Splinters and dead ringers

Having just written about beer we tootled off to the pub… sadly I am not drinking beer or any alcohol at the moment, but the great thing about great pubs is that that doesn’t matter! You can still have a very pleasant and enjoyable time!

We met up with two of the three girls first of all – girl three is in Canada at the moment (the ‘girls’ are all seniors, by the way!).  Harley the English bulldog came over for a visit, he is gorgeous, and just wanted a bit of a scratch under his receding chin and a rub of the ears and then he wandered off again. Then the two T’s came in, Tim and Trev and we caught up with each other’s news.

Tim told us the story of his injured finger (finger and hammer… the end) and how his wife who was a nurse nearly fainted at the sight of it.  Daughter showed her war wound – a bizarre injury which came from a bit of the protective screen of her mobile phone splintering off and going under her finger nail… yes, nasty, makes me shiver to remember it! Tim then told us of a similar injury he received except this was with a piece of wood. He’d been at work and had a young work-experience student with him (school children have to go into places of work for two weeks to learn what the real world is like) This young person wasn’t that interested in the area in which Tiim worked because he wanted to train to be a nurse when he left school. Tim was using a plane on a plank when something came adrift and a long splinter of wood went up under his fingernail. A few naughty words and Tim grabbed some pliers and pulled the offending piece of wood out… at which point the boy fainted!

We talked about many things, the last bowls match of the season for Trev, plaid after it was dark with candles in jam jars to light the direction in which to bowl – like a flight path which was apt as Trev had been in the RAF. Somehow we got onto the subject of wakes, and suddenly Tim said ‘Dead ringers!’  and everyone nodded and laughed… Well, I was a bit confused… ‘Dead Ringers’ is a popular radio programme… but no, Tim however, was talking about the practice of having a bell rope dangling into a coffin so that if someone was not really dead, they could tug on it and alert someone once they had been buried… I had heard of that – but never associated with the term dead ringers! Surprising what you learn in the pub!

Animals in pubs

Our pub the Dolphin (named after an animal) is a creature friendly pub. Dogs are more than welcome, in fact there are two resident Jugs (pug/Jack Russell cross) Tim and Sim. There are other dogs who visit, some are regulars, but none is as famous as Penny, known as Mrs Pen, who died several years ago but is not forgotten.

I was researching something else and was looking at the names of pubs in Cambridge – well, the names of old pubs, so many have now disappeared or changed names. Cambridge not so long ago was little more than a market town with a university – although in actual fact it is a city. The rural nature of its surrounding countryside is reflected in some of the old pub names…

Animals of various colours and although there are some exotics, many reflect animals seen in the Cambridgeshire countryside  –

  • The Blue Bore/Lion
  • The Black Bear/Bull/ Lion/ Swan/The Little Black Bull
  • The Green Lion/Dragon
  • The Red Bull/Red Cow/Red Lion/ The New Red Lion/Old Red Lion
  • The Cock x3
  • The Cow and Calf
  • Dog and Duck/Hare and Hounds
  • The Horse and Groom/The Light Horse/The Race Horse
  • The Eagle/The Hawk/The Peacock/The Crane
  • The Lamb/The Ram
  • The Roebuck
  • The Pike and Eel/The Pickerel/The Salmon

… and of course there had to be…

  • The Dolphin

Penny, Mrs Pen at the back door of the pub


Two shorts in the Dolphin

For various reasons we went to the Dolphin tonight; we don’t usually go on a Thursday – Tuesday for quiz, the occasional Friday or Saturday, then Sunday to meet up with ‘the girls’ and the 2 T’s, Tim and Trev.

So we drifted down this evening at about quarter past ten, just for the last three-quarters of an hour, and we sat in what we call the cross-benches, the bar between what I guess used to be ‘the lounge’ and the other bar which would have been ‘the public’. Such distinctions are long gone, the pub is the pub, but there is definitely the quiet end, and the TV/darts board end. (The cross-benches, by the way is actually a parliamentary term for where those minority parties sit, between the government and the opposition)

We sat next to a table of four jolly, youngish people who we didn’t know, two couples who were having a social time with each other. We were just sitting, drinking our drinks, when the two ladies of the couple stood up and back to back compared heights. It was plain that the blond lady was a few inches shorter than the dark lady…

A friendly row broke out between them because the blond lady thought she was the same height as the dark lady… I chimed in because I am 5′ 4″, the same as the blonde lady. Soon I  had my shoes off and we were back to back comparing heights. Then the husbands joined in, and I have to say my husband, 6′ 6½” was way taller than anyone else… there was much laughter and banter, and then a lady from the other end came over, she wasn’t even 5 foot!

