gritstone boulder called the “boundary stone”.

During the 1665-1666 outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, in a famous act of self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of Eyam decided to quarantine themselves, so as to prevent the deadly disease from spreading. The inhabitants of Eyam would come to place money in six holes drilled into the top of the boundary stone, filled with vinegar (believed to kill the infection) in exchange for food supplies and medicine left by their concerned neighbours.

The boundary stone

The Great Plague in Eyam

In August 1665, the Bubonic Plaque (also known as the Black Death) reached the home of village tailor George Vicars, via a parcel of cloth he had ordered from London. As the cloth was damp, it hung out in front of the fire to dry, releasing the plague-infested fleas, claiming George as its first victim, who died of a raging fever on 7th September 1665.

As the number of deaths continued to increase, the village’s newly-ordained priest, William Mompesson, together with his Puritan predecessor Thomas Stanley managed to convince villagers that the only thing to do was quarantine the village, and face almost certain death, rather than spread the plague to neighbouring areas.

The Plague raged through Eyam for the following 14 months, causing at least 260 victims, until 1st November 1666, when it claimed its last victim. By the end of the outbreak, over a ¼ of the local population, amounting to about 1,000 people were dead.

“Social distancing” in 17th-century Eyam, meant not only isolation but also funeral services that were conducted outdoors reducing physical proximity with families forced to bury their own victims in fields and gardens rather than the local graveyard.

Eyam’s selfless villagers, with strong Christian beliefs, showed extreme personal courage and sense of self-sacrifice. Thanks to them, the Plague had been prevented from spreading to other parishes.

Once again, the experience of those villagers has proved to be a rude awakening as families, communities, towns and even countries on a global scale have to tackle the concept of quarantine.

The term originates from the Italian ‘quaranta giorni’, a clear reference to the 14th century practice requiring plague-infected ships from Venice to remain anchored for 40 days prior to landing.

 For modern-day residents of Eyam, the escalating fears provoked by the voracious Coronavirus have caused powerful echoes of those lessons learnt following the imposed self-isolation of those bygone days.

Eyam’s tragic yet courageous story proves to be a clear message to many, remaining an indomitable example not only of how viruses can be transmitted but also how effective social-distancing can actually contain further outbreaks.

A remembrance service is still held every Plague Sunday at Cucklett Delf, on the outskirts of the village.

Blog, Enogastronomia, Turismo

The Queen of Neapolitan patisserie: The “Sfogliatella”

by Thérèse N. Marshall

Eduardo De Filippo, the famous Neapolitan actor, playwright, screenwriter, author and poet, best known for his works Filumena Marturano and Napoli Milionaria. once said, “Quanno vene ’a notte e ’o core se ne scenne, mangia ’na sfogliatella e ’o core se ne saglie!” (“When the night falls and your heart sinks deep, eat a sfogliatella and your heart will soar!”)

When you go on a trip to Naples it is absolutely impossible to resist the temptation to avidly bite into one of its typical desserts, the “Sfogliatella”. It is one of the most renowned and widely-appreciated symbols of the illustrious gastronomic and confectionery tradition of Campania. There are two variants: the “riccia” (with a very thin, flaky, crispy Phyllo pastry casing) or the “frolla” (with a soft and crumbly shortcrust pastry casing), enclose a scrumptious filling made of semolina, milk, ricotta cheese, sugar and eggs, flavoured with cinnamon, orange blossom and “millefiori” flavourings that give it its unmistakable, highly fragrant aroma.

The origins of the “Sfogliatella”

The tradition linked to the “Sfogliatella” dates back to 1600, where on the Amalfi Coast (Salerno), more specifically in the area located between Furore and Conca dei Marini, there was the convent of Santa Rosa (St. Rose), inhabited by cloistered nuns.

One day, going beyond her usual culinary routine, a nun named Clotilde decided to make a dessert using some leftover semolina which she soaked in milk, added some lemon liqueur (now known as “limoncello” and some dried fruit. She made this mixture go further by adding some wine and lard.  Then she created a pocket-like pastry casing resembling a monk’s hood that she stuffed with the fragrant filling and finally she baked it in the convent oven. This was topped with a swirl of confectioner’s custard filling and a black cherry.

Little did she know that she had created a dessert, known as  the “Santa Rosa”, named after the convent, that would be adored by Neapolitans and tourists alike for time immemorial.

