Dreaming of a camp-fire as sponsor backs Swallows and Amazons marathon

The Swallows and Amazons marathon at Coniston this summer is to be sponsored by a team who will keep the kettle boiling for the readers.

Tom Harvey of kitchen appliance firm Clocktower has come on board to make sure that there’s a constant supply of tea and coffee for the team of readers and visitors to the lakeside event.

But fans of the story might be disappointed to learn that there won’t be a billy-can kettle over an open camp fire.

“That’s the way I’d love to do it,” said Tom, who has enjoyed re-reading the classic story since he was a child. “But we wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand. There will be more than 30 readers and a great many visitors, so we will have to use modern electric kettles.”

Tom reads S&A

His Milnthorpe-based company will also provide an endless supply of teabags. Readers might recall that the children camping on the island put tea-leaves into their kettle, a practice frowned on by Mr Harvey. “I suspect the taste would have been a very stewed tea.”

The event, to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the author, Arthur Ransome, will take place at Coniston on Sunday September 3.

A number of celebrity readers have already signed up to take part including actors from two film versions, the screenplay writer, and a descendant of the poet William Wordsworth. It’s expected that the book’s 31 chapters will take around nine hours to read.

The event is being organised by Dr Chris Routledge who is head of Continuing Education, English Language and Literature, at Liverpool University, in association with the Lake District National Park and the Arthur Ransome Trust. Also supporting the reading are Stephen and Janine Sykes who live at Hill Top, Ransome’s last home in the Lake District.

It will mark the end of a summer-long exhibition at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston about Ransome, Russia and storytelling.

susan and the kettle

Kettle on the camp fire: Suzanna Hamilton as Susan in the 1974 film of  Swallows and Amazons

Dr Routledge, a great fan of Arthur Ransome, previously organised a marathon reading of Moby Dick at the Merseyside Maritime Museum; a much longer novel, that event took three days.

“It seems an appropriate way to celebrate the life and work of Ransome,” he said. “We are delighted that the Lake District National Park  has offered their site at the Coniston Boating Centre on the lake shore. And our partners at the Arthur Ransome Trust are providing marquees to keep our readers and visitors under canvas, in true Swallows and Amazons fashion.”

Dr Routledge’s 13 year old daughter Caitlin will be one of the younger readers, along with Elizabeth Kaye, the 11 year old daughter of Jonathan and Caroline Kaye, owners of Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel, who are avid fans of the Ransome stories.

Other readers who have signed up include 14 year old actor Hannah Jayne Thorp, who played the part of Peggy in last year’s film version of Swallows and Amazons. The screenplay writer of that film, Andrea Gibb, will also read a chapter, along with Christopher Wordsworth, great great great great grandson of the famous poet.

The event is part of the LakesCulture calendar http://lakesculture.co.uk/lakes-culture-2017-calendar-events/


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