Cinco de Mayo – Chilli Festival in Eastnor Castle

¡Hola amigos!

The sad news first our friends –  The May Day weekend is officially over! Three days of glorious sunshine, laziness and partying will remain in our memory for very long. The good news is that, it was one of the busiest, greatest weekends we have had so far living in the West Midlands! We have been all over the place – visited St Ethelbert’s fair in Hereford, travelled to Eastnor to see the famed Eastnor Castle and tasted the fierce goods at the Chilli Festival. On Monday, we drove to Worcester and did some Mother’s Day shopping in the city centre (Polish Mother’s day is celebrated on 26th of May) – it was insane and we loved every second of it! Mal has also edited the pictures we took and Rita scanned a beautiful brochure about the castle – we will write a nice blog about the trip so keep your eyes open wide and you shall not miss it!

Official logo of the Chilli Festival

Official logo of the Chilli Festival

Yard in the front entrance to the mansion

Yard in the front entrance to the mansion

This entry will be dedicated to the Chilli Festival – it was red, hot and involved everything chilli – from cholocate cream, to chilli chutneys, chilli wraps, chilli cakes, chilli ice creams, chilli wine and cola to traditional chilli con corne and chilli tequila! From the very beginning, the Chilli event has been a big hit with the West Midlands folks. The first edition in 2012 has been visited by nearly 5 000 people and second edition this year drew twice as many! We don’t blame anybody for coming, and those who didn’t come are blaming themselves for not showing up! Mark our words, the 3rd edition in 2014 will have to be moved out of the castle and into the park – it will turn into a real chilli madness! The organizers chose a perfect date for the festival as well: the 5th and 6th of May (Saturday and Sunday) are big celebration in Mexico and among Latin American communities in the US. Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for the 5th of May) commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on the 5th of May 1861 during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). Once just a minor holiday, in recent decades it has evolved into a powerful celebration of Mexican culture and heritage with large parades, music festivals and street dance performances. While standing in line to enter the festival grounds, we had a chance to speak to American-Mexican family that really appreciated the opportunity to celebrate the Mexican holiday in a foreign country. Their kids loved the actor dressed in traditional falsa poncho and sombrero hired to entertained the crowd. We found his stereotypical sense of humour as fake as his Mexican accent and moustache and the overuse of the word “gringo” really annoying,  but at least he was kind enough to pose for a picture.  Surrounded by such a merry company, the queue moved really quickly and after paying the fee of £9.50 per person, we were allowed to enter.

An actor dressed in traditional Mexican attire poses for a picture

An actor dressed in traditional Mexican attire poses for a picture

Entrance to Eastnor Castle decorated with chilli banners

Entrance to Eastnor Castle decorated with chilli banners

It was our first visit to Eastnor and the castle (or rather a grand mansion built to resemble a castle) made a huge impression on us. We will try to describe it in details in a separate blog entry, but it is worth mentioning now, that the estate is simply huge. Before we reached the building and the festival site, we had to pass through a small park, picnic area and a knights maze. There are two entrances to the site: one in the front, near the main car park and the second in the far back near the Deer Park. The main entry leads through the shop and into a garden, the other offers a long walk around the estate forest and the lake. We chose the first path but even then, it took us almost 10 minutes to get to the right place. No complains here – we had a beautiful trek through the knights maze, stopped to dance to Pantasy Steel Band playing traditional Caribbean music and witnessed some of the cooking classes organized for the kids. We entered the main courtyard exactly at high noon – hungry like a pack of wolves and went straight looking for the food!

Visitors at Chili Festival

Visitors at Chili Festival

Big chilly pepper resting on a hedge near the entrance to the castle

Big chilly pepper resting on a hedge near the entrance to the castle

It wasn’t hard to find a great place to eat. Right by the entrance, we met a group of people queuing politely in a truly British fashion. You must know, that if a British person sees other people waiting for something, he or she will join them even not knowing what they are waiting for. We didn’t have to guess why our fellow visitors were lining up – within seconds our noses were filled by the delicious aroma of hot chilli con carne and rice. The decision to join the crowd turned out to be an excellent one – the food served at the stall was extraordinary! The company came to Eastnor all the way from Manchester and it would be a crime not to write who they were. Ladies and gents, kindly be introduced to Mango Rays!

Company: Mango Rays
Address: King Street Manchester, tel.  0161 445 9857
Website: http://www.mangorays.co.uk
Additional information: https://twitter.com/MangoRays and http://www.facebook.com/MangoRays

 Mancunian cooking wizards, Mango Rays, have been in the culinary business for almost 20 years and are very well known all around the city. Their bar is located on King Street in Manchester but being a mobile catering company, they travel all over the place to bring their “truly great homemade food” to an event right next to your door. Mango Rays are extremely busy people, on average, they visit about 20 biggest events in the UK annually including Glastonbury Summer festival, Beathurder, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Kendal Calling, Food & Drink shows and their largest operation – The Manchester Christmas Market. Mango Rays holds the highest health and safely rating (number 5) given by Manchester City Council. We have tried their vegetarian chilli con carne with rice and baked veggies and oh-my-God that was a heavenly feast! If you see their stand somewhere, do not hesitate – as they say, you only live once and this might be your only chance to taste their food. Greetings to Monika, our great server, she did a magnificent job. To quote a famous move – we will be back!
Queue to MangoRays stand