The “Santa Rosa”

The Neapolitan “Sfogliatella”

The dessert arrived in Naples only 200 years later. The secret recipe of the “Santa Rosa” jealously cherished by convent was discovered and revisited by innkeeper Pasquale Pintauro who discovered and revisited the traditional recipe. He transformed his small tavern in Via Toledo into a renowned confectionery workshop. After having removed the cream filling and black cherry topping, Pintauro modified the aesthetic appearance of the dessert, by enclosing the filling in a shell-shaped Phyllo pastry casing.

The “Sfogliatella Frolla” (with a shortcrust pastry casing)

The “Sfogliatella Riccia” (with a Phyllo pastry casing)

Pintauro’s pastry shop is still open today, although it has changed management, yet its original name and shop sign remains; every day, it churns out countless “sfogliatelle” to the delight of the many visitors, coming from near and far, lured by the unmistakable fragrance the pervades the streets of Naples.

Variations to the original recipe

In addition to the two classic versions of the Sfogliatella: the “riccia” (with a Phyllo pastry casing) and the “frolla” (with a shortcrust pastry casing), also the original “Santa Rosa” can still be found today (garnished with cream and sour black cherries in syrup), alongside the “Coda di aragosta” (lobster tail)  that has a more-elongated Phyllo pastry casing and a wide variation of fillings (confectioner’s cream, fresh cream or chocolate).

Coda d'Aragosta mignon - Dolciaria acquaviva

The “Coda di aragosta” (Lobster tail)

There is no lack, of course, of the most original variations at the discretion of the style and creativity of the individual pastry shops. In fact, nowadays you can find not only innovative variations of the original dessert,  such as “Vesuviella”, reminiscent of the nearby Mount Vesuvius, “Konosfoglia” with an ice-cream filling and “Campanella”, cone-shaped delicacies with a Sfogliatella and rum baba all rolled into one, or there are also savoury versions that are ideal examples of street food to keep away the hunger pangs while strolling through the bustling streets of Naples.

The “Konosfoglia” (Ice-cream filled Phyllo pastry cone)

 Below are two poems, taken from the website: http://sfogliatella.it/ written in the Neapolitan dialect dedicated to these two delicacies of  traditional Neapolitan patisserie:

Tra Amalfi e Positano, mmiez’e sciure

nce steva nu convent’e clausura.

Madre Clotilde, suora cuciniera

pregava d’a matina fin’a sera;

ma quanno propio lle veneva‘a voglia

priparava doie strat’e pasta sfoglia.

Uno ‘o metteva ncoppa,e l’ato a sotta,

e po’ lle mbuttunava c’a ricotta,

cu ll’ove, c’a vaniglia e ch’e scurzette.

Eh, tutta chesta robba nce mettette!

Stu dolce era na’ cosa favolosa:

o mettetteno nomme santarosa,

e ‘o vennettene a tutte’e cuntadine

ca zappavan’a terra llà vicine.

A gente ne parlava, e chiane chiane

giungett’e’ recchie d’e napulitane.

Pintauro, ca faceva ‘o cantiniere,

p’ammore sujo fernette pasticciere.

A Toledo  nascette ‘a sfogliatella:

senz’amarena era chiù bona e bella!

‘E sfogliatelle frolle, o chelle ricce

da Attanasio, Pintauro o Caflisce,

addò t’e magne, fanno arrecrià.

So’  sempe na delizia, na bontà!

English translation:

Between Amalfi and Positano,

immersed in a floral array

there was a cloistered convent.

Sister Clotilde, assigned to kitchen duties

Prayed from morning to night;

yet when it took her fancy

she prepared two layers of pastry.

Putting one on top and the other underneath,

Stuffed with a filling made with ricotta cheese.

Eh, she put all this stuff inside!

This dessert was absolutely unique:

It was called “Santa Rosa”,

and it was sold to all the peasants

who hoed the local land.

It became the talk of the town, gradually

the Neapolitans heard of it.

Pintauro, once an innkeeper, to make it,

magically turned into a pastry chef.

The “Sfogliatella” was born on Via Toledo:

it was more beautiful and delicious without its black cherry!

‘Sfogliatelle either “frolle”, or “ricce”

Whether you eat them at Attanasio’s, Pintauro’s or Caflisch’s,

they’re finger-lickin good.

They’re always so delightful, a true delicacy!

So’ doje sore: ‘a riccia e a frolla. Miez’a strada, fann’a folla.
Chella riccia è chiù sciarmante: veste d’oro, ed è croccante, caura, doce e profumata.
L’ata, ‘a frolla, è na pupata. E’ chiù tonna, e chiù modesta, ma sì a guarde, è già na festa!
Quann’e ncrontre ncopp’o corso t’e vulesse magnà a muorze.
E sti ssore accussì belle sai chi sò? Sò ‘e sfugliatelle!

