Wild Windy Wellington Wednesday

Another Christmas has come and gone, another New Year’s Eve celebration followed it as always and has also passed  and now we are back to the everyday life that we know.

All the festivities and fun are great.  It’s always good to catch up with friends and family and what better time than at Christmas and New Year?  But don’t you feel rather flat when the day has passed, the friends have left for home and things are really no different than they were on December 24th?  If like me, you were lucky to receive some gifts and now you have a few more ‘things’ to find places for, you will be adding the fact that you have friends and family who care to your Gratitude List.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere of course, it is summer (?)  Well here in Wellington we had a glorious Christmas Day – Mother Nature pulled out all the stops, sunshine, no wind and not even a hint of rain.  The next day was the same but since then we have had a really mixed bag.  Sunny and warm one day, overcast and windy the next.  Today we are living through gale force winds.  We went for a walk  in the Town Belt (625 hectares of Crown-held land “reserved for the enjoyment of the public and not to be built upon,”) that circles our city.  Unfortunately it was a very short walk as the wind was so strong that several times it threatened to blow me over – and Lotte?  Well her ears were blown right back as we walked into the wind and forward over her face when we walked in the other direction.  Really it is not at all the warm, dry summer we were promised.

Lotte on desk
Would have been better to stay at home
writing our blog

Many people are away on their Christmas/Summer holidays and this weather is not helping them enjoy themselves.  In the South Island we have heavy rain warnings in many places; roads are closed; the Milford Track said to be NZ’s premier walking track has been closed for the past two days because of heavy rains.  Approximately 120 trampers were stuck as the track was too difficult to maneuver.  Trucks and cars are stuck in the Buller Gorge in the north-west of the South Island.  And parts of the North Island are faring no better with Severe Weather warnings in place for parts of the lower island.

So what to do in the face of this awful weather.  There is always the television of course and today I chanced on a wonderful programme written and fronted by Griff Rhys-Jones about the “Wind in the Willows”.  Along with Alice in Wonderland, this has been an all time favourite of mine.

In this programme, Rhys-Jones introduced us to Kenneth Grahame, the retiring scholarly man who wrote this story for his somewhat troublesome only child Alistair.  At the time, Grahame was the Secretary of the Bank of England.  He had written some books about children for adults but this was the first (and only) book for children. Do you know this fabulous fable?

The story is set along a river bank.  In fact it is subtitled Tales of the Riverbank. We are introduced to the kindly, self-effacing, industrious Mole (Grahame himself perhaps?), Rat, Badger, Otter and of course the incredible, irascible  Mr Toad.  Who hasn’t met a Mr Toad in real life?

These woodland animals are given human characteristics and live an indolent  life on the riverbank often messing about in boats.

But Toad it is who fills the book with his antics and exploits.  He is very sure of himself and he is very conceited.  He sings about himself  “Ho, ho!  I am The Toad, the handsome, the popular, the successful Toad”.  And he  thinks that he alone knows anything.   Consider –

“The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad”

toad

When Toad sees a shining red motor car he cannot resist it and drives it off eventually being caught and being sent to prison –

“The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop
As it raced along the road.
Who was it steered it into a pond?
Ingenious Mr Toad!”

The book was originally published in 1908 and  my copy of the book is 55 years old, well read, well-thumbed but still securely bound in spite of that.

Quite late in life, by then considered a confirmed bachelor,  Grahame married the shy and retiring, scatty and whimsical Elspeth Thomson.  They had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”).  Unfortunately, he  was born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.  It was for this child that the book was written.

The-Wind-in-the-Willows-001
‘Simply messing about in boats’ …
EH Shepard’s illustration of Ratty and Mole.
Photograph: EH Shepard/PA

So I am glad for a cold, windy January evening that allowed me to find this programme on the TV.  I thank Rhys-Jones for taking us along the riverbank and telling us about Grahame and his strange little family.

