Magyar Medcalfs



“This very interesting surname recorded in the spellings of Medcalf, Metcalf and Metcalfe, is English. It is chiefly recorded in the county of Yorkshire, and there have been claims that it represents the very first hereditary surname. This is arguable, but there is no doubt that it was one of the very first. It is probably topographical, but may be occupational, and in either case derives either from the Olde English pre 7th century word “mete” meaning food or meat, plus “cealf”, a calf, with the translation of “a calf to be fattened for eating (at the end of the Summer)”, or when the first element is written as “med” it may derive from “mead”, and describe a pasture or meadow where calves were fattened.”

Read more:

While looking up the origins of my family name, I thought I might check where the name Medcalf came from.

Last night we hosted our dear friends the Medcalfs. They live in Hungary and ‘Magyar’ is the Hungarian word for ‘Hungarian’.

Mr Magyar Medcalf was christened Matthew, giving rise to a lot of Ms for this post.

It was great to catch up with Matty and his wonderful wife Edith.

Matty and I were able to put most of the world’s problems right last night.

Unfortunately, neither of us was able to recall any of the solutions this morning.

We were both reminded that taken in sufficient volume, even the best wine can give rise to a cracking headache.

Both wives were able to confirm that it is neither big or clever to drink too much.

They were able to confirm this repeatedly.

A lot.

So that’s nice.


More great blogs here.

L is for Lennon

Lennon. My family name.

The source of endless entertainment on the telephone or in shops.

“Lennon. As in dead Beatle.”

Sometimes – people laugh.

More often, people look slightly puzzled.

I’m getting old and Beatles references don’t go as far as they used to.

The ‘present Mrs Lennon’ as I jokingly refer to my wife, has, to date, wisely avoided the more obvious puns on the name.

The poor woman already has a lot to put up with being married to me

“Recorded in several spelling forms including O’Lennon, O’Lennan, Lennon, Linnane and Lineen this interesting surname is Irish.

It usually originated from the pre 10th century O’Leannain, a byname meaning “lover”, but may also be from O’Lonain, a diminutive of “lon”, meaning the blackbird.”

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 So there you have it. I’m either a lover or a small blackbird.

Best I leave it there I think.



More fantastic blogs can be found here

K is for Kindness


Kindness. It is underrated.

I seldom hear talk of kindness, yet it is the greatest virtue.

We all have an inbuilt ability to be kind.

It costs us nothing, requires little or no effort but it can be astonishingly powerful.

I am not writing about the great and grand gesture, but about the tiny everyday things, the small actions that truly make the world a better place.

Kindness is a rare beast, in that it is as beneficial for the donor as for the recipient.

I do not wish to cheapen the virtue, but being kind to somebody is its own reward. It feels good.

Kindness might be a word, it might be an action. Telling somebody that they look good, popping by to say ‘Hello’ – little things that are easy, that take little effort can make an enormous difference to the recipient.

I do not know why we are here. I do not have an amazing insight into life. I do know that while we are here – it makes sense to enjoy ourselves. Being kind is fun.

What kindness have you done recently?

What kindness will you do today?



Please leave a comment – then go check out another blog in the A to Z Challenge here.

J is for Jordan. Jordan Spieth



Image from Getty Images – taken from

I had promised myself not to write any more posts about golf this month.

I have broken the promise because of the young man in the photograph above.

Jordan Spieth is a twenty one year old, who on Thursday and Friday amassed the best score ever in the first two rounds of the Masters.

There are two more rounds to play, and therefore plenty of time for the wheels to come off, but I’ll be bold and say that I expect him to go and win.

For those who do not know, the Masters in an annual tournament held at the hyper-exclusive Augusta National club in Georgia, USA. It is the only of golf’s four ‘Major’ tournaments that is played on the same course every year. It is an incredibly tough but beautiful golf course.

Jordan Spieth is a young Texan, who loves his baseball, his football and basketball. He loves country music. I would not be at all surprised to hear that he loves Nascar. He seems to be an all American boy.

What makes him a little bit different is that in 2014 he is playing golf at an incredible level. In setting his record over the first two rounds, he is five shots clear of the rest of the field.

He is, in effect, destroying the world’s best golfers on one of the world’s toughest courses.