English translation:

There are two sisters: the “riccia” and the “frolla”. People come to see them from near and far. The “riccia” is more enchanting: adorned with gold, she is crispy, hot, sweet and fragrant. While the other, the “frolla” looks just like a doll. She is more robust, more modest and she makes many heads turn!  When you meet them in the street, you would love to eat them with your eyes!

Do you know who these beautiful sisters are? They’re sfogliatelle!

There are countless places where sfogliatellas can be savoured, here are only a couple to whet your appetite!

Pintauro: https://www.pintauro.eu/it/

Attanasio: http://sfogliatelleattanasio.it/home.html

Cuor di Sfogliatella: https://www.cuoridisfogliatella.it/

Turismo

They say “See Naples and die” … yet perhaps you haven’t seen Cava de’ Tirreni…

By Angela Monetta (Translation by Thérèse N. Marshall)

Travelling southwards from Naples, you come across several towns and charming little villages that are simply a must-see. About 15 km from the Amalfi Coast, before reaching the sea, there is a town with approximately 60,000 inhabitants that still retains its medieval charm, encompassing beauty and peculiarities dating back to ancient Roman times. From the high part of the town, it is possible to admire the entire valley with its colourful roofs, alongside the surrounding hills acting as its backdrop, until you reach its southernmost part overlooking the sea. Cava de’ Tirreni, of Etruscan origin, is one of the very few cities in the south to have porticoes, a symbol of commercial activity, since they provided shelter to those passing through this area on their way to Naples. To date, the city has still preserved its commercial structure and its porticoes have since become an authentic natural shopping centre hosting boutiques, clubs, pizzerias and pubs. In the evening, the streets are cram-packed with people who love to stroll through the streets doing a so-called “struscio” (wandering through the streets without any apparent destination).

All this is what Cava was in bygone days and has always been since then, but suddenly, at the beginning of March, everything came to a standstill… the streets became deserted, stripping the town of its soul. If, on the one hand, by observing the porticoes in perspective, it was possible to admire the city in all its glory, on the other hand, it gave an idea of the impact the pandemic and lockdown had had on Cava. Businesses were forced to close and there wasn’t a living soul in sight. The town had been deprived of its pulsing heart, its people, and the traders’ bustling business activities…

Yet Cava de’ Tirreni is not new to this kind of experience. Way back in 1656, the city had to face the Great Plague, as did other parts of Europe. Evidence of this can be found in the documents preserved in the municipal archives in Cava de’ Tirreni, Salerno and Naples.

In the document preserved in the municipal archives of Cava de’ Tirreni, the notary public Tommaso Gaudiosi once wrote: “Cava de’ Tirreni, (formerly known as “La Cava”) was also found to be infected by the disease without being able to defend itself in any way, as it was open on all sides, yet at the same time, neither did its superiors forbid it (the disease) entering.”

The city slowly and laboriously recovered from the plague to resume its frenetic business activities as a commercial town. Today, we are following in our fathers’ footsteps… having to pluck up courage, forming new alliances in order to support our town, that, once again, has to embark on the long road to recovery…

Come and visit the town in order to discover other characteristics that Cava de’ Tirreni has in store …

Interviste e attualità, Regno Unito

An interview with actor/writer Ross Marshall

by Thérèse Nicola Marshall (*)

Today, we have the honour and pleasure of interviewing Ross Marshall (*no relation!), an actor who was born in Chesterfield but now lives in Sheffield (UK). Let’s meet him and get to know more about his interestig career!

Q.: Hi Ross, how are you doing? First of all, I’d like to ask you why you decided to become and actor and a writer? Which came first?

A: I’m very well and thanks for inviting me. Well, to answer your first question, the writing came first, and I moved into acting as a result of my writing. A show that I co-wrote back in 2014 with my friend and writing partner Lee Otway called ‘Educating Bitchfield – School on Report’ got funded for a pilot and I had the opportunity to be on set with a lot of established names in the acting world. I initially only wanted a small part in the show and had joined an acting school with that as my only plan but the surroundings and the buzz I got from the experience on set made me want to take it further and I realised it’s what I wanted to do.

