Catspaw

Catspaw

Seems to be a type of wind, quite distinct from the more common term of ‘cat’s paw’ which refers to someone used to do someone else’s dirty work.   In Arthur Ransome, however, I found: ‘There was very little wind, though now and again a catspaw hurrying from the south...
Roger

Roger

‘A Roger is the Norfolk name for a sudden squall which makes a loud hissing noise as it comes sweeping over the reeds.’ Source: Arthur Ransome, Coot Club (London: Jonathan Cape, 2009 (1934)), p....
A blank map

A blank map

‘You’ll start with a blank map, that doesn’t do more than show roughly what’s water and what isn’t.’ What a metaphor!   Doesn’t that describe so many of the journeys we begin?  The book even includes a black ink sketched version of this rudimentary map, allowing...
Publishers, monkeys, monkeys, publishers

Publishers, monkeys, monkeys, publishers

I love the way Captain Flint sees his mission to find a monkey for the children as a refreshing change from tramping around London looking for a publisher for his book. That line: ‘I’ll go and look at monkeys by way of a change from...
Sea-boot rough

Sea-boot rough

Winter sea hoarseness and tight-swallowing soreness. ‘My throat’s as rough as the inside of a sea-boot.’ Source: Arthur Ransome, Secret Water (London: Vintage, 2014 (1939)), p....
Battering-ram power

Battering-ram power

Nancy is a character with battering-ram energy in all she does, exuberantly seeking opportunities to go to ‘war’ with her friends and family. A warm-hearted warrior tomboy. ‘Nancy … gave Susan a look as powerful as a battering ram.’ Source: Arthur Ransome,...
Memory of a mistake

Memory of a mistake

That awful dawning when you emerge from innocent sleep and remember something you didn’t do right, and dismay fills the pit of your belly like a cloud billowing in a balloon. ‘There was sunlight outside. Yet he woke with a queer feeling of gloom. It was like waking on...
Flapping not floundering

Flapping not floundering

Living pancakes, flapping not floundering. ‘He emptied the bucket into the creek, and the two little flounders flapped away, like pancakes come to life.’ Source: Arthur Ransome, Secret Water (London: Vintage, 2014 (1939)), p....
Sky-breaking storms

Sky-breaking storms

Another wet weather image.   We have a single-slope roof which makes the rain sound an inch above one’s head, and Luiz grew up to the sound of metallic tropical rain beating on terracotta roof tiles. ‘One flash followed another and then there were three tremendous...
Stormy tea trays

Stormy tea trays

We’ve had some rotten weather recently, rain-grey clouds rolling over us like dismal tumbleweed, so this resonates. ‘There was a distant rumbling, and then a sudden crash, followed by a clattering as if an iron tea-tray ten miles wide was tumbling down a stone...
Dull as suet pudding

Dull as suet pudding

A charming alternative to ‘dull as ditchwater’.   I also like the last affirmative sentence. “Your brother is the most interesting patient I ever had. My patients mostly are as dull as suet puddings … But your brother is something different altogether, and I’m...
Civilization, one scoop or two?

Civilization, one scoop or two?

‘What is civilization?’ A deep and vital question we need to keep asking. I liked this pithy response, particularly one scoop coffee-flavoured with one scoop raspberry and one of mango sorbet. In a silver cup on a sunny terrace. That’s civilization. ‘What is...
Late for spring cleaning?  Handy excuses here

Late for spring cleaning? Handy excuses here

Yes, I did a spring cleaning that included washing the tops of the kitchen cupboards. For this I deserve a medal. But I confess I haven’t got around to the windows. It keeps raining and what’s the point if your smear-free sparkle is going to be rain-spattered in 24...

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