This is one of my favourite Fives, it’s my second favourite after Five Go to Smuggler’s Top, in fact. (I realise I haven’t done a Five review since November, I think I got swept away with other blog ideas!)
I admit I’ve not been practicing what I preach. I know I’ve posted a few quotes about escaping into a good book, but I actually found it quite hard with Hike. I’ve escaped into vampire fiction set in Minneapolis, and sci-fi in Rushford (and lots of other places/times) quite easily recently but I didn’t experience my usual escapism this time with Blyton. I couldn’t help but be jealous of the Five heading off for four whole days outdoors with no lockdown and no social distancing. I was also finding motivation and concentration were lacking the past few days which is why this review is so late.
I did get into it after a few false starts, however, and here is my review.
A story in how many parts?
As I was reading I thought this would be hard to divide down but now I’ve sat to write the review it seems patently obvious.
- The Five set off on their hike and Timmy is injured, ending with the Five splitting up.
- Dick has his strange night-time experience and after examining the bit of paper Julian decides that they will go on to Two Trees and Gloomy water for a bit of a poke around.
- They arrive at Two Trees, Dick and Maggie show up, and they do their treasure hunting.
Another series of unfortunate events
In my review of Five Fall Into Adventure I started with the heading a somewhat unfortunate series of events and I think the same could apply to the start of this book.
Well, the very start is fortunate indeed – Juliana and Dick’s school are granted a couple of days tacked onto their weekend at the same time that George and Anne are off, so Julian plans a hike for them.
It all starts off just fine – and they source plenty of food. They walk (or indeed, hike) and then the first little thing goes wrong.
Timmy gets stuck down a rabbit hole and in being rescued hurts his leg. George is, of course, very agitated about this, so when he ends up walking on three legs they insist on him seeing a vet.
They inquire at an inn, to the bad news that there is no vet nearer than six miles, and no bus goes there. Mr Gaston, who keeps horses and dogs might take a look, though, and he’s only half a mile away.
They then make the sensible but disastrous decision to split up. Julian and George will go to Mr Gaston’s and Dick is entrusted to take Anne to Blue Pond Farmhouse.
Strangely Julian hasn’t given Dick very good directions to the farmhouse, and soon it’s dark and raining. They meet an old man who only seems able to say ‘ar’ and interpreting that as ‘yes’ Dick and Anne head off in the direction he points only to end up at a broken-down cottage where a deaf old woman gives Anne a bed in the attic and Dick heads out to bed down in the barn.
Now, this all seems very unfortunate and do doubt Dick and Anne don’t have a pleasant time at all – but it drops them headlong into another adventure so it’s not all bad.
A message for Dick
This is another confluence of events. Having had all of the above go wrong in order for them to end up at what we later discover is the Taggertys’ place, further good or back (depends how you look at it) luck plays a part.
Dick thinks that Julian’s just made a poor accommodation choice (well, there’s no Trip Advisor, is there?) and so after waiting a while for them to arrive he gives up and beds down in the barn.
Later he is woken by a tapping at the window and someone calls “Dick, Dick!” He’s pretty sure they can’t mean him, but what else is there to do other than take the message?
The message is, of course, the iconic Two Trees. Gloomy Water. Saucy Jane. And Maggie knows.
Do we have an adventure on our hands?
Dick is rather busy escaping with Anne the next morning so it’s a while before he remembers his strange night time visitor. He tells the others and they agree it was probably a dream – only he is able to produce the bit of paper that had been pushed through the barn window to him, proving it wasn’t, in fact, a dream.
They put two and two together, and work out that the person was probably the escaped convict from the prison, having heard the bells ringing the previous evening, and that he wanted Dirty Dick Taggerty and not Dick Kirrin.
They try to give that information to the police but they encounter an unusually rude and unhelpful policeman (Goon aside, the police are always helpful and hard working in Blyton’s books). The policeman laughs at their information and tells them the escaped convict has been recaptured.
Julian decides that there might be something in the strange message, and they head to the obvious place to investigate: the post office. Like Tucky the porter in Five Go Off to Camp, the Hike has an old postie who furnishes them with some information about Two Trees, and a warning about the marshes around there, plus some camping equipment.
The others are surprised by this – as Julian has decided to abandon his carefully planned route to investigate Two Trees, knowing they could fall into a marsh or run into the friends of convicts. It’s a rather un-Julianish thing to do, isn’t it? But it’s just as well he does, because otherwise there would be no rest of the story.
We are more or less halfway through the book now, and the true adventure hasn’t even begun – but let’s leave it there until next time!