23 June 2018

The Windcatchers of Persia

They appear throughout the Middle East: Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have these antique Persian designs dotted around their towns and cities. They are windcatchers, known in the area as Bâdgir. Serving as ventilation systems they have given the people of the Middle East air conditioning for thousands of years. Yet despite their antediluvian origin, windcatchers may even provide a solution for some very modern architectural problems.

Windcatchers come in a vast array of sizes and a number of different styles. They function in one of three ways. Some direct the airflow downwards and use direct wind entry. Others direct airflow up either using a temperature gradient assisted either by the sun or the wind.

21 June 2018

Unicorns Must Exist

Written tongue-in-cheek by Dragoș

Visiting Harrods for the first time has definitely changed my perspective on so many things.

To list only a few ...

I sure didn't know - or even expected - that there are bed sizes bigger than King size.

I didn’t know because nobody told me. Also because I never thought to ask; I mean, King size is already big - and frankly quite enough slumber area, even for a couple - so I don’t imagine anyone would spend time contemplating sleep improvements and coming up with bigger bed sizes as THE solution.

17 June 2018

Turkmenistan: In Isolation

Take a few glimpses at Turkmenistan. This Central Asian state is rarely featured in western media so much of the architecture of its capital Ashgabat – grandiose and glittering – will seem almost like something from a science-fiction movie.  Plus its terrain is unforgiving and unwelcoming, and includes the Darvaza crater – otherwise known as the gateway to hell.   Digital nomad Pete R created this cinematic piece which will stay with you a while.

Under the Apple Tree

Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me… so goes the old song but this particular apple tree is one which you may wish to give a wide berth.  It is home to a little worm who soon finds himself homeless.  Never mind, the shenanigans between the owner of the orchard and his priest brother will soon create an opportunity. An animated stop motion horror comedy (not for the littluns!) about worms, apples and death, this is also about families and the troubles they bring!  Under the Apple Tree was produced and directed by Erik van Schaaik.


Earth has gone – destroyed in some unnamed but by the looks of it fairly terminal cataclysm.  As the remnants of our civilization wheel around the planet they attract the attention of a curious blue-skinned race of aliens. One of them finds it difficult to fit in with the others but could his discovery lead to a greater understanding of our disappeared culture and forge a closer bond between him and his colleagues?

Directed and written by Tyler Rabinowitz, Alientologists isn’t half (or a quarter or an eighth) as serious as it sounds – in fact it gets deliriously silly about the five minute mark and doesn’t stop being resplendently daft till the end - but is not without poignancy either.  If you don’t have a smile on your face at its conclusion this then I expect you are, like the Earth imagined in the short film, quite dead, definitely deceased or at least something slightly to the left of alive.

16 June 2018

The Bristlecone Pine: Twisted Contortions of the Ancients

They have lived through millennia. Dispersed in sub-alpine groves in the Western United States some of these ancient trees are over 5,000 years old.  They contain in their ranks the oldest known individuals of any species on Earth. Their twisted branches, formed over innumerable years stretch towards the sky, sublimely if anthropomorphically expressive. What might these immovable ancients have pondered as epochs passed?

10 June 2018

Would You Like to Write for Kuriositas?

We are looking for a number of writers who wish to improve their online portfolio by publishing on a well-established site with a good reputation for featuring high quality articles on a number of arts, science and travel-related subjects.

If that sounds like you, then we would like to hear from you.  

What can you write about?  We would like to broaden our remit by including reviews – film, television, theater, books – you name it, we will consider it.  If you wish to write about somewhere interesting and unusual, that also ticks the right box.  Science stuff? This is also the right site.  Our sphere of interest and activity is broad – anything that you think curious minds would enjoy.

All we ask is that your work is original and anything that is published on Kuriositas will not be published anywhere else online.  Obviously, too, the standard of your written English must be high – we will not have the time to proof and edit anything that comes our way.  Finally it must not be, in any way, shape or form an advertisement for you, your products, services or those of others.  So, for example if you do a theater review we would not link to the theater’s site – and so on.  We’ve been doing this internet writing malarkey for a while now, so we’ll spot you a mile off if a link is all you want!

What do you get in return? No money, we’re afraid.  However, you do get the kudos of seeing your work published on a high quality website which will broaden the range of your online portfolio.  We will give you full credit for your writing at the top of the post with your name linked to your own site if you have one (and maybe even a small picture of you if you would like). We can also include contact details if you so choose (maybe at the end of the article).

So, what are you waiting for? Write telling us why you would like to write for Kuriositas, including an example of your work to taliesyn30@aol.com (what can we say, we’re old school) and let’s start a conversation.

Best regards


What we are not looking for
As mentioned above, we are not seeking attention from those whose sole aim is to publish articles with a link to either their business site or one owned by others.  As this effectively is marketing, please make your way here instead.  We do accept advertising posts but with some conditions attached.


An excellent alternative name for this fantastic animation would surely be Minimalist Myths.  Here we are presented with the legends of Midas, Persephone and Icarus among others but in a way in which you have (probably not) seen them before.  Interpreted for the age of the pixel and the gif these stories still have great resonance today. Direction and design is by Stephen Kelleher, with modelling and animation by Chris Guyot and sound design by John Poon.


