Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms

An event in the Eifel

By Anita Hamilton

Thought I’d tell you about an event that took place recently. Mostly it was an art exhibition, but offered more than that. For this, I need to go back a bit further: One of the members of our choir is a woman called Rita, whose company I have always enjoyed. A couple of years ago Rita invited the choir to an exhibition of her husband’s work — he’d just finished a major project on their property. We went and were totally astounded by the number of “major projects” there were, all done in papier mâché (formulated so it can withstand being outside in all weather conditions). Continue reading “An event in the Eifel”

Temptations: A clothes-free year, part 3

By Barbara Sibbald

Summer sales beckoned. I spotted the “50% off” sign in my favourite women’s clothing shop. It couldn’t hurt to just look. But do I need the temptation? What about my clothes-free resolution? Casting aside the lure of saving some dough, I tried to recall previous end-of-season bargain purchases. The three that immediately sprang to mind had subsequently been given away: those French dress pants that fit perfectly but were an appalling shade of beige that showed every mark; that brightly hued sleeveless tank that was impossibly garish in the sunlight; that asymmetrical, slightly snug skirt that seemed so au courant, but turned out to be a tummy-enhancing reminder of my failure of will power. They all went out to St. Vincent de Paul where I’m sure they found a good home. When I thought about it, I realized that nearly all the clothes I’d recently given away were bought on sale. Continue reading “Temptations: A clothes-free year, part 3”

Welcome to Montgolfiere Weekly!

This is a blog with multiple contributors who will comment on culture in its many forms, from the visual arts, letters and music to human health, habits and customs, with occasional references to hot air ballooning. All of us have day jobs where we write about other things, but here we can explore our creative side.

If you like what you find here, please visit us again. And if you would like to join the conversation by either commenting or sending me a contribution, just let me know. It would be great to hear from you.


A place and time

By Kristen Hines

Place: Apple Opéra, 12 rue Halévy, Paris (first two photos); Carrousel du Louvre, 99 rue de Rivoli (last one)
Time: October 5, 2011
What is happening: It’s easy to exaggerate how different other cultures are from our own. And it probably goes without saying that Paris is the most easy city of them all to romanticize. Be they about Paris’s thriving bookstores (that sell only books!), insouciant street style, lax traffic rules or the pervasive belief that Parisians don’t gain weight despite a steady diet of pastry and cheese, the mythologies abound. Continue reading “A place and time”


by Patricia Lightfoot

Vienna was more imposing and imperial than Prague and Budapest, with its broad streets and monumental architecture. It was also the most prosperous and restored of the three cities. The ending of foreign occupation in 1955, as opposed to 1989, clearly made a great difference. Continue reading “Vienna”

Two cultures: the constant of time

By Chris Atkins

Just as “characteristic times” exist in science, they may have their cultural equivalents. The best-known example of a “characteristic time” in science is the half-life of a radioactive isotope, such as carbon-14, which is used in the dating of archaeological artefacts comprising organic matter. The idea is that a radioactive isotope will decay by half in a given time, irrespective of how many atoms you start with. This phenomenon gives rise to the often-misunderstood term “exponential decay” and the more commonly abused related term “exponential growth.” Continue reading “Two cultures: the constant of time”

That one recipe

By Patricia Lightfoot

I have two cookbooks that I bought because I thought one recipe in each book was particularly enticing. The first of these books was Lucy Waverman’s A year in Lucy’s Kitchen. It was an excellent purchase. I have made almost every recipe in the book and have been very pleased with the results. The recipes are well-written, designed for the home cook and clearly extensively tested, so that they always work. The arrangement of the book by month means that key ingredients will be in season at that time. The “paella of the Caribbean” is a particular favourite, being easy to prepare and size up or down as needed. It is almost a one-pot meal, though the chicken stock and saffron have to be heated separately. That first recipe, cannellini bean and arugula crostini, featuring a roasted head of garlic and smoked paprika, is an excellent hors d’oeuvre or contribution to a potluck that I regularly make. Continue reading “That one recipe”

Show me the data!

By Chris Atkins

I have lived, studied and worked overseas for just over 20 years and have recently moved back to the UK, where I was born and brought up. Not much has changed in that time – certainly not the famed British weather – but having settled into living back “home” I have noticed one thing: there seem to be a lot more fancy cars around than there were before I left. In particular, the Audi marque seems to be much more common on UK roads than in the mid-1990s. Continue reading “Show me the data!”


by Patricia Lightfoot

Prague was the first stop on our recent self-guided tour of three capitals of Eastern Europe, the others being Vienna and Budapest. In addition to sharing a history of Habsburg rule, all three cities featured numerous Art Nouveau buildings, beer, amazing home-made lemonade of various flavours, ranging from raspberry to mint and cucumber (I am inspired to try these at home), Segway tours, music and substantial food. Continue reading “Prague”

Blog at

Up ↑