What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? You may well ask.

My parents rarely, if ever actually called me “Fiona”, even though it was the name they chose for me.  My father only ever used my given name if he was getting serious about something.

For years I loathed it.


Thank you for asking. But first:

They chose the name because it was not common – or so they thought. At the time, nearly sixty years ago, in England, it wasn’t. Common.  Little did they know that some twelve to fifteen years later, in South Africa, I would be one of five Fionas.  In the same class at school.  Although they wanted to be different, they also tried to give me a family name:  Mary. After both my grandmothers. They were thwarted. The registrar of births, some how, just left it off my birth certificate.

When I was baptised, and the minister was doing the, “I Christen thee…”, thing, he also forgot.  For years, I lamented not having a middle name.  It presented quite a challenge when I had to fill in a million forms when I applied for a visa for a trip to the United States. Not only that, online forms generally don’t like double-barreled last names (a comparatively more recent acquisition), so the solution was to use half of my last name as my middle name. That said, do not ever call me Mrs Brown. But that’s another story.


I remain plain old “Fiona” with a double-barreled last name, who, until I was five and a bit, only ever answered to “Fi”. It was a bit of a shock, going to “big” school and having to learn to answer to “Fiona”. I did and I have embraced it.  Although didn’t realise how much until I discovered (only in the last year or so) that I resent it when someone I’ve just met, whether professionally or socially, instantly presumes to call me “Fi”.  The dissuasion, depending on whom and how, ranges between gently diplomatic to acid and a direct, “You can call me Fiona.”

Which brings me to its real meaning.

For years, and I was under the impression that Fiona was the Scottish Gaelic equivalent of Flora which does actually mean flower.  I’ll come back to this.

The photo below, of the plaque on our fridge, was a gift from my sister-in-law when she returned from a visit to Scotland.

Needless to say, my illusion of being a flower was shattered. “Fair”, though, I’ll take.  As I approach the last part of my sixth decade, I hope I live up to it. I could do worse.

But that’s not all:


Back to Flora

Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers and in Scotland, the Anglicised version of the Gaelic “Fionn”. So, there is a tangential connection, but not quite as my childhood memories led me to believe.  Perhaps it’s because the Flora we grew up with was a wonderful, madcap, legend of a woman.  She drove an ancient Ford Anglia until well into her seventies, smoked like a chimney, was always in court shoes and lipstick.  She constantly regaled with stories of how, with her double-jointed wrists, she delighted in upsetting first, her teachers and all through her life, people who irritated her.  She’d fold her hands back so that it looked like she had no hands…

Flora was this twelve-year old’s heroine.


Regular readers will know that I have a penchant for alliteration.  That, only tangentially, has to do with the name I chose for this blog and the handle I use on various social media platforms.  Its genesis dates back some nearly 30 years and to a time when I had no work, when I needed to find a way to both keep myself busy and earn.  At least something. About the only confectionary I could then bake with any confidence was biscuits.  So I made a million biscuits (cookies) for a little café in a village in the Eastern Cape.  They were my favourites.  Which is why I had developed the skill for baking them.

Fiona’s Favourites was born.

It was logical then, that when I started blogging – about food and recipes – also favourites – well, I just joined the dots.

It’s stuck and I’m in the process of adapting the label for my preserves by dropping the “s” so that it now reads “Fiona’s Favourite…” and it adorns all the preserves I sell, and my stall at the market.

Silver Flower

Recently, I’ve joined and play an active role in a crypto blogging community for folk who’re considered, like good cheese, best mature.  None of us embraces the “old” or “elderly” appellations.  I suspect none of us feels a day over 25.  Blogpal, @lizelle, who started the group, and who incidentally also runs a BnB, coined the name “Silver Bloggers”.  I rather like that:  silver has a multitude of connotations.

One of the features of the platform on which the community lives, is that its members can choose another handle.  Mine, you guessed it, is Silver Flower.  It harks back to both what I originally believed Fiona to mean, my love of flowers and my Scottish roots.

The Husband and I, nearly 19 years ago, and when got a middle double-barreled last name

Both our Scottish roots and my love of flowers are evident here.  The Husband and I on our wedding day:  he in the kilt and the flowers in this buttonhole, the South African equivalent of Scottish heather, and which are also in my bouquet of indigenous blushing bride.  I have loved blushing brides since I first saw a picture of them when I was about nine.  When I met them in the flesh, so to speak, I wasn’t disappointed.  That bouquet weighed about a hundred tons. I now realise that every bloom was probably grown at the top of the mountain above the village where we now live.  High in the Sondereinde Mountains behind McGregor is one of the few places they’re cultivated and home to one of the biggest exporters of these flowers.  At the time, it was also a conscious decision to marry (ha!) our heritage with our South African roots.

A last word

I do like it that in some cultures children are named for their parents, hopes and dreams for them.  Or for the auspicious days on which they’re born.  I know that each time I’ve named an animal feline child – after all, I am the Cats’ Mother – I’ve had my reasons for choosing their names.  Those, possibly, are stories for another time – along with a few others.

There is so much in a name:  love, loss, hopes, dreams and a life of being.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script
If this post might seem familiar, it’s because I’m doing two things:

  • re-vamping old recipes. As I do this, I am adding them in a file format that you can download and print. If you download recipes, buy me a coffee. Or better yet, a glass of wine….?
  • and “re-capturing” nearly two years’ worth of posts.

I blog to the Hive blockchain using a number of decentralised appplications.

    • From WordPress, I use the Exxp WordPress plugin. If this rocks your socks, click here or on on the image below to sign up.

    • Join Hive using this link and then join us in the Silver Bloggers’ community by clicking on the logo.
Image: @artywink
    • I also share my occasional Instagram posts to the crypto blockchain using the new, and really nifty phone app, Dapplr. On your phone, click here or on the icon, and give it a go.

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