The Year of Words: Day 356 - A day of surprises.

Today's words fell quite by chance. However, I couldn't think of two words that better sum up the challenge and exploration of words that Mike Durston set nearly a year ago than these.

The archaic word sounds as though it's been coined within the last couple of years probably as the result of a ghastly reality TV show. However, it was certainly used as early as the sixteenth century and was fairly common with Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Unfortunately, it seems to have fallen out of fashion and favour in Georgian times and the Victorians certainly wouldn't have reintroduced it. I will certainly store that away for future reference.

Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson (1849-90)

The new addition to the dictionaries is something of a special case as it's at least six or seven hundred years older than the archaic offering.

This is one of those unusual examples of a word gaining 'recognition' by a dictionary entry long after the word itself has become commonplace.

In this example, it's so late the word rose and fell once and is now being introduced largely due to the reprinted works of Robert Louis Stephenson and the Victorian poets.

Eldritch can be found in middle English folk-lore and and in Stevenson novel Kidnapped. However, it was never considered to be more than a dialect word and as such was not to be found in august tomes such as the OED or Collins dictionaries. This has been put right in the last 2 years and this is perhaps the longest wait for a dictionary place for any of our words this year.

Taz in Christmas recovery

In other news, a very positive update following Taz's x-rays. Although the surgeon's opinion is still awaited, the senior practice vet was very happy that the surgical break was healed.

So I'm pleased to confirm AlcaTaz is in wind-down and available to Taz but the Wanborough one has been officially released.

Walks can now progress to five minutes at a time. The first couple have already taken place and were very well received. Now we start the slow increase in walking duration. I hope he'll be back to near normal mobility by February.

A vivid yellow lemon tart (natural colour)

Those of you who have been following the Acreage will know it was christened the Bakerage by Swindon family Durston due to the semi-constant output of baked goods.

In that case, yesterday we were most certainly the Tartarage with a Sicilian lemon tart and (with the leftovers) an apricot jam tart.

At this time of the year where everything is heavy and suet-laden, it's nice to have something that cuts through all that with a slightly lighter take on rich flavours. The lemon tart (correctly named) has been tested and certainly has a very healthy zing to it.

In a recent visit to the Acreage by neighbours Charlotte and Cyril, I was reminded I had kicked off an Amaryllis race at the start of Advent.

Amaryllis and Cyclamen in bud

For those having placed their bets, I can confirm that Amaryllis black pearl is head and shoulders above the others and broke its bud today - great timing as it should be in flower for Christmas day.

Those with an eagle eye will notice Philip the antipodean Christmas penguin guarding a cyclamen which is now pushing thirty years old and is also in multiple buds.

It's always a welcome burst of colour at this time of year even more so this year.

Those of you who told me with absolute certainty that my late mother's cyclamen was dead were, I'm glad to say, some way off the mark.

We have a continuation of kindness and generosity to non-whisky drinkers today. A last minute arrival from an unknown sender. We both think it had to be someone who was on the whisky tasting last week as we mentioned we like it - but how that led to a bottle arriving with us remains a mystery.

Talisker's Port Reigue single malt

Talisker on the Isle of Skye was the first of three distilleries we visited in 2017 and we tried their port cask matured Port Reigue. - It appealed not only because of its taste, but also because its a pun on the name of the main town on Skye (Portree).

It's most kind of whoever sent it to us and thank you whoever you were.

As stated, neither of us are whisky aficionados or regular whisky drinkers, so what we have will last us for some considerable time.

I hate to think what would have arrived had we mentioned we both like rum - though thinking again it's probably just as well for our livers that we didn't make such a fact well known..

We're certainly having to pace ourselves otherwise we're going to be clinically obese and totally pickled.

Some disappointing news hit the Acreage yesterday with cancellation of our New Year's Eve plans,

The glass box that is Bateau London

We had been due to join Bateau London on their New year's cruise and dinner.

We've done one a few years ago and it's a spectacular way to see in a New Year.

A four hour river cruise with a four course meal and mooring up under the London eye for the traditional New Year fireworks.

So yesterday, I had the mixed blessing of generating a Bullseye moment (let's have a look at what you could have won). Letting Vaughan in on the secret and the fact it wouldn't be happening this year wasn't the best news. However, the good news is we're already sorted for New Year 2022 as we've just deferred for a year. By which time I really hope we'll have learned to live with Covid and seen the back of the various restrictions.

Finally we've just finished watching Carols from Kings which has become something of a Christmas tradition wherever we are.

Carols from Kings 2021

As someone who loves Carols from Kings, its always enjoyable. However, it wasn't perhaps the highest standard that is usually the norm for the service. No doubt it's been more difficult due to Covid and assorted lockdowns.

Though I didn't realise it at the time, I was brought up in a high Anglican parish, so I struggle a little with some of the relaxed style of those taking part in the service, Blame the Rev Powell not me - standards were set at an impressionable age ;-)

Whatever your thoughts on the services, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope all have a very happy, healthy and relaxed Chrsitmas, Yule, Saturnalia or winterval break. Now where are those mince pies?


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