National Geographic

Vlad the Impaler – The Real Dracula

Romanian folklore tells of a golden chalice that once upon a time sat beside a spring along the road to Târgoviște, a market town that was the capital of the medieval principality of Walachia. The cup had been placed there by the prince so that weary travelers, indeed any who were thirsty, could pause and…

The Golden Age of Pirates

  ON A SWELTERING AFTERNOON in June of 1719, the Princess, a 140-ton ship out of London, was sitting at anchor off  Anomabu, a steamy West African slave port, waiting to take on a load of slaves for the plantations in the West Indies, when a strange vessel materialized out of the heat haze along…

The Ghost Ship of Filey Bay

It was supposed to have been a straightforward salvage job, or at least as straightforward as these sorts of things are in the difficult, moody waters of the North Sea.  A local trawlerman known as “Killer” Cox had snagged his net on something in about eighty feet of water in Yorkshire’s Filey Bay and with…

Conquering Switzerland’s St Gotthard Pass

When the Welsh chronicler Adam of Usk traveled over Switzerland’s wild and remote Gotthard Pass by ox cart on his way to Rome in 1402, he found the going so terrifying that he had his guides blindfold him so he wouldn’t have to look.  He wasn’t the first alpine traveller to wish there was another…

Banjo Paterson – Bard of The Bush

I had written him a letter, which I had for want of better Knowledge sent to where I met him on the Lachlan years ago; He was shearing when I knew him so I sent the letter to him Just on ’spec, addressed as follows: Clancy of The Overflow…   It started out as a…

Namibia’s Diamond Shipwreck

How’s this for a tale of a dark and stormy night: a mighty Portuguese carrack, laden with gold and ivory and bound for the fabled spice port of Goa, is blown far off course by a wild storm while trying to round the southern tip of Africa and days later, battered and broken, founders on…