Over the years, I have been suggesting a variety of useful, literary gifts. I have just brought out this mug featuring a map of the Swallows and Amazons locations on Consiton Water, currently available online from £8.86
I’ve brought out maps in a range of colours.
These t-shirts might be useful for anyone liable to get lost.
I’m selling a variety of garments with my Swallows and Amazons map of Coniston Water on the Redbubble site where you can also find cushion covers
along with throws, duvet covers and a variety of products from phone covers to laptop sleeves if you fiddle around with the site here
There is a whole selection of socks, which I have listed here
The Nancy Blackett Trust have wooly hats and some great clothing, embroidered with Arthur Ransome’s good little ship. They have an online shop where you can also find yachting caps here
These new 90th anniversary tea towels make a useful gift for sailors, which can be purchased here
Peter Willis is offering his book ‘A Good Little Ship’ about rescuing Nancy for £10 – a great present for fans of Arthur Ransome.
I love these Swallows and Amazons bookmarks available from sky.n.fern for £2.50. They stock an assortment of unique stationery, which you can see here
I found this spectacle chain decorated with swallows, appropriate for web-footed grandparents, available here
For someone without much space, you can find handmade dolls house miniatures of the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books here Each tiny book has tunable blank pages 1:12th the original size. I’m not sure if they are paying royalties to the Arthur Ransome Estate but what a compliment to the author. I’d be thrilled if they made miniatures of my books.
There is ‘Swallows and Amazons’ confetti, for sale on this site. Each heart is about one inch in size and can be used for a table decorations.
Jago Silver has some new ‘Never Stop Exploring’ cards, journals and notebooks, which you can find at his online shop here
This year, I bought packs of book-ish Christmas cards from the charity SchoolReaders. They have a variety here.
Here is something for sailors, which could include a voucher to sail Swallow, the dinghy from the 1974 film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, which you can find out about here.
A digitally hand drawn reproduction of StudioCanal’s Vintage Classics film poster for the original movie of ‘Swallows and Amazons'(1974) is available here
Or you could give a copy of the book on how the film was made. Large paperbacks can be ordered from Amazon or direct from the publisher here or other stockists listed here.
The year 2020 began for me in Portugal. I was recovering from a broken arm and disappointed to have to cancel my annual charity ride through southern Africa. However, a lovely girl flew over from the Waterberg in South Africa to work for me and we had fun designing gifts, using the illustrations from ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’.
When news of the Coronavirus broke out, we launched an appeal to help families in rural South Africa, which proved a huge success.
Carefully monitored by a qualified nursing sister, and with the help of volunteers from St John’s Church, food packages are still being distributed to needy families, feeding about 150 people a month. Read the latest news here.
Tests were unavailable in March, but I might have had a light version of Covid-19 whist we were working on this fund-raising campaign. I certainly lost my sense of smell and developed a weird blister/rash on one hand and foot after spending ten days in bed with fatigue.
My talks, planned for the summer, were cancelled but I read a story for Lockdown Tales, produced by Wildbeast for BBC Radio Suffolk and made available on BBC Sounds. I took part in an online reading of ‘The Picts and the Martyrs’ by Arthur Ransome, recording a chapter at home.
As literary conferences went online, I led a workshop on photographing books for instagram, when we were joined by the award-winning author Claire Wade.
While devising exotic recipes for my next book, I began baking cakes successfully, for the first time in my life, adding cardamon and cloves.
We rolled up a circle in the lawn to make a Lockdown vegetable garden so the children could see how different plants developed. Our dancing carrots became a hit on Instagram.
I photographed one of my husband’s artichokes, winning the Create! competition, organised by the literacy charity SchoolReaders and judged anonymously by Harry Cory Wright.
I was Highly Commended for a collage made out of sea plastic I’d collected when beach cleaning, which was awarded by Emma Bridgewater. The winning entries were exhibited at the Wilson Stephens and Jones Gallery in Notting Hill. I also won a prize for taking part in a socially distanced archery match, but otherwise had a year off on the sports front.
