Monday #263


Ripping Things to Do by Jane Brockett


Funniest TV moments from the Famous Five

Fatty shuffled his way to the bus-stop bench near Goon’s house. He let himself down slowly as if he indeed had a bad back. He let out a grunt. An old lady on the bench looked at him sympathetically. Poor old man! She leaned across and pressed a sixpence into his hand.

Fatty was so taken-aback that he almost forgot he was a tramp. He remembered imediately though, and put his finger to his forehead in exactly the same way that his father’s old coachman did when he came to see him.

“Thank you kindly,” he wheezed.

Another of Fatty’s disguise performances, this one is from The Mystery of the Invisible Thief.

Amelia Jane is a home-made doll, rather than a shop-bought one, and that is why she is so extremely naughty. She is also a very large doll which means she can easily push aside the other toys to get her own way. Unfortunately for Amelia Jane, getting her own way doesn’t always turn out well and she briefly learns lessons before her mischievous nature rears its head again.

Amelia Jane being naughty

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The Magic Faraway Tree part 2

We left Jo, Silky and the others in The Land of Spells last time – he had just been turned the right way up.


The next disaster, which perhaps borrows a little from Alice in Wonderland, occurs before they’ve even got back to the Faraway Tree. The silly Saucepan Man buys a growth spell and spills it, causing Moon-Face, Jo, Silky and himself to grow too big to get through the hole back to the tree. He spills so much there is none left to use on the hole to make it larger.

It takes a while for them to work it out but they do then get a shrinking spell which returns them to their normal size (except for Moon-Face who likes himself just a tad taller) but then the land starts to move away, it grows dark and they end up down the wrong hole.

This hole leads to the home of Mr Change-About. He starts off fat and jolly, but as his name suggests he soon changes-about to thin and angry, and then from huge to so small he gets trapped in one of Saucepan Man’s kettle.


They go up the chimney to escape, but instead of ending up on the roof they climb into the a cellar which belongs to an enchanter, and so have not escaped at all. Frying pan and fire comes to mind!

Thanks to another purchase from the Land of Spells they escape on an upside down flying table and a flying bench, and the children land in their own garden. Their surely too dim to be real mother is only mildly surprised by this!


That wasn’t an order for you to search for buns online. Google buns are another delicious treat served in the Faraway Tree. Moon-Face etc wonder if the children got home safe on the table as they don’t see them for a while (they are having a brief ‘let’s never go up the tree again, it’s not safe’ period), and invite them for tea.

The buns were most peculiar. They each had a very large currant in the middle, and this was filled with sherbet. So when you got to the currant and bit it the sherbet frothed out and tasted delicious.

I’d definitely eat one of these!


Dick can’t help himself and goes up into the next land which turns out to be The Land of Dreams. Pretty quickly the Sandman comes and puts them to sleep.

They then share the strangest collective dream which exactly sums up the way dreams go. There’s ice cream you pay for with marbles, but it turns out to be whistles and not ice cream at all. The whistles summon policemen who get pushed into a swimming pool of their own tears, where they turn into fish. The children get into an aeroplane to escape the land of dreams – but the plane turns into a bus and then a boat because they are still dreaming (this resonates a LOT with me as I’m always having those awful dreams where I think I’ve woken up but haven’t, over and over!).

Anyway, plenty more weird stuff happens to them, until finally they start feeling very sleepy and doze off on a giant walking bed. Luckily the bed takes them back to the hole leading to the Faraway Tree where Silky has returned with Dame Washalot, Mister Watzisname and the Angry Pixie.

They neutralise the Sandman with water, and the bed is made to fly them home with the last of the ointment from the Land of Spells.


Having learned nothing from their previous escapades (but then there would be no book if they learned!) the children are soon tempted back by the Land of Do-What-You-Please which is even better than the Land of Take-What-You-Want according to Silky and Moon-Face.

Each child has something they really want to do, Dick would like to ride a roundabout six times without stopping, Bessie would like to eat six ice-creams in one go, Fanny would like to ride an elephant and Jo would like to drive a motor-car or a railway train.

Dick and Bessie get their wishes right away, and without incident – apart from being very dizzy after the roundabout. It’s just as well they rode that before the ice-creams or that could have been messy!

The train journey isn’t quite so smooth, the train misbehaves a lot and goes too fast but nobody gets hurt. Nothing truly bad happens with the elephant rides either – Moon-Face is briefly stuck when his rope-ladder breaks off but the elephant lifts him down with his trunk instead.

