Entries came in from across the globe for a poetry competition organised by the owners of an iconic Lake District farm with a literary heritage.
Shayla and Jonathon Batty created the contest asking for poems about their home, Bank Ground Farm at Coniston, or Swallows and Amazons, the classic Arthur Ransome children’s story which has strong connections to their farm.
The winner was 73-year-old Bob Cuming from Hamilton, New Zealand, a member of the International Arthur Ransome Society and lifelong fan of Swallows and Amazons.
“We have only been the one time to the Lake District but remember it so well because of my Swallows and Amazons interest,” he said. “We caught up with a lot of the sights including Bank Ground Farm.”
The working farm, also a guest house with holiday cottages and a tea-room, was the location of Holly Howe in the story, from where the children set sail to Wild Cat Island.
In second place was another Swallows and Amazons fan, 10 year old Katie Byron from North Wales.
She said: “One day when I was seven my Mum got out Swallows and Amazons. I point blank refused to listen to mum read the book. I thought it would be boring! But mum made me listen, and before long I was pleading to Mum to carry on. I thought it was amazing and still do. My favourite character is by far Nancy Blackett. She is so lively and adventurous. When I am reading the book I feel like I am Nancy. My sister Maya likes to pretend to be Peggy.”
Shayla Batty said: “We were delighted with the high standard of entries for the competition, and especially pleased that a poet of David’s calibre agreed to be our judge.”
Bob and Katie’s poems will be framed and displayed on the wall at Bank Ground Farm.
Read the poems here below:
Signals to Bank Ground Farm or If the telephone had come earlier to Low Ludderburn
Crackle.. crackle.. its Bank Ground here
down the phone neither loud nor clear
crackle..crackle.. Bank Ground is that you
listening intently for a clue
It’s me its Arthur can’t you tell
yes it was the man they knew so well
the telephone that new fangled thing
was the cause of havoc it could bring
I have a book in early state
a guidance I would appreciate
your thoughts here on my vision
red slippers prompt a quick decision
Children with no sails have gone East
this book for them I write at least
some place suggestions would fill the gap
your Bank Ground name perhaps I could tap
A local setting with your blessing
matching pirate boats and youngsters messing
parrot Polly near Bank Ground Farm
perched on houseboat that’s the yarn
crackle.. crackle.. what’s that you say
have my words all gone astray
crackle..crackle.. no all our help a Polly vow
and that’s how Bank Ground Farm became Holly Howe
Here Once More
By Katie Byron,
The soft water lapping upon the shore,
The creak of a boom, the splash of an oar,
The sound of voices high and low,
The sound of Amazon, and Swallow.
John and Susan steer the boat,
Titty and Roger have fun afloat!
“Shiver my timbers!” Nancy shouts,
Peggy cries, “Ready about!”
Wild Cat Island! We’re here once more!
Amazons two and Swallows four.