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Tutor Samuel C 's Column

Picking plums 2: Battle & Ticehurst

Sep 14, 2020

Reading difficulty: challenging

Tip: Read the article before looking up words in your dictionary. Try to guess the meaning of words from their context and from the photographs.


In ‘Picking Plums 1’ Mrs C and I began a bus journey to a ‘Pick Your Own (PYO) farm’ to pick plums. We were waiting for a bus in the small town of Battle. The story continues…


On one side of Abbey Green, behind a bus stop, is a shop called ‘Spoilt Rotten’. It sells sweets, ice cream and milkshakes. Collins English Dictionary says ‘If you spoil children, you give them everything they want or ask for. This is considered to have a bad effect on a child’s character.’ It is common to see grandparents in Battle taking their grandchildren to Spoilt Rotten. But there’s a double meaning in the name. Sugary food can rot your teeth. Spoilt Rotten is a daring choice of name for a shop that sells only sweet treats – the shopkeepers must have a good sense of humour and not take themselves too seriously!

A van pulled up in front of Spoilt Rotten. It was from a nearby town called Rye. The van belongs to a business that provides cleaning and housekeeping services. Here’s another local business that enjoys wordplay. You know how you see ‘MADE IN JAPAN’ on the side of a Pentel pencil or ‘MADE IN ITALY’ on the side of a Bialetti coffee pot, and you know the person who cleans and tidies rooms is called a maid? Well, this Rye-based housekeeping service is called ‘Maid in Rye’. There’s a daisy on the van. Why not some other flower? Because of the expression ‘fresh as a daisy’. ‘Fresh as a daisy’ means very fresh, bright or alert – which is exactly the image an efficient cleaning company wants.

We arrived in Ticehurst, but needed refreshments so we stopped for a while in the Bell, a large pub in the heart of the village. The Bell has had a lot of money spent on its décor and landscaping.  As it was a nice day we sat in the beautiful beer garden.

Look at the sign in the beer garden: it says ‘Don’t frolic in the flower beds’. The Bell could have written an imperative such as ‘Keep off the flower beds’ or something mundane like ‘Respect the garden. Please don’t play on the flowerbeds’. Instead, by using ‘frolic’, the Bell chose whimsy. ‘Frolic’ is a regular verb, defined by Collins English Dictionary as ‘to move or play in a lively, happy way’. It’s not a run-of-the-mill word like ‘play’, it’s a whimsical word for a whimsical pub. The Bell’s tried hard to cultivate this whimsical vibe through its furniture and fittings, as you will see from a photo I quickly took in the Gents’ (it’s not a good idea to spend too long taking pictures in the loo!)…

Would you believe it? Those are urinals. Thank goodness the cornets – I think that’s what they are – are this way up, if the mouthpieces were facing the ceiling the floor would soon get wet as my aim isn’t good enough!


To be continued...
In the meantime please feel free to post your comments or questions concerning my journey to the PYO farm and the vocabulary used in this article.



l  rot   verb   to get worse, decay or fall apart

l  daring   adjective   bold, audacious or adventurous

l  take somebody / something seriously   phrase   attach importance to

l  refreshments   noun   drinks, snacks or light meals

l  décor   noun  style of decoration and furnishing

l  landscaping   noun   the design of gardens or outside areas

l  mundane   adjective   not interesting, very ordinary

l  whimsy   noun   something that is playful or quaint

l  run-of-the-mill   adjective   not special, very ordinary

l  whimsical   adjective   fanciful and funny

l  cultivate   verb   develop or grow

l  vibe   noun   the atmosphere of a place

l  loo   noun   toilet/lavatory/WC



l  “That child has been spoilt rotten.”

l  “After a good night’s sleep she was as fresh as a daisy.”

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