Intimate and familiar

A striking idea, that in being true, a book will feel intimate and familiar to all men.  'True' surely means authentic rather than fact-based. Some books feel intimate and familiar to some people, not all, and there is value in that too. It is probably...

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Keats on hand-writing

Keats' letters are treasures - he is every bit as fine a correspondent as he is a poet.  Here he chides a friend for visually attractive but sprawlingly illegible hand-writing. 'You must improve in your penmanship; your writing is like the speaking of a...

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Finding the font

A key aspect of designing a dream website is finding the right fonts. As with colour selection, I aim for visual beauty in keeping with the spirit of the site, reinforced by names reflecting its purpose. Having sifted through several thousand fonts...

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Hue to the orange

Part of the fun of designing a website is choosing the colours.  I use colourlovers.com where people create and name their own colours - it lets you search by picking a section of the spectrum (yellow-orange for example), and providing some key words.  It...

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A quote to note

Drawing on thousands of sparkling, moving and inspiring quotations amassed during decades of attentive reading. To delight your mind and spirit and improve your presentations beyond belief.

Ferrari on aerodynamics

This is of course an outrageous statement, but I loved it when I saw it spray-painted on the wall of a motor museum in the Netherlands.  Ridiculously macho approach, breezily dismissive of working with the power of physics to add speed.  No, you work with...

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The path to alchemy

The route to alchemy?  There is none, there is no set path.  As I understand this enigmatic injunction, we need to find our own path to creating, not seek or follow others' paths. Which isn't to preclude great draughts of inspiration from the alchemy they...

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The eyes have it

An imaginative description of an otter's reaction to the firstborn of her first litter.  Williamson spent years studying otters before and while attempting to recreate their lives and feelings in writing.  A masterpiece of human empathy for another...

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Treading water

Tarka's mother cleverly entices her cubs into the water, first by putting the food she has caught close to the water, then teaching them to hunt for themselves by various feints and incentives. Water is their element but there is a momentary fear when they...

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Metaphorically speaking

More marvelous metaphors on Mondays … Monday, metaphor day.

As serene as …

A novel image for serenity. Use it next time you are describing someone or something serene. 'He was serene as glass.'   Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London: Bounty Books, 2012 (1847)), p. 518 Photo credit: MichaelGaida at...

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As still as …

So even the regular church-going Victorians only did their duty on Sundays. A nice way to convey stillness - an empty church on a week-day. 'It was as still as a church on a week-day.'   Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (London: Bounty Books, 2012...

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As powerless as …

Bronte has a wonderful range of simile and metaphor, here demonstrated in powerlessness being likened to stubble thrown into a furnace. See also another of her images of vulnerability. 'Physically, I felt, at the moment, powerless as stubble exposed to the...

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A quivering of shattered pinions

What a potent, heart-rending image of longing, echoing the Spanish word for lame or broken-winged, aliquebrado. See an earlier image of impotent vulnerability in Jane Eyre. '... only a sad heart broke it. ... it demanded him with ceaseless longing; and,...

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Triologisms

Bringing you pithy, evocative imagery in the form of three-legged microcosms of meaning. Updated on Tuesdays … Tuesday, triologism day!  You’ll never see this day of the week in the same way again.

Shock-headed flowers

Two lovely names for a dandelion-daisy-ish yellow flower with spokes poking out like a leafy wheel. 'The shock-headed flowers of the yellow goat's beard, or John-go-to-bed-at-noon ...' Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and...

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Purple-streaked stems

I never knew that hemlock grew alongside English fields, Of purple hue, it poisons you, and life to death it yields.   'He ran with them to where, amidst the purple-streaked stems of hemlock, the old man was standing on the shillets.'   Source: Henry...

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Sun-splashy ripples

You can feel the warmth of a summer day with diaphanous wings darting over glittering ripples. 'She heard the rustling clicks of dragon-flies' wings over the sun-splashy ripples.'   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death...

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Hawk-like glidings

Birds feature impressively in Williamson's minutely loving study of the life and landscape of an otter. Some are preyed upon, but overall their apparent fragility is combined with feistiness and resilience. The 'hawk-like glidings' evoke Gerard Manley...

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Star-shivery water

Tarka the Otter is a magical book and stars sparkle in the sky and the water, here shivering with them.  Elsewhere the stars form water-claws. 'The fish came no nearer so he dropped down into the black, star-shivery water.'   Source: Henry Williamson,...

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Raven-like croaks

Williamson's lovingly accurate study of otters includes many examples of the playfulness of these animals, be it with each other, with other species, with water, or with inanimate objects.  I liked the contented croaks of the jackdaws as they stretch wings...

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Words

Sharing words that sparkle, appeal, intrigue or otherwise grab me, including those in other languages.  And adoring alliteration, new words will be added on Wednesdays… Wednesday, word day.   See you back here then.

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Couiner

In this double-whammy week of French gloire, Bastille Day plus World Cup victoire, a half dozen proudly round sounding ooohh French words which have been playing in my ears since I stumbled upon them. First, a few onomatopoeic verbs and nouns, starting...

Chuchoter

What a lovely sh-sh-sh quiet whispering sound, meaning, indeed, 'to whisper'.  A whisper is 'un chuchotement', and a whispered conversation is 'une chuchoterie'. The whisperer, as in horses, is 'un chuchoteur' or 'une chuchoteuse'. If your whispering is in...

Chuinter

To hoot (as in owl) or to hiss (as in snake).  'Chuintant' is hushing, and 'un chuintement' is a hoot or a hiss. Another word for an owl's hooting is closer to the English: hululer. See also 'couiner' and...

Roucouler

The second syllable has the clue, here is how to bill and coo... This soft word can mean to whisper sweet nothings, or if you're less sentimental, you can use it to dismiss a singer as a mere crooner.  It can also evoke the cooing of a bird. The business...

Roudoudou

A wonderful word for a hard sweet or candy.  Put one in your mouth and then try saying 'roudoudou' five times. Second thoughts, better not, we mustn't be choking on our words. The dictionary doesn't give the plural, so may I ask French friends to confirm...

Boursoufler

A word that rolls into its roundness the sound of blowing ('souffler'), conveying something of its meaning: to swell, puff up, or in the case of paint, to blister. It can also be a reflexive verb, 'se boursoufler', and the noun is twofold: 'boursouflage'...

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