Anyone coming into the pub and seeing all these laughing, arguing people with no shoes on, standing back to each other would have thought us most strange! However, that is just a typical night in the Dolphin! The two couples departed with shaking of our hands and farewells to us, and us promising to bring a tape-measure next time, and then we sat back to finish our drinks…

Yes, a typical Dolphin night!

Ir’s Sunday night…

It’s Sunday night, and unlike the previous three nights when we have thought about drifting down to the Dolphin for a jar or two and been trapped by rain, rain, rain, tonight it was not raining – in fact there was even a sliver of moon in the sky. So hopeful of meeting the two T’s, or ‘the girls’ we set off down to our local.

The pub was fairly empty tonight, but the two T’s, Trev and Tim, were ensconced in their usual corner, so with a couple of pints of fine Otter beer, we joined them. When we arrived they were talking about painting and decorating; we exchanged news – we had been to a family wedding last week and the beer festival today, we had bowls club news from Trev, and painting and decorating news from Tim.

We were drinking mighty fine pints of Otter, as was Trev, Tim was on our local cider, Thatcher’s Gold. I really wish I liked cider; local product, organically grown, giving employment to local people, a traditional product… what’s not to like… well… it’s just not to my taste. I don’t like any cider… there is something about the smell, as well as the taste, as well as the after effects… We had a bit of a discussion about it, and we reported back to the 2 T’s about the cider on offer at the beer festival (this is Somerset, traditional home of cider, as well as the home of some brilliant beers!)

As usual we had a really interesting evening… we talked about Legionnaire’s Disease (a friend is in intensive care with it) – Tim in his professional life had to deal with its prevention so is very knowledgeable; we talked about coach holidays and going to see the WW1 battlefields; we talked about civic works in our town, the power of the local college, the town, our village… and our last discussion was on the corrupt practices in British industry in the 1970’s…

Time was called, we hugged, said goodnight, and tottered off to our homes… what a pleasure it is to be able to walk home down the middle of the road!

This is our way home… no cars, no traffic!


And it’s Sunday, the Dolph, the girls, and the two T’s

We talk about our local the Dolphin such a lot, and yet we don’t actually go there that often… wait a minute… Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday… but wait another minute! Tuesday quiz night! Thursday we had been very busy and it was very hot! Saturday my drummer boy had been at a gig in deepest Somerset so came home tired and very hot and thirsty since he couldn’t drink as he was driving! Sunday we go to the pub to meet the two T’s, our friends Tim and Trev.

We drift down latish for the last hour, and when we arrive, no T’s but the girls. This isn’t meant to sound patronising but affectionate… three very clever, and amusing women who live locally and are always out on jaunts and adventures together, and also play badminton in the village hall. Two are sisters, and dog people; Shirley was the owner of the amazing Thatch, a dog of great character who used to sit on the front lawn arms folded (OK forepaws folded) presiding over the street. Thatch’s cousin/brother, Shirley’s sister Maureen has Hamlet was a more laid back and maybe timid character who Thatch led into various adventures. The third is Jean who comes from the Lake District, and we were talking tonight about the fact that it has become a World Heritage Site.

We have great fun, a real craic (the sisters are from Ireland) talking about all sorts of things,sport, County Antrim, geese, a strange farm they had recently stayed in, drinking champagne and eating canapes in a barn until Maureen accidentally threw her cider over Jean. As she was offering a hanky to dry jean’s shoes, the two T’s arrived, one of them looking slightly less sunburned than the last time we had seen him – he’d been sitting in the garden and fallen asleep… great redness ensued!

