welcome

Welcome to my blog!

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! The day has finally come, I started my personal blog and joined the blogging community!

I shall post about things I am interested in. Hope you will like it. If you fellow readers have any question or suggestion, please feel free to get in touch with me here.

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bridges, Engineering, Mathematics, Wooden Bridges

The Mathematical Bridge in Words & Pictures

What Interests Me

The Mathematical Bridge is an iconic feat in engineering. It is located at Queens’ College in Cambridge and spans the River Cam about 12 meters between stone abutments.

For me, this is a beautiful structure, so simple and yet fascinating. Its unique mathematical design forms an arch from straight members, what has become known as tangent and radial trussing.

Mathematical_Bridge The photo with tangential members highlighted (Wikipedia)

Simply put, the arch is formed by setting the long straight timbers at tangents to the circle describing the underside arch of the bridge. Other timbers are positioned radially to hold the tangents together and make the whole structure self-supporting and rigid. The connections between the tangent and radial members are bolted together to form a truss. The bridge deck is then attached to the bottom of the radial members. The highlighted timbers (tangents) on the upper photo nicely demonstrate the arch formation.

View original post 632 more words

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coffee culture, Croatia, heritage, travel

Café Culture: When Going for Coffee Is Not Because of Coffee

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Split, enjoy drinking coffee as the Splitians (Split inhabitants) do.

Croatia’s second largest city, Split is a beautiful ancient town on the Adriatic coast built around an old Roman palace. Although the beginnings of Split are traditionally associated with the construction of Diocletian’s Palace in 305 CE, the city was founded as the Greek colony in the fourth century BCE. Life has been thriving to this day within the palace walls and spread far beyond.

This post is about the unique Croatian coffee culture. In Croatia and Split particularly, drinking coffee means a lot more than the drink itself. It is an important aspect of our life; the ritual of leisurely socialising that people associate with coffee (kava, in Croatian).

Our way of drinking coffee has nothing to do with wearing big cups on the way to work as in the United States, or with quick drinking espresso as in Italy.

Here, there is no such thing as drinking coffee in rush. Coffee time is for socialising, and it can take a couple of hours, literally.

It is best to start a story about coffee, my hometown Split and its people from Riva, the large seafront promenade in the front of the Diocletian’s Palace walls.

Riva is like pedestrian heaven and a favourite gathering place filled with cafés and its terraces, palms, benches and greenery. Many historical events happened here. Various manifestations, concerts and social events take place daily.

According to some calculations, Riva can fit 40,000 people. Bellow are unforgettable pictures of Riva where people welcomed Goran Ivanišević home to Split after winning the 2001 Wimbledon title. A crowd estimated at more than 100,000 people thronged Riva waiting the new champion entered the port by boat, accompanied by a flotilla of various vessels. It was a welcome Split had never seen before.

Source: http://www.fotogard.com/

No matter what time of year or day of the week, Riva is always crowded. People either walk or drink coffee at one of the many cafés and bars with outdoor seating areas lined along the promenade. On a sunny day, people in lines walk up and down while waiting to catch a seat for a coffee preferably with a sea view. To drink a cup of coffee on Riva is a ritual and an attraction in itself especially on Saturday morning when Riva turns into a stage full of beautiful women look like they were dressing for the catwalk.

Even on workdays, terraces are packed with people of all ages sitting table to table: pensioners, students, business people, mothers with little children playing with milk foam in small cups. Everyone wants to be part of the coffee ritual.

Split Riva on winter sunny day – Advent time

One of the terraces on a Saturday morning

Sunglasses are a must-have fashion accessory 

Riva is like a living room of locals who sit in cafés and watch the world walk by for hours, enjoying every sip and commenting.

You can enjoy your coffee in a less crowded surrounding sitting on the charming narrow balcony with a beautiful view of the promenade and the port.

Let’s go for a coffee!

If someone asks you to go out for coffee, it usually means an invitation to talk which does not necessarily involve drinking coffee. It has actually become a synonym for socialising. Whether it is about a business meeting, meeting with friends, love date, taking a break from work, or reading newspapers, everything happens at cafés and mostly over a cup of coffee. Coffee is a means of getting to know someone or discuss business and closing deals.

Everyone has their favourite place: at the beautiful squares and narrow alleys inside the historical core of Split, at the favourite town beaches Bačvice and Firule, at the new West Coast Riva with a magnificent view of the city harbour and Diocletian’s Palace, or simply, at one of the coffee bars in the neighbourhood. Places are countless for cafés are almost at every corner.