Queue to Mango Rays stand

Mango Rays business card at their stand

Mango Rays business card at their stand

Monika and her friend serving their customers

Monika and her friend serving their customers

Chilly con carne at Mango Rays stand in the three biggest pans we have ever seen

Chilly con carne at Mango Rays stand in the three biggest pans we have ever seen

Company: The Chilli Peppers Company
Address: Stoney Bridge, Cark in Cartmel, Cumbria LA11 7PE, tel.  015395 58110
Website: www.chilliseeds.co.uk
Additional information: http://www.thedevilsgarden.co.uk/index.php?app=gbu0&ns=catshow&ref=Chilli-Pepper-Company-Geds

The Chilli Peppers Company is based in the lovely village of Cark in Cartmel in the Lake District. The Village is known as the home of sticky toffee pudding (that’s the home we like!) but soon things could change. Thanks to the hard work of Gerald Fowler and his wife, the place now rapidly becomes a hot spot on the map for chilli lovers! The Chilli Pepper Company specializes not only in super hot chilli sauces, chutneys and powders, but were the first business in the UK supplying rare chilli seeds for those who wanted to grow the chilli in their gardens. Gerald is a specialist when it comes to growing different chilli plants – if you need any advice, please contact him and he will gladly help you to become the local king or queen of chilli.  For those of our readers who are looking for extreme experiences, The Chilli Pepper Company has two very unique products: 10 Minute Burn Hot Sauce (banned at 3 food festivals for being too hot for a normal human beings – guaranteed to take your internal organs for a roller-coaster ride to hell) and 15 Minute Burn cutely nicknamed “The Pocket Rocket” (Bhut Jolokia chilli extract for the bravest of the brave).

Chilli Pepper Company banner

Chilli Pepper Company banner

Closer look at TCPC stand on the chilli market

Closer look at TCPC stand on the chilli market

Forget about Red Hot Chilli Peppers - here comes The Chilli Peppers Company!

Forget about Red Hot Chilli Peppers – here comes The Chilli Peppers Company!

Collection of the hottest spices

Collection of the hottest spices

Company: Cola Rebell
Address: Clay House,  5 Horninglow Street, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 1NG (UK branch)
German Headquarters: Flughafenstrasse 52a, Haus C Hamburg Hamburg 22335 Germany
Website: http://www.colarebell.de  and http://www.colarebell.co.uk/
Additional information: http://www.facebook.com/colarebell.uk and http://www.facebook.com/colarebell

Ok, some things in life are just too obvious. When we saw the rock and roll, black and red coloured stand of Cola Rebell, we immediately knew they are a kick ass company. We were right. Cola Rebell was founded in 2009 in Hamburg, Germany and quickly became a cult classic among young crowd.  In 2012, the rebellious spirit emigrated to the UK and with a little help of Derek and George Wainwright; a British branch was quickly set up. Cola Rebell  offers everything you need: great product (chilli and ginger plus natural cola), t-shirts with company’s logo, posters, decorative cans for coffee and teas and a truly rebellious attitude we simply love! German Cola Rebell is advertised with “Die cola mit kick” (Cola with a kick) while the British one is on a mission to save mankind from a plain cola. Maria, the hostess we met at the Cola Rebell stand at the Chilli Festival, was incredibly helpful and funny. She agreed to pose for a picture for us while giving a detailed description about the newest line of beverages. The lady surely deserves a raise and we won’t be surprised if Cola Rebell starts endorsing Motorhead in the future. Great minds think alike and Lemmy could drink something else than beer or whiskey! It is worth mentioning that Cola Rebell has a caring side as well and supports numerous charities like the YMCA, Children with cancer UK, and the St Giles Hospice.

PS. Check their YouTube channel to see the commercials – http://www.youtube.com/user/ColaRebell

The Cola Rebell stand - mixing the traditional cola with chilli!

The Cola Rebell stand – mixing the traditional cola with chilli!

Maria, our lovely sales assistant posing with the two newest products in Cola Rebell's line

Maria, our lovely sales assistant posing with the two newest products in Cola Rebell’s line

Cola Rebell's unique advertising with President Obama going , well..rebel

Cola Rebell’s unique advertising with President Obama going , well..rebel

Company: Ambalama Spices Limited
Address: Poolhullock Llandinabo Hereford HR2 8JB, Telephone: 01989 730398
Website: www.ambalamaspices.com
Additional information:
http://www.ludlowadvertiser.co.uk/news/ludlow/4430310.Getting_spice_into_your_life_at_free_workshop

The Ambalama Spice Limited Company was born in 2004, after the massive tsunami destroyed many South Eastern Asian countries. At that time, Nigel and Jean Sturtivant have just sold their Scotland hotel and went to Sri Lanka for a relaxing trip. They returned to the UK shortly before Christmas, only to find out that the places they have visited several days before didn’t exist anymore. In a desperate effort to help those affected by the tragedy, the Herefordian couple decided to fly back and ask if there was anything they could do. To their surprise, the locals refused charity and money. They wanted to earn their living in a way they have always had – by trade.  The Sturtivants decided to open a store with local spices and came back from Sri Lanka with orders for half a tonne of rare herbs and other specialities. After a decade, Nigel and Jean became specialists in herbs and spices from all over the world. They tried each one of them in their own kitchen and can advise how to turn a plain meal into a king’s feast. Their stand called “Ambalama Spices” drew a real crowd at the Chilli Festival and we had to stand a while to see what they had in offer. Jean was very kind and provided us with kokul mas spice. Now we can make a true Sri Lankan chicken curry!

