Thursday, January 31, 2013

Game of Thrones video diary interviews the Wildlings beyond The Wall

Game of Thrones video diary interviews the Wildlings beyond The Wall

The Silmarillion Ch21 1 of 9: Of Beren and Lúthien

Morgoth, The first dark lord

The 7 Wonders of Middle Earth

The Gods of Middle Earth Documentary

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum by Stephen Chenault — Kickstarter

Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum by Stephen Chenault — Kickstarter

17th c. gold coin hoard found in Co. Tipperary pub

The History Blog » Blog Archive » 17th c. gold coin hoard found in Co. Tipperary pub

17th c. gold coin hoard found in Co. Tipperary pub

At noon on Monday, January 14th, construction workers renovating Cooney’s Bar in the South Tipperary town of Carrick-on-Suir unearthed 81 gold coins from the 17th century. The building crew was digging a hole in front of the pub’s bar area to prep the area before pouring a new concrete pad when Shane Murray found the coins lying on their sides, back to front like they were in one of those paper tubes you get at the bank to organize your penny jar. Whatever was once holding them together has decayed but the shape remains. The space where they were stashed was a recess — possibly an old door opening or a fireplace — opposite where the pub’s front counter once stood.
Murray showed them to his boss, contractor Shane Comerford, and Comerford threw them on the ground thinking they were fakes or tokens or some other kind of insignificant geegaw. Murray knew they were for reals gold, though, so he scooped them up. He and his crewmates examined them more closely and found 17th century dates and the belaureled profiles of English monarchs Charles II, James II, William and Mary and William III.
Shane Comerford took the coins to the pub’s owner, David Kiersey, and they sought legal counsel. By Irish law, all archaeological objects belong to the state and must be declared to the authorities within 96 hours of discovery. Comerford handed over the coins to the Carrick-on-Suir gardai (Irish police) and the gardai brought them to curators at the South Tipperary Museum. They are now being examined by experts at Dublin’s National Museum.
The coins haven’t been thoroughly examined or assessed for value yet, but according the a National Museum statement they are mostly Guineas with a few half Guineas in the mix. (Guineas were coins minted in England from the 17th to 18th century using gold from West Africa, hence the name.) No hoard of gold coins from the 1600s has been discovered in Ireland since 1947.
Marie McMahon, curator of South Tipperary Museum in Clonmel, who was at Cooney’s Bar last Wednesday while the archaeological examinations were taking place, hailed the hoard of coins as South Tipperary’s most important archaeological find since the discovery of the Derrynaflan chalice in the early 1980s.
She said the coins were in very good condition but there wasn’t any clues as to why they were there. The premises they were found in may have been built on the site of one of Carrick-on-Suir’s old lanes.
Carrick-on-Suir was founded on an island in the River Suir in the 13th century. Its location put in smack in the middle of a lot of trade traffic. It was occupied by Parliamentary forces in 1649 during Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland but was returned to the control of Royalist James Butler, the Duke of Ormond, after the restoration of the monarchy. In 1670, the Butler family founded the wool trade in Carrick-on-Suir, another potential source of gold coinage.
The 81 coins were viewed by dignitaries at the National Museum of Ireland on Wednesday, January 30th, but they are not yet on public display. Marie McMahon hopes the collection will return to its hometown for display at the South Tipperary Museum. If insurance proves to be a difficulty because of security concerns at the small local museum, replicas of the coins will be made for display. - RPG Superstar™ - RPG Superstar™
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Paizo Publishing is proud to announce RPG Superstar 2013, the sixth season of its popular RPG design contest. The search for the newest talent in RPG design begins now!
Over the last six years, RPG Superstar has discovered some of the best new RPG designers in the business. Designers discovered in this competition have found work writing for Paizo products or even joined the Paizo staff as employees. The staff are excited to see the great new talent out there, and look forward to working with the winners for years to come!
RPG Superstar consists of five RPG design challenges spanning several weeks. In the first round, members of the messageboard community votes for their favorite open call wondrous item submissions, and a team of celebrity judges winnows those down all open call submissions to 32 finalists. In later rounds, the judges provide commentary and the messageboard community post their comments and vote on following round submissions until only four finalists remain.
This year's ultimate winner will write a Pathfinder Module to be published by Paizo. Three runners-up will win the opportunity to write Pathfinder Society Scenarios, meaning all finalists will be offered professional writing contracts with Paizo Publishing, and an opportunity to begin their freelance careers with high-profile RPG releases!
Last year Mike Welham's Doom Comes to Dustpawn emerged victorious as 2012's RPG Superstar winner after a week of public comment and fan voting at His winning adventure will release as a full-color printed Pathfinder Module.
Paizo has selected three veteran RPG Superstar judges to oversee the competition—Paizo Developer Sean K Reynolds, Legendary Games president and Necromancer Games founder Clark Peterson, and notable game designer and Kobold Press founder and publisher Wolfgang Baur. Additional guest judges will assist with each installment of the multi-challenge contest. The judges will critique each round's entries.
Starting at 2 PM Pacific Time on December 4, 2012, contestants will be able to submit their RPG Superstar entry. For the first round, that entry will be a wondrous item designed for use with Paizo's Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Each entry must be 300 words or less, and must include all of the proper mechanics and flavor. Contestants must submit their entry by December 18. Voting is open to anyone with a messageboard account, and begins on December 20. The judges will select the best 32 out of the most popular entries; the top 32 are announced on January 22, 2013. Those 32 contestants will be assigned a new design task and their entries will be posted on for the public to read, critique, and vote on. The designers garnering the most votes in each round will continue on to subsequent rounds.
Specifics for each challenge will be announced as each round begins. The winner of RPG Superstar 2013 will be announced on April 2, 2013. Will you have what it takes to be the next RPG Superstar?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Adam Blanchard - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Round 2 Mivon Suitor (Fighter)
Round 1 Goblet of the Elements

Charlie Bell - Fayetteville, NC
Round 2 Green Knight (Paladin)
Round 1 Spell-Winding Timepiece

Chris Shaeffer - Lansdale, PA
Round 2 Scallywag (Cavalier)
Round 1 Cloudwrangler's Gloves

Christopher Dudley - Laurel, MD
Round 2 River Steward (Ranger)
Round 1 Icon of Aspects

Clay Blankenship - Huntsville, AL
Round 2 Skinchanger (Witch)
Round 1 Cobra-Hood Cloak

George Cunningham - Melbourne, Australia
Round 2 Flagellant (Inquisitor)
Round 1 Skipping Stone

Guy Russell - Boise, ID
Round 2 Adjudicator (Inquisitor)
Round 1 Rat-tread Boots

Isaac White - Auckland, New Zealand
Round 2 Oathkeeper (Ranger)
Round 1 Ethersnare Dust

James Conder - Danang, Vietnam
Round 2 Riverhelm (Ranger)
Round 1 Map of Refuge

Jobe Bittman - Bainbridge Island, WA
Round 2 Arsonist (Rogue)
Round 1 Quiver of Spiderkind

Jon Haire - Yukon, OK
Round 2 Shapegrifter (Druid)
Round 1 Swarm Slurper

Joseph Kellogg - Kingsport, TN
Round 2 Gralton Infiltrator (Alchemist)
Round 1 Shattered Mirror of the Insect Queen

Joshua Kitchens - Centerville, GA
Round 2 Thief-taker (Rogue)
Round 1 Hell-shod Boots

Kalervo Oikarinen - Helsinki, Finland
Round 2 Lonesome Rider (Gunslinger)
Round 1 Gloves of the Frugal Healer

Landon Cole - St Neots, Cambridgeshire, England
Round 2 Water Snake (Ranger)
Round 1 Ghost Ship Binnacle

Mark Nordheim - St Louis, MO
Round 2 Feymarked Scoundrel (Witch)
Round 1 Wintertide Candle
Matt Blackie - Redmond, WA
Round 2 Six Freedoms Acolyte (Monk)
Round 1 Gorum's Stompers

Matthew Duval - Chicopee, MA
Round 2 Everbloom Monk (Monk)
Round 1 Seer's Soap

Maurice de Mare - Zaandam, Netherlands
Round 2 Wandering Judge (Ranger)
Round 1 Sash of the Salty Seas

Michael Eshleman - Chapel Hill, NC
Round 2 Uringen Assayer (Alchemist)
Round 1 Walking Stick of Concealed Thaumaturgy

Michael Pruess - Berkeley, CA
Round 2 Outsea Delver (Alchemist)
Round 1 Tree Frog's Gloves

Mike Kimmel - Seattle, WA
Round 2 Frontier Sentinel (Ranger)
Round 1 Gloves of Flame Command

Nicholas Herold - Davis, CA
Round 2 Huckster (Alchemist)
Round 1 Gorget of Living Whispers

Nickolas Floyd - Missoula, MT
Round 2 Oathlorn (Cavalier)
Round 1 Thorn Creeper Sandals

Pedro Coelho - São Paulo, Brazil
Round 2 Water-Born Votary (Monk)
Round 1 Reins of Unstoppable Stride

Rorik Moore-Jansen - Kansas City, KS
Round 2 Red Adder Magus (Magus)
Round 1 Trick Shot Glove

Sam Harris - Chicago, IL
Round 2 River Wrangler (Rogue)
Round 1 Witchwood Comb

Scott Fernandez - Allen Park, MI
Round 2 Forecaster (Alchemist)
Round 1 Verdant Crown of Oak and Iron

Shawn Kowalke - Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Round 2 Awakened (Rogue)
Round 1 Whispering Gloves

Steven Helt - Tusla, OK
Round 2 Floodwalker (Witch)
Round 1 Quicksand Cloak

Zachary Hensley - Troy, NY
Round 2 River Warden (Paladin)
Round 1 Spectral Lampblack

Ziv Wities - Givat Shmuel, Israel
Round 2 Brinebinder (Druid)
Round 1 Many-Layered Veil
Sign in to vote and comment on RPG Superstar.
Make sure to cast your vote before February 4!

RPG Superstar™ 2013 Schedule

RoundRound BeginsEntries DueEntries RevealedVoting BeginsVoting EndsWinners Announced
1 Open Call: Design a wondrous item
2Top 32: Create a new archetype
3 Top 16: Create a monster and stat block
4 Top 8: Design an encounter with map
5 Top 4: Submit a Pathfinder Module™ adventure proposal
All events are at 2 PM Pacific time. Dates and times displayed above are in the US/Pacific time zone.
Change your time zone.

Six Writing Tips from J.R.R. Tolkien | Blue Zoo Writers – Online Learning Center

Six Writing Tips from J.R.R. Tolkien | Blue Zoo Writers – Online Learning Center

Six Writing Tips from J.R.R. Tolkien

December 8, 2012
Are you a fan of The Hobbit? A Lord of the Rings geek?
Perhaps you just enjoy a good story, well told.
If you’re a writer, here are some tips drawn from Tolkien’s work. Even if they don’t magically transform you into a writer whose work develops a worldwide cult-like following, as did Professor Tolkien’s . . . nonetheless, attention to these principles will improve your writing.

1. Keep those scraps of ideas.

A familiar story to those who follow Tolkien’s biography is that The Hobbit “began” many years before its publication in 1937 when, in a moment of odd inspiration, Tolkien jotted down an strange phrase that popped into his mind. It would become the opening line of The Hobbit:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
He scribbled it on the back of a page from a student’s exam booklet (a free source of scratch paper that Tolkien like to use). Of course, he had no idea of what a hobbit was. Nobody did. But Tolkien realized that the curious phrase held some form of delight for him.
The key: Be observant. When you encounter an intriguing item, save it. Record those snippets. Cut out those tales of the weird and stick them in a file.
And keep them.
Snippets are lovely phrases. Curious thoughts. Interesting observations. Overhead bits of memorable conversation. Strange sightings.
Anne Rice admitted she has awakened at night to scribble half-dreamt ideas on her room’s wallpaper to make sure she recalled them in the morning. Others keep a small notebook with them to jot down daily thoughts and random phrases.
Novelist Susan Henderson, in a post on her website LitPark, once wrote:
Write down every idea before it’s gone. Use the backs of envelopes and gas receipts if you’re driving. On one of those slips is your breakout story:
. . .
“Mother dances salsa in front of the mirror in a stolen dress.”
. . .
If you don’t write it down, you’ll waste [that] gift.
I drive with a pen between my teeth, holding the paper against the steering wheel when I write. Never mind the honking. I roll the windows up or the hundreds of story ideas littering the passenger seat will blow onto the highway, and then someone else might write my breakout story.

2. Master the trick of particularity.

In talks for writers, I’ve often praised the beginning paragraphs of The Hobbit. They reveal two aspects of brilliant technique. First, although the hobbit is one of Tolkien’s great artistic inventions, he chose to start by describing not a hobbit but a hobbit’s dwelling. We quickly come to know a lot about hobbits as we go in the front door, down the hall, and into the hobbit’s cozy den of comfort.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors.
Besides the choice of what to describe, notice the specificity of the small number of details. We see the round door “like a porthole, painted green,” the yellow knob in the “exact middle.”We go down the hall with its inviting pegs on the wall. These are the tricks of fiction. The author chooses a small number of details, and somehow, this convinces us that there is a “real” place (albeit in a fictional world of a book) with believable characters doing things of importance. The odder or more precise the detail, the more convincing.
Dorothy Sayers, scholar and mystery writer, in discussing Dante’s The Inferno, calls this “the trick of particularity.” Dante mastered it, she says, as did other great writers. Why is there a lamppost in the woods in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia when the Penvensie children arrive for the first time? And why do we soon spy a faun carrying an umbrella? Something about it offers a concreteness to the scene. And we start to see it in our mind’s eye.
Fantasy writers are by no means the only ones to use the trick of particularity. It’s just that in fantasy it’s so noticeable because so much of it is implausible, like the glow of a dragon’s fiery breath in a deep cave, as a small hobbit creeps forward, closer and closer to the sound of its breath:
“a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping in the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring.”
. . .
There he lay, a vast red-golden dragon, fast asleep; a thrumming came from his jaws and nostrils, and wisps of smoke, but his fires were low in slumber. Beneath him, under all his limbs and his huge coiled tail, and about him on all sides stretching away across the unseen floors, lay countless piles of precious things, gold wrought and unwrought, gems and jewels, and silver red-stained in the ruddy light.
Smaug lay, with wings folded like an immeasurable bat, turned partly on one side, so that the hobbit could see his underparts and his long pale belly crusted with gems and fragments of gold from his long lying on his costly bed.

3. A Journey is a Marvelous Device.

“To a story-teller a journey is a marvelous device. It provides a strong thread on which a multitude of things that he has in mind may be strung . . . .”
So wrote Tolkien in a letter (included in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. by Humphrey Carpenter).
Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings make full use of The Journey as a central device, as have countless other novels, from Don Quixote and Gulliver’s Travels to C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to more recent works like Life of Pi.
Other novels use the journey metaphorically as a trip through a distinct segment of time. For instance, Dickens used the device in A Christmas Carol, as we “travel” through Scrooge’s past. It is the core scheme of coming-of-age novels like David Copperfield and of the Harry Potter novels, following students of magic through their years at Hogwarts.
The Hero’s Journey is the mythical form of this. Christopher Vogler and others have written of the fictional applications to popular books and movies.
The structure allows both writer and reader to stay on course, following a natural thread that becomes more familiar and emotionally rich for readers, as we travel along, following the steps of the journey being taken.
The inevitable structure of a journey (beginning, middle, and end) becomes departure, travel, and arrival. This plot aid can help a writer think more about the other elements of story: the character of those on the journey, the purpose of it, the revelations & surprises encountered on the way, and the transformation gained by journey’s end.
Tolkien’s subtitle of The HobbitThere and Back Again – is not as mundane as it might seen. It is a four-word summary of a grand adventure.

4. How does the story sound?

Many great writers, from Roald Dahl to Richard Adams (author of Watership Down), honed their storytelling skills and developed ideas by first telling versions of their stories out loud. In addition to telling bedtime stories to his four kids, in 1920, Tolkien began his wonderful Father Christmas Letters, annual illustrated missives delivered, complete with hand-drawn postage stamps, and read aloud to them when they were young, telling of recent escapades at the North Pole. Likewise, Lewis Carroll (Charles Hodgson) first spun Alice’s trip into Wonderland to entertain kids on a boating excursion.
In such tellings, ideas are field-tested, ideas played out, and writing cadences are refined.
Master writing instructor Peter Elbow has suggested that reading one’s work aloud is one of the most powerful tools to improve a work. The spurious word, the awkward phrase, cannot be hidden in a reading, even if you read aloud and alone in a room. It “gives you the vicarious experience of being someone else” hearing the words for the first time; it “brings the sense of audience back into your act of writing.” This, Elbow says, “is a great source of power.”
Susan Orlean agreed, saying that reading your work out loud is “the single best tool for self-editing.”
Try reading Tolkien’s description of Smaug the dragon out loud. You’ll hear what a gift it is for the mouth and ear.
Naturally, learning to tell stories first orally is a great way to start a writing career. But if you didn’t start that way, you can catch up now. Pick a page from your draft and read it out loud. And be sure to have your red pen of revision handy.

5. Take your time.

In today’s world, we often feel a rush to write, submit, get published, or self-publish if no agent or editor steps forward quickly enough. But Tolkien’s experience suggests that truly great works benefit from time.
Tolkien took much time. He returned years later to that scrap of paper to wonder what a hobbit might look like, what it might do, and why. He wrote and revised. He considered the back-story. He wrote background myths, and language, and poems and songs that the characters might sing. He drew maps. He drew illustrations. And he fussed over everything. In The Lord of the Rings, he charted the separate travels of groups of characters, and wondered if he had gotten it all right, so that the phase of the moon that one party was looking at on a given night was the same as that which another party saw elsewhere on the same night.
And, as Tolkien scholar Dr. John D. Rateliff noted, after long study of Tolkien’s manuscript drafts: Tolkien revised. And revised. And each time he did, the work got better.
Success lies in the skill of those revisions. Writing is rewriting. A manuscript can get better, with sufficient time to set it aside, rethink key passages, connect more dots, build the back-story, and deepen the thematic elements. One of the best things you can do is to set a piece aside to let it cool, before returning to revise with a fresher eye and ear.

6. Assemble a great writers group.

Tolkien was not a solitary genius. He spent much time in the company of fellow writers. At Oxford, he assembled frequently with an informal group called The Inklings, which included C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and others of notable scholarship and creative ability. They read from their works in progress and talked and smoked and drank in sessions in Lewis’s chic-shabby rooms at Magdalen College at Oxford. They discussed literature over pints at the favorite pub.
A great book on The Inklings is The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. In it, author Diana Pavlac Glyer shows how the Inklings worked and how much they influenced each other’s prose.
You may not easily assemble so lofty a group. But the better the writers you can associate with, and the deeper that literary friendship can become, the more chance you have to challenge yourself to produce better drafts, to read in public, to listen to yourself and others, to revise, and to help and encourage your friends. You can lift each other to higher achievements. The key is to find the best. Keep the groups small and informal. Better to find a good friend or two than to go to large gatherings of people you don’t really know or trust for their literary vision. There is no advantage to numbers. Quality rules, in friends and colleagues.

Write like Tolkien.

These six points of advice are not random ideas. They are key approaches to improving your writing. I have often pressed these thoughts to the attention of emerging writers, looking for advice.
I guess I could simplify those points and say, “Just write like Tolkien.”
As we say here in the American Midwest when we really believe something is true (and I could imagine hobbits saying something like it): “You could do worse.”
[This article is by Philip Martin, author of A Guide to Fantasy Literature (now also available for Kindle) and How To Write Your Best Story, and director of Great Lakes Literary and the Blue Zoo Writers site.]

Bought for £1, the mysterious tower that inspired JRR Tolkien

Bought for £1, the mysterious tower that inspired JRR Tolkien | Society |

Bought for £1, the mysterious tower that inspired JRR Tolkien

Charity needs £1m to turn Perrott's Folly, said to have inspired author, into centre for Birmingham community
Perrotts folly Edgbaston
Perrott's Folly in Edgbaston offers views over where JRR Tolkien lived and went to school. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian
It wasn't the most promising of pitches: when Ben Bradley suggested that a homeless charity buy a derelict, windblown Georgian tower in a poor district of Birmingham he expected, and got, some blank looks.
The building is spectacular but perilous. It sways slightly in strong wind and its seven rooms – one on each storey – are the size of a hearth rug. But, said Bradley: "As it turned out, my CEO is a Tolkien fanatic, and so the deal was done."
The Trident Reach the People charity paid £1, and became proud owners of one of the oldest and most eccentric structures in Birmingham, a building better known in Japan than it is on the other side of the city.
The eyeball-shaped windows at the top of Perrott's Folly look down in one direction on where JRR Tolkien lived as a child, and in the opposite direction on the Oratory, where he went to school. It also gives a spectacular view of the other tower he passed twice a day, the gothic ornamented chimney of the Edgbaston waterworks, which in the writer's day would have belched smoke from the steam engines. To Tolkien true believers, there is no point looking further for the origins of the two sinister towers that loom over the world of his Lord of the Rings.
The folly stood at the heart of a magnificent park when it was built by a local eccentric, John Perrott, in 1758. The pragmatic explanation is that it was a hunting lodge and status symbol, but legends insist he built it to look yearningly at his wife's grave 15 miles away, or that when she was alive it allowed him spy on her trysts with her gamekeeper lover. Conspiracy theorists point to the Masonic symbols in the ornate plasterwork of the top room, and there are tales of secret passages and underground chambers.
As the city ate up the park, the tower became a weather observation station for meteorologist and glass-maker Abraham Follett Osler, and then became part of Birmingham University. By 1979, when the university finally locked the arched door, the building was already in a poor state. Repairs by a local trust saved it from collapse, and it opened on a few occasions for special events, including the centenary of Tolkien's birth, but Trident Reach is now launching a £1m fundraising drive to complete the restoration and open it permanently to the public.
The Grade-II listed tower is taking over Bradley's life. He already has a more than full-time job – the charity runs accommodation and support services across the region, including a 97-room hostel that has more than doubled in size in the past few years to meet demand – but when he gets emails from Japan or Canada pleading for a visit to the tower, he gives in helplessly. If the Tolkien pilgrims can come on his Saturdays off, he responds, it will only take him about an hour to get there from home.
He has climbed the 139 steep, narrow, winding steps so many times he dismisses out of hand the suggestion that the tower could earn money as a honeymoon venue: "When I do marry, I can tell you I certainly wouldn't want to carry my bride up those steps."
He is also determined that the tower will not just become another stop on a tourist heritage trail. He urged the charity to buy it because it was such a source of pride and wonder in a district with pockets of the worst deprivation not just in the city but in the country. Already artist Lizzie Jordan is working with local groups on projects inspired by the tower: one man whose life was in chaos was so transformed by picking up a paintbrush for the first time since he was 12 that he now has his own flat, and has left the hostel a gallery of paintings which now cover the walls.
Bradley dreams of groups from toddlers to pensioners painting in the garden, of a cafe selling 50p cups of tea to the mothers from the Sure Start centre across the road, of film nights with 20p tickets for the teenagers who are so gruffly proud of their extraordinary neighbour.
"We're working in estates where the history is of agencies coming in, doing projects and pulling out again – essentially these places have been abandoned. We don't want the people here to think aliens have got out of a spacecraft and taken over a building which is, quite rightfully, theirs."
"If all we ended up with here is four-wheel-drives pulling up and Mumsy, Mimsy and Wimpy hopping out for a quick look, and then driving away again 10 minutes later, as far as I'm concerned we'd have failed."

