26 Sep 2023

Terrifying Town Names

Q. Fiction has brought us all kinds of alarming place names. Take C.S. Lewis who, in Chronicles of Narnia, invited us to: Burnt Island, Deathwater Island, Dragon Island .. Back on the workaday end of the wardrobe, what are some alarming town names on our maps? . A. Alligator Pond,

06 Jun 2023

So Many Broadways

Q. Why? Why are there so many cities with streets named ‘Broadway’?   A. Whilst many cities can claim a Broadway street, there is none more famous than New York’s. This now bustling hubbub was once part of an Indigenous trail called Wickquasgeck. Moving forward to Dutch takeover and 17th Century

03 May 2023

Summer Travel Dreams 2023

Q. Now that we’re into May, summer vacation days are peeking over the horizon. Where are the places that we’re dreaming that we can visit as we take a break from work, from school? . A. In digging into Google’s ample data – which includes flight and accommodation searches –

17 Mar 2023

St. Patrick’s Day Green

Q. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’ll see joyous green everywhere today – on clothes, on plates, in glasses. Sure there is green on the tri-striped Irish flag, but why the green and why today? After all, St. Patrick’s official colour is blue. . A. The green on the Irish National

14 Mar 2023

Name That Country Motto

Q. What is the official motto for your country? . A. Chances are that you can identify the flags, national anthems, signature foods and most popular sports of a number of countries. But what about the neglected national mottos? Country Motto Challenge How many of these mottos can you link

16 May 2022

A Penny For Luck

Q. What are some of the many luck-inspired superstitions centred around pennies? . A. One thing is for certain: there are a lot. Here in Canada, you better hold on tight to the pennies you have. Our Royal Mint stopped making the ‘costs more to make one than have one’

25 Apr 2022

Gird Your What?

Q. ‘Gird your loins.’ Do you hear Stanley Tucci voicing that phrase? I certainly do. Boss Miranda Priestly, aka the incredible Meryl Streep, is foot out of the car, eyes on the elevator, and soon to thunder into the offices of Runway Magazine. “Why is no one REAdy?” Tucci as

29 Mar 2022

Travel Superstitions

Q. Why are there so many superstitions around travelling? Which ones have deep historic roots? . A. With all of the mystery and unpredictability of travel, it is no wonder that it has attracted so many superstitions. Anything for an illusion of control. Many clutch their lucky talismans in ever-squishier planes,

08 Mar 2022

Dull as Dishwater

Q. One thing is for sure: this is not how most of us would want to be described. ‘Dull as dishwater’. Dirty, dish-soiled water moves quickly from dull to disgusting. Of all the possible representations of dullness, how did dishwater find its way into the back of this idiom? .

21 Feb 2022

Dropping Shoes

Q. Well, that one horrid thing happened. And now, there’s the threat of more grief to follow. Murder hornets, you say. There’s a well-used expression to describe this feeling of impending doom: ‘Waiting for the other shoe to drop’.  But, why shoes? Where does that phrase originate? . A. Have