Let’s have fun, make money, find new satisfaction in life with a hobby or even a lifestyle pursuit.

And how would you fare quarantined inside one of these things?

If you know us, you know we love weird architectural history from the height of the utopian design age, but the idea of spending lockdown inside a radical sci-fi social experiment might take some convincing. This odd cluster of spherical houses is known as Bolwoningen, built in 1984 by artist Dries Kreijkamp as part of an experimental housing development program launched from 1968 to 1984 in the Netherlands. There are 50 of them, and after 37 years of existence, they are still as strange and futuristic as ever. What may look like a subdivision of mini astronomical observatories or a batch of oversized golf balls (you decide) are in fact inhabited by everyday Dutch folk in the suburban town of Den Bosch….Like extraterrestrial mushrooms emerging from riverbanks, they stand out even more because they’re located on the edge of an ordinary new housing estate. 
“The globe-shape is totally self-evident,” explained Dries Kreijkamp of his unusual spherical design. “It’s the most organic and natural shape possible. After all, roundness is everywhere: we live on a globe, we’re born from a globe. The globe combines the biggest possible volume with the smallest possible surface area, so you need minimum material for it. It’s space saving, very ecological and nearly maintenance-free. Need I say more?”
The basic system consisted of two stacked parts: a cylindrical base for the staircase, storage and utility spaces, and a three-story freestanding sphere. In the original project, the spheres were designed to be produced in polyester but the fire regulations imposed concrete reinforced with fiberglass. Each capsule has a diameter of 5.5 meters and six windows.
© Gil Merin © Gil Merin The spherical houses have unusual floor plans too: the toilets and bathrooms are placed in the centre of the ball, while the living room is located upstairs and the bedrooms on the ground floor. There is also a small kitchen which is separated by a wall from the rest of the living room. 
© Super Formosa Photography
The advantages of this type of structure are that they do not require any type of permanent foundation, require low maintenance and consume little energy. They are also lightweight at 1250 kg, and can be easily assembled or transported.

The disadvantages? Well for one, they require rounded furniture. So try fitting your IKEA closet against the wall in here.
“Barbapapa”, a 1970s French cartoon
Uncube magazine has a hunch that the Bolwoningen complex may have been inspired by the houses from a French cartoon series, well-known in the 1970s, called “Barbapapa”.
“Barbapapa”, a 1970s French cartoon
As an art student, Dries Kreijkamp developed an obsession with spheres and was convinced he could revolutionise modern living with them. The media flocked to odd community of Bolwoningen and people did come from all over the world just to see the houses, but the government’s experimental mood (and financial support) came to an end in 1984.

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In the 1990s, Kreijkamp’s career-defining sci-fi experiment was nearly scrapped entirely; slated for demolition after residents complained about maintenance issues with their houses. One of them was even said to be sinking into the ground. But after a some considerable renovation, the spherical homes were left in place. Kreijkamp however was never able to conquer the globe with his designs and he died in 2014, still trying to convert urban planners to get behind his futuristic pods.
One of Kreijkamp’s own prototypes “The Eskimos really knew what they were doing, with their igloos. And so do African tribes who build round clay huts”, Kreijkamp once told a journalist. When living becomes even less affordable than it is now, perhaps we’ll be taking his circular homes more seriously. What say you?

