As I think I’ve mentioned a least a couple of times recently, I was on holiday last week. I didn’t go anywhere exotic, instead I stayed a couple of miles outside a small town (Grantown-on-Spey) in the Cairngorms National Park.
Being a Blyton (oh how to describe myself) geek? aficionado? obsessive? I can usually relate any given topic back to Blyton and whenever I’m out in rural areas I can indentify a good camping spot for the Famous Five.
The week was full of little Blyton-y moments (some you have to squint at to make them out more than others.)
1. The water for our cottage was pumped directly from a spring just across the road. Unfortunately it was not “crystal clear,” instead sort of “peaty-brown” though it was icy-cold!
2. I went looking for secret passages in a ruined castle. Ok, I failed, but still, I looked. I think my shortcoming might have been picking Urquhart Castle, which is maintained by Historic Scotland, where all the interesting bits are fenced off… and there are several staff and about another hundred tourists all milling about. That sort of thing didn’t stop the Five in Five Have a Wonderful Time though, so I’m always hopeful.
I also looked for them at Ruthven Barracks – which was practically deserted and unstaffed, but again there were bars preventing access to some of it… and unless I’d spotted a potential hostage I didn’t really have a good enough excuse to go clambering about against the rules.
3. I also went looking for a cave – and found it. It was more of a gap in the rocks, though, so no real adventure was had. It is named after Lewis Gordon, 3rd Marquis of Huntly, who hid there for a time in the early 1640s, because he was a Royalist loyal to the king Charles I. While there he was looked after by Mary, the daughter of Sir John Grant of Freuchie, who he later married. (History from ambaile.org.uk)
4. I had several picnics when I was away, and I even used the famous line food always tastes much nicer when it’s eaten out of doors on a few occasions. My other half, needless to say, did not get the reference.
5. I explored around a couple of lochs and was terribly tempted to dip my toes into them as they looked lovely. I didn’t though, as the layers of ice in places hinted that the water may not have been as warm as it looked. I think even the Five would have given bathing a miss.
6. I found time to go book shopping, and found myself a nice Enid Blyton book Humpty Dumpty and Belinda to take home. There were a few other Blytons at Leakey’s Bookshop (the largest second hand bookshop in Scotland) but I had them all. Humpty Dumpty and Belinda is an unusual story featuring colour photographs, and blending well known nursery rhyme characters with a brand new story. I will hopefully review it for the blog soon.
7. Ewan (my boyfriend) drank lashings and lashings of ginger-beer while we were away (I’m not joking, he must have gone through nearly five litres of the stuff) though it was fiery Jamaican ginger-beer, a variety I’m not sure the Five would have been familiar with.
8. We did a spot of bird watching, much like the Five sometimes did, except without field-glasses (what Blyton often calls them, rather than binoculars) we were reduced to squinting at the sky and saying “It’s…big! Very big…and it’s black-ish-brown-y… it’s a…. buzzard?” We enjoyed it anyway! If we’d had field-glasses, of course, we might have spotted a kidnapped scientist at a window or some other nefarious situation. I did watch a ‘suspicious’ man in the woods through some field-glasses (ones chained to a window-ledge in a bird-hide) but it turned out he was an RSPB staff member getting something out of a shed.
9. There were gnomes in our garden. Real, live gnomes, I kid you not*.
*I’m totally kidding, they were statuettes or at least they were in the day-time…
10. Just as Blyton promises, the countryside is full of animals. We saw sheep and lambs, pheasants, robins, blue tits, goldfinches, deer, and rabbits.
And I think those are all of my Blyton-y holiday moments. Anything else would be really stretching it. Do you relate everything you see and do to Blyton?