So far, so good. But surely it will go wrong somehow? I mean it always does!

Well for once, it doesn’t. They finish their day with a paddle in the sea and then go home. Weirdly Aunt Polly asks Dick how he got so wet and calls him a naughty little story-teller when he tells her. So she doesn’t believe that but she’s completely OK with flying tables?

There’s some great imaginative things in these chapters. The land of dreams is particularly good, as is Mr Change-About. I would like to see him crop up again in fact.

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Monday #262

The Magic Faraway Tree


 Funniest Moments from the TV series

Gloomy Water, of Two Trees. Gloomy Water. Saucy Jane. And Maggie knows as well, fame.

Gloomy Water is a, well, gloomy-looking lake in front of the burnt-out shell of what was a house called Two Trees. It sounds and looks a bit dull, the Five visit having followed the message above, delivered in the night by an escaped convict. The only thing more exciting than that is perhaps aligning their raft in the middle of the lake between Tock Hill, Steeple, Standing Stone and Tall Chimney so that the boys can dive into the murky water in search of the Saucy Jane.

Those Dreadful Children is one of those Blyton books that makes you think. Who are the dreadful children? Are they loud, mucky and sometimes rude Taggertys, or the prim, proper and judgemental Carletons? Both do some quite dreadful things as the story unfolds, but then both families learn a lot too. It’s an interesting quandary with lots of fun along the way.

Armada paperback of “Those Dreadful Children”, cover uncredited

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March Round Up


I managed to finish four so I’m on 15 for the year so still 3 ahead.

  • Why Mummy Drinks – Gill Sims
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  • The Faith Trials (Buffy TV tie-in) – James Laurence
  • Sleep Like a Baby (Aurora Teagarden, #10) – Charlaine Harris

And I’m currently reading:

    • Dubious Definitions: A Dictionary of Misinterpretation – Brian Allen
    • The Magic Faraway Tree (reviewed here)
    • Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse #4) – Charlaine Harris (audiobook)
    • Ripping Things to Do – Jane Brockett (I will probably review this at some point)


  • At the risk of this list looking the same every week… Hollyoaks
  • Only Connect
  • ER
  • One Born Every Minute
  • Jurassic Park 1-3 
  • Dara O’Briain’s Go 8 Bit


  • Rather inconsistently this month I have done rhyme times, some baby massage and also my circuits class
  • Walked 10,000 steps every day for Cancer Research’s Walk All Over Cancer fundraiser, though the start of the month was tough thanks to all the snow we had!
  • Had a meeting to discuss returning from maternity leave
  • Felt very glad that Brodie has finally dropped his night feed!
  • Watched Brodie learn to crawl and sit (in that order!)
  • Got spoiled on Mother’s Day


I’m still not reading very much at the moment, struggling with stress at home and work now to top it all off, I’ve been doing a little research into mindfulness and have some easy, dip in, dip out of books to which I am working through.


I’ve watched a fair bit in March, the usual Top Gear, the Force Awakens, and towards the end of the month, Jonathon Creek.


Well I had my birthday, always a fun time, and my friends who I play Pokemon Go with threw me a surprise birthday party for all the work I put into the group, which was lovely. I’ve been taking the camera out a bit more in recent weeks which has helped me feel better, even though there hasn’t been much to photograph in terms of nature, but its all good. Here’s hoping to yet a better month in April.

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Blyton’s Bothersome Bests: Those I love to hate

It was really hard to come up with a blog this time around, I must admit I am really struggling at the moment, so it was actually Fiona who had the idea for this blog, for which I am grateful to her.

So this blog will have three characters of Enid Blyton’s of which I love to hate. There’s no prizes for who is in first place, so I’m going to go in straight away with number 3.

3. Uncle Quentin

Now this one is as surprising to you as it is to me, but I actually have a sort of love hate thing where Uncle Q is concerned. He is a good father, because he worries about providing for his wife and daughter, but at the same time, he doesn’t have any time for them and constantly gets snappy and annoyed with George because she’s a child who can be loud and children are like that.

He is impatient and rude on occasions, and although as I got older I appreciated his need to speak to George in certain ways when she was being unreasonable, overall I think he’s not a very nice person or character. However, without him, the Famous Five wouldn’t have the reasons for leaving the cottage and having these kinds of adventures that made us all jealous, but still… he’s not my favourite.

