Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Fell Farm Campers by Marjorie Lloyd

Published 1960

This is the final one of the Fell Farm books, set the Easter before the children's parents return from abroad, when they expect everything may be about to change. The holiday nearly doesn't come off - Fell Farm, which is a National Trust property, has the builders in, and there's no room. Happily, they think of camping, and the Jenks can squeeze young Sally in despite the work, so they can go ahead, which is just as well really, as there's not much room for them all in Aunt G.'s London flat either, and she's very anxious about whether the neighbours will complain when they are all there at once.

Once they get there the children set up camp by the tarn quite near the farm - far enough away to be independent, but close enough to be able to collect milk and other supplies easily, and for Sally to run messages between the two, which pleases her. They also all return to the farm once a day for a proper meal, cooked by the bountiful Mrs Jenks on oil stoves in the big barn. The rest of the day they are free to roam, whether it's just to collect wood (pig-sticking) to keep the camp fire going, or to set off on one of their mammoth hikes across the fells - they are indefatigable walkers!
Just after nine they started along the edge of the little Heron Tarn, scrambled over the wall into the narrow mountain road and turned sharply right downhill. The whole length of that rough, twisty little lane dropping steeply down to Oxenfell, gave the most tremendous views across all the ridges and deep cut valleys towards Wetherlam, Bowfell, the Langdale Pikes, and the rest, and they discussed the route as they tramped down with the whole region spread in front like a map, fullscale and gloriously coloured.
Various adventures occur - brushes with fellow campers, a hunt for a sheep-killing dog...Jan and Hyacinth set off on a birdwatching expedition which nearly ends in disaster again. The story romps along, told in the third person this time: Hyacinth is on strike and says she won't keep a journal as there will be lots of other work to do while they are camping (indeed, Kay seems to spend all her spare time darning socks!) These are certainly books to charm the adult reader, but I think that a child who enjoyed the outdoor life might find much to entertain, as well, and I well remember day-dreaming about being able to go off on camping holidays when I was a child (conveniently ignoring my dislike of midges, aversion to spiders and preference for a comfortable bed, even then). There are pleasing cat and dog characters too.

1 comment:

  1. I went on a few camping holidays in my time, too - and I still like loooooong hikes, wish I could go for one now, but it has been simply too cold for that. Like you, I like my comfy bed, and even more than that, I want my hot shower in the morning, so that rules out the classic camping for me, I guess :-)