Q.: Where did you study to become an actor and a writer? A: I always excelled at drama at school and got my best grade in the creative writing section part of my degree, but in terms of writing I’m self-taught to an extent. I used to write on the BBC message boards for years from 2005 to 2008 when I should’ve been working (I won’t say the name of the company!) and inadvertently ended up creating a comedic character which ended up getting a cult following. I’m proud to say I used to crash the BBC’s message boards on a regular basis due to the demand for my posts! A website was created in honour of all these imaginary characters I’d created. This inadvertently led to my first script being created, this was called ‘Insect in the Trent’ and I co-wrote it with my cousin and writing partner Bjarne Tungland, we pitched it to BabyCow productions and they showed a lot of interest and asked us for numerous re-writes but we were very inexperienced at the time so they went with something else. I have read books on script writing and have studied scripts in the past. I have also been on a master class on script writing and I’m very passionate about it. In terms of acting I am absolutely addicted to it. I have read countless books on it and it is a subject that fascinates me still. I trained at The Yorkshire School of Acting for screen and The Carney Academy for theatre. I have also been on Meisner days and numerous classes/courses in London. I’ve attended equity masterclasses and a class at Inspire Actors Studio in Manchester. I also did a 2- day course in firearm training for film and TV.

Q.: Doing my research into your versatile career, I’ve read that you’ve done so many things, you’ve had lead roles in various films, adverts, comedy series, music videos as well as theatre, which kind of acting do you prefer?

A: I love any type of acting but my favourite is screen acting. I get cast in a lot of comedy roles and often play lovable losers or morons and it’s slightly concerning that I find these roles come very naturally to me! However, I’ve also done a lot of serious parts too, often where I play the villain type characters. Having said that I also really enjoy theatre acting but I find it incredibly demanding, however the buzz generated from performing live in front of a crowd is better than anything else! All acting to me is incredibly addictive and I see it as an art form.

Q.: If you had the opportunity to be able to choose a dream role to play, what would it be?

A: My dream role to play would be Alfie, I loved the Michael Caine version and also enjoyed the Jude Law remake. It’s not just because he gets all the girls why I would enjoy that role! I also find him a very complex character and love the fact that he has got all his priorities wrong. I also like the fact that Alfie also narrates and frequently breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera/audience. I think this makes the role even more interesting.

Q.: I’ve also read that you have played many roles where your character had extreme difficulties in life, such as speech impediments or being terminally ill, how did you prepare to tackle such demanding parts?

A: I think that for parts where you are playing characters with different accents or speech impediments for example you have to work so hard on getting the accent/way they speak correct, so you aren’t thinking about it. It’s just as important as making sure the lines are well learnt. The moment it becomes a thought in your head is when you’re in trouble, because then it isn’t truthful.  I have attended accent master classes to learn techniques as it isn’t always easy! Terminally ill characters for example will usually require you to have a lot of very emotional scenes, it can help to relate it to similar situations you yourself may have been in to get the required emotional levels needed. I think you have to become so absorbed in the character, the script and his back story that in your own mind it’s real.

Q. Let’s move on to your writing career, I see that you specialise in writing sit-coms. In 2015, you were an award nominee at the British Film Industry Royal Television Society Awards for the sitcom that you co-wrote entitled “School on Report” which has been broadcast on Sky Arts and Now TV, do you have any new projects in the pipeline?

A: I do, in fact, LTBL productions have just released a sitcom called ‘Tea for Three’ that I co-wrote with Bjarne Tungland and Rita May, who also plays my Gran in it. Its about 2 cousins who visit their elderly Gran once a week for dinner debate and bewilderment. I play one of the cousins in it. I always enjoy writing about what I know, and the script is based on reality from when my cousin and I visited our Gran once a week for tea. My Gran is now 95 and is very special to us and a bit of a character to say the least! We weren’t going to release it but due to the Covid-19 situation all festivals and potential funding for a series are on hold, so the full pilot episode is now available to view on YouTube https://youtu.be/nCnyHvV7vFc

Q.: What advice would you give to someone who dreams of becoming either an actor or a writer?

I would say that you just need to go for it. Making a start is often the hardest part and there can be a lot of frustration, cost and rejection. However, the plus side is those moments when you get to perform or have your work performed. This makes it all worthwhile, I would say if you choose to do it, try and enjoy the whole journey otherwise you will go insane! Be tenacious, work hard and believe in yourself. These all sound like cliché’s but they are true.

Q.: Although I can imagine you are proud to be a Northerner and speak the dialect, I know that you attended various voice and accent workshops, including the Equity masterclass ‘Nailing your accent’ in order to adapt your Northern accent to new roles and therefore not risk being typecast,  could you give us a sample of the accents you can speak?

