Thursday, 11 June 2015

There is nothing half so much worth doing . . .

At last the summer is here, and as my mind is turning to the seaside, I thought this post of mine from a couple of years back, might be appropriate.

There Is Nothing Half So Much Worth Doing . . .
I love the sea! The sound of the swell amongst the rocks and the dank smell of seaweed in sunless caves filled my childhood holidays in Cornwall. Some of my favourite memories are of getting up early in the morning with my brother, and paying a fisherman to take the two of us across the bay in a little dinghy, to Looe Island.

     It’s amazing that we were allowed to go! There were no lifejackets, no mobile phones to contact our totally unconcerned parents, and no way to get back to the mainland until the same fisherman picked us up in the afternoon. The island was owned by two eccentric sisters, and was a haven for sea birds. The feel of the place has stayed with me ever since, and perhaps influenced the sort of books I loved: Treasure Island, Moonfleet, and The Island Of Adventure. 
    But, as someone who was brought up and continues to live just about as far from the sea as possible in the UK, my opportunities for sailing and sea adventures have been somewhat limited. My adventures when young more often involved trekking across fields with a bow, arrows and a sheath knife, climbing haystacks and finding rusty gin traps left by ancient, gnarly-knuckled poachers. 
    Of rivers, canals and ponds, though, there were plenty, and they were a natural draw to my brother and myself; scooping out Crested Newts from Newt Pond; fishing in the local canal, and sailing our raft along the brooks that cut across the springy-turfed fields behind our house.
    Our raft was a present from our parents and consisted of a wooden platform with two large inflatable cylinders attached underneath. It wasn’t very easy to steer, but provided endless hours of enjoyment as we explored the reed-choked streams. With a packed lunch in our duffle bags we would stay out for hours, and again our parents seemed totally unconcerned. Were they trying to tell us something?
    These experiences provided inspiration for the starting point of Charlie Small’s amazing adventures. He sails his raft along a stream, swollen and flooded after a storm and finds himself on a stretch of water he doesn’t recognize. Attacked by a ferocious crocodile, Charlie is catapulted, quite literally, into another world!

Charlie drops into a new world

    As Charlie’s adventures unfold, he finds himself having to master a plethora of boats, submersibles and hovercrafts: The Powder-Propelled Jet Swordfish; The Hydro-electric Submawhale and The Crustacean Hover-sub to name just a few. I’m sure if they’d been available to me, my parents wouldn’t have minded me going off in one of them, either!
The Swordfish Plans
Charlie riding on the Swordfish Machine
The Submawhale
Charlie's wonderful Hover-sub

    The sea, and rivers of all sizes remain very important to me. There is nowhere I’d rather be, and everyday I still try to take my favourite walk across the fields, beyond the village where I live, to a beautiful and peaceful little river, whose winds and meanders promise all manner of adventures, just around the next bend.

A special place