Weird Words and Freaky Phrases – British River Names

River Names

The UK has a LOT of waterways. Majestic rivers like the Avon and the Thames, smaller tributaries and tiny streams. Humans have lived close to such sources of fresh water for tens of thousands of years.

The names of these rivers have passed down the years, meandering a bit here and there, like their rivers, but what are the origins? Two thirds of British rivers derive their names from Celtic roots.


Gaelic -abhainn

Welsh – afon

Celtic – Brythonic word for river (abona) – so calling it the River Avon is calling it river river….

There are nine rivers in Britain called Avon (or Afon). Five in England, three in Scotland and one in Wales (it’s the Afon Afan – which means river river…)

The largest Avon is 85 miles in length from Naseby (site of the English Civil War Battle 1645) to Tewksbury in Gloucestershire where it merges with the River Severn.

The Avon which flows through the city of Bristol (where I live), is 70 miles from Acron Turville in Gloucestershire to Avonmouth (hence the name) in Bristol where it again joins the Severn at the Severn Estuary. The Avon meanders, the actual distance between the mouth and the start is far less than 75 miles.

(For other Avons see the link below)

River Ouse (pronounced like Ooze) also derives for a Celtic word for water (usso).

Thames – Celtic word for Dark Water (Tamissa -Via Latin Tamesis) – the rivers Thame and Tamar also have this root

Wye – Flowing Water

Trent – derives from the Celtic word for Trespasser as it flooded so often.

Dart, Darent, Derwent derive again from the Celtic Brythonic for River where the Oak Trees Grow

The Ock (salmon), Laughern (fox) and Yarty (bear) all get their names from the Celtic words for those animals.

The river Dee – was once worshipped as a goddess (Deva), and people in the Middle Ages thought the river would being them luck.

The Severn is named for the goddess Sabrina.

The River Boyne in Ireland is named after the Irish Goddess Boann (meaning white cow).

Don – derived from Devonna – also a river goddess

Tyne – Brythonic – river

Mersey – Anglo Saxon – Boundary River

Shannon (Irish) – a river goddess

Guardians of Erin – Blog Tour

The Cauldron Stirred
Guardians of Erin, Book One
by Judith Sterling
Genre: YA Fantasy, Paranormal
Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.
At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate. For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.
But Aengus is secretive, with good reason. He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld. Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland. Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.
**On Sale for only .99cents June 1st – 25th!!**
The Stone Awakened
Guardians of Erin, Book Two
Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.
Ashling could use a little help herself. She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.
As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.
**On Sale for only .99cents June 1st – 25th!!**
The Sword Unsheathed
Guardians of Erin, Book Three
Ashling Donoghue is no closer to finding her parents than she was the night they disappeared. But hope returns as her brother Kian channels the Sword of Light, revealing past-life secrets and truths long suppressed.
The more she learns, the greater she fears the darkness that drowns the Netherworld also drives her. Is Aengus her true love, or is it Lorcan? Does her future wait in shadow or the light?
One point is clear: the threads of her past-self are woven inextricably into the tapestry of her soul. An impossible choice looms before her, and all the while, evil is poised to strike.
Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us. She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles. Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


New Release! Here Be Fairies Bundle

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Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.

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Flower Fairies by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Bride Thief by Brigid Collins

Feyland by Anthea Sharp

Phouka by Liz Pierce

The Giving Year by Alexandra Brandt

Summerland’s Paladin by Diana Benedict

Real Girl by Leslie Claire Walker

The Troll’s Belt by J.M. Ney-Grimm

The Clockwork Fairy Kingdom by Leah Cutter

The Kitchen Imps by A. L. Butcher

Faerie Fruit by Charlotte E. English

By Winter’s Forbidden Rite by DeAnna Knippling

Dark Dancer by Jaleta Clegg

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Review – Dynasty: The Stuarts John MacLeod (and a potted history of the Stuarts)

Dynasty – The Stuarts

By John MacLeod

2 stars

I rarely rate a book this low, and if I do I have usually stopped reading it.  I like history, and this was a turbulent time in British History. In fact, it was the only time Britain has been a republic (only for a few years), and it changed the British monarchy forever.

The Stuarts were far more interesting than this author makes out – and more varied so here’s a potted history.

