There’s a Wind in the Willows

There’s a Wind in the Willows

As the early morning dew lies over the water-meadow, on the banks of this stream there’s another story waiting, helped along by some of my own pastel sketches!

Log fire place

The holiday break after Christmas is a good time to throw another log on the fire, pull up your arm chair and dream of summer days ‘messing about in boats‘ on the river.

Hedgehog under leaves

A few years ago the workmen replacing the fence next door left this note on our side of the new fence. That little rustling under the leaves could be a story starting. Stories are waiting to unfold everywhere for those with imagination.

Wind in the Willows.

This beautifully written classic story for children is about the little creatures that live on river banks, in water meadows, woods and who also ‘mess about in boats‘.

Like the author Kenneth Grahame, I too, grew up by the river Thames. His story reminds me of the river I knew with its busy locks, boats, river steamers and wildlife. For all who read those much-turned pages, no stream or river bank will ever be quite the same. There will be Moles and Rattys everywhere. No doubt also a passing Toad showing off in his motor launch, causing great inconvenience to others on the river!

Pastel sketch of river

The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spell-bound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.’


But then Mole met Ratty and his adventures began:

Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new!”

Rowing boat on lake in winter

An un-attended boat…!

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing—about—in—boats; messing—”
Look ahead, Rat!” cried the Mole suddenly.
It was too late.

We are warmed by the deep friendship of Mole and Ratty, their boat trip and adventure into the Wild Wood. Then shocked by self-centred Toad with his grand ideas, motors and misadventures. At the end we are relieved by the reformed Toad, thinking of others for a change, by hosting a meal for his friends and (great surprise!) restraining from one of his self- promoting speeches! Even the Wild Wood becomes a better place thanks to the kindly influence of Mr Badger.

Though first published in 1911 Edwardian England, this story continues to be popular with numerous new editions and dramatizations. Perhaps there’s a bit of Toad in all of us needing to be changed!

A hole in a dead tree stump, full of possibilities!

Does Kenneth Grahame’s Badger belong here?

Home is Best

As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow,…. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict;.. he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime.’

Mole’s small adventures were nothing compared to Toad’s. But even Toad would have been glad at last to be back in his own home after all his mis-adventures! Here he could enjoy…:

The smell of that buttered toast that talked to him with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.

Like Mole make for home:

Then some day…. when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company.

At this end of another year, sit down by a warm fire with your ‘goodly memories‘ for company and thank God for giving you another year and for sending Jesus to call you home.

Thank you for supporting this blog this year. A special welcome to all new visitors. As always I would be delighted to hear from you.

Have a wonderful and warm fireside Christmas and New Year.

— Richard

9 thoughts on “There’s a Wind in the Willows

    1. Thank you, Sue. We hope you’ve been warm up where you are in the past cold weeks. Enjoy your Christmas and New Year. I see you’re into digital art. I’ve just started to explore it. It looks interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We hade two weeks of very cold weather. The snow turned to thick ice, which lasted for 5 days. However, the temperature rose and the ice melted. We then had a few days of torrential rain. It has cleared now and quite pleasant.
        Have a wonderful Christmas.


  1. Your sketches are lovely Richard, you’re obviously talented with pictures as well as words! I’ve read Wind in the Willows a couple of times, but rivers of that kind have never featured much in my life. The River Tyne has been a constant, and is just a short walk down the road, but it is of course an industrial river at this end (though more like ‘Willows’ further upstream) so has a very different character. But there is still plenty to love, including a variety of seabirds.


    1. Delighted to hear from you again, Andrea. I hope all is well up your way, though you seem to be having a lot of rain. I think your Tyne has kittiwakes nesting under one of the bridges and much more too, I expect. Very best wishes for this year. It’s good to see your football team doing so well this season!

      Liked by 1 person

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