Gnomesville: an unusual roadside community of thousands of garden gnomes

In the Ferguson Valley of country Western Australia there lives a thriving community of gnomes, in a gnome village called Gnomesville. And no. I’m not joking. Garden gnomes are a classic symbol of kitschy yard decorations around the world, but most people are content to have just a couple of the little creatures living in their yards. But Gnomesville, a collection of thousands of the weird little statuettes set up on a roundabout, is definitely something different. The community of silent gnomes actually began as a whimsical protest some 20…

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The secret history of Closeburn Castle, one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Scotland~

Closeburn Castle is a tower house and one of the oldest continually inhabited buildings in Scotland. It is located 1 km east of the village of Closeburn, in the historical county of Dumfriesshire. The lands were granted to the Kirkpatrick family back in 1232, with the likelihood that the ancient fortalice was built thereafter. The tower house was probably built in the late 14th century, although some sources give a date as early as 1180 or as late as 1420. In any case, everything about the building was designed for…

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Medb’s Cairn: the grave of a mythological Irish queen?

Perched atop the monolithic Irish hill Knocknarea west of Sligo town, lies Medb’s Cairn, in Irish Miosgán Médhbh, a 5,000 year old burial mound, even though no one is quite sure whose it is. It is about 55 metres wide and 10 metres high, making it the largest cairn in Ireland outside the Brú na Bóinne complex in Meath. It is believed to date to around 3000 BCE, and it is a protected National Monument. In recent years, archaeologists have warned that the ancient cairn is being eroded by hikers…

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Dujiangyan Zhongshuge: a surreal bookstore that look like endless in China

For a book lover, stepping into a bookstore is always exciting, but a bookstore in China makes the experience absolutely amazing. Dujiangyan Zhongshuge, a bookstore in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, relies on strategically placed mirrors and gleaming black tile floor to create a stunning illusion that makes the place look like an endless bookworm’s paradise. The roughly 3,200-square-meters bookshop was designed by Li Xiang, founder of Shanghai-based architecture studio X+Living, and inaugurated in the Fall of 2020. Using elements like spiraling staircases, curved archways and strategically-placed mirrors, the designers of this…

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The Hartest Stone

If stones could talk – what stories could they tell? Hartest is a small village south of Bury, Suffolk, England, located in a deep dale. At its North end lies its silent stone sentry, a limestone boulder with an interesting past. And, of course, there are different versions of its story. Just as the Treaty of Utrecht brought Britain the Rock of Gibraltar, it is also said, in at least one story, to have brought it this more humble roughly one metre cube rock, dragged to its present spot in…

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The chinese man who used Lamborghini exhaust to cook world’s most expensive skewered meat

Recently a young Lamborghini owner in China got his own minute of internet fame by trying to barbecue some skewered pork with the car’s fiery exhaust (and incurring about $80,000 in repair costs). The curious “cooking show” took place when a group was gathered around an orange Lamborghini in an underground garage in Changsha, Hunan Province. Out of nowhere, the sports car owner and his friend decided it would be pretty cool if they could cook their skewered meat using their car’s exhaust, in what many have called the world’s…

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Cheese Tea: bitter, sweet, and salty collide in this cool Asian treat.

Cheese tea is iced tea, often black, matcha, or oolong, that gets topped with a foamy mixture of cream cheese, whipping cream, milk, and salt. It’s true, the concept sounds horrible, but in this case, the cheese topping is more like a thick layer of creamy, salted foam that tops each drink, that found a fanbase among the late-night crowd. The trend then spread to Asian countries and apparently it had its roots from China. A few years ago, HEYTEA (喜茶) (previously known as Royaltea (皇茶) ) claimed to have…

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An Irish (true) story: the Enniscorthy poltergeist

You want to exange this life of the modern journalist for the dashing life of an Edwardian hunter news? Well, a century ago, back in 1910, one of the local reporters for County Wexford, Ireland, was one Nicholas Murphy, a man of the Roman Catholic faith who lived at George’s Street in the town of Enniscorthy. He was aged in or around forty at the time, when the call came to cover a most unusual event just a short stroll from his house. The scoop was that an upper room…

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Sibiu, the romanan city where the roofs don’t sleep.

We are in Sibiu. Geographically, it is located in the southern part of Transylvania, close to the Carpathian mountains. Built in the 1100s by the Saxon settlers invited by the Hungarian King in Transylvania, Sibiu, also named Hermannstadt, managed to preserve untouched most of its architectural heritage. While walking around the Romanian city, you’ll start to notice something a bit odd, and you may even get the sense that someone, or something, is watching you. And, wnhile you gaze at the city’s architecture, you’ll start to realize are the houses…

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The Folklore of Bees

In the middle of spring, outside, in addition to the greening of the earth, we notice a change in the local wildlife. Suddenly, squirrels are everywhere, birds are twittering away madly in the trees, worms are popping in the soil and, everywhere you look, life has returned. Among others, you’ll see bees buzzing around your garden, partaking of the rich pollen in your flowers. The plants are in full bloom at this time of the spring, and the bees take advantage, buzzing back and forth, carrying pollen from one blossom…

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Malte Stierngranat: the man who did what he wanted

Locals in Sweden have a nickname for the eccentric nobleman who built himself a pyramid tomb in the middle of the south highlands: “Mannen som gjorde vad som föll honom in”. Literally: “The man who did what he wanted.” The curious character certainly carried around a lot of names. His name was Georg Malte Gustav August Liewen Stierngranat, and was born in 1871 on an estate called Nobynäs, outside of the small city of Aneby. Because he was the oldest son, he was expected to stick around the manor house…

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Covid, in Arizona they had it first!