And as an aside in 2010 a First Edition of the book was sold by Bonhams in London for 32,400 GBP.

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39 thoughts on “Wild Windy Wellington Wednesday

  1. Marianne

    How I love the story of wind in the willows it was on tv over the Christmas. Memories come flooding back reading with our lovely Dad. I am so glad that we were encouraged to read by our Mum & Dad. A whole world opens up when reading so many wonderful stories. As you said Alice in Wonderland and of course.

    1. Hello again small sister. I just love this book. My copy is dog eared and stained (and written in by my lovely daughter when she was playing libraries at some early age) but it has traveled around the world with me on three occasions. Glad you love the story too. Happy New Year.

  2. I’ve always loved “Wind in the Willows” myself, and it was always a boyhood favourite. Funnily enough, although I live on the other side of the world, we have also been plagued by rainfall. 2012 was recorded as the wetest since records began here if that tells you anything. I hope you have a happy and prosperous 2013

    1. Hi Peter and a Happy New Year to you and yours. The past few days have been glorious here in Windy Wellington hence the lack of inclination to sit at the computer. Glad you too like Wind in the Willows – and I just love Toad.

  3. HI, Judith!
    So far this summer we’ve had a similar mixed bag of weather here in the Illawarra, South of Sydney. The lights shine still on the Christmas-tree. I like Christmas to last till the 6th of January. Then the tree gets packed away.
    All the Christmas family visits are behind us. It’s just Peter and myself again. Plenty of time to relax, read books, watch television, and some old movies, also, make time to play another board-game with Peter. And of course catch up on reading blogs! Also, enjoy sitting outside under the trees, go for a little walk (if it’s not too windy!)This is the time of the year when we don’t need any heaters and so far we’ve hardly used the fans. (We have no air-conditioning) The hottest it has been recently was 33 C, but only for one day. Soon we’re going to have some tidying up to do again . But at the moment we’re still in holiday mood, very much enjoying the summer season.
    We haven’t been to the beach yet since we got back from Germany. Hope we can make it one day soon. It has to be a day with not too much wind.. Very strong wind at the beach I definitely want to avoid.
    Wishing you a very joyful and prosperous New Year, dear Judith.
    I’m glad I found some time today to browse through your blogs.
    Cheerio, Uta.

    1. hi Uta and Happy New Year to you and Peter. We have had a spell of sunny, warm (around 26/28 C) and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Still in holiday mood so am being rather dilatory about reading an writing blogs. Will catch up again soon. 🙂

  4. It is -15 C here today with strong bitter winds whistling about the property! Wind in the Willows – a magical romp, always. How lovely that you found this on the TV and can sit back and just enjoy stepping into that magical world.

    1. -15C takes me back to Montreal and thank you I don’t want to return. It’s quite lovely here today – a little zephyr blowing and temperatures around the mid 20s so we can still get out and do things. And it’s great to see the washing dancing on the clothes line in the sunshine. Happy New Year Joss to you and yours. 🙂

  5. where does Joss live that it is so cold. Here in BG it is 11 which is not bad. Last year at this same time it was-25 and I had no wood for the fire, husband was at death’s door, and no food for donkeys. Thankfully hubbie survived, we have plenty of wood and the donks for a new forever home

    Happy New Year

    1. Hi Patrecia. I can’t tell you where Joss lives but my it is really cold there. We lived in Montreal, Qu for a while and it was the only time I encountered such cold. Glad you have fuel and food. Take care and happy New Year. 🙂

  6. It’s snowing and cold here in northern Michigan, USA, with a wind that is making it seem even colder. I should have been out with the dogs already, but am lingering over hot coffee. What a lovely treat this was, to read by the fire on this winter morning! Thank you!

