Book Review: Flights by Olga Tokarczuk

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Genre: Fiction, essay, creative non-fiction, travel. Publisher: Text Publishing Rating: Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk won the Man Booker International Prize for this novel in 2018 along with a Nike Award, Poland’s highest literary honour. Tokarczuk is a thrilling and exhilarating writer who effortlessly criss-crosses genres and conventions, Flight is part…

The Pros and Cons of Moving to Aotearoa New Zealand 2021 Edition

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Every country has its shadow side, dark secrets, embarrassing problems and PR nightmares that governments attempt to sweep under the rug and hush-up. Here are New Zealand’s. I’m doing this so that people who have this idealised, naïve view of New Zealand as some sort of Utopia actually come here knowing what to really expect,…

Captain Seeks a Sea-Going Cat to Sign on for a Trip Around the World, New York Times (1922)

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Captain Edwin Dyason, master of the freighter Woodfield will welcome any ablebodied seafaring cat wishing to join the crew of his vessel, sailing today for Manila and China. "We missed the ship's cat shortly after we put into port here," said the Captain. "Her name was Cleopatra. She joined on in Fremantle, Australia and did…

Words and Music: Stases & Neist Point on the Isle of Skye

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_b6h4hYBSgM [I will write a poem about a place that I've been each week with music to match] Neist Point on the Isle of Skye Swirling batons of time Erasing thoughts and hushing life and death On a clear day you can see all the way to Iceland it's said In any case there to…

10 uplifting and quirky things I found on the internet this week #15

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A Love Letter to my dog by Leena Henningsen Empath and spiritual seeker Leena Henningsen's videos all have a cosy, gentle and inspirational vibe. She moved from the stressful bustle of Hamburg to rural Norway along with her beloved dog Aivy and her partner. In this intimate and moving short film she talks about why…

Content Catnip TV: Team Lab Borderless, Tokyo

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TeamLab Borderless in Tokyo is a remarkable audio-visual attraction in Tokyo and a must-see in the city if you ever visit. It's on expansive, harbour-facing area of Odaiba which is encircled by the very scenic train ride, along with excellent shopping centre Diver City, which features a showcase level of award-winning ramen restaurants from throughout…

Travel: A History of the Beautiful Highland Cow

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Highland Cows or as they are commonly known in Scotland Highland Coos are an ancient breed known to have grazed the rugged Scottish landscape since the sixth century. Their genetic origins are still up for debate. They may be native to Scotland or introduced by the Vikings to Great Britain. One scientific train of thought…

Travel: Among the Irish Faeries and Norse Gods

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Many years ago, I went hiking in Ireland in Glendalough I saw some magical landscapes. Ireland has a beautiful soft light in the summer. The diffused sunlight is speckled with clouds that pass over the vast valleys and mountain-sides. It's possible to sit there all day and just watch the way the light travels over…

Ancient word of the day: Apricity

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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…

Book Review: The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann

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*No spoilers Recently translated into English from German, The Pine Islands tells the story of Gilbert Silvester, a stuffy middle-aged lecturer in Germany. His area of academic specialisation is beard fashions in film. One day he finds out his wife is cheating on him (or so he believes, we never discover the truth). So he…

10 Uplifting Things I Found on the Internet This Week #8

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Here are some randomisities both old and new that I found this week and wanted to share with you. Take 1 or two with a cup of tea and a few buttered scones and have a good lie down if you want to have a break from the world for a while. 1. In the…

10 Uplifting things I found on the internet this week #7

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1. Moons of Nirn: A 90 minute atmospheric ambient mix An epic and transporting mix of emotional ambient music, along with stunning footage of the Aurora Borealis. This makes for an awe-inspiring background soundtrack to the rest of my top ten. https://youtu.be/U9Phu1vCUVE 2. Wycrow: Finding Stillness Inspiring fellow blogger Wycrow talks about how to find…

Travel: Napier’s remote beaches and wineries by bike

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Napier is one of the sunniest and most lovely places in New Zealand. The Bear and I love to explore this region on a regular basis by bike, the area is almost completely flat. The wide open spaces seem to stretch out forever. Although the ocean is tumultuous and not safe for swimming, there is…

Travel: Oeshiki Festival of Light, Ikegami Tokyo

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Oeskiki is an annual buddhist festival held on the 13th of October that commemorates the death of Nichiren in 1282. He was a revered buddhist teacher who lived during the Kamakura period, about 700 years ago. Although celebrated throughout Japan, the main Oeshiki festival is held at Ikegami Honmonji Temple located in the Ota ward…

Book Review: The Romantic Italian Nights and Days by Kate Holden

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Kate Holden is the Australian author of the amazing memoir In This Skin. The Romantic is a follow-up to this memoir. A bit about Kate Holden, she’s a woman from Melbourne who grew up in a respectable middle-class family. She then broke away from her stable family life and became a heroin addict and a…

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

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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…

The richness of lovers and tribes

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“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I…

Dissapearing into the desert

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“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…

Book Review: In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate the World by Simon Garfield

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Are you fascinated and delighted by small things? Then I’ve found the ultimate book for you. In Miniature: How Small Things Illuminate the World by Simon Garfield. Each chapter delves into a miniature world of its own and there is only a tenuous connection between them, but no matter. All is forgiven because learning all…

You have sprung from soil in which you are a stranger

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Purple dusk in Chefchaouen A palm tree stands in the middle of Rusafa, Born in the west, far from the land of palms. I said to it: How like me you are, far away and in exile, In long separation from family and friends. You have sprung from soil in which you are a stranger;…

Welcome to Starlink Express brought to you by Elon Musk!

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It turns out that Wellington CBD and Mount Victoria close to where I live is prime viewing for the Tesla Starlink Satellites as they cruise through the sky after dark. Starlink taken from the top of Mt Victoria Blink and you'll miss it though. It's all over in about 2 minutes. They rocket past in…

Travel: Wellington’s Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

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Despite all of the media beat-up around Corona Virus, the Lantern Festival to celebrate Chinese New Year went ahead on Wellington's waterfront the other night. It was really beautiful, bustling full of people and one of those sacred and special Wellington evenings where there was virtually no wind and all was peaceful, balmy and summery.…

Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Japan Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer

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Time magazine journalist and author Pico Iyer has lived in Nara (land of the rabid deer) in Japan for the past 30 years. In this book, Iyer follows his instincts to uncover the depths of the Japanese psyche, Japanese soul and character. This is fascinating to me because I am (in case you didn’t know)…

The Enlightenment of Everyday Objects

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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…

Japan’s 72 gossamer-light and poetic microseasons

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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…

Ancient Word of the Day: Grimmelings

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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”:…

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

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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…

Kyoto river boat ride adventure by Content Catnip TV

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Arashiyama is a charming little town just on the outskirts of Kyoto that features a lot of highly regarded UNESCO Heritage sites such as the Kinkaku-Ji temple. Although we found that surprisingly the most enjoyable activity was simply floating along the river in an old wooden boat and being guided by two funny guys, along…