On Saturday 21st October I will be joining Griff Rhys Jones, Libby Purves and Francis Wheen at Pin Mill Sailing Club on the River Orwell, near Ipswich in Suffolk, to take part in a marathon reading of Arthur Ransome’s iconic book ‘We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea’. Authors Christina Hardyment, Julia Jones and Marc Grimstone are also reading chapters. The all-day event, beginning at 9.00am and ending at about 5.00pm, is being held to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its publication in 1937.
~Pin Mill on the Owell ~ photo: Anthony Cullen(c)~
The story begins at Pin Mill where the Swallows – John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker, along with their mother and Bridget-the-ship’s-baby, are waiting for their father to take up a Naval posting nearby at Shotley. The four children didn’t mean to go to sea at all but somehow ended up sailing to the Netherlands in a terrific storm. I have been asked to read the last chapter.
Come if you can! You will find more details of the event in the magazine Classic Boat and on the BBC News website. It is being organised by Peter Willis of The Nancy Blackett Trust who has been speaking about the event with Lesley Dolphin on BBC Radio Suffolk.
You can read about our adventures sailing Nancy Blackett this summer in Country Life magazine:
Members of The Arthur Ransome Society alerted me to this BBC Children’s Television programme made in 1997, which shows Griff Rhys Jones at Pin Mill with Nancy Blackett, the 28 foot Hillyard cutter that Ransome bought with ‘Spanish Gold’ – his royalties from publishing ‘Swallows and Amazons’. It shows his biographer, Hugh Brogan, and Taqui Altounyan who was a great inspiration to Ransome as a girl. The Swallows were originally based on her own family who stayed at Bank Ground Farm (Holly Howe) above Coniston Water in the Lake District 1928, when two clinker-built dinghies called Swallow and Mavis were purchased so they could learn to sail. I recently discovered the secret that Taqui, who became a keen sailor, was also the model for Captain Nancy in Ransome’s well-loved books. It also contains clips from the 1963 television adapation of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, with Susan George playing ‘Kitty’. Forgive the opening titles – it is worth viewing: