Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alistair and Beryl (and the meaning of the word "posh")

We really enjoy our Tuesday evening Bible study each week with Beryl and Alistair. They are members of the church in Bristol, and they are the only ones that live in our area. (It is over an hour's drive to Bristol.) Right now we are studying the book of Romans.

The top picture shows them in their backyard, or "garden", as the English say. The picture doesn't do their garden justice at all, because it does not show any of their flowers. The garden is bordered all the way around by flowerbeds that are perfectly manicured and full of beautiful flowers. Beryl is quite an expert on flowers!

The next photo shows their sunroom, or "conservatory", as it is called here.

This next photo shows part of their living room (called lounge).
I really need to get pictures of the outside of their house. They call it a "bungalow" because it is not attached to another house and because it is one-story. It is about the size of our house and about 11 or 12 years old.

We have learned a lot about England, especially this area of England, from visiting with them. This past week Beryl said that if she were to serve a "posh" meal, it would consist of several courses. She asked if we knew the origin of the word "posh" and of course, we didn't. She said that it is an abbreviation for the words "Port Out, Starboard Home." She said that long ago rich English would travel from Britain to India by ship. They always requested, and paid more money, for the side of the ship that was on the port side leaving England and on the Starboard side coming back. That would give them the cabins with the breeze and protection from the hot sun as they traveled through the Suez Canal and Red Sea area. Their tickets were stamped "P.O.S.H." Gradually that became a word associated with wealth, wealthy people, fancy, and expensive.
I looked the word up on the computer the next day. Beryl's story is the most widely accepted idea by the English people, and it is repeated often. However, there is no actual proof, and the shipping companies do not have any record or copies of tickets with that word stamped on them. Many experts say that the word "posh" is London slang for money and that it probably derives from the Romany (gypsy language) language, where "posh" is part of a word that means half-penny. Through the years that word began to be applied to money in general, then to the well-off or upper class. (This version of the story has been found recorded much earlier than the ship version.)
I kind of like the P.O.S.H. version of the origin of the word the best!

There is a man, Michael Quinion, who has written a book about word origins. In England the book is called PORT OUT, STARBOARD HOME and in the U.S. the book is called BALLYHOO, BUCKAROO, AND SPUDS.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Is this like camping?

Can you tell why I had to rewash some of the laundry the other day???

You can't tell what is hanging on the line on the left, but it is a grocery bag full of trash. It was on Saturday, and we have no trash pick-up over the week-end, so if we have trash that we don't want to stay in the kitchen over the week-end, we hang it up on the line so the badger won't get into it. It is kind of like camping sometimes!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My New Favorite Word

I have written before about the interesting ways that the English sometimes pronounce words. Here is my new favorite----see if you can pronounce "aluminum" the way they do......

al (short a sound) u (long u sound) min (like we do, except the accent is on this syllable) e (long e sound----an extra sound than we have) um (short u sound)

Could you do it?
Can you believe that is the normal pronunciation here??
So, when you go to the grocery store, ask for aluminum foil with the English pronunciation and see if anyone knows what you are wanting!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weather Report Phrases

I am always interested in the phrases used by the weather forecasters on television. When I hear one I like, I write it down. Here are some on my list:

Cracking start to the day
Odd splashes of rain
Sunny spells and showery spells
A little spot of rain today
Bits and pieces of rain
Shallow mist and cloud particles
Bits and bobs of rain
Slices of rain
Sharp showers
Fresher overnight
Spits and spots of rain
Sunshine on offer today

I hadn't realized that almost all of my phrases are about rain! I wonder why....

It will be interesting as the days get cooler to hear the new phrases!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Beginnings of Autumn

Fall is coming to England. The trees are just beginning to change colors. The thought here is that there will not be a really pretty autumn in England this year because of the timing of rain and heat. I hope the experts are wrong!

This is our weather forecast for today through Thursday. Especially notice the low temperature on Thursday!

Tue Sep 25 Wed Sep 26 Thu Sep 27
Temperature 11°C / 51°F 7°C / 44°F 3°C / 37°F

Temperature 15°C / 59°F 11°C / 51°F 12°C / 53°F

The following picture is of a house that is across the street from the driveway into our apartment complex. It was taken a couple of months ago. Then there is a picture of the same house now. I think the vines are beautiful.

Here is a collection of leaves that I picked up on my walk the other day.

The next two photos show some bushes with orange and yellow berries. There are lots of different kinds of bushes and trees that have various colors of berries on them now. People here do not have to go to Hobby Lobby to decorate with beautiful berries!

Days are getting shorter. It is not getting light until about 7:00a.m. and it is getting dark about 6:30 p.m. Everyone is telling us that in winter the daylight comes at 9:00a.m. and it gets dark between 3:30 and 4:00p.m. !! We are not looking forward to that! On Sunday, Trevor, the preacher, said that he can put up with the really short winter days to get the really long summer days (4:30a.m. until about 10:00p.m. in summer).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Beach is within a few miles of Lyme Regis, a beach that I wrote about earlier. Weymouth is a sandy beach, and the water is shallow for a long way out.
It is on the Bay of Weymouth, and it has the best sunshine record in England, even for the winter.

