A turn of phrase

A little while ago I was lounging on the sofa minding my own business and half-listening to the evening weather forecast on BBC Wales when I heard the presenter (Behnaz Akhgar) utter the words “the Pembrokeshire Dangler”. This made me sit up and take notice but sadly by then she’d moved on and was talking about impending gloomy prospects elsewhere in the country. Even replaying the programme didn’t help – the Pembrokeshire Dangler had simply been flung, unexplained, into the neverending flow of words necessary to describe the chaos that is our climate. At times like this there’s only one thing to be done, of course…turn to Google. And this is what we get:

The Pembrokeshire Dangler is a convergence zone which forms a line of continuous showers aligned north-south across the Irish Sea; often as snow occurring during late autumn and winter…

blah, blah, blah. I’m sorry to say that I was much more interested in the name of the thing and once I’d established that the learned Behnaz wasn’t pulling our legs I quickly became bored with the science. Eager to share the joke, I posted something on Twitter about the Dangler, only to be confronted with this reply from a twitter-pal: “Don’t worry, it’s just a special case of the Brown Willy effect”.

OK. She was having me on, surely? Back I went to Google, to find this:

The Brown Willy effect is a meteorological phenomenon that sometimes occurs across the south-west peninsula of Britain. It leads to heavy showers developing over the high ground of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, England, which then often travel a considerable distance downwind of their place of origin. It is named after the hill, Brown Willy, the highest point on the moor and in Cornwall as a whole. It is thought that the Boscastle flood of 2004 was caused by a particularly extreme example of the effect.

Good God. Why didn’t I know about this before? Clearly many people do, because Behnaz’s casual mention of the Dangler implied that the thing didn’t need to be explained due, no doubt, to the fact that it’s a household name. I now feel so inadequate.

The name of the phenomenon is more interesting than the thing itself, of course. I’m not sure if it’s a particularly British thing to enjoy these rude-sounding names – it can’t be, I suppose, when you consider the phrase double entendre. But you only have to look at a map of England to find such gems as North Piddle, Worcestershire (which is near Piddle Brook and not alongside the River Piddle in Dorset). Hertfordshire boasts the hamlet of Boggy Bottom, while just twenty miles away from us in Herefordshire is a hill which the Welsh call Twmpa. Its English name, however, is ‘Lord Hereford’s Knob’. That might not mean much to anyone not from these shores…and how lucky they are. And who could forget that Nottingham was once known as Snottingham? A difference of just one letter, but the devil is in the detail, as they say.

Recently I learned that the Welsh for daffodils is cennin Bedr, which literally means Peter’s leeks (cennin=leeks) and I’m guessing that the Peter in question was St Peter, though why this should be applied to daffodils is something tragically lost in the mists of time. Although I’d love to know how and why the Welsh for gooseberries came about – it’s eirin Mair. Literally this means Mary’s plums and I don’t really know what to say about that. Are we talking about the Virgin Mary? Or some other female? And what were her plums? The mind boggles. Rest assured that I’ll remain on the lookout for other intriguingly named weather patterns, places, flowers and foodstuffs.


We’ve been out and about locally this week, recovering from our extensive exploration of the south of England. Winter is slowly giving way to spring, or is playing an almighty joke on us and the snow will be back in the blink of an eye!2017-02-12-13-40-49At least the snow stayed at a higher level…


2017-02-07-18-31-26Last week at the Mon & Brec Canal, just outside Llangynidr

In some ways the winter months have been almost as colourful as autumn and so we’ve been very lucky. It’s certainly been mild enough for us to get out and enjoy the fresh air, which is a good thing as apparently the population of the UK is suffering en-masse from a shortage of Vitamin D. The other thing we’ve been short of are courgettes and lettuce. Who’d have thought? Though personally I don’t remember the last time I was desperate for an iceberg lettuce…and we did happen to see these, but I’m keeping the location a secret!2017-02-02-13-03-47

There are already plenty of flowers peeping through, from early snowdrops and daffodils to crocuses and primroses.2017-02-07-18-34-00


The fruit trees in the garden are budding and I live in hope that this year we’ll have pears, apples and quince. In the meantime, there are the hills to enjoy. We’re coming up to the springtime madness that is the Crickhowell Walking Festival so the least I can do is post some pictures here of our most recent outing. As you may have guessed by now we’re not serious mountain walkers and the mere sight of a steep climb is likely to turn our lips blue, so this is more of an easy ramble than a high-level yomp; having said that it came in at 5.8 miles and did require us to stagger up a fairly vicious (by our standards) gradient out of Llangenny.llangenny-walk

The starting point was the path through the car park of the BridgeEnd Inn at – you may have trouble believing this – the bridge at Crickhowell. This took us along the river bank until it reached its closest point to the A40. It’s an easy stroll with just a few stiles to clamber over before you risk life and limb by crossing the main road. From there we walked to the collection of dwellings called Glangrwyney then up a driveway to another field, following the Grwyne Fawr stream to Llangenny.2017-02-13-14-42-22Pasture alongside the Grwyne Fawr

2017-02-13-14-47-31The bridge over the Grwyne Fawr at Llangenny

Once we’d nearly killed ourselves trudging up the hill to the western side of the village we were in the lanes above the Usk Valley with terrific views and not a care in the world – because it was all downhill from there!2017-02-13-13-34-46-1Looking down at the Usk Valley, eastwards towards Abergavenny

Later on in the day it felt more like May than February – as you can see from this picture from the back bedroom window:2017-02-13-15-15-25-1The Sugar Loaf from the bedroom window, one of my favourite views

So there we have it; February is almost over, the media is still obsessed with Brexit, Donald Trump and with the desperate lack of boring green vegetables. Dydd Santes Dwynwen has been and gone, as has the English equivalent of St Valentine’s Day. The days are apparently getting longer by four minutes each time the sun rises and I have to go because I have Welsh cakes on the bakestone. Until next time, watch out for that Dangler…and remember:

Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you

Wendell Berry

Hwyl fawr x








7 responses to “A turn of phrase

  1. Ah yes, those snowdrops! They will indeed be replaced as a header, but I’m itching to get a post up about snowdrops – and other wintry things. I’m not ready to let winter go yet so far as the blog is concerned! I’m always such a way behind! 😀

  2. Thanks Sandra – it’s good to know I’m not alone! And I definitely feel that spring is on the way, though I’ll miss that gorgeous picture of snowdrops you have as your header (I’m guessing you’ll replace it as the seasons change…)

  3. Great post, lovely photos – and I didn’t know about the Brown Willy effect either. Isn’t it lovely to see the many and varied signs of spring everywhere. I don’t feel like we’ve had a winter; autumn stretched so far into November and spring is just around the corner…. (written in hushed tones – there’s still time for a late winter blast I suppose!)

  4. Thanks Anny – I’ve always had a bit of a thing about place names! Some because they’re ancient or charming but others because they’re downright bawdy!
    Enjoy your courgettes x

  5. Oh god, I really am going to have to learn to brace myself before I read your posts, my ribs ache – by the way my particular favourite from the same region is Wyre Piddle (brightened many an afternoon trip out when I was young)…
    We have courgettes too, shhh (from – solve the anagram – DIAL)… x

    • Thanks ⚘Lots of my favourite things…I love the link with the past that we get from just reading placenames and trying to understand why they were chosen ⚘

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