Parenting,  Popcorn Zone

Recreating Blyton’s Picnics

Like most children of the eighties, I was fascinated by Enid Blyton books- specifically the Famous Five series.  Looking back, her descriptions of picnics that comprised of food such as ginger buns, jam bread, baked potatoes, cakes, biscuits and tarts of various sorts, which were washed down with a glass of lemonade, just seemed to excite me. Therefore, it is quite likely that I would push this fondness on to my two little girls. However, on the day when I proudly passed down my Famous Five collection to the girls, I knew something was wrong- something was seriously wrong. For, the two of them looked away after a couple of chapters and seldom got back to reading them. What exactly could be the reason? I just had to know it all.

Cuddling into bed one night, I casually asked them as to why the books didn’t interest them. Prompt came the reply-

“Who goes hiking and on picnics so often? And what kind of fun does one have out there?”

The truth hit me hard at that very moment. I hadn’t taken the girls hiking/trekking, hence they just couldn’t connect with the adventures it held within it. So at 6.00 AM the following Saturday, two backpacks were ready. Waking up early isn’t really a norm in the weekends, thus what followed were frowns and moans from the two girls. Pushing them out was a herculean task indeed. It sure did take me a while to sort out their irritation.

Towards Anjadweep

Anjadweep( or sometimes known as Anjadiva) island is a tiny little place off the coastal town of Karwar towards south of Goa. Not many know about the existence of this tiny island on the map of India. Until the early 1980’s the island came under the jurisdiction of Goa. However, it soon was taken over by the Indian Navy due to its strategic location. These facts of course weren’t really discussed with the girls. I just kept them on track- hiking a small little hillock to catch a breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea.

As the chill morning air gripped us all, we caught the first rays of the sun. Did I catch a little speck of wonder in their eyes? Slow yet steady, I sensed the girls soaking in every bit of the place. It wasn’t an arduous climb up, despite the crudely cut stone steps. Crushing the cluster of dried leaves beneath their feet, the girls squealed in delight at the sound. A withered picket fence, the soft sand of the Arabian sea glistening under the morning sun, surely I was reminded of my childhood reading experience.

Exploring the old island came across as an adventure to the girls

They ventured around the Portuguese ruins and the old abandoned Shrine of Our Lady of Brotas and São Francisco de Assis- apparently amongst the oldest churches in the country. As the day progressed and the warm air smelled of the salt from the sea, the woods opened into a clearing.

Was it the breathtaking view or just the thought that they had made their way up?

I wasn’t really sure, but the girls sure were elated. Like a paint box, there were shades of blue, green and brown around.

Food on a hilltop

Amidst the hills, the clear blue skies, the green meadow and the dense forests, we settled down to have our breakfast. Sandwiches, fruit cakes and fresh salad- the spread was surely influenced by Blyton’s stories. Though I soon realized it isn’t about the actual food. In fact, Blyton’s menus are often pretty plain. It was her descriptions that made the whole scene so wondrous. In a similar way, it was the surrounding that made the breakfast spread the best ever.

The day was warm, with a sun that was neither mild nor fierce. The sound of the wind from across the cliff could be heard, with gulls hovering over them. What really attributed to the enjoyment(especially to the kids) was the freedom to eat while they wandered, without having to heed to any norm of table manners. And not to forget the grown-ups’ joy of digging into a buttered sandwich, watching the waves lash across the rocks.

Its all an experience

Picnics, hikes and eating food out in the wild- these are experiences, the girls hadn’t been exposed to. And probably that just seems to be the problem. In a time when our idea of an outing with the children is at the movie, mall or a meal outside, the joys of a trek or a picnic in a peaceful outdoor setting had seldom been experienced. Not until that Saturday.

Also coming to think of it, as a parent when you start projecting your own perspective, it could leave the child confused. How about just making things more realistic? It rekindles a whole new thought process within them. Blyton may have created joy with her stories fencing around picnics and food. As a parent, I had to get close to creating that magic through a real life trek and picnic.

That Saturday, as we cuddled into bed, the girls asked me, “Did the Famous Five go on similar picnics?” The question left me with a big smile on my face.

*Featured Image Source: Pixabay
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  • Meenakshi J

    I am so glad that we got to know about this beautiful place and the girls got to experience the thrill of family picnics under the sun ,in the wild amidst nature. The place surely looks beautiful and glad the world is oblivious of its existence.

