I’m always fascinated by words that show how another society structures things – the minute divisions of otherwise joined emotions; the “moods” in Russian that show whether something is finished, ongoing or repeating, and categories.

The Chinese word “tiao” is one of the latter, and part of a grouping system that characterises pearls, bullets, teeth and stars as rounded like a kernel, needles, bananas and chopsticks as thin-slender, and bed sheets, bars of soap, dragons, rivers, avenues, trousers and news as “tiao” (long-narrow-shape).

Apparently groupings were applied to first to objects that could be held or picked up, then natural phenomenon and then metaphorical definition, eg news is “tiao” because of how it was initially written down in narrow columns of text.

Completely fascinating and some great definitions here.

Pre-dinner portrait


Love the excitement on all their faces at the thought of some sandwiches and cake! @saintofsoho, I’m challenging you to bring this in at The Attic Club! Such a sweet reminder that just getting together is an occasion to be marked, especially if there’s a bit of extra food to put together.

Day trips

Day trips are possibly my favourite kinds of escape. You’re still home in your own bed (revelling in cool, clean sheets for added summer pleasure) at the wnd of the day, you’ve had a pleasant and slightly special breakfast before setting off and you’ve still had a whole day of fun and exploration.


Lyme Regis, Kings Lynn, Oxford or (my latest set of plans) the Kent Coast are all perfect for this from London. Enter Bleak House, a shop with a sideline in recommending both walks round London and day trips out of it. Both Ightham Mote and Hambledon on their list sound good – and also remind me that I want to get to Bateman’s as well before the National Trust season closes.