2. Gwendoline Lacey

In my time I have met very few people who like Gwen. Shes generally one of the more obnoxious characters from any of Blyton’s books, and is seriously one of the worst in Malory Towers. Gwendoline, as an only child, was a warning to be while I was growing up, of what I did not want to be. I wanted to be more like Darrell and Sally, and nothing like Gwen (I am an only child – just to clarify). I don’t think there is a thing that Gwen does, that makes me like her one little bit throughout six books she really doesn’t do anything for me.

Compulsive Confessions: What Happened After: Malory Towers

And number one is….

1. Frederick Algeon Trotterville aka Fatty

It is no secret, I love to hate Fatty. Whenever I post about him, the and Five Find Outers books, I never have a good word to say about him. I really really really dislike him and just cannot see why everyone thinks he is so brilliant. He’s a horrible person, boastful, horrible, egotistical, and yet whoever I talk to, seems to think he’s brilliant. I’m sorry, but its a no from me. He’s what I like to think of as a Marty Stew, he can do everything brilliantly, without trying, which is the most annoying thing ever. Larry would have made a much better head of the Five Find Outers. Why oh why couldn’t have someone else had Buster?

So there we are, my three characters I love to hate. Who are yours?

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If you like Blyton: Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr, part 3

Last time I left you with lots of questions, and hopefully now there will be some answers. But first, another question…


The protesters all have crazy names and Edie ends up at their encampment. Janet’s supposed to be there but isn’t, and only Edie’s worried.

Edie goes off in search of her and finds her chained by her neck to a tree, in a camp that’s clearly abandoned as she’s the only one there, right beside a raging and overflowing river. Well, that’s smart, isn’t it? Clearly there’s some point proving going on, actions not words, referring back to her argument about the Suffragettes but it’s all so idiotic. What’s worse is that Edie’s initially horrified but holds off on unlocking the chain long enough to interrogate about who release the ferrets. As if that’s important when one of both of you are about to be drowned by a burst dam!

She does get rescued and they rejoin the main protest in time to see Miss Fotheringay get arrested for assaulting a police officer. She’s not protesting, but she believes that Edie and Janet are in the midst of the protest and is insisting on getting to them. She seems an intelligent and shrewd woman throughout the book so I don’t find it that believable that she would lose her cool and hit a policeman in that situation.


Anastasia has trapped the ferret-man in the pet shed. An entirely baffling conversation ensues, but he does admit he’s Josie/Janet’s father.

Janet and Edie then return and get grilled about the events in the woods, and we get the rest of the story described by them rather than reading about it ‘live’.

Not that much happens, they just got driven back to school by another teacher. What’s more interesting is a sudden new story-line whereby Miss Fotheringay is in bother with the school board. Unfortunately all we get is that little bit of gossip (perhaps it will become important in the next book?) Also thrown in randomly is the school apprentice finding Janet’s father asleep in a ditch and taking a shine to him.

Most of the various plotlines get resolved neatly in the last chapter. Janet gets moved up to the third form to stop her getting bored, and that means Edie and Anastasia have each other to themselves (though Anastasia is more accepting of Janet anyway) a few teachers get told off for giving Edie a hard year, and the tower is saved as the developers have withdrawn their plans and the school manage to negotiate a five year lease for it.


I really liked this book at the start. It had a nice Blyton-ish boarding school with lots of promising plotlines.

However, it took me over a year to finish as it rather got bogged down with ferrets and protesters which isn’t at all where it started out. Lots of things seemed like important points, or clues almost, which weren’t mentioned again.

The main dramatic scene is rather ridiculous. Janet’s ‘clever’ enough to leave the key a distance away so that the police couldn’t easily unlock her but stupid to chain herself up by the neck, in the entirely wrong place. All of a sudden we have ‘it’s been raining for weeks’ and ‘the river is incredibly full’ and ‘there’s a bridge with might get washed away and a dam that  could burst’ which all seem like very convenient things to help along a dramatic chapter. Blyton did it far better when Mary-Lou falls over a cliff and is rescued by Daphne, in my opinion! The whole story is told from Edie’s point of view so we don’t really get to understand Janet or her actions which doesn’t help. And don’t get me started on Edie interrogating her over the ferrets when she’s supposed to be in a life-or-death situation.

