Talk Like a Pirate Day 2015

Talk Like a Pirate DayAhoy, me maties! Saturday 19 September be International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It all began on a swashbucklin’ day in Oregon, USA, in 1995. Two ol’ scallywags, John Baur aka Ol’ Chumbucket and Mark Summers aka Cap’n Slappy came to the decision that 19 September each year would be marked as t’ day on which the whole crew would talk Pirate.
However, by far me favourite thing to do on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is to change me Facebook language to Pirate. Don’t ye be wastin’ time, scurvy dog! Go to Settings, Language, and choose English (Pirate). It’s more fun than walkin’ the plank!
If you be wantin’ to find your pirate name, pop over to for yarrr pirate moniker!
‘N finally, to translate ye words to perfect scurvy Pirate, follow ‘tis link: or this one:
Most o’ all, have a plunderous day, popping with piratey parley!

Pirate Abigail the Fruit.


One of the many wonders of childhood

EnidBlytonDo any of these names ring a bell … Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy or Peter, Janet, Jack, Barbara, George, Pam and Colin, or how about my favourites, Joe, Bessy, Fanny, Moonface, Silky, the Saucepan Man? Who remembers the Land of Dame Slap? Or the Land of Do-As-You-Please?
A childhood without the involvement of these characters is one lacking in wonder, awe and adventure! Oh, you’re probably still an amazing adult, but you could have been just that little bit more amazing with the magic of the many tales by Enid Blyton.
The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Magic Faraway Tree, Noddy … a plethora of charming, whimsical, fun characters and journeys in which to bury oneself and spark the imagination.
Enid Blyton was born on this day in 1897, and we are eternally grateful that she decided to crank up that typewriter! Her mother never approved of her writing, but her father encouraged her all the way. She went on to write over 800 books over 40 years. There has of course been some controversy surrounding some of her tales – accusations of racism and gender discrimination –but this doesn’t detract from the magic.
To have been exposed to the works of Enid Blyton is, in my opinion, undboubtedly one of the many wonders of childhood and I, for one, would be just that little bit less awesome without having visited The Faraway Tree.


Dormouse Delicacies

Glirarium: Dormouse DelicaciesHave you ever wondered while sitting, watching the paint dry while sipping on a whiskey, what a glirarium is? No? Well, I’m here to enlighten you anyway.

Way back in the mists of time, in Rome, when men wore robes and leaves in their hair, there was an interesting delicacy that Romans loved to feast on as an appetizer. This consisted of a nibblesome dish of honey and spice-roasted dormouse stuffed with nuts.

The Romans would raise these dormice in a terracotta jar called … you guessed it … a glirarium. In this darkened glirarium, those sweet little dormice would hibernate all year. The jar boasted a wee staircase with place for food, lots of food, and air holes. So when these little blighters were nicely fattened up, they would be whipped out and introduced to the chef. Yum.

Strangely, today wild dormice are still hunted and turned into cottage pie, or something nice, in some parts of Slovenia and Croatia – probably the more rural areas.

See if you can introduce glirarium into conversation this weekend. Let me know how it worked out.



Prescriptivists vs Descriptivists

File 2015-07-08, 2 08 42 PMEver wondered about the difference between prescriptivists and descriptivists in the grammar world? Are you slowly shaking your head side to side at the moment? Yeah. Thought so. Me too.
I came across this really clear and concise explanation of the difference between the two. I would say I sway towards the descriptivist camp … mostly.

Grammar nuts are what we call prescriptivists who like to dictate how people should speak. Linguists on the other hand are descriptivists who make their careers out of how people actually speak in real world situations. We don’t use the terms good or bad grammar. Instead we prefer standard and non-standard. Linguists recognise the social functions of non-standard grammars and observe their uses and functions rather than to try and micromanage them. A final point. I’m certain your listeners still know what you mean when you say things like there’s a lot of something even when it isn’t’ standard grammar. In the laws of linguistics, as long as your interlocutor (which is a listener) accurately understands what you mean, you have successfully communicated.


The Ides of March Explained

TheIdesofMarchThe Ides of March, or 15 March, has the unfortunate reputation of being the day, in 44 BC, on which Julius Caesar was assassinated.