The idol of 21st century American golf was Tiger Woods – and he is now a tarnished idol. There have been some pretenders to the vacant throne but only now, in Jordan Spieth, has there been a candidate who looks like a genuine prospect.

Joyfully, Jordan comes across as a humble, down to earth young man.


This is a very difficult thing for a European golf fan to write – but I hope that Mr Spieth does win the tournament and continues to go from strength to strength.

Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Who or what inspires you?


Check out some great blogs on the A to Z Challenge homepage.


I is for International


In my last post, I explained how the hero of my novel was living and working in Hungary. I expect that he will visit many more places in the course of his adventures. He will be an international hero.

If you are here on a tour of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – then you most likely will cover the USA, Europe, Asia and beyond in just a few clicks.

The rapid advances of technology and democratisation of travel are making it increasingly easy for all of us to be ‘international’.

Migration is a hot political and social topic which I mentioned in “E for Elections” a few days back.

Increasingly, the dividing lines between nationalities are disappearing.

Just thinking of the extended families of my wife and I, we have relatives in Canada, Australia, USA, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Germany and Switzerland.

The international theme is one that is increasingly common in many families.

I think it is fantastic. I love that I am able to travel more, to see more places, experience more cultures, both through travel or through virtual experiences on the internet.

Yet, for all of those positives, attempts to create a United States of Europe seem doomed to failure.

In Scotland, very nearly 50% of residents who voted,  wanted to leave the United Kingdom.

So – are we becoming more international? Or Less international?

Is your nationality more or less important to how you think of yourself than it was for the generation before you?

What do you think?



A list of A to Z bloggers here.

H is for Hungary


Hungary is a breathtaking country.

The picture above is of the ‘Chain Bridge’ which spans the Danube between Buda and Pest, which together make up Hungary’s capital city.

The bridge was designed by an Englishman called Clark, then built by a Scotsman, bizarrely also called Clark. How spooky is that?

The potential for metaphors on the roles of the home nations within the United Kingdom throughout history is just too obvious.

As a city, Budapest is up there with Europe’s great capitals. Some of the architecture is stunning, the people generous and fun and the language is so incomprehensible as to be charming.

Helen Baggott has an amazing blog going on Rome. Worth a look here.

Much though I love Rome, Budapest shades it for me. On and off, I lived in Budapest for the duration of the 1990s.

Outside of the capital, landlocked Hungary has some great beaches on the shores of the Balaton lake and the magnificent Danube river. There are fabulous wine regions, plains, towns and cities. We shall visit some of them in another post.

My ‘Work in Progress’ is largely set in Hungary.

While the hero Sean visits many places that I know well, his adventures are mostly fictional, as if I wrote of things that really happened, then the reader would not believe me.

Hungary was a wild place in the early nineties. The Berlin wall had crumbled, the USSR was in turmoil and a new era was beginning.

It is in this milieu that Sean is trying to do his job and have fun. Sean works in currency – and so is a person of great interest to many parties, not all of them benevolent.

Some of these people play very rough and young Sean will have to tread very carefully.


Find some more blogs in the A to Z Challenge here.

G is for Gratitude


Look. I could not bring myself to hit you with another golf picture or post.

The sea is nice though isn’t it?

I don’t want you thinking that I do nothing but play golf, watch golf or talk about golf. Admittedly, today, I did a lot of all three.

I was lucky enough to be invited to make up a four-ball at the Wentworth Club, one of the foremost golfing venues in England.

I got an invite because a senior executive of a sporting apparel and equipment company is a member of the same club where I play and he has ‘connections’.

We met because I am involved in promoting junior golf at the club. He has a daughter that plays.

“Stuart – thanks for your help with the juniors. Would you like to come and play at Wentworth?” There is no golfer in England that would turn down an invite here.

That was the first invite. Since then, we have played a few times.

Today was the finest day of the year so far. Despite wearing sun screen, there is a definite rosy hue to my face this evening.

As I walked the famous fairways in the sunlight playing atrocious golf, I was grateful.

I was positively brimming with gratitude. Internally, I was composing an acceptance speech of Oscar-esque proportions, complete with breaking voice and suppressed sobs.

I was grateful to Drew – the friend that invited me. To Nigel and Adam who were playing. To my darling wife who was working while I swanned about on the golf course, to the Chief Weather God, responsible for laying on such excellent conditions.