The ending was a bit of a let down too, with everything neatly resolved in a brief narrative with no explanations given about how the tower was saved. Nor was there any resolution between Janet and her father, but again, that might be a plot for a later book.

I might still give the other books a go, especially as the first sounds like a good story.

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Monday #261

Not sure what happened last week, but we’ll try that again, shall we?

Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr


Blyton’s bothersome bests

MKX. Thursday the 25th. Emma Lane. A red pillow.

Ok, so it’s no Two Trees, Gloomy Water etc, but nonetheless these are the baffling clues that the Secret Seven have to puzzle over in Well Done, Secret Seven. It makes a little more sense when they work out that the last two have been misheard, but there’s still a lot of work before they can solve it all.


Jock Andrews from Five Go Off to Camp is a brave boy, not only does he face down Wooden-Leg Sam and the ‘spook train’, he defies his temperamental step-father in order to do it. He is good to his mother who works very hard and seems an all-round good egg. He appears to be Scottish, too, so he has that going for him as well!

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Monday #260


Mischief at Midnight by Esme Kerr


Blyton’s bothersome best

“Clear orf, you! Clear orf!”

Mr Goon says clear orf so often that the Find-Outers nickname him Old Clear-Orf.  Bets remarks in The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage that that’s what he always says to children. I’ve never heard him say anything else. That might have been true on page two of the series but by the end they’ll have heard him say quite a lot – mostly involving that toad of a boy – but nothing as often as CLEAR ORF!

The Buttercup Farm Family is the fifth Caravan Family story, aimed at younger readers. In it, Mike, Belinda and Ann stay at their Uncle Ned and Aunt Clara’s farm while their parents are off in America. It doesn’t break new ground in terms of stories about farm-life but it has a simple charm and it shows how far the children have come since the first book in the series.

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Top Nostalgic Blyton Reads

We all have our favourite reads, the ones we go back to time and time again, like a comfort blanket but made of our favourite Blyton reads. I have decided to share my top three with you. Be warned, you won’t find variety in them, mostly because when I was younger I only really knew the Famous Five and Malory Towers. Here they are anyway!

3. Five Go Off to Camp

I had this as a set of four dramatised audio books and what I loved the most about this was Jock’s Scottish accent and the way he said “Aye, I’m a ninny”. I think Fiona has mentioned this as one of her favourite lines and it is just classic.

There is something about the spook trains in this, and the imagery of running around those empty tunnels after smugglers and spook trains as well as camping on the moors, that always seemed like a fun thing to do, to just go off and camp in a beautiful English summer with gorgeous food and everything.

The reason this is nostalgic for me is because I used to listen to it at bedtime and especially when I was ill. These adventures were my company and my comfort blanket and for that I’ll never really forget the story.

2. In the Fifth at Malory Towers

My first interaction with this story was again on cassette tape. I borrowed it from the library and I loved it so much I didn’t want to give it back, my mother had to keep on renewing it.

The fact that the girls get to produce their own pantomime and the fact that we had a case of Gwendoline getting a taste of her own medicine and just the way the story flows and how old all the girls seem. I really wanted to be in that class and having all that fun. It really was a magical story when I was going to sleep and listening to all the fun going on a Malory Towers. One of my all time favourite reads, especially when I grew up and bit and read the whole book, it really came alive for me in a way some of the books didn’t.

1. Five go to Demon’s Rocks

I got given this book for a birthday present and I loved the magical idea that you could live in a lighthouse and having Tinker and Mischief there was an added bonus. The action was a huge part of that book as well, the caves and the storm where Julian almost get knocked out of the lighthouse because he’s trying to hang the bell. It really is a kind of thrilling read that makes the book so fertile for the imagination when you’re six or seven.

I also loved the story that old Jeramiah Boogle told the children about the wreckers and the adventure into the caves to find the gold. Its a very imaginative book, and I’m very glad that Enid Blyton came up with the idea.

What are your favourite nostalgic reads?

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The Magic Faraway Tree

Having finally read the first book in the series, I figures I should just crack on with the second!

That raises a minor point though, what’s the series called? The Enchanted Wood series, or The Faraway Tree series. Both are used on the internet. Both appear in the books’ titles, the Faraway Tree appears more times (The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of the Faraway Tree and Up the Faraway Tree) and is arguably the main focus of the series, but the Enchanted Wood contains the Faraway Tree and hosts some storylines on its own.

