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…

Book Review: Life in a Medieval Castle

Book Review: Life in a Medieval Castle by Frances and Joseph Gies

Life in a Medieval Castle is one of a series of compelling historical reference books written by acclaimed husband and wife historians Frances and Joseph Gies in the 1970's. Life in a Medieval Castle (along with companion books Life in a Medieval Village and Life in a Medival City) were re-released in 205 under the weight…

Every Picture Tells a Story: A brief and enchanting history of Australian milk bars

A brief and enchanting history of Australian milk bars

Originally the concept of the milk bar in America was also a spin-off from the ever-popular apotheke-style pharmacists who dispensed medicines and often refreshing milk-infused tinctures to waiting customers. The customers often milled around or sat on bar stools at a long galley-style counter top. Originally, the pharmacists mixed the medicine with their backs turned…

Abandoned Desert Buildings On Creepy Lunar Landscapes

Abandoned Desert Buildings On Creepy Lunar Landscapes

These photos by Ed Freeman all elicit a deep sense of alienation and a weird sort of fascination. They underline questions that we want answered. What happened here? Who lived here? How did these places fall into disrepair? Through the atrophy of the material world we can get this uncomfortable sense that we're all destined for…

Welcome to the most remote island in the world...Bouvetøya

Welcome to the most remote island in the world…Bouvetøya

Bouvetøya, also known as Bouvet Island is definitely a contender for the most remote place in the world. I discovered Bouvetøya via an excellent Tumblr with the understated title of Map Design. This is a treasure trove of cartography. Another is the seminal book The Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky.  This is a…

Historic Jukebox: Henry David Thoreau & Fleet Foxes http://wp.me/p41CQf-9V

Thirty great medieval epithets for people and beasts

Why do we say a gaggle of geese, a flock of sheep, a pride of lions or a swarm of bees? Well it harks back to medieval times when sportsmen grouped together collectives of beasties to refer to them in movement or attributing a quality to them - presumably while the poor creatures ran away…

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…

Scotland's Momentous Decision on September 18th

Travel: A Survival Guide to Edinburgh Slang and Scots Words

If you ever go to Edinburgh and find yourself in one of its countless excellent pubs, you may want to strike up a conversation with one of the grave looking, old guys at the bar drinking pints. If so, you will want to be able to hold a conversation while also not making a fanny…

Here be the Viking Hoard: The Mystery of the Lewis Chessmen http://wp.me/p41CQf-ItW

Here be the Viking Hoard: The Mystery of the Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen were likely to have been made in Trondheim in Norway from walrus ivory. This kind of bone was hard to come across at the time (1150-1200 A.D), as it required hunting during a brief window of time per year in the Arctic Circle, using primitive hunting tools of the time and in…

Try out these scintillating, interactive Gustav Klimt paintings

Push the slider from left to right to see the Klimt paintings come alive... View slider Inge Prader is the photographer responsible for this highly stylised and sensual ensemble of beautiful models languidly posing in such scintillating and baroque surroundings. Inge has perfectly paid tribute to Klimt's legendary works. View slider View slider The occasion for…

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…

Helen Keller's Fierce Friendships and Bold Legacy

Helen Keller’s Fierce Friendships and Bold Legacy

Helen Keller was not just some blind lass from the last century. She was a fierce socialist, pacifist, author and sufragette who believed in birth control, workers rights and women's rights. The first blind person to complete a Bachelor's Degree, she was a bold trailblazer with a sweet nature. Keller won hearts all over the…

Book Review: In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Book Review: In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park has to be the bravest girl/woman in the world. She was born in the North Korean city of Hyesan which is separated by a river to the Chinese border and at the age of 13, she boldly and bravely managed to escape from there and gain her freedom. Yeonmi Park’s autobiography written at the…

Ancient Australian Megafauna: Diprotodon optatum

Ancient Australian Megafauna: Diprotodon optatum

Diprotodon optatum was the largest marsupial to ever roam Australia, weighing over two tonnes. We rarely find its whole skeleton preserved in caves because it's sheer size prevented it from falling through crevices into the oblivion. Although phylogenetically Diprotodon optatum was closely related to the extant wombat and koala, in terms of its physiology in appearance it…

Day out in Wellington: The Terracotta Warriors at Te Papa Museum Copyright © Content Catnip https://youtu.be/qzl3CWQaXxM

Day out in Wellington: The Terracotta Warriors at Te Papa Museum

The first week that we moved to Wellington we went to see Te Papa Museum's landmark exhibition: Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality. Enshrined in darkness and dim light, the exhibition feels like being submerged into the underworld. The exhibition offers you a rare opportunity to have an intimate and immersive encounter with remarkable treasures from…

Ancient Australian megafauna: Procoptodon goliah

I don't know about you, but large Australian mammals and marsupials have got a special place in my heart. However of all of the large beasties to have lurched around in Terra Nullus I am most besotted with animals that have long ago passed into the dusts of yesteryear such as the behemoth 200 kilo…

Book Review: She Rises by Kate Worsley

Book Review: She Rises by Kate Worsley

*Contains no spoilers. She Rises is an erotic, sea-faring adventure by debut novelist Kate Worsley. Under the tutelage of mentor and maven of the historical novel Sarah Waters, Kate Worsley has created a beautifully sculpted jewel of a novel set in an Essex fishing village in 1740. A word to the wise, the book is…

Ginkaku-Ji temple gardens, Kyoto © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.co

Ancient word of the day: Apricity

Apricity was a term originally coined by English lexicographer Henry Cockeram to denote the "the warmeness of the Sunne in Winter". This photo I took during a particularly chilling end of autumn day in Japan in Ginkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto. Note how the sun falls in cascades of enveloping warmth onto the golden tinged leaves. Apricity…

Poetry and music from the film 'Wings of Desire' (Der Himmel uber Berlin)

Poetry and music from the film ‘Wings of Desire’ (Der Himmel uber Berlin)

One of my favourite films of all time is the Wim Wenders film The Wings of Desire known in German as Der Himmel uber Berlin. It won the Best Film at Cannes in 1987. Some of the magic  of this film comes from the music (Nick Cave, U2), the acting (Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin) and…