Travel: A roadtrip through the remote Eastern Cape, New Zealand

People seldom visit the Eastern Cape of the North Island because of its complete isolation from the rest of the country’s bustling travel routes. It’s quiet in terms of other cars – there are none, except for the occasional local farmer and logging truck ferrying wood from forests to the port in Gisborne.  It’s an…

Pagan date: Winter solistice

Pagan date: Winter solistice

Today is winter solistice in the southern hemisphere. This is a time of rebirth and a triumph of life over death. It's a reflection and renewal.  Winter solistice  Incantations Tonight is the night of the Solstice,the longest night of the year.As the Wheel turns once more, I know thattomorrow, the Sun will begin its journey…

Behold the tui: seductive songstress of the shaky isles

Behold the tui: seductive songstress of the shaky isles

Behold the tui. Songstress with the most gorgeous cadence and sonorous sonata, native latter day dinosaur of the shaky isles. Every throat gargle and warbling melodious titter could be experienced so much clear when viewed through the lens of our new camera. This little beauty was in our garden the other day crying out to…

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…

What Montaigne And Deep Sea Aliens Teach Us About Humanity

Philosopher Michel de Montaigne lived in a time (the 16th century) when nobody batted an eyelid at the ritual murder and wholesale destruction of people, natural environments and cultures – let alone animals. Yet he was shocked and disgusted at these horrors. He was undoubtedly a kind and gentle man. An anomaly for his time.…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…