Reave A long and low boundary wall or bank, found especially on Dartmoor and in Devon, mostly now sunk back into the landscape. Also, as a verb, to tear, split, divide or cleave. Rof/rifa An Icelandic word meaning to rip or tear something. Rof á landi refers to the rupture of the top soils of…

A view along the Kamo River, Kyoto

Travel: Cycling adventures along the Kamo river, Kyoto

Cycling alongside calming bodies of water is one thing in life that I adore. In the past I've cycled along the Odra in Wroclaw, Poland, Tamaki Drive in Auckland and along the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, along with many other places. However the Kamo River in Kyoto tops them all. The Kamo river has a flat…

Koi fish vying for food in Kyoto by Content Catnip

Four weird unexpected things to love about Japan

Last week I came back from a three week holiday in Japan. And so here are four weird and off-the-wall unexpected surprises about Japan that you most likely don't know about yet. 1. Requiem for a washlet Washlets are one of the unexpected delights of going to Japan. The Japanese washlet is a technological marvel…

The terrace houses of Sevilla, Spain

Travel: The Beautiful Terrace Windows of Triana, Sevilla

Back in 2010 during a particularly sweltering summer, I visited Andalucia and soaked in the beautiful architecture in Sevilla. The best way to see all of the charming neighbourhoods and historic monuments was going the tourist routes with an open-top bus. This also afforded me excellent views onto all of the terrace houses with their…

Among the Irish Faeries and Norse Gods

Travel: Among the Irish Faeries and Norse Gods

When I was 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 the trees,…

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Looking like a cross between a surreal computer game and an alien planet, Socotra is a relatively unexplored and remote island off the coast of Arabian Peninsula. It's a sparkling diamond of natural diversity and rugged wildness, with over 700 endemic species of flora and fauna. Only a small number of countries have more endemic…

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal From Berlin

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal Of Berlin Zoo

Roland was a goliath 4,000 pound sea elephant (A.K.A an Elephant Seal Mirunga patagonica. He lived in Berlin Zoo from the late 1920's until his death during the second world war. Here he is getting a snow bath from his handler at the Berlin Zoo (date unknown) In this film you can see his large…

What do the longest living people in the world have in common?

Ancient Word of the Day: Rema

Rema (Shetland Scots) The mirror-calm surface of the sea on a calm day. A body of water with a surface as smooth as cream. Comes from the Scots word "reyme", meaning "cream"). Rjómalogn (Icelandic) Cream-calm, used to denote  profoundly tranquil weather or sea. Arafin (Welsh) Calm or slow weather in Welsh. blikkstille./ blekkstille (Norwegian) A…

A placid and beautiful Highland Cow, found roaming on the Isle of Skye. Copyright Content Catnip 2010.

Travel: A History of the Beautiful Highland Cow

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…

Tui - Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

The ultimate guide to collective nouns for New Zealand birds

This post is for all of the New Zealand and global bird-lovers out there. New Zealand has some wonderful and incredibly intelligent birds that also tend to have rambuctious, mischievous and cheeky personalities. Check out this video of a kea being, well... a kea if you don't believe me... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxoCuRuHlt8 Here are some little known…

Travel: Magnificent Milford Sound, New Zealand Copyright Content Catnip 2016

Travel: Magnificent Milford Sound, New Zealand

A few years ago we went to Central Otago on a trip. It really was a magical time away, At that stage we both had highly stressful jobs and we were really needing to get away from everything. Probably one of the best places in the world to blow the cobwebs out of your world…

On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!– I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest. In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!– In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest. In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me,…

Roadtrip on the Isle of Skye. Gloaming sky

Travel: The ruins of Duntulm Castle on Trotternish

I visited Duntulm on the northerly most point of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye back in 2010. Many many moons ago, perhaps several thousand years ago, the now mostly ravaged and ruined castle was originally a Pictish fortress, forming one of a chain of duns or forts stretching along the north coast…

Travel: Exploring Ancient Kidwelly Castle in Wales

Travel: Exploring Ancient Kidwelly Castle in Wales

About ten years ago I visited Carmarthenshire, Wales and discovered the ruins of Kidwelly Castle with a friend and fellow couch-surfer. It was a delightful and fascinating day, full of overcast grey weather, souvenirs, bara brith, Welsh rarebit and early medieval history. Perched close to the wind-swept seaside and encircled by beautiful lapwings, ducks and…

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”:…

Eerie and Glorious Fake Cities Left Empty in China

Eerie and Glorious Fake Cities Left Empty in China

“Entire townships and villages appear to have been airlifted from their historical and geographical foundations in England, France, Greece, the United States, and Canada and spot-welded to the margins of Chinese cities,” according to Bianca Bosker, author of Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China. Tianducheng:  A Fake Parisian Wonder Originally conceived as an homage…

When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet; As market days are wearing late, And folk begin to tak the gate, While we sit bousing at the nappy, An' getting fou and unco happy, We think na on the lang Scots miles, The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles, That lie between us and our hame, Where sits our sulky, sullen dame, Gathering her…

It is the time when crimson stars Weary of heaven’s cold delight, And take, like petals from a rose, Their soft and hesitating flight Upon the cool wings of the air Across the purple night. It is the time when silver sails Go drifting down the violet sea, And every poppy’s crimson mouth Kisses to…

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat held for it by a row of ancient trees; you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight, one journeying to heaven, one that falls; and leave you, not at home in either one, not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses, not calling…

Book Review: Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer

Book Review: Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer

In this travel memoir by novelist Geoff Dyer  I read this book waiting to be immersed into the world of the travel. Although sadly I found the result rather disappointing to be honest. He is a great writer don’t get me wrong - I loved his novel Paris, Trance in the past. This was a…