The rich collection of rare spices from Bali at Ambalama's stand

The rich collection of rare spices from Bali at Ambalama’s stand

More detailed look - you won't get those spices anywhere else!

More detailed look – you won’t get those spices anywhere else!

Company: The Garlic Farm
Address: Mersley Lane, Newchurch, Isle of Wight, PO36 0NR
Website: http://www.thegarlicfarm.co.uk
Additional information: http://www.facebook.com/TheGarlicFarm and https://twitter.com/TheGarlicFarm

The saying goes that every beginning is a humble one. More than 60 years ago, Mrs Norah Boswell, a resident of Isle of Wight , planted garlic in her kitchen garden. This simple act had serious consequences not only for her family but also for the local community. The kitchen garden is now gone but The Garlic Farm is doing very well. The Boswell Family is one of the biggest producers of garlic in the UK, they own a café, a guest cottage,  education centre, heritage hall, a gift shop and their own garlic festival! Visiting the farm can be a great experience for individual visitors and organized groups: the guests can sleep in the cottage on the farm grounds, visit the garlic fields in special tractor trailer, taste the products while they are being made and have a picnic in the private 40 acre forest. The Garlic Farm makes garlic chutneys, sauces, olive oil, condiments, garlic butter and chilled treats. You can also buy cooking books written by Natasha Edwards, the daughter of Colin Boswell, current owner of the farm. In short – it doesn’t matter if you’d like to buy some garlic, spend a nice holidays on the farm or just visit the festival – The Garlic Farm have everything you need!

Garlic Farm was a big hit with visitor at the Chilli Market - the company is very client friendly!

Garlic Farm was a big hit with visitor at the Chilli Market – the company is very client friendly!

Closer look at the Garlic Farm's stall

Closer look at the Garlic Farm’s stall

Company: Chilli Pepper Plantation
Address: Cider Cottage, Upper Norton near Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4PN,  telephone: 01885 488408
Website: http://www.chillipepperplantation.com
Additional information: http://www.hayfayre.org/stalls/chilli-pepper-plantation/

All right, we are probably stating the obvious here, but Pam Davenport, the lady owner of Chilli Pepper Plantation, is a real chilli expert. Even surrounded by other chilli professionals gathered at the festival, her knowledge made her stand out from the crowd. We had a pleasure to speak to Pam for a long while and she told us so many things about the chilli plants that we could write a book! Did you know for example that chilli is good for a sore throat or eating chilli releases endorphins, the happiness hormones in our bodies? Mixing chocolate with chilli now makes perfect sense – if you are ill or feeling blue, just one teaspoon of chilly flavoured chocolate cream will make you happy like a bunny rabbit during spring. Chilli Pepper Plantation has been founded just 3 years ago but it proved to be a hit with customers. The planation now cultivates 45 different chilli plants from all over the world (including rare deep purple and black ones!) but Pam wants to double their number in the next two years. All chilli peppers collected at the planation are used to make delicious jams, preserves and marmalades.  We have tried chilli jam with cumin and Vietnamese coriander – both delicious beyond any description.

Pam Davenport meeting her clients

Pam Davenport meeting her clients

Chilli Planation stand in detail

Chilli Planation stand in detail

Chilli Pepper Plantation and their red hot advertising

Chilli Pepper Plantation and their red hot advertising

Company: The Velvet Bean
Address: Church Lane, Ledbury Herefordshire, Hr8 1DH
Website: http://www.thevelvetbeanchocolates.co.uk
Additional information:http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Velvet-Bean-Chocolates/115746408529270

As you know by now, chilli and chocolate are match made in heaven. However,  if you think that further improvement of this heavenly union is impossible, please let us introduce you to our next guests. The recipe for success is very simple: all you need is the finest Belgium couverture chocolate, two highly skilled chocolatiers and the results will be astonishing.  The Velvet Bean located in the historic market hall in Ledbury, has been charming the local folks and tourists with their products since 2004. Ben and Melissa Boyle are always experimenting with flavours, shapes and sizes and each visit to their shop is a true adventure. Honestly, we would have never thought of mixing champagne with chilli extract but their tarts quickly became a sensation at the festival. Walking around the stalls, we noticed large groups of people eating beautifully decorated sweets. Curious, we asked some of them where the sweets were purchased and we were showed to The Velvet Bean stand. After several minutes, we had a huge bag of guilty pleasures and no regrets! If you are looking for unique celebration gifts (weddings, birthdays, parties etc.) The Velvet Bean is your best bet. The owners are also extremely nice people and it is a true pleasure to do business with them.

Handmade chocolate cake with popping candy!

Handmade chocolate cake with popping candy!

