What's in a name?
Who or what is an Artistraw?
(penned by Lydia)
Artistraw is a lovely old Herefordian word for shrew which we picked up in a conversation about regional dialect with a relative of Tom's. An elderly neighbour of said relative had always refered to shrews as Artistraws, although this had turned out to be a corruption of the true (but equally strange) dialect word, 'Hardy Straw'. Indeed, it seems reinventing words was something of a habit for old Mrs Prosser as we were told she had once misheard a news report and was terribly excited to learn that the FA cup final was to be held in the small Herefordshire village of Weobley...
For one reason or another the word stuck in our heads and that combined with the discovery of an fun entry into Kilvert's diary (a charming social history of the local area albeit by rather questionable philandering vicar) made us decide that it was the perfect name we had been searching for for our cider business. If that wasn't enough, shrews are immensely fun to illustrate and provide excellent and inexhaustable opportunities for puns.
There was a small animal running about the stones by the brook side in the sun, whirling round in circles and behaving very strangely. Price pronounced it to be a small kind of weasel catching flies. I said I thought it was a mouse, and it proved to be a shrew.
Price called it 'a hardy straw'.
It was whirling and whisking round swiftly, tumbling about, darting to and fro rapidly, and conducting itself in the most earnest but ludicrous manner.
- KILVERT'S DIARY, 4th MAY 1870