Gorkhaland’s Wild West
The freshly brushed floor of compacted cow dung was smooth and cool under foot. I crossed the room, climbed into the heavy wooden bed next to Jamie and blew out the candle. Night crept in through the open window bringing with it the intoxicating scent of gardenias, and quietening the moths and insects that had been dive-bombing the candle’s flame. Curling up under the blanket, my body relaxed on to the hard mattress, while outside pale moonlight whispered through the forest on the other side of the valley. Somewhere on the horizon Kanchenjunga’s five tiger-toothed caps glinted silver against the black sky.
Wild in Cressbrook Dale
‘Wake up, little fellow. It’s time…’
My child of four sat bolt-upright in bed, eyes glassy from dreams of wild things.
‘…It’s time for our wild night out,’ I whispered.
It was a warm summer’s evening in June, the light of the day gently fading out; the air beginning to cool. Jamie’s small chubby hand fitted perfectly in mine, like a Russian doll within a Russian doll, as we slowly descended the stairs. On the kitchen table, a rucksack sat ready, the items needed for our adventure laid out beside it.
On this day in 1845, the artist and designer Walter Crane was born in Liverpool. A Utopian Socialist, Crane aimed to bring art into the homes of the people with his designs for wallpaper, pottery, fabrics and ceramic tiles. He founded the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888. He was also one of the leading children’s book illustrators of the 19th century, along with Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott.
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The humorous verse of Harry Graham was an early hit with several 20th-century literary figures, including W. H. Auden, George Orwell and Agatha Christie. The hilarious rhymes they adored as children remained with them, popping up unexpectedly in their heads during their writing careers.