Some of the first passenger ships to America left from Weymouth. King George III made it into a fashionable resort by his regular visits and his purchase of a seafront home.
Several popular events are held at the beach. There is a huge carnival day in August, with fire works and air shows, etc. We had planned to go to it, but it was canceled due to rain! In October the Beach Motorcross Championships are held.
Weymouth is also known for sand sculptures, and there is a covered display of some sculptures. Mark Anderson is the current sculptor, and he learned from his grandfather Fred Darrington, who was known as the best sand sculptor in the world. Fred began his work in Weymouth in the 1920's and continued until a few years ago. There is a website called Sculpture in Sand that shows their work.
Another tradition of Weymouth is the Beach Donkeys. For years there have been donkey rides for the children on the beach. When Ron and I went there by ourselves, we saw children riding the donkeys, but when we went with Julie and family, the donkey rides were over for the day. I had wished the kids could ride them! The following is a photo of the Beach Donkeys from the internet.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stourhead Manor House

Stourhead House was built in the 1720's. It was built by the Hoare family, owners of a bank. That bank is the only independent bank still surviving in England. The property consists of 2650 acres owned by the National Trust and another part still owned by the Hoare family.

The following 3 pictures show a closer view of the front of the house, one side of the house, and the back.

The grounds at Stourhead contain prehistoric hill forts and burial mounds.
The gardens at Stourhead are known worldwide for their beauty. In fact, after Julie and Matt returned to Texas, Katelyn told Julie that she was seeing something on TV that she had seen before---it was Stourhead! The show was saying that it is one of the best gardens in England.
The gardens were designed in the 1700's. It takes 5 fulltime gardeners and many part-time gardeners to maintain the property. I think that you will agree from the following photos that the place is quite breathtaking. (I know I am posting a lot of photos, but I really did leave out quite a few!)

Wealthy people of this time period were very concerned about impressing people. They liked to build structures called follies to give their guests interesting things to view from the windows of the houses or while on carriage rides around the property. The next photo is of Alfred's Tower, which is such a folly. In the 18th century it was fashionable to idealize past hereos, and it was especially fashionable for wealthy people to have statues, etc. of the hereos. Henry Hoare II decided in 1762 to honor the Saxon King Alfred the Great (who defeated invading Danes) by building a tower, or folly. The tower is made of about one million red bricks and contains a 100 ft. tall winding staircase which leads to a room and an observation platform, from which one can see three counties. When we visited Stourhead, the tower was closed for the day, so we did not get to go up to the observation platform.

The following picture shows a monument. The monument is actually on a small hill. When Lauren and Katelyn were here, they had to roll down the hill---several times! On the TV show that I mentioned, Julie said that the commentator mentioned how fun it was for children to roll down that hill!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Apple Cider

The apple cider business is a big business in this part of England. There are lots of big apple orchards. These pictures show one that is withing walking distance of our apartment. In the first picture, notice the sheep that are resting beneath the apple trees.

On the way to church every Sunday we pass a small town with a huge cider factory. Notice the big cylinder-shaped storage tanks behind the factory.

The county that we live in is Sommerset. The Sommerset cricket team is named the Cidermen!

When Julie was here, she and I walked to the farm shop with the kids. There were two big jugs of cider and small cups. We sent Lauren to ask if we could have samples of the cider. We chose the one labeled "Sweet Cider". As soon as we poured it we could smell the extremely high alcohol content----it smelled terrible! I guess the farm shop lady thought we were getting alcohol for the kids! Maybe she just thought we were dumb foreigners! (She may have seen us pouring it out!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Our "Sock Dryer"

Here in England we do not have a washer or a dryer, but we do have a "sock dryer"!

Actually it is a towel warmer (I really do not know the proper name for it.), and we have one in each bathroom. I always thought it would be neat to have warm towels, but I found out that towel warmers are almost necessities in England because of the frequent rain with high humidity----at least necessities if you want to use dry towels! The warmers turn on every morning and every afternoon, so they are perfect for drying socks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Face in the Wall, part 2

Today I finally found out the story, at least as much as is known, about the child's face in the stone wall. (See my earlier blog if you don't know about it.)
I asked the old couple that run the post office across the street from the wall if they knew the story. They said that the man who currently owns the house bought it about 20-30 years ago. At that time the house did not have a stone fence, but there were piles of really old stones around the house. So the current owner decided to use the stones from the yard, and as he was building the wall, he discovered the stone child's face in among the pile of regular stones and decided to incorporate it into the wall. He guesses that it is about as old as the house, which was built in the late 1700's or early 1800's.
The real origin of the "face in the wall" will never be known!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blenheim Palace

The property in England ,which became known as Blenheim, and a huge sum of money(about 1/2 million dollars) to build a house were gifts from Queen Anne to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, for his great victory against the French at the Battle of Blindheim (the English called it Blenheim) in Bavaria in 1704.

Winston Churchill was born in the house, and he spent lots of time there during his childhood. The guide told us that the furnishings in the room where Winston was born were not the original furnishings. He said that, had the family realized how famous Winston would be, they would have kept the room intact! He said that unfortunately we don't know which babies will become famous!
Winston proposed to his wife at Blenheim and spent part of his honeymoon there. However, his father did not own the house. The property had been passed to Winston's uncle, who was the first born son. There is a family connection between the Churchills and the Spencers, Lady Diana's family.

Part of the house is still the residence of the 11th Duke of Marlborough. Can you imagine living in such a house!!

We could not take photos inside the house, but the following three are photos inside the chapel.

The next photos are of the grounds, which were designed by a man named Capability Brown. He was well-known for his garden designs for wealthy clients, and because of his ability to turn ordinary land into beautiful gardens, he was given the nickname "Capability".

The last photo is of the monument erected by the widow of the 1st Duke in his honor.