Saturday, 29 October 2016

Blindingly Obvious


Place Names

One of my great pleasures in my pursuit of trivia is discovering a link which is blindingly obvious when you think about it. So often familiarity or a different cultural experience means that years of exposure can go by without realising the implications of a name.

In New Zealand, as a former British colony, we have many, many places and roads named after British locations. I am glad to say we have also kept many Maori names too, which confounds tourists when they have to pronounce them. (Lots of New Zealand placenames underscore our British heritage and show our age by being named for 19th century heros and politicians, but that’s another post)

So when I tell people in Britain that my home is in Cambridge, I have to quickly add, Cambridge, New Zealand. My suburb is Leamington, but here in England Leamington is over 100km from Cambridge! Many of the links are well known, with New Zealand counterparts for Oxford, Hamilton, and Christchurch. But you can still be caught out on the internet if you are not careful: I nearly booked accommodation in Cheviot in the Scottish Borders rather than the township in northern Canterbury, New Zealand.

Some are a newer surprise, for instance I only recently found out the famous House of Pain rugby stadium, Carisbrook in Dunedin is named for a castle on the Isle of Wight.

But the best realisation only occurred when I started living in the UK in 2014. In New Zealand we have many roads named after UK places… I have even lived on a York Avenue. But here in the UK if you are standing in the town square and see a road named say: London Rd, it will be the road to London. Doh! So obvious! The main thoroughfare through Hatch End is called Uxbridge Rd: so of course it terminates at Uxbridge. Brilliant for a directionally challenged traveller like me!

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