Last week, on holiday, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Babel, by Rebecca F Kuang. I can recommend it, certainly for translators and other language lovers. The gems of the origins of words it contains only fired my fascination with etymology even more. Speaking of fire, Bilbao lies in a large iron ore mining region and the quality of iron from Bilbao foundries was for many years the world standard. Sadly, there are plans to demolish all of the town’s industrial buildings to make space for new clean industries. Better for the environment of course, but will those buildings (see photo, taken from the Bilboat!) be as beautiful as the old ones?

Iron is cast in a foundry, from the French fondre – to smelt. The leap to cheese fondue is not such a big one.😊

Punt – a flat-bottomed, river boat with no mast. In Dutch, a ferry across a river is called a pont. And of course there’s also a pontoon, which by the way is also a card game.

A punter can be someone ‘poling’ a punt (standing up) but it can also be a gambler. The people putting bets on horse races are called punters. And this is because of another meaning of the word, which is a footballer who kicks the ball dropped by another player before it hits the ground. It’s called ‘taking a punt’ (or a gamble).