I have been somewhat mocked for my reluctance to introduce Nathaniel to Swallows and Amazons. But I can only say that it is rather nerve-wracking to introduce a child to your favourite ever book. What if he doesn't like it? How would we be able to proceed as a family?!
Fortunately, we'll never find out, because he's loved it! I have been unable to read just one chapter per evening due to being harrased for another, and to my great surprise, Thea has been just as hooked (I thought that it would move too slowly for her), and so they have been sharing bedtime stories! What a success.
But, of course, Swallows and Amazons isn't just a book - it's a way of life. When I told Nathaniel that it was this book that defined most of the interesting bits of life that he enjoys - camping all over the place, sailing on any bit of water that stays still, exploring any bit of wilderness I can find, traipsing across endless heather-clad moorland which most people see as the least interesting bit of Yorkshire - I wasn't lying! And Nathaniel has quite understood. Here is what he's done after school this week (all his ideas, needless to say):
learning how to tie a flag halyard with clove hitches and then hoisting a South Korean flag (because thats what we've got!) all over the house:
designing his own flags for us to fly from our tent and boat (the only thing that stopped him sewing them as well was my unsatisfactory selection of scrap fabric. I expect you can guess what we'll be doing next week):
and my favourite, drawing a map of an imaginary (lake-based) land that we have created:
Areas of interest; in the south, sand dunes with pyramids and scarab mounds
Volcanoes with an ancient lava bed, a prospectors' camp and their track to the quartz mines
The Snowlands mountain range, complete with Moomin-style observatory, caves, miner's camp and packhorse and canoe trails. Also visible is the log-boat route from the Great Southern Forest to the metropolis of Lakeside.
The town of Lakeside, with its marina and islands, and a river with lagoon.
Swallows and Amazons Forever!