Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A spot of summer comfort

At long last we have the promise of warm weather. The English summer can be a fleeting and momentary burst of warmth, sparkling light and soft breezes that need to be embraced before the wind changes and torrents of rain set in. Despite this, when I think of childhood summers spent meandering the shores of the Cornish coast it always seems that summer was endless, boiling and a period of complete freedom. Months spent without shoes, eating outside and splashing around in any water I could find rolled on and on until September dawned and those halcyon days drifted off on another path that I wasn't on anymore.

To get me through the endless months of waiting for the summer holiday I would bury myself in the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Redwall is the name of an Abbey which is at the heart of each book in the series and its inhabitants are woodland creatures. There are now 20 books in the series and I am only one behind as I do still read them. I admit, I no longer read them with the complete absorption of my 10,11,12 year old self but they are comforting and it's a bit of my childhood from which I can't quite let go.

Each book in the series is a heady tale of adventure, quests, battles and feasts. And it was always the feasts which particularly gripped me. My mouth watered as I read about crumble and meadowcream, strawberry fizz, deeper'n'ever pie (favoured by the moles), shrimp and hotroot soup (loved by otters), October Ale and candied chestnuts. I would lazily dream about feasts in the Abbey orchard whilst I was in maths lessons, wishing myself there with all my heart.

Books we read as children are perfect to re-visit when we need some comfort reading. I haven't gone back to the start of the series for a long time so I am looking forward to spending balmy summer evenings in the garden with a glass of Pimm's whilst revisiting my old friends at the Abbey.


  1. For me it was always the Famous Five and Mallory Towers. Strangely my children never read those!

  2. What a perfect description of childhood summers! Hard to believe that they were only six weeks long...that period of time goes in the blink of an eye for me now, but then it really did seem an endlessly indulgent, neverending series of days that offered countless opportunities for fun, usually involving picnics and paddling pools and climbing trees. What I wouldn't do for six weeks now!
    I read nothing of this sort when I was a child. I was on Jane Austen by the time I was 11. ;)

  3. How did I miss these books? They sound like the sort of books I would love now, never mind when I was a child! I loved (and still do) love books with animals in them.

    As for childhood summers, they really were all hot weren't they? I just played outside in the sun for weeks on end - heaven!

  4. I *love* your description of childhood summers - it is exactly right. And yes, in my memory, I was always absolutely sweltering - and even the return to school in September was without coats and generally too warm for winter uniform.... either the climate has majorly changed in the last 20 years or I was generating my own heat!
    Lovely lovely post - thank you for sharing

  5. Lovely post on summer! I've never read any Brian Jacques though i possess one of the Redwall books bought when I was an enthusaitic young teacher and wanted to see what the kids were reading. Having had it 15 years perhaps I should dust it off and finally read it!