Do feel free to tell me I over-think these things! The Enid Blyton Society calls it the Faraway Tree series and as the expert, they must be right.


This one took me the longest to find, and I found it in Leakey’s in Inverness. It’s a tenth impression from 1964, so hardly an early one but it has a full dustjacket and it only cost me £5 so I was very happy with that!


That’s how the book starts – giving it a fairy-tale feel. Continuing that theme is the fact that they are very poor and the children have to help around the house and the garden. Fairy tales always seem to have very kind, decent but poor folk who have amazing things happen to them. (The parents in Rapunzel, Cinderella [she’s not poor but isn’t able to access any of her own wealth], Dick Whittington… and so on.)

Fairy tales aside Cousin Dick is coming to stay, and the children are very excited to tell him about the Enchanted Wood and the Faraway Tree. Anyone rooted in reality would assume he’d laugh at them and refuse to believe it, but there’s no link to reality in these books!

When Dick arrives the girls, being girls and therefore subservient to boys unpack his things and put them away. I don’t get annoyed with Blyton for writing that – nor do I think those details should be discretely edited out – I just dislike that those attitudes were so normal less than a hundred years ago.

Anyway, they tell Cousin Dick all about the tree and all the characters they’ve met (which is useful for those who didn’t start with the first book – a little ‘previously on’, if you will). Dick believes it all very readily – I told you these books aren’t hinged in reality! Before long they go up the tree and bump into all the main characters and experience all the ‘traditional’ dangers like the Angry Pixie and Dame Washalot’s water. Well, it’s Dick that gets yelled at and soaked, as he’s inexperienced in the ways of the tree.


Their first land is The Land of Topsy-Turvy, where everything is upside down. It’s because of a spell, but nobody is allowed to be the right way up even if they aren’t cursed. An upside down policeman happens along and as Jo is a bit rude to him, Jo gets turned upside down too.

Convenience abounds in this book too – The Land of Spells is due to arrive shortly, and will contain a spell to turn Jo the right way up.

I think even the mother in these books would notice an upside down child, so Jo spends the night with Moon-Face. Perhaps I should have included mother (whose name turns out to be Polly) in my post about Blyton’s mothers [link], as she really isn’t the most on-the-ball with her parenting. On hearing the full honest story as to why Jo isn’t coming home she scoffs that the children must be lying and Jo just fancied a sleepover with Moon-Face. I have three problems with this. One is that the children don’t a) consider how far-fetched their story is before they tell it and b) don’t react to being called liars when we all know how big a deal lying is in Blyton’s world. Two is that their mother isn’t at all bothered by what she believes to be an enormous whopper of a lie. And third is that she isn’t bothered by her son staying overnight with a strange little man she’s never met.

But anyway… the next day Jo (still upside down) is able to go up into The Land of Spells with Moon-Face and Silky to procure a walking spell which over-rides his upside-down spell and turns him the right way up. We get another of Blyton’s wonderful little ideas here as the witch who sells them the spell is knitting stockings from the smoke from her fire. The fantasy books are not amongst my favourite Blyton genre but I have to admit she came up with some cracking details in them

So that’s their first adventure/disaster over with in the second book. Cousin Dick is now fully enrolled in the Faraway Tree world and I have no doubt they will get themselves in even more bother later as they just can’t stay away from the strange lands that appear.

I will have to do another post about those at a later date!

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Monday #259

The Magic Faraway Tree


Top nostalgic reads

Puffin Island – well, that’s not its real name, but as its covered in puffins that’s what the Mannerings and Trents call it. Its real name isn’t known, but its a remote Scottish Island visited in The Sea of Adventure. Apart from being rather stormy it makes a marvellous base for exploration, with hills providing good views, a rocky inlet perfect for docking your boat and even a good-sized hole in the ground to contain any suspicious ornithologists who happen by. Unusually for Blyton there’s no crystal-clear spring but a rock hollow full of rain-water will suffice instead.

The Mystery of the Strange Messages is the Find-Outers’ fourteenth mystery and one that they don’t even have to go looking for. Mr Goon has been receiving very odd messages cut from newspapers and blames them on Fatty. Of course they aren’t from Fatty at all, and so the FFOs have to work out where they came from, who Smith is and why he should be turned out of the Ivies, whatever that may be.

