07 December 2016

Gleanings from "The Road to Little Dribbling"

George Everest (for whom the mountain is named) didn't pronounce his name EV-erest, but as EVE-rest - just two syllables.

A listing of hikers and walkers killed by cows in Britain.

The first electric light put to use anywhere in the world was in a lighthouse in South Foreland, England.  This was in 1858, well before Edison developed the modern lightbulb.  It was an arc lamp too bright for domestic use, and for a decade that lighthouse was the only place in the world to see an electric light in operation.

London is one of the least crowded cities on earth, at about half the population density of NYC or Paris.

The Air Forces Memorial, at the top of Cooper's Hill in Runnymede, England, has inscribed in stone the names of 20,456 airmen who died in the Second World War but have no grave.

"One of the great pleasures of dotage is the realization that you have pretty much everything you will ever need. Apart from a few perishable essentials like light bulbs, batteries, and food, I require almost nothing. I don’t need any more furniture, decorative bowls, lap rugs, cushions with messages expressing my feelings about animals or housework, hot water bottle covers, paperclips, rubber bands, spare cans of paint, dried out paint brushes, miscellaneous lengths of electrical wire or any kind of metal objects that might one day theoretically come in handy for some as yet unimagined purpose...  I’m especially set for clothes. I have reached the time of life where all I want is to wear out the clothes I have and never get another thing.  I think many men of a certain age will nod in agreement when I say there is a real satisfaction when you wear something out and can finally discard it - a feeling of a job well done..."

The legendary King Arthur was a bastard, sired by Uther Pendragon on his enemy's wife.

In the early 20th century, the largest fishing port in the world was... Grimsby, England.  Not the largest in Britain or northern Europe, but the largest in the world.   In Grimsby, people used to bring their own fish and have the fish-and-chips shop fry it for a penny.
This was an enjoyable book.  It's perhaps the third or fourth of Bill Bryson's books that I've reviewed or excerpted for TYWKIWDBI.  Although styled as notes about a prolonged exploration of Great Britain, the book is not detailed enough to be a true travel guidebook, and Bryson's curmudgeonly complaints sometimes morph into surprisingly caustic criticism, but overall the tone is light and humorous, and it makes for a pleasant, easy read.


  1. My first Bryson book was bought at an airport and resulted in so much laughter that my preteen children went to another part of the terminal out of embarrassment. It was The Lost Continent, about retracing childhood road trips. I've since bought everything of his I could get my hands on. Just delightful.

  2. I love his works ~ thanks for the heads up about this one...

  3. dumb question - are all those factoids for real?


    1. Time-tested reply to dumb questions: "Anon, why don't you look up the information and report back to the class?"

      Also, FYI, a "factoid" is not a "small fact." It's a "mistaken assumption repeated so often that it is believed to be true."


      I need to clean up my mistaken use of that term in several back posts of this blog.

    2. i did on two of them - EVE-rest and the cooper's hill memorial - since both sounded too far fetched to be true. according to the internet, both are true.

      :-) but that is 'according to the internet'. :-) with all this 'phony news on the internet' news going around, who knows if those are true? :-)

      as a sidebar, i forwarded the EVE-rest pronunciation to a friend involved with that mountain, asking that she start a movement to correctly pronounce the name. her reply was the correct thing to do would be to rename the mountain back to its original native name, a la mckinley reverting to denali. if EVE-rest gets renamed, we know which blog to blame.


    3. so another dumb question - would the mispronunciation of EVE-rest be considered a factoid?


    4. Does that make the mispronunciation of Everest a factoid?

  4. I've just read the bit about Slapton Sands ~ loving it so far!

  5. Many tourist towns on the seashore will also do the bring-your-own-fish thing, though sadly not for a penny.


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