To start the café tour, you can walk up Marjan hill covered in dense pine forests that are the lungs of Split. Here is a café with the best panoramic view of the city. It is the perfect place for photo taking and sipping coffee or a drink while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

You can have your coffee on one of many romantic and architecturally diverse squares. Peristyle is the central square of Diocletian’s Palace, a more than 1,700 years old historical and archaeological Roman ruin protected by UNESCO. It is one of the best-preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. The palace has always been and still is the heart of the city.

Lvxor Café is one of the most frequently visited spots in Split located at Peristil Square. You can drink coffee sitting on the stairs in front of the café, glancing over the unique beauty of ancient architecture and a 3500 old and perfectly preserved granite sphinx that Emperor Diocletian brought from Egypt.


So far, 12 sphinxes have been found, scattered across numerous locations within the palace. The most famous and only one with the head is on Peristyle. 

The Republic Square, otherwise known as Prokurative, is a large open square, surrounded on three sides by neo-Renaissance buildings and open on the south side providing a beautiful view of the harbour and Riva. The square is relatively empty during the colder months, but as soon as the sun shines, the café chairs get occupied by many Splitians. In the summer, Prokurative turns into an open-air stage for concerts and cultural events.

Prokurative on a sunny winter day

Photo source: SkyscraperCity – Aerial view on the Prokurative square and Riva

The coffeehouses had a prominent role in the social life of the city, especially the first and most famous coffeehouse that was opened in the late 18th century on the Pjaca square. From the beginning, it was the centre of the social, political and cultural life of Split. The first cinema screening took place there, as well as many exhibitions, concerts, performances. Unfortunately, it lost its purpose and meaning when turned into the snack bar.

The second famous is the Bellevue coffeehouse with the large terrace in front. It was opened in 1875 on the ground floor of the Bellevue Hotel and still exists at the same place at Prokurative. It still retained the charm of the old days.

Bellevue Coffeehouse

The Bajamonti café is an elegant café with the 1920’s stylish decor taking into account the preservation of the heritage of the building. It also sits at impressive Prokurative and was named after the 19th-century Split mayor Antonio Bajamonti. Here you can enjoy your coffee and excellent cake selection while a pianist plays soothing tunes in the background.

Bajamonti Café

There are many tucked away places in the historic centre ideal for those like myself who prefer less crowded surrounding. One of them is the courtyard inside the 16th-century Pavlovic Palace, a heritage building located at Pjaca (People’s Square) which is one of the most vivid spaces filled with numerous cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. Pjaca sits just outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace.

Pjaca –  a focal point of the historic centre and a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a nighttime stroll

The Romanesque clock tower on the east side of Pjaca is one of the very few in the world counting 24 digits.

The very first speciality coffee shop in Split opened in 2015 inside the walls of the Palace. The rich smell of freshly roasted beans and coffee attract many to the tiny place less than 10 square meters called 4Coffee Soul Food for a perfect espresso or cold brew. A coffee place with soul.

A coffee place with soul

Outside the city centre, there are some of my favourites cafés with terraces overlooking the sandy beaches. Great places to spend some time chatting with friends. A sea view and the sound of waves always relaxes me. I live my whole life in Split, and one of the things I could never live without is the sea.

A perfect spot for coffee at the city beach Firule

Popular cafe with small detached terrace right on the most beloved city beach Bačvice with an amazing view over the Adriatic and the island of Brač

I am not much a coffee drinker, but meeting with friends in cafés is a must-have activity while discussing world affairs, sports or just chit-chatting and a bitt gossiping. Instead of coffee, I order lemonade, hot chocolate during cold days and espresso and ice cream in the summer. Despite my busy schedule, I still manage to squeeze in going for coffee once a week.

Even those with a low income, small pensions or unemployed don’t want to give up going to the café. There is always a way to get a cup of coffee and spend a couple of hours in a good company enjoying this simple pleasure.

For many Westerners obsessed with productivity, it looks like we’re wasting our time sitting in cafés without getting anything done. We don’t bring our laptops with headphones to catch up on work as can be seen in the Starbucks coffee shops (although we became obsessed with our mobiles). Yet, everything gets done, in spite of and because of coffee.

There is the whole philosophy behind coffee as a powerful factor of the social life not only in cafés but also in our homes where we usually brew Turkish coffee as a morning fix or when inviting our friends and relatives. Being invited for coffee is considered a symbol of friendship and hospitality. The most popular Croatian coffee is Franck coffee, vacuum-packed in a brick-like package.

All coffee in cafés is based on espresso shot mixed with varying amounts of milk. Coffee is always served unsweetened with a couple of sugar packets on the side and occasionally with a small biscuit. When you order a coffee, you also get a glass of tap water with no charge. Tap water is safe to drink in Croatia.