SchoolReaders invited me to become an author supporter of their work instilling a love for books in the next generation, along with other authors including Joanna Trollop and Sophie Kinsella. We are encouraging people to make a gift in their will.
Hailed as ‘the feel-good film of lockdown’,’Swallows and Amazons'(1974) was broadcast on BBC 2 in both April and August. It was screened in Australia in January 2021. The Radio Times used this shot of me rowing Swallow with Sten Grendon who played the Boy Roger.
I was invited to talk about the movie memorabilia in a socially isolated edition of BBC Antiques Roadshow at Windermere Jetty, which hopefully will be broadcast in March 2021.
It was wonderful to be able to spend a few days in the Lake District, where Arthur Ransome’s first draft of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ is on display.
In the autumn, a signed First Edition hardback copy of ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ was auctioned online, raising an astonishing £201 for BBC Children in Need, exceeding bids for signed copies of books by bestselling authors such as Bernard Cornwall, Jeffery Archer and Adam Kay.
Lakeland Arts organised an online event to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the publication of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, selling tickets for an evening ‘In Conversation with Sophie Neville, which you can listen to here.
Kett’s Books invited me to speak on Zoom for their ‘Books at Lunchtime’
The greatest days of this unusual year were spent on the Solent, litter picking with my extended family, who came to live with us through lockdown. Although some dreams were grounded, we had time to go for long walks and were able to explore the South Coast where we live.
Reviews and photos from readers are always appreciated, especially on Goodreads and Amazon.
After Christmas, I heard that a historical novel I am currently working on was awarded a prize in the Association of Christian Writers’ novel competition and was shortlisted for the Eyeland’s Book Awards, who have offered me a writer’s residency in Crete.
As we entered Tier 3, I was recognised as ‘Beach Picker of the Year’ by Litter Pickers of the New Forest, a high accolade that marked the end of a quiet but busy year.
I’ve gained 3 pounds and haven’t been to the hairdressers for eighteen months, but we kept safe in our little bubble and are looking forward to a better future when there is no need to wear face-masks. You can find my post on finding elderly litter here
I don’t know if Swallows and Amazons thimbles are still on ebay
I am not sure Arthur Ransome’s Literary Estate know about them. They do recommend this pair of bone china coffee cups feature exquisite designs incorporating Arthur Ransome’s own illustrations from the Swallows and Amazons books and are currently reduced by 40% here:
You could give someone an activity, such as a sail in Swallow, the original dinghy used in the 1974 film ‘Swallows and Amazons’. She is currently in Kendal so you could ask to go sailing on Coniston or Windermere. This can be booked through SailRansome.com
A member of the Arthur Ransome Group on Facebook is asking for a new DVD that has just come out on the location described by Arthur Ransome in his book ‘Secret Water’. It is available here.
Nothing to do with Swallows and Amazons but I have a short piece in this Christmas book, which might prove useful if you need to hold a carol service and are looking for some new readings. It makes a good present for anyone who loves stories. Check it out on Kindle, order a copy from your library or buy one online here.
Holding an outdoor party with a Swallows and Amazons theme is a great idea, especially if your guests are up for bringing their own tents. A (sensible) campfire and either swimming or archery with geo-cashing or a treasure hunt will keep your guests occupied. Everyone can dress up as explorers or pirates.
There have been some wonderful cake designs posted on Facebook. This impressive creation was put together by Evie and Sam Rose:
Over the years the most amazing ‘Swallows and Amazons’ creations have become quite famous. I have put up a few more ideas on Pinterest here
The cookery book writer and ‘Great British Bake Off’ finalist Miranda Gore Browne transformed her garden into Wild Cat Island, served iced buns and a cake worthy of a pirate feast, sending everyone home with old-fashioned sweets in a tin mug. You can see some of her wonderful party ideas here
You could hang ‘Swallows and Amazons’ flags or bunting. The Gingerbread House show you how to make these:
I found these 38mm badges and fridge magnets for sale on eBay. They’ve used my own drawing of the crossed flags, without permission, but never mind. They might be something fun to award as prizes for games such as ‘Walk the Plank’ or catching crabs, which you could do literally if you live by the sea. You might find a few ideas for party games here.
