I made a rare observation (for me) of a yellow moth the other day and one thought led to another, as it usually does…
But first the moth. I was arriving home when I saw (more…)
Although this post is about where the saying “warming the cockles of my heart” comes from, it is also all about cockles – and my most memorable food moment of last year. It’s hard to believe, but that highlight was a small bowl of the most wonderful cockles I have ever seen.
It was late July and we were at the Guildhall Tavern in Poole, Dorset, one of our favourite French restaurants. The cockles on offer as a starter were so fresh, said our host Severine, that they were not even on the menu yet. (more…)
Please indulge me while I share some shiny things with you.
I always get like this in Spring, when the sun grows stronger and nature has a certain sheen to it.
I think it’s a woman thing, a gatherer trait inherited from our Stone Age forebears, who must have spent their whole lives looking for bright, shiny berries to pick and eat.
And in many species it’s the male who displays and the female who appreciates it. Apparently not in humans, but diamonds are still a girl’s best friend. So here I am exploring both sparklies and more subtle lustres – as I look at the words iridescence, opalescence and pearlescence. (more…)
I was already musing on words beginning with chap and cheap before, by chance, an exhibition featuring the 17th century Cheapside Hoard was announced. Read about the treasures here.
Cheapside is in the City of London and was the site of a Medieval produce market. At that time it was known as Westcheap, to distinguish it from Eastcheap, near London Bridge. The word “cheap” broadly means “market”.
You also find the word in (more…)
I was dismayed the other day when a BBC news presenter said she had never heard of “a pig in a poke” and asked the interviewee what he meant. But then, I would not know the phrase myself had I not heard it in an American TV cartoon when I was a child.
I remembered the cartoon but had forgotten it was called Hector Heathcote – now thanks to some Googling I have identified that a whole episode was called A Pig in a Poke. So that was indeed where I first heard the phrase.
In the Middle Ages it was common for people to sell a dog or cat for meat and pass it off as something tastier, like a pig. And a poke is a bag or sack, so if you buy a pig in a poke, you buy something concealed, without inspecting it, believing it to be a juicy pig.
That’s the literal meaning but (more…)