The ones I feel I am best at other than my own northern voice are South London and East/West Midlands, although my RP is getting better all the time! I wish I could do all accents well and I am now a lot more confident than I used to be, but it has taken a lot of hard work. For example, in my earlier days I wasn’t happy at all with my London accent, but I now I feel I can do it. I have again read up on this, I have an app for accents and have attended a couple of classes purely to learn techniques and for being prepared if a different accent is required. I always prefer speaking in my own voice, but I feel it is possible for any actor to do any accent if they are willing to put the work in, some may come more naturally than others of course though. (see an example: https://vimeo.com/427084796 )

Ladies and gentlemen, we have had the honour and pleasure of hosting Chesterfield-born actor and writer, Ross Marshall with us today. Thank you so much for being with us today!

Anyone who wishes to get in touch with Ross, please find his contacts below!

Spotlight link – https://www.spotlight.com/0139-6726-6937

E-mail addressRossi.a.marshall@hotmail.co.uk  Tel – 07985163657

Website address – https://m.facebook.com/RossMarshallactor/posts/?_rdr

IMDB address – imdb.com/name/nm6892498/

Twitter – @RossMarshall7 

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rossmarshallactor/

Enogastronomia, Regno Unito, Tradurre

A taste of Sheffield

E’ domenica: gustate con noi la Meat and Potato Pie con la sua speciale “salsa Hendos”: un’altra esclusiva di Sheffield! Eccovi la ricetta, tutta britannica, qui preparata dalla nostra “corrispondente speciale da Sheffield”, Stephanie Patterson. Buon appetito!

Meat and Potato Pie

Serves 4

Ingredients:

600g diced beef

1 large, finely-chopped onion

3 beef OXO or stock cubes

1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce or Henderson’s relish

1litre water

100g of beef gravy mix

600g or 6 medium potatoes – peeled and cut into quarters

500g ready-to-roll or homemade shortcrust pastry

½ teaspoon salt for the potatoes

1 beaten egg

Method:

  • Add beef, onions, stock cubes, relish and water to a large pan or slow cooker.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce heat and cook slowly until the beef is tender. Add gravy mix until the gravy is rich and thick. Leave to cool.
  • Put the potatoes in a saucepan and top up with water until it just covers them. Add a pinch of salt to the water. Boil the potatoes with salt until they are just cooked through but still firm. Drain the potatoes and leave with the beef to cool (if the fillings are not left to cool, they will make the pastry soggy and difficult to handle).
  • Roll the pastry to a thickness of approximately 1cm and line the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Add the potatoes and pour over the beef, making sure that the meat pieces are spread evenly. Top up with gravy until both the meat and potatoes are covered. Cover the entire surface of the dish and trim the edges to create a tidy finish.
  • Make 3 diagonal cuts in the pastry to release any steam. Using a soft brush, cover the pastry with a thin wash of beaten egg. This will give the pastry a nice brown finish.
  • Put in the oven, pre-heated to 200° until pastry is browned and the filling is piping hot.
  • Serve with plenty of extra gravy and Henderson’s relish and enjoy!

To find more about and to purchase Henderson’s Relish, click here: https://www.hendersonsrelish.com/the-relish/

To find more about and to purchase Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, click here: https://www.leaandperrins.co.uk/our-sauce

To find more about and to purchase OXO stock cubes, click here: https://www.oxo.co.uk/#

Terminologia e risorse utili

Smart working, remote working, agile working, flexible working – Let’s shed some light on these terms!

by Thérèse N. Marshall – 22/05/2020

Over recent months, there has been much discussion (and irony) within the language sector about the Italian government’s choice to adopt the term smart working to describe the distance working that many Italians have had to start doing in order to avoid commuting to their normal workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For many people, the proper term to use should have been either remote working, teleworking or even telecommuting (in Italian: telelavoro).

Yet is this really such a gross mistake, perhaps dictated by the acceleration of events? Or was it a choice made deliberately to set this “conversion” apart from normal remote working?

Our Bureau has decided to investigate and discover the meaning of the various types of e-working!

There are many ways, phrases, expressions used to describe the changes taking place in the various types of e-working that proved to be of paramount importance but not only during the Covid-19 crisis: flexible working, remote working, agile working and smart working are those most commonly used.