The Velvet Bean stand full of hand made goodies

The Velvet Bean stand full of hand made goodies

Our favourites - champagne flavoured tarts with chilli

Our favourites – champagne flavoured tarts with chilli

Company: Fat Man Chilli
Address: Preston-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR2 9JX, tel. 01981 501103
Websitehttp://fatmanchilli.webs.com
Additional information:http://www.chilefoundry.com/2012/06/16/fat-man-chilli-chilli-apple-jelly-with-lime/

Malcolm Knight, the owner of Fat Man Chilli, is a man of great sense of humour. Before we managed to find his stand, Rita has been given a Fat Man Chilli leaflet handed out by one of the organizers. We liked the name so much that we decided to write about the company on our blog straight away. When we located the stall, Rita greeted Malcolm by asking “Are you the Fat Man Chilli? and the response was: “I’m the fat man and my chilli is on the table”. After the laughs have been exchanged, we went down to business. Fat Man Chilli is a small, family run enterprise, but they have a great reputation and even bigger potential. They grow some of the finest chilli plants and use them to make sauces, preserves and jellies. We have tried their chilli-apple jelly with lime and we give it 5 stars. If you are a chilli newbie (or like in Rita’s case, you are not allowed to eat spicy food), you could be interested in excellent and very mild tomato ketchup. Rita tested it on herself and admits the sauce to be perfect for starters and have a lovely, rich texture. Fat Man Chilli workers are travelling all over the Midlands and attend at least 4-5 markets each month, but if you cannot meet them personally, all products are available in their online store.

PS. The company has an excellent motto: “Chilli heads unite!” (we just had to quote it!)

Malcolm welcoming his guests at the stand

Malcolm welcoming his guests at the stand

Colourful display

Colourful display

Company: Hills Chilli Cakes and Cookies
Address: Worcester
Website: none

We are extremely sorry, but we couldn’t find anything online about this wonderful company!  Their name is Hills Chilli Cakes and Cookies and as far as we know, they are based in Worcester. Hills Cookies (as we call them) are new to the market, they have  been founded just a month before the Chilli Festival and this was their first food market. The company is tiny: there are only two people involved (a lady and gentleman), but we sadly do not know their names. If you ever come across their stall somewhere, please try their cakes – we have no words to describe how delicious they were. We bought a classic chocolate cake with brandy/chilli flavour and we loved each bite. As you can see on the pictures, they had cupcakes, cheesecake, sponge cake and many, many others.

Hills chilli cakes and cookies were popular with the festival crowd

Hills chilli cakes and cookies were popular with the festival crowd

Chilli and home baking - a perfect recipe

Chilli and home baking – a perfect recipe

Company: Fire Foods
Address:7 Darley Dale Crescent, Grantham, NG31 8EH tel. 01476 574383 /07941152752
Websitehttp://www.firefoods.co.uk/
Additional information: http://www.facebook.com/FireFood and https://twitter.com/firefoods

FireFoods is a family business from Grantham, Lincolnshire run by Zoe and Woody. They say that chilli is their whole life and we truly believe them. We wish you could hear them talking with a passion about their products, chilli plants and plans for the future – their enthusiasm was as even hotter than their chilli! They are the only company in the UK certified by Guinness World Records for having the hottest chilli pepper on the planet. In 2010 their Infinity chilli has been given the rating of 1,067,286 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) after being tested by Warwick University. Two years later, the rating has been modified and The Infinity chilli now stands at 1.25 million Scoville units after further testing. If you are brave enough you can buy their Infinity chilli sauce for only 7.5 pounds and it will burn a hole in your stomach for free 🙂

You can find it in their online store here: http://www.firefoods.co.uk/product/infinity-chilli-sauce/

Zoe and Woody work incredibly hard and their products have been given the highest food hygiene ratings as well. Each product has been prepared by their own hands and they are very proud of their achievements.

Unleash the heat banner

Unleash the heat banner

Firefoods were heating up the festival atmosphere with their products

Firefoods were heating up the festival atmosphere with their products

Closer look at the products at their stall

Closer look at the products at their stall

Company: The Mini Jar Company
Address: 23 Kingfisher Close, Sheldon,  Birmingham, B26 2QF
Websitehttp://www.minijarcompany.co.uk/
Additional information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mini-Jar-Company/217146215028566
and https://twitter.com/minijarcompany

Advertised as “preserves with a difference”, The Mini Jar Company is a multi-award winning small business based in Birmingham. The company has been founded nearly three years ago and specializes in making chutneys, curds, mustards and preserves. Their products come exclusively in small 45 ml jars that are no longer available to be purchased from supermarkets.  The company uses only local plants and eggs. There are no artificial colourings, flavourings, additives or thickening agents used and each product is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The Mini Jar Company makes the preserves at a small production and processing facility in Newnam Bridge, Worcestershire. We purchased several jars of pickles and curds and they were gone within several days! If you are not able to attend any food festivals, please keep your eyes wide open as the mini jars are being sold in few local shops in Herefordshire!

Closer look at the mini jar collection

Closer look at the mini jar collection

The Mini Jar Company stand filled with local products

The Mini Jar Company stand filled with local products

All right! We hope you have enjoyed this little review. Please visit the festival next year, it is going to be massive!
And return quickly, we still have to show you around the castle – it is going to be a great ride!

Bon apetit, chilli lovers!
xxx
Rita and Malcia D.

Chilli Festival at Eastnor Castle

http://www.eastnorcastle.com/news.aspx
http://www.eastnorcastle.com/blog/
http://www.hha.org.uk/DB/news/chilli-festival-at-eastnor-castle.html

Date: 5-6 of May 2013

Entertainment:
Live music from Los Squideros, with their Latin Beats, and also Pantasy Steel Band playing traditional Caribbean music•
Children’s cookery school
Cooking Demonstrations from local chefs
Chilli Eating Competition… can you handle the heat?