Some of Nature’s Best Work is Hidden Away in Siberia

Shavlo Lake in Northern Chuysky Range
We’re constantly looking for untapped corners of the globe. The road less travelled. Proof that tourism hasn’t conquered everything. Today that search took us to the Altai Mountains, in the least-populous republic of Russia, where the frontier meets China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. Genetic research has suggested this Siberian landscape was the birthplace of Native Americans. Settlements in the region date back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. It’s home to mysterious forests, turquoise rivers, 7,000 lakes, martian landscapes, and gold and snow-capped mountains alike. In the aftermath of a global pandemic that has forever changed our overcrowded world, it’s just the sort of place we can see ourselves venturing further afield…Katun River in the Altai Mountains
We’d start with our compass pointing towards the sacred island of Patmos, known as one of the wonders of Altai; it’s essentially a rock with sheer walls located in the middle of the river Katun that flows down from the glaciers of Siberia’s “Golden Mountains”. The sole way to access the island is via a rope suspension bridge, which only 8 people can cross at a time.
The foot bridge to Patmos Island
Consecrated in 1855, Patmos owes its name to the small Greek island of the same name. The chapel was named after the monk’s guardian angel, St. John the Evangelist who lived on the Greek island of Patmos. A handful of religious sites, including a temple, attracting religious travellers to participate in its services. It’s one of the few places in the Altai Republic where you might encounter another foreigner.
A sacred site on Patmos Island © dramoor Patmos Island © sibalt.ru Katun River in the Altai Mountains
There are a few vintage Soviet resort towns in the area but for the most part, the Altai is a huge untouched National Park in an enormous yet sparsely-populated (read: socially-distanced) area. The only inhabitants are the nomadic, yurt-dwelling tribes that navigate the terrain as they have done for centuries. With tourism under-developed, hotels scarce and Airbnb non-existent, the key to this raw paradise is full immersion in nature; living and breathing in the breathtaking scenery like those who call it home. Rent a car and make it an adventure road trip. Spend nights beneath the stars and days on the roads, lakes and rivers…
Kyzyl–Chin
Pitch a tent in the colourful desert mountains of Kyzyl–Chin, known locally as “Mars” for obvious reasons. Lake Teletskoye, the “Golden Lake” is known to have actual gold in the surrounding hills and nearby waterfalls. Try your luck spotting a snow leopard or make friends with a wild horse. If this account is anything to go by – they are pretty damn friendly.
This is also your chance to drive take a scenic drive along the iconic Silk Road via Siberia’s Chuisky Highway. Brave the hairpin bends of Katu-Yaryk Pass, roll through the panoramic vistas of Chike-Taman and Seminsky Pass, or the Red Gate mountains of Ulagan…

Red Gate mountains of Ulagan
Follow a rocky, off-road path to the Stone Mushrooms, unusual rock formations measuring up to seven meters tall that look as though they are tall, capped mushrooms – one of the stranger sights in the Altai.
© sibalt.ru
The people of the Altai have roamed these lands since the Iron Age – this is the land of the reindeer riders and eagler hunters. The Altai has over a thousand caves of note and open for exploration, where archaeologists have discovered evidence of more than 20 different cultural civilisations dating back more than three hundred thousand years ago.
© sibalt.ru
In 2008, scientists found human remains revealing a fundamentally new subspecies of humans, different from both the Neanderthal and the homo sapiens. In the 1930s, a Scythian burial mound was discovered containing sarcophagi, mummies and even textiles. Almost perfectly preserved in the permafrost, archeologists excavating the graves in the Altai mountains found intricately detailed boots worn by a Scythian woman around 300–290 BCE (pictured below).
© The British Museum
DNA analysis of ethnic groups living in the Altai Mountains, as reported by the National Geographic in 2012, found that the region may be a genetic “homeland” for North America’s indigenous peoples, according to the authors.
© Anton Agarkov
Today, Russia’s Altai Republic is home to just over 205,000 people – 35% of representing the indigenous Altaians, a Turkic ethnic group. Many of the traditional peoples remain Shamanists; guides between the physical and ethereal world. These lands have long been regarded as an area of mysterious and occult significance, so prepare for your journey through the Altai to potentially become a spiritual one. After all, the Altai seems to be one of those rare corners on the Earth where nature decided to show everything it was capable of.
© sibalt.ru
Looking for more tips? Become a MessyNessy Keyholder to gain access to our Travel eBook library and a direct line to our Keyholder Travel Concierge to plan your personalised itinerary. Need help planning a weekend in France? Need some restaurant recommendations for a remote village in the North Pole? We’re here to help. 

