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StrangeSights: Colombia’s upside-down house; an island ‘king’; and, a real-life lightsaber

Colombia upside down house

DAVID ADAMS provides a round-up of some stories on the odder side of life… 

Colombia upside down house

People pose for a photo inside the upside down house, in Guatavita, Colombia, on 23rd January. PICTURE: Reuters/Luisa Gonzalez/File photo.

An upside down house built in Colombia’s Guatavita, a short distance from the capital of Bogota, is capturing the imagination of visitors looking for fun following coronavirus restrictions. Inside the house, which was designed by its Austrian owner Fritz Schall, who lives in Colombia with his family, tourists walk on ceilings where floors would normally be, while furniture is positioned beneath them. “Everyone looked at me like I was mad, they didn’t believe what I was saying,” Schall said. “I said ‘I’m going to make an upside down house,’ and they told me, ‘Ok sir, sure, go for it.'” Inspiration for building the house came from a trip to Schall’s native Austria with his grandchildren in 2015, where they saw a similar house. Though the coronavirus pandemic made building the house a little difficult, it was finally finished at the start of this year, Schall said. “The pandemic slowed us down a bit, but it’s done now and we inaugurated it three weeks ago,” Schall said. For visitors weary of the pandemic and measures including lockdowns and restrictions on movements, the house offers light relief. “We’ve come from a pandemic, we’ve emerged from a lockdown, so this helps people have a moment of relaxation,” visitor Lina Gutierrez said. – CAMILO COHECHA and JAVIER ANDRES ROJAS/Reuters.

UK Piel Island

Looking across to Piel Island. PICTURE: Alexander Baxevanis (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Want to claim a crown? An English island is seeking a new landlord who, according to a local tradition is also known as a ‘king’. Piel Island, located in Cumbria off the mainland’s north-west coast, is about 20 hectares in size and features a pub, four private cottages and a 14th century castle. The position of landlord, which is being advertised by the Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council, carries the responsibility of running the 300-year-old pub, The Ship Inn, as well as managing the island’s small camp site. The island, which is reached by a ferry service, has a history dating back some 3,000 years and was once home to medieval monks. It was also a landing site for German mercenaries who they came to England in 1487 in support of an attempt by Lambert Simnel to seize the English Crown. “There’s something incredibly special about Piel Island, it’s certainly a location that is held close to the hearts of so many people across Barrow and the wider area,” said Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of the council. But those applying shouldn’t be offended when they have a drink poured over their head, as the council website explains: “The tradition holds that each new landlord is crowned ‘King of Piel’ in a ceremony of uncertain origin, in which they sit in an ancient chair, wearing a helmet and holding a sword while alcohol is poured over their head.”

A Russian YouTuber has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the inventor of the world’s first retractable lightsaber. Alex Burkan, who runs the Alex Lab channel on YouTube, is the creator of the weapon, which features a plasma blade measuring more than a metre long and reaching a temperatures of more than 2,800 degrees Celcius, giving it the ability to cut through steel. Lightsabers first appeared in Star Wars and Alex told Guinness he was a life-long fan of the film franchise. He added that making the lightsaber was no easy task. “Every single step during [the] development and building process was a challenge. For many years I have collected ideas and spare parts for my lightsaber and power equipment on the internet markets and [from] scrap yards.”



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