Knight’s Maze, Children’s Adventure Playground and Junior Assault Course, Burma Bridge Treetop Walkway, Gift Shop, Tearoom, Ice Cream Parlour. 11.00am until 4.30pm (last admission 4.00pm)
Castle & Grounds Admission Adult £9.50, Senior £8.50, Child (3-15 yrs) £6.00, Family (2+3) £25.00

******UPDATE 2013.06.10*******
Wow! Thank you very much! Our review of  Chilli Festival has been viewed more than 500 times since we have published it online! We have received lots of attention, comments and likes from general public, but also from the producers themselves!
Please take a look at the little college we have made to show you the responses – we are truly grateful and really pleased.
Social media does bring the world together!
Likes and comments we have received after publishing the article!

Likes and comments we have received after publishing the article!

Very happy.
M+R Dabrowicz
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Covering Libya – MIPP talk review

Dear readers,

There are many benefits of being a member of a photographic society. Not only you get to meet like minded individuals, but you are also involved in various activities: photo-walks, master-classes, exhibition openings, conventions and talks. Usually those events combine social networking with practical learning, so the more you participate, the better for you.

I know some people will disagree here. I have heard many times before that photography is a lone – wolf job and that people have no time for extracurricular activities. But let me tell you this: you can be technically outstanding and know your parameters by heart but nothing opens your eyes more than hearing another photog talk about his experiences. Being able to see though another photographer’s eyes is the most powerful and rewarding experience ever, no matter your level or skill.

Poster for MIPP talk

Poster for MIPP talk

MIPP Malta (of which Malicia is a junior member) has a broad and varied list of events. There’s something cooking nearly every week and you can choose according to your interests and preferences. However from time to time, a different kind of activity will pop up – something that simply cannot be missed.

So if you haven’t been to Darrin Zammit Lupi`s talk about Covering the Libya crisis, you may want to give yourself a healthy kick on the patata. Because you have missed much more than just a terrific meeting with one of Malta’s best visual artists. You have skipped a truly inspiring session that made people want to grab their cameras and book a flight to the nearest front line. And you can trust me on the inspiring part. I actually had a pleasure to witness this talk twice: first time in April 2012, when Darrin organized a lecture for members of Maltese Rotary Club and now with other members of MIPP. Darrin takes extreme care of his talks, he expands them, adds new photos, tells new stories and plans everything to perfection. I can safely say that in span of one year he created a brand new, more fascinating presentation.

Let me tell you a bit more about the photographer in question. If we were to quote his official bio, we would have to say that Darrin Zammit Lupi is a staff photographer at The Times of Malta and a stringer for Reuters since 1997. He holds a Masters degree in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the University of the Arts, London, and has been a regular winner at the annual Malta Journalism Awards. The biggest stories he has worked on are irregular immigration across the Mediterranean, the evacuations following the Libya uprising and the Costa Concordia disaster. He also regularly travels to different parts of Africa on assignment for NGOs. Adding from my own perspective: Darrin also happens to be a person associated with highest quality on Maltese soil when it comes to photojournalism. I personally havent met one person who would not like him, or who would think his vision and skill in photography is lacking. Among fellow photographers he is regarded as esteemed colleague and a friend by many.

In 2011 when the Arab Spring had reached Libya, Malta found itself in the centre of world’s attention. It has became a hub for evacuations, a place from where humanitarian aid was dispatched to besieged town of Misurata, a save haven for defecting soldiers but also the battle ground between Gaddafi loyalists and those who opposed him. And Darrin followed each and every aspect of it with a camera. He attended countless demonstrations outside the Libyan Embassy, documented the plight of evacuees, and wounded journalists (like Guy Martin who was brought to Malta after being hit by shrapnel). He photographed political and military meetings. He also took two trips to Misurata (with Red Cross) and Benghzi and reported from there.

Darrin Zammit LUpi (in the middle) with some members of the audience. Yours truly is on the right hand side. Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi.

Darrin Zammit Lupi (in the middle) with some members of the audience. Yours truly is on the right hand side. Photo by Darrin Zammit Lupi.

When advertising his talk Darrin wrote as follows: “I will talk about covering the uprising from the beginning (…) including various attempts to get into Libya, a trip to Misrata on a Red Cross aid ship at the height of the siege, and my experiences in Benghazi and Brega as the regime crumbled in Tripoli. I am not a combat photographer so I won’t be talking about that. Rather, the presentation will show what it’s like to be working on a major news story over a period of several months.” However large part of the talk was dedicated to the experiences he had in Libya itself (and in other places as Darrin also covered Albanian conflict, humanitarian crisis in Bosnia and refugees in Kosovo). Darrin spoke about what he had seen in Bosnia and how hard it was to adjust to peaceful reality at home. He recalled how his trip to Benghazi could turn fatal when Libyan rebels linked Maltese citizens to some political figures in Malta who openly supported Gaddafi. All those stories made the audience wonder what would have happen if Darrin turned freelance and decided to pursue career of a conflict photographer. One member of the audience summed it up pretty well: it was lucky for Malta that Darrin decided to avoid conflict otherwise he surely would be now a member of VII, rather than a member of Times of Malta.