Flexible working is often associated with the concept of work that seeks to reconcile work-life balance, personal life balance and professional life.There are 3 key factors for flexible working:

  • flexibility in terms of working hours (Flexitime), short work weeks (fitting 5 working days into 4), part-time work, shared work, project work;
  • flexibility in terms of workplace, i.e. mobile working, working from home, working on other organisations’ premises, co-working or hub working;
  • flexibility in terms of employment contracts, i.e. working as a freelancer, a group of associates or with alternative contractual forms.

If you are wondering what remote working actually means, well, as you can imagine, it is a term that comes from the English language, while in Italian it can be translated as telelavoro (teleworking/telecommuting) and consists of working in a place off the company’s premises.

Remote working simply means working remotely, anywhere other than one’s office or company premises. So, you could even work from home, the park, the library, your favourite café, or any other location for that matter, that has a decent Wi-Fi connection. Under the umbrella term remote working expressions such as mobile working or home working can also be found.

This type of e-working focuses on technology due to the fact that the comparison and communication with colleagues and customers usually takes place via online platforms and apps, such as Hangout, Skype, Zoom, Cisco, alongside other social collaboration solutions such as Slack, Hibox, Asana, to name but a few.

Instead, agile working can be defined as a series of operations enabling companies to develop a workforce with the aim of optimising the working method by emphasising proactivity, reducing waste while ensuring greater agility in work approaches and relationship management.

According to Beck et al. (2001), the 4 principles of agile working focus mainly:

  • on individuals and relationships instead of processes and tools;
  • on working with the client instead of negotiating contracts;
  • on the most suitable, effective and operational software instead of documentation;
  • on proactivity towards change instead of sticking to a plan.

Smart working is strictly related to agile working but is considered more complete as it is used in business to indicate a work methodology bound neither by time nor place of work and that is established through an agreement stipulated between employee and employer.

However, the concept of smart working is by no means innovative. In fact, it was introduced into the offices located in English-speaking countries about 25 years ago. However, throughout the months on lockdown, it has definitely undergone a radical transformation and we have rediscovered the use of this e-working method that has proved essential to ensure the continuity of business and teaching processes.

Smart working is actually a combination of the concepts explained above as it represents an innovative working approach integrating 3 dimensions: technologies, workplaces and organisational culture.

In other words, the office is deemed more a meeting place, technologies adopted must be used with the aim of facilitating collaboration and thus ensuring maximum mobility and flexibility. People must be prepared to take on more responsibility and be managed in order to achieve objectives by establishing a relationship of mutual trust between colleagues and managers to enhance productivity and well-being.

Basically speaking, the difference between remote working and smart working is that the former refers to the evolution of teleworking, while the latterinvolves the digital transformation of enterprises.

Terminologia e risorse utili

Smart working, remote working, agile working e flexible working…facciamo un po’ di chiarezza!

Thérèse N. Marshall 22/05/2020

Negli ultimi mesi, nel settore linguistico si è molto discusso (e ironizzato) sulla scelta del governo italiano di adottare il termine smart working per indicare il lavoro a distanza che molti italiani hanno iniziato a svolgere per evitare di recarsi presso il normale posto di lavoro.

Per molti, il termine corretto da adottare avrebbe dovuto essere remote working oppure telelavoro.

Ma si tratta davvero di un errore tanto grossolano, forse dettato dal precipitarsi degli eventi? Oppure è stata una scelta ponderata necessaria a distinguere questa “conversione” dal normale remote working?

Il nostro Bureau ha deciso di indagare e di scoprire il significato delle varie tipologie di e-working!

Esistono numerosi modi, frasi, espressioni utilizzate per descrivere i cambiamenti in atto nelle varie modalità di lavoro che sono risultate essenziali soprattutto ma non solo durante la Covid-19: flexible working, remote working, agile working e smart working sono utilizzati.

Flexible working è spesso associato al concetto di lavoro che cerca di conciliare il work-life balance, equilibrio vita personale e vita professionale. Sono 3 i fattori chiave del flexible working:

  • flessibilità oraria, orari flessibili di ingresso e/o di uscita, settimane ridotte (comprimere 5 giorni lavorativi in 4), lavoro part-time, lavoro condiviso, lavoro a progetto;
  • flessibilità del luogo, ossia mobile working, lavoro da casa, lavoro in sedi di altre organizzazioni, lavoro in co-working o in hub;
  • flessibilità nei contratti di lavoro, per esempio come freelance, gruppo di associati o alternative forme contrattuali.

