Raincoats and rivulets

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It was this kind of day today! Apparently it’s all thanks to Storm Ali and, wet and windy as it is, we’re only affected by the fringe of it here in the Midlands. Northern Ireland, the north of England and Scotland have had it much much worse. I’ve just read that there’s been loss of life, so I’m grateful that we’re just a bit soggy and windswept.

I spent hours last weekend painstakingly picking up leaves from the gravel on our lovely bistro, if the neighbours spotted me, they must’ve thought I was a crazy woman, crawling around on my hands and knees! I’m proud of our bistro and I just want to keep it looking ship shape and Bristol fashion. Storm Ali, however, had other ideas and has blown and blustered its way through the garden leaving a trail of leaves, twigs and random garden debris in its wake.

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Sigh! Green Girl gardener’s work is never done!

My poor plants that are patiently waiting in their pots for me to decide where their forever homes are going to be haven’t escaped entirely unscathed either.

I think it’s a reasonably well known fact that Eskimos have many words for snow, the theory for this being that language is shaped by your environment.

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I was pondering this fact on my wet and windy drive to work this morning, and it occurred to me that the English language has also been shaped in this way. How many words and phrases do we have to describe rain?

It’s persisting down, chucking it down, throwing it down, lashing down, tipping it down, pouring down, even peeing it down if we want to be a little less polite. Precipitation, drizzle, mizzle, spitting are all words used to describe the wet stuff. We don’t just have a rain storm, we have a shower, a downpour or a deluge. It occasionally rains cats and dogs or comes down like stair rods.

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I just had a quick google (another example of the flexibility of the English language, google is now a verb!) to make sure I wasn’t missing any really obvious rainy words, and I stumbled across a fabulous phrase which the French apparently use – il pleut comme vache qui pisse, directly translated as it’s raining like a cow relieving itself!

There are suggested explanations for why we say it’s raining cats and dogs, the most common being to do family pets sleeping in the rafters of thatched cottages and slipping out when the roof got wet in the rain, but I wonder why the French picked on the cow in particular. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a cow relieving itself (and have no desire to). Does the phrase refer to a deluge or are French cows prone to prostate problems lending the phrase more to a frequent shower? I guess that would be a bull not a cow, but you get my drift. I work with some French people, I’ll have to ask them!

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Honestly, I do surprise myself with the randomness that drips out of my brain sometimes. I’ll try to be more sensible next time. I’ve got a few fun events coming up over the next few days and a super exciting bit of news that I have to keep on the qt for now, but I can’t wait to share.

Au revoir mes amis.