Darrin’s words were illustrated by nearly one hundred images spanning though – out the year and each was described in detail. Darrin is not just a newspaper photographer. He is one of those visual journalists who have a mission. Through his art, he shows what happens to ordinary people, on the ground level, people none of us would otherwise ever hear of. I am not sure if that wasn’t the most striking aspect of the talk itself. For Darrin Zammit Lupi his work is a social service and I don’t think there was one person in the room that was not moved by his bravery and dedication.

The evening was perfect. Its truly a pleasure for reviewer to report that there was nothing to complain about. Just one thing made me ponder. When the event was promoted on social media, Times of Malta were completely mum on the topic. Not a single mention was offered on their website or on their pages. Its a sad state of affairs when a staff photographer is giving a talk on such an important matter and his own newspaper doesnt back him up.  Perhaps it was a result of overlooking but an opportunity wasted nontheless. They should have been shouting and boasting about it.

If you want to see some of the photos that illustrated the talk please click here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.360519760699093.83087.336693509748385&type=1

You may also want to visit MIPP page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/MippProfessionalPhotography

Darrin also has some amazing portfolio online. You can see the slideshow below. It has several images he took in Libya. I suggest that you actually watch it, you will not be dissapointed. Its jaw -dropping powerful photography.

And if you regret not coming to Darrin’s talk (and you really should!) book yourself a place on MIPP convention this October as they will host Heidi Levine – professional war correspondent and a truly talented photographer.

Poster for MIPP October 2013 convention

Poster for MIPP October 2013 convention

I know I will be there!

Xxx

Mal

April 30, 2013

“Covering the Libyan conflict” – a talk by Darrin Zammit Lupi

Corinthia San Gorg Hotel, St Julians, Malta

***Edit 04/06/2013***

A shorter version of this article has now been published in MIPP newsletter for June 2013. I have added some screenshots below but you can also read it online here:

http://issuu.com/m-i-p-p/docs/2013_june_newsletter_issuu

MIPP Newsletter for June 2013

MIPP Newsletter for June 2013

Second page of the article from MIPP JUne 2013 newsletter

Second page of the article from MIPP June 2013 newsletter

Darrin`s works (tho not from Libya) have also been recently exhibited at this years edition of Earth Garden festival. I couldnt help myself and took some shots. The images show Maltese folk and rock musicians performing at a Ghana Fest few years back. Let them be additional visual aspect to this review, for our readers enjoyment.

Earth Garden Panel 1

Earth Garden Panel 1

Earth Garden Panel 2

Earth Garden Panel 2

Earth Garden Panel 3

Earth Garden Panel 3

Earth Garden Panel 4

Earth Garden Panel 4

Earth Garden Panel 5

Earth Garden Panel 5

Earth Garden Panel 6

Earth Garden Panel 6

If you want to follow Darrin Zammit Lupi on Facebook, please check the url below:

https://www.facebook.com/DarrinZammitLupiPhotography

***Edit 09/06/2013***

I am going to add another update with some more videos showing the work Darrin did in Libya.  I managed to find some footage on Darrin`s Vimeo channel and I think this is obligatory to see at least one of them:

Reporting from Red Cross ship heading with supplies to Misurata:

Immigrants escaping the war in Libya, end up in Malta

More evacuations from Libya – this was a huge operation. That particular day I was at the Valletta Harbour as well, trying to take some photos.

Hope you enjoyed this updated review.

Mal

***Edit 20/12/2013***

We are adding another update to this entry because few things have happened regarding Covering Libya crisis talk.

In January 2013, Darrin presented this subject at the SWPP Convention in London

and it became so well received that it was picked up by Professional Imagemaker magazine. This is one of the biggest and most respected photography publications in the UK. Darrin `s photos and recollection of Libyan crisis were given 5 full pages in the August-September 2013 issue. We have finally got our hands on the issue and made our own photographic evidence.

Cover of Professional Imagemaker magazine,  August-September 2013 issue

Cover of Professional Imagemaker magazine, August-September 2013 issue

Professional Imagemaker magazine, August- September issue, page 74-75

Professional Imagemaker magazine, August- September issue, page 74-75

Professional Imagemaker magazine, August- September issue, page 76-77

Professional Imagemaker magazine, August- September issue, page 76-77

Professional Imagemaker magazine, August- September issue, page 78

Professional Imagemaker magazine, August- September issue, page 78

The brilliant thing is that two of Darrin`s photos have been also awarded in the monthly competitions in the same issue!

Another of Darrin`s photos awarded in a monthly competition.

Another of Darrin`s photos awarded in a monthly competition.

One of Darrin`s photos awarded in a monthly competition.

One of Darrin`s photos awarded in a monthly competition.

If you want to learn more about the Professional Imagemaker Magazine, just click on the URL`s below:

http://www.swpp.co.uk/professional_imagemaker/

http://professionalimagemaker.thesocieties.net/photographic-magazine-app.htm

Moreover, The Times of Malta woke up from their slumber and decided to give some coverage to their staff photographer. They ran a mention about the article in Professional Imagemaker and believe us; this is very rare that they mention achievements of their photographers. This policy of silence is usually quite disappointing considering the fact that TOM has four incredibly talented and dedicated photographers and some equally stunning freelancers to match. But on this occasion Times of Malta made a right decision and we will not complain.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20130829/local/Libyan-crisis-in-focus.483918#.UrTH5bSRK4k

Darrin Zammit Lupi will take part in SWPP Convention in January 2014 and this time around he will speak about working as a photojournalist. So if you will be in London town this winter and want to attend, visit the website at:

http://swpp.co.uk/convention/2014/title-class-Zammit-Lupi110079PhotojournalismSunday.htm

M+R

Back to the Garden

Hello!

