Some people have the strangest collections. A colleague of mine many years ago had a collection of nearly a hundred souvenir mugs from around Britain. He didn’t mind whether he had visited the place. He was only interested in adding as many cups to his total. I remember cycling from London to the Isle of Sheppey on my day off mainly for the exercise but partly to run an errand by buying one there for him.
Some people collect those old games consoles from the 1980s. They look for both the cartridge-based ones and the very basic boxes with just five or six games built into them. You know the type: you move a stick up and down to play tennis with another stick with a strangely square-looking ball. If you find one in the loft somewhere, you may be able to sell it to someone online who wants it not for entertainment but just to complete the set.
One man I read about when I was at university was someone from south London who collected photographs. There was something strange about the photos, though. They were pictures of the same places taken every year for more than a decade. They showed how some perfectly ordinary places had changed as the city had changed. I had never thought a simple row of terraced houses could look so interesting.
I have a couple of collections myself. I use one of them when I go to work: It’s a collection of ties with the logos of different railways on them. Most are museum lines like the Bluebell Railway or the KESR (Kent and East Sussex Railway) from the UK, but I have a couple of national ones as well. Someone once mistook me for a PKP employee as a result.
My second is also railway-related. I have a collection of train tickets from places ‘near” Gliwice. I should explain. Back in 1998 I went for a walk, about six kilometres, from Gliwice to a place called £abêdy. When I bought my train ticket back home I saw it was an old cardboard type and not the regular computer printout. „Aha!” I thought. „These will not be around much longer.” so I started a collection of tickets. The only rule was that I had to walk to the station from Gliwice.
After Pyskowice and Tarnowskie Góry, the walking became more important than the tickets (which had then all changed to printouts anyway) but I’ve still got the tickets somewhere. The furthest one was Zakopane (two and a half days away). Then I dropped the „start from Gliwice” rule and walked from Œwinouœcie to Ukraine (27 days 8 hours and 15 minutes) which means I can say everywhere in Poland is „within walking distance”.
But there are some collections that are just strange. Who is it who collects all those belts of empty machine-gun bullets from army shops?
a colleague – kolega
a souvenir – pamiątka
a mugs – kubek
to run an errand – załatwiać sprawę
loft – strych
a decade – dziesięciolecie
a terraced house – segment
a tie (or a necktie) – krawat
mistook = past tense of ‘to mistake” – pomylić
cardboard – karton
Some words describe collections or groups of things. For example, a set of spanners () or screwdrivers ().
What go in these groups?
A fleet of…
A herd of…
A flock of…
A gaggle of…
A shoal of…
A swarm of…
A fleet of ships, cars, trucks etc.
A herd of sheep, cows (cattle), elephants, pigs etc.
A flock of birds or sheep. There was a pop group called „A flock of seagulls”.
A gaggle of geese.
A shoal of fish (also a school of fish)
A swarm of ants, bees, butterflies, insects etc.
Did you know?
Some of the more unusual collective nouns are „a murder of crows”, „a parliament of owls” and „a company of parrots”.
Unusual collections you can find in museums include fans (wachlarz) in Greenwich, clocks in Jêdrzejów, military tanks in Wool (near Weymouth, England), corkscrews (korkociąg) in Menerbes, France, and lawnmowers (kosiarka do trawy) in Southport, Lancashire, England.
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