Mary, Queen of Scots: infant queen regnant (most unusual as women rarely came to the throne on their own account); wife to the French Dauphin and would have been Queen of France had her young and sickly hubby not died; married a totally unsuitable nobleman – Lord Darnley (not royalty – shocking for the time); possibly complicit in his murder (which was shoddily done); watched her probable lover murdered in front of her eyes; third equally unsuitable husband Lord Bothwell (he kidnapped and raped her, forcing her into a marriage); deposed; exiled; executed by her cousin for being involved with a treasonous plot to bring back Catholism and usurp the English throne.

James I (and VI):  son of Mary and first husband Lord Darnley (probably); first king of England, Ireland and Scotland (sorry Wales you were already under the English then); King for 57 years in Scotland and 21 years in England. Also came to the throne as a baby – after his mother was deposed. Inherited a realm divided by religion and governed during his minority by 4 different regents; intelligent, and a good scholar he is perhaps best known for the King James Bible – which was translated and produced in English during his reign. He was obsessed with witches and witchcraft – but not in a good way and many people were executed for this ‘crime’ during his reign.

James was probably gay, or at least enjoyed gay relationships with various men at court – although he did his duty and married to produce an heir.  His ‘favourites’ were often rather unscrupulous (by today’s standards) and he was manipulated by them – much to the annoyance of parliament – who wanted to do it. He was married to a 14-year-old Danish Princess (Anne of Denmark). His eldest child died of typhoid, his daughter married to become the ill-fated Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia, and his son Charles succeeded him. Yes, that’s the Charles who annoyed parliament so much they chopped off his head….

Charles I:  Poor old Charles I. He wasn’t a bad man, but he wasn’t a good king. Or at least Parliament didn’t think so. He married a Catholic (and a bossy one) – which did not go down well in the largely Protestant Britain, and kept asking for money to fight costly and unpopular wars. He believed in the Divine Right of Kings – basically the King answered to no one but God Almighty. Parliament also had issues with this, funnily enough. The English Civil War went on for 9 awful years and the country was left rather in chaos during this time. Largely it was a religious war but it was also a conflict of a stubborn king who refused to concede any power and a miffed parliament who thought the king and his Catholic cronies had far too much.  It’s possible that over a 190000 died in England from a population of just 5 million from causes related to the war (sickness, wounds, death in battle) and many more were exiled.  In the end the Roundheads were victorious and the King was executed. I think this was the only time an English monarch has been executed by the state (excepting falling in battle, or by a foreign power, or dubious circumstances whilst in exile/imprisonment).  Charles managed to protect his family – they fled to the continent and had a difficult decade living in exile from the goodwell of various foreign lords and princes.

I will miss out Oliver Cromwell and the Commonweath – only because they weren’t Stuart blood but if you want to learn more this is a good place to start.Oliver Cromwell

Charles II : Charles II was handsome, charming and a darn sight smarter than his old man.  He made concessions when he had to and was smart enough to let Parliament have some power. He was also an inveterate womaniser – his official bastard progeny numbered 14 and there were probably lots more. Unfortunately, legitimate issue was 0 surviving – his Queen had a number of miscarriages and was unable to have a child. Despite legions of mistresses Charles stuck by his barren queen, even though he was urged to discard her.

Charles was keen on the arts, was a bit of a rogue but brought an air of jolity back after the rather dismal years of the protectorate.  He was also tolerant of religion but was careful in his dealings with Catholics (who were still deeply mistrusted). He converted on his deathbed.

He was succeeded by his brother James II, VII…. not a popular king. James was rather arrogant, an obvious Catholic, and probably suffered from some serious mental issues (not surprising really as his father was executed for treason). He married Anne Hyde (also not royalty) and then tried to shirk off the marriage. His two daughters would become Queens in their own right, but his second marriage to a Catholic Princess (Mary of Modena) was the final straw. James was far more intolerant than his brother, and less of a statesman. Eventually he was deposed in favour of his son-in-law and nephew, and his daughter (who married her cousin…) – they would jointly reign as Mary II and William III.

He survived rebellions, plots and although he was finally deposed (by his own daughters) he kept his head (unlike his father).