We were all up ‘our’ end of the pub – if you can imagine the letter E with the middle bit missing, that’s the shape of the pub. A bar at either end and the cross-benches as we call them between. (The cross benches is a parliamentary term for the benches or seats  between two different parties – this is just a joke… people float round all the areas of the pub!) There may have been a few folk in the cross benches at some point, but when I drifted through in search of a bar man (when it’s quiet like on a Sunday there is only one person on) it was empty. Down at the darts board/TV/other end there were a few regulars, but on the whole it was quiet, typical Sunday.  The jukebox was playing,  a varied selection but predominantly Country and Weston. I was glad to hear one of my all-time favourites ‘Human’ drifting through!

The girls departed, they’d been out and about and they were ready to go, then time was called and we finished our drinks, too our glasses  to the bar and shouted ‘cheerio’ and off we went…

I wonder if Jean’s shoes are dry… but that’s another story..

. as is the tale of the friendly geese…

A romp of Otters

We were sitting in the pub enjoying a very refreshing pint of otter, after a very hot and sticky day, and we got to pondering on otters, and wondering what is the collective noun for them… it turns out it’s quite delightful, a romp of otters! That then got me thinking about the other bizarre collective nouns there are in English, and wondering whether it is similar in other languages, and how true some of the more bizarre examples are – maybe they were made up by people like us sitting round in the pub!

Everyone knows a lot of the collective nouns, a herd, a gaggle, a swarm, a troop, even some f the more unusual creatures have fairly well-known names, a charm of goldfinches, a murder of crows, a pod of whales and even, maybe a skulk of foxes. Some names for groups of animals can be understood, even if you’ve not come across them before, a knot of toads (sounds a little horrid somehow) a drift of bees (sounds more benign than a swarm!) or a muster of peacocks. Then there are names which must be very old, regional, or from an ancient language or dialect because there are variations of them applied to different creatures, for example, a nest, nide or nye of pheasants – the French for nest is ‘nid’ so you can imagine it might be derived from Norman French… and here is a very interesting article about how pheasants had been around in England for about a thousand years and then became popular with the arrival of William of Normandy and his cronies:


Some names however – and please correct me if I’m wrong, just sound like made-up-in-the-pub-names…

  • an obstinacy of buffalo
  • a business of ferrets
  • a tower of giraffes
  • a bloat or thunder of hippopotamuses
  • a cackle of hyenas
  • a shadow of jaguars
  • a conspiracy of lemurs
  • a richness of martens
  • a prickle of porcupines
  • a crash of rhinoceroses
  • a maelstrom of salamanders
  • a consortium of crabs
  • an intrusion of cockroaches
  • a hood of snails
  • an audience of squid


Sunday night at the Dolphin

We nipped down to the Dolphin hoping our friends,the two T’s, Trev and Tim would be there, and indeed they were. We like to meet up with them anyway, but tonight we particularly wanted to see Tim. he has had some renovations and extensions done on his house which now looks absolutely splendid, and part of it involved new roofing and he’d had to buy new tiles. However, it was one of those things where you can’t get exactly what you want so he has a few (like 100) left over.  He’d asked us if we would like some because they are now obsolete – all the houses in our little road have the same roof tiles, but our homes were built in the 80’s and these tiles are now as I mentioned, obsolete. Yes please, Tim, we said. A couple of days ago we came home to find a load of roof tiles on our drive – not a ridiculous amount, but the sort of quantity which will be useful if we ever have to replace any,

Tim had refused any payment and very kindly delivered them, so we hoped to find him in the pub so we could buy him a drink… and there he was! We are always pleased to see him and Trev – we do see them at other times too, but Sunday night the four of us have a jolly good old chin wag. On this occasion we were also able to buy him a thank-you drink.

We had a very pleasant evening as usual, talking about all sorts of stuff – Dylan Thomas’s boathouse, New Zealand, the English rugby team, the Hobphin music festival a the pub – the Dolphin of course, family and friends, neighbours – new and old, houses, Wales, helicopters, Weston train station, parking…

Yes, a typically pleasant night at the Dolphin!


… and this is about Hobphin two years ago…


By the way, my featured image is of music at the Dolphin from a few years ago, the unmatchable Celtic Shambles and their drummer, my husband!!