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My Favourite Blyton Locations

Many times over the years we have shown you the places which Enid Blyton lived or was associated with over the span of her life, even if some places like Green Hedges unfortunately no longer exist. In this post however I am going back to the stories and picking three of my favourite places she wrote about to share with you. Let me know yours in the comments.

1. Kirrin Island

Who doesn’t love Kirrin Island? Your own ruined castle to explore, caves, dunegons and peace beyond your wildest dreams (assuming you’ve put a sign up, saying tresspassers will be ravaged by a fierce Timmy dog!) The island was the main enthral of the books for me because it was a strange thing for a child to own, but it was utterly gorgeous for the imagination, it never seemed to get boring and always seemed to produce a new hidey hole whenever the children visited. My absolute favourite place that was used on the island was the cave that magically appeared in Five Run Away Together which also happens to be one of my favourite books. Who wouldn’t want to live on Kirrin Island?

Famous Five on a treasure island

2. Malory Towers

Malory Towers was the bording school when I was younger. I wanted to be part of that amazing place, down by the sea in Cornwall with Darrell, Sally and the rest. Unfortunately I was not so lucky as to go to boarding school at Malory Towers, but I went to the local comprehensive. I willed away my hours dreaming of this beautiful place down in Cornwall, where that gorgeous swimming pool was, those amazingly strict but likeable teachers were, and just the whole excitement of being somewhere quite so magnificent and being part of a small close knit team. That would have been ideal.

-Malory Towers- Minecraft Project

3. The Castle of Adventure

Even though I came to the Adventure series books late in my reading career, I have found that one of those books catches my attention more than the others and its the Castle in Castle of adventure. I can’t remember the name of it right now, but I just know, given it seems to be based in a nice remote place, with lots of things to explore and wildlife to watch that I would very much love to be there, a bit like Jack with his bird, I would love to be able to do some work with my camera skills, trying to take those wonderful landscape and wildlife pictures. It seems such a peaceful place, and somewhere I could get on with, plus I think I could get Fiona there too (plus Brodie when he’s a bit older) to enjoy the natural surroundings and explore the castle. I clearly have a thing for ruined castles… but then who isn’t surprised?

The Castle of Adventure | World of Blyton

So there you are, my three favourite locations. So what are yours?

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Blyton’s Mothers

Before anyone gets confused – Enid Blyton did only have one mother, Theresa Blyton, née Harrison. She didn’t get on very well with her mother and in fact cut all contact as an adult, and many criticise her own skills as a mother. All that aside, since it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I would have a look at some of the mothers that Blyton wrote into her books.


Most of the mothers Blyton wrote about were of the good and decent type, some are wealthier than others but even the poorer mothers strove to provide well for their children.

Mrs Kirrin, aka Aunt Fanny (The Famous Five)

I always think that Mrs Kirrin is referred to as Aunt Fanny much more than she is as Mother but I’m not sure that’s true. She is of course George’s mother first and foremost. She’s a fairly standard Blytonian mother in terms of providing generous meals and home comforts to George, but she also accepts (mostly) that her daughter wants to dress as and be referred to as a boy. She also does her best to smooth over arguments between George and her father which is a tough job.

quentin and fanny

Mrs Kirrin in Five on a Treasure Island

Mrs Mannering, aka Aunt Allie (The Adventure Series)

Although not present for the first book in the Adventure Series we know that Mrs Mannering (a widow) is off working hard to provide for her children. After that she settles with them in a new home – and takes on two orphaned children, too. Jack and Lucy-Ann call her Aunt Allie but she becomes their much appreciated and much loved mother in all but name. In Castle of Adventure Lucy-Ann is thinking for the hundredth time how lucky Dinah was to have a mother of her own. She felt grateful to her for letting her share her… Mrs Mannering always made her feel that she loved her and wanted her.

Mrs Mannering is kidnapped in The Circus of Adventure

Mary Arnold (The Secret Series)

This is one of my favourite Blyton moments, when Jack bursts in to tell Mrs and Captain Arnold that their children are alive and well, and it always brings a tear to my eye.

“John, we must go at once to them,” said Mrs Arnold, who was almost crying with joy. “Quickly, this minute. I can’t wait!”

We don’t see an awful lot of her through the books, but that is necessary to allow the children their many adventures. What we do know is that she is kind and loving and despite the various traumas they’ve been through she still encourages them to be independent.

