Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Books with Betsy - -

- - Betsy was the name we picked for our much loved VW Campervan which was our only vehicle when our children were small. She took us all over the UK - from Lands End to John o' Groats - our holidays were spent in her, we shared countless Bank Holiday weekends with her - - and many, many ordinary weekends in some of the beautiful countryside Northern Britain has to offer a couple of hours drive from the Manchester area. We had so much fun in the van - - whatever the weather, glorious days allowed our children to play outside - - but as you may know - in the UK there is no guarantee that it will be dry - let alone warm!! So in anticipation of those inevitable occasions - - I had a stash of chidren's books tucked into one of her many little cupboards. And I read aloud - by candlelight - all the stories I could find which would appeal to an 8 year old and a 30 year old - the baby didn't count until he was 2 - by which time the others were hooked and a tradition was established! At the end of every day after our meal - everything was cleared as quickly as possible, the beds set up for the night - then - treats were liberated, juice for the children and wine for us - and either chocolate, sweets or crisps - whichever was that evenings preference - the candles lit and "the book" fished out of the cupboard for the nights chapters.
I read - sometimes until I was hoarse - all the Chronicles of Narnia, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Elidor, The Owl Service, The Prydain Chronicles, The Dark is Rising Sequence, The Hobbit and many, many more. I tried to read a book which linked into the area we were visiting - so when we were in Wales I read the of Taran from the Prydain Chronicles, on Alderley Edge I read of Susan and her "Weirdstone", in Cornwall I read of Will and the Rising Dark and read The Snow Goose in Norfolk and so on. I think I managed to find a childrens book to read in the van which always linked to the area we were visiting.
Looking back on the few titles which I have listed - I have just realised that along the way my husband and children were indoctrinated with all the Celtic Folklore - which so fascinated me - of the British Isles. I do hope they forgive me for imposing my own favourites on them as I did. I know these stories, read aloud by the light of a flickering candle - were my husband's first experience of the wonderful world of legend and fantasy that was part of my childhood and early teens, and that the characters in some of those books still live in our family memories. Some of those characters gave us family "catch phrases" we use to this day - and I look back on those evenings in the van with nothing but pleasure. I hope my children do too. Maybe along the way I also preserved some of our islands wonderful legendary characters Herne the Hunter or the Morrigan - I do hope so. I wish I had taken photos of the 5 of us snuggled together  - but I didn't so those pictures will have to live on only in my head - I need to find a photo of Betsy though. Long live stories!

Until next time.

Bannaghtyn Jx


  1. hi just popped over from BFS. I still thank my stars that mum encouraged me to read as much when i was a little girl. I still love books.

  2. What a lovely, lovely story! My parents had a VW camper when I was little and I've seen many pictures of our adventures.
    Oh, and we love the Dark is Rising series in our house - hopefully our kiddos will too!


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