A Word In Your Ear - August 4, 2016

Roy Edmonds
Roy Edmonds
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What japes, boys and girls, a big-screen version of classic children’s adventure story Swallows and Amazons is out later this month.

With stunning scenes at Coniston and author Arthur Ransome’s native Yorkshire Dales, it might encourage today’s youngsters to put aside electronic games and explore the great outdoors.

Parents might leave them to it, forgetting health and safety fears. The kids can picnic on pop and cakes then run off calories in swashbuckling games.

Personally, I was more of an Enid Blyton ‘Famous Five’ fan when in short trousers. Then a Kiwi colleague introduced me to the setting that inspired Ransome, at Bank Ground Farm beside the lake.

The doughty owner, widowed dairy farmer Lucy Batty, took in paying guests and it became a favourite B&B stay. The gentle walks were perfect and you could catch the gondola steam ferry from the farm’s jetty.

Furthermore, I witnessed there a clash just as dramatic as any that Ransome’s piratical young heroes dreamed up – when She Who Knows encountered Mrs Batty.

Although in her 80s, the farmer-cum-hotelier wore sandals and short, white socks all year round – and kept open all windows to “air” rooms.

She Who Knows finally persuaded our hostess not to leave ours open all day, so it wasn’t like a fridge when returning in evening; also to extend her breakfast times.

The Japanese are among the biggest fans of Ransome’s epic stories. Many make a pilgrimage to Bank Ground, where one couple even got married. Mrs Batty was vague about her many visitors, but always knew us when I phoned to book.

“You’ll want room eight,” she’d say, remembering our favourite, then adding, “I’ll keep the windows closed.”

The green-gabled farm overlooking Coniston should be in the film – complete with open sash windows. We’ll certainly watch it – and take along our pop and cake.

* For Roy’s books visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.