Spain, zombie kingdom?

Some terrible discoveries along the Llobregat.

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Animals in mediaeval visions of the hereafter

In the Middle Ages anyone of any commercial talent (and his/her mum) had visions and stored some human bones in the new toilet chapel extension of the pig shed nave of the temple next to that handy spring holy source on the hillside. Here, extracted by moderately cunning device from Amazon, is the relevant part of the ToC of Eileen Gardiner’s (not completely exhaustive) Medieval Visions of Heaven and Hell: A Sourcebook:

I hope this goat is ok

I’ve seen this happen to a sheep as the result of a heart attack. Many thanks to Andy “Drunk” Pandy.

Parasitical beatles and snails get their just desserts

Most people think that the kermes oak, Quercus coccifera, is actually holly because it’s a prickly evergreen tree that round here doesn’t usually get much bigger than 2m. Cocciferous plants are so-called because they bear berries (coccus + fero), and people used to make cochineal out of what they thought were this plant’s berries. Then…


The strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a tragic shrub, its ubiquity simply serving to remind one that it’s B-list vegetation. As with many things we can blame the Romans. Take Virgil. Aeneas has a bier made from oak twigs and strawberry tree shoots for poor old Pallas, but then Virgil goes and spoils it all…

Whatever happened to romance?

I’ve finally figured out why the mountain bike was invented: to keep this lot in order when they head off-piste in the Pyrenees. Lost me, they did. On the other hand, some people (1, 2) seem to manage quite well with straightforward, old-fashioned models. The second goat’s tag is Quand la pauvreté frappe a la…