Event poster

Event poster

Been a fun week, we can tell you that. Rita went to Poland for few days and we have kick-ass photos for new editions of Kat-a-log. The updates for Chilli Festival and Patches Market are looking good too and should be on the blog before the end of May. Mal is plotting how to promote photography and visual journalism (hey everybody needs a hobby!) and we booked ourselves a stand at Earth Garden, third time in a row. Yes – best piece of information in a long while. Everybody is beyond excited to have our favourite festival back.

Posters are seen around various localities.

Posters are seen around various localities.

For those readers who do not know what Earth Garden is. This event is the closest things that Malta has to a proper summer festival with live bands, art square, camping and hanging out with a crowd of people who really care about the planet at an ethnic market. Of course, when your home has 316 square km (divided between three islands) you cannot organize Glastonbury. It’s usually several thousands visitors during the day and few hundred people spending the time camping in the Malta National Park at Ta`Qali.

The briefing

The briefing

One on one - questions time

One on one – questions time

National Park is a wonderful plot of land with flowers and mini forest and fountains that is located next to National Stadium, Crafts Village and Aviation Museum. Groovy place where you can truly feel relaxed and a bit hippie 😉

Some photos can be found here:
http://www.malta.com/en/attraction/culture/garden-park/ta-qali-national-park

So each year, the last week of May, National Park is a home to Earth Garden. Concerts take place at the Greek Theatre, while the park grounds host the art square, installations, camping site and holistic and ethnic market.

We have been blogging extensively about our previous visits to Earth Garden and you can browse the archives under this link:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/category/earth-garden/

Reubn at work

Reubn at work

Reuben explaining the market set up to a late visitor

Reuben explaining the market set up to a late visitor

On Wednesday 15th 2013, we had a meeting on the site with the organizers of the festival and paid for a stand and were debriefed about the set ups of the market. Reuben – one of the organizers is a fantastic person. He is able to pin down all the issues and possible challenges into 20 minutes talk and nobody asks questions later. All is clear and you know where you stand. If only people were so well organized and reliable as Reuben is, the world would certainly be a better place.

Map of the gfestival

Map of the festival

His input, optimism and faith in the festival are what brought us three times in a row to this event. From the start Reuben has been our main point of reference and we never had one misunderstanding or complaint (even if our site was trashed in the first year by vandals)

During the meeting, we also stumbled upon Mahii – another person from the management team. Like Miss Moneypenny in James Bond saga, Mahii stays in the background but her presence is crucial. She handles all lose ends and makes sure that nothing is overlooked. With her skills to avoid the camera and silent moving among the crowd, she could also be a master spy. You never know! 🙂

Mahii

Mahii

This is where the market will be localted this year,

This is where the market will be localted this year

With all the formalities now taken care of, we are concentrating on the set up of our stand (Balloons! Ribbons! Cats!), and preparing our goods. This year we will dedicate our efforts to the ethnic market only so we will not participate in the Art Square. However that means two days fully available in one place so come and meet us whenever you like!

If you want to follow the festival, here are some links for you:

https://www.facebook.com/EarthGardenEvent

www.earthgarden.com.mt

http://www.earthgarden.com.mt/EarthGardenProg.pdf

Poster exhibited in Valletta

Poster exhibited in Valletta

It’s just few days before the festival but we are hoping for at least one more update next week-end.

Mal+Rita

The cat collector or Kat-a-log part 14

Meow to the world

After the long winter and quite a slow start, May is here already and we can honestly say, that spring finally arrived. It doesn’t matter where you are, in Malta, in the UK or in Poland, cats are acting exactly the same everywhere. They lay in sunny places, sleep outside without a care in the world, fight for the territory and sing loud songs under your windows at 3 am. It is so good to see them around the neighbourhood – an ultimate proof the weather has improved!

Now since the days are longer and warmer, we can take the cat figurines outside to photograph them for your enjoyment. Rita is soon flying home and she will be tasked with organizing several photo sessions for the cats that Olympia has already at home. It sounds like  a lot of work and fun at the same time.  Please scroll down to see the previous entries of the project. Just click on each link and they will open for you in a new window. Let us know if you’d like to add something – a name, information about the figurine makers or any other interesting facts about the kitties. We will be grateful for any tips!

Kat-a-log Part 1: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-1/
Kat-a-log Part 2: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-2/
Kat-a-log Part 3: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-3/
Kat-a-log Part 4: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-4/
Kat-a-log Part 5: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-5/
Kat-a-log Part 6: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-6/
Kat-a-log Part 7: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-7/
Kat-a-log Part 8: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-8/
Kat-a-log Part 9: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-9/
Kat-a-log Part 10: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-10/
Kat-a-log Part 11: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-11/
Kat-a-log Part 12: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-12/
Kat-a-log Part 13: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-13/

The 14th edition of Kat-a-log is the filled with warm, spring-like pictures. For the first time ever as well, we are featuring something else than just figurines: cloth puppets, designer pillows, wooden sculptures – we have it all right here and right now! Please take a look at the newest items joining the celebrated Olympia’s collection.