Above all else, I was grateful I had offered to help out the junior section, setting in train a sequence of gratitude that resulted in me having a cracking day out in Surrey.

A good deed should be its own reward but gratitude has a way of going all the way around in a virtuous circle.

Thanks for reading.



A to Z Challenge Blog list here.

F is for FORE!



The picture above is of the 13th green at Tidworth Garrison Golf Club. The hole, indeed much of the course, was designed by a jauntily-named fellow, Harry Shapland Colt.

I am a member at Tidworth, which means that I can play this hole every day.

Lucky, lucky me. For those who golf (it is contentious whether golf may be used as a verb, but I thought I’d throw it in there) – it is a par 3 that can be anything from a 9 iron to 4 iron depending on the wind.

For those who don’t golf – it is a beautifully landscaped bit of land that can give pleasure, just by being there.

Spring is making a real effort here in Southern England. The rain has gone away, the sun is out and the temperatures are climbing. Carpe Diem.

Easter Sunday saw me in a competition, Tuesday again – and I have rounds scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. Absolute heaven.

In my defence, a round of golf, carrying clubs, is a seven mile walk and burns off two and a half thousand calories.

Thursday until Sunday also sees the first ‘Major’ of the year – where the great and the good of golf all gather in Augusta, Georgia to compete for the coveted green jacket. (Oh, and a bucket load of cash too.)

Time differences mean that in England, I can play golf during the day, burning off all those calories, before settling down in front of the TV and putting all of the calories back in as I watch the big guns play the game.

This immersion in golf is fantastic fun. There is a downside though.

The golf handicap is coming down, I am fitter and lighter but the novel is not coming along at all.

Perhaps I could dictate in-between shots?



Check out the list of A to Z Bloggers here

E for Election


In the UK, it is that time again.

Next month the country will elect a new government for the next five years or so.

Between now and polling day, we will be subjected to an enormous amount of posing, pontificating and promises.

Someone, somewhere has decreed that the ‘big’ issue is immigration.

The thesis is that Britons are tired of foreigners coming into the UK, claiming benefits, exhausting public resources, taking over communities and thereby worsening the lives of those people already here.

A variation on the theme is that the foreigners are stealing the jobs of the poor hard-working Brit.

Parties all the way along the political spectrum are offering solutions to this problem.

What utter nonsense.

In the UK we are lucky enough to live in a country where on one street we can eat the finest examples of cuisine from every continent.

Our universities are crammed full of bright and enquiring minds from every corner of the earth.

The very name of the place should give it away – ‘The United Kingdom”. It has always been our way to embrace multiple cultures, nations and races. The diversity of the population has always been what has made this country so vibrant and exciting to live in.

There is competition for work. There is strain on limited resources. This country, like any country, faces problems. Immigration is not one of them.

While the politicians tilt at windmills, pose for the cameras and pursue the perfect populist sound bite, they neglect the work that needs to be done to make things better.

There’s only one thing for it.

We will have to bring some immigrants in to do the job.

It is the British way.



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D is for Death….


The fourth day of the AtoZ Blogging Challenge.

Thank you for reading and commenting. There are masses of blogs to check out. Here is a list.

Death. Christians are now celebrating Easter, with Friday being all about death.

An important and profound subject.

Way too important and profound for me to tackle.

I am writing about “Death to the Stock Photo“. Not really about death at all. This is a fantastic service provided by Allie Lehman and David Sherry for people like you and me.

As my last post illustrates, I am a dreadful photographer.

My shots require captions as explanations.

Each month Allie and David send me a pack of beautifully crafted tableaux, absolutely free, which I am able to use here on the blog. There is one at the top of this post.

There are, of course, great pictures all over the internet. Here is the thing, these photographs belong to people. They are creations.

I aspire to write books, books that people might pay for. I daresay I am unlikely to demand masses of cash for my debut novel, but I know that I would be upset were I to find my work free all over the internet.

Photographers, writers and other artists create. They invest heavily of themselves and toil to make their art as good as it can be. Most ask for very little in return. Some ask for recognition, some ask to make a living. (The very cheek of it!)

Get yourself over to “Death to the Stock Photo‘ and sign up. There is a free service and there is also a subscription model (more artists looking to make a living, tsk, tsk) with completely unfettered access to a growing library of great shots.

Quite apart from the fact that they take beautiful pictures, these guys seem really cool too.