About Last Night: Ancient Drunkard Apology Letters of the Silk Road

It’s happened to the very best of us, when the stark light of day wakes us from a slumber with a dry mouth, a sore head and a foreboding sense of shame for our previous night’s antics. For last night, far too much liquor had been consumed, and the party was perhaps a little too hard. As Shakespeare so eloquently put it, “That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.” As we stumble out from which ever place we had laid ourselves, brief snapshots of the night appear and the unforgiving sense of shame takes over. Some call it hangxiety, others the shameover. And so begins the inevitable conversations with those who were there and who perhaps had a clearer vision of what exactly was said and done, as you retrace your unsteady steps and attempt to decipher who might be owed an apology. Today we can make our clunky excuses through the magic of technology, but this morning-after ritual is one that has been around for centuries – let’s just say that for as long as we’ve had alcohol, we’ve had hangxiety.Travel back to the first millennium AD, to China, and more specifically to the oasis town of Dunhuang, which welcomed travellers of the Silk Road, taking refuge from the unending desert. The Tang dynasty, which ruled from 618 to 907 AD, is in full swing, sweeping across China, Iran and Turkey and bringing with it a new appreciation for grapes, and consequently, wine.
Banquet at the Imperial Palace during the Tang dynasty © University of Toronto
The Silk Road is thriving, wine is flowing and the opportunities for a good night out are plentiful. Enter the eloquently named Dunhuang Bureau of Etiquette, a convenient service which allowed our disgraced partygoers to purge themselves of their embarrassment, without too much thought. For the Dunhuang Bureau of Etiquette had handily composed a set of drunken apology templates, which officials could have delivered to their hosts, excusing themselves for the previous night’s behaviour. All that was required of the sender was to copy out the helpful little template, enter the host’s name and sign the apology letter, helping ease some of the headache that must have plagued these red-faced revellers.
One such example, dated 856 AD, reads:

Yesterday, having drunk too much, I was intoxicated as to pass all bounds; but none of the rude and coarse language I used was uttered in a conscious state. The next morning, after hearing others speak on the subject, I realised what had happened, whereupon I was overwhelmed with confusion and ready to sink into the earth with shame.

The entire scroll, filled with Form Letters adapted for various situations, can be seen here. The story for how our ancient drunken apology letters came to be found is one that also merits a mention.
Up until the twentieth century, little was known about the Silk Road. It was only when explorers and archaeologists unearthed the remains of a number of ancient cities, hidden in the desert, that they found a treasure trove of history, made up of sculptures, murals and manuscripts. One of the most notable discoveries was found just outside Dunhuang, in a cave which had been sealed and hidden at the end of the first millennium AD, known now as the Mogao caves.

Mogao Caves ©Yaohua2000
The vital discovery was made by a Chinese monk in the early 1900s, who wished to preserve this spiritual place. He took it upon himself to tend to the cave, meticulously caring for every inch of it and appointing himself as somewhat of a guardian.
Chinese monk, known as “Wang”
One day, the monk observed a crack in one of the cave’s wall and discovered a small, hidden chamber, full to the brim with texts dating from 406 to 1002 AD. Unbeknownst to him, Wang had just excavated a copy of the world’s first dated book Diamond Sutra, which was written in 868 AD and constitutes seven strips of yellow stained paper, pasted together. This however was the very beginning of Wang’s discoveries as he went on to unearth forty thousand manuscripts, paintings and printed documents, which have helped historians to build a rich and enticing picture of the Silk Road’s history. As to why these texts were squirrelled away from prying eyes, the answer is unclear but it is perhaps suggested that the Buddhist monks who did so were weary of an encroaching invasion.
Manuscripts found at the Mogao cavesM. Aurel Stein © British Library
Desperate to secure funding to allow him to continue caring for the cave, Wang sold a British-Austrian archaeologist by the name of Marc Aurel Stein, seven thousand of the manuscripts, along with six thousand fragments, and several cases filled with paintings, embroideries and other artefacts. Stein later remarked that the measly sum of £130 which he paid for this incredible haul was one “that will make our friends at the British museum chuckle.” Indeed, this discovery is now considered to be one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time, earning Stein a knighthood but the enduring distain of those in China.
The collection of work acquired by Stein revealed a world that the West had been oblivious to. The texts were written in Sanskrit, Turkic, Chinese and Tibetan and painted a picture of what it was like to live on the Silk Road during its glory days. Not only were the drunken apologies discovered but along with them, a medley of other documents including slave contracts and police reports.
This remarkable loot is now spread out across the world, displayed in museums in Beijing, Delhi and Paris, while the drunken apology letter finds itself on display in the British Library. A cautionary reminder that one hazy night of your life, might just go down in history in more ways than one. Always drink responsibly!
Further listening:

