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…

Book Review: Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Hariri

Most people are either not aware or don't care that the most pressing and revolutionary change in our world is right on our doorstep. The advance and rise of the machines. This is a book that tells the story of what happens next with the human species based on what came before and the technological…

Ten Great 'Old Man' Insults

Top Ten Greatest Old Man Insults

Put the kettle on and start eating some water crackers with lard on them. Just to get in the mood for this one... Nincompoop: Is said to come from the Latin legal and medical term Non Compos Mentis meaning 'not of sound mind'. This evolved into nincompoop meaning a stupid or dumb person. Flibbertigibbet: A flighty…

The Most Exquisite Tiny Books in the World

For all of the bookworms, here are some of the most exquisitely rendered miniature books in the world. As a warm up, here's a picture of the bombed-out Holland House library in London during WW2. The message was loud and clear. Readers won't be perturbed from doing what they love, no matter what else is…

Intricate and endearing chirimen crafts in Kyoto

Intricate and endearing chirimen crafts in Kyoto

What is Chirimen? Chirimen is a beautiful and intricate weaving technique that was developed in the late 16th century in Japan. Silk is folded to generate soft wrinkles in a technique called chirimen. According to a pamphlet I picked up from the Chirimen Craft Museum in Arashiyama, “the wrinkles are created by alternating two types…

The beautiful poetry of the Maori/Polynesian Star Compass - Atea a Rangi

Atea a Rangi: Star Maps of the Maori and Pacific Peoples

In the past, I've written about Maori sea navigation by the stars and the legend of Matariki. Although nothing prepared me for the utterly beautiful Maori star compass which has been carved and placed on a remote and wild beach in the Hawkes Bay, between Hastings and Napier. The Star Compass - Atea a Rangi…

Five rare and awe-inspiring mountain and river maps

Five rare and awe-inspiring mountain and river maps

When it comes to design - the Victorians did it better. Nothing quite matches these 19th Century comparative river and mountain maps for exquisite hand-drawn detail, meticulous scale and luminous beauty. It makes me wonder, how can anyone not love old maps? A New Cartographic Convention One of the forerunners for this kind of map…

Five Summer Must-Dos On The Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne

Travel: Lazy summer weekend ideas on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula

Only got a weekend in Melbourne, but want to experience the best of an Aussie summer? The Mornington Peninsula is where to go. This is where the locals flock for the best beaches and laid back holiday vibe.  Located in the south east of Melbourne, it's my original stomping ground and so I know it…

B4-XVI: Why Renaissance Art and Rappers Are Cut From The Same Cloth

Renaissance Art/Rapper Mashup

In the past I've showcased Scorpion Dagger's Renaissance era GIFs. This takes the classical art mash-up one step further with hilarious results. B4 XVI (Before Sixteen) explores the often overlooked visual and cultural similarities between hip hop poseurs and medieval aristocrats. Hey it's all got to be referenced from somewhere, right? One from the deep…

Ancient word of the day: Thalassophile

Ancient word of the day: Thalassophile

A thalassophile is a lover of the sea or someone who is powerfully drawn to and by the ocean. This ancient word comes from the Ancient Greek θάλασσα (thálassa, “sea”), and φίλος (phílos, “dear, beloved”). I took this photo on Enoshima Island in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan back in early October last year. As the sun…

Book Review: The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Book Review: The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Robert Greene has written best-selling books on seduction, power, war, self-mastery and now knowledge. Although the sum and total of his output of books gives the wrong impression about the man. He’s not an evil and Machiavellian type jockeying for power – rather his books are about understanding the lesser-known shadowy parts of ourselves to…

Travel: Eileann Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

Travel: A visit to Eileann Donan Castle

Eileann Donan Castle is near the Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. I went there once in winter and once at the end of autumn. This place is steeped in ancient mystery, wonder and a sense of the densely lived past. When peering over the loch and the pristine quiet wilderness, you are peering into the deep…

Bas-relief depicting a banquet in the palace of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal

Cooking 4,000 year old Babylonian recipes, how do they taste?

This is one for all the history nerds out and anybody who likes cooking and eating, which probably means you. When you try to recreate an ancient recipe, you may end up with a stinking cesspool of inedible muck or a culinary wonder. Two very famous US universities Harvard and Yale collaborated together to cook…

Explore the cosiest bothies in the Scottish highlands

Explore the cosiest bothies in the Scottish highlands

The Lookout Bothy, Rubha Hunish in Trotternish on the Isle of Skye.   There's something uniquely Scottish about bothys.  These tiny mountain shacks are normally found in remote parts of the Scottish highlands and islands. They can be found in all kinds of conditions - some with running water and a fireplace and even electricity! Other's…

An Exquisite Model Book of Calligraphy, 1560

An Exquisite Model Book of Calligraphy, 1560

Have a look at the exquisite pages in Mira calligraphiae monumenta or the Model Book of Calligraphy, which was crafted by Croatian-born mastercraftsman Georg Bocskay, and Flemish artist Joris Hoefnagel. This is a real work of art and shows beautiful attention to detail with the gold leaf writing and sublime illustrations of flowers, insects and…

Wild woman quote: Strength

Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a Jungian analyst and a Doctor of Ethno-clinical psychology. Her book Women Who Run with the Wolves is a dense and fascinating foray into the myths and wonders of oral storytelling throughout history. It's a book that makes you more playful, affectionate, joyful and more authentically joyful in every way. Pinkola-Estes…

Book Review: The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Book Review: The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore

"It was hard to be a tsar. Russia is not an easy country to rule. Twenty sovereigns of the Romanov dynasty reigned for 304 years, from 1613 until tsardom's destruction. by the revolution in 1917" The Romanovs were actually the most spectacularly successful empire builders since the Mongols" , So begins an epic 300 year…