It’s actually much simpler than that, though. The way the Roman calendar of that time worked was that each month was divided into three sections. Nones were on the 5th or 7th of each month, the Ides on the 13th or 15th, and Kalends (the root of the word ‘calendar’), the first of the following month. The days of the month were counted backwards from these markers. So 3 March would be called V Nones (five days before Nones, always inclusive of the marker day).

So, in conclusion, the Ides is merely a date marker in an ancient Roman version of the calendar. No more. No less.

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Written for Valley Trading Post

Douglas Adams

DouglasAdams‘It is a mistake to think that you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.’

Douglas Adams, author of the much loved trilogy in five parts, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was born on 11 March 1952 in Cambridge, UK.
Few of us know that Adams is one of only two people outside of the original Monty Python group to get a writing credit for a sketch called ‘Patient Abuse’ which revolved around a ludicrously large amount of paperwork in the midst of a medical emergency.
He is remembered universally on Towel Day, when, on 25 May every year, devoted fans of his work will carry a towel around for the day. Just because.

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get out or repair.’

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Written for Valley Trading Post

What is content marketing?

photo[1]Do the words content marketing get your brain cells shaking in their boots? Well, it’s not that complicated, really. In a nutshell, content marketing is the act of sharing advice, handy tips, and useful nuggets of information as a way of turning those who are new to your business into clients, and turning those who are already clients into long-term loyal customers.
This can take the form of blog posts, social media posts (Facebook and Twitter, for example), e-newsletters or even old-fashioned hand-out flyers. It’s a great way for small to medium businesses to spread awareness of what they do.
With content marketing

  • you are giving something of value, whether this is a DIY tip or some other useful or fascinating bit of information.
  • your offering is not directly promotional. It may have your logo somewhere or a link to your website, but it is not an advert.
  • the consumer does not have to buy or do anything to gain access to this content.

This type of marketing has, in fact, been around for a long, long time, but the internet age that we’re in at the moment is a perfect match for content marketing. It’s about sharing knowledge and drawing the attention of potential clients to your product.

Source: The Content Marketing Podcast by Rachel Parker

A Few Intriguing Words

Words1See how many of these words you can slip into conversation this week.

Oobleck (noun) A mixture of cornstarch and water with unusual physical properties. The word ‘oobleck’ was coined by Dr. Seuss in his book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Nasute (adj) Having a long or large nose or snout; snouty; specifically, in ornithology, of or pertaining to the Nasuta tubinarial.
(adj) Having a quick or delicate perception of smell; keen-scented.
‘Nasute’ comes from the Latin ‘nasus,’ nose.

Preantepenultimate (adj) Fourth from the last.
From Latin pre- (before) + ante- (before) + pen- (almost) + ultimus (last). Earliest documented use: 1746.

Smaragdine (adj) Of a green color like that of smaragd – that is, of any brilliant green: an epithet used loosely and in different senses.
‘Smaragdine’ comes from the Greek ‘smaragdos,’ emerald.

Vandemonianism (noun) Rowdy conduct like that of an escaped convict.
This word comes from ‘vandemonian,’ an inhabitant of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania); a Tasmanian; specifically, one of the early convict settlers of Tasmania.

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World Penguin Day

World Penguin DayToday is World Penguin Day and we in Cape Town have our very own colony of African penguins (Sphenisus demersus) at Boulders just on the hem of Simon’s Town. Pretty cool. These well-dressed flightless birds are sometimes referred to as Jackass penguins, due to the jump-out-of-your-skin braying sound they make.

Boulders Beach is a perfect family beach with the up-close and personal penguin experience. Where else can you actually pop into the water for a dip and a penguin sleeks past you in the water? Penguins swim incredibly fast, reaching up to 32 kph and are able to dive extremely deeply in search of a snack. They seem way more at home in the water than when they are waddling around in the sand. Never try to make friends with them, though, no matter how much you think they’re standing there waiting to be introduced . . . big no-no. Those beaks are sharp, especially for kidlet fingers.

Boulders Penguin Colony was established in 1983 – not so long ago – and there are approximately 3000 African penguins living there. These monogamous creatures nest in shallow burrows in the sand or under handy rock ledges. It’s difficult to tell the males from the females, but it’s easier in mating season, when the females are the ones with muddy footprints on their backs . . .