‘I’d like to go to Africa,’ I declared as a little girl, ‘and see forests full of parrots.’ This I did. Everything I had ever hoped to see was spread out before me and the experience left a profound impression.
My great-grandparents began farming at Usa River, just west of Arusha in 1919. I first arrived in northern Tanzania in 1972, when my mother took these photographs of the house and garden where her family lived for fifty years. I longed to climb the ancient fig tree in the garden but was told a cobra lived there. It was probably on the lookout for parrots coming anywhere near it.
By the early seventies the family were busy farming coffee and often had visitors to stay. My great-uncle Tony used the farm as a base for his safaris and served as an honourary game warden having worked for many years in the Kenyan Police Force and Game Department. He was well-connected and once took Bing Crosby bird shooting, although this fact was kept secret until 2015.
I loved the outdoor way of life, was intrigued by the kitchen that was seperate from the main house, and amused by the hot water system that consisted of small cylindrical tanks known as ‘donkeys’. Everything smelt of wood smoke. The best thing was that I was able to sleep in a safari tent set up in the garden, in true ‘Swallows and Amazons’ style. It felt as if I was being swept along in an adventure portrayed in the film ‘Born Free’ when Virginia McKenna played the artist Joy Adamson who became well known for bringing up a lion cub called Elsa, eventually releasing her into the wild.
Filed under adventure, Africa, Autobiography, Biography, Family Life, Memoir, Sophie Neville, Travel, truelife story, Uncategorized, Virginia McKenna
Hoping you have time to enjoy a good book
I’ve been collecting further ideas for Swallows and Amazons presents.
Kate Lowe of Bagsymefirst has brought out these pocket mirrors carefully made form re-cycled book pages.
Kate also makes a handbags out of old books – and will make up your favourite. She says, ‘The last one was made for a bridesmaid at a sailing-themed wedding.’ Please click here for her sales site.
While a DVD of a new film or a book makes a good present, the illustrator Jago Silver has brought out some wonderful Swallows and Amazons notebooks perfect for keeping a ship’s log:
as well as inspiring enamel mugs in two designs:
Jago’s other nautical mugs and and limited edition screenprints, which you can spot on his website here.
The Nancy Blackett Trust have a shop, the proceeds of which go towards the upkeep of Arthur Ransomes’s favourite little ship. Their new items including beautiful coffee mugs and lovely tea towels – can be viewed by clicking here.
If you know anyone who has pierced ears you can find appropriate Literary Gifts here They also sell Swallow broaches.
‘Little bookish things can make up pendants featuring your favourite book cover, please click here for the site. There are cufflinks, pendants and makeup bags can be found on Esty here.
The Arthur Ransome Trust can make up ‘Swallows and Amazons’ T-shirts
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, StudioCanal offer a selection of mugs, puzzels, prints, mousemats and film posters on their website here. If you search around the site you can find stills from the film made into similar merchandise, click here for an example.
Otherwise, why not give a year’s membership to The Arthur Ransome Society. For information please click here.
Sophie Neville, President of TARS
The new Harbour Pictures film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ starring Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott and Kelly Macdonald is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK.
Saga are giving away one copy on Blu-ray. Please go to the Saga Facebook page and follow the instructions – you just might win the prize draw!
or you can attempt to win a copy by entering their prize draw competition on Twitter, which you can reach by entering the #SwallowsandAmazons into your Twitter search box.
You can order the film from Amazon by clicking here (also available from other outlets).
It makes a great Christmas present.
Filed under Arthur Ransome, boating, British Film, Cinema, Cumbria, Dinghy sailing, Entertainment news, family Entertainment, Family Film, Film, Lake District, sailing film, Swallows & Amazons, Swallows and Amazons, Uncategorized
by Hayloft Publishing, written by David Banning with a forward by Sophie Neville.
‘This is the finest comprehensive guide to the history of movies filmed in Cumbria and the Lake District, since the early twentieth century to the present day… it will take you on a journey through the filmic landscape of one of the world’s most beautiful places.’
‘You will be able to immerse yourself in the lush green world where Star Wars created an alien landscape or take a trip around Swallows and Amazons country, not to mention joining the ranks of Withnail and I pilgrims or sampling the nostalgic Breif Encounter tea rooms where a tiny piece of grit kick-started an enduring romance.’
