Echoing Place Names
Just back from a trip to Kent, a six-hour drive from home. No, a children’s poetry workshopper can’t afford to be picky about places. Besides, the travel provides fuel for inspiration between those all-day sessions of trying to inspire others in hot, cramped, stuffy classrooms.
Not that I was expecting to glean much inspiration from Kent: a flat county with a flat-sounding name. But how unrepresentative that name is, I now realise!
Take Kent’s uncountable woods, for a start. Strung together, their names conjure up haunting echoes of local history and mystery. How about these, for instance, for a cross section of society – a somewhat dark-edged one:
Lord’s Wood, Ladywell’s Wood, Maiden Wood, Lawyer’s Wood, Cook’s Wood, Haberdasher’s Wood, Butcher’s Wood, Shoulder of Mutton Wood, Commons Wood, Sluts Wood, Smallman’s Wood, Poors Wood, Little Piper Wood, Workhouse Wood, Stocks Wood, Great Hanging Wood, Deadman’s Wood ?
Then there are the shadows of fantasy and fairytale:
Pook’s Wood, Elvefield Wood, Snoad Wood, Bold Snoad Wood, Mab’s Wood…
and the intriguing Mockbeggar’s, Moneypenny, Golden, Silver, Silver Spot, Sparks, Evening, Secret – Woods.
On a lighter note, there seems to be quite a focus on feet:
Slipshoe, Playfoot, Legg’s, Footway, Kicker, Stumblott’s (as in stumble?),
and talking of Slipshoe, there are plenty of names to slip about on too, both in and out of the woods. I don’t know about you, but these sounds send me slithering:
Snails Wood, Smeeth, Snodland, Sneede, Peene, Blean, Shreen, Evercreech, Sellindge…
Note the rhymes too! Here are three more, from the many: Billingham, Tillingham, Gillingham.
But to get back to those historical echoes, how about these to send you swinging between eras:
Battle, Saxon Wood, Norman’s Bay, Conqueror Road, and Dunkirk?
Not forgetting Hell Fire Corner, an area named in memory of World War II bombardments – a far cry from the county’s current motto: Garden of England. And very verdant it was too, when I viewed it in June – well in advance of soggy south Wales (where I live) in terms of summer flowers. Every village offered up a colourburst treat of lupins, hollyhocks, delphiniums, roses and the like, while the edges of those multitudinous woods linked their lush heads over the winding lanes, in gorgeous, glossy, green tunnels.
Yes, I’m a Kent fan now.
But if you’re still not won over, how about stopping off for a sandwich… at Sandwich?