Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal

The Empty Boat by Chuang Tzu

He who rules men lives in confusion;He who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.Yao therefore desiredNeither to influence othersNor to be influenced by them.The way to get clear of confusionAnd free of sorrowIs to live with TaoIn the land of the great Void. Chuang Tzu (300 B.C.) Water of Leith at dusk, Edinburgh. Copyright…

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An Arcadian Idyll by Georges Auguste Elie Laverne (1863-1942). An arcadian idyll with Pan playing pipes and nymphs reclining. The triptych was found on wooden panelling in an apartment in Paris built in 1895.

Ancient words of the day: Arcadian Idyll

Arcadian Idyll: an idealised vision about rural life, a country paradise. Arcadia was and still is, a mountainous region in Greece. It was populated mainly by shepherds and the sleepy and fluffy flocks of sheep. In reality, rural life in Arcadia was harsh, poor and beholden to the ravages of unpredictable weather.    Arcadian Idyll…

Book Review: Awaken in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-discovery by Mark Coleman

Book Review: Awaken in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-discovery by Mark Coleman

Awaken in the Wild is a really great introductory book about the connection between mindfulness and the natural world. Published in 2006, it feels before its time in terms of the themes of overstimulation from technology and mindfulness. There are around 40 brief and themed sections in the book, with a short lesson and then…

Book Review: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Book Review: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a collection of loosely related essays that expand upon the idea of wandering, being lost and our human sense of the unknown. The essays are insightful, vivid and at times slow-moving. This is a mosaic of cultural history, autobiography, nature writing and artistic criticism that roves far and…

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Weatherland by Alexandra Harris is a sweeping panorama and magic carpet ride through the history of England using a quirky weathervane to measure the changing culture - the weather. Author Alexandra Harris’ debut book won The Guardian’s Book of the Year. It’s no surprise either because this is a far-reaching, expansive book written in an…

Purple dusk in Chefchaouen. Donkey in Chefchaoen. Copyright © Content Catnip 2009 www.contentcatnip.com

Dissapearing into the desert

“The desert could not be claimed or owned–it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names... Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished…

Unusual augurs of thunder in ancient times

Unusual augurs of thunder in medieval England

In times of yore ( yore occurring around 1389) the appearance of thunder was a mixed bag. Thunder during January augured bumper crops, along with war when it crackled over the sky. However, thunder in December heralded abundant fruit trees, provisions and harmony among people. Harry the Hayward's Thunder Prognostication Chart (1389) Harry the Hayward's…

Book Review: The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson

Book Review: The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings takes its cue from medieval bestiaries. Author and playful intellectual Caspar Henderson sets out to write a modern compendium of beasts, and show, in the process, that truth is a lot weirder than fiction. Forget about dragons, cyclops and faeries, the world of extant species such as the thorny devil, nautilus and puffer fish are enough to inspire wonder.

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.…

Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness by Mark Rowlands

Book Review: The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness by Mark Rowlands

Every person who loves animals will enjoy this book. Humans are drawn to the silence of animals, the way they physically express their personality through movement and body language, rather than words. The way that they intuit us so deeply and feel what we feel so keenly. The mystical and invisible velvet rope that connects us to animals is sacred to many people.

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

The last gasp of Victorian spirituality infused cutting-edge science with old-school mysticism. Theosophy was all the rage; Many weird and and wonderful ideas being developed at the turn of the century around death, ghosts, the fourth dimension filled the Victorians with a palpable sense of possibility.

Hidden shinto shrine in Kyoto Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

The Enlightenment of Everyday Objects

In ancient Japanese tradition, when a treasured household item reaches the end of usefulness, it is given the proper funerary send off that it deserves. This unusual ritual harks back to two ancient philosophies. The Shinto Animist philosophy that all things alive or otherwise have a soul. And the Nichiren Buddhist philosophy that when a…

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

Ancient Word of the Day: Kawaakari

Kawaakari (Japanese) The glow of a river or stream in darkness or dusk, the gleaming surface of a shadowed river (Japanese 川明かり). Kawaakari can refer to the reflection of the moonlight off flowing water, or the gleam of late sun at dusk. Obumbro (Latin) To shadow over and over: to make dark with shadow; to…

The Enlightenment of Everyday Objects

Japan’s 72 gossamer-light and poetic microseasons

The traditional seasons in Japan are marked out by impercetibly small changes in nature across 72 miniature seasons in a year, each lasting 5 days and reflecting the fleeting, impermanent and diaphanous beauty of nature and all of its wonders. There are 24 divisions or sekki in the calendar that are split into 72 kō…

Seven Tips for Writing Top Notch Travel Articles http://wp.me/p41CQf-5h

Ancient Word of the Day: Grimmelings

Although similar to the gloaming, grimmelings is a slightly different natural phenomenon at both ends of the rotating sun's traverse across the sky. Grimmelings - The first or last gleams of the day (Scots, esp. Orkney). From the Norwegian "grimla", to glimmer before the eyes, to twinkle or blink. Also "grimlins". Or “the harlot’s hour”:…