To read more, please click here for Cumbria Today or click on this image for a review in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald:
There is also a feature in the Westmoreland Gazette here
For more information from Hayloft Publishing, and to buy this book, please click here
Terry Abraham, who made the film Life of a Mountain, writes: There are countless books covering aspects of the most beautiful corner of England but none which reveal little known facts regarding it as a location for filming. David thoroughly and interestingly brings to light the great number of films both large and small that have featured Lakeland on camera. Some less obvious than others but no less absorbing, you may well wish to seek out and visit where productions have captured the scenic delights of Lakeland. David’s book is an engaging and enlightening read and definitely one for the shelf alongside other works celebrating England’s finest landscape.
Be the first to review this book on Amazon.co.uk
David Banning lists ten of the best films made in Cumbria. Please click on these links for the International Movie Database details and film trailers:
Brief Encounter, 1945
The Dambusters, 1955
Swallows and Amazons, 1974
The French Lieutenant’s Woman, 1981
Withnail & I, 1987
28 Days Later, 2002
Miss Potter, 2006
Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens, 2015
You can see a shot of Derwent Water at 1.23 mins into the official film trailer for Star Wars after ‘This Christmas’ graphics, here:
Filed under Acting, Arthur Ransome, British Film, Cinema, Claude Whatham, Cumbria, David Wood, Entertainment news, family Entertainment, Family Film, Film, Film Cast, Film crew, Film History, Filmaking, filmography, Lake District, Landscape Photographs, Movie, Movie disasters, Movie stories, questions about filmmaking, Richard Pilbrow, Sophie Neville, Steam train Haverthwaite Railway Station, Suzanna Hamilton, Swallows & Amazons, Swallows and Amazons, Titty in Swallows and Amazons, truelife story, Uncategorized, Vintage Film, Zanna Hamilton
A second edition of the ebook ‘The Secrets of Filming ‘SWALLOWS & AMAZONS'(1974) is now avaialble on Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, itunes, Kobo, and Nook for £2.99 . You can download this free of charge if you already own the first edition.
If you would like a copy but don’t have a Kindle, worry not. We have added a link whereby you can download a free Kindle app. Please go to my Book Page and scroll down for the details.
If you already have a copy of the ebook, contact a Customer Advisor and ask for a free update. You just need to give Kindle the ebook’s ASIN number. The ISBN for all online editions except Kindle is: ISBN 9781311761927
|ASIN is: B00GNFYZJS. The full instructions are: Select “Help” from the right hand end of the top grey bar on your online Amazon account page on the main site. Click on ‘Contact us’ on the right. Under ‘What can we help you with?’ select Amazon Content and Devices. Tap on your Kindle device in the boxes shown, then scroll down the page to ‘Select an issue’ and in the drop down menu select ‘My Kindle books and subscriptions’ Follow the prompts to connect to a Customer Advisor on live chat. Tell them that there is a newer version of the book than when you originally purchased and ask them to deliver the latest updated edition to all of your devices. This is free, although it takes a few minutes. There may be a different proceedure to download new versions from other booksellers – I advise doing whatever is similar. From other sellers you will need to supply the book’s Smashwords ISBN: 9781311761927
A beautiful photograph of Virginia McKenna taken on location in the Lake District in 1973 by Philip Hatfield
Since being contacted by others who were involved in the filming, I have been able to add a few more anecdotes and images, including this beautiful shot of Virginia McKenna kindly sent in by the photographer Philip Hatfield.
I found a copy of my original contract for the film and when Jean McGill rang from Bowness, a few more secrets floated to the surface.
CBBCTV’s Cinemaniacs interviewed the screenwriter David Wood and myself on how the original movie of Arthur Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’ was made back in the summer of 1973. The idea was to use 30 second clips, so please excuse my over-the-top reactions, but you can watch the whole recording below.
‘This has to be one of the most delightful interviews in my recent memory.’ Tim Lewis, USA
Filed under 1973, Acting, Arthur Ransome, Autobiography, Biography, boating, British Film, Christian, Cinema, Claude Whatham, Cumbria, David Wood, Diary, Dinghy sailing, e-publication, Emi film, Entertainment news, family Entertainment, Family Film, Film, Film Cast, Film crew, Film History, Film production, Filmaking, filmography, Kindle, Lake District, Memoir, Movie, Movie disasters, Movie stories, News, Richard Pilbrow, sailing film, Sophie Neville, Suzanna Hamilton, Swallows & Amazons, Swallows and Amazons, titty, Titty in Swallows and Amazons, truelife story, Uncategorized, Vintage Film, Virginia McKenna, Zanna Hamilton