As a child I can always remember gazing longingly at my Mother’s collection of Enid Blyton books; they lived on the big bookcase. They were hers when she was young, and as a somewhat unruly child it took awhile for my parents to trust me to read them properly (obviously they did not know me very well because there is no way I would ever damage a book, but that is a discussion I will save for them!) I devoured The Magic Faraway Tree, longed with all my heart to go to school at Malory Towers and did my best not to emulate the adventures of The Naughtiest Girl in the School. But despite all this, I had never read a single Famous Five book, and how I waited until I was 24 to do so is beyond me. Luckily I changed that this weekend.
Last week my mum, my sister and I went on a day trip to Corfe Castle in Dorset. We have driven past it countless times in my lifetime, often on the way to the beach at Studland, however this was the first time we had actually visited the property. We parked at the Norden Park and Ride and got the steam train to the village. I’m not normally one to get all excited and, dare I say it, geeky about transport and least of all trains, but if all the trains in this country were old fashioned steam trains, I would willingly give up my car and travel by rail everywhere. It was amazing, a cross between Harry Potter and Agatha Christie. But I digress. So yes we went off to Corfe Castle and had a lovely time.
In the village of Corfe is a shop called The Ginger Pop Shop, dedicated to Enid Blyton and specialising in her books, audiobooks and various toys and exciting and interesting objects from the period. It is only a little shop, but it is so quaint and original it is hard not to love it.
And this is where I bought my first Famous Five book, Five on a Treasure Island!
Five on a Treasure Island is the first Famous Five novel and in it we are introduced to Julian, Dick, Anne, George (never Georgina) and Timothy the dog. Julian, Dick and Anne are sent on holiday to their Aunt’s at the seaside and it is here they meet their cousin, George, who is reluctant to make friends or to share her very own island with her cousins. George soon realises that sharing, whether you are sharing ice-cream, your feelings, or your island, is much more fun than keeping everything to your self, and the cousins set off on their first adventure – to save Kirrin Island from potential buyers and find the lost gold of George’s great, great, great grandfather.
There is something so gloriously simple about Blyton’s stories that prevent them from growing old thus ensuring they stay popular with generations of children. I know they have attempted to update the use of words like ‘golly’ and names such as ‘Aunt Fanny’, but I personally think it is ridiculous to attempt to modernise these timeless classics. Yes, I race through her books much faster than I did as a 9 year old, but my enjoyment is the same. My first venture into the Famous Five series brought excitement, adventure and a fantastic sense of nostalgia. Ok, so I grew up in 1990s England, but I’m fortunate enough to have childhood memories filled with those mythical endless summers, climbing trees, riding bikes, building dens and playing with friends all day long, and I almost wished we had come across a few mysteries to solve now I look back. Overall I had an amazing day in Corfe and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first Famous Five, I hope to return to them soon!