Roadtrip on the Isle of Skye. Gloaming sky

Travel: The ruins of Duntulm Castle on Trotternish

I visited Duntulm on the northerly most point of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye back in 2010. Many many moons ago, perhaps several thousand years ago, the now mostly ravaged and ruined castle was originally a Pictish fortress, forming one of a chain of duns or forts stretching along the north coast…

Travel: Meandering around the Mynydd Carningli neolithic hillfort

Travel: Poking around the Mynydd Carningli neolithic hillfort

In 2010 I stayed for a while by the Welsh seaside in Newport, Pembrokeshire, Wales. I loved the wild waves and sea air, dramatic black cliffs and bright green hillside dotted with sleepy sheep. But most of all I loved the hill walks there, particularly Myndd Carningli, a splendid 347 meter tall mountain that holds…

Beautiful maps & beautiful Welsh tales: The Mabinogion

Beautiful maps & beautiful Welsh tales: The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion is a magical and mythical Celtic classic from the  thirteenth century or earlier. It's thoroughly Welsh and is considered a masterpiece of medieval literature. Although written down during the middle ages, experts think these stories may date from the dawn of Celtic civilisation in Britain. The Mabinogion has given rise to all of…

The Strandbeest and it's glittering seaside evolution

The Strandbeest and its glittering seaside evolution

Theo Jansen’s strandbeests are composed of spindly plastic organs that take elephantine strides. They have guts that store energy and are powered by wind. They are sensitive mechanical beasts that can even detect water. Each of Jansen's ingenious strandbeests are miracles in motion. They may very well be the next stages of natural selection.  Jansen…

Tiny building sites: It's a small world after all

Tiny building sites: It’s a small world after all

Readers of this blog will understand and share my obsession with small-scale buildings, tiny books, paper towns and jewelry boxes and boudoir ornaments for mermaids. These quirky art forms are uncannily beautiful in their falseness. They also make Mini Materials now offers lovers of miniature the unprecedented opportunity to build their own life-like models of…

The Book of Life by Alesha Sivratha

The Book of Life by Alesha Sivratha

Alesha Sivartha’s enigmatic 1898 book The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man, combines mysticism, sociology, theosophy, art and culture into a unique philosophy. Other than its bewildering, and unusual theories, which characterise a lot of the theosophical books of this time, the most striking aspect of this book are the diagrams contained…

Life on an Edwardian Farm

Life on an Edwardian Farm

In this series by the BBC, a group of historians and archaeologists recreate the running of a farm during the Edwardian era. This is a fascinating series that was originally aired in 2011 and now resides on countless Youtube channels - for better or worse with regards to copyright. Still, these issues aside this is…

Travel: Yarchen Gar, Tibet

Travel: Yarchen Gar, Tibet

Yarchen Gar also known as the Yaqên Orgyän Temple is located in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China Geographically remote and nestled in a valley some 4,000 metres above sea level, the temple rarely sees tourists or visitors. The monastery is associated with the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism . At Yarchen Gar there is a concentration of…

Ancient Word of the Day: Hibernal

Ancient word of the day: Flukra

As the southern hemisphere turns now towards the colder months we are all finding comfort into our nests and getting cosy for the winter. In New Zealand and the southern parts of Australia we are experiencing snow in the alpine regions. So it seems appropriate now to talk about the many ancient words for snow.…

Remember, nothing is permanent

Remember, nothing is permanent

Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass, crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze. – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future? Remain in the simplicity of the…

Art: Chris McVeigh’s yea olde DIY LEGO kits for vintage nerds of the 80’s and 90’s

Apparently it's possible to build a whole range of vintage tech hubris from the 80's and 90's through the power of LEGO. One guy named Chris McVeigh has pain-stakingly put together step-by-step guides to building Ataris and Nintendo gaming consoles, elephantine TV sets with curved screens, vintage gigantic montors and mechanical keyboards, big boomboxes that…

Every Picture Tells A Story: King George Military Hospital Chapel, 1915.

Every Picture Tells A Story: King George Military Hospital Chapel, 1915.

A still, melancholy and hushed photo of a vacant military hospital chapel in 1915, prior to the outbreak of the Great War. The King George Military Hospital opened in October 1915 in London. At the height of the Great War, in October 1917, it was said to be the largest military hospital in Britain with 1900…

Ancient Eye Glasses: Fascinating Historical Artefacts

History: Ancient specs as fascinating historical artefacts

In 2012 while working as a freelance copywriter, I did a series of articles for Direct Sight in the UK about the history of eye glasses. I only just remembered this one, it was incredibly fun to research and write and you can find the original here from 2012. I hope you enjoy it, from…

You are what you do: A quirky composite portrait of tradespeople and their tools

History: You are what you do – olden times  tradespeople and their tools

Hieroglyphics, circa 1800 This delightful print entitled Hieroglyphics dates from circa 1800 and was created by the London-based publisher Samuel William Fores in the aquatint style. We can see the composite portraits of four professions: a florist, writer, musician, and barber — their features made up entirely from the tools of their trades. Such composite…

Welcome to the dizzying world of alchemy and the philosopher's stone in medieval times

History: The dizzying world of alchemy and the philosopher’s stone in medieval times

The word alchemy is derived from the Arabic root “kimia”, from the Coptic “khem” (referring to the fertile black soil of the Nile delta). The word “alchemy” alludes to the dark mystery of the primordial or First Matter (the Khem). Alchemy in medieval times was a concoction of science, philosophy and mysticism. Far from operating within…

Every Picture Tells a Story: Extinct volcanos in Auckland

A Brief History of Auckland’s 53 Volatile Volcanoes

There are approximately 53 volcanoes in Auckland, which have over thousands of years produced an array of interesting lagoons, tuft rings and lava flows in Auckland city. The biggest, most active and most visible volcano - Rangitoto sits on an island of the same name in Auckland harbour. This has erupted repeatedly over the past…

An exciting jousting event takes place outside of Linlithgow Palace each year.

Travel: A weekend trip to the medieval town of Linlithgow: History through the mists of time to today

The beautiful burgh of Linlithgow charmed the pants off me when I went there a few years ago. The town sits astride the Forth and Clyde Canal (which I’ve written on extensively) which is around half way between Edinburgh and Glasgow. There’s a train link on Scotrail which goes between cities that takes you there, and…

Tane Mahuta's Triumph

Every Picture Tells A Story: Tane Mahuta’s Triumph by Jane Crisp

In the beginning there was no sky, no sea no earth and no Gods. There was only darkness, only Te Kore, the Nothingness. From this nothingness, the primal parents of the Maori came, Papatuanuku, the Earth mother, and Ranginui, the Sky father. Papatuanuku and Ranginui came together,embracing in the darkness, and had 70 male children. These…

The Private Lives of Animals circa 1842

The Private Lives of Animals circa 1842

This collection of funny and witty animal fables was originally published in 1842 in French as Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux. The authors of these fables are a who's who of literature in the mid 19th-century including Honoré de Balzac, George Sand. Also The Private Lives of Animals boasts some fine,…

A quaint internet road map from 1996

Tech: A quaint visual voyage through the internet in 1996

Found in the David Rumsey Map Collection online, this poster entitled Ínternet Road Map from the magazine PC Computing dates from the quaint year of internet history, 1996. Back when I was a teen and when 'surfing the web' was something only geeks and introverts did, and therefore which I did with fervour using some…