A lady sat, writing a letter. Jack could see she was the children’s mother, for she had a look of Peggy and Nora about her. She looked kind and strong and wise, and Jack wished very much that she was his mother, too.

Jack gets his wish, as Captain and Mrs Arnold take him on as their own.

The Secret Island / Jack / Captain Arnold / Mrs Arnold

Mrs Arnold hears the news from Jack in The Secret Island

Linnie Longfield (Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm/Six Cousins Again)

A farmer’s wife, Linnie is also the very capable mother to Jane, Jack and Susan. She’s often under-appreciated but she doesn’t moan and is grateful for any peace she gets. She also temporarily takes in Roderick, Cyril and Melisande and tries to care for them in a way that their other mother doesn’t. She is always calm and sensible but never a martyr despite her circumstances, and when opportunity arises she grasps the chance to run wild and have fun.

Another figure came flying by, chased by Jane and Jack. It was their mother! She was rescued by her burly husband, who swung her behind him, and proceeded to deal with Jane and Jack. His wife sank to the ground, untidy, hot, and weak with exercise and laughter.


I dislike how much judgement there is regarding parenting today – did you BLW? are you an attachment parent? You have a jumperoo!? Saying that, I’m about to talk about fictional characters.   c

Mrs Lacey (Malory Towers)

Mrs Lacey means well, I think. But she over-indulges her little darling Gwendoline, spoils her and makes it very hard for her to get along at Malory Towers. She is the weepy, scene-causing type who encourages Gwen to over dramatic public displays of affection even by today’s standards. She also seems quite deluded, as she believes all of Gwen’s stories of academic and physical prowess plus the tale of a dodgy heart. As most of Gwen’s reports from the teachers must point to the exact opposite you wonder how Mrs Lacey couldn’t see the truth.

Alicia summarises the situation for Darrell at the train-station in First Form at Malory Towers:

“I say – look over there. Picture of How Not to Say Good-bye to your Darling Daughter!”…

[Gwendoline] was clinging to her mother and wailing.

“Now what that mother should do would be to grin, shove some chocolate at her and go. If you’ve got a kid like that its hopeless to do anything else. Poor little mother’s darling.”

The mother was almost as bad as the girl. Tears were running down her face too…

Gwendoline appeared ready to go, but her other clung to her still.

“See what’s made Gwendoline such an idiot? Her mother!”

Rose Longfield (Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm/Six Cousins Again)

Rose Longfield (mother of Roderick etc) is another mother in the Mrs Lacey vein. After her house burns down (a dreadful thing to happen to anyone, of course) she takes to a bed in a nursing home and essentially abandons her three children. While you can imagine that it would have been a very hard time for her most mothers would be doing their best to pull together with their family instead of wallowing in self-pity.

“Not quite well,” said his mother, who looked the picture of health and prettiness. “But much, much better. It was such a terrible shock, you know, and I’ve never been very strong.”

Even when she emerges from her sick-bed she is largely incapable of functioning as a farmer’s wife as she seems to expect that dainty sandwiches and best frocks are still appropriate.

Dorcas (the maid/housekeeper) at Mistletoe Farm had some very wise words about the difference between Linnie and Rose (or Mrs David as she calls her, to differentiate her from Mrs Longfield).

She does it [look years younger] by looking after herself so carefully and lovingly, Mam, that she doesn’t have time to look after anybody else, not even her own children. There’s more beauty in your face, seems to me, than there ever was in Mrs. David’s – and I’m not talking about skin and eyes and nose now, Mam. I’m talking about character. Your nature’s writ plain in your face and makes it beautiful to all your family – yes, and to me too. But you’ll look in vain for that kind of beauty in Mrs. David’s face!

Mrs Taggerty and Mrs Carleton (Those Dreadful Children)

I have put these together not just because they come from the same book, but because they were absolutely created to highlight the others’ shortcomings.

Mrs Taggerty is warm and down-to-earth but she is very laissez-faire about tidiness and her childrens’ behaviour. It’s not made clear if this is due to her being unwell, or if being unwell simply exacerbated the problems but the three older Taggerty children had been left to run wild (another problem being their father, who felt that ‘boys will be boys’ and that as long as they have fun it’s ok).

Mrs Carleton however is meticulous in making sure her children are clean, tidy and polite. This goes rather too far, however, as she also makes them rather delicate and cowardly. She also encourages snobbery in them, and looks down on the Taggertys.

