Seven suspenseful and unforgettable historical novels

Seven suspenseful and unforgettable historical novels

Great historical novels are fully immersed in time, place and have a tangible effect of bringing you into a time period that you may otherwise never know. This is what’s truly exhilerating about the historical novel. The setting and surroundings become like a fully formed character in the novel. Whether we’re talking about a British…

How real women dressed over the ages

How real women dressed over the ages

A lot of fuss and attention is given to how wealthy women dressed in ancient times. Yet for every affluent woman there would be 10 other women of more humble origins, toiling and working in low paid and thankless jobs. Here are some really incredible videos that showcase how these women dressed over time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t__RhUyZMDM…

Book Review: Lost Wisdom by Una McGovern and Paul Jenner

Ten Quirky and Mind Expanding History Books

Here’s a collection of the best and treasured history books that I don’t think I could ever part with. They are quirky and delve into a little known aspect of history making them delightful lazy weekend reading. I hope you can get a hold of them, if you do...please let me know what you think…

Book Review: Lost Wisdom by Una McGovern and Paul Jenner

Book Review: Lost Wisdom by Una McGovern and Paul Jenner

Lost Wisdom and its two other companion books Lost Crafts and Lost Lore are beautifully typeset and laid out. Their contents are a cabinet of curiosities - a wunderkammer of the same sort as the Book of Barely Imagined Beings, which I have mentioned in the past. Although in this case Lost Wisdom runs the…

Medieval bangers and tavern stompers circa 2020

Medieval bangers and tavern stompers circa 2020

Treat thine ears and eyes to a new genre of music - bardcore! Perhaps you're looking for that tavern banger that you enjoyed back in 1365. Or perhaps you want to reminisce on the summer solstice when you gathered with jolly folk at Stonehenge, got wasted on mead and were visited by a strange celestial…

Book Review: Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Book Review: Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

Tulip Fever is one of the most captivating historical fiction reads I have had the pleasure of enjoying in recent years. Tulip Fever takes place in Amsterdam in the 1630's during a time of immense wealth that is brought into the country by merchants and tulip sellers. If you enjoyed that other iconic historical novel…

The symbolism of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle

The symbolism of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle

Detail of ‘Smell’ c1500, from The lady and the unicorn series. wool and silk, 368 x 322 cm. Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris Photo © RMN-GP / M Urtado Mark De Vitis, University of Sydney The arrival of The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle at the Art Gallery of…

Ancient word of the day: Athene Noctua or Athena's Owl

Ancient word of the day: Athene Noctua or Athena’s Owl

The Greek goddess Athena had as her sacred animal familiar the owl, also known as the Athene Noctua in Latin. The Romans, fond as they were of stealing from the Greek pantheon, renamed Athena to Minerva. Athena and her owl are considered to be symbols of wisdom, in both cultures. Silver tetradrachm coin at the…

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Philoxenia comes from Ancient Greek. This literally translates to be "friends with a stranger". Philo - Friend, Xenia - Stranger. In Ancient Greece, hospitality was ranked highly as a personal virtue. Great honour was bestowed upon a guest by a host. If a stranger was to appear on your doorstep in Ancient Greece, you were…

Omnia tempus habent: a delightful medieval rhyming calendar | December ~ And at Christemasse I drinke red wine

Omnia tempus habent: a delightful medieval rhyming calendar

Omnia tempus habent - All things have their season. Ecclesiastes Here is a medieval rhyming calendar depicting the labours of the months in the fields, designing in rhyming couplets dating from 14th century England. And yes the mis-spelling of the words is intentional. This is how it was spelt in Old English of medieval times.…

Celestial ceilings and soaring skies in Poland

The quirky meander through the origins of language in the Polish calendar

With a few exceptions that are Latin, the Polish month names of the year take more from the Pagan world of seasonal changes, rather than from the Latin calendar that we all know and use in English. What's even more interesting is that even though Poland is historically a Catholic country, they chose to distance…

Every Picture Tells a Story: Conil De La Frontera, Andalucia

Travel: The ancient moorish town of Conil De La Frontera, Andalucia

At least 7 years ago now, I WWOOFED in Andalucia, helping out with cleaning and cooking at an Andalucian B&B villa just outside of Vejer De La Frontera.The work was far from easy although I did happen to live in a mountainside cabin (cheap fibro, but yet still my own for a wee while). I loved the location and the cabin.

Ancient word of the day: hedgehog

Ancient word of the day: Hedgehog

The ancient word for today is hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus. In the Middle Ages, writers didn't make reference to hedgehogs, but to urchins. A term still favoured in some English dialects. It's also associated with the sea urchin, which is literally a sea hedgehog. The word urchin came over to England with the Norman invasion and…

Pagan Date: Samhain

Pagan Date: Samhain

In the southern hemisphere, today we celebrate the pagan new year or Samhain. This ancient gaelic word means Summer's End.  On this date it's a good time to reflect on and honour those that have come before us. It's also a time to release anything that no longer serves you.  Samhain Incantation for ancestors  This…

Pygmy marmoset. Warsaw Zoo Copyright Content Catnip 2019

Travel: The sensitive faces of animals in Warsaw Zoo

Something unexpected happened to me in Warsaw Zoo today. Instead of enjoying myself seeing all the animals I felt really sad. Why? Because they came across through my camera lens as being full of emotion, sensitivity and immense intelligence. I connected with them and their pain in the same way I would if I looked…

The challenge of ruling a diverse nation never changes

The challenge of ruling a diverse nation never changes

This very weighty and important subject is as relevant right now as it was in the 16th Century. That was when a Dutch engraving by artist Pieter van der Borcht the Elder managed to capture the complexity and challenging nature of geopolitics and ruling in a country with many different ideologies and in the midst…