Monday, 6 January 2014

Whether or Weather

 The New Year is well underway and I hope you have a fantastic one - I guess it's what we make of it isn't it. 

Depending where you are reading this from, if you speak or read English, you are almost certainly speaking your own personal brand of this lovely but complicated language. In the UK alone, regional variations, even local variations are very noticeable and of course when you meet a Scot or a Welsh person or someone with Irish roots, then the difference is palpable. 

However, it's not so much the basics of the language, its the use of the words in different contexts that I have the most fun with. Here's an example.

a 'snicket' in Cottingham East Yorkshire
Walking back from the village this morning, I walked down the snicket next to the church. In truth, this is just a path bordered by hedges that runs alongside the church. This description is used locally, I have heard it elsewhere however. Another name is a ginnel, a passage, cut-through or, less accurately a ten-foot or an eight-foot. 

We have ten-foots too. No that's not a grammatical error, the ten-foot is the 'road' that runs behind our houses to allow services access that isn't accessible by the public at large as a through way. Why ten-foot? Because the standard is that it's ten foot wide in this part of the country. 

What is your local name for your 'snickets?'

St Georges flag flying atop St Mary's Church in Cottingham, East Yorkshire
I noticed that the flag of St George is flying today from the church flagpole. Arguments aside about the potential offensive use of the flag, I wondered why the flag was being flown. My brief research tells me that the flag is able to be flown as the national flag of England (not the UK) any day of the year although in reality, the flag is generally flown from churches on special days.  The flag dates back to 1348 as the official flag although an earlier use is recorded in 1300 but it hadn't been adopted as the official flag by then. Vexillology is the study of flags and associated emblems - a fact for the quiz buff!

Unfortunately neither the Government website nor the churches give the reason for the flag flying, perhaps they've just left it there from Christmas and New Year's celebrations. 

The USA are suffering bad weather at the moment which is being extensively reported here in the UK. I wish anyone living there good luck as temperatures of minus 50 - 60 degrees Fahrenheit are being reported. Traditionally, although I don't think it's strictly true, that whatever weather America has, we get it here two weeks later. The jet stream is very active and strong at the moment and the west to east airflow from the US to Europe is directly over the UK at the moment. I think a few people are worried.

Our current weather brought in from the Atlantic is causing much grief and upset to folk in the UK, particularly on the west coast as strong winds and high spring tides combine to cause local flooding and all the horror that comes with that. Stupidly, people are going to the coasts to observe the weather in dangerous locations and putting themselves and their children in some cases at risk.  Whilst it looks spectacular when a massive wave crashes over a sea wall, it carried the risk of serious injury or death and we have seen a number of deaths caused by such activity lately. 

My access to the Internet is severely limited at the moment for a number of reasons I won't bore you with, but it does cause problems uploading photographs which will be lower quality in size terms than usual for which I apologise.

Chat soon



  1. My husband calls little alleyways jitty's, he's Leicester born and bred so I guess it's from there. Have a lovely 2014 and hope your internet improves, love from your auntie xxx

  2. A Happy new year to you and your family RLS - hope you are all keeping your feet dry down there near the Humber estuary. We call them lanes or cut throughs here in the Dales

  3. Hi Auntiegwen, ive never heard of a jitty, what a fabulous name. Hope you are okay? Xx

    hi Weaver,
    Damp but dry xx

  4. We have had strange erratic weather recently - which affected my internet capability, too! I love area vernaculars, the origin of the word can be so humorous!

  5. Only just found you when I reading a Sept Saga magazine (not I wasn't in a waiting room!) Since this post we've had all the bad weather, or rather West country has. Purpose of msg? Oh yes, snickets here in 'ull we call 'em tenfoots and certainly round us are gated