Old-fashioned expressions

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John J

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Old-fashioned expressions
« on: December 21, 2019, 06:49:59 AM »
You are right, Carole, we are always happy to see rain here. The trouble is that Cyprus doesn't seem to believe in gentle rain, when it arrives it, to use an expression from the part of UK I grew up in, 'comes down like stair rods'. Some of our more senior members might know what stair rods are.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Hilary

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2019, 08:07:12 AM »
Brass ones had to be polished
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Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

Umbrian

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2019, 08:53:57 AM »
Indeed Hilary but what is the connection between horizontal stair rods and fierce heavy rain falling vertically?...........
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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John J

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2019, 09:21:51 AM »
Maybe the saying is confined to the East Midlands, or to an even more localised area within those counties, I don't know. I can only assume that the heavy rain falling vertically reminded the natives of the thin, straight stair rods that were an integral part of their lives.
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Hilary

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2019, 10:25:20 AM »
Maybe the stair rods had a habit of coming unattached and slid down the stairs. I don't recall how they were fixed.
The last time I lived in a house which  sported stair roods was in 1962!
MGS member
Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

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Alisdair

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2019, 10:28:25 AM »
John, we heard the saying in the South of England when we had moved down from Scotland (i.e. when I was seven), but Helena says she never heard it in South Wales and is with Umbria - stair rods being horizontal; even though the winds we've been having in Sussex recently, some of the heavy rain has actually seemed horizontal!
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

David Dickinson

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2019, 01:03:04 AM »
re "stair rods": my grandmother used the expression when I was a child growing up in Leeds half a century or more ago. The following link says that it is a northern English expression and archaic. Archaic! I may have passed my childhood in the 60s but I hardly think that counts as archaic. Though, come to think of it, my great nephews and nieces probably think that sums it up perfectly :-( https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/298200.html. Probably confirmed by the fact that, not only do I know what stair rods are, we used to have them in the family home! I think I'll go off and read some of Hilary's more cheerful postings now.

I have a small garden in Rome, Italy. Some open soil, some concrete, some paved. Temperatures in winter occasionally down to 0C. Summer temperatures up to 40C in the shade. There are never watering restrictions but, of course, there is little natural water for much of June, July and August.

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John J

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2019, 06:15:11 AM »
David, I grew up a few miles south of you, in Derbyshire, and a decade or so earlier. It was a common expression back then.
We've woken up to the third day of rain today, in fact at 5am it sounded as though we had actual stair rods landing on the roof. :o
Cyprus Branch Head. Gardens in a field 40 m above sea level with reasonably fertile clay soil.
"Aphrodite emerged from the sea and came ashore and at her feet all manner of plants sprang forth" John Deacon (13thC AD)

Umbrian

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2019, 09:41:28 AM »
The phrase was used in Northamptonshire where I was born.
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Alisdair

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2019, 01:38:30 PM »
Talking about "archaic" expressions, a few years ago I asked a very big family gathering (dozens of cousins) how many people knew what "darning" was. Nobody under 30 did!
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Umbrian

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2019, 08:40:22 AM »
Good one Alisdair - tenuously connected to gardening because I remember there being a wooden mushroom in my grandmother's sewing box used for darning the heels of socks I think.....
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

Hilary

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2019, 08:57:16 AM »
Here in Greece we have wooden eggs
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Living in Korinthos, Greece.
No garden but two balconies, one facing south and the other north.
Most of my plants are succulents which need little care

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Alisdair

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2019, 09:56:45 AM »
Carole, we still use that "mushroom" occasionally!
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Umbrian

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2019, 08:32:31 AM »
Perhaps not an old fashioned expression but a local or  countryman's?...... recently had an interesting discussion with another avid gardener about the calls Blackbirds make at twilight time. She referred to the rather insistent noise as "pinking" I had never heard term used and we both did some research. I have been aware of this calling for a long time when trying to finish jobs In the garden as the light fades and although similar to their usual warning notes it seems different because there never seems to be any obvious danger and it occurs so regularly. I had decided in my own mind it was a kind of night watchman's call to all bird life that it was time to find a safe haven for the night....
Although continuous it seems slightly less urgent than the real warning call. Our research did discover that some countrymen thought there were different pitches for different dangers but we are no wiser as to where exactly the word "pinking" came from. Anyone else able to shed light on this?
MGS member living and gardening in Umbria, Italy for past 19 years. Recently moved from my original house and now planning and planting a new small garden.

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Alisdair

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Re: Old-fashioned expressions
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2019, 11:07:51 AM »
"Pinking" is a good word for that evening blackbird sound. I wonder if it came from the same word that used to be used for car engines "knocking", back in the days when pre-ignition was quite common. My old Handbook of British Birds says "Common note of, so to speak, mild protest, when disturbed, but not seriously alarmed, is low 'tchook, tchook, tchook..." but distinguishes this from "An irritating, persistent 'chick-chick-chick - - -' is much used when going to roost and also as a scold at owls, cats, etc."
(Good news in our dreary wet grey and soggy winter here in Sussex is that for the last three days the blackbird in our poor dying elm tree by our front yard has at last started its spring song.)
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society