Se ti stai chiedendo invece cosa significa remote working, sappi che si tratta di un termine inglese, che in italiano si traduce con telelavoro e consiste nello svolgere la prestazione lavorativa in un luogo esterno ai locali aziendali/ufficio.

Remote working vuol dire semplicemente lavorare da remoto, in qualsiasi luogo che non sia l’ufficio aziendale. Quindi, si potrebbe lavorare da casa, dal parco, dalla biblioteca, dal tuo bar preferito, oppure qualsiasi altra location che abbia una connessione Wi-Fi. Sotto l’ombrello del termine remote working possono rientrare espressioni come mobile working o home working. In italiano questo concetto si avvicina molto al telelavoro.

È incentrato sulla tecnologia in quanto il confronto e la comunicazione con colleghi e clienti di solito avviene tramite piattaforme e app online, come Hangout, Skype, Zoom, Cisco, insieme ad altre soluzioni di social collaboration come Slack, Hibox, Asana.

Invece, agile working può essere definito come un insieme di operazioni che permettono alle aziende di sviluppare una forza lavoro con lo scopo di ottimizzare il modo di lavorare enfatizzando la proattività, riducendo sprechi e garantendo maggiore agilità negli approcci lavorativi e nella gestione delle relazioni.

Secondo Beck et al. nel loro studio svolto nel 2001, i 4 principi dell’agile working si focalizzano principalmente:

  • sugli individui e le relazioni invece dei processi e degli strumenti;
  • sulla collaborazione con il cliente invece della negoziazione dei contratti;
  • sul software più adatto e funzionante invece della documentazione;
  • sulla proattività verso il cambiamento invece di rispettare un piano.

Lo smart working è strettamente collegato all’agile working ma è considerato più completo in quanto viene utilizzato nel business per indicare una modalità di lavoro non vincolata da orari o da luogo di lavoro, stabilita mediante accordo tra dipendente e datore di lavoro.

Tuttavia, il concetto dello smart working non è qualcosa di nuovo, infatti è stato integrato soprattutto negli uffici dei paesi anglofoni circa 25 anni fa ma certamente durante questo lasso di tempo ha subito una trasformazione radicale e abbiamo riscoperto l’utilizzo di tale modalità di lavoro che è risultato essenziale per garantire la continuità dei processi aziendali e di insegnamento anche durante il lockdown.

In realtà, lo smart working è un mix dei concetti spiegati in precedenza perché rappresenta un innovativo approccio lavorativo che integra 3 dimensioni: tecnologie, spazi di lavoro e cultura organizzativa.

Infatti, l’ufficio è visto più come un luogo d’incontro, le tecnologie utilizzate devono essere utilizzate con lo scopo di facilitare la collaborazione e quindi garantire la massima mobilità e flessibilità. Le persone devono assumere più responsabilità e essere gestite per raggiungere obiettivi attraverso un rapporto fiduciario stabilito tra colleghi e con manager per potenziare la produttività e benessere.

Quindi, la distinzione tra remote working e smart working è che il primo si riferisce all’evoluzione del telelavoro, mentre lo smart working appartiene a pieno titolo alla trasformazione digitale delle imprese.

Regno Unito

The evolution of education and long-term effects during lockdown in the UK

by Thérèse N. Marshall

17th May 2020

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the outbreak of which took place in Wuhan (China), no-one in the UK would ever have thought that it would have actually come to a true lockdown situation. The real problem seemed so far away, in remote countries such as China, and even Italy was about 2,000 km people thought.

Nobody in the UK seemed to be overly concerned about the situation, even the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, cast Covid-19 aside as a mere flu-like virus that people needed to contract it in order to develop antibodies, coining the term “herd immunity”. So, people continued to frequent schools, cinemas, shopping centres, living life as if nothing was amiss.

When the whole of Italy became a red zone and thousands of people were contracting the dreaded Virus by the day, hundreds of victims dropping like flies were being reported on TV, especially in the northern town of Bergamo. We saw blood-chilling scenes of endless processions of coffins being transported on Italian military trucks to be cremated in other cities as the local cemetery was jam-packed.

Covid-19 was getting closer by the minute, perhaps it could actually affect the UK after all, people started to think.

Although as time passed and numbers of people who had contracted Covid-19 steadily increased, lockdown was officially declared only on 23rd March, far too late as many have complained and should have been enforced much earlier.