Latte is a most popular type of coffee

Spending time in cafés is actually about slowing life down, emptying the mind of daily chaos, enjoying the company of another and listen. It’s not unusual to see people having coffee on their own. My husband prefers to drink coffee alone in the local coffee bar while reading newspapers, but sitting alone at the table also includes chatting with the waiter we know for more than 15 years and discussing news with the acquaintances at the neighbouring tables.

It may be an exaggeration to say that the foundation of society is coffee, but coffee culture is deeply rooted in our society. It is an eclectic mixture of three cultures: Turkish, Austro Hungarian and Italian, intertwined with modern trends that are in many ways contradictory but all together makes a great blend. Just like the art of blending coffee beans to get the perfect cup of coffee. The coffee-drinking ritual is an essential part of our social life.

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To fully understand the lifestyle of local people, one phenomenon should be also mentioned. It is “fjaka” – a slang term for a relaxed state of mind in which a human strives to do nothing. It is the unique part of our character and an elusive concept that people living in Dalmatia experience in different ways. The best explanation of fjaka I have ever read is by the Croatian poet Jakša Fiamengo.

Fjaka is like a faint unconsciousness, a state beyond the self or – if you will – deeply inside the self, a special kind of general immobility, drowsiness and numbness, a weariness and indifference towards all important and ancillary needs, a lethargic stupor and general passivity on the journey to overall nothingness. The sense of time becomes lost, and its very inertness and languor give the impression of a lightweight instant. 

This art of doing nothing definitely does not mean being lazy. It is the ability to savour the moment and the pleasure of being in the state of idle.

To have such a mindset of allowing yourself to slow down and not thinking about what to do next, besides long conversing with friends over a cup of coffee is a way of life in Split.

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Next time while visiting Dalmatia and Split, enjoy coffee like locals – sipping it slowly, relax and watch the world go by.

If you happen to find yourself on Riva, take the first bench under the palms and start practising “fjaka” while staring at the horizon over the beautiful Adriatic Sea, or close your eyes and savour the moment.

Practising “fjaka”

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I have to finish writing now; my best friend called me out for a cup of coffee, chit-chat and a dose of laughter. Can’t wait to hear what’s new. More about “fjaka” next time.

Title ImageCafés and restaurants line up in the front of an imposing south section of the wall that surrounded Diocletian’s Palace.

Note: This post has first appeared on my blog at beBee

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#CulturalHeritage, #mores

Licitars: Hearts Made Of Honey

licitar naslovna

This post is about a biscuit that is one of the most famous symbols of Croatia.

Licitars are traditional biscuits made with sweet honey dough, red glazed and decorated in bright colours. They are a part of Croatia’s heritage and a traditional symbol of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. It is also one of the most popular souvenirs which many tourists want to take home.

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Particularly interesting are the girls dressed in traditional costumes, selling the licitar souvenirs on the streets of Zagreb.

Licitars come in many forms and sizes, such as doll, bird, mushroom, horseshoe, horse, cherries and bird, but most often in the shape of a heart.

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Almost every licitar heart has a small mirror or piece of shiny metal that looks like a mirror placed at their centre. Licitars also have engraved texts, love poems and personal messages and phrases. They are gorgeous with its red shiny glaze and rich piped royal icing decorations in various colours.

Why a Mirror?

A licitar heart is a symbol of the heart of the person who gives it to you.

In the old days, when a young man was in love with a girl, he gave her a licitar heart with the words: “Look whom I’ve got in my heart.” She would have looked at licitar and saw her reflection in the mirror.

Nowadays, Licitars are given away as a token of love for romantic celebrations, such as weddings or Valentine’s Day, but also to family members. It is also a symbol of friendship and hospitality.

My husband gave me a licitar heart many years ago. I still keep it in our home.

The magical attraction of licitars is certainly not in their material value, but in the message they carry. To give someone a licitar heart symbolizes an invisible bridge and love bond between those people.

Since the beginning, they have been sold at fairs and church feasts on picturesque stalls together with mead and other wax products.

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Stall with Licitars in Marija Bistrica

Licitars are added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010, as the “Croatian gingerbread”. Although they do not actually contain ginger, Licitars are referred to as gingerbread.

Honey bread of gingerbread can be found throughout the whole Europe, and even further, but the Croatian Licitars from Northwest Croatia have unique features such as a bright red glaze and specific decoration.

History and Tradition

The tradition of making Licitars goes back to the beginning of the gingerbread and wax craft in Croatia, in which beekeeping and honey trade were developed already in Middle Ages. A lot of written documents from that period confirmed it. An origin of gingerbread itself is a quite vaguely, and according to some data, the 11th-century crusaders brought gingerbread in Europe.

