The Set of the Sails (1949)

Rating: ★★★★★

I like brand new, shiny books as much as anyone. But every now and again an old, scruffy paperback a minute away from the rubbish bin proves to be a real gem. Such was ‘The Set of the Sails, the 1949 autobiography of Alan Villiers (1903- 1982).

    The Set of the Sails (Pan paperback-condition as found)
The Set of the Sails (Pan paperback-condition as found)

Alan Villiers was the second son of Australian poet and union leader Leon Villiers. The young Villiers grew up on the docks watching the merchant ships come in and out of the Port of Melbourne and longed for the day on which he too could sail out to sea. Continue reading The Set of the Sails (1949)

Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer (2013)

Rating: ★★★★★

Råstam had one question for Sweden’s most abominable serial killer. And the answer turned out to be far more terrifying than the man himself . . .

Thomas Quick

Walter Mitty Syndrome  is a phrase occasionally used by psychiatrists and others in describing a person who prefers a fantasy world to reality, particularly if others consider him a failure, but when the potential for real harm results from his behaviour, it becomes a whole lot more sinister than the fictional stories.

“The desire to want to be somebody important without expending any effort, or making up stories to get attention is actually fairly common,” says Dr Colin Gill, a psychologist and expert on the nature of identity. “Of course, we only hear of high-profile cases such as these, when people get caught out. I suspect there may well be thousands of people telling these kinds of lies or leading double lives.”

Continue reading Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer (2013)

Dating Israel’s first Camels

Radio-carbon dating of camel bones discovered in the Arava Valley has challenged Biblical accuracy, that is, according to reports based on an article published in Tel Aviv the journal of Tel Aviv University‘s  Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures. In recent weeks, this has, as might be expected, attracted media attention.

 Arabian camels

The claim is also made that this anachronism is direct proof that the texts were compiled perhaps centuries after the events described..

Continue reading Dating Israel’s first Camels

The Marine Baths, Aberystwyth

During the tidal storm of 3rd and 4th January 2014, a breach in the front of the sea wall below the Bathrock shelter revealed the remains of basement walls relating to a historic bath house.

The Marine Baths were built in 1810 by Doctor Rice Williams at the north end of Marine Terrace. By this time salt water bathing had acquired a reputation for curing a wealth of medical ills, and bath-houses were being built for those who did not want to or could not brave the open sea.


Within the bastion of the promenade wall, the remains of basement walls belonging to the Marine Baths have been revealed. Cast-iron pipes ran far out into Cardigan Bay to ensure a supply of clean and sand-free saline water. Basement boilers heated the water for those wanting baths of a less invigorating nature.

Continue reading The Marine Baths, Aberystwyth

Guédelon dreams of the 13th century

Guédelon: A Castle in the Making (2011) by Maryline Martin & Florian Renucci
1299785501_DR Guedelon vue generale 2 (2)

In Yonne, Burgundy, a unique construction site is creating a genuine fortified chateau of yesteryear. Starting in 1997, completion date is scheduled for 2022. At first sight, the men are grinning, and completely crazy. Dressed in authentic homespun clothing, and working in a quarry in the depths of the dense forest, this could be a film-set, but they are recreating the year 1246, in the reign of Louis IX of France.
This outstanding ‘Living History’ project was inspired by Michel Guyot, who owns the nearby Chateau de Saint-Fargeau, and had the idea of building a 13th-century style fortress following the discovery that the 15th-century red bricks of his castle obscured the stone walls of a much older stronghold.

Continue reading Guédelon dreams of the 13th century

Did the Ancient Carthaginians sacrifice their new-born children?

Contary to some revisionist historians and Bible critics, but just as ancient Greek and Roman writers insisted, and incidentally supporting Biblical descriptions of Canaanite practices, the Carthaginians did kill their own infant children, burying them with sacrificed animals and ritual inscriptions in special cemeteries to give thanks for favours from their gods, according to a new study.

Part of the Carthaginian infant cemetery (Tophet)
Part of the Carthaginian infant cemetery (Tophet)

Continue reading Did the Ancient Carthaginians sacrifice their new-born children?

Primate and Prejudice

Have you ever thought that in some ways prejudice, like beauty, is only skin deep?

During the filming of the science-fiction cult classic Planet of the Apes  in 1967, lead actor Charlton Heston noted “an instinctive segregation on the set. Not only would the apes eat together, but the chimpanzees ate with the chimpanzees, the gorillas ate with the gorillas, the orangutans ate with the orangutans, and the humans would eat off by themselves. It was quite spooky.” 

Planet of the Apes Continue reading Primate and Prejudice

Jinze Rainbow Bridge, Shanghai

Rainbow bridge, Jinze, Shanghai

Countless items that we take for granted in modern life originated in ancient China, from paper and printing, silk to gunpowder, kites, and sophisticated medicine and surgery. However, the Chinese exhibited their greatest skill and ingenuity in the creation of tens of thousands of bridges that were vital in unifying their diverse land. Two thousand years ago, their architects developed iron suspension bridges and daring arch designs that had no rivals in the West until the coming of the industrial age. Whether spanning a yawning gorge or crossing a placid canal, they were masters at integrating function and aesthetics in their bridge construction… Continue reading Jinze Rainbow Bridge, Shanghai

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty- 2013 Movie

Rating: ★★★★★

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a fantastical action-comedy about an ordinary man with an extremely active imagination.

"Living the Dream"
“Living the Dream”

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This well-known and beloved tale, published in 1939, has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies…

Continue reading The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty- 2013 Movie