Five on a Secret Trail part 2


The first part of this review covered my confusion over Harry/Guy, and that will probably continue as I cannot get it into my head which one’s kidnapped and which one isn’t.


Going deeper underground

I have said before that I find it hard to make accurate mental images when it comes to islands/caves/tunnels and so on. I also find it hard to remember where events occur when it comes to underground adventures and get confused easily.

For Secret Trail I remembered that they found an entrance to the tunnels by the spring, that there was a very narrow tunnel behind where they find the bag, and that Guy (I had to stop and think if I meant Guy or not, but I did) is found at the bottom of the big hole in the Roman camp.

I got 2/3 right, Guy is found someway along a tunnel after the big hole and before a rock fall.

I forgot; the Five taking the wrong tunnel even after realising Paul has left arrows, Julian thinking a tunnel is a dead end having not looked for the arrow that points up; them climbing up using niches in the tunnel wall and the rock fall that Guy is behind.

I have some questions about the practicalities of this all so I’ll address those now instead of having a lengthy(ier) nitpick section.

  • It’s said that Timmy was the most difficult of all to heave through. George gets boosted up by Julian but also climbs using the ledges, and gets one more push to hoist herself through the hole, so it seems like it would be very difficult to lift a heavy dog like Timmy above their heads and then for whoever was above to haul him through.
  • George puts her torch between her teeth to climb but then calls to Julian that one more boost and I’ll be through. She doesn’t even drop the torch!
  • I wonder how Guy climbed a rope with a badly sprained ankle which he can barely walk on. I can’t climb a rope to save my lift but don’t you need to use your feet to hold on and push yourself up?
  • This time Timmy and Jet get tied in the boys’ shirts as makeshift harnesses which is actually quite smart – they could have done this the other times there are questions about how on earth they got Timmy up/down into a cave/tunnel etc.


All’s well that ends well

Of course they all escape the underground passages – with the bag of loot – and make their way back to the safety of Kirrin.

Aunt Fanny is supremely unconcerned about their adventure – she’s too busy fussing over Guy’s ankle.

“Mother, you don’t seem at all interested in our adventure,” complained George.

“Oh, I am, dear,” said her mother. “But you do have such a lot, you know.”

The police, though, are much more interested and arrive at warp speed. Seriously – Julian goes to telephone and comes out to ask if he should phone the doctor. He goes in, George and her mother have the dialogue above plus about two other sentences and before George could do more than begin the inspector is at the front door!

On that subject, do inspectors normally race over for reports of funny business coming from children? I know the Kirrins generally get a lot of respect from the police but that seems overkill when a couple of constables normally attend for thefts and kidnappings!

Anyway, the inspector takes their story, discovers the blueprints hidden in the bottom of the bag, and then hears about the men which the Five have neatly trapped in the Roman camp (maybe they should have led with that, instead of wasting time and giving the men time where they could have escaped?) and everything is resolved nicely.


The food

George didn’t pack very well for her camping trip – all she has is a loaf of bread, some tins and dog biscuits. Thankfully Anne brought more and they eat ham sandwiches with bites of tomatoes (I suppose as Aunt Fanny made dozens and dozens of sandwiches she didn’t put tomatoes on in case they went soggy).

When Julian and Dick arrive at half-past twelve they say they haven’t eaten since 6am (bit poor of Aunt Fanny not to feed them when they stopped by!), but it could be worse. They had been in France and they didn’t like the food! It’s said that Dick came out in spots and Julian was sick, but it’s not clear if that was due to the food or the heat.

Their first meal together is ham sandwiches with mustard, eaten with ripe red tomatoes and lettuce hearts from a damp cloth. This a good way to stop Timmy eating them as he hates mustard (incidentally the quiz book So you think you know Enid Blyton’s Famous Five? has an incorrect question about this – it asks which of the Five doesn’t like mustard and fails to give Timmy as a possible answer, they say it’s Julian! I think this is because Dick says You can’t bear mustard can you? Ju, where’s the meat we brought for Tim? He’s talking to Timmy in the first sentence though!)

Later nobody is hungry for supper so they just have cake, biscuits and juice

One of their teas is fruit cake, shortbread biscuits and canned pine-apple on bread. I like tinned pine-apple, but as a sandwich? They dilute the pineapple juice in the tin with spring water to drink.

When the ham’s almost finished there are still a few tomatoes and plenty of cake. Julian opens the last tin of sardines to make sandwiches for he and Dick on their late-night watch – that left me hoping the enemy wouldn’t sniff them out!

The girls look forward to returning to Kirrin for the bathing etc but also for Joan’s marvellous cooking. Sausages and mash – and tomatoes with it (George) and Fried plaice fresh from the sea with Joan’s best chipped potatoes (Anne).

Their triumphant final meal is Home-made veal-and-ham-pie! Stuffed tomatoes! And what a salad – what’s in it, Joan? Radishes, cucumber, carrot, beetroot, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, peas – Joan, you’re a marvel. Yet without even a paragraph break the next words are What is the pudding?


The Famous Five

The Five are rarely referred to as The Famous Five in the books (its interesting as Famous isn’t in any of the book titles either!) but they use the moniker three times in this one.

  • We shan’t be the Five – The Famous Five – if they [Julian and Dick] don’t come (George)
  • Quite Famous Five-ish, in fact (Julian)
  • The Famous Five are off again, and who knows what will happen! (Julian)


Next time: the comments and (more) nitpicks

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2 Responses to Five on a Secret Trail part 2

  1. chrissie777 says:

    Fiona, I always enjoy your FF reviews, particularly this one as it was my very first FF book and stayed a favorite for almost 56 years (and hopefully for another 20 years :)). I’ve read it at least 18 times during those decades, but am not as observant as you are.

    Many men can climb a rope using their arms and hands only. I couldn’t climb a rope with my hands and feet at high school, even though I was skinny way back then.

    Timmy has about Cody’s size and weight. Our Cody weighs 80 (American) pounds, so that’s probably 77 European pounds. I doubt very much that anybody could put a dog that heavy into his shirt while climbing up a rope. But maybe he could put the dog around his shoulders?

    I don’t care for French food either being a Vegetarian, so I usually order an omelette while my husband orders the menu.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzy Howlett says:

    Very well observed!

    Liked by 1 person

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