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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

"We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea" by Arthur Ransome

 Another sailing adventure with the Swallows. John, Susan, Titty and Roger are crewing for Jim in the sailing yacht Goblin near Harwich under strict orders from Mummy to stay in the river and not to pass the Beach End buoy which marks where the sea begins. But when Jim goes ashore for petrol the ship drags its anchor in a fog and before they know it the children are out at sea, on their own, in a storm.

This is my favourite Swallows and Amazons adventure. There are repeated moments of enormous tension (like the bit where they turn back ... and the bit with John ... and the bit with the steamer ... but I'm not spelling them out because that would spoil things) and some real tear-gulping bits at the end (like the bit where the pilot shouts 'Nodings' ... and the bit in the cafe ... and the bit with the customs officers ... but again I'm keeping shtum). 

Some great moments:

  • "It was as if she had swallowed an apple whole and the apple was trying to get back and finding her throat too narrow for it." (Ch 11)
  • "Lonely? It was as if he was outside life altogether and wouldn't be alive until he got back." (Ch 12)
  • "Can't go far wrong with soup and steak ... You never know what you get when you try something with a fancy name." (Ch 23)

It is difficult to imagine a more perfect adventure story for boys. May 2021; 333 pages


This review was written by

the author of Motherdarling 

and The Kids of God


The Swallows and Amazon series contained twelve books:

  • Swallows and Amazons: Children camping on an island in a lake have sailing based adventures
  • Swallowdale: More sailing adventures are threatened when the Swallow sinks
  • Peter Duck: The Swallows and Amazons and Captain Flint sail on a big yacht into the Caribbean in search of pirate treasure; pirates pursue
  • Winter Holiday: the lake freezes allowing a sledge-based expedition to the 'north pole'; the 'D's are introduced
  • Coot Club: The Ds join the Death and Glory kids in the Norfolk Broads but the excitement is just as great when birds have to be protected from rowdies.
  • We Didn't Mean to go to Sea: The Swallows accidentally find themselves at sea in a yacht they scarcely know: for my money this is the most dramatic and exciting book of the series.
  • Secret Water: The Swallows are joined by the Amazons in an expedition to map some tidal mud-flats
  • The Big Six: The Death and Glory kids have to be cleared of accusations of crime; the Ds help.
  • Missee Lee: The Swallows and Amazons and Captain Flint are shipwrecked near China and captured by a lady Chinese pirate with a taste for Latin.
  • Pigeon Post: The Swallows and Amazons and Ds search for gold in the hills above the Lake; one of my favourites
  • The Picts and the Martyrs: The Ds have to hide in the hills when the Great Aunt comes to stay with the Amazons
  • Great Northern: The Swallows and Amazons and Ds and Captain Flint are protecting birds in the far north of Scotland

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