Posts Tagged river

swallows and amazons

My mum read them to me when I was little, the series beginning with Swallows and Amazons, and now I’m reading them to Sam – until – and this is happening now – he’s so wanting to read on that he does. I’m enjoying reading it though, discovering them for what seems like the first time.

Here’s the synopsis of Swallows and Amazons from the Arthur Ransome website:

Swallows and Amazons begins with the four Walker children, John, Susan, Titty and Roger, holidaying with their mother, infant sister Brigit and a nurse at Holly Howe, a farmhouse on the shores of an unnamed lake in the English Lake District. Receiving permission from their absent father, Commander Walker R.N., they set sail in the dinghy Swallow to camp on a deserted island further down the lake.

Camping, sailing, fishing and exploring is soon interupted when the Walkers (the Swallows) are attacked by Nancy and Peggy Blackett, the self-styled Amazon Pirates. The Amazons live at Beckfoot on the shores of the lake and claim ownership of the island, which they call Wild Cat Island. The Swallows and the Amazons soon form an alliance, united in opposition to the Amazons’ irrasible Uncle Jim, who is living on his houseboat whilst writing a book. They conclude that Uncle Jim is a retired pirate and henceforth call him Captain Flint.

The new allies decide to hold a private war to determine whether Swallow or Amazon should become their flagship. As their war reaches its climax, it coincides with the burglary of Captain Flint’s houseboat, during which his trunk containing his manuscript is stolen. Captain Flint believes that the Swallows are to blame, a misunderstanding that Nancy soon puts right. Realising his mistake, Captain Flint is quick to apologise and, thinking his book is lost, he makes peace with the allies before challenging them to battle.

At the appointed hour the allies attack and seize Captain Flint’s houseboat, strengthening their new friendship by making him walk the plank. However, the friendship is truly sealed when Titty and Roger find his lost trunk, thereby saving his book.

Swallows and Amazons concludes with a great storm on the lake, after which the Swallows and Amazons have to return to life ashore and a new year at school. They part with promises to meet again next year.

Sam likes it that it’s a series, and that the people are going to carry on in the next book. He couldn’t read the third part of Lord of the Rings because he saw, flipping to the last few pages, that the heroes part forever. That was just too much. I’ve tried to persuade him, but he’s not having it.

So here’s to molasses and a barrel of grog, to raising the halyard and tacking into the wind. Swallows and Amazons forever!

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sticks and rivers


Given that the water in rivers makes up only an amazingly tiny 0.0002 percent of the water on our planet, it features disproportionately in stories.

For example there is the game where you drop sticks on one side of a bridge and run over to the other side to see whose stick has won, sometimes called Poohsticks after the famous Winnie the Pooh:

Pooh had just come to the bridge; and not looking where he was going, he tripped over something, and the fir-cone jerked out of his paw into the river. ‘Bother,’ said Pooh, as it floated slowly under the bridge, and he went back to get another fir-cone which had a rhyme to it. But then he thought that he would just look at the river instead, because it was a peaceful sort of day, so he lay down and looked at it, and it slipped slowly away beneath him, and suddenly, there was his fir-cone slipping away too.

‘That’s funny,’ said Pooh. ‘I dropped it on the other side,’ said Pooh, ‘and it came out on this side! I wonder if it would do it again?’ And he went back for some more fir-cones. It did. It kept on doing it. Then he dropped two in at once, and leant over the bridge to see which of them would come out first; and one of them did; but as they were both the same size, he didn’t know if it was the one which he wanted to win, or the other one. So the next time he dropped one big one and one little one, and the big one came out first, which was what he had said it would do, and the little one came out last, which was what he had said it would do, so he had won twice … and when he went home for tea, he had won thirty-six and lost twenty-eight, which meant that he was – that he had – well, you take twenty-eight from thirty-six, and that’s what he was. Instead of the other way round.

And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks, which Pooh invented, and which he and his friends used to play on the edge of the Forest. But they played with sticks instead of fir-cones, because they were easier to mark.’

This is a game that Sam and I have played in the forest of course, though the little streams pass under the paths in pipes, and most usually the sticks get stuck.

And then there is the possibility of following the water to its destination…
or perhaps to its source…
or damming it up for a while…

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more moomin magic



As we travel round on trains visiting I’ve been reading Comet in Moominland to Sam. It’s like discovering a new path to a new landscapes, for him and for me. Just like the book says about Sniff (who loves jewels and small adventures):

”One morning… the little animal Sniff made a discovery. (There were still plenty of things left for them to discover in the valley.)  He was wandering in the forest when he suddenly noticed a path he had never seen before winding mysteriously into the green shadows. Sniff was spellbound and stood gazing at it for several minutes.


‘It’s funny about paths and rivers,’ he mused. ‘You see them go by, and suddenly you feel upset and want to be somewhere else – wherever the path or the river is going perhaps. I shall have to tell Moomintroll about this…'”

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