Most of us heard the word “COVID” for the first time last year, in reference to the coronavirus that caused the ongoing pandemic, but it’s also the name of a company that has been operating for about four decades. Covid.inc is a company based in Tempe, Arizona. It specializes in high-quality audiovisual wall plates and cables, and sells its products all over the world. It has been in business for decades but, of course, it as only last year that it started making news headlines, for obvious reasons. Covid.inc CEO,…

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The legend of Richmond’s phantom Drummer Boy~

It seems there is a particular charm that attaches itself to the world of hidden tunnels, especially to ones that are held to possess ecclesiastical associations. Somewhere deep in the English imagination there seems to lurk the suspicion that the monks of yore, dispossessed and done away with during the years of Henrician terror, held close a knowledge of secret subterranean networks that connected their abbeys to other centres of worldly power and, in some instances, to realms neither secular nor holy. Hidden treasures, madness, slumbering knights and kings: these…

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North Carolina’s Can Opener Bridge: this too-low North Carolina railroad trestle is still a notorious truck executioner

At the corner of Gregson and Peabody streets in Durham, North Carolina lies what at first glance appears to be an innocent railroad trestle – but this is no ordinary railroad trestle. It is sinister and cunning and will mercilessly scalp any vehicle too high and mighty for its own good. Well, most bridges in North Carolina have a 15-foot clearance (about 4,5 meters), but this was designed in the 1920s and built in 1940, and so it has a clearance of 11 feet 8 inches (3,6 meters). This architectural…

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St. Stephen Bulgarian Church: the unique cast iron Church of Istanbul

We are in Istanbul, Turkey, a city that has no shortage of houses of worship, and the Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen set along the shore of the Golden Horn blends in with its holy brethren at first glance. Upon closer inspection, however, this cross-shaped basilica is like few others in the world. St. Stephen Church has the detailed ornaments of a regular Orthodox stone church, but it’s actually made of prefabricated cast iron elements. Sometimes referred to as “The Iron Church”, it is considered the largest prefabricated cast iron…

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Pine Cone Preserves: a sweet jam made from soft young cones believed to have health benefits in Russia and Georgia.

Aside from their decorating uses, especially in Christmas season, pinecones play an important role in nature and, like all plant parts, they have a very specific function in the plant world. Generally they serve as a protective cover for pine nuts, (a key ingredient in pesto!). Pine cones and pine trees belong to a group of plants called gymnosperms and date back to prehistoric times. There are a group of plants who have naked seeds, not enclosed in an ovary and the main function of a pine cone is to…

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Visingsö Oak Forest: a forest of immensely tall and unusually straight trees planted nearly 200 years ago to build naval ships that never existed

Oak has traditionally been used in shipbuilding since centuries, as its wood is incredibly strong, and if tended just right, the grain is straight and true. Going back even to the Vikings, the slow-growth trees have been used in Sweden for vessels of all kinds, including naval ships. On the lake island of Visingsö, a narrow island in the middle of Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake, there are hundreds of acres of tall and orderly oaks, all planted with an eye to the long term. As far back as the…

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Swaledale Corpse Way: a winding medieval path used by mourners to carry their dead to the nearest church~

There was a time in England when commoners couldn’t afford to hire a horse or a cart to transport their dead, and so they were forced to carry the corpses themselves to the nearest church. This unpleasant situation led to the creation of paths like the Swaledale Corpse Way, now known simply as the Corpse Way or corpse road, a 16-mile medieval track linking the hamlet of Keld with Grinton, farther down the valley, a small village and civil parish in the Yorkshire Dales, in the Richmondshire district of North…

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Osteria Senz’Oste: the utopistic restaurant without waiters or chefs in Veneto, Italy

Italy is known as a gourmet country with a variety of foodie destination, and you can enjoy lots of different dining experiences, some conventional and others more unique and unusual. If you have decided a vacation in Veneto region and you are planning on enjoying some culinary experiences in the area, then you should visit the so-called Osteria senz’Oste. Its name literally means, “restaurant without hosts” and they aren’t kidding. This restaurant offers a very unique dining experience, as it does not have any chefs or waiters present. To get…

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Want to take your pet fish for a walk? Soon it might be possible!