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Written by Louise McNutt

How Personal Injury Lawyers Connect With Clients

Lawyers are experts who provide legal advice to their clients, prepare legal documents, and argue legal matters in court. Lawyers can opt to specialize in several different fields of law. Lawyers who represent people who’ve been injured in an accident or affected by medical malpractice are called personal injury lawyers.

Personal injury attorneys use several methods to connect with clients. They use traditional media and advertising as well as online promotional strategies to raise their firm’s profile and promote their services to potential clients. Personal injury attorneys also use technology to facilitate communication between themselves and their clients.
SEO Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) marketing is one of the most effective online marketing strategies any business can use. Businesses establish a company website and use proven SEO marketing tactics to raise their website’s domain rating (DR) score. SEO strategies include ensuring the website is easy to navigate, building backlinks to the website from reputable sources, and including keywords in the content featured on the site. Search engines list sites with the highest DR scores first, ensuring that people looking for the services your firm offers will learn about your law firm.
Once people Google “Louisiana personal injury attorney,” they’ll see a list of websites for the personal injury lawyers in the area whose websites have the highest DR scores. Potential clients can learn about the specific types of clients the firm represents, including medical malpractice victims and people who’ve been in auto accidents. Potential clients receive a free consultation, ensuring they have an opportunity to speak directly to an attorney before deciding whether to pursue a lawsuit. Many lawyers also offer online chat services through their website to ensure potential clients’ questions are answered promptly.
SEO marketing strategies can be supplemented with online advertisements on popular social media platforms. Social media posts and ads can also be used to generate backlinks.
Call Centers

Law firms use inbound call center solutions to manage incoming queries, answer callers’ questions, respond to voicemails, or communicate with potential clients via text or email. Useful call center software also enables customer service representatives to address queries raised on social media.
Customer service representatives can confirm the types of personal injury cases their firm handles. They’re equipped to provide general information about some of the reasons why clients may want to hire a skilled attorney with years of experience fighting to ensure their clients receive fair compensation for property damage and medical bills. Some patients may also need to retrain for a new career or apply for disability if they sustained a serious injury, such as a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Call center staff can ensure potential clients have an opportunity to speak to a lawyer and learn about their legal rights before agreeing to a settlement offer from an insurance company.
Traditional Advertisements

Many personal injury attorneys promote their firm and their services with traditional advertising options, including billboards and mailers. Many people who need to hire a personal injury lawyer are injured in auto accidents. People in auto accidents are typically those who drive regularly, and placing billboards is an economical way to promote legal services to those most likely to need your firm.
Mailers are still a popular, affordable promotional option. Mailers can be an effective way to reach potential clients who don’t travel much or use the Internet. Family members struggling with an accident’s aftermath may refer to these mailers to find a personal injury lawyer who can help them receive compensation for wrongful death or a serious injury.
Personal injury attorneys also advertise their services on television and in newspapers. This is a popular approach lawyers use when they’re working on a class action lawsuit. With class action lawsuits, there are multiple clients pursuing claims from the same defendant. If there’s evidence supporting a claim against a company for a product that malfunctions and causes bodily harm, the attorney may advertise the case to encourage other clients affected by the product to join the lawsuit. Examples of class action lawsuits include suits against companies that produced products that cause mesothelioma and the lawsuit against Big Tobacco.
Personal injury lawyers use a variety of traditional and high-tech methods to connect with clients. Websites and online marketing strategies are crucial for personal injury attorneys. These lawyers also employ call center staff to handle incoming communications and invest in traditional marketing options, including billboards and television advertisements.
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