This is another book in my partial re-read of the Swallows & Amazons series by Arthur Ransome and one that I hadn’t read since I was a child. Because this book is set during the winter and it’s January it seemed like a good time to pick this one up. There are times I like to read something that evokes memories and for me this represents winters in childhood when you could play in the snow and have fun. I may not have had the freedom of the children in these books but it was still that joy of escaping and doing things (like snowball fights and trying to build igloos).
This novel is set in the Lake District again and features the Swallows (Walker children) and Amazons (Beckett’s) but also introduces two new characters in Dick and Dorothea Callum. Our new children spot the others on the lake and wish they could have adventures too, they are more city-based and so sailing and exploring is something new for them. Inevitably the children meet and decide to become polar explorers as the snow and ice sets in but there’s only a week or so left of their winter holidays so time is limited.
That’s until Nancy Blackett comes down with mumps and the children are quarantined and not allowed to return to school for a month. This allows plenty of time for the whole lake to freeze over and the children to plan an expedition to the “North Pole” (head of the lake) involving skating, sledges, and ice sailing. There’s obviously things that go wrong but in the style of these books it all comes together in the end and everyone has a big adventure with a feast at the end.
It’s really strange to see a book where a serious illness is treated as a good thing which really tells you this book is set in a different era. Well… that and an entire lake freezing over in the UK! But it’s still an enjoyable read and reminded me that this is the book that taught me semaphore which was always quite a cool thing to know