Rapidly, almost overnight, our lives changed on a global scale and little did we know, that the world would never be the same again. Things we normally took for granted became things we dearly longed for. Simple things like meeting up with friends, going to the pub, commuting on public transport, shaking hands with colleagues to name but a few, but also the younger members of our families, our children, had to come to terms with and adapt to the new way of behaving if we wanted to survive the pandemic situation.

Most parents realised that perhaps it was better to keep their children at home and gradually lessons moved, like most countries under lockdown, from a classroom environment to one of an online nature having a rather drastic impact on both teaching staff and students alike, especially for mature professionals who were not as computer-savvy as their younger counterparts and had to tackle working online for the very first time.

Over the course of five working days, teachers went from a normal operations to a reduction of services with regard to after-school activities and inter-school events, to a complete closure, with the consequent need to design an online learning curriculum and create an innovative online learning curriculum and to operate with a re-arranged academic calendar.

In the early days of lockdown planning, many teachers proved to be ambitious and trained the whole staff on the use of Microsoft Teams for the visual delivery of lessons, while others tried their hands at working on other platforms so as to guarantee children the continuity of their education even in this unique, surreal situation that has never before been known to Mankind.

As time passed, teachers began to reflect and modify their plans, putting together a whole school approach from Foundation Stage to Year 10 that had teachers create video blogs to support learning whilst being on-line during the scheduled timetable.  Form tutors were expected to go “live” every morning for 15 mins so as to provide some real life contact as it were and ambitions were tempered while effectiveness for learners and teachers, screen time, challenges for parents and indeed child protection issues had to be taken into account.

Where parents did not have the technology to support the envisaged learning and teaching during lockdown, they were allowed to borrow I-pads. Full educational programmes, revised daily timetables were developed for every year group and clear sets of instructions were created for all staff involved.

What many people are unaware of is that certain schools were forced to keep open, either to look after and take care of the education of key workers’ children or that of vulnerable and difficult kids coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Schools were understaffed and the workforce was, in some case replenished by volunteers, who, often did not have the slightest idea of the risk they were running of contracting the virus under such circumstances.

It strikes home when we realise that for some vulnerable children, school is actually the only safe place for them, to protect them from abuse, for some, it represents the only place they can get proper meals. Thus, it was of paramount importance for teachers for even a small number of these “safe havens” just had to remain open.

By lockdown on 23rd March, updated guidance requested that local authorities and schools had to maintain provision for children in alternative provision settings wherever possible, expecting vulnerable children supervised by a social worker to attend school.

However, there was a catch to this situation: teachers could not force pupils to attend. The result was that teachers were travelling to work, putting themselves at risk, only to find very few children turning up.  The hard work social workers performed over time risked being undone, vulnerable kids risked going back to square one, abandoning the education that perhaps they had just started, realising this proved to be the only way out of the denigrating lifestyle they were enduring and when this support fell through, they risked going back to gangs, juvenile prostitution and drug-pumped environments.

So, as of date, although we can see that many children have adapted really well to this unique yet terrifying predicament and we have witnessed that major efforts on all sides have been made during lockdown, but what will the long-term effects be?

Despite everything, there have been both advantages and disadvantages to Covid-19. Not wishing to minimise the tragedy of the countless victims and economic disaster left in the Coronavirus aftermath,  we must admit that if this situation had not occurred, perhaps such a radical digitalisation would not have taken place on a global scale.

From one day to the next, people were stripped of their freedom and where possible,  were forced to work from home, having to stay cooped up and provide support to their children who, in turn, were facing an unprecedented situation that had turned their whole world upside down. No longer could they meet up with their mates and do all the things that kids normally do, which, to a certain extent,  must have had a detrimental effect on their mental health.

On June 1st, schools will re-open after a lockdown period exceeding  months, starting with primary schools, with Reception and Year 1 as part of Boris Johnson’s “conditional plan” to resume educational activities while learning to live with Covid-19, that is still at large.

Secondary school pupils will be informed in due course of the date on which they can return to a different sort of set up as conditions of safety must be guaranteed, students must adhere to social distancing, frequent use of hand sanitiser and wearing the necessary PPE to boot. Those taking exams next year, may be provided with some time with their teachers before the summer holidays commence.

However, many parents do not agree with the scheduled re-opening of the schools, albeit gradual. A recent poll stated that most would probably not send their children back to school as soon as they open.

A great deal of uncertainty with regards to both the re-commencement of education still looms over the heads of many schoolchildren and their parents, while the long-term effects that this whole craziness has had on their mental health, whatever background they come from, will probably unfold and come to light over the forthcoming months when phase-back plans start to kick in.