    1. Hi Cindy and thanks for dropping by and commenting. It’s quite warm here today mid 20s C, the sun is shining and all is well with my world. I am about to take my small dog for her walk but first have to catch up with my blogging friends. Happy New Year. 🙂

  7. Aren’t they just the most charming small animals you’ll ever meet? easy-going Ratty, stern Badger, loyal Mole. During my latest lie-in, I was amused by the old series, As Time Goes By, with Judi Dench. Very charming characters, as well. Happy New Year!
    Toni

    1. Hi Toni – yes I love the Wind and it’s characters. I also love As Time Goes By. Delightful characters and so well cast. I have the complete series on DVD and keep meaning to re-watch – so you have given me something to watch tonight. During the holidays our TV stations regurgitate rubbish. Thanks for dropping by.and a Happy New Year to you too. 🙂

  8. Its a beautiful crispy clear winters day here though I am looking forward to summer. I am glad you found such a wonderful program to watch…but probably not one bit gladder than Lotte. I smiled when I thought of her ears blowing this way and that. Happy New Year dear Judith!

    1. Hi Chris. Well it has been much better since I wrote the blog. Yesterday we went to a dog friendly beach about 10 minutes drive away. She had a ball! And Happy New Year to you too my blogging buddy. 🙂

  9. I have a copy of Wind in the Willows that was given to my middle child by his godparents. I don’t think I’ve ever read it, though, and now I must. Interesting story about the author. Hope your weather improves soon.

    1. Hi Susan. Well after writing that post the weather took a turn for the better. Clear skies, warm temperatures and no wind, so we have had lots of lovely walks. I hope you do get around to reading the book and enjoy it as much as I do, Happy New Year to you and George. 🙂

    1. The weather has definitely improved over the past few days and we are at last enjoying summer. Happy New Year Darlene – were is Amanda going next? 🙂

  10. It looks like winter here but is not really winter after all. The trees are bare but the sun has been hiding for many days. There was a bit of snow but not enough to create a wonderland. Our Christmas began Dec. 28th when friends and family arrived, so I’ve been absent from blogging and just now catching up a bit. Happy New Year Judith!

    1. There are so many out there who fall into the Mr Toad category. I just loved this book but we all have different favourites. Happy New Year Val and I hope it is a healthier one for you. 🙂

    1. Hi Stacia and a happy New Year. The weather’s improving along with our moods and Lotte is a happy little girl going for long and interesting walks. 🙂

  11. I too love Wind in the Willows, and I’ll keep an eye out for the TV program. Hope your weather improves, we’re sweltering here in Melbourne! Happy New Year, all the best, Gill

    1. Hi Gill. I have been following the news about the weather in Australia and the awful bush fires in Victoria and of course, in Tasmania. I do hope you are not effected by any fires. Happy New Year. Judith 🙂

  12. Wind in the Willows was one of my favorite book as a child… I must have read it 100 times… memories… ;
    Glad to reconnect with you this year Judith …
    •.★♥★Happy New Year to You & Yours!★♥★.•
    Eliz

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. Good wishes for the coming year are reciprocated to you and your family. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog posts in the coming year. 🙂

  13. charlespaolino

    I was so glad to see you calling attention to “The Wind in the Willows.” I have six editions, and I have given it as a gift to many people. I like what A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, wrote about this book: “One does not argue about The Wind in the Willows. The young man gives it to the girl with whom he is in love, and, if she does not like it, asks her to return his letters. The older man tries it on his nephew, and alters his will accordingly. The book is a test of character. We can’t criticize it, because it is criticizing us. But I must give you one word of warning. When you sit down to it, don’t be so ridiculous as to suppose that you are sitting in judgment on my taste, or on the art of Kenneth Grahame. You are merely sitting in judgment on yourself. You may be worthy: I don’t know, But it is you who are on trial.”

    1. One does not argue about the Wind in the Willows indeed. I see it as a comment of life as we know and live it. We all know many Mr Toad’s and Ratty and Mole. Indeed we can all probably fit ourselves into one of these characters. Thank you for reading and for the comment.

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