Dear pet fish owners, you don’t need to be envious of fellow pet owners who are able to walk their pets because you may be able to walk your fish too! Well, more or less. A Japanese company is working on a unusual container / bag for live fish, suitable both for pet owners wanting to take their favorite fish on walks, but also for fans of super-fresh sashimi. Ok. This creation is not quite designed for walking your pet, but with the goal of transporting fish that you have…

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The curious abandoned Sea Cable Car of Sidi Ifni (سيدي إفني), Morocco

Sidi Ifni is a city located on the west coast of Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with a population of approximately 20,000 people. The economic base of the city is fishing. Not by chance, in 2000, an important fishing port was completed, which serves as a base for fish exports. Walking along the beach, toward the port at the southern end of town, you may spot a huge concrete structure a little ways off the shore, standing lonely in the middle of the sea. The huge abandoned…

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Mao Mao, the feline car model that earns more than most humans

Mao Mao, a two-year-old British Shorthair from Chongqing, China, works as a professional cat model and earns between 5,000 yuan ($775) and 10,000 yuan (1,550) per appearance. Mao Mao’s rise to fame was somewhat of an accident: her owner, a man surnamed Zheng, works in the automotive industry, and during an auto show he had the brilliant idea of putting his pet cat into one of the cars. That immediately drew a crowd of people who couldn’t wait to take a photo of the cute feline and share it on…

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Gobodura Hill and the Lioness of Gobedra

We are a couple of kilometers west of the ancient city of Axum, Ethiopia, where stands the isolated hill of Gobodura, also known as Gobedra. The organizational and technological skills of the Aksumites were represented by the construction of elaborately carved stelae, monuments created in line of older African traditions and made of single pieces of local granite. They were cut out and transported from quarries located at least 4 km away (Gobedra Hill) to the location where they needed to be erected. The city is known also for an…

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Yin and Yang Fish: a controversial dish that’s both dead and alive

Yin and Yang Fish is a controversial dish where the body of a fish is cooked, while the head is kept fresh. From fish that smells like a public toilet, to a cheese as hard as rock, or a fish-head-stuffed pie, the world is full of weird foods, but few dishes can be described as truly disturbing. Reportedly, it was invented in the early 2000s by a restauranteur in Chiayi City, Taiwan. Yin and Yang fish, also known as “dead and alive fish”, is definitely not a dish for the…

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History and lore of Beltane, the ancient Celtic festival of May Day

Traditionally, Beltane honours life, and represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. This spring celebration is all about new life, fire, passion, and rebirth, in a time when the earth is lush and green, as new grass and trees return to life after a winter of dormancy, and flowers are abundant everywhere. The Beltane holiday is the time when, in some traditions, the male energy of the god is at its most potent. He is often portrayed with a large and erect phallus, and other symbols of…

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So, Japan’s 1,000-year-old cheese that’s back in fashion due to COVID-19 pandemic

A year ago, on February 27, 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that all schools in Japan shut down until early April to stop the spread of COVID-19. And of course, by the following week, most schools across the country shuttered their doors. However, one of the biggest buyers of Japanese agricultural products is the school lunch program, which feeds elementary and middle school students across the whole country. To clarify, around 10% of all domestic food production goes to school lunch, which usually emphasizes local or domestic products and,…

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The annual Pidakala battle of Kairuppala

Every April, the people of Kairuppala, a village in Andhra Pradesh state, Southern India, engage in an epic cow dung cake (or Pidakala) battle that often leaves dozens injured. The reason? They believe the tradition brings them good health and prosperit, and, in addition, locals believe the battle brings rains to the village. According to the legend, Lord Veerabhadra Swamy, a fearsome form of the Hindu god Shiva, and the Goddess Bhadrakhali fell in love and decided to marry. In order to tease his beloved, Veerabhadra Swamy declared that he…

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The airplane-shaped handbag that costs almost than an actual airplane

Designed by Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director Virgil Abloh as part of this year’s men’s collection, this airplane-shaped handbag recently went viral for allegedly costing more than a used, single-engine airplane. Virgil Abloh’s collections have always divided critics and fashion fans, and the main critique is that he overloads his creations with a bunch of ideas and concepts. And, in fact, his latest one is no different. Unveiled in January, Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2021 men’s collection featured a variety of eccentric ideas, including clothes inspired by famous architecture and landmarks.…

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Roman festival of Cerealia

The Cerealia was one of the most important festivals in Rome. It was held for seven days from mid- to late April, but the dates are uncertain, possibly the 12th-18th, with the actual festival day on the 19th. This was the main festival for Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain and the harvest, associated with bread and farming, as well as being the goddess of fertility, motherhood and women. Fields and crops were sacred to her. Ceres was also one of the patron deities of the common people (the…

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Maria Higgins, the woman who was buried twice

Glasnevin Cemetery, in Irish Reilig Ghlas Naíon, is a large cemetery in Glasnevin, Dublin, Ireland which opened in 1832. It has its famous occupants, including Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins, author Christy Brown and Dubliners star Luke Kelly. But it is also the final resting place for many ordinary citizens who led interesting lives and deaths. This is the case of Maria Higgins, a completely ordinary person with a completely normal life. Except for the fact that she managed to die twice. According to her husband, Charles Higgins, Maria…

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