A Wandering we go

Lucien Smith with his mother Margaret in the quirky-named village of Muggleswick

I had some interesting responses to my column talking about dreams a couple of weeks ago. It seems I am not the only one who has dreamt of a loved one after they have passed away.

Simon Barrass, who originates from Middlesbrough but now lives in Florida, said: “This was a very lovely article Sarah. I have many, many dreams with my dad since he passed. One of late was where I was walking through the town centre which was pretty packed with people, and then I saw my dad walking towards me as clear as day! I said: “I thought you were dead, Dad.” And he said to me: “No, I’m still here and just wandering about.” I find them comforting – I have lots of them with my mam in too!”

Lucien Smith from London also got in touch to say: “What a fascinating topic! I remember 20 percent of my dreams and sometimes the themes are easily explained. Other times less so. I’ve only dreamt of my father a couple of times in the 17 years since he died, but both were really sweet, comforting dreams.”

It’s nice to hear that others find these occurrences soothing rather than disturbing, but it’s not always the case. Another friend (who asked to remain anonymous) got in touch after reading my piece to tell me that she and her husband dreamt on the same night that her father-in-law’s house had been renovated upstairs but not downstairs. She said: “It freaked us out as we hadn’t even been discussing the family and his dad is dead!” I have to wonder how that is even possible?

Simon’s use of the word ‘wandering’ reminded me of a Facebook conversation that was sparked by a photograph that Lucien had posted showing himself and his mother near his home village of Muggleswick in County Durham. I am probably not the first to wonder if it was the inspiration behind the term ‘muggles’ that JK Rowling uses in her Harry Potter books to refer to people who do not have magic powers, but apparently not (she said it came from the word ‘mug’). However the Muggleswick postcode was used for the first day cover when Royal Mail issued a set of Harry Potter stamps in 2018.

Lucien was asking if anyone else had any strange place names to bring up, and the responses he got had me giggling as I read them. So, in the spirit of Christmas silliness (and with Lucien’s permission) I’d like to share them with you now. Be warned, some of these names might make you blush!

Murray Lang from Australia posted picture of the town sign of ‘Wandering’, and also said that ‘Bothering’ appeared on an old West Australian road map of his father’s. He adds: “No sign of it now (Not Bothering?).” Susie Dymoke from Arizona explained that she lives on Serene Street in the town of Carefree, and other street names include Ho Hum Drive, Rocking Chair Road, Breathless Drive and Slumber Street. It sounds like a very relaxing place to be, as does Rest and be Thankful, in Scotland, suggested by Lorraine Riggs (who also tells us she was married in Brig o’Turk).

Rector Angela Berners-Wilson added: “My parishes rejoice in the following names: Bicknoller, Crowcombe, Monksilver, Nettlecombe, Sampford Brett and Stogumber.” And Neil McBride offered Cridling Stubbs near Leeds. They all sound like they are straight out of a Roald Dahl story, don’t they? Angela also says there is a Lower Piddle near Worcester, while Ian Harrison mentioned the River Piddle in Dorset.

Things began to get a little cheeky after that, and Gareth Child offered Nether Hornpot Lane in York along with Scratchy Bottom near Durdle Door in Dorset. Jacqui Flynn revealed: “During our daily walks in lockdown, we discovered Erection Cottage on Dick Lane.” And Paul Martin added: “We live in Sexhow, which I always think should have a question mark.” He added that he lives near Thornton le Beans, which is apparently where author Bill Bryson wants to be buried.

Deborah Binns Bailey from South Yorkshire had me laughing out loud when she said: “We have Penistone near us. Lovely little village. Used to be a problem if you tried to Google it with parental controls on.”

I hope these funny names spark some interesting conversations around the festive dinner table, and the meantime, have yourselves a wonderful Christmastime!

Read more at countrymansdaughter.com. Follow me on Twitter @countrymansdaug

This column appeared in the Darlington & Stockton Times on 24th and the Gazette & Herald on 22nd December 2021