Labyrint Drielandenpunt | Atlas Obscura

Labyrint Drielandenpunt | Atlas Obscura

Labyrint Drielandenpunt

A beautiful maze marking where three countries meet

The Drielanden Labyrinth (or Three Country Labyrinth) is Europe's largest outdoor shrub maze. It was built by British landscape artist Adrian Fisher who used 17,000 hornbeam shrubs to constitute the maze. Not only is the maze the most South-Easterly place in the Netherlands, it is also the highest. The most exciting aspect of the Drielandaen Labyrinth however, is, as its namesake suggests, that it is located where the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany all meet. In the middle of the maze, which is said to take up to an hour to complete, is a platform allowing visitors to look off into any of the three countries as well as at their fellow maze travelers as they struggle in the network of hornbeams below.
Surrounding the labyrinth are a handful of other recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. There is a playground for the younger crowd and clay shooting and archery for the older crowd. Fittingly enough, there are also smuggling games for visitors to play, where they reenact the once frequent passage of smugglers looking to save their money by jumping borders. And finally, the Border Stone Tavern is located conveniently across the boardwalk from an inn, for those travelers who are looking to spend the night.

Basilica of Our Lady of Avioth | Atlas Obscura

Basilica of Our Lady of Avioth | Atlas Obscura

Basilica of Our Lady of Avioth

A towering baroque basilica jutting out of the French countryside

Many travelers visit France specifically for their historic countryside. Pastoral vistas, antique buildings, and quaint stone churches are part and parcel of the experience.
What they don't expect to find, however, are massive 14th-Century gothic basilicas located in the middle of otherwise small and unassuming villages.
That's what makes La basilique Notre-Dame d'Avioth, or the Basilica of Our Lady of Avioth, so unique. Grandiose and exquisitely put together, the basilica would be right at home in Paris or Nice. But instead its in the tiny town of Avioth, proving that you don't need to go to the city to see some phenomenal and inspiring architecture.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HBO Releases a Slew of New Images from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 |

HBO Releases a Slew of New Images from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 |

HBO Releases a Slew of New Images from ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3
As of now we’re two months out from the premiere of Game of Thrones‘ third season on March 31st. Covering the events of about the first half of the third book, A Storm of Swords, this will be the season where everything gets amped up to 11. If you were shocked, surprised, dismayed, aghast at anything from the first two seasons get ready to have your brain leaking from your ears come the end of Season 3. Both showrunners, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, always said if they made it to this season they knew they were safe. And I can’t imagine HBO tiring of Thrones, or the gold dragons and silver stags it’s making them, anytime soon.
While we’re still awaiting a proper trailer for Season 3 – it must be released soon, it must! – we can share these spectacular portraits of Thrones‘ ever growing cast. These images provide wonderful looks at characters new, like Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer), Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), Jojen (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick), and old.
Oooh, I am very, very excited for this season. I excited for Dany to become a commanding presence out in the East and to see her dragons grow. I’m excited for Bran to hook up the Reeds as they’re some of the coolest characters he’ll interact with for some time. I’m excited for Jon, North of The Wall and his budding relationship with Ygritte. And I’m excited for the misadventures of Jamie and Brienne. There’s just so much happening, I don’t even know how they’ll give each storyline the time it deserves. But I know they will. They’ve had to put those extra minutes to good use somehow.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO on March 31st.
Source: Entertainment Weekly