Monday, August 21, 2006

Swallows and Amazons

Tomorrow I depart for the area of Lake Coniston in the Lakes District of Cumbria. I doubt that I'll have internet access over the 3 days that I'm there, so there will inevitably be another block update to the blog when I get back to London on Thursday.

Coniston was the setting for Arthur Ransome's famous children's book Swallows and Amazons from 1930. I must have read it when I was 8 or 9, and so either living in the Australian outback (Bourke) or in a fishing village in northern NSW (Urunga) - both environments quite foreign to Ransome's story.

Lake Coniston was also the setting for Donald Campbell's attempt on the world water-speed record in 1967. The jet-powered Bluebird distintegrated at around 300 mph. Campbell's remains were not identified until 2001.

Finally, Coniston was also the birthplace of my great-great grandmother Hannah Maria Jones. It's likely that her father Samuel (born in Devon) was working as a millwright or a canal engineer in the late 1830s when his first children were born, so it would be interesting to identify the project that kept him busy in this period.

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