This week’s blog is coming to you from Hythe, in Kent. I’m staying here in an idyllic cottage (hmm, wonder where the word ‘cottage’ comes from) near the sea for three weeks. Working, of course.

I went to Zef, my bonus son’s graduation ceremony last week in Northampton. He had just completed an English-language bachelor in illustrating and media studies (he’s Dutch). The ceremony took place in a theatre and was really plush. About 250 graduating students all in ‘cap and gown’. The cap is called a mortar board, as I explained to Zef. From the bricklayers’ flat tool, or ‘hawk’, used for holding their plaster or mortar. Zef’s father wondered if it had something to do with the Freemasonry. I didn’t think so. But of course, I looked it up. And found this:

Mortarboard caps are thought to have been created in the 15th century, as part of an evolution from a hat type known as a biretta, which was used by Catholic clerics and professors. The distinctive square shape of a mortarboard is believed to signify a book, chosen in recognition of scholarly achievements.

So there you go.

Oh yes, and a cottage, from the Old English cote was originally the home of a cotter, or peasant farmer.