The first books I really remember from my childhood are by Beatrix Potter. They were the perfect size for little hands, I loved the detailed illustrations and the adventures the animal protagonists went on. There was a tie in TV series that my grandmother recorded for me on VHS tapes which I would watch over and over again.
Somewhere, there is even a recording of four year old me wearing a frilly cap rather like Miss Tiggy Winkle’s and pretending to be Jemima Puddle Duck (I find it both endearing and mortifyingly embarrassing). I didn’t just want to play act the characters, I wanted to be Beatrix Potter – to live in The Lake District, write children’s books and to also draw the illustrations.
My dreams have altered over the course of my life, but one of my small desires has always been to travel to The Lake District one day. I had been far further from home but somehow I never quite made it to that part of my own country. It only developed more of a pull for me after studying The Romantic Poets at university and learning of the many other literary links to the area.
Recently, I was able to make my Lake District pilgrimage with my fiancé and a group of our friends. I shamelessly over-prepared, with several OS Maps, a walking guide, distress whistles, two compasses, rations (conveniently sized and individually wrapped leftover Easter chocolate), plasters, over trousers…all for one day of actual walking around the countryside using marked trails and another about the shops in Windermere.
I have always liked to feel like I am prepared and to have equipment for the more exciting possibilities that life might send my way. It makes me feel like I am ready to take opportunities and to go on adventures.
It was like walking around the setting of a fantasy novel, and I was glad I brought my kit, even more so that it wasn’t needed. I found it hard to believe such a beautiful place existed, and yet there I was with my friends in the sunshine, looking across at distant hills and mountains. I felt like someone out of the books I read and the stories I write; in the best possible way.
I will certainly be going back, and my fitness permitting, doing some more challenging walks. The most important thing for me, though is that I got to go to a shop selling overprice Beatrix Potter toys and purchase some to bring home. There was part of me that was still that four year old girl and she could not stop smiling at having achieved one of her earliest goal for her grown-up-self. I hope that I can continue to do the sort of things and be the sort of person that little girl would be proud of.