Swallows and Amazons

Contribution from the previous owner and my sailing mentor

“Swallows and Amazons Forever”, and ever. I read the book, then read it to my children. Then I read all the other books, and read them to my children. I don’t know if they enjoyed them as much as I did but I know they enjoyed being read to. So then I thought, what is it? What is the appeal of these stories? I am not sure I even know, and yet in a way it doesn’t matter.

Being in or near the water is always a worthwhile experience. So with no boat we swam around Peal Island on Coniston like John in “Swallows and Amazons”. We soaked up like sponges the joy of just being in the place, shale beaches, Rowan and bracken growing out of rocky crevices, crystal clear water; water we boiled to brew our tea.

Coniston Water was our main focus of attention, and after researching, found out that a Mr and Mrs Wilson ran the Coniston Hall campsite.After further researching of the sailing boat kind, we bought a fourteen foot lug rigged dinghy courtesy of an eccentric aunt who left us a small legacy, and a carpet for the sitting room. That was quite fortunate really because if she had made a will I am sure it would have gone to the Battersea Dogs Home. A noble cause no doubt, however, what was the dog’s loss was a smile on the face of one nephew and two great nephews.

So we rose at dawn and dressed in haste, for off to Coniston we raced, and my friend and his wife and their dog. Thankfully they had their own tent, and we ours. I’ve never seen so much dog hair, most of it not on the dog!

On our first day of sailing on Coniston we wanted to sail down from Coniston Hall to Peel Island, sail round it and find the little secret harbour. Light winds meant slow progress, but when you’re in arguably, the place of our dreams, what does that matter. It probably didn’t help with the sheer number of us. Me 5’11”, my two lads, my friend, he’s jockey size, and his wife – who isn’t; jockey size that is, more of a generous proportion person, and of course the dog.

Arthur Ransome, the author, of Swallows and Amazons does in the book mix up geography a little so the island the children camp on is in Windermere whereas in the film of the same the island they camp on is Peel Island. National Park regulations forbid overnight camping. However, landing on, picnicking on, and generally exploring isn’t.

Timing is essential because selfishly you want it to yourself, to be the first to explore it, to claim it as your own, not share it with others. Although I feel an unwritten rule applies, that you wait your turn, give others the courtesy of space. You can always find something else to do, pretending you’re drowning usually creates a diversion (just joking).

Of course we would like all our holiday times to be warm, sunny, late evening summer sun gilding all in shines on, but alas alas. Anyway, it probably gives all who live in the British Isles a unique outlook on life. At any moment our outdoor pursuit could be rained on, gale’d on, snowed on and that ensures we cultivate and maintain that stiff upper lip we’re famous for. Never mind, all is not lost, onwards and upwards, our is not to reason why, I’ll go, my turn.

Jacob Kessler

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