poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Kenneth Grahame

in a yellow caravan

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The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame was published in 1908 and has defined the relationship of people to place for four generations.  The story of animal friends and their lives along the river is a magical yet down-to-earth tale.  It solidifies ideas of home, adventure and longing.  It captures (or doesn’t) the insubstantial voice of nature:

… it passes into words and out of them again – I catch them at intervals – then it is dance-music once more, and then nothing but the reeds’ soft thin whispering.

One of the memorable characters of the book is Toad.  He is reckless and arrogant, and constantly gets into trouble, but I think his appeal is the adventurer in all of us.  Some of his adventures are in a bright yellow caravan …


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2003 ‘Toad’s yellow cart, Wind in the Willows’ Jane Tims



 … there, drawn out of the coach house into the open, they saw a gipsy caravan, shining with newness, painted a canary-yellow picked out with green, and red wheels.

‘There you are!’ cried the Toad … ‘There’s real life for you, embodied in that little cart.  The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows … The whole road before you, and a horizon that’s always changing …


My copy of Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame, 2007, Vancouver: Blue Heron Books) was illustrated by Robert Ingpen (what a name for an artist!).  I will leave you with his illustrations of Toad’s yellow caravan …






Copyright  2015  Jane Tims





Written by jane tims

March 13, 2015 at 10:22 am

encounters with literature 7-14

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coast near Fowey (image from Street View)


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map showing distance travelled … Daphne du Maurier’s house is near the yellow dot at about eight o’clock … Pont Pill is the stream at about one o’clock (map from Google Earth)


On today’s virtual bike trip, I happened upon two locations famous for their literary connections.  Near the end of my trip, I saw Readymoney (from the word for pebbly), the house Daphne du Maurier lived in during 1942.  She lived here while writing her book Hungry Hill ( Doubleday-Doran, 1943) …


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Across the road is the beach at Readymoney Cove.  I imagine Daphne du Maurier looking out on this view as she wrote or thought about her writing …


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Readymoney Cove in Fowey, across from du Maurier house (image from Street View)


The house was originally the coach house for the mansion at Point Neptune …


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I also took a side road to Pont Pill.  Pont Pill or Pont Creek is thought to have been the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows …


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Pont Creek beside a nicely landscaped house at Pont Pill (image from Street View)


Best Views:  Little Lantic Beach and the old water mill on Pont Pill …



July 23, 2013 ‘Little Lantic Beach’ Jane Tims


July 29, 2013  'old water mill at Pont Pill'   Jane Tims

July 29, 2013 ‘old water mill at Pont Pill’ Jane Tims


Copyright  2013  Jane Tims

‘Ducks’ Ditty’

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On Saturday we took a drive along the St. John River, to see if any waterfowl were braving the cold windy day.  The water is slowly receeding but still above summer levels.  On a miserable day, the ducks retreat to the shallows, away from the exposure of the open water.

There were a few birds on the water.  We stopped for a while to watch five male Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) paddling about.  They stuck together as a group, feeding in the shallows and occasionally ‘standing’ on the water to flap their wings.   This time of year, the female Mallards are on the nest, hatching their young, and the males typically hang out in groups with other males until moulting begins.

I am not good at duck identification, but the Mallard is easy to spot, with its bright green head and the white ring around its neck.  I enjoyed watching them through the binoculars, especially their orange legs and feet maneouvering in the muddy water.

The Mallard is a member of the marsh duck family and a ‘dabbler’.  Dabblers obtain their food by skimming it from the surface or tipping up to submerge their heads so they can feed underwater.

I can never watch dabblers on the water without thinking of Kenneth Grahame’s famous poem ‘Ducks’ Ditty’, from the book The Wind in the Willows.  If you don’t have a copy of the book, have a look at the poem at

©  Jane Tims 2012

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