I’ve written quite a lot about the two families in posts here and here.


Mrs Carleton looking on disapprovingly and Mrs Taggerty in hospital.


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Monday #258

Our topics this week are:

Blyton’s mothers


Favourite locations

Malory Towers, a big stone building almost castle-like with its four towers (possible based on Lulworth Castle) is grand enough but its surroundings are even better. It is located on the rugged and beautiful Cornish Coast with wonderful sea views, and its own sea-filled swimming pool for those not afraid of a bit of cold water!

malory towers

Noddy Goes to Toyland is the first Noddy book, and it details how Noddy – a little wooden man – finds his way to live in Toyland. Getting there isn’t too hard, but once there he is questioned as to whether he is really a toy and therefore entitled to live in Toyland.

If you’ve not ready Noddy before this is the place to start!

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February Round Up


I’m on 11 so far for the year – 2 ahead of schedule for my reading challenge!

  • Be Careful What You Wish For (Goosebumps #12) – R.L. Stine
  • The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams Bianco
  • A Wind in the Door (Time Series #2) – Madeleine L’Engle
  • Mischief at Midnight (Knight’s Haddon #2) – Esme Kerr (Reviewed here and here)

And I’m currently reading:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon (audiobook)

I read to Brodie:

  • What the Ladybird Heard – Julia Donaldson


  • Hollyoaks (still getting sillier!)
  • More ER – have finished season 12 now
  • Only Connect
  • Friends and Buffy are often on in the background as they are rerun on TV.
  • Call the Midwife


  • The usual routine of Busy Babies and Rhyme Time has been disrupted but we are doing a four week course of baby massage instead – sounds very relaxing but it’s not really, not when your baby is rolling away from you at every opportunity!
  • Watching Brodie learn to crawl and explore everywhere
  • Started weaning Brodie – so far his favourites are sweetcorn, oranges, avocado, porridge and beetroot but he has loved pretty much everything we’ve tried him with (and made varying levels of mess with them too!)
  • Continued with my circuits class but I’m yet to manage a push up…
  • Redesigned our Monday posts to make them easier to do, so now they include titbits like quotes from books, great locations and characters.


I haven’t been doing much reading as you know, but I have still been on the look out for books. One thing I have been doing this month is collecting some books from the library on mindfulness which according to my councillor would be a good way to help move myself forward. I look forward to feeling like I am able to take time out and read some of these books.


I went to see the Marvel Black Panther at the cinema, which I loved. I’ve also been watching Downtown Abbey with my boyfriend and his parents as well as Marvel’s Agent Carter. We have also watched the movie Miss Sloane, which was good even though I was half asleep for it and Thor Ragnarock.


I haven’t done much apart from work and sleep I’m afraid — depression does that to you, along with the stress of work. Some of you may know that my library (which is located within a school,) has been served a termination notice by the school. So I am currently under a lot of stress to make the library closure work smoothly while being caught in a limbo of not just being able to shut up shop and go somewhere else. Either way, I have managed a few walks with the boyfriend, and some exercise but not much else.

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Blyton’s Food

Since 2013 there have been around a dozen posts on the blog about the Blyton like food you can make yourselves, with I think the favourite being macaroons (which are also now a firm favourite with my boyfriend’s family).

I love reading about the food in Blyton’s books, which is why I was slightly disappointed with the new Enid Blyton Cookbook that I have mentioned before. Some recipes seem to be right on the button with Blyton’s descriptions of food and then there seem to be some very faddish dishes in which I do believe that a Blyton book has never been near in its life.  I’ll look at that in more depth next time, because I really want to have another good thumb through to really get an opinion of it.

In regards to food, what’s your favourite food description of Blyton’s? I think one of mine has to be when in The Upper Fourth at Malory Towers when Gwen and Clarissa go to her old governess’ house and see the spread she’s put on for them and the food goes back to Malory Towers for a midnight feast. It really makes my mouth water when I read that.

The famous Five have some good food descriptions and even with my dislike of the Five Find outers and dog, they have some pretty epic food descriptions too. Check out our blogs on food here

One of my favourite recipes I’ve found from these cooking ventures if the Ginger biscuits from Jane Brocket’s book, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. It really makes the best ginger biscuits around.  You can find the blog here for the refresher. These were the beauties fresh out of the oven, and they were delish!

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