At long last we have the promise of warm weather. The English summer can be a fleeting and momentary burst of warmth, sparkling light and soft breezes that need to be embraced before the wind changes and torrents of rain set in. Despite this, when I think of childhood summers spent meandering the shores of the Cornish coast it always seems that summer was endless, boiling and a period of complete freedom. Months spent without shoes, eating outside and splashing around in any water I could find rolled on and on until September dawned and those halcyon days drifted off on another path that I wasn’t on anymore.
To get me through the endless months of waiting for the summer holiday I would bury myself in the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Redwall is the name of an Abbey which is at the heart of each book in the series and its inhabitants are woodland creatures. There are now 20 books in the series and I am only one behind as I do still read them. I admit, I no longer read them with the complete absorption of my 10,11,12 year old self but they are comforting and it’s a bit of my childhood from which I can’t quite let go.
Each book in the series is a heady tale of adventure, quests, battles and feasts. And it was always the feasts which particularly gripped me. My mouth watered as I read about crumble and meadowcream, strawberry fizz, deeper’n’ever pie (favoured by the moles), shrimp and hotroot soup (loved by otters), October Ale and candied chestnuts. I would lazily dream about feasts in the Abbey orchard whilst I was in maths lessons, wishing myself there with all my heart.
Books we read as children are perfect to re-visit when we need some comfort reading. I haven’t gone back to the start of the series for a long time so I am looking forward to spending balmy summer evenings in the garden with a glass of Pimm’s whilst revisiting my old friends at the Abbey.