The craft was intensively developed in the 18th and 19th centuries. In northern Croatia, licitar makers known as “medičari” were prominent craftsmen who were making dough and wax products such as Licitars, gingerbread cakes, candles, mead and a local drink called “gvirc”. During the 1950s, interest in the craft has ebbed but today things are getting better, and there are more than 35 master gingerbread-wax craftsmen who kept the tradition alive.

Even today the methods of production have scarcely changed. Authentic recipes were kept the family secret and handed down from generation to generation. The oldest family-owned craft that operates today was opened in 1882 in Marija Bistrica, a small town famous for the Black Madonna, an old Marian shrine. Numerous gingerbread shops in Marija Bistrica have a long and rich tradition, preserving the heritage by selling Licitars and traditional children wooden toys that also became protected by UNESCO in 2009.

Licitar Hearts as an Inspiration

Krešimir Baranović, a Croatian composer, was inspired by Licitars for his full-evening ballet called Licitar Heart (1924). Clear and playful, and based on his own libretto in which a licitar heart brought together the two young, Baranović composed the music based on local tunes.

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A scene from the ballet

The local fashion brand – Hippy Garden, was inspired by this distinctive souvenir of Croatian heritage. They implemented licitars in a successful fashion story as a wearable souvenir, carrying the message – From Croatia with Love!

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How It’s Made

The traditional sweet licitar dove is made of honey, flour, licitar yeast, water, and edible colours. Nowadays, sugar is used instead of honey as a much less expensive ingredient.

If you would like to know how Licitars are made, here is a wonderful video provided by UNESCO and the Croatian Ministry of Culture.

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If you ever make a trip to Croatia, look for the Licitars and give them to someone special. When given from the heart, no matter how small token of appreciation will bring joy to those you love.

From me, with Love!

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Source:

1. Licitar

2. http://www.udovicic.com/medicarna/

 

Note: This post is previously published on beBee

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writing

For Whom Am I Writing?

After the initial euphoria related to my first blog post on the beBee publishing platform, I decided to create my personal blog on WordPress (about two weeks ago). I’ve been spending a couple of days dealing with the technical issues and general visual impression of my blog. By the way, the configuration process is not finished yet.

Given the fact that I wrote only one post The writer in me just woke up! I put it on the blog expecting equally good reviews as those I’ve got on beBee.

But writing on a personal blog is something completely different.  Obviously, it takes time for the ‘new kid on the block’ to be accepted. Not only was there no feedback, but there were no views at all. As if I published in the twilight zone. I was very discouraged that my post wasn’t getting any traffic. It is hard to accept that no one was reading the article you consider to be solid.

And then, a kind of enlightenment happened! I asked myself, ‘Why does it matter?’

I started the blog as an experiment and I have had no idea how things continue to go further. I rediscover the joy of writing with short stories that best suit my personality. Some of these stories are waiting to see the light of day.

Moreover, one of the reasons for starting the blog was to sharpen my written English, even though I had doubts whether to write in my own native language. I often experienced frustration when writing in English because the sentiment so perfectly expressed in Croatian is being lost in translation.

Finally, the decision on writing in English prevailed. Remains only to force me to think and write a draft primary in English to avoid the pitfalls of translation.

Given to all, I promised myself that a lack of feedback or low stats won’t erode my self-esteem. Realistically speaking, thousands of different blog posts have been published daily. Being found and read among all that and with one or two followers is a miracle by itself.

Completely unburdened, I published another post on my blog.

Hope that views will follow, but even if doesn’t, I am satisfied that my writing is a reflection of me and my way of thinking, and makes me happy when I read it. For now, I am the most important audience for my posts.

So, for whom am I writing?

For the time being, I write about what’s in my mind and heart and find the great joy in it. Some might say I write for myself. But what’s the difference between writing for yourself and for someone else?  No matter how personal my story is, others can find themselves in it.

Writing for myself I write for those who feel the same. I hope I’ll find those people and they would become my audience.

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WordPress

How to get more blog traffic

I’m a newcomer to this blog community and I asked myself the same question. But the truth is, as Heather Munro said in one of the comments, ‘First we must have something to share or say, and then we can seek an audience. I have nothing to add.

HeideBlog

After the blogging 101 post I did in January, the question I got most consistently was, “How do I get more people to visit/follow my blog?”

Blog follower advice

Here’s the best advice I can offer: Take a dip in the Community Pool.

It’s a great place to meet other bloggers and build a community of followers. It’s also a wonderful place to get feedback on your writing — and it offers a ton of articles on everything from beginner resources to blogging etiquette to blog-post ideas.