  • Sanch @ Sanch Writes

    This brought back memories of reading Blyton. I must admit, I never went hiking but I still loved reading the books because it gave me an insight into what things could be. I still remember reading Cherry Tree Farm and Willow Farm and really, really wanting to live on a farm! I’m so glad you took your kids on a hike though…such a wonderful experience being out in nature!

  • Shilpa Garg

    Aha! This made for such a lovely and nostalgic read…. must say that it is written by an ardent book lover!! Picnic, trek, food in a wonderful location… so Enid Blyton-sque and oh so fun. Glad that you all had a great novel experience, Ramya!

  • Modern Gypsy

    Recreating Enid Blyton’s picknics! What fun!! And lovely photographs too. My sister and I also went for a lot of hikes and treks as kids, and buttered bread and fruits were what mom used to bring quite often. It sure made the Famous Five books comes alive for us!

  • Radhika

    Wonderful post ramya. Love all the clicks. I feel so nostalgic. I miss karwar so much sometimes. I was so blessed that my children could spend sometime of childhood here. Thnq for the refresh. Reminds me of the picnic we had at anjadip. wishiNg you more picnics in 2019.

  • the bespectacled mother

    This was so so so wonderful to read. I would like to go on a hike like this with just plain sandwiches in the bagpack, nothing fancy and also fellow hikers who are free of tantrums. And what do I say about the photos. I wish they came alive with me inside them 🙂

  • Shalzmojo

    I will say it again – you live in a blessed little nook of the world. What gorgeous pics, made even more so with your descriptions and presentations of the pics. And what an idea sirjee – I wish I would have been invited on this Blyton-esque picnic too Ramya!!!! Her food descriptions is what led me to start eating food while reading!!

  • kalaravi16

    Gosh Ramya! Blyton did leave a strong mark on all of us, didn’t she? Think bike rides, mountain treks, picnic,food and bingo! They all point to the glorious Enid Blyton! You guys sure had a swell time! Great times, great views and umpteens of happy memories sure make a happy childhood!

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Yes Kala Blyton indeed has left an impression. We had a great time and hopefully the memories would stay for long in the kids

  • BellyBytes

    Enid Blyton and the famous five. You are right about picnics and treks. I too gave my kids their inheritance of Enid Blytons which they promplty rejected. I’m trying for the second time now with my grandchildren. Of course they love the concept of a picnic basket but would rather fill it up with Frooti and chips rather than sandwiches. I loved the way you introduced them to hiking and exploring your neighbourhood…… it’s such a joy to see the world through their eyes and enjoy an activity you enjoy too!

  • kokilagupta

    Such a beautiful post! It reminded me of my kid’s picnics in Bengaluru and mine with my parents in Dehradun when I was a little kid! Lived it! …and, your clicks are wonderful!

  • Balaka

    I loved how you combined book and travel. Just like you I also always loved Enid Blyton books for the names of food that were too exotic for me. It always excited me and in my mind I could taste them as heavenly. I regularly take my son for trekking/hiking we are almost a nomadic family yet my son doesn’t like reading Enid Blyton the way I used to love. I guess something with this generation. Let me know how your girls are enjoying Famous Five post the hike.

  • Obsessivemom

    This here is a beautiful beautiful piece – warm and wonderful, filled with the love for books and reading with a dash of nostalgia. How lovely. You’re fortunate to live in a place like this and also to have the sense to appreciate it. You’re right about Enid Blyton’s descriptions – it wasn’t just the food, it was her descriptions and the way she set set it up. The children in her books were outdoors, looking for adventures and always hungry which is why the food sounded so good.

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Thank you Tulika. Indeed I am fortunate to be in a place such as this, exposing the kids to be out in the wild, like the good old enid blyton books:)

  • Shantala

    Ramya, this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me! I was just about to start re-reading the Famous Five series, so that I could then get my son interested in them too. But your post has given me some food for thought. I can see how he might not relate either. But considering it’s winter here, I can’t really take him on a picnic/hike. Gotta think of something else for the time being! That being said, your solution was fantastic! 10/10 for creative problem solving! 😀 I am sure the kids must be looking forward to reading the books now!

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Shantala, I just had to approach it in a different way, for just pushing it down their throat didnt seem the right way. It has worked for me. Hope you are able to work around your way with your son too 🙂

  • Anonymous

    This was out of this world kind of post! Still soaking in the bliss of it! What a happy thing to read early in the morning! Thank you!

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