An Irish Birthday

Would you like a cuppa? A cuppa what? Why a cup of tea, of course! The Irish drink an average of 1,184 cups per person per year. Tea in the morning, noon and night, for any reason or none at all. And always black tea, never green or herbal. A good thing I like tea. My host family speak both English and Irish (Gaelic), and it is fun to listen to them sing Irish songs together accompanied by a Celtic harp. They are celebrating my friend Shelagh’s birthday – she just turned 10. Her father treated her to an old custom by turning her upside down, and holding her by the ankles, gently bumped her head on the floor 11 times for good luck. They then told me of another old custom. Farmers would often have the family pig live in the house like a pet. The pig was called “the gentleman who pays rent” because at the end of his stay he became sausage, bacon and pork chops which were sold at market! Purrs, Gulliver

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Cockney

Do you ever have a hard time understanding what someone said? I thought I understood English but when I met Cockneys in London. I think they were talking in code! Instead of one word, they would use two, and it always rhymed with the word they really meant. Here are some examples:
A frog and toad is a road: “Just go down the frog and toad until it ends”
Apples and Pears are stairs: “Let’s get you up those apples and pears”
Pig’s ear is beer: “I think I owe you a pig’s ear”
Sausage and Mash is cash (money): “I forgot all my sausage and mash!”
Dog and bone – phone: “What’s that ringing? Is it the dog and bone?”
Purrs, Gulliver

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Rainy Week

It’s been a rainy week; here are some expressions for rain from around the world. In Danish, it rains “shoemaker boys”, In Wales, it rains old women and sticks, but across the border in England, it rains cats and dogs… or even stair-rods. In Poland it rains frogs. In Germany it rains twine (string). They also say “it’s raining puppies”. In Russia, the saying is it’s “raining from a bucket” while in Norway, it rains male cats, or just cats. In Mandarin Chinese, the expression is raining fur/hair. The Netherland rains are called pipestems. They also say “het is hondenweer” or “it’s dogsweather”! Purrs, Gulliver

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Scotland

Did you know that Scotland was where the modern game of golf was created? Scotland is part of the Great Britain, which includes England and Wales. Like Ireland, it was settled by Gaelic people, and many people still speak Scottish Gaelic, especially in the Highlands and islands of Scotland. Wool is clipped from the sheep they raise, dyed and woven into plaid material called tartans. Each pattern is unique to families (clans). These tartans were made into kilts, which are similar to skirts, and were worn be men and boys as part of their heritage. I tried to learn how to weave a tartan, but got distracted and chased the balls of wool over the room. Bad cat! Everything was tangled!   Purrs, Gulliver

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