That’s my answer.

But the question I really want to ask you is:

Why do you want more blog traffic?

Do you hope it’ll bring riches … or respect? Do you think it’ll make you more creative? Do you believe it will make you happier?

Whether we paint or write or shoot photographs, one of the joys of being creative is sharing our work…

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Engineering, Math, Wooden Bridges

The Mathematical Bridge in Words & Pictures

The Mathematical Bridge is an iconic feat in engineering. It is located at Queens’ College in Cambridge and spans the River Cam about 12 meters between stone abutments.

For me, this is a beautiful structure, so simple and yet fascinating. Its unique mathematical design forms an arch from straight members, what has become known as tangent and radial trussing.

Mathematical_Bridge

The photo with tangential members highlighted (Wikipedia)

Simply put, the arch is formed by setting the long straight timbers at tangents to the circle describing the underside arch of the bridge. Other timbers are positioned radially to hold the tangents together and make the whole structure self-supporting and rigid. The connections between the tangent and radial members are bolted together to form a truss. The bridge deck is then attached to the bottom of the radial members. The highlighted timbers (tangents) on the upper photo nicely demonstrate the arch formation.

Bill Reid image

Image by Bill Reid

About the bridge name

Its official name is simply the Wooden Bridge but is also known as the Queens’ bridge. Its builder James Essex the Younger designed twenty years later a similar structure on the River Cam (to replace Garret Hostel Bridge), which he called a mathematical bridge. After it broke down the name has clung to the bridge at Queens’ College.

The construction timeline

The Mathematical Bridge was built in 1749. According to some other written sources, the bridge was completed in 1750. The builder was James Essex the Younger, and designer was William Etheridge, an English civil engineer who was previously working on several wooden bridges of mathematical design (e.g. Old London Bridge or Westminster Bridge and Walton Bridge). In 1748 Etheridge produced the design and model for the Queens’ bridge.

The bridge was rebuilt first time to the same design in 1866. Some modifications have also been undertaken. The original stepped bridge deck was replaced with the current sloped timber deck.

In 1905 the bridge was completely rebuilt. The entire timber structure of oak has been replaced with teak and bolted connections replaced the original iron screws and oak pins.

So, the bridge is literally a replica.

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The original Etheridge’s model of a bridge in 1:16 scale

The Queens’ College still possesses an original Etheridge’s model of 1748.

An inspiration for the bridge design

William Etheridge’s design for the Mathematical Bridge was based on work by James King, master carpenter and a man with considerable self-taught mechanical knowledge. King used this system of tangent and radial trussing in his 1737 design for a wooden Westminster Bridge, which was not completed. This is the earliest known example of this type of bridge structure.

The construction of a wooden bridge was abandoned, and a few years later the construction of the stone Westminster Bridge has begun.

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Arch construction support timbers – The Westminster Bridge centring

James King used the same system of tangent and radial trussing for the timber supporting structure (centring) during the construction of stone arches. This design permitted shipping to pass under the arches while they were being erected. After King’s death in 1744, Etheridge took over the work at Westminster Bridge construction, as well as the whole of King’s system of trussing.

Other bridges of the same design

The Old Walton Bridge across the River Thames was also designed by William Etheridge and was completed in 1750. At that time, the bridge was described as the most beautiful wooden arch in the world. The Walton Bridge’s main span was 40 meters, with two side arches of 13 meters. Unfortunately, it lasted only until 1783 when was dismantled due to the stone replacement.

The bridge was an inspiration for the Italian painter Canaletto. The beautiful white wooden structure has been immortalized in Canaletto’s two paintings.

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A detail of the painting by Canaletto,  A View of Walton Bridge (1754)

As mentioned above, there was a bridge of similar design on the River Cam, which broke down in 1812. It was frequently called the ‘Mathematical Bridge’. The bridge at Queens’ College owes its popular name to this bridge.

There was also another footbridge at Winchester of the same design which lasted until 1976.

In 1924 was built a smaller version of the Queens’ bridge, at Iffley Lock in Oxford. The Iffley Mathematical Bridge was a tribute to the bridge over the Cam River.

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Mathematical Bridge at Iffley Lock, Oxford: Image by Matt Fascione

Despite the fact that present Mathematical Bridge is a replica of the 18th-century original, it became a Grade II listed building for its special architectural and historic interest.

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The President’s Lodge and the Mathematical Bridge, Queens’ College Cambridge

Sources:

  1. Engineering Timelines
  2. Queens’ College Cambridge
  3. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
  4. Ruddock Ted (1979), Arch Bridges and their Builders 1735-1835
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