Kat-a-log Feline no. 51
Two sides of the cats: Comfortably seated, Muses on the sofa and Social meeting
Country of origin:
Malta, bought as a gift in 2013

Kat-a-log number 51 can only be described as three in one. Instead of a cat figure, we have three cat pillows! Kat-a-log is not only about collecting cat shaped objects, it is a true way of life. Those lovely travelling pillows have been made by talented duo, Anna and Hilda. We have met them in Valetta at Malta Artisan Spring Fair on 6th of April. You can read the description about their stand at the art market below:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/malta-artisan-fairs-artistic-spring-market-in-valetta/

Hilda and Anna are extremely skilled with needles and threads and they can make you anything you want. The cat pillows have been delivered to Poland and are decorating the sofa in the living room. We have also heard reports that Salem and Michael, Olympia’s two real kittens, like to sleep (and drool) on them. That’s what we call a domestic bliss 🙂

Comfortably seated

Comfortably seated

Muses on the sofa

Muses on the sofa

Social meeting

Social meeting

 

Kat-a-log Feline no. 52
Three sides of a cat: A view with a cat, Light bringer and Lady in a garden
Official name:
Emma
Country of origin:
Malta, the village of Haz-Zabbar

Another, very unusual addition to the cat project. Dear audience, please welcome Emma – our first cat puppet joining our refined collection! Malicia bought this incredibly cute lady on Patches market in Valetta just last weekend and soon you can expect a detailed report on our blog. The cat mascot or cloth toy (as it is professionally called) has been designed and hand made by Maltase artist Juniper Francalanza. Juniper was a very kind to us while shopping. We were almost 10 euro short and we thought we won’t be able to acquire the cat (others were sold straight away!). Juniper didn’t mind and she allowed us to pay the missing amount at the later stage. According to Juniper, Emma is a cat “who enjoys time in the garden and plum tarts. She often takes small trips to see her cousin in the big city, see the museums and maybe even catch a play”.

You can follow Juniper and her company, The Caper Collection, on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/TheCaperCollection

A view with a cat

A view with a cat

Light bringer

Light bringer

Lady in the garden

Lady in the garden

Kat-a-log Feline no. 53
Three sides of a cat: The feeling of freedom, Hidden danger and On a hunt
Country of origin:
Zimbabwe, given as a gift in Hereford in April 2013

This issue of Kat-a-log is filled with curious items and rare findings. Our next cat is a tribal wooden sculpture made in Zimbabwe and brought to the UK by the Fair trade movement. As you know by now, Rita and Mal, are big supporters of Fair trade. We think that any artist should be fairly paid for his or her work and the money should help the community to grow and get stronger. Without recognition, education and fair exchange of goods, the developing countries will never have the chance to prosper.  On April 22nd, we have published a review of the Herefordian Fair Trade Spring market organized by Love Zimbabwe charity. Martha Holman and her friends introduced us to art, culture and tradition of Zimbabwe and allowed us to find a truly extraordinary pieces of craftsmanship. We have chosen a wooden sculpture of cheetah stalking its prey. The photo session took place in Hereford Cathedral gardens where we found a tree big enough to pretend a Zimbabwean savannah!

Please take a look at the review here: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/love-zimbabwe-spring-event-in-hereford/

The Feeling of freedom

The Feeling of freedom

Hidden danger

Hidden danger

On a hunt

On a hunt

Kat-a-log Feline no. 54
Three sides of a cat: Splendid isolation, Between the Sky and the Earth and Lounging on a lazy afternoon
Cou
ntry of origin: US, Philadelphia, bought and given as a gift in May 21013

We had introduced readers of this blog to two beautiful felines that our mom received from Azores (Portuguese islands in Atlantic Ocean). They have been sent by our friend Annika who relocated there after her wedding. If you want to see them again scroll down to Kat-a-log 12 edition or follow the link:

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/the-cat-collector-or-kat-a-log-part-12/

Now it’s time to update you a bit about Annika`s whereabouts. Our friend has been offered a job in the US and is currently residing in Philadelphia. She had just sent us a surprise package and a long letter to match. In the box she included this beautiful cat figurine she bought at the campus of Philadelphia University in the East Falls. This is oak wood and silver plated, hand carved figurine designed by an artist named Natasha.  Natasha runs a small business in the neighbourhood of the campus selling crafts ranging from sculptures and pottery to jewellery and even rugs. Unfortunately Annika didn’t take any particulars of the creator and our search online was futile. This must be our mom’s first cat figurine from the US and we can tell you she is very excited.

If you want to see the posh neighbourhood where our kitty heroine hails from, here’s a link from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Falls,_Philadelphia,_Pennsylvania

Splendid isolation

Splendid isolation

Between the Sky and the Earth

Between the Sky and the Earth

Lounging on a lazy afternoon

Lounging on a lazy afternoon

We hope that you have enjoyed yet another edition of the cat-friendly project. Olympia loves every strange bit and end that has a pair of cat ears and a long tail! soon we will show you her kitchen – you will not believe how many cats you can have there!

Have a lovely May weekend.
XOXO
Olympia, Rita and Mal