I’ve been collecting further ideas for Swallows and Amazons presents. The Nancy Blackett Trust shop has some great things for sale, stocking these porcelain mugs, T-shirts and hats for Amazon pirates of all ages, sometimes stocking these:
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. They also had these little dollshouse miniature books that open, with blank pages inside.
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.
It has been handmade out of recycled materials with pages from old books and can be purchased direct from House of Ismay
A small brown paper package tied up with string arrived in the post today, stamped in red with the words Thank you and containing four wooden postcards featuring Arthur Ransome’s illustrations. I think it makes a wonderful stocking-filler or thank you gift from The Wooden Postcard Company
‘I very much enjoyed reading about all the background and stories of what is one of mine and my children’s favourite films.’ David Hambelton, Oxford
‘…an absolutely fascinating account…about a film we all thought we knew so well. Like so many members of The Arthur Ransome Society I am an utter devotee… I’m finding the background to filming quite fascinating, and if I had thought it possible, yours is the book I have always longed for to exist. I’ve been absorbed in it ever since it arrived, forcing myself to take it slowly and not gobble it up in one go. Of course I’ll be back to it soon, dodging back and forth in tune with your narrative, indenifying particular scenes.’ Jeremy Gibson, Witney
‘If you liked the film, you MUST read this book. “Titty” is enthralling, and the story of the film is almost as exciting as the real story by Arthur Ransome. Essential reading for devotees.’ Chloe Randall, Scotland
Children still ask me questions that never occurred to me:
‘How did it feel to be on the island by yourself?’ Alex aged 7. The truth of course is that I was never on the island by myself. Perhaps I should have been left there for a while so I could experience it. I would have relished the chance.
Another boy asked, ‘How did you do the water?’
This took my breath away for a second. ‘How did we do the water? The water was real, and it was very cold,’ I replied, explaining that we actually shot the film on four different lakes in Cumbria, all of which you can discover for yourself.
Have your children any questions? I’d love to hear them.
For some time now, I’ve had a Swallows and Amazons mug at home, which I use to keep my pens in. Featuring the design of the Jonathan Cape book jacket, it was given to me by Scruffie Buchanan who stocked the full set of Arthur Ransome mugs in her shop aptly called The Museum of Childhood. I treasure it as a part of mine. It is difficult to find these now. Thy have become collectors’ items.
Not long ago I was presented with this handsome mug from Hill Top Cottage at Ealinghearth, by Stephen and Janine Sykes when they showed me around the Ransome’s last home, which they have restored in the Lake District.
I’ve just discovered that it is possible to buy mugs depicting scenes from the film of Swallows & Amazons (1974). This one (above) is quite fun as it resembles the cover of ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ There are others:
There are various scenes, but if you want to drink to Captain Flint walking the plank, you can.
My favourite design shows the film poster of Swallows & Amazons, which comes in two ways.
There are a variety of other stills from the film to chose from. These mugs and other movie merchandise such as mouse-mats, jigsaw puzzles and framed prints can be purchased from StudioCanal, the film’s distributors, who have an online shop.
Meanwhile, Jago Silver has designed these Expresso mugs that are great for camping.
Just when I was wondering if there were any more ‘Swallows and Amazons’ inspired mugs, I was sent this beautiful depiction of Hill Top near Haverthwaite, showing the view Arthur and Genia would have enjoyed in their twilight years. Here are two views of the same mug:
A full range of items in this range including t-shirts and bags can be seen on a previous post here.
The most beautiful range of Swallows and Amazons china including these small coffee mugs featuring the map from the book (above) and this plate, were once available from The Nancy Blackett shop but you might find they have sold out.
They do stock larger, more practical mugs depicting ‘Swallow’, and the ‘Nancy Blackett’ for £8.50 each here.
Do let me know if you know of any other Swallows & Amazons mugs and where they can be found in the comments below.