Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I expect you know what a swan is and can probably see where the term swan necked comes from. The birds' graceful progress across the water would account for the phrase swanning about too (I swan about a fair bit, though not usually in a graceful manner. That's what I was doing when I spotted this family.)

A swan song is a person's last work or act before death or retirement. I'm not sure why a large white water bird of the genus Cygnus should be associated with that, or with a form of diving, but it is. 

Did you know that swan can also refer to a poet? And can you guess who has been referred to as the swan of Avon?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


Frangible means brittle or liable to break. To me it sounds like one of those flaky pastry things which shatter as you bite into them, but not until after they've squidged a dollop of cream down whatever you were wearing.

It could also apply to the poor plants on my allotment as I think ours is the only town in the country not to have had rain over the last few days. 

Or even to that little burst of confidence that allows us to submit our work and which cracks at the mere thought of a 'thanks but no thanks' by return of post. Still if you want to be published you have to risk that. 

Stained glass is frangible. This example is hundreds of years old. It's lasted because it's surrounded and supported by the stone walls of Dover castle. Maybe there's a lesson there?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Succulent is a brilliantly descriptive word, I think. Doesn't it sound just like biting into a ripe, juicy strawberry freshly picked and still warm from the afternoon sun? It can also refer to moisture filled plants - the ones that look like shaved cacti.

As you can probably tell from the photo* I'm currently out in the van and being sociable. I'm just off now to meet up with someone (who I only know through the internet) at Beachy Head. I can't see anyway that could possibly go wrong....

*There's cucumber in those drinks and that's a jolly succulent vegetable.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


Schadenfreude is my husband's favourite word. (Does anyone else have a favourite word?) It's German really, but the English like to acquire foreign words and make them our own by pronouncing them incorrectly.

It means to take pleasure from someone else's misfortune. I don't do that (unless the person particularly deserves their horrible fate) but sometimes, even as I'm doing my best to help, I think 'that would make a good story'. (Does anyone else do that?)