What I did in my Summer Holidays

As summer draws to a close the scents of wood smoke, squashed blackberries and new school shoes begin to linger in the air.

I love this time of year! It’s all about shiny new notebooks, pointy-sharp pencils and good intentions.

It’s been a great summer!
For the first time in years I enjoyed a lovely lazy summer holiday without a book deadline looming. We headed off to Thailand, to visit my brother and his family, and had a totally fabulous time.
I still took my notebooks with me, of course. Long journeys are perfect for thinking up new stories and characters. Or just scribbling down little snippets of eavesdropped conversations. Mostly, though, my notebooks were used for keeping score of long games of cribbage, and for drawing pictures with my five-year old niece, Lana. She’s quite the artist.
a combined effort
The Frog Princess

Because I have two teenage sons, it wasn’t all about sitting in the sun reading through a pile of books and drawing pictures of frog princesses. There was also quad-biking, kayaking, cliff-climbing and white-water rafting.

Part of the holiday was spent sailing in the Andaman Sea, and I was reminded just how many common phrases we have that come from the boating world. Here are my Top Five. For lots more examples, see this list.

1. To the bitter end. You might think that this phrase has something to do with a bitter taste (I always imagined the centre of a sherbert lemon sweet!) But the “bitter end” is the end of a rope or anchor is tied around a post on a ship, which used to be called a bitt.

2. I don’t like the cut of your jib. The jib is the triangular sail at the front of a boat.  Sailors could recognise the nationality of a distant boat by the way the sail was rigged or “cut”.

3. To be in the doldrums.  Now this expression means to feel gloomy or bored. The “doldrums” was originally an area of very calm winds, close to the equator, where boats could be stuck for a long time.

4. To show someone the ropes. On a sailing boat, you have to learn how the rigging works and which rope does what.

5. Batten down the hatches. This means to secure all the windows (hatches) with pieces of wood (battens) to keep the water out. Now it means to get ready or protect a place.

Captain Jak learns the ropes
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer holiday too.