No one wanted civil war again and so when William and Mary were ‘invited’ to take the crown it was done surprisingly bloodlessly.  Trouble in Ireland (that was reflected to the present day) marred the reign, and they were sometimes held to be usurpers (James and his faction would try and regain the throne for James, and his heirs for many years to come, causing turmoil and bloodshed aplenty particularly in Scotland).

William fought the French (England was at war with our neighbours across the channel on and off for nearly a thousand years until the peace which came after the second world war) and was often absent. Wars were costly (and unpopular – nothing changes much).

He may also have had homosexual relationships with courtiers and favourites, but he was deeply upset when Mary died of smallpox. He died after a fall from his horse and the dubious medicine of the time.

Queen Anne was perhaps the most tragic of the Stuart monarchs, and she was the last (depending on who you ask… Jacobites looking at you). She had many health problems, including mental health (as did most of her line) and lost seventeen babies and infants. Which did nothing to help either her physical or mental wellbeing. She had problems with her sight, and later in life became obese (her coffin was nearly square), with the associated problems of being overweight. She also oversaw the Act of Settlement – which finally united Scotland, Ireland and England into Great Britain and not seperate countries. (Some would argue this wasn’t a good thing and the countries would be better off running themselves but that’s a debate for another day).

Anne was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier but she was, by many accounts, kind, dutiful and did her utmost to be a good queen. She was also passionate  and emotional- and her various intense friendships with women, including the Duchess of Marlborough (who was quite unkind about her later). She survived Jacobite plots to put a half-brother on the throne and the aftermath of the War of Spanish Succession.

So anyway… about the book….

I was quite disappointed by this book. Way too much of the author’s own opinion in this. I found it rather anti.. well everyone really.

No one came out of it well (although to be fair the history of the Stuarts is not the most glorious) but there was a rather anti-gay, anti-catholic, tone to the book.  In one place he described homosexuality as a ‘sin’. Technically it was then – but that was not the context of the sentence, or at least didn’t seem to be. There had been previous mentions about the various alleged and supported gay relationships of the monarchs but these were generally portrayed in a negative way. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be like that but it came across that way.

The subject matter is interesting, but it reads a bit like a sensationalist newspaper. I’d have liked more on Queen Anne, she was the last Stuart monarch and barely got much of a mention. What was said was basically she was stupid, dull a bit of a non-entity.

It wasn’t all bad – there was an element of amusement in some places, and the author is passionate about the subject (opinions aside). The chapter on Mary Queen of Scots was interesting. It was also interesting to see the history from the Scots perspective.

I’m sorry but I wouldn’t recommend this to history lovers – there are better and less biased books on the market.


Review – Magic for a Rainy Day #fantasy #fairytales

5 stars #fantasy #fairytales

This delightful collection of short stories twists and turns with Celtic magic from Scotland, to Ireland, to Fairyland. Fairytales retold, and with a heart and passion that is apparent in every word. None of the stories is particularly long or heavy; there is a lightness of phrase from the author which is refreshing and fits the ambience of the collection.

I found myself laughing, smiling and recalling tales from old – particularly with the Irish tale of Banoffee Pie and Black Pudding. This is a fine tale of fairy gifts and being careful what one wishes for.

The last tale –They Stole My Love Last Night was poignantly told, sad and moving with a bittersweet ending. It was a good finale to the collection.

I’d like to learn more about these characters, especially the half-wyndling Skye, and read more of her adventures. Definitely recommend this to readers of fantasy, fairy tales and mythical stories.


Set in Scotland, Ireland, and the Pacific Northwest, these five stories share three things: a little rain, a little fantasy, and a lot of heart.

In “Sidewynd,” Sky Patel balances life between Edinburgh and its mirror in the faerie realm. Until the balance breaks.

In “The Flat Above the Wynd,” Sky’s inherited responsibilities double when past mistakes come back to haunt her.

In “Banoffee Pie and Black Pudding,” Alyssa Granville’s troubles begin with a strange gift from a stranger Irish man.

In “(Not a) Fairy Tale,” a bullied teenage girl learns a startling truth. But fairies don’t go to high school…do they?

In “They Stole My Love Last Night,” Celtic music, fairies, and ghosts collide, turning a bitter story sweet.