Owl Guy is old hat.  His adventures are consigned to the very back of the local comic shop.  Yet one day he discovers a portal in to a mysterious new edition and – kapow! – the realisation suddenly dawns on him that he has been… rebooted.  This affectionate but comically incisive animated short was created by Sagar Arun and Rachel Kral as part of their programme at Ringling College of Art and Design.

9 June 2018

Surfing in the City: Munich’s Eisbach

If you live in a large town or city and it isn’t situated anywhere near an ocean then probably one of the last things you might expect to see is the sight of someone in full wetsuit sporting a surfboard walking nonchalantly down the street.  For the residents of Munich in Germany, which is about 500km from the sea, it’s nothing strange. Thanks to the Eisbach (or ice brook in English) you can go surfing in the city with https://www.globosurfer.com/best-dive-watches/.

5 June 2018

Joud - An Unconventional Meditation on the Cycle of Life

It’s sometimes amazing how profound a single word can be.  Take the Arabic word joud for example – such a short word but it translates to ‘generosity in the face of adversity’: something that could have so many inferences that it is almost difficult to believe that such a small world can contain such breadth of meaning.

Beautifully shot in stunning Saudi Arabian landscapes, Joud is a film and a meditation at the same time.  It reflects on the cycle of life but it does it in reverse and doing so it dares the audience to do something.  Take your everyday experiences and look beneath the surface; what seems to have little depth or meaning may be just the opposite.  The little things in life may also have a profundity which belies their seemingly superficial nature. You can also find out more about the movie at its website - www.joudmovie.com.

Yet what also makes the film unique and rather special from my perspective is the way that it structures its story.  To modern eyes it looks experimental but it is in fact drawing on an ancient form of poetry, one which even predates Islam.  It is called Qasida and what makes it very different is that each and every line rhymes on the same sound.  If you think that sounds like something difficult to achieve and still have poem that makes sense this particular art form was extended to such a degree that the poems often extended to over a hundred lines.

Take a look at these two trailers for the film Joud and I am sure you will be entranced by them.  The film dubs itself ‘an ancient poem for modern times’ and this may seem at first to be a simplification.  But then, you must reflect and perhaps see yourself in its depths…

JOUD is produced by Abdullah Aleyaf and Todd Albert Nims for Ithra in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (www.ithra.com), in association with UK’s The Edge Picture Company’s production team.

3 June 2018

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Slovakia, You Will After You Watch This

Present-day Slovakia only became an independent state in 1993 but it has over 1500 years of Slavic cultural history behind it not to mention some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe.  Dominika Martincova hails from this small but incredibly vibrant country and created this marvelous time-lapse of her homeland (called Time for Slovakia) on returning to it after almost three years of globe-trotting.

The Runt

When the runt of a litter of rabbits is to be disposed of, a young boy’s please result in a stay of execution but with a proviso: he must look after the runt but after a year he must kill it himself.

Yet when the year is up will the boy be able to go through with his promise? This animated short has script, design and direction by Andreas Hykade of Film Bilder.  Please don't expect a happy ending - this animation is European.

The Saguaro Cactus And Its Greedy Guests

The Saguaro cactus, found in Mexico, Arizona and some parts of California is a giant among its type, growing to the size of a tree. It also gets a number of greedy house guests during its life time.

The desert isn’t a place that you might normally associate with teeming life, but our planet is full of surprises. The saguaro manages to survive in extremely harsh climates and, wherever it lives animals are to be found. Some even manage to make the enormous cactus their home. This Gila Woodpecker, for example, seems completely at ease among the spines.

The Poitou - The Donkey with Dreadlocks

This is the Poitou Donkey. Only thirty years ago, less than thirty of these beautiful and friendly animals were left. Now, thanks to a conservation programme, it looks as if the dreadlocked donkey is set to stay awhile on Planet Earth.  Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, has its story.

2 June 2018

GCSE English Language - Student Example Answers for Question 5 Paper 1

Are you wondering how to pass GCSE English 9-1? Then look towards the end of the exam papers. For example, question 5 of Paper 1 of the AQA GCSE is worth half the marks for that paper.  So it’s one of the questions that you seriously cannot afford to get wrong.  Sometimes it is good not only to practice writing stories or descriptions yourself but to take a close look at what others have written too.   In fact you can do a million GCSE English past papers and still get everything wrong if you do not look at exemplars - these are good examples of what the answer could look like.  Markers know this as indicative content and use it to measure the quality of your responses, so even they use this method! So in this video we take a look at narratives – that is short stories.

This video contains two stories written by real students.  They were written in exam conditions and took 45 minutes from start to finish.  This video takes you through both the vital planning stage and shows you what the students actually wrote afterward.

There is also a commentary from world-famous exam marker Lavinia Shufflebottom (OK, she is fictional but what she says is worth listening to!).  The key to this question, really, is planning – ensuring that you include everything that the examiner wants to see.  Take a read of these and see what you think.  Why not give them a mark yourself?

The two stories are also available - free - on the TES website.  Plus if you would like to see more from the shop, please visit the Teaching and Learning Resources for Me shop.

For those of you who are wondering what this is doing on Kuriositas, I am a teacher in the ‘real world’ and make the occasional video to help my students along.  I hope that by putting it up on the site it will help a few more too!